Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY

Prospect Park is a 585-acre urban oasis located in the heart of Brooklyn, New York City’s most populous borough. It is a masterpiece of design by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who also designed Central Park, in Manhattan. Constructed over a thirty-year period (1865-1895) it contains Brooklyn’s only forest, along with a complex natural water system, rolling meadows, shaded hillsides and many attractions.

There are many interesting statues in the park, this one of Abraham Lincoln, scuplted by Henry Kirke Brown (1814 - 1886), is my favorite. It watches over the Prospect Park Concert Grove area, which contains an impressive array of sculpture busts, including composers Mozart, Beethoven, Grieg, and Von Weber, as well as the poet Thomas Moore.

This bust of the great composer Beethoven was sculpted by Henry Baerer in 1894

A poignant World War I monument, sculpted by Augustus Lukeman. It was dedicated in 1921 in memory of soldiers from Brooklyn killed during that war.

This 1905 Beaux Arts structure was inspired by the architecture of a 16th century Venetian library. It was originally used as the park's boathouse but now is the park's Welcome Center and also the first urban-area Audubon Center in the nation!

Part of the beautiful tiled interior of the Audubon Center and some of the exhibits which allow visitors to explore the world of nature.

Pedal boats may be rented, and there are also electric boat rides that can be taken that float along the area called the Lullwater; a placid waterway that meanders through shady woodlands and under historic bridges in the park.

After gliding gently along, you’ll emerge into the wide open vista of the park’s beautiful 60-acre lake.

It is wonderful to sit by the lake in rustic benches such as these and look out to peaceful vistas such as this.........

..........and this!

It will be especially lovely when the trees take on autumn color in another few weeks.

A man was playing a hauntingly beautiful melody on his saxophone in a walkway under an overpass bridge. The acoustics were of concert hall quality!

There are many shady paths to walk along in the park.

A beautifully ornate Victorian flower planter in the park.

This is the Oriental Pavilion, which features a stained-glass cupola and medieval, Hindu-inspired columns. It was damaged in a fire and extensively restored in 1987. Visitors now relax under the shade of its canopy.

The Prospect Park Zoo is within the park and
is operated by the Wildlife Conservation Society, known throughout the world for its innovative ways of caring for animals while increasing visitor interaction. It is home to nearly 400 animals of more than 80 species!

The park's carousel was carved in 1912 by Charles Carmel, one of the foremost carousel designers of the time, and restored by the Prospect Park Alliance in 1990.

The carousel features 51 magnificently carved horses, a lion, a giraffe, a deer, and two dragon-pulled chariots. I remember riding it when I was a child, and my children rode it when they were young. I look forward to introducing it to my grandson someday!

Prospect Park is home to over 30,000 trees. Among them are several of New York's oldest and most magnificent specimens. The tree above is a Japanese Red Pine.

Can you spot what was sitting in this tree adjacent to a road that passes through the park?

It was a majestic red tailed hawk! He sat on this limb very steadily for a long time, watching the people who were gathering around to watch him!

He created quite a commotion as children on bicycles, jogger, walkers, the police, and even a firetruck on their way back to their station stopped to see him!

Prospect Park is a wonderful green oasis of beauty in Brooklyn, and truly as worthy of a visit as Central Park! It us surrounded by diverse neighborhoods and enjoyed equally by all. It was also the location of a large portion of the American Revolutionary War's "Battle Of Brooklyn," and I showed many of the significant sites of that battle that are in the park in this series of blog posts.

I am happy to link this post to Susan's blog A Southern Daydreamer weekly "Outdoor Wednesday" event. Please visit Susan's blog today to see links to other blogs participating today with wonderful outdoor pleasures.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Grand Tetons National Park & Jackson, Wyoming

We left Yellowstone National Park by exiting it's south gate, and drove on the Rockefeller Parkway towards our bext stop -- the majestic mountain peaks of the Grand Teton National Park.

The Grand Teton National Park was established in both 1929 and 1950. The original 1929 park protected the mountain peaks and the lakes near the base. The boundaries were later expanded in 1950 to include much of the adjacent valley floor

Rising more than 7,000 feet above the valley of Jackson Hole, the Teton Range dominates the park’s skyline. The elevation of the park ranges from 6,400 feet on the sagebrush-dominated valley floor to 13,770 feet on the windswept granite summit of the Grand Teton, with forests carpeting the mountainsides.

All photos will enlarge when clicked on

The mountain views are all breathtaking! There are plenty of activities in the park, such as hiking trails, horseback riding, boating, back country camping, fishing, climbing, cross country skiing and snowshoeing, and wildlife viewing, etc.

Jenny Lake is a beautiful blue mountain lake set in the heart of Grand Teton National Park, at the base of Teewinot Mountain. It was formed by melting glaciers about 60,000 years ago.

Jenny Lake Lodge is located in the heart of the Grand Teton Park and offers exclusive cabins and fine dining. It is one of several lodges located in the park.

This is a view of the lodge's elegant and comfortable sitting area. The chairs were so comfortable!

The lake views were captivating! Each view of the mountains were better than the last. Picking photos for this post was hard because I had so many wonderful shots to choose from!

You will have to enlarge this photo to see it better, and even then you may have trouble making it out, but the brown shape in the middle of the wild sage brush is a grizzly bear eating a carcass!

We stoped when we saw a group of cars pulled to the side of one of the Grand Teton roads where then saw a ranger who was on patrol warning everyone to stay in their cars and not disturb the bear, as it would attack to protect its meal. I was able to snap this photo as we drove past, which is the closest I'd like to come into contact with a wild bear!

The town of Jackson, Wyoming sits on the southern end of the 60 miles long Jackson Hole Valley. As the southern gateway to The Tetons National Park and Yellowstone National Park, Jackson is also in close proximity to several ski resorts.

If you enlarge the collage above you can see an arbor made entirely of elk horns! One of these arbors were at each corner of the Jackson town square.
The National Elk Refuge is located near Jackson and we were told that each spring the local boy scouts troops go into the refuge and collect the fallen elk horns, which are then auctioned off in town with the proceeds going to charity. In winter horse drawn sleighs will take visitors on a close up ride to see these majestic animals. There is also a large heard of bison located in the refuge.

The beautiful, larger than life size sculptures seen in the collage were made by artist Vic Payne, and were for sale outside the Mountain Trails Gallery in Jackson. The man holding a small boy on his horse was entitled " Memories," and the Native American sculpture was entitled " Ancient Hunter."

Pistol door handles on a shop in Jackson
The town of Jackson dates back to 1894 and retains some of it's early western history flavor, along with the addition of sophisticated galleries, shops and restaurants.

A close up of a section of the elk antler arbor

The very cutest western cowboy of all was our little grandson, modeling a cowboy hat I bought him in Laramie, Wyoming!
We had returned to Colorado for the last leg of our wonderful vacation and spent the Labor Day weekend having fun with our son , daughter-in-law and grandson.
As our little guy crawled off into the sunset, we bid farewell to our wonderful wild west adventure vacation and returned to New York, filled with fabulous memories of all the wonderful sights we saw!
It was definitely one of the best vacations we have ever taken, and I hope you've enjoyed my blog posts about it. Hopefully I have enticed you to go to see some of the beautiful Western national parks, or that I have brought back memories if you have already visited them.
Thanks for all your comments along the way - I've sincerely appreciated each and every one!

It's Mosaic Monday at Mary's blog Little Red House --please visit her today to see more blogs that are participating in her wonderful event! Thanks Mary!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Part 3 - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

The Lower Geyser Basin

(all photos will enlarge when clicked on)

When my husband and I entered Yellowstone National Park, on our third and final day, we spent the majority of the third day in what we thought was the most fascinating and interesting areas of the park --the Lower Geyser basin, the Upper Geyser Basin, the Black Sand Basin and the Biscuit Basins. The photo above is the view of the lower geyser basin that we saw from the road in the early morning light. The steam was rising off the hot pools and geysers reminding us that we were on top of a caldera. A caldera is formed from explosive super eruptions and it can be as wide and deep as mid- to large-sized lakes, and can be responsible for destroying broad swaths of mountain ranges. It is literally the top of a volcano. Some very interesting geological videos about the caldera area of Yellowstone can be seen at this link. Two thirds of the geysers in the world are located in Yellowstone National Park, which also contains the largest geothermal phenomena in the world!

Anxious to see the famous Old Faithful Geyser, which is the most photographed feature in the park, we drove over to the Upper Geyser Basin. A historic White Motor Company Yellowstone tour bus can be seen in the photo above, in front of the Old Faithful Inn. A Youtube video about the buses can be seen at this link.

The beautiful Old Faithful Inn was built in 1903-04 and designed by R. C. Reamer. Wings were added to the hotel in 1915 and 1927, and today there are 327 rooms available to guests in this National Historic Landmark

The lobby of the hotel features a 65-foot ceiling, a massive lava stone fireplace, and railings made of contorted lodgepole pine. It really is a sight to see!

The spectacular Old Faithful Inn is within short viewing distance of Old Faithful Geyser

Information about Old Faithful Geyser

Old faithful erupts more frequently than any of the big geysers, although it is not the biggest or most regular geyser in the park. As of now it erupts about every 90 minutes.

It attracts a large crowd of spectators! Everyone gathers and waits around the geyser as it gets close to the predicted eruption.

And there it is! Old faithful Geyser was named in 1870 by a surveyor H.D. Washburn. Its eruption height varies from 106 to 184 feet, every 90 minutes. The temperature before eruption is 240 degrees Fahrenheit, and during eruption between 3,700 to 8, 400 gallons of water are discharged.

The geyser basins have boardwalk paths to allow for safe and easy viewing.

I'd like to show you just a few of the many geysers, springs, pools and fumarole hydrothermal features in Yellowstone.

The Grand Geyser

The Grand Geyser is the tallest predictable geyser in the world, erupting every 7- 15 hours. An average eruption lasts 9 -12 minutes and it can reach 200 feet in height!
The Riverside Geyser, by the Firehole River

The Riverside Geyser erupts at seven hour intervals to a height of 75 feet, for a 20 minute duration.

The Castle Geyser

The Castle Geyser is attracts a crowd because of its energy that erupts steam with a roars like a train. Erupting every 11-13 hours, Castle shoots water 70-80 feet into the air from its over 30 feet tall cone.
The Morning Glory Pool

The Morning Glory Pool is one of the more popular springs in the Upper Basin. The pool was named for the morning glory flower because of its brilliance.
The Sapphire Pool. Biscuit Basin

Three miles north of Old Faithful is Biscuit Basin, named for the unusual biscuit-like deposits formerly surrounding Sapphire Pool. Following the 1959 Hebgen Lake earthquake, Sapphire erupted, and the "biscuits" were blown away.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Midway Geyser Basin

The Grand Prismatic is the largest hot spring in Yellowstone, and is considered to be the third largest in the world-New Zealand has the two largest springs. The Hayden Expedition in 1871 named this spring because of its beautiful coloration.
Excelsior Geyser, Midway Geyser Basin
Excelsior was once the largest geyser in the world. However, the last known major eruptions occurred during the 1880's, when there were numerous eruptions up to 300 feet. Those eruptions may have burned out its core and Excelsior is now a productive thermal spring, presently discharging 4050 gallons per minute. Numerous vents boil and churn the water within the crater, covering it in a dense layer of steam.

White Dome Geyser, Lower Basin
The White Dome geyser's 12-foot-high cone is one of the largest in the park. Its eruptions are unpredictable, but generally occur with intervals ranging from 15 minutes to 3 hours with intervals between 20 and 35 minutes. Eruptions typically last 2 to 3 minutes and reach heights of about 30 feet.
The Fishing Cone, West Thumb Geyser Basin

This is one of the most famous hydrothermal formations in the West Thumb Lake. The name Fishing Cone can be traced back to tales told by mountain men of a lake where you could catch a fish from the lake then immediately dunk it into hot spring and cook it on the hook. Fishing is now prohibited.
I am linking this post to Beverly at How Sweet The Sound blog's Pink Saturday event, and up to now everyone must have been wondering what was the pink in this post?
I found this pretty pink Yellowstone souvenir merchandise at the Grant Village store next to the East Thumb Lake. I immediately thought of Beverly when I saw this grouping! Thanks, Beverly, for always making me look for pink in the world!
I was also lucky to come across this majestic male elk as we headed back to our hotel for the evening. He was leading his family down to the river for an evening drink.

Elk are the most abundant of the large mammals of Yellowstone National Park.

The male uses his massive antler to fight other males during the mating season. It falls off annually in the late winter or early spring and then he grows a new set.

As the sun set we sadly said goodbye to Yellowstone National Park, as our time here was over.
It is such a beautiful and enormous park that we know we saw just a small portion of it and we hope to return again to see more someday. It is truly one of our country's special treasures.

I am looking forward to viewing the first segment of the Ken Burns special on PBS this weekend called "The National Parks: America's Best Idea," which will air September 27 through October 2 --- check your local stations for your viewing area's time.
My Yellowstone National Parks posts Part One can be found here --- Part Two here