I is for Ingenuity – #atozchallenge

I am always intrigued about the ingenuity of humans. Their ability to build and create things that solves problems for them.

There are many examples of ingenuity to can be seen on the back roads of America. Whether it be bridges or towers or buildings. There is always something unique and interesting to see.

Tuckhannock Viaduct – Nicholson, Pennsylvania
Nicholson’s welcome sign features the Viaduct

One of my brightest memories of fascination comes from a town in eastern Pennsylvania called Nicholson. In this town, the train company needed a solution to get the train up high to pass by as the town was down in the valley. So, a giant viaduct was built. Called the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct, this giant structure. towered over the town and allowed the trains to pass by way up on top of the town nestled below in the valley. To realize that this was built in 1915 is amazing to me. It is 2375 feet long, 240 feet tall and 34 feet wide. Yes, 24 stories tall!!!!! The bridge was built as

The viaduct is dizzying when looking up from below

part of the Clark’s Summit-Hallstead Cutoff, which was part of a project of the Lackawanna Railroad to revamp a winding and hilly system. This rerouting was built between Scranton, Pennsylvania and Binghamton, New York. All thirteen piers were excavated to bedrock, which was up to 138 feet below ground level. Almost half of the bulk of the bridge is underground. The bridge was built by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad and was designed by Abraham Burton Cohen. Construction on the bridge began in May 1912, and dedication took place on November 6, 1915.

Tuckhannock Viaduct towers over the small town of Nicholson, PA
Cleveland’s tallest buildings

One needs only go to some of the older big cities such as New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Cincinnati, to see the tall buildings that were built in the 1930s and 40s. Naturally, these were to accommodate offices are in a crowded area. The building designs were amazing and are still beautiful to look at.

I really love the older buildings as they were obviously much more difficult to build and their architecture is so reminiscent of the times. I guess I grew up watching the old Superman movies and saw the old buildings used in these.

New York City 1959 (from an old family picture – I was actually there when this was taken.  Only 3 years old)
New York City, 2013 – taken from Hoboken, NJ
Cincinnati Skyline with its old buildings and numerous bridges
The Ascent at Roebling’s in Covington, KY across the river from Cincinnati

But not all of the buildings are old. There is a unique condominium structure that was built in Covington, which is a suburb of Cincinnati across the Ohio River into Kentucky. The structure is unique in its architecture.  And the amazing PPG Building in Pittsburgh really blows my mind…a true glass castle!

 

A view from below One PPG Place
Bridge over Mississippi River at Cairo, IL

I have also grown a fascination with bridges. These are massive structures that cross rivers great and small. In Cairo, Illinois there are two massive and Long Bridges. Cairo is where the confluence of the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi River. The Ohio River is at its deepest and widest point here and when going south through this area one must cross a bridge over the Ohio and then over the Mississippi. These bridges are amazing and it stuns me that the traffic and the years have not worn these bridges away.

The New River Bridge in West Virginia is THREE Statues of Liberty high above the river.  An amazing feat of engineering.

River Crossing near Cairo, IL
A view of the Detroit-Superior Bridge in Cleveland
High Level Bridge in Lethbridge, Alberta was built in 1909. It is 5327 feet long and the largest of its type in the world
Roberto Clemente Bridge in Pittsburgh
Cut Bank Creek Trestle, built in 1900 in Cut Bank, Montana
Sunset over Tacoma Narrows bridge in Washington
Bridges of Pittsburgh
Some of the kids viewing the massive New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia in August 1995
Green Bridge near Redcliff, Colorado

I once crossed over a bridge in a valley in the mountains of Colorado (see above). This bridge to was stunning to me is you come down off of the hill and see the bridge down below. I wondered out loud at the time how engineers could fulfill this feat.

Golden Gate Bridge in 2016

Another of the great and fascinating Bridges is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Not only is it massive like the bridges in the east, it is also crossing over a giant bay and must also be earthquake proof.

Delaware Seashore Bridge
Veterans Memorial Bridge in Steubenville, OH

 

Some of the newer bridges are more unique and have their own kind of personality. The bridge crosses the bay in Delaware was stunning to me. I was fortunate enough to be at this bridge during sunset and cut the lovely photo of it above.

Many of the newer bridges have dozens of cables attached to large pillars.  They look futuristic and are cool to drive over.  I have seen quite of a few of these in recent years.

 

William H. Harsha Bridge from Maysville, KY into Ohio.
Rexburg, Idaho LDS Temple

Ingenuity is this not stop just at skyscrapers and bridges. There are many religious structures that can be seen across the country that are also amazing feats of engineering. Take for instance today LDS temple in Salt Lake City. The stones gathered to build that building came from the canyons and had to be hauled by horse drawn wagons.

Many of the other LDS temples are also spectacular.  But they are not the only religious buildings.

Old Church “San Xavier del Bac” in Tucson

The old church in Tucson, Arizona called San Xavier del Bac, was built in the 1700s and one can only wonder how the Spaniards built this beautiful and unique structure in the middle of the desert.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Galveston
Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, AZ
St. Mary’s Basilica, Marietta, OH
Central Presbyterian in Cambridge, ON
Hoover Dam and Bridge (photo credit hdrinc.com)

I have crossed over the Hoover Dam in Nevada and the Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona numerous times. These are some of the largest dams in the United States and when you stand on the edge and look down it is dizzying. And to think that these damn’s were built in the 1940s and 1950s is amazing. The ingenuity of the engineers that designed and manage the construction of these is beyond words to me.

On the top of the world on Beartooth Highway that borders Wyoming and Montana south of Red Lodge, MT
Sumoflam at the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook in 1982. You can see hairpin turns at right

And finally, some of the highways themselves are stunning pizza engineering. Have I overused those words already? The Beartooth Highway in northern Wyoming and the highways that go across the Rocky Mountain National Park are a couple prime examples of this. Even the winding hairpin turns of Oak Creek Canyon Road from Flagstaff to Sedona are quite amazing.

Ingenuity from the 1880s — Longest Covered Bridge in Canada, West Montrose Covered Bridge, West Montrose, ON opened in 1881

Though I am more drawn to the unique and quirky things to see around the country and perhaps closer to the nature of birds and animals and trees and clouds, I am nevertheless grateful and overwhelmed by the ingenuity of humans in the spirit of design and innovation. What needs only open their eyes on the highway and think about some of the things that have been built whether they are bridges, buildings or even monuments to fallen heroes. There is always inspiration to be seen and felt from the ingenuity of the human spirit.

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Washington State: Point Defiance Zoo

All packed in and ready to head for the zoo.
All packed in and ready to head for the zoo.

On Day 4 of our visit to Washington we packed up the kids and a couple of cars and made our way south to Tacoma to visit the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.   Though not as huge as some of the zoos we have been to (such as San Diego, Louisville, Cincinnati), it is still a nice zoo with some great opportunities to see some good wildlife.  The thing I like about most zoos is that they not only have a lot of animals, but they also have an abundance of flowers and foliage that is always pleasant.  So, this trip on this day was about grandkidz, animals and flowers.

Point Defiance Zoo
Point Defiance Zoo entrance

The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium is apparently the only combined facility in the Pacific Northwest.  It is a 29 acre park and a major tourist attraction in the Tacoma area.

I was actually pleased with it as it was much smaller, quite clean and seemed like you could get a bit more “intimate” with the animals, though there was less of a variety of them.

A tiger at the Point Defiance Zoo
A tiger at the Point Defiance Zoo

Following are a few photos of the animals that I took.  They had four or five tigers in a couple of places, an elephant and a few other critters.  They had a goodly amount of birds, including penguins and puffins.  I always enjoy photographing the animals.

An Asian Elephant playing in the dirt
An Asian Elephant playing in the dirt
A Tiger Cub
A Tiger Cub
A puffin on watch
A puffin on watch
Puffin in a nest
Puffin in a nest
A Polar Bear tries to stay cool in the water.
A Polar Bear tries to stay cool in the water.
A playful otter does the backstroke
A playful otter does the backstroke
A tiger relaxes
A tiger relaxes
The small penguins stand majestically at feeding time
The small penguins stand majestically at feeding time
A sealion underwater
A sealion underwater
A blue budgie
A blue budgie

The Budgie exhibit was lots of fun, especially since the grandkidz were there and could actually feed the colorful birds. The real name for a budgie is “Budgerigar” and these cute little guys are native to Australia and New Zealand.  This parrot species is very social and it was very apparent, just being in the exhibit with them.  They were not afraid of hanging around people.

Grandson Benson enjoys handling a budgie
Grandson Benson enjoys handling a budgie
Charles watches as he carefully feeds a budgie
Charles watches as he carefully feeds a budgie
A pair of budgies
A pair of budgies
No...he is only acting like a budgie.
No…he is only acting like a budgie.
White budgie
White budgie
Bald eagle
Bald eagle

We brought our lunch and enjoyed it while watching a stage which featured a number of animals from the zoo.  I was most enthralled with the bald eagle.

It was as close as I have ever been to these amazing (and quite large birds).   I saw a couple of them on our road trips in Washington, but could never capture any on camera until the zoo.

Winspan
Wingspan
Grandkidz
Grandkidz

Of course, watching the kids was also fun.  They had a variety of facial expressions at the various exhibits.  Here are some “grandkidz” shots from the zoo.

Their curiosity is always a joy to experience.  Going to the zoo with young children is fascinatingly fun!

Livvy points at the elephant
Livvy points at the elephant
Charles is bored?
Charles is bored?
Kade watches
Kade watches
Charles shows some excitement
Charles shows some excitement
Livvy flirts
Livvy flirts
Hanging with my sweetheart at Point Defiance Zoo
Hanging with my sweetheart at Point Defiance Zoo

DSC_5699Part of the joy at a zoo is the variety of plants and flowers.  I enjoyed a few closeup shots of these, including some varieties I have never seen before.

Following are a few of my shots:

A bee grabs a snack
A bee grabs a snack

DSC_5676DSC_5589

Amazing Lily 1
Amazing Lily 1
Julianne with bamboo
Julianne with bamboo
Amazing Lily 2
Amazing Lily 2

DSC_5674DSC_5778And finally, I have to say that the view of Mt. Rainier from the zoo was spectacular.  Could not have asked for a more beautiful day and beautiful views!

Mt. Rainier as seen from the Point Defiance Zoo
Mt. Rainier as seen from the Point Defiance Zoo
Mt. rainier as seen from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge
Mt. rainier as seen from the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

After the zoo we headed back home, dropped the kids off, changed clothes and all of the adults headed for Seattle to go to the Mormon Temple there.  We took a ferry across the Sound.

Ferries are a way of life in the Seattle area.  Many live on one side of the Puget Sound and

On the Ferry to Seattle
On the Ferry to Seattle – Mt. Rainier in the background

work on the other side, including my son in law Aaron. The give you a brief respite from the hustle and bustle of the city job.  I really enjoyed sitting on the deck and taking in the views, smelling the fresh air and have the wind blow through my hair.

This particular ferry ride offered some amazing views of Mt. Rainier as well as some nice views of Seattle on the approach in. They were different views from those of a couple of days earlier.

View of Seattle from the Ferry
View of Seattle from the Ferry
A ferry passes by us in the sound with Mt. Rainier in the backround
A ferry passes by us in the sound with Mt. Rainier in the background
A shot of the Seattle skyline
A shot of the Seattle skyline
Another Seattle shot
Another Seattle shot
Thai food at Tangerine Thai
Thai food at Tangerine Thai

Once we crossed the Sound, it was back in the car and heading towards the lovely Seattle Temple. We stopped along the way to have some great Thai Food. Tangerine Thai was a classy little place with some amazing cuisine that I hadn’t seen (or tasted) before.

Grilled Eggplant at Tangerine Thai
Grilled Eggplant at Tangerine Thai
Grilled Salmon Curry at Tangerine
Grilled Salmon Curry at Tangerine

After dinner it was off to the temple.  Nice to visit another temple!

At Seattle Temple
At Seattle Temple
A symbol of LDS Temples - the Angel Moroni
A symbol of LDS Temples – the Angel Moroni
Sunset over Tacoma Narrows bridge
Sunset over Tacoma Narrows bridge

After doing some baptisms for the dead, we headed back to Port Orchard with the sunset.  It was a wonderful day with family!!

 

 

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Washington State: A Week of Travel and Variety

A Wide View of Mt. Rainier
A Wide View of Mt. Rainier
The family getting ready to head to Seattle on Day 1 of our visit.  We made the T-shirts ourselves
The family getting ready to head to Seattle on Day 1 of our visit. We made the T-shirts ourselves
Julianne and David on the Beach in Washington
Julianne and David at the Beach in Washington

My wife and I had the opportunity to fly to Seattle at the end of July for a nice week (actually 9 days) of fun with our family out there.  Over the next couple of weeks I will have a few posts about our adventures, but wanted to provide a brief preview of what we experienced: Beaches, Mountains, Sights, Sounds, Eats and Quirky fun!!

The Bremerton Ferry took us form Bremerton to Seattle.
The Bremerton Ferry took us form Bremerton to Seattle.
On the Bremerton Ferry with a Flock of Seagulls
On the Bremerton Ferry with a Flock of Seagulls

Day 1: We  took a ferry from Bremerton, WA and then spent a full day walking around parts of Seattle…then took a Duck ride.

The ferry is followed by hungry seagulls who would swoop down and eat from people’s hands. I got some amazing closeups of the birds.

A closeup shot of a seagull taken on Bremerton Ferry
A closeup shot of a seagull taken on Bremerton Ferry
The Seattle Space Needle
The Seattle Space Needle

Once we arrived in Seattle, our sea legs turned into walking legs as we visited the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, Pike Place Market, walked along the boardwalk, rode the Ducks, saw the Space Needle and more.

There were street musicians everywhere, lots of fish in Pike Place Market and a general atmosphere of fun in spectacular beautiful (but a bit hot) weather.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is a must see stop for the lovers of the offbeat and quirky
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is a must see stop for the lovers of the offbeat and quirky
This guy greets you at the door at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
This guy greets you at the door at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
Throwing Fish at Pike Place Market
Throwing Fish at Pike Place Market

Of course, a visit to Seattle is not complete without muscling your way through the massively crowded Pike Place Market (even on weekdays).  Famous for its fish mongers, there are a plethora of other goods there for perusing and partaking.

It was fun watching all of the people, but there is no place to stop for a sit down break and the market goes on forever and forever.  One could really take a full day just visiting each merchant and seeing what they offer.  But, probably better to go when school is in session.

Pike Place Market where the fishermen are as wild as the salmon
Pike Place Market where the fishermen are as wild as the salmon
The Kravetz and Matthews family all decked out in our matching shirts Riding the Duck around Seattle.
The Kravetz and Matthews family all decked out in our matching shirts Riding the Duck around Seattle.

 

One of the more unique tours of the city are the Duck Tours.  We rode the Duck for fun.  The drivers are a riot and the open air drive around the time and in a lake were really fun (not to mention the wonderful respite from all of the walking)

Ride the Duck!
Ride the Duck!

The Duck Tour does provide a fun sample of Seattle.  I will have much more about Seattle in an a future post.  Seattle is a fun place!!

On the Pacific Coast at Neah Bay, the most northwestern point in the contiguous United States
On the Pacific Coast at Neah Bay, the most northwestern point in the contiguous United States
Neah Bay, Washington
Neah Bay, Washington

After a “Recovery Day,” we were back on the road on Day 3 heading north to Neah Bay, which is the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States. Julianne stayed back in Port Orchard as we traveled the road along the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Highway. Honestly, there may be a Strait, but the road ALONG the Strait is ANYTHING but straight.  A crooked windy road to Neah Bay.

Fat Smitty's, a burger joint near Port Townsend, WA.
Fat Smitty’s, a burger joint near Port Townsend, WA.
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of fat Smitty's
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of fat Smitty’s

As it was a long and winding road, literally, we did stop along the way for lunch at one of those quirky eateries.  Fat Smitty’s in Port Townsend, WA is a real kick!  Indeed, the outside wooden art is a drawing card, but the real fun is when you walk inside and see the thousands of dollar bills plastered everywhere.  They claim to have over $10,000 in there. I’ll have a special post just about this place.

Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Highway is definitely scenic but certainly is NOT straight
Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Highway is definitely scenic but certainly is NOT straight
This seaweed looked more like a snake.  Not sure what it is called...
This seaweed looked more like a snake. Not sure what it is called…

The drive up US Route 101 along Olympic National Park and then along the Strait on WA 112 is very scenic.  Mt. Olympus can be seen along with other rugged northern Cascade peaks.  The Pacific Ocean scenes at Neah Bay are fabulous…and the beach is sandy. And there is all sots of strange looking seaweed up there.

We took US 101 home along Olympic National Park and made our way back eventually getting to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge at sunset.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge at sunset
Tacoma Narrows Bridge at sunset

PointDefianceZoo

Day 4 had us going down to Tacoma with the family and some of the Matthews family too.  We visited Point Defiance Zoo…a smaller zoo, but with some great animals.

Otter at Play at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma
Otter at Play at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma

I enjoyed watching the otter roll around and it was also a blast watching the kids feed the budgies.

We saw tigers, an elephant, seals, a polar bear, etc.  I’ll have a post about the zoo coming up too.  I love the flowers, the animals and the joy on the kids’ faces.

A Blue Budgie at the Point Defiance Zoo
A Blue Budgie at the Point Defiance Zoo
The LDS Seattle Temple
The LDS Seattle Temple

After a nice trip to the zoo, we returned to Port Orchard and the adults all took another ferry across to Seattle (with the car this time) to visit the Seattle Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Another beautiful building…built in 1978.  It is always nice to attend the temple, where we did baptisms for the dead and spent a nice evening away from the kids.

The ferry ride this time was also amazing as there were some spectacular views of the glacier covered Mt. Rainier.

On the ferry to Seattle with Mt. Rainier in the background
On the ferry to Seattle with Mt. Rainier in the background

Day 5 was another rest day.  We took a visit to a regional park along the coast and Julianne and I sat there and watched the boats while the kids hiked.  It was nice to chillax as the next day would be a big one.

Mt. Rainier after a day in the National Park
Mt. Rainier after a day in the National Park
a Cloud cap forms on Mt. Rainier.
A cloud cap forms on Mt. Rainier.

Our next to last day was a visit to the spectacular Mt. Rainier National Park.  This is certainly one of America’s great mountain peaks.  At 14,400 feet it towers above the landscape and can be seen everywhere on a clear day.  It reminded me of Mt. Fuji in Japan, which I lived at the base of for 5 months in 1978.

Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA (featuring Bigfoot!)
Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA (featuring Bigfoot!)

Along the way to Mt. Rainier we stopped at a fun place for lunch in the small scenic town of Greenwater.

The Naches Tavern has a nice menu, walls with dollar bills all over it, lots of old implements and a GIANT Bigfoot wood carving.  More about this on the Mt. Rainier post in a couple of weeks.

The Mattress Ranch "pasture" in Port Orchard
The Mattress Ranch “pasture” in Port Orchard
One of a few large murals to be found in Port Orchard, WA
One of a few large murals to be found in Port Orchard, WA

Of course, I can’t avoid the quirky places on a trip like this and the Mattress Ranch in Port Orchard is udderly mooving with dozens of cows, bulls, chickens, lambs, rams, etc.  Port Orchard also has a bay complete with old US Navy destroyers and the town has some fun wall murals.

Scenic Sunrise Lake near Sunrise Viewpoint in Mt. Rainier National Park
Scenic Sunrise Lake near Sunrise Viewpoint in Mt. Rainier National Park

I am excited to share the details of our long trip to Washington over the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully those that read it will get some fun inspiration for their own trip to Washington!

Enjoying Washington at Mt. Rainier NP
Enjoying Washington at Mt. Rainier NP

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