Thursday, April 30, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 192

The Peabody Ducks

It is always fun to find something that is quirky and different.  The postcard sent by Q and the Gnome in 2000 shared this week shows the famous Peabody Ducks marching up the red carpet to take their daily swim in the lobby fountain of the luxurious Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis, Tennessee.  The ducks live in specially built quarters on the rooftop of the hotel and take the elevator down to the lobby fountain accompanied to the music of John Phillip Sousa’s “King Cotton March” each day at 11 am.  They stay in the pool and entertain the hotel guests until 5 pm when the music starts up again and they go back to their own quarters for the night.  A special hotel employee acts as “Duckmaster” who trains the ducks and escorts them to and from their quarters to the fountain each day.  The ducks, local celebrities, and Duckmaster have appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Sesame Street, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.  They have also appeared in People magazine. 

The Peabody Hotel is one of the Historic Hotels of America that is part of the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  The original hotel was built in 1869 by Robert C. Brinkley who named it for George Peabody in honor of his contributions to the South.  Since then it changed hands a couple of times, the original building closed in 1923 and a new structure opened on a different site in 1925.  The hotel experienced some rocky times such as when it went bankrupt in 1965 and was sold at a foreclosure auction to Sheraton Hotels.  Sheraton operated the hotel until 1973.  In 1975 it changed ownership again.  The next owner, Jack A. Belz spent $25 million renovating the now landmark and held a grand opening in 1981.  Today the 464 room hotel is owned by the Peabody Hotel Group. 

The duck parade on the red carpet dates to the 1930s when the General Manager, Frank Schutt, returned from a hunting trip and put live English Call Duck decoys in the hotel fountain.  It was such a big hit with the hotel guests that since that time five Mallard ducks (one drake and four hens) have become a permanent fixture at the hotel.  Wild ducks are brought in and replaced every three months.  It takes about one week to train them to march to the music and the Duckmaster walks along with them more for show than necessity as the ducks know what they are supposed to do and where they are going the minute the music starts.

For more information, see:

And a short video about the ducks and the current Duckmaster:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Return to Goose Rock

Goose Rock is located at Deception Pass Park and does require a Discovery Pass or a day fee of $10.  The loop trail is classified as an easy hike of about 3 miles with some very steep places (up and down) alternating with more level walking.  The elevation gain is about 500 feet.  Once at the top of Goose Rock there is a panorama view of Puget Sound.  It is easy to pick out the airbase at Oak Harbor; the small bay with houses and docks, there is also a fresh water lake nearby. 

Views from the top of Goose Rock

 The Navy Air Base is at the upper left

 Fresh water lake

Salt water bay

We had been there before but this time we were especially hoping to find White Fawn Lilies and to check out the other familiar wildflowers that we have become accustomed to seeing along the trails in early Spring.  There were plenty of Star Flowers, both the Siberian Miner’s Lettuce and regular Miner’s Lettuce, lots of the blue Camas, yellow sedum, foamflower, bedstraw, paintbrush, spotted coral root and a few very special plants.  Although we did not find Fawn Lilies this time, we did see two of another lily called a Chocolate or Checkered Lily and while not rare is not often seen.  The coloring on this lily blends in to the surroundings making it easy to miss. 

 Star Flower

 Spotted Coral Root

 Flowering Chickweed


Wild Strawberry

 Above & below Death Camas

Above and below, Blue Camas

 Indian Paintbrush

Above and below, Chocolate or Checkered Lily

 Above and below, Naked Broomrape

In all we were able to identify 26 different flowers and there were a few more we could not.  Besides the Chocolate Lily another elusive flower is the Naked Broomrape.  There were also many Death Camases in bloom.  They look a little like a smaller version of Bear Grass but are not related.  The Native Americans harvested the Blue Camas bulbs for food but the white flowering Camas was left alone because people who ate those bulbs became very ill, hence the name.  The meadows were somehow marked so that only the Blue Camas bulbs were dug up. 

We capped off the day by driving down to the beach to have lunch.  My uncle lives on Whidbey Island so before taking the ferry back to the mainland we stopped by and had a short visit with him too.  The day started with clouds and threats of rain but ended warm and sunny.   And, Yes, we did see and hear several geese flying overhead and swimming in the bay and the lake.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 191

Belvedere Palace, Vienna, Austria

Recently my French friend visited Belvedere Castle in Vienna, Austria, and sent this beautiful postcard above.  The pond in front of the castle shows a perfect reflection of this pretty castle.

The historic building complex has two palaces, Upper and Lower Belvedere (Upper Belvedere is featured on the card) linked by a park-like garden with fountains, flowers and sculptures.  Today the inside of Upper Belvedere is home to the Austrian gallery and a collection that covers Austrian art from the Middle Ages to Baroque, 19th century Biedermeier (Waldmüller), the Ringstraße time and turn of the century art such as Klimt, Schiele, and Kokoschka.  The Orangery exhibits of contemporary art can be found in Lower Belvedere. 

Prince Eugene of Savoy had the palaces built on land he purchased in 1697 as a summer residence and commissioned architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt to design the project.  Hildebrandt was subsequently employed as the court architect and designed several other notable buildings such as the Schloss Hof Palace, the Schwarzenberg Palace, the Kinsky Palace, and the entire Göttweig Monastery estate in the Wachau Valley. 

The area surrounding Belvedere was completely undeveloped at the time the project started making it ideal for constructing landscaped gardens and the summer palace.  Construction began between 1712 and 1717 and was completed by 1723.  After Prince Eugene died without a legally binding will a commission set up by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI named the prince’s niece, Princess Victoria, as his heir.  The princess moved into Belvedere in 1736 but immediately decided to auction it off as soon as possible.  It was 8 years later before Maria Theresa, the daughter of Charles VI, was able to purchase the estate.  The palace was eclipsed by other imperial palaces and not used until 1770 when a masked ball was staged here for the marriage of Maria Antonia to the French Dauphin who later became Louis XVI.  To provide some example of the size of the palace the guest list had 16,000 members.

Both palaces suffered considerable damage during World War II with parts of the Marble Hall in Upper Belvedere and the Hall of Grotesques in Lower Belvedere destroyed by bombs.  Reconstruction work was commenced following the end of the war and both palace galleries were open in 1953. 

Last summer when we were in Austria we visited Belvedere and here follow some photos from that trip showing the gardens and the outside of the palaces.

 The gardens reminded me of Versailles in France with the long walkway and statues, pools, and fountains.  The tall spire of St. Stephen's Cathedral can be seen at the left.  Lower Belvedere is the white palace with red roof at the right.  The city tour bus recommended by our hotel dropped us off at Belvedere and we were urged to take the metro back to the hotel but elected to walk instead so we could visit the Cathedral and any other places of interest on the return trip.  Bob estimated the walk was about 4 or 5 US miles as it took us most of the afternoon.

 Look back up the hill toward Upper Belvedere.

 And back down the hill toward Lower Belvedere.

The stamp on the postcard has a reproduction of a painting by Bernardo Strozzi (ca 1581-1644) a prominent, prolific Italian Baroque painter.   Strozzi was born in Genoa but was also associated with Venice.  When he was about 17 years old he entered a monastery but left there after his father died, in about 1608, to take care of his mother.  He earned a living by his painting.  Many of the subjects of his paintings reflect his Franciscan education.  After his mother died in 1630 he was pressured by the court to re-enter the monastery and was briefly imprisoned in Genoa.  Upon his release from prison he fled to Venice to avoid confinement in a monastery.  He was nicknamed “the Genoa priest.”

For additional information, see:,_Vienna

Thursday, April 16, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 190

Geronimo and Nachez, Chirachaua Apache Chiefs, 1886

From left to right:  Son of Geronimo, White Horse, holding Nahi’s baby girl; Geronimo mounted, Natches/Nachez/Naiche son of Cochise and hereditary chief, mounted & wearing a hat; Fun, considered the bravest fighter in Geronimo’s band.

AZUSA Publishing of Englewood, Colorado issued the postcard above that has a photograph taken by C.S. Fly [Camillus “Buck” Sidney Fly, 1849-1901] 27 March 1886.  It is titled:  “Geronimo and Nachez, Chiracahua Apache Chiefs” and was taken during a temporary truce just before the peace conference in the Apache Wars.  The wars lasted from 1872 to 1886.  It is one of several important photographs taken by Fly who took the only known photos of Geronimo before he surrendered.  Fly also was a witness to the famous 1881 Gunfight at OK Corral that took place outside his photography studio in Tombstone, Arizona.

In March 1886 Fly accompanied Arizona General George Crook to the peace conference with Geronimo and his people held in the Canyon de Los Embudos of the Sierra Madre Mountains.  The pictures he took of Geronimo and the other free Apaches are the only known photos of Native Americans taken while still at war with the United States.  Fly posed the Apaches, coolly asking Geronimo and others to change positions, turn heads or faces exhibiting nerves of steel according to witnesses.  Fly was described as so wrapped in his artistic work that he was no respecter of persons or circumstances even in the most serious interviews with the Indians.

Fly who was born in Andrew County, Missouri, 1849, moved with his family to Napa Valley, California when he was very young.  After he married Mary (Mollie) McKie Goodrich in September 1879 they moved to Tombstone, Arizona where they opened a photography studio in a tent in December of that same year.  By July of the next year they built a 12-room boarding house that was also home to the photography studio and a gallery called “Fly's Gallery.”  Both Fly and Mollie were interested in photography but she ran the boarding house and studio while he traveled around the region taking photos.  Mollie, one of very few female photographers of the time, took photos of anyone who could pay the studio price of 35 cents.

During a period of heavy drinking by Fly beginning in 1887, Fly and Mollie separated.  She continued to run the studio and gallery while he traveled about.  He returned to Tombstone in 1894.  He was elected as the Cochise County Sheriff in 1895 and served in that position for two years.  He also ran a ranch in the Chiricahua Mountains.  Even though they had been separated for many years she was at his bedside when he died in 1901.  He is buried in the new Tombstone cemetery.

 After a fire destroyed the boarding house in 1912, Mollie moved to Los Angeles, California.  Before she died in 1925 Mollie donated Fly’s collection of images to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Geronimo was the name given to a prominent leader of the Bedonkohe Apache during a battle with Mexican soldiers.  His Chiricahua name is often written as Goyathlay or Goyahkla in English.  It means “the one who yawns.”  He was born June 1829 in what is now part of Arizona, United States but was then part of Mexico.  It was following a Mexican attack on his tribe and the resulting deaths of his mother, wife and three children sometime between the years 1851-1858 that Geronimo joined in the revenge attacks against the Mexicans.  The loss of his family caused him to hate all Mexicans for the rest of his life.  He and his followers frequently attacked and killed any group of Mexicans they encountered after that tragic event.  

After the surrender in 1886 Geronimo was a prisoner of war and not allowed to live in Arizona.  He spent time as a prisoner in Florida, Alabama and finally Oklahoma.  In 1905 he agreed to tell his story to Stephan M. Barrett who was the Superintendent of Education in Lawton, Oklahoma.  Barrett appealed to President Theodore Roosevelt to get permission to publish the book in 1906.  It was reissued by Ballantine Books in 1971 under the title:  “Geronimo, His Own Story.”  He spent his final years in Oklahoma where he died of pneumonia in 1909 following a fall from a horse. 

The Apache, a group of culturally related Native Americans found in the Southwest United States, currently include Navajo, Western Apache, Chiricahua, Mescalero, Jicarilla, Lipan, and Plains Apache also known as Kiowa-Apache.  Geronimo was raised according to Apache traditions including religious beliefs.  In his later years, while a prisoner, he converted to Christianity and encouraged his people to also convert.  A few years after he joined the Dutch Reformed Church he was expelled for gambling after that he seemed to harbor mixed feelings about religion.  There are numerous legends and stories about his escapes and feats. 

For more information about C.S. Fly and Geronimo, see:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Schmitz Park

Errands kept us in the city hence a city park to explore for an hour or two on a nice day.  This time we visited Schmitz Preserve Park in West Seattle another hike written up in Footloose in Seattle by Janice Krenmayr.   The park is located about 15 blocks east of Alki Point in West Seattle and contains the only remaining old growth forest in the city.  In 1908 Ferdinand and Emma Schmitz donated 30 acres of land to the city for a park.  Additional land was purchased in 1909, 1930, 1947 and 1958.  

Just to remind us that we were still in the city here is what we saw along the stairway down to the park trail from the street level.  The underside of the bridge was the only place we did see graffiti in the park; however, and it looked as if the upper part of the bridge was kept clean of it.

The single story Schmitz Park Elementary School adjacent to the park was opened in 1953.  This plaque pictured below in the park tells of tree plantings done by the school children for the 1976 bicentennial of the United States.

We took the loop trail but there are also several trails branching off here and there with plenty of places to roam in this nature preserve.  The trail surface is packed dirt with a cover of leaves and needles.  A creek runs through the park and there are small rivulets here and there making occasional muddy spots but also providing a nice running water sound.  Once inside a little way the traffic noise disappears and is replaced by bird song, breezes in the trees and gurgling water. 

One tree had formed this low arch that was still high enough to crawl under.

We saw Bleeding Hearts, Fringe Cups, Trillium, Salmon Berry, Elder Berry, Trailing Blackberry, Miner’s Lettuce, Aven, Skunk Cabbage and ferns in addition to big trees in this mixed forest. 

Bleeding Heart

 Fringe Cup

The Trillium flower starts out white and turns purple as it ages

Salmon Berry

Trailing Blackberry

 Skunk Cabbage

A few areas were fenced off while work was being done to encourage growth of selected native plants and trees.  One downed tree sported artwork to make it look like a toothy critter.

The loop took us to the other side of the bridge and a short walk back on the street level to the car. 

 New wall and park marker

Old dated bridge marker

For additional information see: