Thursday, May 28, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 196

 Sanremo, Italy, ca 1950s

When I found this postcard in a small nearby shop it immediately brought back memories of Nice, France so it was not surprising to notice that it is San Remo, or Sanremo, as it is written today, on the Italian Riviera located not that far away from Nice.  The stamp had been removed but part of the cancellation is legible.  The date is given as 30 September 1957.  Bromofoto of Milan, Italy produced the card.  Bromofoto was better known for producing postcards with mostly black and white portraits of movie stars and famous people, plenty of examples of which are still available and collectible.  What makes this card a little unusual is that it is a city scene instead.  On the reverse the title of the picture is given in Italian, French, English and German and reads in English:  “The Coast of Flowers, Empress Promenade.”

The tourist destination of Sanremo has a population of about 57,000 and hosts a number of cultural events including a Music Festival.  There is also a San Remo cycling classic.  Like many of other cities along the coast there are gambling casinos.  There is an annual poker tournament held here as part of the European Poker Tour.  The city is said to be the origin of the five-card stud poker variant called telesina.  In addition to tourism the production of extra virgin olive oil and the cultivation of flowers for  the international flower market of Sanremo aid the economy. 

The city dates from the early Middle Ages and in the past has been part of the Republic of Genoa, the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the Kingdom of Italy.  The name refers to Romulus of Genoa, the successor of Syrus of Genoa.  Modern folktales also refer to the name as a translation of “Saint Remo” a deceased Saint.  Sanremo is home to the International Institute of Humanitarian Law.

More information about Sanremo can be found at:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

No words necessary except, Thank you . . .


World War I

World War II

World War II

World War II

World Wars I & II

Spanish American War

World War I

Civil War

Friday, May 22, 2015

Heather Lake

 The beginning of the trail looked normal

Our most recent hike took us to Heather Lake located on the Mountain Loop highway near Granite Falls, Washington.  The lake is a beautiful mountain tarn, very scenic with views of Mt. Pilchuck.  The hike is listed as a good one for families with children.  We did encounter a family group, two dads, one mom and one grandfather with a total of eight children and a couple of dogs getting ready to start up the trail at the same time we were.  The children looked to range in age from a baby in a carrier on a dad's back to about 8 years of age.  One of the dogs was young but the other, very small dog, we were told was 14 years old and needed to be carried part of the way (by the same dad who was toting the baby). 

These two pictures are just to show how the kids could scramble over just about anything while the poor little old dog with short legs, seen below, was trudging valiantly along but needed some help.  For privacy reasons I purposefully tried to avoid taking direct facial shots but didn't entirely succeed.  All the kids had walkie-talkies which I thought very smart since the they took off running up the trail but were always in contact with the adults who were not going as fast.  Good kids and good dogs.  We enjoyed visiting with them for a few minutes.  The entire group beat us to the lake by a considerable amount of time. 

The trail is popular and on weekends would be very crowded.  We went on a Tuesday when the local schools were closed and saw perhaps 20 people and a few dogs.  Once upon a time the trail was in good shape but due to lack of sufficient funding the Parks Department hasn’t been able to maintain it nor have there been enough volunteers to help keep it in good shape.  As a result while the round-trip distance, 5 miles, and the total vertical gain of approximately 1300 feet, were doable the condition of the trail is the worst I have encountered so far.  Erosion has taken the surface down to large rocks, other sections are filled with roots, in a couple of steep places bare rock is the only way and since there is water running along the rock it is slippery, the wooden stairs and walkways are rotting and people have made detours around several places as safer alternatives.  

 This root tangle IS the trail!

 Storm damage

 This wet rock slab is also the trail

 Up, over and around

Part of the area had been logged years ago but there is a defining line where the large stumps disappear and huge old trees several hundred years old are predominant.   There are sections where it is possible to see the damage done by storms and avalanches.  Also there are places requiring a climb over downed trees or tree limbs. 

This old stump was acting as a nurse log, the roots of a second tree entangled in the rotting stump's center

Magnificent huge old trees

The trail circling the lake, however, is much newer, in better shape, sports a long wooden walkway in good condition, and since it is along the lake shore offers very pretty views.  We even spied a distant waterfall that must have dropped over 600 feet down a mountainside crevice.  In a more normal snowfall year there would have been several more falls and the lake level would have been higher.

 View of the lake from our picnic spot

The trail around the lake

We saw several wildflowers with promise of more in the weeks ahead.  The ones we saw included the first Bunchberries or Canadian Dogwood of this year, Foam flower, Marsh Marigold, Solomon Seal both the starry and false varieties, Youth-on-Age, Salmon berry, Thimble berry, lots of Lily of the Valley, Bleeding heart, yellow and blue violets growing close together, Skunk Cabbage, Trillium, Elder berry and Sitka Valerian.  There were butterflies too, large white ones and several small blues. 

Elder berry

Lily of the Valley

 Bleeding Heart

Yellow Stream Violet

Blue Violets

Bunch berry or Canadian Dogwood

Skunk Cabbage

Salmon berry

 Marsh Marigolds

Sitka Valerian, blooming above, in bud below

False Solomon's Seal

Gathering of small blue butterflies

Nice boardwalk around the end of the lake

Beautiful view of the lake from near the boardwalk

Thursday, May 21, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 195

When we arranged a trip to Austin, Texas for a nephew’s wedding it included a little extra time to see a few things.  One of the places on the list to visit was the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  At first I wasn’t going to do this as a postcard Thursday but I did buy postcards at the gift shop, an example is shown above, hence it did become one after all.  The card is a Texas Production publication with the photo credit given as TX DOT.

The entry into the grounds

This waterfall has an entrance so children (and adults) can go behind it.  The walls of these short tunnels are decorated with primitive rock art.

Dinosaur footprints decorated the sandstone pathway by the waterfall cave.

In one area of the courtyard we found this small door leading into a children's activity room.

The central part of the park houses formal gardens, a play area for children, a gallery, gift shop, and small café, the remainder is really more like a preserve filled with countless wildflowers, butterflies, birds, and animals.  Although we did see butterflies and a few birds we did not see snakes or other animals; however, there were signs with pictures and information about the animals that live in the park.  One of the helpers in the gift shop asked if we had seen the owl nesting with three baby owlets above the entrance arch.  We had to go out and take pictures hoping we got something as the owls blended in so completely with the foliage and stone.  With over 175,000 native plants and four miles of winding trails throughout the park we visited twice and enjoyed several hours of pleasant strolling with lots of things to look at. 

Two of the three baby owls in the nest above the entryway

Much of the wildflower center is open meadow with scattered trees and a profusion of different colored flowers mixed in the grass.  The park grounds are kept as natural as possible.  We did see gardeners removing invasive plants and pruning out the deadwood.

This Live Oak was one of several in the park.  Live Oaks propagate by a series of connecting roots so there are often several trees forming a group. 

Our tour map and information brochure told us that the former First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, and actress Helen Hayes founded the Wildflower Center in 1982 to preserve and protect native plants and natural landscapes.  The park has evolved into a renowned garden and research institution.  Originally called the National Wildflower Research Center the name was changed in 1998 to honor Mrs. Johnson.  In 2006 it became a research unit of the University of Texas.  Lady Bird Lake in the heart of Austin is also named in her honor for her efforts and achievements in beautifying the city. 
We did purchase a Texas wildflower book and fold out charts for birds, trees and butterflies so some of these are identifiable.  I must have taken hundreds of photos, way too many to share but here are a few--

Bluebonnet, the Texas State flower

Evening Primrose



Indian Blanketflower 


Texas Paintbrush

 Red Yucca

Spider Milkweed with bees

Northern Mockingbird

Prairie Pleatleaf

Common Buckeye Butterfly


Black-eyed Susan

Also according to the booklet provided at the gate “the Wildflower Center is a national leader in plant conservation, sustainable landscaping, and ecology-based design.”  Quotes from Lady Bird Johnson: “Wildflowers and native plants are as much a part of our national heritage as Old Faithful or the Capitol Building.”  On a stone placed along one of the pathways had this quote: “My personal hope—that Americans will intensify their commitment to conservation.”  On a large display by the entrance to the park:  “My special cause, and the one that alerts my interest and quickens the pace of my life, is to preserve the wildflowers and native plants that define the regions of our land—to encourage and promote their use in appropriate areas and thus help pass on to generations in waiting the quiet joys and satisfactions I have known since my childhood.”

For more, see: