Thursday, June 21, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 356

Leather postcard, ca 1908

What makes this postcard so interesting is not the subject matter but the material on which the card is printed.  This is a leather postcard.  Cards like this were novelty cards first introduced in 1903 and discontinued by 1909.  Most often they had cartoons or other artwork burned into the leather.  This one just has a simple greeting. 

Leather cards were popular with tourists.  Most were made from deer hide and could be stitched together with rawhide to make pillow covers or wall hangings.  Some of the pictures on leather cards featured famous people, including U.S. Presidents, local scenery, comical designs and pictures.  Some of these artworks were also hand colored but most others like this one were just burned letters or images.  There were several publishers of this type of card and some even allowed purchasers to add their own pictures or wording on the front. 

In 1907 the U.S. Postal Service banned the leather cards because they jammed the postage-canceling machines.  Even so some cards were still made and mailed until as late as 1909.



As mentioned previously, the Lees had friends who sent lots of postcards from all over the globe.  Somehow many of these old cards have survived the years. The sender has put I.C. Lee’s name on the top line and the return address on the next two lines with the date of December 22 but this card was mailed within an envelope and there is no stamp.  It makes me think it was sent after 1907 but by 1909 when the cards were no longer printed or available for purchase.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 355

Tower of London, Inner Ward and Bell Tower, ca early 1900s

The company of Léon & Lévy was one of the most important producers of photograph postcards in France.  Headquartered in Paris, they specialized in postcards like this one and stereoscopic views of locations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.  The stereoscopic cards featured two images that when looked at with a special viewer, similar to a more modern View Master, created a 3-D picture. Founded in 1864 by Isaac Lévy and his son-in-law, Moyse Léon, their trademark is seen on the card above as LL.  The cards were all numbered and it is possible to estimate the date by the number.  Since this card is 312 and the card numbers go into the thousands, it is probably from the early 1900s. 

Officially Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London, it is most often called The Tower of London.  The Inner Ward, shown on the card, was built in the 1190s.  The castle covers 12 acres and the Tower Liberties an additional 6 acres.  Since 1988 it has been an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Sections of the complex have been used as an armory, a treasury, a menagerie, housed the Royal Mint, a public record office, home of the Crown Jewels of England and a prison.

During the reign of Richard the Lionheart a moat was dug to the west of the innermost ward nearly doubling the castle size.  Henry III had the east and north walls constructed.  Most of Henry’s work has survived until today with only two of nine towers rebuilt.  The towers provided a way to defend the castle from a potential enemy attack.  Many of the towers have names that reflect other uses, such as the Bell Tower that houses a belfry so alarms could be sounded in the event of an attack.  The Bowyer Tower was where the royal bow-maker had his workshop and made longbows, crossbows, catapults and other hand weapons.  The Lanthorn Tower had a beacon light for night travelers.  The Bloody Tower is where the two young princes, Richard and Edward were held captive and later murdered. 

Today the Tower of London is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United Kingdom.  Historically it was besieged several times and had a reputation as a place of terror and torture; although, only 7 people were executed there before World War I and World War II when 12 people were executed for espionage.  Most executions took place on Tower Hill rather than within the Tower itself. 

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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Redwood National & State Parks, 2018, part 2, animals & birds

Sign welcoming us to Elk Prairie--there really are elk there!

One of our Happy Hiker friends said she liked the photos in the blog but would really like “more animal pictures, more animals.”  On our recent trip to the Redwoods we did see some animals so I can share.  Animals and birds do not stand still very long making it difficult to get good pictures especially if they are shy of humans.  My new little camera has some quirks and it is taking a long while for me to figure out how to use the macro lens to take flower pictures but the telephoto lens is great for animal shots since I can be far enough away not to scare them.

 California ground squirrels--cousins to marmots and rock chucks

The Crescent City, Battery Point Lighthouse parking lot was near a colony of California ground squirrels.   A few of them held still long enough to get some photos.  These squirrels look different from the ones we have in our trees.  These guys have pretty spotted coats.  We found the entrance to their underground home but all the ones we saw were above ground munching on plants or seeds.


We saw several shore birds like these Whimbrels with their curved beaks poking around in the sand for tidbits to eat.

This is a Black Oyster Catcher who posed for photos.  I had previously seen one in Norway and didn’t know what it was; now we know they are here too.

A bright blue Steller’s Jay held still for a few seconds and then turned his back, but the back shows the pretty pattern on his feathers so I didn’t mind the snub. 

Chipmunks move so fast it hard to catch them but this little guy was cooperative too. 

Almost all the male elk were in the grass with just their heads and antlers showing

 The females and young elk were in another section of the prairie

Baby elk hiding in the grass

We also saw two herds of elk; males in one group the females and young in another.  The grass was tall in the meadows and the young elk were almost invisible. 

 These silly sea gulls were playing a game. 

We encountered many small freshwater streams flowing into the ocean on almost all the 13 beaches we walked.  This fast moving, slightly deeper stream of fresh water provided entertainment for gulls.  The gulls would walk up on the sandy beach until they reached the deepest, fastest, running water then jump in and be carried down the stream a short distance before hopping out, walking back up and jumping back into the stream.  We watched them for several minutes.  They seemed to be having a wonderful time.

 A jumbled mass of sea lions on the rocks below the observation area. 

The bull sea lions spent a lot of time and energy roaring at one another and occasionally lunging at the opponent

Inside the cave area.  This is where the Steller sea lions congregate in the winter

A stop at the Oregon Sea Lion Caves tested the telephoto.  The larger Steller sea lions are found there.  We were informed that this is the breeding season and the sea lions spend the days on the rocks outside the caves.  In the winter they are inside.  Even though the sea lions were down below us about 100 yards from the viewing platform we had no trouble hearing their loud vocalizations or smelling them.  They are very stinky.  A little more about the sea lions will be coming in a future postcard Thursday.

These California sea lions are slightly smaller than the Steller sea lions at the caves.  Instead of gathering on the rocks they seem to prefer the sandy beach. 

We drove less than ½ a mile from the sea lion caves to a viewing area along Highway 101 and saw a colony of the smaller California sea lions on the beach below.  There were equally noisy but fortunately for us we were just far enough away not to smell them.

 The birds on this rock out in the sea were far away but appeared to be the black & white Common Murres

At the Yaquina Head lighthouse we saw not only the lighthouse but felt like we stepped into a National Geographic special when we looked out and saw a big rock covered with birds.  We also saw a grey whale spouting three times and once just a glance of part of him as he went back under the water.  Sadly it all happened so quickly we did not get a photo.  

We also visited the Prehistoric Gardens.  I don’t know if this counts as animals or not but it was fun.  All the dinosaurs are placed in the forest and although they are obviously not alive they are life sized. 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 354

Craters of the Moon, Idaho, ca 1960s

The large blocks in the photograph on this postcard are called The Castles or sometimes Monoliths and were once part a large cinder cone.  The blurb on the back of the card states “When the liquid lava broke out of the crater, it carried with it sections of the crater wall . . . These light cinder blocks float on the heavy lava as icebergs float on the ocean.”  The card was distributed by Western Color Sales, Portland, Oregon and is labeled Plastichrome by ColourPicture Publishers, Inc., Boston, Mass.  It has two numbers on the reverse side, I-2101 at the lower left, and P33260 at the top center. 

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve is located in the Snake River Plain, central Idaho between the towns of Arco and Carey.  This is about halfway between Boise and Yellowstone National Park.  The elevation is 5,900 feet or 1800 meters above sea level.  President Clinton expanded the Monument that was originally established in 1924 and portions of the expanded area were set-aside as Craters of the Moon National Preserve in 2002.  Both the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management manage the area.  In addition to the three major lava fields there are about 400 square miles of sagebrush steppe grasslands. 

Rifts as deep as 800 feet or 240 meters can be found in the lava fields.  Some of the features of the lava fields include examples of nearly every variety of basaltic lava, tree molds or holes left by the trees that were consumed by lava, and caves called lava tubes. 

Trappers, pioneers and cattlemen knew about the lava fields in the mid 1800s but general public awareness of the area was the result of newspaper and magazine articles written by Robert Limbert who explored in the 1920s after hearing about the strange landscape from trappers.

For additional information, see:

Monday, June 4, 2018

Redwood National & State Parks, 2018, part 1, trees and flowers

Redwood National & State Parks

Every so often Bob decides it’s time to go on a mini vacation.  May is supposed to be the best time to see the wildflowers in bloom in the Redwood National & State Parks so we packed our bags and set out for a long drive to Crescent City in northern California.  The plan was to stay there for 3 days and then start a slow return home via Highway 101 along the coast. 

The weather was mostly cloudy but we did not have rain and while the temperature was hovering between 55 and 60 degrees F it was just right for hiking some of the trails and was even warm enough to dip toes into the cold, cold Pacific Ocean.  We do have a National Park pass and most places we visited either were free, a minimal fee, or accepted the pass.  

 The Big Tree, 1500 years old

This Big Tree is 1500 years old and still living.  It is hard to get a picture that reaches from top to bottom of a redwood tree because they are so tall, some reaching nearly 400 feet.  A few of the very old trees, like this one, have a protective platform around them so that people wishing to get close will not damage the roots and unintentionally harm the tree.  I was able to touch the trunk of the tree from the platform being amazed to touch a living thing so extremely old.  

 The trees are so huge, they need a person by them to give some perspective

 Too tall, impossible to get the entire tree in the photo

Shrouded in fog these majestic trees are awe inspiring.  It was foggy and cool to cold in the forest.  We had a map and decided to take a couple of the suggested loop trails, Ellsworth and Liefer loops on the Walker Road trailhead and the Stout Grove trail all in the Jedediah Smith section of the park.  The map made it look like they were short and fairly level but both the Ellsworth and Liefer trails ended up being a lot longer than anticipated and there was significant elevation gain too.  I noticed one sign labeling the trail as “difficult” in places.  After we got back to the car Bob informed me that these trails were designated for experienced hikers (like us?).  We had quiet and solitude among the big trees and only encountered one other family group of 5 people attempting those trails; other visitors had opted for the very short paved, easy trails right at the turn offs instead.  We also visited another section of the park to see the Lady Bird Johnson Grove.

 Bob standing by a downed tree

A fire damaged tree that was still alive even though most of the bottom part of the core had been burned out.

As hoped and planned we did see lots of flowers in bloom.  Irises in two colors, yellow and blue-violet were growing almost everywhere, along the roadside and in among the trees.  Native western azalea in a beautiful multi-color with an amazing fragrance!  Native rhododendrons by the hundreds were in the forest and along the road. We saw trilliums, oxalis, fairy bells, and a new plant for us, as yet unidentified.  It looks like it is probably a lily or perhaps an orchid.  It had shiny large leaves, a tall stem and a cluster of red-pink flowerets.  It was a very pretty plant and not in our flower book.  Even the Rangers at the information centers could not identify it for us. However, since there were several of these plants sprinkled in the forest it cannot be that uncommon.  

 Trillium near the end of the bloom

 Yellow and blue irises

 Western azalea

 Unidentified lily or orchid

 Ice plant

 Beach morning glory

 Pink rhododendron

 Dwarf beach lupine

 Lily of the Valley

Meadow parsley

The first time we noticed the wild cucumber vine with its pretty white flowers I was enchanted; however, as we began to see it climbing over all the other plants and in huge masses it lost some of its appeal.  Bob assured me that it is a native plant and dies back in the winter and is not as awful as the invasive Himalayan blackberries.  Nevertheless I do not want it in my garden.

 Wild cucumber vine

Lupine, yellow, blue, purple-pink, and white, covered entire hillsides in places.  Our lodging in Crescent City was steps away from the beach and we could walk along in the sand each day we stayed there.  Along the beach we saw ice plant and beach morning glory as well as a dwarf variety of lupine.  

Yellow and purple-blue lupine

Note:   Posts to come from this trip:  animals, lighthouses, and ocean beaches.  Of course, as always I picked up numerous postcards, so there will be postcard Thursdays in the forest too.