Thursday, November 24, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 274

Dome of the Rock also called Mosque of Omar, Old City Jerusalem, 1967

An American friend who was studying Hebrew and living in Beer-Sheba but looking for work in Jerusalem sent this postcard with a picture of the famous Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.   She had taken her dog with her and in the note on the card mentioned in part, “she (the dog) was quite a novelty in a country unused to pet keeping.”  Here are her comments about the Dome: “This mosque is marvelous—continually being built since the 8th century or so—inside is The Rock, the center of the world—the 2nd center I’ve seen (the other at Delphi)!”

Published by "PALPHOT" Herzlia in Israel the postcard has the number 8131 at the center back under the company logo.  The place is identified in Hebrew, English and French.

The Dome of the Rock also known as the Mosque of Omar is located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.  The card was sent in October 1967, the same year as the Six-Day War that happened in June, and was also the first year non-Muslims were given very limited access to this landmark but were not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, or take any religious artifacts or anything with Hebrew letters on it with them to this place.  Because of security concerns the Israeli police helped to enforce these rules.  In 2006 the Temple Mount was opened regularly to non-Muslim visitors during certain hours and prohibited at other times.  All visitors are subject to strict security screening.

Completed in 691-692 CE it was built on the site of the Roman temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, which had been built where Herod’s Temple and earlier still the Temple of Solomon stood.  The Foundation Stone is cordoned off in the center of the dome and is supposed to be the site where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  The Stone and its surroundings is the holiest site in Judaism.  Muslims believe that the rock is where the Prophet Muhammad led prayers and rose to heaven to receive instructions from Allah.  The dome collapsed in 1016 and was rebuilt in 1021.  The architecture and mosaics were patterned similar to that of nearby Byzantine churches and palaces.  Several changes have been made to the structure over the years.  Prior to 1959 the roof had been blackened lead that was replaced with aluminum-bronze plates covered with gold leaf during a massive restoration project 1959-1962.  The tiled façade shown on the card above is from the 16th century. 

Included here are two other interesting items.  The stamp on the card shows the Straits of Tiran, narrow sea passages separating the Gulf of Aqaba from the Red Sea, and the Israeli flag.

Bob had several of these Israeli coins and I liked the design then discovered that it was minted close to the time the postcard was mailed; hence I decided to share it with the card.  Prior to about 1970 Israeli money was minted as pounds/lira after that time it was changed to shekels and more recently to new shekels.  This coin is identified as both “pound” and Agorot Shekel from about 1971. 

For additional information, see:

Thursday, November 17, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 273

The Sunken Gardens, Butchart Gardens, Victoria, B.C., Canada, ca 1971

In 1904 Robert Pim Butchart and his wife, Jennie moved from eastern Canada to western Canada where they settled on Vancouver Island.  Mr. Butchart manufactured Portland cement using the rich limestone deposits he found in his quarry on Tod Inlet on the island.  By 1909 the limestone quarry was no longer producing and Jennie decided to turn it into a sunken garden.  She saw potential in ordinary work objects and used the mine carts as planter boxes.   The Sunken Garden was completed in 1921 and they began receiving visitors to their gardens about the same time.  About this same time the Butcharts named their home “Benvenuto” or Welcome.  Approximately one million people visit the gardens each year.

As the postcard, one of a set of 12 cards, above shows the Sunken Garden.  Her beautification efforts were very successful.  The cards were published as a "postcard pack" by DAD-SON Trading Ltd., Vancouver, B.C. and printed in the United States.  The number on the reverse of this card is found at the lower center, ICS-106369.  Mrs. Butchart didn’t stop with a sunken garden, however, and moved on expanding the gardens to include different themes in the various sections.  In among the plants and pathways visitors also find streams, fountains, statues, a vintage carousel, birds and birdhouses.  There are also places to eat, a gift shop, an information center, and a conservatory with windows that open to allow visitors to see orchids and other more tropical plants in bloom.  The gardens have continued to remain in the family and are now owned by a great grand daughter.  These gardens are a National Historic Site of Canada.  

We visited the gardens recently and were amazed at how large and beautiful they are.  Even at this time of year when many flowers are through blooming for the season the gardens have been arranged and planted with things that bloom throughout the year.  In the autumn there are mostly asters, begonias, chrysanthemums, a few roses, cyclamen, dahlias, hydrangeas and several others things we could not identify.  The gardens are lit at night and during July and August there are fireworks displays on weekends.  During the Christmas season the gardens are decorated with colored lights.  Perhaps these photos below will be a temptation to visit?

Originally part of the Butchart's home this building now houses the conservatory, eating places, an art gallery, and an information center.  

We never did find out what some of the flowers were including these large yellow hanging blossoms Bob is examining above or the blue and white ones below.

 Begonias in hanging baskets

Two-toned Hydrangea

Bed of Begonias

 Two views looking down into the Sunken Gardens, 2016


 The Ross Fountain developed for the 60th anniversary of the gardens

The Rose Carousel and Children's Pavilion

 Dragon fountain



 Star Pond

 Italian Garden

Border plants in the Italian Garden

The Butchart Boar, Tacca, is a replica of a boar at the Straw Market in Florence, Italy. 

The entrance/exit gates with flags from around the world

For additional information, see:
"The Butchart Gardens" published by the Butchart Gardens, 2015

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Dock Butte & Blue Lake

 Mt. Baker and Black Buttes

One of the places we had not been on a hike was the Blue Lake Trail that also goes to Dock Butte.  This trail is located near Mt. Baker and has beautiful views of the mountain, Black Buttes, Glacier Peak, Mt. Shuksan, and the Twin Sisters Range.  Toward the beginning of the trail it separates with one section going to Blue Lake and the longer route heading up to Dock Butte.  The drive was far enough from home to encourage us to hike to both so we did Dock Butte first and then on the way down took the trail to the lake.  The round trip was 4.7 miles with a 1200-foot vertical gain.  

 A closer view of Black Buttes, an old giant volcano crater on the west side of Mt. Baker.  It blew out the side similar to Mt. St. Helen's.  It was believed to have been higher than the current Mt. Baker.

Mt. Shuksan

 Twin Sisters

 Glacier Peak

Picket Range

We did this hike in mid-September when there was a little autumn color and a few plants had berries such as the Mountain Ash, Twisted Stalk, and Elder Berry.  The trail to Dock Butte is quite steep with the very last portion a hand and foot scramble that we decided not try.  Instead we had our lunch at the false summit and enjoyed the views.  We were very glad we took the effort to visit Blue Lake also as it is a beautiful small mountain lake well worth seeing. 

Red Elder Berries

 Fall color

 Twisted Stalk berries

 Bog Orchid still in bloom

Mountain Ash berries

Fall colors 

 Small mountain tarn

Panoramas of Mt. Baker and the trail near where we stopped for lunch

Blue Lake

Thursday, November 10, 2016

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 272

Castlebay, Isle of Barra, Scotland

The picture on this travel postcard shows Castlebay, the main village on Isle Barra one of the Outer Hebrides.  The card dates from approximately 1950s-1960s and has the number 6710 at the lower right front corner.  It is a “Hail Caledonia” product published by Whiteholme Ltd of Dundee, Scotland.   The latest population census lists the number of inhabitants as 1,174 with 761 or 62% Gaelic speakers.  Fishing and tourism are the main sources of income with a future Distillery planned.

The village takes it name from Kisimul Castle featured on the card below published and produced by the same company as the card above.  The number at the lower right is 6709. 

Kisimul Castle, Isle of Barra, Scotland

Considered more or less impregnable because the castle has its own fresh water wells and was built just off shore on a rocky islet that can only be reached by boat.   It has been the stronghold of the Clan MacNeil since the 11th century.  When the island was sold in 1838 the castle was abandoned and left to deteriorate.  Some of the stones were used as ballast for fishing boats and some ended up as paving in Glasgow.  Almost one hundred years later in 1937 the then clan chief, Robert Lister MacNeil who made some restorations, purchased the castle and most of the island of Barra.  In 2001 the Clan leased the castle to Historic Scotland for 1000 years for the annual sum of £1 and a bottle of whiskey.  There is an ongoing archaeological investigation of the castle to help determine the age of the castle and to see if anything else had been built there earlier.  Several items such as rubble and shells, pottery and animal bones have been unearthed thus far.  A small gold object in almost mint condition was also found and is currently being looked at by specialists to determine its age and purpose.

Thanks to J and K for sharing these two cards.

For additional information, see:

Friday, November 4, 2016

Hurricane Hill

Parking area and visitor center

Sign pointing the way

On the return trip from Victoria, B.C., Canada in September we stopped on the Olympic Peninsula and took a hike at Hurricane Hill.  I had never been here before and it had been several years since Bob had done this one.  This is a very popular area with convenient parking.  The trail is wider than some in the woods and most of it is paved, wheel chair friendly, although it would be a lot of work to roll or push up parts of it.  On the way down we did meet a young man in a wheel chair who was propelling himself but also had a friend with him to help where necessary.

The day was sunny with fluffy clouds and cool enough to be a great day for hiking.  We saw deer, chipmunks, birds, butterflies, and a few flowers still in bloom.  

 Blue Bell of Scotland also known as Harebell

 Pearly Everlasting

Lots of people hiking on this nice wide open trail

 View along the way

 Autumn colors down below

 There it is not too far ahead, the summit

 We made it to the top!  Thanks to a couple we met from Arlington, Virginia we have this photo to prove it.  Turn about was fair play and we took pictures of them too.  We have met many nice people on hikes (and even some nice dogs--but no dogs are allowed on trails at this park). 

We found the marker at the top

Port Angeles is below in the center, Victoria, B.C. is across the water

There were lots of these little guys foraging for food

and finding something to eat

Butterfly in the grass

 Gray Jay posing on the sign

 There were several deer also finding things to eat.  They seemed almost oblivious to hikers and would cross the trail right in front of people.

Another beautiful day outdoors . . .