Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 6 Hilo

Day 6 started with some rain as we made our way down the mountain towards Hilo. As we drove along in the rain to our first destination I found the Apple Maps (the rental car has Apple Car Play) can let you down.

It had me turn on this ‘street’, which after about a mile I decided to give up, and back up until I could turn around. It is literally at the edge of town, so we weren’t way out in the middle of nowhere.

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Eventually we reached the town of Kalapana, about 20 miles south of Hilo, and Kaimu ‘Beach’. At one time it was a black sand beach, but in 1990 a lava flow overtook the beach and filled the entire bay.

As noted yesterday many believe that Hawaii is an independent Kingdom, not part of the U.S., especially for any new land that wasn’t part of the U.S. acquisition.

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This lava flow had some large cracks in it when it cooled.

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We are standing ‘in the bay’ looking back towards town.

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Further down the road is where the Spring 2018 lava flow wiped out 700 houses. While I feel bad for the people and their loss, who builds their house in the path of a volcano that has been flowing nearly continuously for 100 years or more.

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Yet here they are again, already popping up these little houses on the freshly cooled lava.

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Returning the other direction along the coast, we passed through some great forests.

 

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Eventually we reached MacKenzie State Park. Note the fisherman climbing the precariously placed ladder on the left and his fishing pole on the right. I am not sure what he is catching, but I hope it is worth it.

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On another recent lava flow people have placed Cairns made out of coconuts and leaves instead of the traditional rock piles.

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But it did lead to another great coastal view.

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Returning to Hilo, we went to Wailuku River Park, and found this impressive Banyan tree.

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The highlight of the park is Rainbow Falls. If you are there in the morning you will most likely see a rainbow, but it was afternoon so alas, we only saw the waterfall.

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About 20 miles north of Hilo is Akaka Falls. The hike down was through another ‘jungle’, although this one was nicely paved.

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At 442′ high it is one of the tallest waterfalls in America.

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There are even small waterfalls coming out of the rocks to the side of the main falls.

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The falls in located near the town of Honomu.

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Interestingly many small Hawaiian towns are built in the ‘old west’ style, albeit much more colorful.

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Once again we had a great view from our hotel, facing west across Hilo Bay towards the mountains (obscured by clouds in this photo).

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Next door was Lili’uokalani Park and Gardens. The site was donated by Queen Lili’uokalani, with the park being built in 1917 in the Edo style Japanese Gardens.

It is thought to be one of the best in the world outside of Japan.

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Well maintained with beautiful trees and landscaping.

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Along with some sculptures.

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I am not sure what these are known as so I called them Bonsai Palms.

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The park was very relaxing, and a great way to end the day.

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Many of the native trees have really cool, funky looks to them.

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Chillin’ on Coconut Island.

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Our hotel grounds were directly on the bay.

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As the sun was setting the last of the days flights were arriving. The airport was nearby, and the flight path brought the planes down the coast with a hard left turn just before the field. The clouds and setting sun added to the look.

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Another great Hawaiian sunset. Note that Manua Loa has come out of the clouds in the background.

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With that it was time for dinner, with entertainment.

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 2 Around Oahu

Our first full day in Hawaii started off at the crack of dawn, as we headed up into the mountains to hike up to Manoa Falls. As we parked we realized we were surrounded by chickens.

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Our path up the rocky and muddy trail took us into the jungle.

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Eventually we reached Manoa Falls. At 150′ high it is one of the taller waterfalls in all of Hawaii.

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Coming back down the mountain into the neighborhoods we had yet another rainbow. At times it seems we could get rain without clouds, but they were always brief and the sun was out in a few minutes.

 

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Our next stop was Tantalus Overlook. The views from here are amazing.

 

Downtown Honolulu

 

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The airport is built in the harbor.

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Honolulu has height restrictions on buildings so they don’t block the view of Diamond Head. Almost all buildings have to be under 400 feet, so most are 399.

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Leaving the overlook we headed out Pali Highway, stopping at the overlook facing the east side of the island.

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The town of Kailua and Lanikai Beach.

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From here you can clearly make out the cauldron of a former volcano.

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We continued down this side of the mountains to go to the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens.

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After stopping at the visitor center we set off.

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It was great to see plants and flowers we normally only see at conservatories out in the wild. The only down side was the mud, What looked like grass, was in fact mud hiding just below. We came out a mess.

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In addition to the plants and flowers, their views of the mountains were spectacular.

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Eventually it was time to head on and we set out for the North Shore.

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Lunch was at one of the famed shrimp trucks.

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The North Shore is famed for their large waves for surfing.

 

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At the far end of the island we stopped at Waimea Valley, another botanical garden, with less mud than the earlier one. This one had paved paths and a great collection.

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The falls were somewhat of a disappointment, at only 85′ high.

 

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As we returned towards Honolulu we went through a valley with large pineapple fields.

 

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In the middle was the Dole Plantation. Now a tacky tourist spot it did give us a chance to see pineapples in various stages of growth.

 

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They also have nice gardens. But still a very tacky touristy place.

 

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Finally we reached Honolulu as the sun set.

 

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And our day was over – but not before one more treat. In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I they had an all day celebration,  complete with fireworks. And we were lucky enough to have a front row seat from our 8th floor balcony.

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Columbus – November 2018 – Science Center Revisit

In checking the events calendars for something to do I noticed COSI had a model train exhibit, so we headed down for a Sunday morning.

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We headed straight to the upper floor exhibit area where the model trains were set up. Disappointingly we found they are the same ones we see set up elsewhere (such as the fair, etc).

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While nice, we were hoping for more.

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One unique one though was this group who have built their entire train display from Legos. The tracks, the trains, the cars, are all built out of Legos!

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Outside along the hallways are a number of art pieces made out of scrap material. Among other things this one has piano keys, roofing metal, paint brushes, a garden hose and other ‘stuff’.

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All sorts of pieces/parts including license plates.

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A giant frame skeleton hovers over all.

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This display shows the miles and miles of veins and arteries in the body.

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I wish I could remember what this was, but I can’t. No worries – he looks cool.

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One exhibit that they have had since the 1960s is the exhibit ‘Process’. This shows an American street at two different times, one in 1898 then the same street in 1962 (which is when the center was opened at it’s original location).

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It was amusing to see teenagers all running for the various corded telephones, as most under 15 have never used one.

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We happened to be next to one of the presentation areas when they were starting an exhibit on chemistry where the presenter entertained us with liquid nitrogen and others like potassium and their reactions to hot and cold.

On this display she had someone give her a $20 bill, dipped it in hydrogen and set it on fire. In the end the person got his $20 back unscathed, except for being wet where she ‘rinsed’ it.

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She also demonstrated how different gases make different colored flames when exploding (yes they were very loud booms)

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Honda is a big sponsor, with a display on automotive components such as how pistons drive engines, how shocks work, etc.

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The American Museum of Natural History has a very large display that is being presented for a year or so. There were a number of fossils on display.

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There were many on exhibit.

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The display was very large, and very well done.

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Some were models to show the full size of the dinosaur.

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But the actual fossils were best.

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Cleveland – November 2018 – A Traditional Zoo

The Cleveland Metroparks is one of the best parks systems in the United States, circling Cleveland in what is known as the Emerald Necklance

One of their main features closer into the city is the Metroparks Zoo, only 5 miles from downtown Cleveland.

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While much smaller than the more famous Columbus Zoo, in my opinion it is nicer in that there is far less commercialization.

The Metroparks Zoo does have a number of themed exhibit areas including the Rain Forest.  This building, as the name indicates, brings together the plants and wildlife of the jungles.

This little guy is a Golden Lion Tamarin, a highly endangered animal from Brazil.

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The bird below is a Scarlet Ibis. The zoo found it was losing it’s natural color, until they added shrimp to it’s diet.

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A Capybara. While he was in his controlled habitat here, we once had the opportunity to meet one up close in British Columbia. The Capybara is known as the world’s largest rodent, but they seem pretty cool to me.

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Bornean Orangutan. So much for that vegetarian diet keeping weight down – this guy can weigh over 300 pounds.

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The Emerald Tree Boa. 8 feet long with fang like teeth!

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We left the Rain Forest and headed up through the main section of the zoo, stopping to check out the elephants.

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Cleveland has some ravines, and the zoo is built in, and up above one. After the hike up the hill we made our way to the Primates, Cat & Aquatics indoor habitat (with some outdoor space as well).

The Mandrill below is a large monkey, weighing up to 80 pounds.

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One of the many Lemurs.

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This cat like animal is known as a Fossa, from Madagascar. Those in the animal business apparently debate if it is more like a mongoose or a cat.

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More Lemurs – the is time Ring Tailed. This is the most common Lemur.

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Another Lemur – I tried to have a staring contest, which I obviously lost.

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But it was time to move over to the Aquatic side of the house. Our first tank we came to gave us this great view!

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And more…

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We headed back down the hill to the African Savanna section for lions…

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And Zebras

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Our final section was the Wilderness Trek. As I always note on trips to the zoo, I am always torn by being in the presence of such great animals, and the fact that they are stuck in cages. But as with the Tamarin without some conservation some breeds would be totally lost.

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Pittsburgh – October 2018 – Doors Open Part 1

Having been in and around Pittsburgh for most of our lives, we were excited to find that they offer an Open House like Chicago and New York.

Known as Doors Open Pittsburgh, the event took place over a weekend featuring 50 buildings downtown and on the North Side.

I had the opportunity to email a number of times with Bonnie Baxter, the founder of the organization that coordinates the event. Her input was instrumental in our planning that allowed us to visit over 30 of the sites over two (busy) days. Bonnie has done a great job pulling together an event of this scale – it shows her pride in her hometown.

The next 4 posts are fairly long but give a brief overview on each of the venues we visited.

 

Frick Building – As we were walking down Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh waiting for the start of Doors Open Pittsburgh we saw a couple of people in their orange DOP volunteer shirts. Striking up a conversation with them, we found out that one of them, Al, was headed to the nearby Frick Building.

Al also volunteers with the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, and was more than happy to share his knowledge of Grant Street, and the nearby buildings as we walked along. This was a precursor of what was to come, as for the entire weekend we met enthusiastic volunteers who are proud of their city and the architecture.

Once we arrived at the Frick Building we entered the lobby from the Fifth Avenue Side. Al then gave us a personal tour of the lobby.

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This unique lamp served as a cigar lighter feed by natural gas with a perpetual flame (since there is no smoking in buildings anymore the flame has been extinguished.)

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The current main lobby elevators reflect the Art Deco look.

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The re-purposed telephone booths are fantastic. Al pointed out that most people under the age of 25 can’t even guess what they were used for.

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In what started a trend that we kept most of the weekend, most of the buildings have very stylish mailboxes that had to be photographed.

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Grant Street in Pittsburgh used to have a large ‘hump’. In 1914 this hump was taken out, but as a result what used to be a ground level entrance sudden was 15’ in the air, so any building that pre-dates the removal had to be retrofitted with a new entrance in what was the basements. The Frick Building is one of those buildings, having been completed in 1902.

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As a result the second floor/mezzanine level has a very ornate elevator lobby since it used to be the primary entrance.

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The elevator doors are a piece of art in themselves.

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One final look at the lobby; a stained glass window by John LaFarge titled Fortune and Her Wheel.

Whatever history thinks of Henry Clay Frick, he did build an amazing building. Thanks to Al we had a great tour of the lobbies.

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Benedum Trees Building – Our first ‘official’ visit was to the Benedum-Trees Building. I had been fortunate enough to secure ‘insider tour’ tickets for this building, with a visit to the 18th floor to visit the offices of the Benter Foundation.

The 19 story building was completed in 1905 along the Fourth Avenue financial district. The name came from the Benedum Trees Oil Company, founded by Mike Benedum and Joe Trees in the early 1900s.

Our tour started in the lobby with another classic mailbox, along with the building directory sign and some great lighting.

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We then headed up to the 18th floor.

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Our visit was topped off (literally) by checking out the roof top terrace, with commanding views around downtown – despite being somewhat surrounded by newer, taller buildings.

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Later that afternoon we were able to look back from Mt Washington to see where we had been.

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Bank Tower Building – Completed in 1902 as the Peoples Savings Bank Building, the Bank Towers exterior features figures carved by John Massey Rhind.

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Easily the most impressive feature of the building is the spiral staircase that goes the entire 16 floors.

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A very nice bonus to this stop was visiting the offices of MCF Architects, where one of the principals showed us the offices, and some of the amazing work they have completed, as well as historic drawings they have.

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Their security gate is modeled after da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.

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Dollar Bank – Designed by Isaac Hobbs & Sons of Philadelphia in the late 1860s, the Dollar Bank Building on Fourth Avenue is built primarily out of brownstone. Hobbs was known for his ornate design of houses, and it is clear it was carried over to this design.

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Built in the Beaux Arts style, it’s most famous exterior feature are the large lion sculptures, symbolizing a ‘guardianship of the people’s money’.

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The original lions are located inside the building.

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The lobby is impressive, and is used to this day for it’s original purpose, a bank.

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The Park Building – We spent most of our time at the Park Building staring up at the cornices.

Built in 1896, this 15 floor building depicts men kneeling, holding up the building. We have seen this used previously, most recently in the ‘Ruins’ in Indianapolis.

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continued in the next 3 postings.

 

 

Pittsburgh – October 2018 – Doors Open Part 4

Doors Open Pittsburgh continues…

 

David Lawrence Convention Center – David Lawrence was one of Pittsburgh’s greatest mayors, leading the ‘Renaissance’ era in the 1950s. He has been honored by having the convention center named after him.

The convention center is built along the Allegheny River at the edge of downtown.

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It features a couple of gardens in an urban space.

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For Doors Open Pittsburgh the highlight was being able to go on the roof.

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The building is interesting but the views from the roof are great.

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Troy Hill

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A telescope with style.

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The north side of Pittsburgh is very hilly, hence the hodgepodge of buildings in no uniform order.

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A railroad bridge across the Allegheny River.

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Detail on the 16th Street Bridge.

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In Pittsburgh you can have a bridge any color you like as long as it is yellow.

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A different angle view of Gateway Center and Mt Washington.

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The Gulf Building – Sadly it was not open for DOP.

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The Pennsylvanian – one more look.

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Benedum Center – The Benedum Center opened in 1927 as the Stanley Theater, which name remained on it until the 1980s. Many rock concerts were held in this classic theater (Bob Marley played his last show here), although by the 1970s numerous modifications had taken away much of it’s classic look.

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That all changed in the 1980s, with a $43 million dollar restoration that returned it to its original look, complete with opulent lobbies.

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The theater seats 2,800 people in elegance.

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Today it is used primarily for the opera.

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The highlights however are the spectacular lighting, especially the main chandelier.

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The additional lighting would be the centerpieces elsewhere, but here they are secondary to the main chandelier.

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Byham Theater – The Byham is a great old theater, opened in 1903 as a vaudeville house. Had we not just been to the Benedum Center, it would’ve seemed more impressive.

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Our final stop – what an amazing weekend in Pittsburgh thanks to Bonnie and her fantastic volunteers, and the buildings who were willing to welcome visitors.

First Presbyterian Church – This church was completed in 1853, replacing another building that had been built on this spot in 1805.

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Downtown Pittsburgh has many impressive churches, and First Presbyterian is second to none.

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Another great pipe organ.

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The most impressive feature (to me) are the massive doors at one end.

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Although many would say the most impressive feature are the massive Tiffany stained glass windows.

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Columbus – September 2018 – Water Lantern Festival

The Scioto River in downtown Columbus was the scene of a ‘Water Lantern Festival’. This festival’s goal is to celebrate life and inspire the human spirit (in a non religious way)

We arrived as the sunset was just beginning to set, which was a treat in and of itself.

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There were lots of people sitting in the promenade writing personal messages on their lanterns.

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People from all walks of life were participating.

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Each had purchased a lantern and a kit to decorate them, along with the candle.

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Some were kind enough to share their messages with me.

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We crossed the river as is continued to get dark for a view with the buildings as the background.

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The Town Street Bridge with it’s subtle lighting.

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The view of the crowd and buildings was magnificent, but we quickly realized the city lights reflecting in the river made it impossible to really pick out the lanterns as the first ones were launched.

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So we returned back across the river and watch the participants bring their lanterns to the shore.

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It was also apparent that most were being pushed along the wall.

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We made our way to the river’s edge where they were being launched.

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It was a beautiful scene,

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Some families sent theirs out in groups.

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Many had message dedicated to people who had passed away, but some were just wishing others, and the world, good will.

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The view from the river level was really cool.

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A large crowd gathered on the Broad Street Bridge to watch.

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The event was to take place a few weeks ago, but that entire weekend it poured rain. This evening was perfect weather.

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From above the wall you can see the candles in each lantern.

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The view from the Town Street Bridge (and with a good zoom) showed the line down the hill, and the previously launched ones.

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The lanterns with lights from a nearby building reflecting in the water.

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It was a peaceful scene, with the music and people enjoying their lanterns with messages of hope or tribute.

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A great ending to a busy Saturday.

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