Monthly Archives: July 2016

Four Qualified Attractions

Many of the attractions I find sit on my list of potential blog subjects without being used.  Often the problem is I can’t find enough information about them to develop satisfying, single blogs or I lose interest. Today I’m recalling 4:  Port Orford, Edessa’s waterfalls, the Frye Art Museum, and Arizona’s 89A Highway.  These are totally unrelated attractions and, in my opinion, worthy of only one paragraph each, so here goes…..

Port Orford is unusual.  It’s a small town on the Oregon coast north of Gold Beach.   The oldest community on the sensational Oregon Coast, Port Orford is in a difficult place that can experience wild weather and flooding.  Because it lacks a decent harbor, to survive as a port it had to become creative and install a rare dolly dock.  In other words, the fishing and pleasure boats are lined up on the dock in rows and lifted into and out of the water each time they’re used. This is so unusual that its hard to find information about this procedure and where other dolly docks are.


Edessa is an old town in northern Greece.  The area is fairly mountainous and has a lot of natural waterfalls. Edessa was the first capital of ancient Macedon partially because of all the textile factories that opened in the area and needed water to operate.  Today the factories are gone and the town relies on tourism.   The steps down to views of the falls have obviously been there for generations without change.  It’s an attraction that has seen better days, and I found it rather sad to watch Greek street merchants with trinkets and treats to sell and no one around to buy them.


The Frye Museum is in Seattle. Displaying the art collection of Charles & Emma Frye, it opened in 1952.   They doted on late 19th and early 20th century German art and collected the 232 paintings that visitors see today. It’s free but limited by the taste of the Fryes who liked representational works with a psychological dimension.   If visitors buy their vision, they will like this museum and the offbeat temporary exhibits that the Frye staff organizes.


Arizona’s Highway 89A is marked as scenic for its entire short length of almost 84 miles.  It begins 6 miles north of Prescott and ends at Flagstaff.  After a long twisty climb, the road does get quite scenic above the old mining town of Jerome, which is so popular at high tourist times that parking is not available. 89A’s at its best when drivers can see across the entire Verde Valley to the colorful mountains above Sedona. It’s at its worst when sightseers descend into that valley and find traffic that doesn’t abate until they’re about half way up Oak Creek Canyon on the other side of Sedona.   I used to love this drive but its popularity has led to overdevelopment and congestion.




Inside Indiana

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Because its Governor is a nominee for U.S. Vice President, Indiana has been in the news lately.  Mike Pence was born in Columbus.  Its #1 attraction appears to be the Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and Museum.  At one time I started a series of blogs on the 50 states.  I’ve been in all of them more than once and have traveled all over Indiana, but I’ve never been to Columbus.   Because I moved from Missouri to Washington, Indiana is now a long way to go for ice cream.   The last state I blogged about was Illinois.  Alphabetically, the next one is….Indiana.

Some surprising people are originally from Indiana.  For example, Michael Jackson was born in Gary.  Larry Bird was born in West Baden.  Bill Blass hails from Fort Wayne.  John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, and John Dillinger, lifelong criminal and organizer of many bank robberies, are both from Indianapolis.  Lew Wallace, a name you might be hearing next month, was born in Brookville.

I narrowed my best destinations in Indiana down to 5.  New Harmony is in the southwest corner on the Wabash River.  Although it’s small, it has a popular resort and conference center, an opera house, and lots of adult attractions because it was once the site of a historic utopian community.  George Rapp and a group of German dissenters moved there in 1814.  Hank & Ruth Harbaugh used to visit New Harmony often to learn about them and enjoy this town’s considerable ambiance.

Richmond was also an early favorite of ours.  This central east town was known for the Amish and architecture. Ruth & I first went there when we learned that its nickname was “Rose City”.  We were seriously into roses until we learned that The Midwest doesn’t have the ideal climate for growing them. Washington does.  Hill’s Roses in Richmond built greenhouses to pamper them but closed its doors forever in 2007.


Kokomo and nearby Greentown have several attraction of note.  The Seiberling Mansion, the Opalescent Glass Company, and the Kokomo Automotive Heritage Museum are worth a look.  The Greentown Glass Museum is fun.

South Bend’s Notre Dame Campus is prosperous and the Studebaker National Museum, which I blogged about it 2 years ago, is 5 Compass.  The city of South Bend itself has seen better days.  The 2 other excellent campuses in this state are Purdue in West Lafayette and Indiana University in Bloomington.

The General Lew Wallace Study and Museum is in Crawfordsville.  Wallace had a distinguished military career in the Civil War and was governor of New Mexico when it was still a territory, but he probably wouldn’t be a somewhat familiar name today if he hadn’t also had a writing career.  His best known book was Ben Hur.  It has been filmed 4 times.   The first 2 were silent.  The 3rd won 11 Academy Awards and is famous for its chariot race.  The 4th version will be released on August 19, 2016.



Two Tucson Treats


The Center for Creative Photography is ambitious.  It has collected more than 100,000 art objects; 90% of them are photographs.  Its goal is to eventually offer a complete, searchable database containing its entire collection, calling this a work in progress.  In the meantime, it continues to collect the finest works of outstanding photographers like Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Gary Winogrand, etc.  I included that last name because he’s my favorite. The staff assured me that The Center for Creative Photography will almost always have one of his photographs available for viewing.

While they make this database dream come true, the curious can get an idea of what they have by going to to see the memorable but uncredited “Night Skies”and an unusual Ansel Adams self-portrait taken in Monument Valley.  Click on the photos shown to see many examples of Adam’s best work.   Did you know, by the way, that before he became one of the world’s most famous photographers his career of choice was music?  Adams, I recently found out, started playing the piano when he was 12.  By 1920 his intended profession was concert pianist.  I saw a filmed performance and he was fine, but he would have been one of many fine musicians. As a photographer he took brain-searing pictures not quickly forgotten.  He claimed that the piano, which he continued to practice, gave him discipline and affected his visual acuity.

If you make it to Tucson and visit the Center for Creative Photography, you won’t see what I did.  The curators constantly change what’s on view.  It’s on the campus of the University of Arizona and is surely among the largest photo collections in the world.  I goggled “the world’s largest photo collection” to try to verify this but failed.

Also on this campus and also definitely worth a look is the University of Arizona Museum of Art.  The Park Avenue parking garage is across Speedway Blvd. from it and the photo museum is just a few steps away.  I was greeted in the University of Arizona Museum of Art by a volunteer as if I was a returning prodigal son and was amazed at the pride and enthusiasm she and others exhibited.   I was also amazed at what I saw.  This is the kind of museum I would normally find in a much larger city.  It has benefited from several big donations, so artists like Hopper, Rembrandt, etc. are on view in some of its 8 galleries.  UAMA’s staff also dreams up unusual temporary shows like the upcoming “Art in Service: Military Families Create”.  It’s on view from August to November, 2016.

While we were in Tucson, Ruth and I both vowed to return as soon as possible, but not in summer, and agreed that this city of slightly more than 500,000 has many more attractions than we would normally find in a city this size.   TripAdvisor lists 65 museums and 50 Nature and Park attractions.  Sabino Canyon and 2 sections of Saguaro National Park on either side of this city are well-known, but 5 Compass Tohono Chul Park is not.  We have a waiter to thank for telling us about it.



The Overrated Museo Nacional de Arte


Mexico City has many art museums.  Perhaps the weakest is the one that should be its best, the Museo Nacional de Arte.   For a national institution that has almost 3,800 works of art from the 16th through the 20th century, it had little of interest when I saw it and few visitors. Well, little of interest to the usual museum patrons.  A rather strange room on the first floor contained many sculptures like “Malgré Tout” and other works of graphic, almost kinky sexuality.

The problem begins with the building.  The National Museum of Art is in the one time Palacio de Communicaciones.  With its palace-like staircases and a massive interior courtyard, it might have been grand a century ago but not now.  And it’s certainly not a space to effectively display art, even those oversized visions of 19th century Mexico.   A lot of them are by an artist, José Maria Velasco, who specialized in landscapes showing the verdant valley where Mexico City is now.   His scenes are probably accurate but too reminiscent of other artists, like Constable.   However, there was one great work of art on display, a painting that all by itself was almost worth the price of admission.

The guide books raved about the Museo Nacional de Arte, making me look forward to seeing it.   My Eyewitness Travel called it “the most important Mexican art collection in the world”.  That’s probably just travel book hype. There were footprints on the floor leading to a small, temporary exhibit of Diego Rivera’s work.  If Mexico has a national artist, it’s surely Rivera.   The couple bending over below is by him, but this image is not in Mexico’s National Gallery, it’s part of a mural in the National Palace.  If I hadn’t seen it prior to entering the national gallery, I wouldn’t have thought Rivera, Frida Khalo’s husband, was much of an artist.  Photography was forbidden in the Museo Nacional de Arte, so I can’t demonstrate.


That’s also why I can’t show you the great work of art, “The Torture of Cuauhtémoc”, that made my visit worthwhile.  It sounds grim and it is.   Leandro Izaguirre painted it in 1893. After yet another Mexican 18th century war, the national cultural emphasis shifted temporarily to pre-hispanic Mexico. Cuauhtémoc was the last Aztec Emperor.  In a vivid painting called “El Suplicio de Cuauhtémoc”, he’s shown being tortured by the Spanish.  Their faces show cruel indifference, while the Aztec with his feet literally in the fire demonstrates defiance. This unforgettable image was exhibited at the 1894 Columbia Exposition in Chicago, the subject of the great book Devil in the White City that is reportedly being made into a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.





Warren Beatty hasn’t made a movie since Bullworth in 1998.  He stars in Rules Don’t Apply, a new film about Howard Hughes.  It will reportedly open on November 11, 2016.  Beatty plays Hughes.  Both this role and the title Rules Don’t Apply are outrageously appropriate.

When Bullworth came out, Warren Beatty was interviewed by Peter Bart, who was working for Variety at the time and writing a book called The Gross.  In an attempt to probe the star system and its salaries, Bart asked Beatty about a major theme in Bullworth, a movie about a suicidal politician, namely “the unfair apportionment of income in this country”.  This has become an important campaign topic in 2016.  “A tiny minority makes the big bucks and the rest of the nation isn’t doing any better than they did one or two generations ago,” Bart pointed out.  He noted that Beatty didn’t even blink when he replied, “Stars are different.  We’re talking about movie stars.”  Is it any wonder that’s Beatty is playing Howard Hughes in 2016?

I live in Washington State.  For a few years now my neighborhood has been flooded with folks leaving California where John Legend and Chrissy Teigen just paid $14.1 million for a Beverly Hills mansion once owned by Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez is paying $28 million for an estate in the Stone Canyon area of Bel-Air.