Steeles Tavern Manor

Steeles Tavern Manor
The amazingly comfortable Steeles Tavern Manor near Lexington Virginia.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga

To be honest, I don't know a lot about Chattanooga. I went there for the first time recently for a ball game, and to check out the Aquarium.

I love fish and aquatic critters. I could look at them all day long. I don't tell everyone this, but I spent several years raising fish. I moved my bed out of my bedroom once growing up so I could put more fish tanks in my room! Seriously!

So, here are some pictures I took while spending a day at this aquarium. This one seemed very large, and had many unique displays. There were friendly staff everywhere. Let me emphasise the "friendly staff" mention. The staff were telling people about the animals, explaining traits, and answering questions-unlike some attracts where clueless staff are there to discourage visitors. I loved the staff here.

We caught a couple of presentations and Q&A sessions during feedings. That was cool. We walked by a talk and yet another friendly staff person encouraged us to stick around for a session.

We saw the coolest huge turtle swimming (pictured). He swam by many times, and looked at us the same way we looked at him- curiously. I bet we watched him for half an hour. He was popular too, he had some fish following him.

I know, a lot of people think all aquariums are the same, and I understand that feeling. The staff at this one stood out. Also, I felt that the facility was more spacious. I did not feel crowded at this site.

Oh, and we did go see a movie at their IMAX theater. It was called Dolphins and Whales in 3D. Seeing this on the several story IMAX screen in 3D was surreal. The animals truly appeared in 3D. This was an experience that you could not duplicate on your TV screen.

The walkways around the museum are curvy and broken up around the museum on purpose. It almost looks like a movie set for a movie about an earthquake. It is pretty cool. I saw several skaters taking advantage of the odd shaped fixtures.

This is a pretty area too. There are many parking garages and other areas that offer a great view of the city. It is a pig, urban area, but there is still plenty of green to appreciate.

The Bluff View Art District was a lot of fun too. I had some great coffee at a couple of cool, casual coffee shops, and I found a couple of obscure books in the local independent book shops.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Seattle Washington area

I did make a trip out to Seattle a couple of years ago now. This is a really cool place, and I can't say enough about the vibe here. It is a big, happenin' area, but the locals I came in to contact with were very relaxed and cool. The entire area just seemed pleasant. I stopped for coffee and asked for room for cream. The kind staff told me to come back after I doctored my cup up for a top off if I wanted! People just seemed nice everywhere!

I won't type a lot about it, I will let the pictures speak for them self. There are a few things that really stand out though.

Everywhere is photogenic. I took a lot of pictures that I have framed and put on the wall.

We went out to the Mount St. Helens area and my mind was blown. Probably an hour from the actual volcano, you start seeing the blackened grounds left from the 1980 eruption. Like some of the other amazing sites (The Grand Canyon, Mammoth Cave, Alcatraz) you don't realize how spectacular this site is until you are there. When we were there some smoke was actually coming out of the volcano. I had heard that the visitor area was closed off some months before because of rumbling.

They did something really cool at the visitor center. They show a movie about the volcano, and its eruption. At the end of the film, with David Johnston's, "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" being played, the film screen is pulled back to display the actual Mount St. Helens.

In the same area, we found a gift shop with a bigfoot focus. They had a small museum and gifts relating to the cryptid. Out front was a really cool huge statue of it.

we spent some quality time at the Pike Place Market. They have the famous guys tossing fish around. There were many vendors selling about everything. I found some very unique local art there.

We also had coffee at Starbucks #1 in the area.

We did the obligatory visit to the Space Needle. I love Space Needles. This one really offers a view of the entire area. Like Mount St. Helens, this is such a landmark that you have to do it.

Right underneath the needle are the newer notable museums. The "Experience Music" and the Sci Fi Museum are there. I was on a bit of a time limit, and was forced to pass on the music museum. I really enjoyed the Sci Fi one though. Maybe it is because I love Sci Fi, or maybe its because they just had some cool exhibits, but I had a lot of fun here.

We REALLY loved taking the Seattle Underground Tour! AMAZING! Its a long story (check out the web site, or the wikipedia entry) but Seattle is built over what Seattle once was. I would describe the Underground Tour as kind of like going through Seattle's basement.
http://www.undergroundtour.com/



















Wednesday, March 24, 2010

San Francisco California

While I am going through my photos from previous trips, I thought I should post some pictures from San Francisco.

San Francisco was a bit overwhelming. It is a big, non stop city.

It can be a bit crazy for someone from a small country town.

Talking frankly, I do remember the first time I went to a BIG city. It was New York. I remember being approached by homeless people asking for money left and right. It was intimidating. It was very uncomfortable. I was trying to enjoy my trip, but there is that element that is heart breaking.

San Francisco had a lot of that too. I did see some people that were obviously very down on their luck.

Something else that reminded me of my trip to New York years ago were people in front of businesses trying to get you to come in. Many of the restaurants had these guys, and that was kind of cool.

We checked out the Haight Ashbury area, which was very exciting for this old fan of classic rock. I found a map to all of the old cool rock stars homes. Country Joe, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and others lived in this area. Jello Biafra and others that did not come out of the 60s era sprung out of the area too. I was surprised to learn that certain cult leaders put their time in here.

We covered all of the touristy stuff. See my other entry on Alcatraz, and the Winchester Mystery House.

There are references to San Francisco everywhere. A ton of movies and TV shows have been filmed here, or are based here. Monk is a great show.

I was very fascinated with Chinatown. We had a great time there. We found some great jewelry and souvenirs in the MANY novelty type shops. There was a guy playing one of those bowed instruments (I can't think of the name at the moment). He was playing the traditional stuff, but as soon as he saw us coming, he switched to, "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain"! I asked him if he knew "My Old Kentucky Home." He smiled. I don't think he understood my accent.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of those things that you hear about, and then when you see it you think to yourself, "man, it really is that amazing."

The fog very literally does role in. It reminds me of a creepy horror movie in a way. It also reminds me of old Scooby Doo cartoons. Its like a smoke machine. We took some really cool pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge disappearing into the fog.

We took Jim Fassbinder's Ghost walk. I have seen Jim on several travel type shows about haunted places. We had a great time on Jim's walk. Check out his website:
http://www.sfghosthunt.com/fatcow.com/Welcome.html
Jim obviously takes a lot of pride in his research, and in telling a creepy story.

We also made it out to some other notable areas, including Sonoma. I am not a big wine person, but the landscape alone was worth the drive.

So, here are my photos!