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Holler Orchids~

Quiet beauty.

For difficult days.

Fragile.

Strong.

Like you,

and I.

Orchids grow,

in volcanic rock.

Beauty blooms from fire.

Cheers to you and keep on blooming~

Belgium in the Mojave~

The Oasis Inn in Death Valley National Park lives up to its name. But there is so much more in the area. Come on, let’s go explore….

Check out The Goldwell Open Air Museum, established by four Belgian artists in 1984, just outside the boundaries of the park.

The artists created large scale outdoor sculptures which, in combination with the desert landscape, result in a truly unique visual experience.

The feeling this evokes, like the desert itself, is eerie.

This is one of the artist abodes. Check the museum out at: http://goldwellmuseum.org/

After we explore the remarkable museum and it’s ghostly sculptures by ourselves for as long as we want (there is no one here to bother us), we mosey on down the road to Rhyolite, Nevada, a gold mining ghost town that boomed and busted between 1904 to 1920.

At it’s peak in 1908, Rhyolite had a population of 8,000. By 1920, when the gold had petered out, the population stood at 14.

The post office, the bank, the store, the school, all were abandoned.

Can you imagine living in a desert that reached the hottest temperature on earth with no AC?


One home, built in 1905, was constructed almost entirely of 50,000 beer bottles. It is one of the most well preserved buildings in the ghost town.

You can see the bottle details in this section of wall. You could sing “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall,” in this house, and actually be counting! For more on this unusual home see : http://www.nbmog.org/bottlehouse.html

Cheers to you from the fun to explore and always mysterious Mojave ~

Oasis Reflected~

In the stark desert landscape,

The Inn at Death Valley

is an oasis

transforming the desert

into a tropical paradise

bursting with life.

Cheers to you from The Oasis at Death Valley~

Note: The Oasis Inn at Death Valley was built in 1927.

Merry Christmas to You From Our Small & Wonderful World~

St Petersburg Russia

Strasbourg France

Santorini Greece

Melk Austria

Nuremberg Germany

Lisbon Portugal

Dubrovonik Croatia

Prague Czech Republic

Cinque Terra Italy

Budapest Hungary

And Merry Christmas to you, from me, at The Holler~

(Photos: C.Knoke)

Inner Inn (Pt. II)

The Mission Inn in Riverside California, built over a sixty year period beginning in 1876, is a living museum full of priceless art and antiquities. It has two onsite chapels, one is dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi and has glass works designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany in 1906 for a chapel in New York.

Many Della Robbia style ceramics from Italy,

are on stunning display throughout the property.

The Inn is a National Historic Landmark which you can tour on your own or with a docent. The art and artifacts overflow the spacious Inn and there is a museum with more art across the street that can also be toured.

Ten US presidents have visited The Inn,

and there is a presidential lounge dedicated to them.

The mission style interiors are comfortable and spacious, but the most amazing spaces for me are all the inner courtyards which are like beautiful outdoor rooms full of whimsical artwork and constant surprises.

Exploring is great fun as everywhere you look you find precious art and artifacts.

The clock tower has a glockenspiel with full size rotating figurines that is a replica of the original built in Nuremberg Germany in 1709.

The Inn has over 400 antique bells. One from Nanjing China dates from 1247 and is the oldest bell in Christendom.

Cheers to you from the fascinating and fun Mission Inn in Riverside California~

Mission Inn~

The historic Mission Inn which occupies several blocks in downtown Riverside California is the largest Mission Revival building in the United States.

The Inn was built in 1902 by an engineer named Christopher Columbus Miller. His son Frank expanded his father’s original efforts, and added wings, rotundas, chapels, museums and galleries.

The building contains a mixture of Spanish Gothic, Moorish and Mediterranean revival architectural styles. There is a Spanish Wing, an Alhambra Wing, and flights of fancy everywhere you look.

Frank Miller traveled the world collecting museum quality treasures to fill the inn, including what some say is the oldest bell in in the new world dating from 1247.

There are two chapels on the property including the one pictured dedicated to St Francis of Assisi.

Louis Tiffany designed two of the mosaics in the chapel.

The Rotunda Wing features a five story open air staircase.

The rotunda tops a suite dedicated to the writer Anne Rice.

Presidents, world leaders, and many famous folk have stayed in the inn over its history and the inn has a presidential lounge dedicated to the many presidents who have stayed here.

The Inn began a period of slow decline in the 1960’s where ownership changed hands multiple times and bankruptcies occurred, eventually forcing the city of Riverside to purchase and close the property for eight and a half years. In 1992, The Historic Mission Inn Corporation purchased the property and reopened it in all its former glory.

I will show you more details and the interiors of this amazing building in my next post. Until then, cheers to you from The Mission Inn in Riverside California~

Port Townsend’s Painted Ladies~

Port Townsend has to be one of the most charming towns we have visited.

It is a historic Victorian seaport on the edge of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state.

Click to enlarge if you want to see the details of this amazing house and garden.

The town is bordered by the stunning Puget Sound and the Straight of Juan de Fuca.

It has panoramic views of the sound and the snowy Olympic Mountains.

This beauty with her Mansard roof is perched overlooking the water, with windows everywhere, to capture the views.

Port Townsend is full of art galleries and artists.

The residents have restored the town’s many painted ladies to surpass their former glory.

Bounded by seas and sounds, Port Townsend has wonderful restaurants, as well as fun pubs and cafes.

St Paul’s Episcopal Church is a gothic revival built in 1860.

Wandering the the old Victorian neighborhoods is a architectual browsers paradise.

Cheers to you from stunning and historic Port Townsend~

Valparaiso Open Air Art II~

The city of Valparaiso Chile is full of over a thousand large scale open air art murals, some like the one above, cover the walls of multi-story buildings.

The first murals were painted by art students from a local university in the 1960’s and 70’s, in an area of the city called Cerro Bellavista.

This area is now a landmark named El Museo a Cielo Abierto (The Open Air Museum).

Valparaiso in entirety was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

Walking in this city wide open air art museum, one is struck not only by the talent of the amazing artists,

but also by their appreciation of the beauty,

joy, and humor of life.

To this day, artists are continuing to add their talented contributions to this remarkable city.

Valparaiso is a magnet attracting artists of all kinds. Their artistry makes visiting here a pure joy.

Cheers to you from beautiful Valparaiso and her amazing artists~

Serenity in La Serena~

El Parque Jardin del Corazon (Garden of the Heart) is the largest Japanese garden in South America.

It is located in La Serena Chile.

La Serena is Chile’s second oldest city, know for its historic neocolonial architecture.

The garden was built in 1994 as a cooperative effort by businesses in Japan and Chile to celebrate La Serena’s 450th anniversary.

It is full of lagoons, waterfalls, and native Japanese flora and fauna.


This is a Spot Flanked Gallinule, native to distinct areas of Chile and South America, making himself quite at home in the lush Japanese gardens!

Note: There are Golden Carp swimming in the gardens, but I photographed the Koi in San Diego and added them, feeling they fit in nicely with the landscape ambience.

Cheers to you from Chile’s Garden of the Heart~

Valparaiso Open Air Art~

There are hundreds of wall sized open air painted murals all over Valparaiso.

Click to enlarge this photo to see how the artist recycled plastic soda bottles to create living window planters for her imaginary town and writes about the need to creatively recycle plastics .

The talent and creativity of these artists blows me away.

In this hostel, I zoomed in on the art around the doorway in the photos below, so you can see the detail.

What strikes me is how talented these artists are,

and how many of them will remain unrecognized.

It is often luck that makes one famous, and another unknown.

In a fairer world, all these artists would be recognized for the true talent they have.

Valparaiso is full of gifted artists, but it also has so many poor people, and the largest slums in Chile.

The unfair fact this illustrates is that talent and poverty often reside together.

Please note: I am traveling by sea now and have limited access to internet. I will check in when possible but please excuse my inability to be responsive online.

Cheers to you from the talented artists of Valparaiso~