Underground living: Forestiere Undergrounds in Fresno

How would you like to live in a cool underground dwelling while it’s sweltering topside? Yes, this dwelling would have all the creature comforts available at the time it was built. You may not have that option today, but in 1906, Balasare Forestiere began digging to escape the heat of his new home in Fresno, California.

An immigrant from Sicily, Forestiere bought this land hoping to plant trees like those in his native country. However, the soil was not conducive to growing anything and the heat was oppressive. So, Forestiere began digging his home–air-conditioning was not an option then! He dug and planted until his death in 1946, leaving acres of living area in the cool underground. Some of it was sold by the family and some bought by the government via eminent domain for highway 99. His brother held on to the current acreage, finishing what Forestiere had planned. Today, his nephew still tends to the place with the help of The Forestiere Historical Center. While the land is still privately owned, it has been designated as a California Historical Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I did introduce the gardens to you in my last post, but wanted to show you more of this amazing place. I was impressed with how airy and well lit from natural sources the catacombs were. Forestiere had planted citrus trees underground and they grew to the surface and beyond via openings. As he dug, he kept changing his living quarters. In the end, it was like a maze. He wanted to have people come to escape the heat, enjoying the cool underground quarters. But, that never materialized as a business, He did have guests though.

Take a look at this amazing cool underground dwelling. If you are experiencing hot weather, you’ll wish you were here!

Back from Death Valley, part 5

I just don’t understand WordPress and their new setup. This is going to be a short post since it’s the second time doing it. I wrote and added pictures and accidentally published without adding tags and categories. In the old setup, you could edit the published post and update it. I did find where I could revert to a draft, pressed the button, and lost the entire post!

Enough grumbling. Death Valley is so diverse geologically that you could never be bored. Even though we couldn’t do major hiking and some trails were closed, we did get a good sense of this beautiful park. Today I have shots of Ubehebe Crater, The Sand Dunes and Mosaic Canyon. Our favorite was Mosaic Canyon and most of the images are of it. Explanations of the areas are in the captions.

Finally got my photo fix: Family Thanksgiving Weekend, Capitola Beach

Busy, that’s how I would describe Capitola Beach. Of course, the holiday weekend helped. The city was gracious to offer free two or three hour parking, but you had to go move your car. We were about a half hour late, but didn’t get tagged. This was my first time to this cute little beach town.

It catered to whatever you needed: surfing, just sitting on the beach, fishing, shopping and eating. My family opted for all except surfing. The grandkids enjoyed their beach time, their parents enjoyed relaxing, other family members enjoyed not catching fish, and the rest shopped. I had fun walking and shooting. My wonderful husband walked with me and patiently waited while I took pictures.

Here are some of the beach images. My next post will be on Monterey.

A change of attitude: The Optainium Cup Race at Mare Island, part 2

When you wake up at 5:30 in the morning to find a busted pipe, a flooded back yard and a broken water heater, it’s difficult to concentrate on a change of attitude! All is well now. Wow! We were lucky to find a plumber who came out right away and worked on both projects. But, I’m still working on changing that attitude. You know the one where you say, “I’m not good enough.”

So today I bought a new software editing tool from On One. The only problem is that it won’t work on my computer which is a 32 bit. For now, I’ll install it on my laptop and upgrade my desktop which really needs it. I did go through the thought process of I have a new camera that I haven’t learned all about yet, Lightroom that I haven’t mastered all the way, Photomatix that, again, I haven’t mastered, am I good enough to get more software. YES! Eventually I will be master of all my software.

Now for the continued story about the Optainium Cup. At each challenge station, the racers had to complete some tasks. Jayne and I were at the Mad Hatter station. You really had to choose one because you couldn’t walk from one to the other without missing some of the action. One photographer rode her bike around from station to station, but didn’t stay long.

At the Mad Hatter they had to talk to the bunny who gave them a special egg, great the Queen and wake the sleeping mouse. It was set up to be fun and it was.

What was, isn’t: Hallberg Gardens, part 2

Continuing on the theme of “What was, isn’t,” we’ve made a lot of changes ourselves personally. For us what was–a 31 foot 5th-wheel trailer–isn’t any more. After losing a wheel and axel on our way to a star gazing trip, we decided it was time to sell the aging home away from home. We just bought a new, used 24 foot travel trailer. At our age, this makes more sense. We will use our time share for distance travel.

The Hallberg Gardens faces the same dilemma, Louise Hallberg needs help to revive her dream. She too, is aging. I wish I lived closer so I could get in there and work. I confess, I have a black thumb; but I could help clean up. I’m hoping Hallberg Gardens will survive.

Meanwhile, here are the rest of the images from the Meetup.



Family reunion in Las Vegas and the Valley of Fire

It’s a wonder that near┬áthe neon, fast paced city called Las Vegas, there are two beautiful natural areas. Yesterday I showed you Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and today I’ll show you images I took last night at the Valley of Fire State Park. They are both beautiful, but different.

While the Valley of Fire also has red rock, it has more formations like you’d find in Arches National Park. We did miss some formations because we stuck to the road due to the late hour and lack of any shoes to hike in. But, there still was much to see during the golden hours. My only regret was the lack of a sunset worthy of shooting.

That was because the high winds blew sand and grit into the air creating a haze of sorts. The wind was so strong that as soon as I released my car door lock, it blew the door open. Many times I had to brace myself so I wouldn’t fall down. I hope you like today’s photos and, maybe, visit the two awesome areas someday.

Tonight we are going into town to catch some neon and whatever else we can.


The battle continues and more from the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament

I did spend some time with Lightroom today, but not enough to come out a clear winner! Every time I use it, I learn more. So, stick with me, and hopefully my editing will improve. I still can’t access the Lightroom presets. Maybe after I post this short blog, I’ll check through my tutorials or on YouTube.

I did find the rest of the church pictures–thank goodness for a great filing system–and I’m posting them.

I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for Lightroom this weekend because I’m sitting for my young grandkids starting tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll have time and energy left in the evenings to get some time in.

Here are the rest of the images.



The Animal Kingdom unedited

It’s tough. It’s tough to go to a Disney park and have a bad time even when you are suffering from a cold. And, this cold just won’t give up! The day after we went to the Animal Kingdom, Richard and I moved the family to another time share. So, moving day, we did nothing but moved suitcases and set up the two bedroom suite while the all the kids were in a park. We didn’t mind because we weren’t feeling up to going.

The next day it was raining and cold in the sunshine state, so we stayed at the hotel. Greg started setting up the booth at the trade show. Yes, vacation was over from some of us.

This brings us to yesterday, Sunday. Jess, Richard and I took the little ones into Disney Studios. You’ll read more about that and see some images maybe tomorrow.

Right now Richard and I are relaxing with the grandchildren while their parents are working the trade show. And, I’m taking the opportunity to at least start this blog about the Animal Kingdom. I just loved that park. There’s a lot for the children to do, and the decor is wicked wonderful. I was a little disappointed with the Safari ride mainly because the road was so bumpy and it was difficult to take pictures. I carried both cameras, and thanks to my new sling, I was comfortable all day. Richard, the grandkids and I are going back tomorrow, but I think I’ll just take one camera. After all, I still have the cold and the going is sort of tough.