Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bridge With Two Names

You can see a baseball statue at the bottom of the photo and the top of the bridge looks like 2 horses.

I'm back from my weeklong break and hope everyone had a great Christmas.

I was always fascinated with this bridge as a kid and loved the 5 second or less ride through it. It is named the "3rd Street Bridge" because it's on 3rd Street and since they built the AT&T Baseball Park next to it, it was also named the "Lefty O'Doul Bridge".

As this is the last post of the year, I thought a bridge was appropriate for a journey into the new year. Happy 2008 to everyone!

- AV

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Taking a Break & Early ABC Wednesday

Dear Blog Friends,

I'll be out of town and taking a week's break from blogging, so I hope everyone has a happy and safe holiday. Click here to see a very cool Christmas light YouTube video.

See you again soon,

Air-filled snowman float seen at a recent parade

Motorcycles next to Santa's sleigh at another parade and I couldn't pass up this photo-op.


W is for Washington, DC on ABC Wednesday

W is also for Washington Monument

W is also for the White House

W is also for World War II Memorial

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wednesday Hero Special Holiday Posting

This week's hero was suggested by Cindy & Kathi

Arlington Christmas Wreaths
Each year, around this time, since 1992, the Arlington National Cemetery has something happen to it. It gets covered in vibrant green Christmas wreaths. The wreaths are donated by a man named Merrill Worcester who is the owner of the Worcester Wreath Co. in Maine. From the Worcester Wreath Co.'s website:

Each year Worcester Wreath donates Maine wreaths to adorn the headstones of those who serve and those who sacrificed to preserve our freedoms. In 2007, over 10,000 wreaths are destined for the annual wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington. In addition, 2,500 wreaths will be sent to Togus National Cemetery in Augusta, Maine. Worcester Wreath also donates ceremonial wreaths that will be used as part of the Wreaths Across America events at over 230 State and National veterans cemeteries all across the Country.

Sometimes a hero is one who sacrifices everything in their life to help others. And sometimes a hero is one who sacrifices nothing more than their time.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesday Hero, you can go here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Teddy's Tree Lighting

In 1911, the Dixon Family donated the first teddy bear to place on top of the annual holiday tree. Unfortunately, over the years, Teddy disintegrated and he was refurbished with a new outer layer in 1987. After a few huge storms in 1998, he had to be refurbished again. This is how Teddy looks today as he is getting ready to be hoisted to the top of the city's holiday tree by the local utility department.

Here is the beautifully lit tree. You can't see Teddy as he's waaaay up there.

This is the local middle school jazz band performing at the ceremony.

A few of Teddy's furry friends were also in attendance.

My photograpahic journey through San Francisco will be put on hold for now for photos more befitting for the season. Happy Friday!

- AV

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

V is for Versailles on ABC Wednesday

Petit hameau de la Reine ("Little hamlet of the Queen") was a retreat for Marie Antoniette on the grounds of Versailles.

Grounds of the Palace of Versailles

I was looking forward to this tour, but it ended up being one of my worse experiences. Because of the enormous crowds, I could not see anything or enjoy my tour as we were "pushed" along and was not able to stand anywhere for a long period of time.

This is the famous palace garden. I was happy to get out of the palace for some fresh air.

Here is another picture of the garden from a 2nd floor palace window. Since I couldn't see much of the interior, at least I was able to peek outside one of the open windows. Sigh!

- AV

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wednesday Hero

This Weeks Hero Was Suggested By Leo

SSgt. Mike Mills
SSgt. Mike Mills

On June 14, 2005 SSgt. Mike Mills's life was forever changed. The HETT(Heavy Equipment Transport System) he was riding in was hit by an IED. The attack resulted a cracked clavicle and scapula bones, dislocate shoulder, broken left hip, 4 out of 5 bones broken in his foot and being set on fire. The driver in the truck behind him ran with a cooler of melted ice which he threw on Sgt. Mills to put him out.

He spent three months in the Brooks Army Medical Center at Ft. Sam Houston, TX with the injuries listed above plus 2nd, 3rd and deep tissue burns to 31% of the left side of his body. The first thing he remembers thinking after the attack was that his soldiers needed him and he needed to get back to them.

"Then the guilt set in about what I did to my family. I've totally screwed that up. Look at me, no don't. I look hideous. How can I face my kids looking like this. They'll be embarrassed to be seen with me. What if they won't love me anymore? Speaking of love, my wife, oh my god. How can I expect her to stay with me. I'm not a man anymore. She's not going to want be intimate with a freak. What if I can't work, how do I support myself, my family.

I had the nightmares and couldn't sleep. I wasn't eating and was loosing weight. I didn't really care. If I didn't start eating, they where going to put the feeding tube back in. Who cares, I've totally screwed up my life anyways."

But he found out just how much is wife loved him, when she stood by his side throughout the entire ordeal. She was there for every wound dressing and even learned how to change the dressings herself.

SSgt. Mike Mills now runs the site For The Veteran... By A Veteran in which he helps veterans, soldiers and their families find information they may not have been given after their medical discharge or retirement.

Some may say that Mike gave his country more than enough when he was severely maimed by an IED on that fateful day of June 14, 2005, but Mike continues to give to his fellow servicemen, as well as to his nation!

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your blog, you can go here.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hiking at Lands End

Freighter sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge

That is not an UFO in the upper-left, but a blimp that flew over the bridge. I assume it was flying to the San Francisco 49ers football game happening that evening.

Since I showed you the Bay Bridge a few weeks ago, here is the other famous local bridge.

I went hiking this weekend in San Francisco at Lands End. I had never heard of this place and just stumbled upon it by chance. Lands End is described as "the wildest, rockiest corner of San Francisco - a corner strewn with shipwrecks and a history of landslides."

Unfortunately, I discovered this hiking area called "The Coastal Trail" late in the afternoon so I didn't get a chance to go from one end to the other (2.5 miles roundtrip) before it got dark. But, I did catch a few quick shots of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean at the various vista points not blocked by trees or vegetation. The slight fog and the sound of foghorns in the distance really made it an extraordinary experience.

Apparently, there has been over 150 shipwrecks near this area and during low-tide, you can see ship parts from oil tankers Lyman A. Stewart (wrecked in 1922) and Frank H. Buck (1937), and the boiler of the freighter Ohioan (1936).

Also, a railroad used to run in this area, but a 1925 landslide wiped out the tracks. Click here for a circa 1900 film of the train ride.

Of course, I didn't know any of this history until I got home and did some research. I guess this gives me an excuse to go back for a revisit.

Have a good week!

- AV

Friday, December 14, 2007

Outside the Hyatt

Across from the Ferry Building is the temporary holiday ice rink. It's put up every November through the middle of January.

This is the facade of the famous Hyatt Regency Hotel across from the Ferry Building.

A statue outside of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. I haven't quite figured out what it is, but it looks a little like a samurai to me. After looking at it now, it looks like I have taken its backside. Haha!

Have a nice weekend!

- AV

Thursday, December 13, 2007

San Francisco Railway Museum

The F-Line streetcar passing in front of the Railway Museum and Ferry Building

Sign outside the Railway Museum.

This is the interior of the museum. It was much smaller than I expected.

Kids or adults can wear a conductor's cap and pose for photos in this makeshift streetcar. You can see this streetcar at the back of the museum in the previous photo.

- AV

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wednesday Hero

This Week's Hero Was Suggested By Louie

Bill Juneau
36 years old from Rush City, Minnesota
November 27, 2007

If there was one thing Bill Juneau loved as much as his country, it was his dog, Jake.

The accident-prone black Lab, who has been hit by two cars, had a toe amputated on his right paw and survived eating 42 candy bars in one sitting, once fell off a dock and through the ice on a lake while Juneau was hunting with his best friend, Dan Bock.

Bock said Juneau jumped into the icy, chest-deep water to save his dog.

"He threw that wet dog on the deck and sacrificed everything to save him," said Bock. "Bill's just that type of guy."

Juneau, a 10 year veteran of the Chisago County sheriff's deputy, was in Iraq helping to train Iraqi police recruits when his convoy was hit by and IED 50 miles outside Baghdad. A spokesperson for DynCorp, the private firm Juneau was working for, said Juneau was driving the lead vehicle in the large convoy that included U.S. Army personnel as well as members of the Iraqi National Police Force. The convoy was headed for a scheduled training mission. An Iraqi translator and a U.S. Army soldier sustained injuries in the blast as well.

His twin sister, Bridget Sura, said he wanted to help Iraqis rebuild their country and create better lives. "He would often sugar-coat the bad stuff, because he wanted us to know about the positive things," she said. "But we still worried every minute of every day." Another reason he joined was because he loved adventure, she said. While with the Chisago County Sheriff's Department, he started and led the country's SWAT team.

Jake, his dog, has been embraced by Juneau's sister's family. "He has more lives than a cat," Sura said, adding that they recently discovered a chocolate stash he'd hidden in his kennel.

"Jake is a part of my brother," she said. "He[Bill] will be missed by a lot of people. This will leave a hole in a lot of people's hearts."

These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. For more information about Wednesday Hero, or if you would like to post it on your blog, you can go here.

U is for Universal Studios on ABC Wednesday

This is the lot where the 1991 movie Backdraft was made. You can really feel the heat when the flames are turned on full blast during this walking tour.

I am on a tram ride through the studio where the movie Jaws was filmed.

Poster of Hollywood Sign that many attendees like to photograph.

View of various movie lots below and Studio City in the background.

U should have been for Urrrgh this week! I took some other U related photos a few years ago, but I can't find them on my hard drive. That is disturbing! Anyways, you are now stuck looking at some old vacation photos of Universal Studios - Los Angeles.

For those not familiar with this place, it is a movie studio and theme park. Many well-known television shows and movies have been and are still being filmed here. The rides and stage shows are based on movies such as Jurassic Park and Waterworld.

- AV

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ferry Building Marketplace

Ferry Building Exterior during a busy Saturday farmer's market.

While standing on bridge on the 2nd floor, here I am looking towards the left end of the Ferry Building's interior.

While standing on the same bridge on the 2nd floor, I am looking towards the right end of the Ferry Building's interior.

I have passed by this building numerous times, but this was my first trek into its interior. It is now a busy marketplace filled with stores and eateries. Imagine back in the 1890's, this place was a busy intersection for ferry and train commuters; however, as automobiles grew in popularity, the use of this building and the waterfront area started dwindling.

If not for the big 1989 San Francisco earthquake, this area might have never been revitalized. The freeways that have been blocking the view to the Ferry Building were badly damaged in the quake so they had to be torn down; thus, the rediscovery of this area.

Click here for more historical information about this building.

- AV

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Crouching Spider

Just a hop & skip away from the Bay Bridge and Pier 14 walkway is this gigantic spider sculpture. It was a big hit with the kids.

- AV

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Walking Through Pier 14

High school art students created tiled works of art at the beginning of the Pier 14 walkway.

Swivel chairs for visitors to sit and enjoy the view. I think the pigeons in the picture were glad to have a place to perch being so far away from land.

The end point of the 637 foot long pier.

Looking back at the city from the pier's end point. If you look at the lower left corner of the photo, you can see the Cupid's Span bow & arrow structure mentioned in my November 26th post.

This $2.3 Million public walkway project was opened in June 2006. It felt strange walking out over the water and seeing the Bay Bridge looming before me. And, to be able to get a glimpse of the city skyline so far out in the water, but still be on land is spectacular.

- AV

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Around the Bay Bridge

This is the San Francisco Bay Bridge which connects the city to the east side of the bay with Treasure Island in the middle. The fireboat on the lower left belongs to the San Francisco Fire Dept.

The view of the bridge from these residents' back windows is a little too close for me.

I happened to catch a flock of birds flying in formation over the bridge.

The Delancey Street Christmas Tree lot was getting ready to open for business. You can see the bridge in the background.

- AV

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

T is for Tahoe on ABC Wednesday

Lake Tahoe
This area is typically just called Tahoe and it's known for its ski resorts and gambling casinos.

Model of Lake Tahoe
2nd deepest lake in the United States at a depth of 1645 feet and 22 miles x 12 miles wide. It has been rumored that a 60-foot long serpent-like monster named "Tahoe Tessie" lives at the bottom of the lake.

Squaw Valley
2nd largest ski resort in the Tahoe area and site of the 1960 Winter Olympics

- AV