Talakadu — October 2015

Last year my hosts in Bangalore took me on a great trip south to Talakadu (or Talakad). Talakadu is a small town about 87 miles (140 kilometers) south of Bangalore and about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Mysore. From Bangalore, you take the Kanakapura road south, go well beyond Kanakapura and well into the countryside. It is a pleasant drive.

Talakadu is famous for its temples, and for the temples being buried in the sand. In a conflict in the early 17th century, a curse was put on Talakadu that led to it being covered in sand. Wikipedia covers it well as does this story from the Deccan Herald.

Several of the temples have been excavated from the sand. These are actively used for worship and are being maintained and restored. This is the Sri Vaidhyanatheshwara Temple.

A wide view of Sri Vaidhyanatheshwara Temple

A wide view of Sri Vaidhyanatheshwara Temple

Here is another view. The lighter colored carving is new work replacing stone that had worn away in the intervening years. I have been unable to find the date when these temples were originally built.

The lighter stone is new construction replacing worn away stone

The lighter stone is new construction replacing worn away stone

The interior at the back is beautifully carved and decorated.

The interior is quite pretty

The interior is quite pretty

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Pterosaurs at LA County Natural History Museum

We recently visited the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum to see the Pterosaurs exhibit. This is an excellent exhibit and I highly recommend seeing it. It runs through October 2nd 2016.

Here is the original entrance to the museum. Now you enter off of either Exposition Boulevard or opposite the Coliseum.

The original entrance to the LA County Natural History Museum

The original entrance to the LA County Natural History Museum

Pterosaurs are prehistoric flying animals. Closely related to dinosaurs, they are only one of three groups of animals to have achieved powered flight, the others being bats and birds. They ranged in size from a wingspan of 18 inches to the massive quetzalcoatlus which had a 33 foot / 10 meter wingspan. I’m not sure of the name of this one, though; it greets you at the entrance to the exhibit.

This pterosaur greets you at the entrance to the exhibit.

This pterosaur greets you at the entrance to the exhibit.

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Julian Gold Mine

Back on the July 4th weekend, we traveled south from Lake Riverside to visit the historic town of Julian. It is about a 50 mile, one-hour drive through beautiful countryside from Aguanga, through Oak Grove, through Warner Springs to Julian. We have visited many times but not for the last couple of years. But on all of these visits, we have not gone to the Eagle & High Peak Mine tour.

Yes, you do walk into the hillside.

The entrance into the Eagle Mine and the starting point for the tour.

The entrance into the Eagle Mine and the starting point for the tour.

The whole reason for going is the tour, of course. This tour has a good guide. He not only looks the part, he is very knowledgeable and presents the content well.

Our rour guide was knowledgeable and presented the material well.

Our tour guide was knowledgeable and presented the material well.

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Cedar Springs Trail

On Memorial Day weekend, we took a hike up Cedar Springs Trail in the San Jacinto National Forest. The trail starts about three miles up Morris Ranch Road in Garner Valley. The trail is shown on Google maps as Pathfinder Road. You turn north on Morris Ranch Road from CA Highway 74 (the “Palms to Pines Highway”) at the fire station in the village a few miles west of the junction with CA Highway 371.

The trail head is clearly marked.

Cedar Springs Trail is at the end of Morris Range Road on the north side of Garner Valley

Cedar Springs Trail is at the end of Morris Ranch Road on the north side of Garner Valley

The San Bernardino National Forest hiking guide describes the trail as follows:

Cedar Springs Trail (4E17) This moderate trail begins on Morris Ranch Road 4 miles north of Hwy 74. The trail travels through private property; please respect private property rights and stay on the dirt road. This 3.2 mile hike begins at 5760 ft. The trail connects with the Pacific Crest Trail along the Desert Divide south of Palm View Peak at an elevation of 6400 ft. To reach Cedar Spring cross the PCT and continue northeast for one mile.

We only went up the first mile, turning around just where the relatively flat road ends and the switchbacks begin. It was a very pleasant day, with the plants in spring green and blooming. The trail starts wide and flat. Clearly this has been used as a road.

There were many wildflowers on the trail

Ther were many wildflowers on the trail

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Lovric’s Sea Craft, Anacortes Washington

When we were on Spring vacation in Anacortes, Washington, we had a chance to walk through Lovrić’s Sea Craft, a large boatyard on Oakes Avenue. Follow the link to the website for the facility, it has some great before and after pictures of their work on boats of all kinds.

Lovrić's Sea Craft -- A large boatyard in Anacortes, Washington

Lovric’s Sea Craft — A large boatyard in Anacortes, Washington

Lovrić (the correct name, according to the website, is without the “‘s” but with the acute accent on the “c”) is on the north west side of Fidalgo Island, along Guemes Channel. This is a view from the boat yard toward the island.

Looking south toward Anacortes.  Cranberry Lake is over the hill to the right.

Looking south toward Anacortes. Cranberry Lake is over the hill to the right.

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A Trip to Matheran, Maharashtra India

In March of this year, I had the opportunity to visit Matheran, a ecologically preserved plateau a couple of hours drive from Mumbai. It was a wonderful trip. This post will mostly consist of a small subset of pictures I took on the trip. I cannot thank my TCS colleagues enough for arranging the visit. I do not include any individual pictures except myself to preserve our team’s privacy.

The trip was to Matheran, an ecological preserve and resort area about 55 miles (90 kilometers) from Mumbai. It was a several hour drive in a nice bus. Here is an aerial view of the plateau of 2500 feet (500 meters) altitude that makes up Matheran. I was lucky to get this from a flight from Bangalore to Mumbai during the same trip.

Aerial view from a Jet Airways flight of Matheran

Aerial view from a Jet Airways flight of Matheran

Look below the fold for many more pictures and detail.
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Kanheri Caves, October 2015

On my most recent trip to India, the team organized a visit to Kanheri Caves, located in Sanjay Gandhi National Park in the northern part of Mumbai. The caves are a large complex of rock cut shrines and living spaces that were made from the first through the eleventh century AD.

Kanheri Caves were created for Buddhist worship. There are 110 caves ranging from small, plain living spaces to large temples. The larger caves are chaityas, the place of worship of the Buddhist community. The small ones are viharas or monasteries, they consist of single and multiple celled where the Buddhist monks resided. Individual cells are 10 foot square living spaces with a bench cut into one side for sleeping.

It was quite hot, so I recommend starting your visit early in the day. I was also told that it was very nice to visit during the Monsoon.

Here are some photographs I took during the visit. This first set is of a Chaitya.

Chaitya Interior

Chaitya Interior

Chaitya Columns

Chaitya Columns

Column Top Carving

Column Top Carving

Chaitya Exterior Carvings

Chaitya Exterior Carvings

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Clouds

There were some amazing clouds out in the Anza Valley on the evening of October 17th.

A very impressive cloud over Cahuilla Mountain illuminated by a setting Sun.
Clouds over Cahuilla Mountain

The Moon next to some interesting cloud waves.
The Moon

A close up of the cloud waves. Note the small ripples on the left top of the cloud.
Interesting Cloud Waves

A full panorama looking to the east.
Panorama to the East

A pretty view looking toward Mount Palomar.
Clouds over Palomar

Angry Cats

A couple of weeks ago, we had the opportunity to visit a member’s preview of the Mummies: New Secrets from the Tombs exhibit at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum. It is a remarkable exhibit with very good natural science about mummies from both Egypt and South America. It was developed by the Field Museum in Chicago. Did you know people mummified their dead in South America? I didn’t either but now I do.

In the South American part of the exhibit they had some very interesting pottery that was buried with the dead. It is in the motif of angry cats. Cats are a motif in art of the Nazca plains, source of the mummies and the pottery.

This is my favorite pot. I like the handle and the great expression on the cat.

One Angry Cat

One Angry Cat

This cat has some impressive teeth.

What Teeth!

What Teeth!

Here is the collection.

Angry Cat Pots

Angry Cat Pots

There were no toys or trinkets in the shop based on this pottery. I think that is a mistake on the part of the museum.