Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Luxury Mission Bay Rental

This pass week, my family and I rented a house near Mission Bay in San Diego, CA.  The house was perfect for the 14 of us vacationing there for a week.  The home sits on Milton Street, on a hill with amazing views of the bay.  It is a three story abode with 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, huge living room, kitchen, and dining room with a balcony.  The large master bedroom suite has a walk-in closet, double sinks, big tub, and shower.  Through the double french doors in the master bedroom, you walk into the backyard.  The pool consumes most of the space, and with all the shrubbery surrounding the property, it is very private.  My only complaint is the entrance gate is on an incline which made it sometimes difficult to see on-coming vehicles.  But with the cool 75 degree weather all week, this desert gal loved it.

The house was located near many of San Diego's hot spots.  It was 10 minutes from Mission Beach, Sea World and Historic San Diego.  It took us 15-20 minutes to get to Coronado Island and Seaport Village.  It took the kids 45 minutes to get to Legoland from the house.  We also had many choices of restaurants and shopping stores near us.

Here is the website where you can get all the information on this house if you are interested in renting it:  http://www.vrbo.com/150938

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Old Lifeguard Tower

I saw this lifeguard tower in Mission Bay Beach in San Diego.
I found it fascinating and had to take pictures of it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sea World

We went to San Diego 6 years ago and now we have returned.  Having fun and will be back to posting soon to share the whole adventure.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Murder and the Plantation

The murder/suicide house and Rosewell Plantation ruins in Virginia are a couple of places to see while in Gloucester.  I couldn't help but to take tons of pictures especially of Rosewell.  Every inch of that place offered a great picture to photograph.  The murder/suicide house was a creepy place with an interesting story.

This magnificent ruins are all that are left to the Rosewell mansion built in 1725-1738 and gutted by fire in 1916. I take you on a photographic tour of what now remains.  Check out my post from last year on this magnificent place:  http://above-the-norm.blogspot.com/2014/08/haunting-rosewell-plantation-ruins.html

This eerie abandoned house in Virginia has sat empty for over 60 years following a murder-suicide. Many rumors have floated around about witches using the place and of ghost haunting the house.  For more on the history of this place and the experience Sharon and I had, check out my blog post from last year:  http://above-the-norm.blogspot.com/2014/07/haunting-murdersuicide-house.html

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Creepy Motor Court

I posted this video last year, but this place was so creepy and overgrown with vegetation, I felt it needed to be shown again.  I want to thank our VA friends who knew we would love to explore and photograph this place.  It was an urban explorers dream place.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summer Fun

This summer, my family and I are heading west to San Diego for a well needed vacation.  We are renting a house which is a short walk to the beach.  Of course we plan to visit the usual tourist traps, but we are most excited to hit the beach.  The cool salty waters and beaches sounds great to this desert dweller.  I will be sharing this entire vacation in a few posts on this blog.  But until then, I will get ready for the beach with a look back at last year's vacation in Virginia with Sharon.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

They're Creepy, Spooky and Famous

Haunted Mansion (Disneyland)
Here are some houses that are just as creepy as the people living in them.  They have shown up in your favorite scary movies, TV shows, and even entertainment parks.

The Addams Family (snap, snap)

Bates House (Psycho)

Hewitt House (Texas Chainsaw Massacre)

The Munsters

Amityville Horror

Whipstaff Manor

House on Haunted Hill


Monday, June 8, 2015

Not the Usual Place to Get Married

Your wedding day is very special, but some people don’t want a church or typical garden wedding.  These people want to get married at a venue that reflects who they are.  Some places are quirky while others are in hard-to-reach but breathtaking locations.  Wherever you chose for that special day, Arizona has many great places to get married.  Here are just some of the ones I found:

Elvis Memorial Chapel
The Elvis Memorial Chapel is a movie mementos museum for movies filmed at Apacheland, and was donated to the Superstition Mountain Museum.  It was taken down piece by piece, nail by nail, and has been reconstructed on the museum ground.  It is also where weddings have been performed and sometimes with the watchful eye of Elvis lurking from behind.

Top of a mountain
Many love the gorgeous views from any of the mountains in the state.  Some pick South Mountain with its view of Phoenix or others may choose the red rocks of Sedona.  Still others enjoy the amazing views of the Grand Canyon and chose that place for their wedding nuptials.

The Farm at South Mountain
The Farm at South Mountain is a wonderful mixture of a cafe, restaurant and wine bar.  Also found on the property is a healing therapy center and an antique store.  You can book an event such as a wedding or parties at the place too.  The scenery and food are fantastic!

Phoenix Zoo
Why not get married at a zoo?  Not only will you have human guest, but critters and hairy animals as well.  Many areas of the zoo provide beautiful backdrops for a wedding.  If you have any unruly guests, they can spend the night in a cage with the lions and tigers and bears…. Oh myy!

Pioneer Living History Museum
My daughter and I attended a wedding at this place and it was fun.  The museum is located just north of Phoenix and sits on 90 acres.  It is set up as an old west 1800’s town with precise replicas of buildings you would have found in that era.  On the premises you will find an opera house, cabins, theatre, blacksmith shop, sheriff’s office, jail and of course, a chapel.  It is a great little town to visit and to get married in.

Chase Field
Take me out to the ballgame and buy me some diamonds….  Yep, many people love baseball so much that they want to be married at a ballpark.  Chase Field in downtown Phoenix offers that possibility.  It is a gorgeous venue and would make an amazing setting for your wedding.

Heard and Rosson House Museum
What a great place to get married among the historic painting and exhibits.  Both have stunning gardens, and rooms for all kinds of events.  A wedding with a variety of books, paintings, artifacts, and historic displays would make a fabulous locale for your special day.

Historic Towns and Places
How about getting married on the streets where Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday once walked?  There are many historic mining towns which provided places for you to get married.  How about Schiefflin Hall or the Courthouse in Tombstone?  The mining towns of Bisbee and Jerome have great scenery as a location for your wedding.  If you love the Wild West and want a whooping up good ol’ time at your wedding, perhaps a western mining town is the place you should choose to hold your wedding.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Must-Sees and Dos in Arizona

When visiting Arizona, there are many places to see.  Two places that come to mind right away that top people’s lists are the Grand Canyon and Tombstone.  Of course they should be on your list, but there are other places you should check out as well.

Sedona and Oak Creek
The city of Sedona spans to some degree in the Verde Valley, between Coconino and Yavapai counties. Surrounding the downtown are vivid orange-red sandstone rock creations as vibrant as Sedona’s sunset. There are many places to hike and enjoy the breathtaking scenery this place has to offer.  People come to this serene settlement for the mountainous hiking trails, spiritual healing powers of the vortexes, and even for some UFO hunting. Sedona has it all. One of the main characteristics of this town is its many vortexes which seem to have New Age spiritual healing abilities. Some are certain the organic formations of the red mountains are contributing factors to the energy of these soothing powers.  Sedona’s vortexes have since become so popular that visitor centers now offer handouts and maps pointing out their locations. There are also guided tours, which highlight Native American and New Age spirituality. Sedona is a wonderful place for hiking, camping, and taking jeep tours to some on the area’s utmost remarkable sites. Sedona also offers lots of shopping, places to dine, a variety of hotels and resorts.  It is only a few miles from the Verde Valley wine country, old mining town of Jerome, the Native American ruins of Tuzigoot, and Flagstaff.

I can’t talk about Sedona and all its wonders without mentioning Oak Creek Canyon. This breathtaking ravine is located near Sedona and south of Flagstaff. One of the Grand Canyon’s little sisters, this picturesque valley of trees, red rocks and wandering creek is a site to be appreciated. From Flagstaff you are first overjoyed with the scenic overpass where many Native Americans have tables of their handmade goods for sale. After taking in the beauty of the canyon, it is time to drive the winding roads and U shape turns to reach the bottom of the canyon. It is approximately 13 miles from the lookout to Sedona but you there are places to stop at along the way.  One of those places along the route is Slide Rock State Park. Slide Rock got its name from the natural water slide formed by the slippery bed of Oak Creek.  It is located in Oak Creek Canyon and only 7 miles from Sedona.  Be sure to bring a few pairs of pants because the smooth rocks on the slide will wear holes in your drawers. There are several places for you to have a picnic along Oak Creek as well as places to camp. You can pitch a tent, roll out your RV or rent one of the several cabins located inside the canyon. No matter where you stop in Oak Creek Canyon, the views are to die for.

Monument Valley
This place is located in the Navajo Nation and the Four Corners area where Arizona meets Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.  It has been noted as the “most photographed landmark” in the United States.  With its vibrant red scenery and unusual shaped rock monuments, this area has been seen in many movies shot in that location.  I went there as a teen with my family and hoping to go there again this fall with Sharon.

About 3 hours north of Phoenix on Interstate 17 and located in Coconino County, sits the city of Flagstaff.  It rests in the center of the “world’s largest ponderosa pine forest” where hiking and camping are plentiful.  Flagstaff has many historic sites, museums, shops, restaurants, Native American items, and is close to many other national parks.  This charming metropolis offers an infinite amount of activities for you and your family to enjoy.  The enormous mountain that is visible anywhere in town is the San Francisco Peaks.  On this mountain you will find the Snow Bowl for skiing and a lodge with cabins for your vacation stay.  In the summer, the lifts will take you to the top where you can experience a breathtaking view of the valley below.  There are many historic and interesting sites to see while staying in Flagstaff.  The Arboretum has a large array of plants which are indigenous to the area.  The historic site of the Pioneer Museum is located in the city as well as the Lowell Observatory, North Arizona University, and a historic district with many old buildings, shops, and restaurants.  Grand Canyon is only 80 miles north of Flagstaff, and takes you along a scenic drive of thick forest and dazzling mountains.  Located about 31 miles from Flagstaff in Williams, you can visit Bearizona Wildlife Park.  This place is where guests can maneuver through paths and observe the natural world of wild animals all from the safety of their own automobiles.  Meteor Crater was created about 50,000 year ago when a hug chasm was formed after a meteor struck the earth about 35 miles east of Flagstaff.  This crater measured three-quarters of a mile wide and was about 700 feet deep.  Sunset Crater and Lava Park, Wupatki Ruins, Fort Tuthill, and many petroglyph sites are also just short drives from Flagstaff.

In the city to which I live, there are many things to do here.  I would say, start your vacation here, and then head north or south or east or west to other towns after spending time in Phoenix.  While in Phoenix, check out the many historic sites, museums, downtown district, ball parks, restaurants, and amazing sunsets.  Some of the places to see are the Desert Botanical Gardens, Arizona Science Center, Japanese Friendship Garden, Phoenix Art Museum, Heard Museum, Tovrea Castle, Mystery Castle, hiking trails, and much more.  From Phoenix and just a short drive away are the many cities surrounding this large metropolis.  They each have their own unique history and attention-grabbing places to see.

Mining Towns
Arizona has lots of mining towns with remarkable history and great places to urban explore.  In the southern part of the state, you will find Tombstone, Bisbee, Pearce, Patagonia, and Ruby.  Pearce and Ruby are pretty much ghost towns that you can visit, the others have hotels or B&B’s for you to stay in. In the eastern part of the state are towns such as Superior, Miami, Globe, Kearney, Hayden, and Lowell.  I had stayed in Globe several times at the Noftsger Hill Inn.  It is an elementary school which was converted into a B&B.  You will find lots of history and ghosts in that place.  In the western part of the state there is Oatman, Wickenburg, and Vulture City.  Although Vulture City is not accessible at the moment, I am hoping to get a chance to photograph that place once more.  In the northern section of the state are places such as Jerome and Bagdad.  Jerome is location on the side of a mountain and has narrow/winding roads that run through town.  Be sure to cruise about each place for not only historic sites, but out of the ordinary abandoned places to photograph.

Lakes and Rivers
Yes people, Arizona do have its fair share of places to enjoy water activities.  Phoenix has several waterparks and is just a short drive from many of the lakes and rivers throughout the state.  One of the places Zonies like to go is the Salt River.  You can enjoy a day of swimming, tubing and picnicking in and along the river.  Here is a list of the many lakes and rivers around the state:
Phoenix Area Lakes:  Apache Lake, Bartlett Lake, Canyon Lake, Lake Pleasant, Saguaro Lake, Tempe Town Lake
Central Arizona Lakes:  Alamo Lake, Roosevelt Lake, Colorado River Lakes, Lake Havasu, Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, Lake Powell
Flagstaff AZ Lakes:  Ashurst Lake, Blue Ridge Reservoir, Kinnikinick Lake, Mormon Lake, Upper Lake Mary
Payson Arizona Lakes:  Bear Canyon Lake, Black Canyon Lake, Blue Ridge Reservoir, Chevelon Canyon Lake, Knoll Lake, Willow, Springs Lake, Woods Canyon Lake
Prescott AZ Lakes:  Goldwater Lake, Lynx Lake, Watson Lake, Willow Lake
Southern Arizona:  Patagonia Lake
White Mountains Lakes:  Becker Lake, Big Lake, Crescent Lake, Fool Hollow Lake, Hawley Lake, Luna Lake, Lyman Lake, Rainbow Lake, Show Low Lake, Woodland Lake

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Urban Exploring: Framing

When I take photos of any abandoned place, I will use doors, windows and even shrubbery to frame my shot or add a bit on interest to the photo.  These pictures were taken at an abandoned house we found along the Arizona highways.