Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Return to a Tragic Day

So I usually visit my hometown of Oklahoma City, where I grew up, at least once a year since I moved out here to California.  And every few years, I find myself drawn to visit the OKC National Memorial in downtown, which honors the victims, survivors & rescuers of a tragic day for all of Oklahoma.  I will never forget the exact minute when a bomb destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995, twenty-three years ago, at this very moment.  I was 12, and home sick (alone), suffering from a blister on my eardrum, and I can still feel that slight shake of my house, and hear the frantic barking of my pup outside, immediately afterwards.

Anyway, the day before Christmas in 2016, we visited the memorial again, and the experience was just as poignant and brutally heartbreaking as it always is.  Here are my photos from that day.

Supplemental information, via Wikipedia, on the specific features of the Memorial: found here.  This will help to enlighten you on the symbolism of some of the pictures I took.

The "entrance" to the memorial, as well as the museum, housed in the former Journal Record Building.

A collage of hand-painted tiles from kids that sent them in from all over the United States & Canada, showing their support, shortly after the bombing.  These kids are all grown up nowadays.

More of the tiled collage, on the other side.

View of the former Journal Record building, looking back from the Reflecting Pool.
This is known as one of the "Gates of Time" along with its twin on the other side of the memorial, representing the first moments of recovery, while the other says "9:01," representing the last moment of peace before the bomb hit at 9:02am.  The Gates frame the moment of destruction.

Since it was Christmastime when we visited, family members had come to decorate the empty chairs of their loved ones who had perished on that day.

Overlooking the "Survivor Tree" from the field of empty chairs.

Macro view of the small wall that surrounds the Survivor Tree.  The full inscriptions says: "The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us."

Overlooking the field of empty chairs, from the original plaza area, which is part of the only remaining remnants from the building.

Found among the Plaza, the motto for the United States, Latin for "Out of many, one."

There wasn't anything specifically important about this, other than I liked how they implemented the Survivor Tree into the design of the bench.  (This is actually a bus stop.) 

Part of the Memorial Fence, originally used to protect the site from damage, before the memorial was built.  I liked this view of someone's Run to Remember medal left on the fence.

Apparently people from all over the world still leave small items on the Fence, as seen by this keychain of Australia!

"And Jesus Wept" memorial sculpture, erected by St. Joseph's Catholic Church, located across from the OKC Memorial.  Jesus faces away from the devastation, and the wall in front of him has 168 gaps in it, representing the voids left by each life lost.

There is always an incredibly somber and quiet atmosphere to the Memorial, every time that I've visited.  It reminds me that life is short and nobody is promised tomorrow, so you have to make sure to make today count.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Visions from the Highway

Moving on to the beginning of 2017, to when we drove halfway across the country to Oklahoma City to be with my family for Christmas, which was the first time I'd actually been with them on Christmas Day in several years.  Previously, I had flown out there sometime in January or February to have a late Christmas.  But  for 2016's Christmas, my dad stated that it was mandatory for me to actually be there on the day.

So anyway... these are actually from the drive back home after our visit in OKC, but I'm sharing them first, because I can. 😊  It's a very long and tiresome drive, but the views are spectacular!  Here are a few of the best that I captured:

[ Keep in mind that these are not in the correct order from when I took the photos, on purpose. ]

A train moving alongside the highway, I believe this was near Bakersfield, California.

The same train, closer and more head-on view.

This was taken in Groom, Texas; I liked the way the tower was leaning.
Apparently, this was built like this intentionally, after some quick research into what has come to be called "The Leaning Tower of Texas."  I had no idea!

A pretty sunset in Barstow, California!

Our view after just leaving Flagstaff, Arizona; around the Coconino National Forest.

This beautiful view (and the rest following it), from a scenic vista point somewhere in Arizona, I believe just after coming out of Sedona. 

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Scoping Out Napa

Starting in September of 2016, we began making regular trips up to Napa, California.  The reason for this was because we had decided to have our wedding at a beautiful bed & breakfast there, planning on taking everyone out for a late lunch/early dinner afterwards.  Well, we didn't know the area well enough to choose a restaurant without having already eaten there.  Hence, the trips to Napa to scope out what they had to offer.  Of course, we also walked around the area and got a feel for what it's like up there, so here are the photos that I took on our various visits!

Cute little pathway hidden in the outskirts of the downtown area.

Love the adorable bulldog I caught in this shot, looking up intently at its owner! 😝

Of course, I could not ignore the flora...

Back view of the Napa River Inn, an elegant hotel within the 19th-century Historic Napa Mill. 

The view from the other side, clear shot of the fish sculpture.

This piece of artwork was absolutely STUNNING!  I wanted to just sit & stare at it all day.

Closeup of that beauty!  Did you know it was made from tons of tiny tiles?!  Be sure to look at the full-view photo on this one.

Another closeup because I couldn't resist!

View from walking along the Napa River.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge: Volume 3

Continuing with the third and final volume of reviews for my reading challenge this year:

( 21 )

The Writer's Idea Book by Jack Heffron

So, at the end of October, I spontaneously decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, which is the National Novel Writing Month that usually happens in November.  Hence my decision to dive into this idea book that I just happened to already have on my Nook account, downloaded from who knows when, because I knew I'd want to try to get back into writing one day.  I'm planning to refer to this book throughout my writing process, since I have not seriously written in such a long time.

This book definitely has plenty of prompts to spark that writing flame.  I cannot deny that.  However, many of them don't apply to my specific situation, or I just can't remember enough, such as when the prompt suggests to write about something that happened at a specific point in your past.  Especially since the memories of my early 20s always tend to be a bit of a blur to my mind.  But the chapter that has resonated with me the most is Chapter 17: Minding Other People's Business.  It talks about paying attention to the world around you, and letting those simple observations spark ideas for writing, such as a conversation that you've overheard at an airport or in a restaurant.  I already do this, whenever I'm out in public, because of a writing teacher I had that advised us to use the things you hear people say, as a potential beginning to a story.

I  thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and it has so many helpful tips and tricks to overcome the struggles of the writing process.  I felt inspired throughout the journey of reading it, which is exactly what I needed to get out of it.  And now I feel like I'm better prepared to dive right into my writing again.

[...] at some point, we must put away the books and sit down to write. There are lessons to be learned about writing that only can be taught by writing. -pg 336

Read from October 26, 2017 to November 15, 2017

Saturday, November 04, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge: Volume 2

Continuing with the second volume of reviews for my reading challenge this year:

( 11 )

Promises in Death by J.D. Robb

📖 Reading prompt: a book by an author you love

I've always wanted to read a book by the pseudonym of one of my long-time favorite authors, Nora Roberts.  And I figure now's as good a time as any!  I picked this up randomly at Half-Price Books and I've had this book on my shelf for awhile.  Even though this is the 28th book in the In Death series, I can't wait to be introduced into the world of Eve Dallas for the first time.

For some reason, it actually took some time for me to get fully involved in this book.  Maybe it's the fact that it's so far into the series and there are a few blanks that I need to fill in, by reading the first book in the series.  But it's not so far that I can't understand the individual story.  After a quick wikipedia search, I found that the books are set in a futuristic setting of 2058, which explains the advancements in technology and some of the "inventions" that are referenced.  I figured most of them out myself, but it's nice to have confirmation of the items referenced, in any case.

One thing is prevalent in the book that I noticed: a lot of Eve's fellow cops are also female.  I feel like this was done on purpose, in trying to reverse the stereotypical nature of law enforcement officials.  I liked the subtle hints of romance thrown into this crime thriller as well, and I appreciated how it wasn't the main focus of the story.  Though the dynamic of Eve & Roarke's relationship is intriguing and makes me want to go back and read the beginning of the series to find out how exactly how they came to be who they are.  As for the actual story, I felt it was an exploration of the lives left behind and how you can find yourself not truly knowing everything about your partner until you have to examine every part of their life, in an attempt to catch their murderer.  It definitely yanked on my heartstrings a bit, in different ways for various characters.

Read from May 31, 2017 to July 17, 2017

Thursday, November 02, 2017


First off, this quaint little town square instantly reminded me of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls!  It looks so similar and I felt like I was walking right along those same city streets, albeit slightly modernized (I think you had to be there in person to feel the full effect).  It is called Copperopolis and is located on State Rte 4.  We stopped here on the way up to Lake Alpine for a bathroom break and drinks, and decided to take some extra time to explore the square.  However, when we were there, the stores were closed, and only one restaurant was open, which is why I was able to capture so many shots without random people in them.

Anyway, getting right to the pictures:

Capturing the flags, proudly representing California, United States & Copperopolis.

The gazebo, located right smack in the middle of the square, with the buildings surrounding it.

One side of the square.

Another view, taken from outside of the gazebo.

And still another view!

Trying to keep up with the creative shots...

Looking back towards the Town Hall building, with the gazebo there on the left (out of the frame).

Jacques & I from inside the gazebo, in front of Town Hall.
And that's it!  Short but sweet, huh? ;)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

On Lake {Alpine} Time

So, last year, for my birthday, we took a belated celebratory trip up to Lake Alpine to explore the beautiful scenery.  It is near Bear Valley, which is a popular 'escape' town, up in the Central Sierra Mountains.  I say belated, because we had planned to do this closer to the weekend of my actual birthday, but since we ended up getting rear-ended on the day before, we ran into this unexpected delay.  Anyway, here are the photos from that excursion!

These first few photos were from the Hell's Kitchen Vista Point, where you can walk around and get some amazing views.  This area is really pretty when it's covered in snow also!!

Just trying to get a unique perspective among the scenery...

Obligatory couple "selfie"! =D

Such pretty views!  I actually have a similar shot of this area, but covered in snow, taken back in February 2010.

Practicing my macro skills with this interesting branch formation...

Panorama shot, with Jacques being silly.

Seriously, I could not get enough of this area!

Here's the start of the pictures at Lake Alpine, walking around the area.  This was very serene and peaceful!

Another peaceful shot of the lake in between the trees.

Catching some canoe-ers rowing down the lake!

I liked this view of that log lodged in with the water...

Can you find the pup in this shot?! :)
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