Tacoma Avenue South Bridge

IMG_1223It seems like every time my family takes the Tacoma Avenue South Bridge, we wait for a traffic light. And if dear husband is in the car he starts griping about the bridge and how he hates it. He is convinced that it will go down in an earthquake. It’s to the point where even if he isn’t in the car, dear daughter and I will look at each other and say “I hate this bridge!”, but then we laugh.

It turns out dear husband is right (I hate when that happens!). According to a 5/25/13 article in the News Tribune, the Tacoma Avenue South over the NPRR (Northern Pacific Railroad) and South Tacoma Way has a sufficiency rating of 7. A rating of 100 means an entirely sufficient bridge, so 7 is really bad. In fact there is only one bridge in Pierce County that is worse and it is the SR 167 over the Puyallup River with a rating of 2. The Tacoma Avenue Bridge has two lanes and was constructed in 1930. It has a daily of over 10,000 vehicles.

Chris Larson, the city of Tacoma’s engineering division manager for public works, said the Tacoma Avenue South bridge will be closed for about 15 months starting in October 2014. The project is expected to cost $11.5 million, of which $11.2 million will come from state and federal grants.

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Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/07/11/3284880/demolition-of-pacific-avenue-bridge.html#storylink=cpy

Stonehenge

IMG_2549Stonehenge had also been on my bucket list and I was so pleased to hear this world heritage site was part of this year’s tour. It was a little more of a production than I expected with the parking area being some distance from the site. But the folks that run it do provide transportation.

Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument that originated between 2000 and 3000 BC and because of the age of the monument, there is a great deal of mystery. I did learn that:

  • It is a burial site
  • The Druids would hold ceremonies here
  • For the most part, the public is no longer aloud to walk up to the stones
  • That over the years the stones have been straightened when in danger of falling over
  • The visitor’s center opened in December 2013 and I could have happily spent more time there
  • According to some myths, the stone were healing rocks

Here is a short BBC video on this history of Stonehenge and here is the official visitors webpage.

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Normandy, France

14506191527_7833a0a1f0_kPer Wikipedia….During the Second World War, the D Day landings on the Normandy beaches, under the code name Operation Overlord, started the lengthy Battle of Normandy and resulted in the Liberation of Paris and the restoration of the French Republic. These landings were a significant turning point in the war.

The 172 acre cemetery contains the remains of 9,387 American military dead, who were primarily killed during the invasion of Normandy. We paused to visit the grave of Theodor Roosevelt, Jr., the son of president Teddy Roosevelt. One of President’s other sons, Quenton, is also buried there. Quenton died during WWI and his remains were reburied next to his brother at Normandy.

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Fablab Studio, Tacoma

IMG_3381Back on the homefront….. dear husband and I finally checked out Fablab Studios today. It is so cool, kind of like magic making something from nothing. Located at 1938 Market Street, Fablab is “The high-tech prototyping center enabling public access to laser cutting, 3D printing, plasma cutting, CNC machines, welding and much more!“.

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Notre-Dame Cathedral

IMG_0120Notre-Dame Cathedral is so grandly huge, that I found it impossible to photograph without better equipment and more time. But the church was majestic and wonderful and I was honored to be able to visit it. Besides the obvious connection to the famous book and the Disney movie, I thought the most interesting tidbit was the true Wolves of Paris story about a pack of man-eating wolves that killed 40 people in Paris in 1450. The people of Paris lured the wolves to the front of Notre-Dame and killed them there.

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Disneyland, Paris

DISNEYDisneyland Paris is actually in the town of Marne-la-Vallée, about 20 miles east of Paris. It is Europe’s most visited attraction. Since I had never been to any of the Disney locations, I found this to be the best one ;)  The complex opened in 1992 to mixed success, though it seems to be just fine now. While there I rode Space Mountain (yes, I did!) and several other, calmer rides. We stuck around for the daily parade, but left well before the nighttime fireworks.

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Eiffel Tower

IMG_1959When I learned that I was going to Paris, I began to read up and the more I read about the Eiffel Tower the more intrigued I was. It was erected in 1889 as a focal point to the 1889 World’s Fair. At 1,063 feet in height, It is the tallest structure in Paris. It is the most visited, paid monument in the world.

I was inspired by the fact that in 1940 when Germany invaded France, the French people cut the lift cables (elevator cables) so that Germans could not the structure.

Other interesting facts include that there is an ice skating rink on the first platform each winter. And that the tower is repainted a different color every so often. It is currently bronze.

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Arc de Triomphe, Paris

ArcThe Arc de Triomphe, Paris at 162′ feet and 150′ wide is much larger than I expected. Constructed between 1806 and 1836 it is situated on the western end of the Champs-Elysees. Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. Various victory parades have traveled through and later around the structure including the Germans in 1940 and the French and their allies in 1944/45. More information can be found here.

As much I was impressed with the Arc itself, I was equally impressed with the six lane traffic circle that surrounds it. There are no traffic lines and it was a thrill. Glad I wasn’t driving!

The Palace of Versailles, Paris

IMG_1937The Palace of Versailles is the most gloriously beautiful building that I have visited. This World Heritage site was a royal residence for Louis XIV to Louis XVI. The complex began in 1631 and by 1682 was essentially complete including the famous gardens. In 1789, the residing royalty was removed from the Palace by revolutionaries and since that time it has been used for government and been available for visitors. In June 1919, the Treaty of Versailles, ending the First World War, was signed here.

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The Blue Poppies of Weyerhaeuser Rhododendrom Gardens

14068639349_2d35260236_bSeeing a blue poppy has been on my life list and yesterday I finally saw one when I took dear daughter and her friend to the Weyerhaeuser Rhododendron Gardens in Federal Way. We actually went to see the Rhododendrons and while there were many still in bloom I feel like we missed the peak viewing by a couple of weeks. We were having a grandtime walking the trails and were admiring a small pond when a pleasant woman asked if we had seen the blue poppies. Ummm, no, guess we missed that section of trail. Thank you lady! The poppies are taller than I expected and there was some space between the stalks. They were just a little translucent and there was a bit of rain on some of the petals. The photos below feature the blue poppies, but include some other flowers and some Hilltop Artist glass work that is currently on display.

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