Golden Gate Park: Japanese Tea Garden -NRHP


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The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park was originally built for the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. It is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States.


After the World’s Fair, Makoto Hagiwara modified the Japanese Village exhibit into a permanent Japanese Tea Garden, importing many of the elements from Japan. He was the caretaker until his death in 1925, when his daughter took over for him until she was forced into an internment camp during WWII.


During the War, the garden was renamed the Oriental Tea Garden and Chinese servers took over at the tea house. The Hagiwara home and Shinto Temple were destroyed. The garden was restored to the Japanese Tea Garden after the signing of the peace treaty with Japan.


After visiting the nearby  Science Academy, we visited the Tea Garden, took a stroll through the lovely landscaping and had tea at the tea house.


Location: 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designation declared: 10/15/2004

Date of my visit: August 14, 2012

The drum or moon bridge is designed to look like a full circle when reflected in the water. It is also intended to make people slow down and appreciate the garden.

Polynesian Cultural Center


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The Polynesian Cultural Center is a theme park dedicated to the preservation of the cultures of  Polynesia. It is on the northern shore of Oahu, and is owned by The Church of Latter-day Saints


We spent the day at this park…it’s like EPCOT (the world showcase part) for Polynesian nations. Our reservations included transportation from our Waikiki hotel, access to each of the villages, an afternoon floating pageant in the central lagoon, a luau with entertainment and an evening theatrical performance. It was a full day, but lots of fun!


The park is organized into six villages, each representing a different Polynesian culture, on the banks of a central lagoon. Most of the center’s performers are from the areas represented and receive scholarships to the Church of LDS’ Brigham Young University – Hawaii.


We took a canoe ride to Tahiti, watched a man make poi out of taro root in Hawai’i, attended a Maori warrior dance performance in Aotearoa (New Zealand), and laughed at a Tongan drum performance involving volunteers from the audience.


In Fiji, we kept the rhythm by pounding bamboo sticks in time to the music. In Samoa, we were treated to a fire dancing performance, a coconut husking demonstration and then two young men scaled palm trees in their bare feet to retrieve some more coconuts!


In the afternoon, there was a performance in the lagoon on canoes, featuring the dances of all six regions.


We cooled off for a few minutes in the IMAX theater with aerial photography of Hawaii. Then it was time for the luau!


At the luau, the roasted pig was unearthed from its fire pit with much fanfare and then there were more performances while we ate. (And yes, we did try the poi, and while we didn’t care for that, the dinner rolls made with taro were quite delicious.)


Afterwards, we headed over to the Pacific Theater for the theatrical production of Hā–Breath of Life. This was the only place were weren’t allowed to take photos.  It is a cross between a Broadway play and Medieval Times performance, telling a story of ancient Polynesian traditions and history, interwoven with song and dance in arena-like setting.


Oahu Posts:


Location: 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, HI 96762

Designation: Cultural Theme Park

Date established/designated: 10/12/1963

Date of my visit: April 12, 2019


Zion Canyoneering


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For this adventure, we had to head to a slot canyon just outside the park. The NPS does not allow commercially guided rope-work inside Zion National Park.


We headed into Springdale early in the morning and met up with our guide, Chad, at Zion Adventure Company. We were paired up with a mother-daughter team for our half-day family canyoneering excursion.


Our guide, Chad, drove us to a remote area outside park boundaries. After a short hike we came to the entrance of the path through the rock and harnessed up. Chad guided us through getting our lines on and we did a practice rappel at a small drop.


For the rest of the morning, we traveled through the hunk of rock in the desert by rappelling, down-climbing, scrambling and squeezing through crevices. It was at times terrifying, but ultimately a rewarding experience.

Zion Park Posts:

IMG_0025Location: 36 Lion Blvd, Springdale, UT 84767

Designation: National Park (just outside)

Date designated/established: 11/19/1919

Date of my visit: April 10, 2017IMG_0074

Fort McHenry National Monument: Happy Birthday ‘Star Spangled Banner!’


Welcome back to National Parks and other public lands with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


On this day, 205 years ago during the war of 1812, after witnessing a 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British, Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” Later set to music, it became the Star Spangled Banner, our national anthem.


Here is a 4-minute tour of Fort McHenry, courtesy of Cspan’s You Tube channel:

You can see my previous Fort McHenry post here.


Location: 2400 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230

Designation: National Monument

Date designated or established: 3/3/1925

Date of my visit: July 17, 2013







Reflections on an Empty Sky: Liberty State Park


Welcome back to National Parks & other public lands with T! This is a special post in remembrance of the victims of the 9-11 terror attacks.

Empty Sky is New Jersey’s State Memorial to its victims of the September 11th attacks. It is in Liberty State Park on the waterfront, directly across from the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. If you stand in the center of the western end, the empty sky framed by the walls of the memorial are where the Twin Towers once stood.


The walls are meant to symbolize the towers laying on their sides and are inscribed with the names of New Jersey’s 746 victims. At the entrance to the walls stands a sculpture made from one of the twin towers steel beams.

I took these photos on a bright morning in May of 2016 while waiting with a photography group for the ferry to Ellis Island. Though nearly 15 years had passed since the attacks, gazing at the empty sky through the steel walls was still a hushed and solemn moment for all of us.


May the departed rest in peace and may their children go on to make the world a better place.

Location: 1 Audrey Zapp Dr, Jersey City, NJ 07305

Designation: State Memorial

Date designation declared: 9/10/2011

Date of my visit: 5/15/2016


Kahului Harbor


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After departing Honolulu, our cruise ship docked in Kahului on the island of Maui. It was very windy that morning with rough waters, so our snorkeling excursion was canceled. So we decided to explore the port area for a little while since our Haleakala excursion wasn’t until the late afternoon.


Kahului is the business center of Maui, with shopping malls and shipyards. This town was rural and undeveloped until the sugar cane industry boom. Then, the sugar companies built a railroad to haul their crop to the harbor.


In 1900, the bubonic plague swept through Kahului. Officials burned down the town to staunch the epidemic. In 1948, the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar Company built the planned community that is modern day Kahului.


The sugar plantations are gone now, the factories shuttered. Kahului is still important to Maui as a port, bringing needed supplies and tourists to the island on a regular basis.


We walked past the industrial cargo container yards and strip malls and found a decent beach. There were windsurfers and kayakers in the water here and a few sunbathers on the sand. Not exactly paradise, but clean enough to dip our toes in the water before heading back to the ship.


Maui Posts:

  • Kahului Harbor
  • Haleakalā National Park (Coming Soon)
  • ʻĪao Valley State Monument (Coming Soon)
  • Maui Tropical Plantation (Coming Soon)
  • Maui Ocean Center (Coming Soon)


Location: 100 W Kaahumanu Ave, Kahului, HI 96732

Designation: Harbor, Public Beach

Date of my visit: 4/14/2019


Princeton Historic District: Princeton University – NRHP


Welcome back to National Parks with T! If you are seeing this on Twitter or Facebook, please visit the blog to see all of the photos and read the story by clicking the link.


Princeton University is one of the nine Colonial universities founded before the American Revolution. It dates back to 1746, when it was The College of New Jersey in Elizabeth and then moved to Newark. In 1756, it moved to its current site in Princeton, New Jersey into the original Nassau Hall building.


The college was renamed Princeton University in 1896 has consistently been ranked the USA’s top university over the past two decades. Many influential people have graduated from the institution including two US presidents and twelve US Supreme Court justices. It is currently around $66,000 a year to attend Princeton, if you can get in.


After the completion of Nassau Hall (a national landmark on its own), the campus continued to expand around it. Today, the Princeton campus sits on 500 acres with many gorgeous Collegiate Gothic style buildings and some more modern architecture on the south side.


A friend from out of town wanted to photograph the architecture, so we drove down to the campus only to find it was move-in day for the students and abuzz with activity. The good thing about this is that there were plenty of people to offer directions and we were able to ride the campus bus from the parking lot to the historic section.


Location: 125 Faculty Rd., Princeton, NJ

Designation: National Register of Historic Places

Date designated or established: June 27, 1975

Date of my visit: 9/3/2016

The Princeton University Chapel opened in 1928, replacing an older one that had burned down.