Monday, January 31, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Back in the saddle. Lt to rt. Liz, Velma, Christine B., Brian, Roy, and Mark.
While the rest of the country has been having interesting weather, San Angelo has enjoyed about two weeks in the 70's. Nine of us (six pictured) got together Saturday for our first "long" ride of the year. The plan was to go to Knickerbocker and then up Guinn Road to the end of the pavement and return-a little over 30 miles. Christine J., Jerry and Cindy Middleton were to join us at Knickerbocker.

Before anyone is misled about idyllic weather conditions, the route out (15 miles) was into a 15-25 mile an hour headwind. However, the previous week when I was grousing about the wind during a ride, Liz stated she was riding for the workout. That put everything into perspective. As one cycling expert stated, the best way to deal with a headwind is to have a good attitude. Since the ballpark estimates are for a 5 mph of wind to equal a 1% grade, the 3% grade wokout (15 mph wind) was what we were all out to achieve. Sort of.

As Christine J. is still taking it easy due to her hip replacement, she was to meet us at Knickerbocker and ride the Guinn road with us. I had asked her to take the camera and get some "action" shots as we climbed Windy Ridge hill. 
 "The last shall be first". Liz and Roy make it up the long incline.
 Surprise, surprise who really made it up the hill first--Velma. Rick was helping out with a Friends of the State Park project and didn't make the ride.
 Christine B. doesn't even look winded.
 Brian's first ride since October. Looking good.
 Mark easily tops the incline. I think I see two riders somewhere in the distance trailing him.
Mark had another appointment and had to leave us at Windy Ridge Ranch. Liz is demonstrating the effects of the wind if you aren't anchored by a bike.

 Joining us at Knickerbocker were Jerry (lt) and Cindy Middleton (far- rt). Jerry and Cindy live in the area so just rode from their house. Christine J. in the blue jersey drove out to just ride Guinn Road. Christine B. (yellow jersey) joins the discussions.
 Velma has a well deserved smile of satisfaction of defeating the wind.
 Brian is still smiling at this point.
 Last year the smile on Liz's face meant "I am beating you up the next hill--watch out."

Knickerbocker, Texas had its beginning in 1877. A post office was established in 1881 (not the one shown).
Today, the post office and the Knickerbocker Community Center share the same building. In 1926 the above brick school house served the community until Knickerbocker merged with the Christoval school in 1956.  In the 1890's, Knickerbocker was the second largest town after San Angelo in Tom Green County.
 Line of cyclists heading to the end of Guinn Road.

 Above pictures demonstrate our need of rain. We have had 1" this year. We are hoping for moisture to ensure spring flowers. Pedal Power Wildflower Ride is coming up soon. I fear a Pedal Power Dead Weed ride if we don't get some relief.
Thank goodness for "evergreen" cedars.
Proud Texan on Guinn Road.
And a proud Christine. Hip? I got a new one.
Cindy Middleton and Christine take a break at the end of Guinn Road.

Best I recall, I got a smile from Jerry when I promised not to announce the grade of the hills. He still will not let me forget the Fredericksburg ride when I would call off the grade of a hill as we went up--"too much information." 
When we took off from the end of Guinn road we finally had the wind to our backs. And this is the last I saw of Velma until--
I finally got to Knickerbocker. Velma and Christine B. had time to rest and have a snack.
Liz and Brian re-group with us.
And Cindy and Christine J. roll in. Gangs all here.
Rested, we head out on the last leg.
After a ride. Always a good time discussing the wind, hills, weather, and just talk. I caught Liz, Christine B., and Christine J. in a good mood. Then someone mentioned "helmet hair" and I was banned from anymore pictures.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Trevi Fountain, Rome

Trevi Fountain, Rome
Trevi Fountain brings back fond memories of romantic movies such as Roman Holiday, La Dolce Vita, and Three Coins in a Fountain. At least seven other movies have featured the fountain as it makes a good back drop for any scene.
Trevi fountain was on Christine's must see list. She loves the movie Roman Holiday.
The smile of happiness even though she didn't get to wade in the water as did Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday or stand in it as did Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita.
My smile shows that if Christine is happy, I'm happy. Also I get to show out my Pedal Pushers hat.
A friendly person offered to take our picture.
 The aqueduct had its origins in the year 19 B.C. under Agrippa, the son-in-law of Emperor Augustus.  Trevi is said to be the name of the shepherdess who showed thirsty Roman soldiers a spring. From the spring an aqueduct was built to supply Rome with fresh water for its citizens and its fountains.
The fountain was designed as a large basin in a semi-circular shape. One can go down steps to get close to the two-tiered basin as it is sunk right below pavement level. If one has seen "Three coins in a Fountain", they are aware of the legend of "coin throwing" in the fountain. If visitors throw a coin into the fountain, they are ensured a return to The City of Rome. There are other legends that two coins thrown will ensure a marriage will occur soon, and three coins lead to a divorce or breakup. Remember, there were three ladies who threw coins in the movie. They didn't each throw three coins. (Just wanted to keep our legends straight). The legend is wide-spread among the visitors and tourists as some $3,500 is thrown into the Trevi Fountain each day. The coins are collected at night and are used to subsidize a supermarket for Rome's needy.
The fountain, statutes, and facade, like so much of Roman architect, is intricate in detail and symbolism.
 At the top is the coat of arms of Pope Clemente XII flanked by two winged angels. In the middle is the inscription of Pope Clemente dedicating the fountain in 1735. To the sides standing on top of the four columns are the statutes of the four seasons.  From left to right, the statues symbolize Abundance of Fruit, Fertility of the Fields, the Gifts of Autumn, and the Amenities of Meadows and Gardens.
To the left of the arch is Agrippa commanding his men to build the aqueduct. On the right is a relief of the virgin Trevi showing the spring to the soldiers.

In the middle is Oceanus. To the left is the statue of Abundance holding the horn of plenty. To the right is the statue of Health, crowned by a wreath of laurel and holding a cup a snake drinks from.
Standing in the center of the triumphal arch is Oceanus; Titan of Water, Seas, Lakes, Rivers, Ocean, Streams, and Ponds.  The statue is 16 feet high. Oceanus is carried on his triumphal coral chariot by two horses attended by two Tritons (merman-like creatures). One horse is restless, one is calm symbolizing the fluctuating moods of the sea. One Triton is strong and young, one is older and holds a twisted shell that is used to announce their passage.
As much as we would like to linger, Oceanus seemed to be pointing the way to our next adventure-- visiting the Forum and the Coliseum.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Rome: The Vatican Pt 2 of 2

After the Sistine Chapel, it is hard to imagine seeing something as great--until we entered St. Peter's Basilica.

 St. Peter's Dome from the inside

 The dome had several architects including Michelangelo. We can thank Michelangelo for adding windows in the basilica and dome.

However, Michelangelo had designed the dome to be a squat hemisphere. After Michelangelo died, the next chief architect Porta gave the dome a more elongated look.
After Porta died, the next architect, Maderno took over and changed the nave from a small Greek cross design to a Latin cross. It was feared that the small cross design would not be big enough for major papel processions and liturgies. The left and right wings shown here form the "arms" of the cross. The interior of the church can hold 60,000 people.

The focal point of the basilica is St. Peter's baldachin, a large canopy located at the center of the cross and directly under the dome. It was built directly over St. Peter's tomb. A new architect, Bernini, completed the 95 foot altar in 1634. If one enlarges the picture, the dark structure in the "golden" background is the symbolic Chair of St. Peter.
Again if one enlarges the picuture, what is seen under the canopy is the High Altar where only the Pope may hold Mass.
To the right of the altar is an ancient fifth century statue of St. Peter, portrayed as he gives a blessing and preaches. His left hand is holding the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  

Pilgrims who come to the Basilica traditionally touch and kiss its foot, so that the right toe is literally worn thin. In the Middle Ages pilgrims who reached Rome, touched and kissed the foot of the statue and prayed to St. Peter asking that he be merciful and open the gates of heaven for them if they died during the pilgrimage.

Behind the statue, there is what seems to be a fine brocade drape, however, it is actually a mosaic.

Out of sequence, but before a beautiful tour of the basilica, St. Peter and the Pope's are buried or entombed in the grotto and upstairs in the main cathedral. Usually, when a Pope is canonized, his body is entombed in the upper area. Pictured is the "new" entrance to the grotto.
Pope Boniface VIII d. 1303 mable crypt

Pope Nicholas V d. 1455

"Modern" entombment.

Now for a pleasant stroll through the basilica.

 Pope Benedict XV d. 1922. Best known for his efforts to end WW I.

As we were leaving, I couldn't resist one more shot of St. Peter's dome.