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Big Sur - Hiking Andrew Molera State Park

One of the great delights of living in the Bay Area is the proximity to the natural beauty of California and it's hard to beat the stunning drive down Highway One to Big Sur. This is certainly one of the iconic American road trips, but for me the joy of being in the area is getting out of your car and hitting a trail, so you can be "in" the landscape rather than just looking at it from the asphalt. 

Medinet Habu


A  charming temple built right beside a small village, I particularly liked Medinet Habu for some of the decorative elements, including the carvings and colored ceilings. Above you can see the first pylon. This is the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III, the successor to Ramses the Great whose nearby Mortuary temple is known as the Ramusseum. Above you can see the first pylon, the decorated high wall rising on two sides of the entrance. 
Here is a classic image of the Pharaoh smiting his enemies. You can see the defeated captives in the center, cowering under Ramses' fist as he raises his other arm to finish them off.
Some times the hieroglyphics and carved reliefs have a raised, sculpted character and sometimes they are deeply incised as you see below. Here, they look to me as if they have been stamped by forms.
It's a little difficult to see the carved relief below. This was one of my favorite frieze. Here Ramses, driving his chariot, once again tramples his enemies.  In our class on Egyptian history the Prof. said that the Egyptians only recorded great successes and rather than defeats they just had victories closer and closer to home!
I love the representation of  sealife below. So much Egyptian art feels rather static, with people and gods in set poses. I particularly liked these fish because of the movement you can see here. Overall, the quality of the carving and other decorative elements were particularly lovely at Medinet Habu. Interestingly,  this temple includes representations of Ramses' defeat of the invading "Sea People" who flooded to Egypt following their displacement from areas further north. Little is know about the circumstances but this  history of desperate Europeans feeling south is an interesting inversion of the contemporary situation of impoverished migrants taking to the Mediterranean seeking a better life.
As you can see the walls, pillars and pylons are covered with exquisite carvings. There are also remains of the paint which give you an idea of how bright and splendid these temples must have been.
At quite a number of sites we saw ubiquitous ancient graffiti, sometimes in Greek. We've seen similar markings in places like Persepolis in Iran. Here you can see John Gordon left his mark in 1804. The graffiti remind you that Egypt has drawn foreign visitors for hundreds of years and that mass tourism has existed here for more than a century.
There are a number of courtyard and pylons.
Many of the decorations innumerate  offerings made to the gods as part of the funerary rituals. You can see the amphora and bread below.
Tip: We stopped for a quick lunch at the small cafe just outside the temple walls. The people we very friendly and we enjoyed our lunch. 

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