Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category
I’ve been captivated with Claire’s photographs from Iceland. It was an optional trip in her study abroad in Denmark. The vistas, water, and absence of power lines and other human marks upon the landscape make it an interesting place.
The first stop, was of course, Reykjavík, the largest city, consisting of about 120,000 people.
An Icelandic harbor.
Can you say layers? Claire’s got it down.
The Lutherans do it up in grand style in Iceland!.
Claire’s comment on this outfit: “Icelandic fashion, go home, you’re drunk”.
I hope she doesn’t drag this fellow home!.
Beware Vikings ahead! Claire was quoted in an article in the Copenhagen paper asking about American impressions of what Vikings are like.
She had a chance to do all the things you’re supposed to do/see in Iceland.
This at the Whale Fjord. The only picture out of water where she isn’t bundled up!
An Icelandic farm with the famous Icelandic horses. This breed is the only kind of horse in Iceland. Importing any horse is illegal, and if one of these leaves the country it cannot ever come back.
Here she is with one of the horses.
They took the horses on a ride through the countryside.
The intriguing Gullfoss waterfalls .
Another view of the falls.
In Claire’s own words “The most awkward titanic photo ever!”
Another of Iceland’s features are the geysers. in fact, this place geysir is where the word “geyser” comes from.
Thar she blows, this one, every five minutes.
Of course, there are hot springs from all the geothermal activity. This is the BLue Lagoon.
How cool is it to be in water in Iceland?.
Out in the countryside.
This crack is where the european and north american plates meet.
With some fellow students at a late sunset near the harbor.
Claire’s been gone a couple of weeks now and it’s time to show she’s really gone over the pond.
As a city of islands, Copenhagen has many bays/canals. It’s strange for this Midwesterner to see boats in subzero temperature not in ice. That’s what salt water does for you!
The view from Claire’s school building.
Her cozy little house, complete with”new”parents.
The way into school and back home every day.
Yes, there really are Danish in Denmark!
It saddens me when expensive, well-built mechanical devices meet their end while they are still in good operating condition. Now they are practically worthless. I’ve held onto these for a decade or two, thinking the digital thing might be a fad, but in the latest, more determined closet cleanup, it was time to let them go to an artist who can repurpose the parts. I did keep the lenses, which can be used on new SLRs with an adapter. Back in the early 80′s I saved up money, including one whole season of selling Christmas trees to buy a Canon- AE-1 SLR camera and lenses. The camera was my companion on trips out west – to the Canadian and American Rockies, on adventures on the North Shore of Minnesota.
One of the most memorable was a trip to the top of Mount Timpanogos in Utah. Timp is the 2nd highest peak in the Wasatch range, which is the range running north and south of Salt Lake City/Park City and contains Alta and Snowbird ski areas. At any rate, I was young and adventurous and found myself on near the top of the mountain without any mountaineering gear – not even a shovel or hammer for self arrest. The hike up was difficult, with parts in steep snow.
Some more experienced hikers with ropes, crampons and the like were in disbelief to meet us near the top. In no uncertain words, they explained our stupidity to us and explained we’d have a hard time going back the way we came without slipping and falling as going down a corny snow slope is harder than going up. They said the best worst option for us was to slide down the Timp glacier instead of risking the ridge trail. I don’t have any digital pictures from the day, but I found some at this website that shows the trail in the heat of summer. Imagine the trail in those pictures mostly covered in snow at the higher elevations.
So, I bundled my day pack and camera in my lap and slid over the edge down the glacier. At one point, my camera (in a case) and day pack separated from my body and while I was eventually able to stop, the pack and camera continued to gain speed down the glacier, bouncing higher and higher. On the lower reaches of the snowfield, openings appeared in the snow where a creek ran down the middle of the valley. My memory is that these holes were about 5 feet across and went down 10-15 feet to the roaring creek underneath. My camera bounced over at least two of these before stopping. Miraculously, the camera still worked after the journey.
I just read the following on the Wikipedia entry on Timp that makes me even more frightened, 30 years after the fact:
“undercutting of deeply drifted snow by streams creates a hazard that has proven fatal on more than one occasion. Climbers can fall through the undermined snow fifty feet or more into the icy stream underneath.”
“The Timp Glacier is one of the major sources of injury or death to hikers on Timp, particularly when some attempt to “glissade” (or slide rapidly) down the snowfield’s surface with the assistance of a shovel or other device to save time descending. There have been many cases of injuries from buried rocks under the snow as well. There have been numerous life flight rescues on the mountain, often caused by this activity.”
Before the noon funeral, we were afforded a few brief moments on Lake Superior.
We awoke before the sun and headed down to Brighton Beach.
Merchant vessel Walter J. McCarthy Jr. heads out of port for points east. She’s a modern great lakes boat, about 1/5 of a mile long, measuring 1,000 feet long.
November 20th on the lake in fall coats?
We also took a short walk up Lester Creek. All of the shots today were taken within the city limits of Duluth, a great place to get outside.
The express purpose of the visit was for Linda to speak at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oxford Mississippi.
Here’s Linda and Gail before the service.
And Linda in action. The church was a wonderful old building, reminiscent of a one-room school house, with a wood-strip floor and the good old building smell and aura. The congregation is vivacious, bright-eyed and full of life and energy, and unlike many other smaller congregations, has a very young average age.
It was also a reflective week in Oxford as it marked the 50th anniversary of the admittance of James Meredith into the University of Mississippi. His enrollment was met with riots, deaths, and 30,000 troops to keep order, and he remained under the guard of U.S. Marshalls during all of his time at the University until he graduated. There was no such hardship when in 2002 his son graduated as the top doctoral student in the school of business.
Ever just want to hop in the car and drive somewhere you’ve never been before? We first grabbed a sniff of the Mississippi River near Keokuk Iowa, and traced it down through Hannibal, St. Louis, and Cape Girardeau, and the bootheel of Missouri, followed by Blytheville, Arkansas, finally crossing over the Mississippi in Memphis, Tennessee, before continuing on to Oxford Mississippi. Driving time, about 11 hours.
Here are a couple of biologists-turned seminarians, Linda and Gail at Gail’s home outside of Oxford. I was struck with the rolling densely forested countryside of Northern Mississippi.
Our hosts for the weekend, Pat and Gail in front of a more or less indestructible spider web. Both are professional arachnologists (study spiders).
Pat shows off one of the 60,000 or so spiders in her collection – this one named after her!
Down South, there are plants that ya’all don’t get to see up north, like this lilly plant that sends up foliage in the spring, dies back, and then sends up the flowers in the fall.
Of course, there are the Magnolia trees as well.
Here we’re kicking back on the back steps of Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s home in Oxford.
This was a bit of a rarity in this part of the state – a cotton field. We actually saw much more cotton in Arkansas.
There was however, no shortage of Kudzu – namely along edges of forests, as you can see along these railroad tracks – it covers nearly everything in sight.
Linda’s not been the only one in Chicago this month!
Emma downtown on a bit of free time.
Any guesses where this is?
How about now? Of course, it’s the Bean at Millenium Park.
Emma was part of the High School Leadership Institute, sponsored by Wartburg College. Here’s the group, with high school students and their mentors and staff. They first did a service project in Chicago at an inner-city school where they conducted day camp activities. Emma was struck at how much the kids just wanted to hang on her and tell her about their lives. After a couple of days in Chicago, it was back to campus.
Wining and dining (ok, just dining) the students back on campus.
The week was worth three college credits. However, the credit is not awarded until the student performs a community service project. Emma proposed school-age musicians visit the Iowa Veterans Home and perform. She thought it would be a win-win for the students to get performance experience and the residents to get some entertainment. But even more important to Emma was that performing would not be the only component of the program, but to work in time for inter-generational conversation between the residents and students.
Tonight we hosted RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) riders. It was our way of giving back to the world. Last year we were scrambling for a place for Claire to live in D.C. and a Unitarian minister hosted her free of charge for the summer. So, when I learned RAGBRAI was going through Marshalltown this year, I did a search for Unitarian and RAGBRAI. I found an online sermon from a minister in New Jersey, got in touch with him, offered our place, and here is team Woody Van.
Their stuff arrived early in the morning in one of the sag wagons and around 2:00 team members started rolling in. It was the hottest day in 29 years in Central Iowa, reaching 106. Some riders did a half day, some the whole day, and one did the special “Century Loop” an extra loop that made the ride over 100 miles for the day. The guy who did it, although being one of the oldest in the group and having ridden his bike coast to coast, said the day was the hardest cycling day he had ever completed - 100 miles, 100 degrees plus, with a 20-25 mph headwind for about 1/3 of the day – all after the two previous days of 100 degree plus riding.
Here’s part of the team – we also hosted part of Team Skunk from Ames. Most elected to sleep in the air conditioned house, but a few started the night in tents – until the hail, heavy rain and 50-60 mph gusts arrived. It was an early evening for the crew, some were in bed by 8:00 and everyone by 10:00. Rev Charlie Ortman from Montclair NJ is hard to miss in his blaze orange. Other members of the team were from New Jersey, Arizona, Iowa, Ohio, and Minnesota. One of these guys even did the route on roller blades! It was a great to get to chat with as many of the team members as we could.
Final day of 80/35. Most of the bands I saw are below and most I’ve got a link to a performance by the band in the text below their picture. At then end is a rather random mish-mas of bits and pieces from my camera during the day. If you only choose to look at two, the variety of 80/35 is perhaps best captured by the Delta Rae and Leslie and the LY-s!
Fairfield Iowa based Little Ruckus is shall, we say, irreverent?
It’s nice to see brass bands still on the musical horizon as Central Iowa Christopher and the Conquered and his Black Gold Brass Band funk it up.
After listening to a few of this band’s songs, I’m not sure if it was the band’s lineup or its sound, but I thought they could do a killer Fleetwood Mac cover. And by gosh, they did, they can also go gospel as in this video. They were recently signed to warner Bros and were a SXSW band.
The Mumfords, another SXSW band from Ames, again show there is a future in this country for trombone players wearing red and white duct tape underpants to make their mark in the world!
Atmosphere is a band that I would never find on my own – the indie rap band was fun for at least 15 minute. They hail from Minneapolis and had a #5 album on the billboard charts.
Greensky Bluegrass is another SXSW act with a great bluegrass vibe.
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit hail from Muscle Shoals – the band is a wonderful spawn of the Drive-By Truckers (plus he looks a lot like my dad when he was young). I remember hearing one songwriter – it may have been Dylan or Cash or Emmy Lou say, one of the hardest thing to do is to write one true lyric that hasn’t already been said. I think Jason’s lyric “There’s one thing I can’t stand, There’s one thing I can’t take, It’s the sound that woman makes, Five seconds after her heart begins to break” counts for me.
Leslie and the LY-s need to be seen to be believed. Some kind of a glam-dance satire.
My favorite group of the day was Leftover Salmon, what’s known in the trade as a jam grass band – a bit of of the Grateful Dead mixed with Del McCoury band. The band seemed to have as good a time as the audience. It strikes me that most people’s musical tastes are much wider than commercial radio suggests – many of the same people fist-pumping for Atmoshpere, danced to Leftover Salmon.
Closing the evening was Death Cab for Cutie, probably the most commercially successful band of the festival, but not quite as compelling as some of the other acts.
Random short clips of the day.
I bought a three-day fishing license, so was able to get out a bit – either in the morning before everyone got up, or after dinner when the day’s trips were over.
Here’s a nice brook trout.
I mostly caught Brown Trout, the biggest about 16 inches, which was plenty big for the creek.
One view of Castle Creek below Deerfield Lake.
A great hiding place for some trout.
The last day’s catch, not including an equal number which were released. It was a great creek to fish. There was little traffic – I didn’t see anyone on the creek, the fishing pressure is pretty light, based on the lightly used footpaths along the creek, and best of all, there was an old gravel road near, but not too near the creek, so I could fish until dark and not have to walk back along the stream. There’s not much more satisfying feelings than walking with the coolness of the mountain air enveloping you, moonlight at your back, and gurgling stream in the distance and a fishing trip where the catching was as good as the fishing.
When I said I didn’t see anybody on the creek, it was technically incorrect. When I drove up, there was a party parked on the bridge where the stream crossed the road. They looked as though they had all the greatest gear – shiny new creels, fishing vests and fly rods – as though they had just stopped in Cabela’s in Rapid City. However, the fact that they were fishing off the bridge in a shallow, fast-running part of the creek told me they had more disposable income than fishing sense!
The final stop on the trip was the badlands.
Emma in the magnitude that is the Badlands.
This is for Claire. We have an old black and white photo from the same place, but I can’t locate it at the moment.
On the ladder on the Notch trail.
Emma taking the ladder.
Emma taking the ladder in years gone by.
A bit of the terrain of the trail.
It is a rather ethereal landscape, much like what walking on the moon might be like (sans the spacesuits).
At the end of the trail.
Yes, it was hot!
Since Wind Cave was such a hit, we decided to go see Jewel Cave as well. Jewel is the 2nd longest cave in the world.
Since the caves are so close together, people often wonder about the differences between Jewel Cave and Wind Cave. Wind Cave has the cool blow hole and seems more intimate – the passages are narrower and you seem more like you are in a cave. In Jewel Cave, the passageways are much larger, most of the hike is on aluminum walkways, so you feel more distant and it’s a bit noisier, but the formation are much more varied and interesting than in Wind Cave.
This is from of one of the “wet” rooms in Jewel Cave.
More funky formations.
Then it was off for lunch and a hike starting at Sylvan Lake. Let’s just say there was a great difference in attendance between visiting in March and the weekend before the 4th. So, off to the trails to leave all the people behind.
Here’s our designated vacationers – we are now on 17 straight years of summer vacation!
Linda on the “trail” up the mountain.
More “trail” up to the peak.
A look down the trail, from near the top.
Finally, nearing the top, the Cathedral Spires come into view.
In the distance is Harney Peak, the highest point in South Dakota, at 7242 feet. This photo also shows the extreme fire danger, her it looks like about more than half of the trees are dead. It won’t take much of a spark to light the place up. It’s easy to see why the fire danger is “explosive” now and even outdoor smoking and BBQ grills are prohibited.
I happened on one of the most intriguing creatures I’ve ever seen on this giant thistle blossom. It’s a Snowberry Clearwing Hummingbird Moth. It was as though some genetic engineers mixed up moth, bee, and hummingbird DNA and this was the result. It was only a bit smaller than a hummingbird, it flew like a hummingbird, but looked like a giant bee or a moth. It also had a very long proboscis.
Universally acclaimed as one of the best hikes of the trip was the Red Beds trail around Devil’s Tower, Wyoming.
Here’s a good-looking family in front of the exposed batholith.
This year’s vacation group shot, for the first time in about 15 years, not in Northern Minnesota.
The visitor center and parking lot were very crowded – so we took the road less traveled and instead of taking the 1 mile hike around the base, we took the longer three mile hike around the red beds trail.
The trail starts off in a pine forest – very welcome shade on a 97 degree day.
Eventually the trail opened up to some meadows.
There were wonderful vistas looking out over the Wyoming landscape and Belle Fourche river valley below.
At one point the trail dropped into the “desert” as the kids called the exposed red beds that is the trail’s namesake.
Up from the red beds, the trail traversed through an area that had been burned.
Martin taking a look at the imposing rock near the end of the trail.
A well-deserved break near the end of the trail.
I hadn’t noticed this strange object in the sky when I took this photo and didn’t see it until I arrived home!
All in all, the trail had great diversity of landforms, and on this trip we were the 1%. We only saw one other hiker on the trail. So we were in the 1% of people who left the visitor center!
We made the All-American visit to Mount Rushmore – almost like a constitutional requirement when visiting the Black Hills. But I sure wish someone would tell me if the cost of entering in a car is a tax or a penalty for not walking in by foot.
It is a nice public space, much like a monument in Washington DC.
You travel through stone pillars with flags from each of the states. There are usually four flags per pillar – if I had to be picky, I would have had each flag on its own pillar and make the walk longer.
The obligatory Rushmore replacement photo featuring Emma.
The same place as a toddler.
The obligatory photo featuring Martin!
Finally, the obligatory Rushmore ice cream.
The next visit was to Wind Cave, the 5th longest cave inthe world, named for the wind that blows through it. On the natural entrance – a hole only about as big as your head, the air is either blowing out or sucking in. This photo shows off the cave’s most prominent feature – boxwork.
More boxwork – this cave contains about 95% of the world’s known cave boxwork formation. It was nice to go underground for a bit to escape the heat.
Some more delicate cave features.