700 Readers

700 in the basket and room for more

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Here is a list of the 85 countries you are from, ordered by number of reads so far in 2019. Thank You!!

United StatesIndiaCanadaUnited KingdomGermanyAustraliaFranceSpainJapanSwitzerlandNetherlandsPhilippinesItalyUnited Arab EmiratesNigeriaAustriaMalaysiaPakistanBrazilSwedenIndonesiaIrelandGreeceRussiaFinlandKenyaSingaporeNew ZealandGuatemalaPolandHong Kong SAR ChinaSouth AfricaSaudi ArabiaThailandAzerbaijanPortugalArgentinaMexicoVietnamChinaColombiaGuamSouth KoreaNorwayAnguillaQatarBangladeshRomaniaPeruSri LankaCroatiaSlovakiaGibraltarCzech RepublicTurkeyBosnia & HerzegovinaDenmarkSt. MartinPapua New GuineaHungaryPalestinian TerritoriesBelgiumIsraelChileAmerican SamoaBulgariaSerbiaSt. BarthélemyMacedoniaOmanNepalMaltaPuerto RicoCameroonUkraineLithuaniaCambodiaSenegalCôte d’IvoireArmeniaEuropean UnionIraqTunisiaMaldivesGuernseyBahamasLaos
Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Balloon over Home

Waiting for the Whooooosh

Whoosh….whoosh. Taking out the garbage last Monday evening, July 15th, I heard the unmistakable sound of a liquid propane burner. As the propane is gasified and ignited, the flame and exhaust is directed into the balloon, all under control of the human operator. What a sound!!

This year, hot air balloons started launching from West Hill and, when the breeze (balloons never launch in winds, as far as I know) is right the balloon and gondola full of passengers drift in the direction of our home. One time, directly overhead, I estimate 200 feet away. We could clearly see and converse with the passengers. What fun.

Each previous viewing I regretted not filming the balloon as the vision floated away. Last Monday, I dropped everything (not literally, I did leave the garbage in the bin), mounted the Canon lens EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM on a EOS 1Ds Mark III body, returning to the north side of our property as the balloon emerged from the trees, only the envelope visible.

We have enjoyed this balloon before, the envelope pattern evokes a classic Navajo Rug, the colors really pop against the blue sky.

Why the Whooooosh?

Tourists and local residents pay $230 per person for the experience of floating silently over Finger Lakes landscape with a launch from Trumansburg, ending up over Ithaca, in its valley surrounded by hills. Cayuga Lake is visible the entire flight, to the east, then northeast as the path reaches Ithaca. As they approached the balloon elevation was not so high relative to our home. You can see this clearly in the first photograph. With the zoom on 300 mm I was almost able to look into the basket, each of the four riders (the operation, looking at a cell phone, and three passengers) was recognizable.

There are three propane burners, two in front and the edge of a third just visible between the front pair.

Ethereal silence and reveres are broken when the burner lights up. Here it appears only one burner is running, sending the craft high above us.

Seven of the forty images are shared here. The duration was three minutes. With a goal of capturing the action, I had the camera on burst mode, with the shutter pressed the exposures run serially, in close succession.

I perfected these seven photographs to represent the perfection of this colorful event as it passed from the northwest, disappearing in the tree line to the southeast.

I am listening for the next event, camera and lens ready.

Post script….it was my usual early morning blogging time when I heard the familiar Whooooosshh, whoooosssshhh, grabbed my IPhone for a video and captured the following. You will hear the gondola occupants chatting. The burner was turned on at 1:03 when the balloon was fairly distant. The Whoooosssshhhh is low, but audible.

Today, they were headed North/Northwest in the opposite direction from Monday and are backlit. Enjoy!!

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Frogs!!

A summertime visit to Sapsucker Woods

Wednesday last, grandson Sam, who’s three, and I wandered the landscape, catching the sights of summer. Eventually, we visited Sapsucker Woods, a Cornell University nature preserve. There, a boardwalk over the swamp is a proven venue for frog spotting and, this day, we had some success.

We found this cooperative golden-eyed beauty calmly squatting and croaking.

In this 30 second clip, reflected light off the water surface captures proto-croaks that did not quite escape from the source. There is a successful and full croak finale.

Off the boardwalk, we took a short detour to view an elaborate cairn built of local rock by a famous artist. The dappled sunlight across the surface is especially enjoyable.

The Sapsucker Cairn, Andrew Goldsworthy

At the furthest extent of the preserve is this pond where the residents were notably raucous in this 30 second clip.

About this time the mosquitoes descended for a determined attack on Sam’s legs. “Itchy,” he said. Myself, protected by deet, they left alone. Sam’s Mom prepared him for the trip with natural mosquito repellent that was not up to the task. Next time we visit, Sam will wear long pants and sleeves fortified with deet.

Just before picking Sam up for a quick retreat, I caught this turtle encrusted in duckweed sunning on a narrow branch. The head is retracted for the moment, can you imagine someone wading through that muck to place a rock? It is possible, but I witnessed the head, so am absolutely sure.

Special thanks to blogger shoreacres for the identification of duckweed. In my original posting I called it algae.

Click me for another Sapsucker Woods posting.

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.

German Club “To the Watermill”

Nostalgia and Great Food

Our tour of Chilean Lake Country and Volcanoes began from the harbor of Puerto Montt, in the tender we boarded from the ship Regatta. This is a small boat carried in the hold and deployed to transport passengers to ports without docking facilities. Once on land, we met our guide for the day and boarded the bus.

I have yet to post about our first stop, Puerto Varas, a 20 minute ride and our first exposure to the influence of 19th Century German settlers seen, from our bus windows, in the architecture. Today’s post is about our lunch stop, a restaurant half way between Puerto Varas and Ensenada.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Club Aleman Molino de Agua

Club Alemans (German Clubs) are found in Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, and here. Each is a gathering place for locals to celebrate their heritage, a feeling somewhat diluted over time to where, now, they speak of themselves as “Chileans of German extraction” and the great majority speak Spanish at home and are exposed to the German language as school courses.

For past generations, the link was stronger, German was the language spoken at home and there was homesickness for the cultural traditions left behind and somewhat alleviated by the similarity of Chilean Lake Country to foothills of the Alps. Once established, the settlers duplicated the architectural features using local wood. Notably, many houses are clad with shingles from the Alerce (also known as Fitzroya cupressoides), a type of Cypress native to southern Chile and Argentina. The roof shingles of Club Aleman, seen below, were of this type.

The sign translates to “German Club: to the watermill” from the two languages used: Spanish and German. The sign reads “lunch, dinner, late night.” “Onces means Late Night.

The “watermill” is a nostalgic, sentimental reference echoed in architectural and decorative details throughout the property, such as this series of posted set to suggest a device used to control water flow. There is no water flowing through the property.

Our lunch was excellent Chilean fare, but I don’t recall what it was, exactly and I didn’t photograph the interior. For us, an plus of using these cruise tours is all the details are taken care of, releasing us to maximize our enjoyment of the surroundings.

A dark side to these settings was the attraction the area had to un-remorseful Nazis fleeing war crime prosecution. In Chile and Argentina they found refuge in the 1940’s, 50’s and were supporters of the Pinochet dictatorship. None of this history was presented by our excellent guide, nor was it reflected in these rustic charms.

I was fascinated, for some reason, by the two dormers of the main building root with the wheel-like decoration.

The Garden

A native plant encountered frequently in our travels, growing wild, and here.
Close-up of the shrub growing to either side of those large leaves.

Click me for a related post, “Swiss Chalet?”

Click me for the first post in this series

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Calbuco Simmered

An unsettling volcanic neighborhood

Postings last week featured the symmetrical, haunting cone of Orsorno and I have more images and stories to share of this quiescent horror in waiting. Today you will learn of another stratovolcano just 16 miles from Orsorno, also ancient; unlike Orsorno, misshapen and a current threat to local residents.

Calbuco is its name, taken from an indigenous language, “Blue Water” in English. It must refer to the water of Lake Llanquihe. As we drove Road 225 Calbuco was on one side, to the south, the lake on the other. When we visited Petrohué Falls, the river forms a southern boundary to the Llanquihue National Reserve from which Calbuco rises.

April 2015 Eruptions

Where we planned out trip, nine months before this day in February 2016, Calbuco erupted without warning with explosions one step below that of Mount St. Helen’s 1980 event. The volcanic plume of ash and cinders reached more than 10 kilometers ( 6+ miles ) high. It was fortunate the wind direction took the ash away from the nearby cities of Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt. Each is about 17 miles from Calbuco. As it was, the catastrophe destroyed crops and made farmers lives difficult. Farmers and the residents of the rural village Ensenada, nine miles away, evacuated to save their lives. Abandoned farm animals perished. Village residents returned to homes, roads, gardens covered in ash.

Here is a photograph of an ash and cinder drift from the explosion, just off Road 555 on the slopes of Orsorno volcano, above Ensenada village.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Settlement Beneath Active Volcanos

At the start of the 18th Century the provinces around Lake Llanquihe were thinly populated. The government of Chile, in anticipation of seizure of the land by European powers, cooperated with efforts of German emigres to resettle German families fleeing a disorderly revolution. Today the region show the cultural influence of these settlers. Here is the exterior of the Club Alemain (“German Club”), the restaurant along Road 225 were we had an excellent lunch. ††

Look closely at the chimney. The stones are black and porous, volcanic cinders from Calbuco eruptions.

German settlers were there to witness, and suffer, the 1893-1895 Calbuco eruptions, one of the most explosive experienced in Southern Chile. Debris was ejected eight kilometers with large flows of hot mud. Farmers on the eastern shore of Lake Llanquihe petitioned the government to be resettled elsewhere. Without options, many remained.

Here is a view of the monster, a threatening presence to the south. That is vapor from the active caldera. Today, people live here, enjoying the current moments of their surroundings.

Calbuco Volcano, February 15, 2016
Click me for the next post in this series, “German Club to the watermill.”
Click me for the first post in this series, “Orsorno Volcano and Tourists.”
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Orsorno Volcano from the Chacao Channel

Booking our February/March 2016 passage on the Oceania Regatta from Lima, Peru to Buenos Aires, Argentina we started early, Spring 2017. We made two excellent choices: a stateroom with balcony on the port side. Waking each morning we were treated to views of the shoreline. On the morning of February 15, 2016 as we sailed the Chacao Channel toward Puerto Montt I was up 4:15 am before the sun rose to photograph our approach to the city.

I knew a classic 8,701 foot high stratovolcano topped with glaciers, named Orsorno, was out there and, amazingly, appeared on the horizon, seventy five miles distant to the northeast outlined by the gathering dawn. The sky was just brightening from total darkness at this time.

Click me for the first South American Post in this series

Copyright 2019 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Selfie Sticks and Petrohué Waterfalls

the selfie and me, me, me

Petrohué Waterfalls are on the tourist track, traffic on the walkway was heavy on the southern hemisphere summer day, February 2016, of our visit. People were relaxed and friendly, the walkway well designed and safe. The wide angle lens was mounted on my Canon dslr, with a circular graduated neutral density filter. This is a filter with the upper third restrictive to light fading gradually to clear and mounted on a ring to rotated to cover the bright portion of the view. I used this successfully in the previous postings to obtain an exposure of the bright sky and darker land (for example, “Orsorno Volcano and Tourists.”). I could not resist capturing our fellow tourists. With a wide angle lens it is easy to do candid shots, such as the following. Most people are unaware of the capability of the 24 mm wide angle lens.

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Unfortunately, in the rush of the crowd and moment the dual use of a configuration for landscape and (candid) street photography lead to mistakes. I did not have the lens hood attached correctly, you can see the hood in each corner. Then there is the circular, graduated filter. In the above photograph, the shaded portion runs across the lower left to the upper right. The subject is watching me photograph the water.

Here, I turned around from photographing the Orsorno Volcano to capture these selfie fans leaning against the railing to capture themselves and the volcano through they are in the minority. The trail is a “dead end”, rising to the point above the falls, where I am standing.

Selfie Stick

We started back down towards the point over the incredible emerald green water. There were three teenagers having fun with a selfie stick. Around them are people entranced by the water, as we werel.

Smile!! You’re on Candid Camera

Headed back, I thought that curving tree was a good subject. Turned out, a fellow tourist heightened the interest of the shot. You see him, leaning against the railing next to the tree in the mid-distance of the following shot.

Here I am, looking back toward the child of Orsorno and the entire length of the observation walkway filled with people.

Click me for the first South American post in this series.
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills