Balloon over Home

Waiting for the Whooooosh

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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

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

Around and About Athens, New York, part 2

Real Estate and Ancestors

Pam eventually caught up to report a breakthrough contact made through casual street interactions (click me for Part 1). She talked to random strangers on 2nd Street hoping to learn more about her ancestor, Jan Van Loon. The breakthrough was a name and phone number of a woman, the daughter of a new acquaintance, and a tip about an old cemetery.

Two people are visible in this first photograph, taken from the south end of Athen’s Riverside Park. Look to the left of the large tree where a artist, under the small white umbrella, is painting while in conversation with a second person. Pam struck up a conversation……

Click any photograph for a larger version

“For Sale: 1825 Federal Home on the Hudson River”

The artist had an easel and a painting in progress, the subjects were yellow irises, part of a formal garden on the grounds of the mansion. We first took it to be a museum or public building of some sort, but were mistaken. It is a home. In the course of a conversation that touched upon Henry Hudson’s 1608 journey up the river (they knew nothing of Jan Van Loon, or of deeper local history in general), and the work of the second man who was the owner of the mansion. Here is more about the place from the Zillow listing. There was no “for sale” sign in evidence.

From the portion of the 12 South Water Street garden on the road. We chatted with the house owners and an artist as he painted these yellow iris blooms.

Zillow Listing WOW!!

” A freshly renovated home and grounds on the Hudson River, at 12 South Water Street, Athens, New York. Barely visible, to the left of the tree, is an artist, painting large yellow irises while chatting with the owner of the property. Here is what the listing on Zillow has to say, “This majestic 1825 Federal home on the banks of the Hudson River was designed by architect Barnabas Waterman for shipping entrepreneur Anthony Rutgers Livingston. Steeped in history, the house has undergone an extensive – yet sensitive – restoration. Enter into a grand hallway with Double Parlors to the right and a formal DR on the left. Original Federal flourishes abound with acanthus leaf capitals and entablatures, corinthian columns, and intact mantels and moulding. The high ceilings and tall windows provides extraordinary elegance, light and comfort. A thoughtful kitchen renovation and 1/2 Bath for 21st century convenience. Upstairs is a Full Bath and four spacious and airy Bedrooms, the Master with ensuite bath. The walk – out lower level features a family room with fireplace, a full bath and the original kitchen with hearth and beehive oven. A stroll past the box-wood garden leads to a 3-bay Garage with Studio and 1/2 Bath above, perfect for artist, home office or guests. Convenient to Thruway, Catskill, Hudson. 2- hrs NY.”

View from the home, across the Hudson River. This is the Middle Ground Flats (an island mid-stream in the Hudson River) in the distance.

Formal Garden

Restored Hudson River Mansion

Barely a half mile apart, a great distance separates the homestead of Jan Van Loon and the 12 South Water Street former mansion of a shipping magnate including 125 years and the American Revolution.

Stylized Acanthus Leaves grace these Corinthian Capitals

Click me for the next post in this series about Flowers and the Athens Country Cemetery.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Around and About Athens, New York, part 1

Enjoyments of Athens, New York

Memorial Day Weekend 2019 Pam and I visited Athens, first settled in the 17th Century by an ancestor through her maternal grandmother. Click me for more about the Van Loons. Jan Van Loon is 10 generations removed from Pam and her siblings and is one of 1024 (512 pairs) of ancestors. Whatever became of the other 1022 people (and all those in between) Pam was there with me that day to enjoy the experience of walking around town and talking about Jan Van Loon’s connection to herself.

Click any photograph for a larger version

Founded as Loonenberg, named after the first settler Jan Van Loon. today,Athens is a lovely destination, a historic village on the Hudson River.

We stopped for a very enjoyable latte at Bonfiglio and Bread on 2nd street. As we ambled south on 2nd street Pam spotted someone to talk to and I proceeded with the goal of the Hudson River, visible at the bottom of the street.

I noticed this architectural specimen and turned to capture this side in a good light and was lucky to capture a young co-admirer of its style with whom I assume is her Mother. Athens, developed as a “National Register Historic Site,” is a charming place to stroll and admire.

Southeast view on 2nd Street between Water and Washington streets. Athens, New York

Hudson Riverfront

Yesterday I did a Red Cross blood donation at an elementary school on Hudson Street here in Ithaca. Henry Hudson, the first European to sail up the river that now bears his name, is memorialized this way across New York State so much so it is unusual to find the “Riverfront Park” named as such.

The city of Hudson, in Columbia County directly across the river named its park “Henry Hudson Riverfront Park.”

Looking east toward the entrance of the Riverfront Park, Athens, New York. Found at the east end of 2nd Street.

Peace and Quiet

The Athens Park is a gathering place for the village with a large swath of grass, a short boardwalk, benches and generous shade trees along with river…….

The photograph captions will speak for themselves for the rest of today’s post. Enjoy!!

A sole reader enjoys the solitude and view across the Hudson. A large mid-stream island, Middle Ground Flats, provides a swath of green instead of a view of the city Hudson.

…and a dock.

The map shows a dotted line between this dock in the Athens Riverside Park and the Henry Hudson Riverside park of the city of Hudson. Barely visible in front of the wooded hills is the Hudson-Athens lighthouse.
A pleasure craft motoring south on the Hudson River passes in front of the Hudson-Athens Lighthouse. On the eastern shore is a line of freight cars. Amtrack uses this line for service between New York City, Albany and beyond. We have enjoyed this Hudson River view from the train and highly recommend that trip.
Built 1874, the Hudson-Athens lighthouse guides traffics around the island named “Middle Ground Flats.”

Click me for more photography, my online Fine Art Gallery.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

They came for the beaver, he stayed for the corn

Pam’s Ancestors Jan and Maria Van Loon

June 2018 I shed a 53 year old habit of working for a living for new habits in retirement. Instead of waking at 5 am to work for someone else, my routine became to wake at 5 am for personal projects. From June into September 2018 my morning time was spent researching and documenting family history, also known as genealogy: my own and Pam’s.

It was fitting Pam and I spent the last days of that year (June 2018 through May 2019) harvesting our newly acquired knowledge on the ground, a 3 hour drive from our home, to the site of Pam’s earliest ancestor in the New World, at that time Colonial America. Our visit will be book-ended by another this September to Burlington, New Jersey, on the eastern short of the Delaware river, founded by my earliest ancestor, also in Colonial America and 4 hours from our present day home.

A river setting is a link between our ancestors and the two rivers associated in a number of ways. In driving to Athens, New York, a village on the west bank of the Hudson River 31 miles from the state capital, Albany. Our route from Ithaca to Athens included route 23 that passes through the Catskill Mountain, Delaware County, village of Stamford. The headwaters of the west branch of the Delaware River passes through Stamford.

Founded as Loonenberg, named after the first settler Jan Van Loon. Today, Athens is a lovely destination, a historic village on the Hudson River. The rear of the Jan Van Loon house is in the background.

Henry Hudson and the crew of the Half Moon were the first recorded Europeans to visit both the Delaware and Hudson rivers. The Half Moon dropped anchor in Delaware Bay late August, 1609. They reached the estuary of the Hudson (then called the North or the Mauritius). The goal of Hudson was a route to China. Luring him up was the flow and width of the river, Hudson suspected this land was a island, behind which lay the route to the Orient. He navigated up the river for ten days, passing the future site of Athens.

Historical signage with house. One wall remains of the original house, this is a loving restoration on the original site.

Beaver!!

Hudson was in the employ of the Dutch East India Company and it was the Dutch who laid claim to the length of the Hudson for the purpose of trade. In summary, when Swedish/Finnish colonists on the Delaware proved successful in shipping huge numbers of beaver pelts and tobacco the Dutch took control of the Delaware under force of arms in the interest of controlling this trade.

The Dutch, AKA the Dutch East/West India Companies, had little interest in establishing colonies. Instead huge areas of land, “patents”, were granted to individuals with the underlying goal of providing a flow of shippable goods. It remained as such for many years, until 1664 when England, under the king Charles II, took control of New Amsterdam and, by extension, trade flowing on the Hudson River.

Overview of the Jan Van Loon House, 39 South Washington Street, Athens New York from the Athens Veterans Memorial Park with view of the Hudson River and the lighthouse. Phlox are in bloom!!

Stayed for the Corn

Jan Van Loon (pronounced Van Loan) comes into the picture with a 1676 marriage to Maria in New Amsterdam. When Jan acquired a major interest in the 1688 Loonenburg patent the land was just opening to European settlers and their tenancy was less than secure. Threatened by incursions of Native Americans and animosities between the French and English. They had eight children who reached adulthood, the house of one of them, Albertus, is one of the oldest continually inhabited residences in New York State.

Athens, New York is the present day name of this town on the Hudson River first settled by Pam’s ancestor in the 17th Century. Pam is pointing to the modern window restoration (aluminum double-hung), the roof is cedar shingle (I believe).

Tradition has it Jan Van Loon acquired the land through a payment of 50 beaver pelts and provided services as a blacksmith, though that had to be after a number of years of residence, since he was a first settler. Pam and I are learning more about those early years, but we know Jan and Maria’s interest in the land was not trade. It was to live peacefully and prosper which they, somehow, did to the benefit of all the people around them.

Detail of the modern restoration of the east foundation wall, Jan Van Loon house, Athens, New York, at the juncture of the field stone/brick joint. The front of the house is to the right.
The lighthouse as viewed from the Jan Van Loon House site. Build 1874, the lighthouse was not part of the environment of Jan and Maria Van Loon.

Click me for the next post in this series, “Around and About Athens, New York, Part 1.”

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Taughannock Gorge Trail late winter hike

sights during a 4 mile hike on icy trails around Taughannock Gorge

Wednesday afternoon this week my exercise was a 4 mile hike around the Taughannock Falls Gorge on the north and south rim trail. I parked at the Overlook and took in a view of Taughannock Falls in the gorge below.

The video and pics are from my Apple IPhone.

I then headed south on the North Rim Trail. It was slow going because the trail was solid ice in many places. Throughout the walk was evidence of the great work of the park maintence crew preparing for spring.

A bridge over the creek transitions from the North to South Rim trails. Here is an overview of the dramatic site below this bridge.

The trail ice forced me off onto the Gorge Road that parallels the trail. Even without the ice, a portion of the trail is closed for the winter due to dangerous conditions. There are interesting sites along this road.

Click any photograph for a larger image


Walking downhill only this medium-sized bark is visible, the road curves around to bring into view a tiny farmhouse, now abondoned, dwarfed by the barn.

I took a detour to explore a small cemetery just off Gorge Road on a shelf above the Taughannock Farms Inn.

Overview of this small cemetery overlooking Cayuga Lake

The lower falls is another worthy detour before I rejoined the Rim trail to climb up the north side of the gorge.

One of many Rim Trail overlooks. That is the Gorge Trail, below.

In this approximate 4 miles there is a 2088 foot change in altitude (1044 up and down). I took my time for an enjoyable 2 hours.

Click to visit my Finger Lakes Memories online gallery.
Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Kite Surfing Action Series

three shots in one second

For a change of scene we visited Cape Canaveral, the beach at Cherie Down Park were an informal gathering of Kite Surfers was underway. Here is a series of action shots, one second elapsed from first to last.

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Click any photograph for my Online Galleries

Conditions were excellent: good northerly wind, the sun overcast and, it being afternoon, in the west. Surfers stayed relatively close to shore, near their starting point. I had packed the “heavy gun” camera with a tripod.

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Panning the scene (swiveling on the tripod), the camera in rapid exposure mode, I pressed the shutter release and held it down.

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The surfer was captured mid-jump to landing.

Click this link for another view of Kite Surfing

Click this link for a view of Kite Skating on the beach


Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills