Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Headbangers look at their timetables.

Before Mac headed off once again for a holiday in Cornwall (Mac and Julie are taking retirement quite seriously.) he gave us the headbanger challenge theme for this week. Timetable. Now Mac should have had some great chances on the trains to find a Timetable image to top all of us.

My timetable pictures are pretty dull. I may have to count on timetable stories.

My best timetable story comes from our trip to Siberia in 1998. After spending time with our son and his friends in central Siberia where he had been studying and where he would later that year be married, we traveled on the Trans Siberian Railway back to Moscow and St. Petersburg.

When we were in Moscow before going to Siberia, and again in Moscow and St. Petersburg afterwards, the most common question we were asked was "You are going/went WHERE? WHY?" Maybe the third questions should have been "How?"

Our travel arrangements on most of the trip were done through an agency which had someone to meet us in each city to get us to our lodgings and to get us to the train with our tickets when we traveled on. This was the case except for a couple of places where we made unusual excursions or where the agency did not have agents. Our future daughter-in-law purchased our tickets in Krasnoyarsk, for example, and when we went to visit an online friend in a village, well, we had to muddle that out on our own.

And then there was Novosibirsk, which is a large city . In Novosibirsk when we returned from our village trip we took a taxi to our hotel. Our documents were delivered to us there. We never did see anyone from the agency in that city. When it came time for us to leave, our train tickets were delivered to the hotel, and a taxi was booked for us to the station.

We were a bit taken aback, but we figured it was fine. We had by this time managed to sound out Russian city names in the Cyrillic alphabet and figured we could find our way through a train station and find out which track to go to. The departure time was clear on our instruction sheet. Despite our limited knowledge of Russian--about 65 words among the three of us by this time--we were good to go.

Till we got to the train station  and found that the electronic timetable was under repair. There were no words or numbers there in any language--just wires hanging out of the spaces. There was absolutely no one there who spoke English. There was no Travelers' Aid. We were lost in Siberia.

We found a kiosk where some kind of service was provided to Russian travelers. They couldn't help us officially, but we showed them our tickets, and somehow--I don't know how--learned that this train was late and would not be at that track at that time. After wandering the station looking for any other source of information, we finally realized we would only be able to get information from the announcements that were made over the loud speakers. And they were made in Russian.

We set ourselves up near the kiosk, and every time an announcement was made, one of us would take our ticket over to the kiosk with a questioning look on our face. They would shake their heads no. After a while we did not even have to go to the kiosk--if anything was said over the PA system, we looked toward the kiosk and they shook their heads.

Eventually, after a couple of hours, an announcement was made and the folks at the kiosk got very excited. They were nodding yes and practically jumping up and down they were so excited for us. Or they were so delighted that they would finally be rid of us. We went to the kiosk to shake hands and thank them and gave them some of the American flag pins we had taken for gifts and trades. They pointed out which track to go to and we finally were good to go.


When we traveled from Wales to London in 2010 there was some trouble on the rail lines there. A lot of trains were cancelled, and the timetables we passed in the stations look like this. Fortunately our train was running. (And these electronic timetables actually had words on them.)

A friend of mine has enjoyed telling us of her recent trip with her four daughters to Branson MO to celebrate one of the girls' birthday. They had the unfortunate experience of traveling American Airlines on the day that the computers went down and all flights were cancelled. They had quite an adventure, spending two nights of their five night trip in cities other than where they had planned to go. Just throw away the timetable on this one.

Trains between concourses at Seattle Tacoma International Airport leave every two minutes.

I think for my header photo, though, I will use this image which came from not paying enough attention to the timetable.
People in the Puget Sound region are used to being beholden to the ferry timetables. Routes to Bremerton and Bainbridge Island leave regularly from Seattle, to Kingston from Edmonds, and others, and the next ferry is not that long away. The ferry system provides a relaxing and quiet commute for many Seattle workers, who have their personal portions of the timetable memorized.

If you don't have it memorized, you really should consult it before you go.

When you have a friend on one of the smaller islands, the ferries are less frequent. My friend Kathy and I visited Sue on Vashon Island last fall while we were staying in the Seattle area. When Kathy and I set out to return to the mainland, we looked at the timetable. Ooooooooooops! Maybe if we hurried we would make it. But unfamiliar rural roads at dusk do not give you much chance to hurry. As we got nearer the ferry terminal, there was just a bit more oncoming traffic that we expected. It was the commuters coming off the ferry.

Would we make it? Well, almost. Yes. That ferry boat is just leaving the dock. We would be the first to load an hour later when it returned.


I wonder what the others will find to illustrate Timetable. You will find their choices at their links in my sidebar on Wednesday afternoon.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rain--the theme for headbangers this week

Some of my headbanger friends have been experiencing a lot of liquid sunshine lately, and so Craver gave us the theme of "RAIN".

When he gave us the theme, I checked the extended forecast here and found ten days of sunshine and partly cloudy predicted. So when I had a bit of time, I went searching through my files for a collection of rainy pictures.

One tends to put the camera away when it is rainy. Not that rain can't make a great image, but it is not necessarily friendly to expensive equipment. Nevertheless, I found that I had a good collection of rain shots found and photographed at various times and in various places.

For example, while hiking in Scotland in the summer of 2010, we rested under the emergency shelter to let the rest of our group made the summit. We had already hit the underbelly of the clouds. It wasn't actually raining where we were then, we were above the rain.
Our guide Sean had told us not to move. He wanted to be sure that they would find us when they came down. We did, too.

But we got bored. We peeked out from under the shelter to find the clouds had lifted and the  view of the lochs and the isles was magnificent.

We didn't stray too far. And we weren't in too much trouble
 Later, back in our B&B in Ullapool, we had a rainy view of the loch through our window.
 Later that year I did the Breast Cancer 3-Day walk in San Diego. SAN DIEGO! Home of sunshine and one of the country's mildest possible climates. Did I mention sunshine?

Walkers shelter under a bridge to avoid some of the worst of the day's downpour. Wearing a variety of rain gear (not excluding a few plastic trash bags.) 

My hubby and brother met me at one of the pit stops with towels, dry clothes, and rain coat and rain pants. 

Of course, along with that rain we had wind, rendering the usual wet weather accoutrements useless.

Much of our tent city came down that night, and two of my companions deserted us for a hotel.

Rain can really mess with your head when you are camping. It does provide a memorable adventure. The night before this one was taken, we had had three hours of thunder and lightning. The camp was pitched anew after all the tents and sleeping bags had hung on the clothesline to dry. Extra precautions in the form of tarps for a second roof and buckets for extra drips were in place. We did not experience another drop of precipitation.
And by the way, you know that measure of how long after the lightning you hear the thunder? 

Raindrops on Lupine.

Raindrops on mopheads--er--Western Anenome seed heads.

Raindrops on the ship's rail.


Scene in Skagway reflected in a bumper.
Raindrops from Scotland to San Diego, to Mt. Rainier, to Alaska. Quite a search.

And then I came up from my basement office and, forecast or no forecast, this is what I saw from my car window. 
Be sure to check out the rain found by my headbanger buddies. Their links can be found in my sidebar.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

That's Strange! #2

Okay, so that header is none of those images I was choosing from last night. Lew sent me a link of interest this morning -- NASA Photo of the Day which reminded me of something strange that occurs over some of our Cascade peaks.

So I tracked back to find one of my lenticular cloud images from Mt. Rainier. It is not the most spectacular example of this phenomenon. If you want to see some really strange ones, just do an image search for lenticular clouds. Wikipedia explains it here.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

That's Strange!

"That's Strange" may seem somewhat similar to our April Fool's header challenge, but I am sure my friends whom you can find linked in my sidebar will up the ante with this one. I did not get out with the camera this week to find something strange, but found plenty while reviewing my photo files for the last year. The problem is, what is strange enough and also fits as a header picture.

Some strange things I found:
You might think a green T-shirt among the tuxedos in the symphony strange if you didn't realize that the concert was on St. Patrick's Day.

 You might think that finding a dead fish out in the desert would be strange until you spotted the beetle that was making its carcass its home. Now THAT was strange.

Speaking of beetles, there seemed to be something strange about this VW Beetle in the hospital parking lot last summer.

It may seem strange to see this sign along the Ironman bicycle route,


but no stranger than some things you see along the running route.

It was rather strange seeing this car covered with post-it notes in the park and ride.

Now, to reading the thoughts of the neighbor's horse:

"Hey, that's strange...."

"I need to go see what is going on here."

"Maybe if I get a lot closer I will find out about this strange thing."

"It's that strange neighbor lady with her camera again.

Maybe I should smile and say HI!"

Not sure which I will choose... Oh, well. It's not due up till tomorrow.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Psalm--Third Sunday of Easter

 I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear

and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.

O LORD, you brought me up from the netherworld;

you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.

 I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones, 
and give thanks to his holy name.

For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.

At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.

I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.

You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Headbangers Look UP

After looking down a couple of weeks ago, it occurred to me that we should look up. And so, without any particular plan (The choosers of themes do sometimes have something in mind that will blow us away with their brilliance and give them an edge--yeah, I plead guilty to that occasionally.) Anyway, without any particular plan I proposed that we follow up on my turn with Looking Up. And so, we might expect some uplifting images from our headbanger team this week.

I didn't know what I would encounter this past weekend, though I knew there would be birds, and they would sometimes be UP in the sky. So here we are.

I will start with the second excursion we took at the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival. We went out with dual guides--a knowledgeable agricultural guide and a wildlife guide. Our ag guide had lived in the area since he was a boy and had great stories about how things were before the irrigation came in and changed agriculture in the area. The wildlife guide was pretty knowlegeable about the birds and the habitat in the refuge.

So we saw the cranes, who stop in every spring by the thousands to rest and refuel on their migration from Central California to their nesting areas in Alaska. It is estimated that some 25,000 spend a week or two in the area over the course of six to seven weeks. During the day they feed in the corn fields gleaning the waste corn, and on young wheat and alfalfa and then  they hang out in the Columbia Basin Wildlife Refuge wetlands during the night.
 The cranes did not used to stop. Obviously, before the dams on the Columbia River were built and the water used for irrigation providing an abundant smorgasbord for them and resting space in the refuge, there was no interest. Our guide said that his dad always called them out to hear the cranes fly over--they can be a noisy bunch--but they were often so high that you could not see them. But within the last twenty years or so, they realized what was there and the area became a regular part of their itinerary. the festival has been going on for sixteen years.
Sandhill Cranes flying overhead. The Lesser Sandhill Crane stands about three feet tall and has a wingspan of six feet.

This Redtail Hawk flies alone.   
It was quite a sight.

The previous day, we had enjoyed a tour that was a little unusual, and I certainly didn't expect to take a looking up picture there, unless it was this one I found in the restroom.
The tour was titled Native Seeds and Habitat. Our guide was himself involved in the preparation of commercial seed--mainly split peas. We observed some of the agribusinesses in the area on our way to our main stops. Othello is the center of production of french fries for McDonald's--yes, your Mickey D's fries came from a couple of hours from my home. Other crops in the area are wheat, alfalfa hay, timothy hay, onions, carrots, peas and beans (the dry varieties), beans (the green varieties.) 
Our tour started at BFI Native Seeds  seed cleaning operation. What do you know of what goes into that seed packet you start your garden with? The amazing process starts with gathering the seed from existing plants, cleaning it, storing it and packaging it for distribution. BFI is unique in that the seed it deals with is the native seed of some  90 or more varieties of plants. The plant manager showed us his display of some of the seeds they deal with here.
Those bottles--about the size of a spice bottle at the supermarket--contain anywhere from fifty to half a million seeds of the particular plants--depending on size of the seed.
What a size difference!

Most seed processors gather the seed of commercial crops to process and prepare for the next season's planting. BFI gathers seed in a variety of places around the Northwest, not for commercial crops, but for propagation of plants native to the natural places of the area. They then grow fields of each type to increase the seed lot. Rather than the farms of hundreds of acres of wheat or potatoes, their crops might grow on an acre or two of land. They then harvest and clean the seed from their fields and package and store it for restoration projects and other areas where native plantings are needed.

The machines which they use sift out husks, foreign matter and all variety of stuff. It's rather more complicated than your flour sifter or vegetable strainer at home. I got this shot looking up:
Interesting while we were there, but not as photogenic as you might have thought. These machinery shots are more interesting:

But not looking up. 
Then I got distracted from what the plant manager was explaining about the seed cleaning process--probably why I can't explain it better--and went looking at the other side of this machine to see this tube--looks like my dryer venting but bigger. This machine uses air blown in and --well, yes, I was distracted and didn't get exactly how the air

blowing worked, except you can imagine that it blew out the stuff that was supposed to be discarded.
What was distracting me?
Take a look.
That tube is open at the end.
I wonder...
 What if?????

So, yes, I looked up it--with my camera--No I didn't lie down on the factory floor, though that would have worked, too.
And I got my header picture looking up.
Our tour continued to one of the farms where several varieties of bunchgrass are being grown for seed.

And then out to the Wildlife Refuge where seed from BFI had been used to restore some 1900 acres ravaged by a wildfire about three years ago.

So that is my Looking UP tour. Now that I have it done I think I will go ahead and post it early. You can see what the other headbangers have found when they look up by Wednesday afternoon, and what they found to fool the eye before then. Their links are in my sidebar.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Headbangers--Fool the Eye

Lew gave us an April Fools them with Fool the Eye for this week and on a return trip from the wildlife refuge we stopped for these shots at sunset.

So what is it I see across the pond below the trees?
 Let's get a little closer. I think that is a young brontosaurus. Well, no, there is no such thing as a brontosaurus. What we learned as kids was a brontosaurus was an erroneous combination of two dinosaur species. It's something else.
 Are those kids playing on the shore by the dinosaur--whatever type it is?

Kids and an unspecified dinosaur and a stegosaurus's tail--don't get too close.
 What an anachronism! (if the kids and dinosaur are not one already.) A dino and a car.

This is the shot I chose for the header, with a little cropping because I like to have a certain fit.
 And that is what we saw at the dinosaur park in Granger.