Monday, December 17, 2012

Trip to Iceland - 2

Hi, This will be the final post on our trip to Iceland.  We stopped for lunch at a restaurant which had an attached cow barn.  Here is the view through a window from our table.

We had an opportunity to walk around the barn before lunch.  Naturally, we needed to be careful where we put our feet.

After lunch our first stop was Dimmuborgir.  This area has very interesting rock formation created by lava flows.

There were many families here when we visited.

They were drawn to visit the Yule Lads.  In Icelandic folk lore the Yule Lads are the offspring of two trolls.  Originally they were considered to be very mischievous and steal from mortals.  There are 13 of them and their names indicate how they steal and the pranks they play.  In more recent times they have become Iceland's Santa Clauses.  They arrive one at a time beginning 13 days before Christmas and depart in the same order, again one at a time, beginning on Christmas Day.

Three were present the day we visited and the local children really seemed to enjoy visiting with them.

Of the photos I took there this is definitely my favorite.

Iceland has a special breed of horses which came from the Shetland Islands, probably with the  original Viking settlers.  Although they are small, frequently the size of ponies, they have the proportions of a horse.

Next we stopped at Hverir, an areal of bubbling sulfurous mud pits and steaming vents.  Iceland is geothermally active and most of the heat and hot water, as well as a good deal of the electricity consumed in the country comes from geothermal sources.

The Myvatn Nature baths was our final stop.  From the entrance to the baths can be seen evidence of the continental rift between the North American and Eurasion plates.  The rift caused the cleft in the mountain shown below.

People bathe in the geothermal pools year round.  One couple from our group took a dip.  I don't like cold and was not about to go from the bath house to the pool in freezing weather with just a swim suit on.

We had a second opportunity to view the Northern Lights as we had not seen them on our first attempt.  This time we did see them.  However, they were a very pale green.  When we were on the ground they looked like clouds lit up by city lights.  However, on the bus returning to our hotel we saw them again and this time they pulsed and rapidly changed shape.  They were never bright enough to get photos with out a better camera and tripod.

On our return to Reykavik we took another walk around downtown.  The Salvation Army maintains a hostel here where many younger people visiting the city stay.

Our hotel in Reykavik had these very interesting sculptures in the lobby and

a spiral staircase.

We very much enjoyed our visit to Iceland.  We found the sites we visited interesting and the people very friendly.  Almost everybody speaks some English and most speak it very well.  Thanks for looking.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Trip to Iceland - 1

Hi, My wife and I returned from Iceland on Tuesday 12/11 after spending four nights and five days there.  We began our trip on 12/6 with a flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to Keflavik Airport about 45 minutes from Iceland's main city and capital, Reykavik.

Upon our arrival we checked into our hotel, had breakfast and took a nap.  On waking up about 12:30 PM we got our act together and headed downtown.  The hotel provided free tickets for the local transit buses.

One of the first things we spotted was this chopper practicing rescues over the harbor.
We then continued along the main shopping street.  Off the street was a play area for children.  The walls of the surrounding buildings were covered with graffiti.

Street decoration provided a nice frame for a modern church on a hill.

This statue was outside a jewelry store.

Another jewelry store had some interesting displays in its window, including this reindeer.

The next day we flew up north, to the town of Akuryeri, landing about 9:40 AM.  Our aircraft is shown below.  Dawn begins about 10:30 AM in these latitudes and dusk is about 3:30 PM.  When the sun does shine, it is low in the southern sky.  However, it was cloudy during most of our stay in Iceland.

After checking into our hotel we set out for a walk around town.  Our hotel was up a hill from the main part of town and this church was photographed on the way down,

as was this large fishing trawler.  It did not move during the 2 days we spent in town.

My wife, Ruthe, was very interested in seeing and photographing some of the older homes so we headed in that direction.

The streets and sidewalks were mostly snow covered with ice underneath.  Some walks were treated with cinders.  Fortunately, neither of us fell.

When originally constructed the porch here was part of the pavement along the waterfront as the the water in the fjord on which Akuryeri is located came up to where the sign is in the picture.

On our return to the main part of town we heard singing and quickly spotted these three Santas singing Christmas Carols in Icelandic on a balcony.

That evening we went out looking for the Northern Lights.  While we did not see them, I was able to photograph this very picturesque church.

We spent the entire next day on a tour of the local area.  Our first stop was Godafoss Falls.  The ground here was particularly treacherous as under a very thin layer of snow was ice.

Looking down river on the left is a local restaurant and souvenir shop we went to next.

From the falls we journied to Lake Myvatn and circled the lake.  Because there were only six of us in the van we were able to stop wherever we desired for photos.

I'll cover the remainder of the trip in the next post.  Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Railfanning - 11-23 - 2012

Hi, I went railfanning in the Harrisburg, PA area with friend Doug Koontz last Friday.  It was good getting out with him as it had been awhile since we had been able to photograph trains together.

Unfortunately, for me it was not a great day.  For some reason I made a number of photographic mistakes including one very blurry picture shot too late so the train is almost out of the frame.  Needless to say, its not here.  Also, the weather, which started out perfect began to deteriorate to the west of Harrisburg by noon.  As a result we headed east, but the clouds soon caught up with us.

Our first location was on the west side of Newport, PA with # 20K.

We then headed west and eventually caught Amtrak's eastbound Pennsylvanian at Millerstown (not shown).  My next shot was of #24W just east of Duncannon, PA.

We caught #24K again, at Marysville, PA.

From Marysville we continued on east eventually reaching Middletown, PA where we photographed the westbound Pennsylvanian.  As the weather had now become fully cloudy we elected to spend the rest of the day there.

As it would be about 1/2 hour until the next train we went over to the Middletown and Hummelstown to see if anything was going on.  While the railroad was buttoned down tight, former WM Alco S6 was sitting in a very photographable position.

We then returned to the Middletown passenger station where we shot Amtrak Keystone Service #645 and then,


Thanks for looking.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Railfanning - 11/18/2012

Hi, I went out on Sunday with friend Marc Laborde and his son Anthony.  As I was unsure of traffic levels that day we headed for Shenandoah Junction, WV where we could shoot both CSX's former B&O east west route and NS's former N&W Shenandoah Valley line.

We were unpleasantly surprised when we arrived at Shenandoah Junction to find a crew with heavy equipment on the track working on the NS line.  However, shortly after we arrived a ballast train went east on CSX at about 10:00 AM.

As we saw the heavy equipment moving south toward the NS grade crossing in town we went to line up for a shot of the expected train.  We found one of the trucks with some of the crew parked near the grade crossing.  From one of the crew I learned their track authority was good until noon.  With this information we decided to head up to Hagerstown to see what we could find there.  As we were on our way to Hagerstown we heard the dispatcher extend the track authorities (it turned out there was a surfacing gang working in the Charlestown, WV area) until 2:00 PM.

When we got to Vardo Yard in Hagerstown I went into the yard office to try to get some information.  Although the yard clerk was cool, he did tell me that the train sitting outside, which turned out to be #37Q, was called for 12:30 PM and that #11R would depart at 1:30 PM.  While we were there we had the opportunity to photograph this high hood SD-40 switching the yard.  #37Q is sitting to the right on yard air. 

We headed north to try to find #11R.  However, when we reached Greencastle, PA we heard #11R call Vardo for yarding instructions.  So we returned to Hagerstown just as #11R entered the yard.  We noted that the crew for #37Q was aboard so went south to Antietam, MD arriving and getting set up just as the train was descending the hill in the background.

#37Q stopped just north of Shenandoah Junction until the surface gangs cleared up.

At about 2:15 PM #37Q came south.

At 3:30 PM #11R crossed the diamond with CSX's Shenandoah Valley line (under the third car in the train) in Charlestown, WV.

I hope you enjoyed the photos.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Baltic Cruise - Copenhagen

Hi, Our final port of call was Copenhagen, Denmark. Again we booked a shore excursion from the ship. Our first stop was the Rosenborg Castle, one of at least 3 royal castles in Copenhagen.

Taking photographs inside the castle required a permit for which there was a small fee. Here is a fireplace mantle.

 The throne was flanked by statues of lions.

 I am not sure what this item is but it intrigued me.  I stood to the left of and behind the throne.  It can be seen in the photo above behind the lion and just to the left of the steps leading up to the throne.

Our visit to the castle included viewing of the royal jewels of which these his and her crowns are a part.

The rear of the castle faces a park.

From the castle we went to Tivoli Gardens.  This was a "must see" for us.  It actually is a small amusement park in a garden setting in the middle of Copenhagen. Here are some views from the park.

The waterfront area proved very photogenic. I took this photo through the bus window as we passed by.

Before our ship departed Copenhagen I took this photo of the royal yacht from one of the upper decks.

This brings our trip to a close. I hope you enjoyed the photos.