Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Two Days in Fall

This has been a disappointing Fall in terms of color so far. However, yesterday and today were glorious blue sky days and the tree color is finally here. So let's take a look.
 Oops it got away! Yes, and Fall almost did get away without any good color.
 The hand is from a sculpture installation, The Awakening, at National Harbor in Maryland.By John Seward Johnson II it is a giant awakening from a long sleep. We started at National Harbor but did not actually get to see what we went for. Fearing getting trapped in the afternoon traffic we left...
 and decided to stop in for a sunny day look at Great Falls. The water level has dropped from when we were last there (September 19 and 30) when the Potomac was in flood stage.
With the Falls to our backs the river carries on and disperses into Mather Gorge. As well as being a lower water level the water color had changed. No more angry brown water.
 Then today, for Halloween we headed up to the village. My first reward was this tree which is one of my favorites - it grows right in front of the Jinny Beyer Studio and has just a few days when it is a glorious sight. Today was one of those days when it is almost too good to be true.
 Our village decorates for the Halloween holiday and welcomes the children for trick and treating. First comes the Halloween dog parade which was what we had come to see but while we were waiting for it to get underway we got to see the businesses setting out their decorations.
Soon the parade was ready to begin. This adorable glass of chocolate milk wanted to lead the parade...despite not having a dog.
These two won the prize for the most excited.
 Dogs of all sizes are there ranging from this tiny fireman
 to this one with the Guardians of the Galaxy
 to a hotdog
 and to this one which was a lobster fisherman complete with his large lobster catch.
To close out another view of my favorite tree. That could be me throwing my hands up in joy at seeing this glory of the season.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Quick Tour of Marlborough, New Zealand

 We were last in New Zealand on this blog back in June. Tonight I decided to share with you another portion of our two week trip to New Zealand. It is now almost exactly six months since we were there and because NZ is in the southern hemisphere we here in the USA are now seasonally at the same time of year, early autumn, as it was when we were driving round the upper half of the South Island.

The June blog entry had us leave Kaikoura and we drove north along the coastal route 1 still encountering damage from the earthquake. But some miles north of Kekerengu the route starts to veer inland.
 Once you cross the Awatere river bridge at Seddon it is clear you are in a different region. We stopped for a quick look at the historic double decker road rail bridge. This level was the road level.

In the shot above the railroad portion is still in use today but the road portion, below this level, has been replaced with a new bridge.
 Looking out the car windows we were now seeing well kept vineyards nestled in the Awatere valley and sheltered by the hills. Continuing on we arrived at our overnight stop in Blenheim.
 The next morning it was necessary to get a prompt start as we needed to be in Nelson by the end of the day. But this is the prime Marlborough wine country that produces my favorite Sauvignon Blanc wines so we were first going to make some calls to the cellar doors. Our first stop, right at 9am was to the beautiful Alan Scott vineyard. The day was bright and sunny and perfect for strolling among the vines even if the harvest had already taken place.
Again we see the vineyards growing on flat land surrounded by hills that shelter the area.
 Just up from the Alan Scott vineyard was Matua but alas, they do not host public tours. However I show it here because the trees were at the same almost peak of autumn colors that we should be in here in VA this week.
 For a third stop we had selected a vineyard that also had a cafe where we thought we'd have brunch. But it was not to be. After hanging around for 30 minutes waiting while other customers were being given the full tasting we decided we really could not wait any longer so we got back on the road. However, I wanted to show you yet another example of how beautiful many of these wineries are. the buildings are modern and well kept and the landscaping often includes well kept gardens with sculptures and more.
 Motoring on we came to Havelock and decided this was a great spot to stop for lunch. The driver was able to indulge in a bowl of green lip mussels totally fresh from the water very close by.
 Our next stop was at the Pelorus Bridge Scenic Reserve. If you are a fan of the Hobbit movies a scene where the dwarves were filmed floating down river in barrels for the movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was right here.
 Do you think this sign might be just a little understated?
 We were keenly watching out for the birdlife on this trip and were rewarded at this stop with many sightings of the piwakawaka aka fantail. The driver was hoping to see the fantail in full display but these little birds are very busy flitting here and there at great speed and by the time you find them the tail has been spread and folded in again. But I was lucky to catch this one before it flew off once more.
 The bushwalks were a glorious vibrant green delight.
 The swing bridge takes a bit of getting used to and we decided it was less scary if we went just one at a time.
Once you pause in the center of the bridge and wait for the swaying to stop you can enjoy a beautiful view. Just look at the color of that water.

If you go to Marlborough do allow several days to really see this gorgeous part of New Zealand. We were on a timetable however and needed to be in Nelson by that night for a several day stopover so I could attend a family wedding.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Summer Roadtrip Part IV A Foggy Doggy Story

That first foggy day lent an entirely different perspective to a summer coastal day. After breakfast we headed out to Rockport.
Rockport was smaller than I expected but it had a pretty harbor. For several years now I have been watching an osprey nest online so I was eagerly watching out for osprey when in Maine. Here in the front left corner I can see a platform that in some earlier year has perhaps hosted a nest but alas, not this year.
We moved the car further down so we could walk around the harbor area. Right away we were highly entertained by watching this dog - the one on the right. Stay with me now while I tell you the story. At first we watched a couple of people throw a stick repeatedly into the water. The dog would jump in, retrieve the stick and swim back to the little jetty and drop it for them to throw again. We assumed the dog belonged to them. Well, no it did not. As they left the jetty I chatted briefly with them and they did not know whose dog it was but it clearly loved this game.
 Unable to resist we took a turn at entertaining Dog. Step 1; throw the stick.
 Step 2; Dog has jumped in, retrieved the stick and is swimming back with it.
 Step 3; from lots of practice Dog knows where to come ashore.
 Step 4; good Dog, you found the stick for us.  Now after a number of these demonstrations of Dog's prowess we were a little afraid that we might be wearing Dog out so we said goodbye and left.
 Back on the road our next stop was at Rockland Harbor where we decided to take the 0.8 mile walk along the breakwater to see the Rockland Breakwater Light. When we started out we weren't sure if we would walk all the way because it was so foggy and 0.8 m is quite a walk in the fog and it would be 0.8m on the return journey too. But as you can see there were a number of folk doing the walk.
 We were distracted several times along the walk by cute little birds like this one. It had a preset distance which it kept between us. For each foot I got closer, it backed off by the same amount. And it was well camouflaged don't you think. When I kept still long enough it would pause and sip from little puddles.
 Finally we arrived at the end of the breakwater. Now the fog was even heavier. We could no longer see the land. There were foghorns going off as watercraft passed by making it quite spooky I have to say. This one above is the Sari Ann and, judging by the load, is a lobster fishing boat.
 The lighthouse itself was not one of the most picturesque we saw on our trip and there was nothing to make this a pretty photo. On a sunny day with a flag up the flagpole it would be. However, the point of a lighthouse is to keep watercraft safe in just the kind of weather condition that we experienced on our walk.
 The North Star approached with it's fog light shining brightly. "No, don't jump"  might be a good caption for the photo. Instead the two crewmen were just sitting down taking a break as they motored in to the harbor.
 A ferry passed by soon after we heard a really really loud horn. We heard the horns well before we saw what the horn belonged to.
 Eventually we started the long walk back.
And to finish off this post, I cannot resist going one over my usual bakers dozen of photographs. Photo 14 is another shot of Dog.