A Total Eclipse Family Event – 8/21/17

My wife and I (and Sandy Paws, the dog,) journeyed about 750 miles (1200 km) from New Jersey to see and photograph the Total Solar Eclipse last week, meeting up with most of our immediate family for an unforgettable, awesome event which none of us, including the youngest, will ever forget.

Through a very dense solar filter, these first two images show the moon in silhouette, moving slowly from upper right to lower left across the sun. Click on to see the sunspots near the center, and lower left limb.

Totality descended rapidly in the final seconds… exposing this unreal, and unforgetable sight, joined by gasps and “Oh my God, it’s beautiful (s)..” Fontana Village is a resort in western North Carolina, today within the “path of totality,” a ~70 mile (113 km) shadow area – this time moving west to east across the United States. Above,  the sun’s outer corona is captured.
Above: Totally eclipsed over two minutes, the sun just ….reappears. This shorter exposure shows the inner corona and solar flares (reddish bursts to the right and lower right of the sun,) often referred to as the ‘Diamond Ring effect.”
As the moon continues along, gradually exposing more of the sun… the strong filters and solar glasses are again required, as the landscape moves from deep twilight to full daylight in a little over an hour.
Besides finding it hard to concentrate on the quickly changing demands of eclipse photography, the totality is unlike anything you could ever experience. Spontaneous applause and cheers welled up from the field in a unified expression of being witness to something extraordinary.

Accompanied in the field by our children, their children; my brother and sister-in-law, and Sandy Paws, we appreiciated such a beautiful day for an exceptional event just south of the Great Smoky Mountains.
As usual, click on the images for a closer look, and thanks for viewing. Comments are always welcome. M ūüôā

A Night To Remember: Driving Through a Winter Snowstorm

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† January 22, 1965, 8:30 PM. ¬†I was all of¬†18 years old and casually asked my father if I could borrow¬†the¬†car¬†to go¬†to the “bridge.” ¬†He was okay¬†with that, as the GWB¬†was only about 12¬†miles away; but would soon discover that my intentions were a little more ambitious and the bridge in question was actually in Niagra Falls, NY, some 400 miles away. ¬†I loved the recent liberation of being a licensed¬†driver and anticipation of seeing and experiencing new adventures. ¬†I was also very aware that a winter¬†snowstorm was intensifying over western¬†New York State¬†and consequently about to learn winter driving skills that would last throughout my¬†life. ¬†¬†

Short on time? Just browse the images below.  

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Google Map: Mostly secondary and tertiary roads from Northern New Jersey to Niagara Falls between 8:30 PM and 8:00 AM, with significant overnight snow. Few divided highways except the NY State Thruway existed at the time.

¬† ¬† ¬†There are no photos of the night. I had no boots, no gloves, no sense and no ambition to try and take pictures of featureless, blowing whiteness at night. There were few “interstate” roads, and I scoffed at the idea of paying money for THE toll road, the NY State Thruway. So it was secondary and tertiary roads with little traffic all night, except for snowplows, a few trucks, an amusing Corvair, and speeding Cadillac. I hated it when snowplows passed me – made me feel inadequate and messed up my windshield! ¬†

     Snow had begun falling about 150 miles up Rt. 17 before midnight and began accumulating rapidly.  Around 3:00 AM I pulled into a deserted rest area just past Corning, my tires clogging and squeaking to a stop in the deepening snow. An hour later, with chattering teeth, I wiped the fresh snow off the car, rocked it to get some traction, and plowed my way out to Rt. 17.

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Coming through Buffalo, I had no idea where this “Sky Way” went, and after I drove over it, I still didn’t know. (NOTE: These photos were all taken after daylight, offset time-wise¬†with the text.)¬†
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Snow drifts along the Niagara River. Canada is in the distance. My sneaker-clad footprints on the left!
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Rear wheel drive; a weak defroster; a terrible automatic “Slide-O-Matic” transmission or something, … a perfect learning machine.

¬† ¬† ¬†Around 280 miles into the trip, 4:30 AM, ¬†I was on Rt 15, a two lane highway now heading north following the tracks of a patrol car who in turn was following a truck in heavy snow all doing about 30 MPH (48 km/hr.) ¬†Coming down a hill, still behind them, I cleverly decided to drop the car into low gear to slow down, and promptly spun out, sliding sideways in a panic. I quickly (yeah, right, like skillfully??? I was only 18! …okay,¬†I luckily) got the car¬†under control ¬†by putting it back into drive, ¬†just one of many¬†lessons learned tonight. ¬†

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I called my father from this “bridge,” actually a relatively new observation tower, overlooking Niagara Falls, and¬†reluctantly paid $.50 to park in an empty snow covered lot. A lesson in local¬†fiscal “rigidity.” ¬†I¬†suppose I could have refused and gone back home.¬†

¬† ¬† ¬†Continuing in the snowy night, ¬†Rt. 15 heads west at the little town of Springwater in the western Finger Lakes region. There really was no town there, at least I couldn’t see anything. Rt 15a continued straight. I took 15 because it was a short-cut, and in a half mile came to a gradual hill.¬† As I continued the climb, the wheels started to lose traction until I …stopped forward motion. ¬†So I backed slowly and very¬†carefully down the hill while learning¬†more lessons… this time about simple coeficient of friction and its relation to losing traction and then forward motion! (I was struggling thru Physics I class¬†at this time, after all!) This “experiment”¬†was tested several¬†times before a guy in a light truck stopped and suggested sarcastically that I wait for dawn and the snowplows. Instead, I scoffed, imagined hearing¬†him utter something offensive¬†about kids, and, after backing¬†down the hill for the third time took the longer and flatter Rt 15a.¬†

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Desolate, frigid, and awesome! The American part of Niagara Falls.

     A few miles north was Rt 20a, just a simple, two lane east-west, single path roadway in the shadow of the New York State Thruway, a half dozen miles  north.  In the pre-dawn snow storm, this was an interesting stretch Р heavy snow falling, the long white un-plowed lane in the headlights of the car.  For a while I was following a small Corvair.  On the sides of the two tire tracks were about 8 or 9 inches (20 -23 cm) of snow. Occasionally, he would swerve into the deep snow throwing a white-out cloud of powder over the Buick.

     While on 20a, the sky started to brighten, not very much, speading an eerie blueness over the landscape. Snow was coming down as hard as ever. There were several modest hills, some with larger trucks trapped before the summits. I needed to keep strongly focused with the car square in the tracks. Not too much later, a large Cadillac whooshed by at about 60 Mph (100 KM.Hr,) scaring the hell out of me with a blinding cloud of snow engulfing my car in its wake.   

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Goat Island, in the distance, is located between the American Falls, and Canadian Falls beyond.

¬† ¬† ¬†¬†I eventually came into the town of Lancaster around 7 AM, found¬†some breakfast, and then¬†to Niagra Falls after going through near deserted Buffalo.¬†¬†Later in the day, I would car-surf on “waves” of snow drifts along a road¬†skirting¬†the southern edge of Lake Ontario; stop and skitter up in my white sneakers across high drifts and stinging gale winds to catch a glimpse of the lake – its¬†just barely visible shoreline marked by enormous blocks of ¬†ice showered with angry, spraying wind-blown¬†waves of frigid water.¬†

     The long day ended that night, me sleeping well at an $8 motel in Bath, NY, 658 miles since beginning. Part of that afternoon was not without more adventures, but that will  be noted on a short follow-up post including information about the camera and photos. I was back to New Jersey on the following  day,  after a total of 967 miles. 

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The Canadian Falls. Getting this picture was another challange as the mist from the falls froze hard to things like the car windows while I was outside walking to the edge. Bare fingers began to loose feeling on the cold metallic SLR camera.

Please see Part two, the return, at: http://wp.me/p37YEI-1tl

Thanks for visiting, and as usual comments are always welcome. M ūüôā

The Longest Footbridge in the World

(Below is a re-post, originally published here on  November 17th 2013 only to be lost in cyberspace 2 months later.) 

Recently, a friend and I walked across the 1.28-mile (2.06 km) Poughkeepsie (NY) Bridge; built in 1889 as the first railroad crossing over the Hudson River south of Albany. A magnificent and immensely important structure for its time, its use was abandoned almost 40 years ago. Through “adaptive re-use” it was re-opened to the public in 2009 as a historic state park, now attracting 750,000 visitors a year.

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As seen in this Google view, the “Walkway on the Hudson State Historic Park,” is a mile or so north of the “Mid-Hudson” automobile suspension bridge, connecting the town of Highlands with the city of Poughkeepsie since 1930.

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The bridge is about 65 miles north of New York City. (Map from Wikipedia)

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Railroad tracks have been replaced by a wide, pleasant pedestrian walkway, accommodating people, children, babies, cats, dogs, bikes …….

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Built and re-strengthened as the weight of the freight trains increased, the structure is another testament to 18th century engineering. However… underneath, it certainly shows it’s legacy.

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The scenery from its deck is awesome, especially in the fall.

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The view to the North

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As seen from the eastern end, the spectacular Hudson is winding north, with the Catskill Mountains in the distance.

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Historic plaques, information boards, and even smart-phone connectivity to points of interest via apps, are available across the span.

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Please click or finger stretch the images for full resolution, and comments are always welcomed. Thanks

Original Comments:

From Maggie: “Lovely photos that make me want to plan a weekend jaunt. I think this would be just as perfect as the trees peek spring green, not just peak in the fall. You captured the autumns colors at their apex.”

M: “Thanks Maggie. We hit it right as besides the folliage, it was just a nice day. Wind and cold can be brutal up there. M”

From Sherri: “Wow, amazing views M! Beautiful autumn colours but so high up, I think I would not like that part as I don’t like heights one bit! Very interesting post about this longest footbridge in the world!

I know this is so late but I wanted to let you know that I’ve nominated you for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award, here is the link: http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/2013/11/13/first-frost-melts-in-the-heat-of-dragons-loyalty-award/

I haven’t been on my laptop for a few days so it’s taken me a while to get round to everyone, sorry about that! Don’t worry if you ‘do’ awards but I just wanted to thank you for being so supportive of my blog and reading my posts. It means a great deal to me.

Have a great day :-)”

M: “Thanks for the comment Sherri, and also for the nomination. By choice I don‚Äôt follow thru with the process, but that doesn‚Äôt diminish my sincere appreciation. Your writing is an inspiration, not only for its quality, but content. It‚Äôs a pleasure to follow your passion. ”

Sherri: “Ahh, many thanks M, that‚Äôs so kind. I knew you didn‚Äôt do awards, it‚Äôs fine, but I couldn‚Äôt not nominate you as I do so much enjoy reading your blog too :-)”

Automotive Perfection – The Jaguar XKE

This Post Contains Six Images

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Sandy Paws and I agree: its simple, perfectly sculptured curves make this arguably THE most stylistically beautiful production-car ever built.

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We had the privilege of absorbing the awesomeness of several of these classics at the “Brits on the Beach” car show in Ocean Grove, NJ recently.¬†

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The car was produced in three major series, from 1961 to 1975, and available in the roadster, or 2+2 coupe.

As usual, the above images can be viewed nicely at higher resolution;

comments, questions, inquiries….are always welcome;

and…¬†Thanks for Viewing ūüôā

Traffic Jam in the Caribbean – Allure of the Seas, Part Two

Short on time? Just browse the images.         There are six in this post.         Click on any to show its full resolution. 

¬†Morning, a few years back, we were ¬†approaching our slip assignment for¬†Saint Martin, closely followed by… traffic.1-27-11     St. Maartens, Allure Vac., Day 9 (10)_edited-1

¬†No, wait! There’s MORE! Five cruse ships in total!1-27-11     St. Maartens, Allure Vac., Day 9 (9)_edited-1

We were on Royal¬†Caribbean’s¬†“Allure of the Seas,”¬†first to dock in Philipsburg, closely followed by a Celebrity, and last, this MSC Italian ship.1-27-11     St. Maartens, Allure Vac., Day 9 (17)_edited-1

¬†From our ships¬†vantage,¬†¬†the town looks¬†like a dream…1-27-11     St. Maartens, Allure Vac., Day 9 (19)_edited-1

A short while later we were walking among the beach bars and¬†restaurants, “Two¬†beach¬†lounges, one umbrella and 4 beers: $24.”¬†1-27-11     St. Maartens, Allure Vac., Day 9 (39)_edited-1

Considering about 15,000 people were on those five ships, this  beautiful beach front was not crowded.1-27-11     St. Maartens, Allure Vac., Day 9 (33)_edited-1

 

Thanks for visiting, and as usual comments are always welcome.

Aboard the Largest Cruise Ship in the World: The Allure of the Seas

Short on time? Just browse the images.  There are fifteen in this post.         Click on any to show its full resolution. 

In 2011, we¬†had the privilege of spending a week on this newly commissioned Royal Caribbean mega-ship as a few tropical islands sailed by….or at least it seemed that way. It was difficult to tell that we were in fact the ones moving. ¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Here are some images from that cruise.

At 1,187’ (362m) long;     up to 198’ (60m) wide;       and 236’ (72m) high,   the Allure of the Seas dwarfs conventional cruise ships, as seen here in St Thomas.1-26-11     St. Thomas, Allure Vac., Day 8 (25)_edited-1 - 2011-01-26 at 10-58-08

 

 Below: The exclusive adults only solarium was one of our favorites, with its own pools, bars, café, palm trees (?) and, (not shown,) cantilevered whirlpools actually hanging over the ocean. Nice!1-28-11     At Sea, Allure Vac., Day 10 L (3)_edited-1 - 2011-01-28 at 12-41-49

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With the ‚ÄúBoardwalk‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúCentral Park‚ÄĚ below,¬†the center of the ship¬†is lined with unique inside cabins.1-23-11     Ft. Lauderdale, Allure Vac, Day 5 (17)_edited-1 - 2011-01-23 at 20-16-58

 

And overhead – the zip line, with me, …9 decks above!1-28-11     At Sea, Allure Vac., Day 10 (56)_edited-1 - 2011-01-28 at 14-55-16

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There are two, 10m climbing walls overlooking the stern, and Aqua Theater.1-25-11     At Sea, Allure Vac. Day 7 L (32)_edited-1 - 2011-01-25 at 13-09-45

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Our friend Judy is winning the challenge.1-29-11     At Sea, Allure Vac. Day 11 (37)_edited-1 - 2011-01-29 at 21-25-08

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The sun is no different from this ship than from other ships, except maybe it SETS a few seconds later from this height!!! Rich, Ray and Fred join me with recording the event.1-29-11     At Sea, Allure Vac. Day 11 (48)_edited-1 - 2011-01-29 at 22-43-481-29-11     At Sea, Allure Vac. Day 11 (49)_edited-1 - 2011-01-29 at 22-44-07

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“Central Park‚ÄĚ is a meandering outdoor garden lined with bars, and shops ‚Äď really awesome.1-29-11     At Sea, Allure Vac. Day 11 (77)_edited-1 - 2011-01-30 at 01-13-38

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On the same level, the Boardwalk features more informal shops and eateries, and a carousel!
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One deck down is the Royal Promenade with more shops, restaurants, a jazz club and other diversions. Between the two is the Tide Bar, shown here, (center about 10′ ¬†(3m) up and rising, bartender in center) which like an elevator moves between these two decks… with the bar, patrons and their drinks, up and down, up and down.1-25-11     At Sea, Allure Vac., Day 7 (28)_edited-1 - 2011-01-26 at 04-04-26 (1)

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Of course there is a¬†1,380 seat theater – ¬†the Broadway play ‚ÄúChicago‚ÄĚ on stage during our cruise. In addition there is an ice skating rink, clubs,¬†etc., etc.1-26-11     St. Thomas, Allure Vac., Day 8 (44)_edited-1 - 2011-01-27 at 01-10-12

 

The enormous smokestacks of this ship were built to telescope down to clear a suspension bridge in Amsterdam, where the ship was built. For perspective, it would need to do this to pass under the George Washington Bridge!1-28-11     At Sea, Allure Vac., Day 10 (17)_edited-1 - 2011-01-28 at 11-10-27

 

Sunrise at sea, heading back from St. Maarten to Fort Lauderdale on an itinerary which besides St. Thomas, also included Nassau in the Bahamas.1-28-11     At Sea, Allure Vac., Day 10 (8)_edited-1 - 2011-01-28 at 11-07-06

Thanks for visiting, and as usual comments are always welcome.