Puerto Rico Day Two: Up Early In San Juan But No Sunrise For Me.

Despite the night long celebrations on San Sabastian Street I slept well my first night in San Juan. I was up before my alarm went off,  hoping to see a sunrise. I thought I could see it near Castillo San Cristobol, the large fort to the east of my hotel. clouds over ocean near walls of fort

Sunrise was around 7 a.m. and I hurried along the wall overlooking the ocean to be on time. Well, as I approached the fort I realized it was obscuring my view to the east and I would never get around it to see the sunrise. narrow San Juan street

Instead I walked back down toward the cruise ship pier again on the narrow cobblestone streets. Christopher Columbus statue old San Juan

I came upon the Plaza Colon where a towering statue of Christopher Columbus overlooks the plaza. The plaza was surrounded by restaurants and gifts shops but there was no activity at this early hour. colorful buildings old San Juan

I made it to the pier where I found a contrast of the old and the new, a  sail ship and a gigantic cruise ship. sail ship and cruise ship in morning sunlight

This is were you can also find more contrast between the old town and the new growth from tourism. There was a Walgreen store next to a Sheraton Hotel,hotels and stores in old San Juan

and there even was a Ralph Lauren store. Philadelphia doesn’t even have one of these anymore. Lot of tourists dollars flow around here. ralph lauren store old San Juan

I meandered through the streets of San Juan observing the colorful buildings and many shops and outdoor cafes and restaurants, of course, closed at this early hour.outdoor cafes in old San Juan

I next  walked back up the steep streets to Norzagaray street were the entrance to my hotel is located. It is the last street along the massive wall that was built to protect the city. graffiti old San Juan

I noticed the many building located below the wall, next to the ocean and remember reading about this residential community, La Perla.La Perla sign along Atlantic Ocean

The guide books I read said to stay clear of this poorer neighborhood, so, of course, I had to visit. I walked through the narrow old gate into the village and found a few folks who were pleasant and friendly.old gate in wall La Perla

The buildings were run down and appeared damaged by the hurricane. Unfortunately it appears many of the residents could not afford to make  repairs.colorful house on street in La Perla

I walked to the ocean and enjoyed watching and listening to the waves crash along the rocky shore.

I also watched a large cruise ship enter San Juan Bay, giving an illusion it would crash into  “El Morro” .cruise ship near "El Morro"

I made my way  up the steep road to Norzgaray Street and back to my hotel. I spent some time exploring it’s many room. All adorned with the art work and sculptures created  by  the owner, Jan. I had  a small breakfast and was soon off for more explorations of the wonderful city. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk.  Puerto Rico Day Two San Juan morning walk. 

room in Gallery Inn

“Life is an experiment in which you may fail or succeed. Explore more, expect least.” 
― Santosh Kalwar

 

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Some June Walks, And A Sunrise In Greenridge.

Spring is coming to an end here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. In only a few day  the sun will be  at it’s farthest north and we have our longest day here in the Northern Hemisphere.

We had some summer like weather at the beginning of this past week and I had the chance to take a few walks with my camera and macro lens. 

The warmer weather has brought out more insects but I am still disappointed in the number of bees, wasps and yellow jackets I have seen. To some folks this may be a good thing, but, for all of us, in the long run,  it is not. I suspect the overuse of pesticides is the problem. 

I was able to still find a lot of flies and other insects on my walks. I am always awed by how this common insects, considered pests, look so complex up close. 

As do the commons weeds and leaves on the trees we walk by and take for granted. 

I was hoping to see more dragonflies or a frog, turtle or snake but it was very hot early in  the week and there was not a lot of activity in the heat. I  did find evidence that there still are snakes when I found this snake skin shed by what I believe to be a black snake.

The intricate scales are amazing up close.

And, you do not have to walk far to find  cool stuff in the natural world.  As I returned from one of my walks I found this mass of ants in my front yard. Here is a link to a video I uploaded to my YouTube channel . https://youtu.be/hpWBv25hh6w   And here is a link to  some more photographs from my walk with me macro lens.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Macro-walks-June-12-2017

 And as  is often the case in June, I was awakened early on Tuesday morning, before 5 a.m., by the singing of the birds outside my window. I usually have a cup of coffee and walk through my neighborhood and cemetery to visit my dad. On Tuesday I decided to walk out the railroad tracks near my house to watch the sunrise. 

I walked on what remains of the “black road” an old road that lead to the deep mines in the area. The area was later strip mined and we spent many days as children exploring those strip mines and slate and culm banks. The area has recently been reclaimed. 

I walked to the railroad tracks and hiked up to what used to be a large slate bank the local called “flat top” and we named “killer” because of the difficulty we had climbing it for the first time. The waning moon was still visible in the west. 

I enjoyed watching the sunrise over West Hazleton, only a few days from when it will reach it northernmost point on the horizon. 

It has been a long time since I was on this ridge this early in the morning, possibly the last time was when I was in elementary school and I was happy to  find a tract of old trees that were not destroyed in the reclamation project. 

I walked a path I had walked so many times as a child, searching for mushrooms, fossils, crystals or just playing games with my friends and our favorite toy, our imagination. We were soldiers, cowboys, superheroes and astronauts in these woods.  Many pleasant memories on this ridge. 

I had to get to work or I could have walked, and reflected all day. I took a slow walk back home enjoying the singing of the birds,

and observing the spiderwebs covered  in the dew

and so many other wonders of the early morning. One thing I learned, there are a lot of snail on the cattail fronds in the morning. Hundreds of them. Should I ever find myself on an episode of Naked and Afraid in Pennsylvania I know a good source of nourishment, escargot.

Of course there were a few red-winged blackbirds in the wetlands near the reclamation area, watching carefully for intruders into their nesting areas. They are very territorial and squawk persistently should you approach, here is a male I saw

and nearby was a female

When I arrived home I found a few deer in my yard enjoying the new day too.  I truly enjoyed my early morning walk and hope to get out in the woods at dawn more often this Summer. It is a wonderful place to be. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-2017/nggallery/photographs-2017/Morning-sunrise-walk-June-15-2017-

“Dawn is ever the hope of men.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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Australia Day Sixteen: Farewell To The Desert Heat, Some Delays, And A Late Night Arrival In Much Cooler Tasmania

I awoke early on my last day in Central Australia, wanting to see the spectacular Milky Way and alignment of planets, one last time before I left this wonderful area. It was worth it and I enjoyed the nighttime sky until it slowly faded in the  twilight of the approaching sunrise. Lastly only brilliant Venus was the last planet shining in the dawn sky.Desert gardens sunrise -5

I walked to the observation post near my hotel and waited for the sun to appear near the massive silhouette of Uluru in the east. It didn’t disappoint, it never does, and I thought about my friends and family in the Northern Hemisphere and how the same object appeared to be setting to them. It does give one a different perspective on things.Desert gardens sunrise -18

I spent sometime watching the sunrise, and how it changed the two large rock formations, Uluru and Kanta Tjuta, that brought me and the Anangu people here so many centuries apart. Here is a link to some more photographs of my last sunrise in Central Australia. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-sixteen-desert-gardens-sunrise-walk-february-19-2016Desert gardens sunrise -23

It was with a sad feeling I walked back to my hotel knowing in a short time I would be living this magical place in the desert. I returned to my room finished packing and was off to the airport for my flight south to Tasmania.Uluru to Hobart -31

The first leg of my journey was a short flight to the desert town of Alice Springs. I wanted to spend some time here but couldn’t fit it into me schedule. We landed and I learned how hot it can be on my short walk from the plane to the terminal. It was a short layover and I was soon on another plane heading to Melbourne.Uluru to Hobart -15

It was a nice two hour flight and we again crossed the red soils of the outback deserts and salt lakes. I had a window seat and spent my time watching the vast territory pass beneath our plane.Uluru to Hobart -4

The landscape became more green and brown as the desert gave way to ranches and  farm land as we neared Melbourne. We descended into the airport over a vast metropolis. I wasn’t aware Melbourne was so large. I had expected a short layover, but, as often occurs on one’s travels, and in life, my expectations were not met.Uluru to Hobart -12

I left the plane, found my gate for my next flight, and a message on a screen that the flight would be delayed. No other information, nor anyone to ask, was available. So I sat and waited, for almost three hours. Needles to say I wasn’t happy, not where and other of the passengers on the flight, I edited some photographs and did some reading, I brought along Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad but hadn’t had much of an opportunity to read it, since my train ride from Sydney to Perth. I did some reading and was happy to finally board the plane around 9 o’clock p.m. for the short flight to Hobart on the Island of Tasmania. Uluru to Hobart -27

I had planned to get into Hobart around 7:30 p.m and to have some light to explore the city before it got dark. Well my plans changed since it was dark when we landed around 10 p.m and I still had a twenty minute ride to my hotel. I checked in quickly, and although I was tired from a long day of travel, I decided to walk to the harbour under the waxing gibbous moon. Uluru to Hobart -28

I have heard of Tasmania for many years, since my days of watching the famous Bugs Bunny cartoon and that crazy character, the Tasmanian Devil. The quaint harbour I found under the moonlight was nothing like I imagined. I always love port cities and the dark just added to my curiousity. I roamed the streets, in the much cooler temperatures, it was in the mid 50’s,  around the waterfront  for a bit but I was tired and anxious to get some sleep and get up early the next morning to explore this city in the daylight. I returned to my room, tired from the traveling, but anxious for what i will find in the morning. It was another good day in the land down under. Here is a link to some more photographs from my travel to Hobart. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-sixteen-desert-gardens-sunrise-walk-february-19-2016Uluru to Hobart -33

 

“Stop ye travellers as you pass by
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, soon you shall be –
Prepare yourself to follow me.                                                                       ―Tombstone epitaph in Tasmania Australia

 

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Australia Day Fourteen: Sunrise In The Outback And A Hike To Kata Tjuta. And Then The Stars.

I slept well my first night in the Australian outback and woke up refreshed well before dawn the next morning. I had booked a tour to the other attraction at this United Nations World Heritage site, Kata Tjuta, which left a 5:15 a.m. I got up earlier to take a look at the morning sky and I was rewarded with a spectacular Kata Tjuta twilight -1view of the Milky Way. It just hung like a curtain in the southern sky. I could not even imagine how much a part of the lives it was of all of our ancestors, before fire, candles,  electricity and  electric lights took away the night sky. The sky is  clear here and the resort helps keeping the sky dark by  using minimal lighting and shielding the sky from the brighter lights with tents. I sure appreciated the effort.

I joined our small tour, ran by Seit tours, the same one I had joined the night before, and we were off in the morning twilight to watch the sunrise near Kata Tjuta. We arrived at the viewing area and waited for the sun to appear near the massive silhouette of Uluru. The stars were now fading but Venus still sparkled in the morning twilight. Here is a link to some more photographs of the morning twilight. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-fourteen-uluru-kata-tjuta-twilight-february-17-2016Kata Tjuta twilight -6

The stillness of the cool  desert sky in the morning was so calming. As the sky brightened with the approaching sun we now saw the large domed rock of Kata Tjuta appear to the west.Kata Tjuta sunrise -17

The sun rose near Uluru and it’s first rays immediately began to play on the rock face of Kata Tjuta, causing many different shades to appear as we watched. Photographs just can not do justice to this awesome experience. Here is a link to some more photographs of this wonderful sunrise http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-fourteen-uluru-kata-tjuta-sunrise-february-17-2016Kata Tjuta sunrise -25

After the sun was up, we proceeded to a rest stop and had some coffee, a light breakfast and a pleasant conservation with our small group and our guide Janice. We then drove to Kata Tjuta and hiked into  one of its gorges. Kata Tjuta sunrise -33

We stopped and were given history on the geology of this massive rock formation and also learned some of the long history of the Anangu people who have lived in this region for over 30,000 years. This site, like Uluru, is sacred  to these people.Kata Tjuta hike -8

It was a nice hike into the gorge and we learned so much about the flora, fauna and geology of the area as well as more history of the aborigine culture. It was sunny and hot but a strong wind kept us cool. We hiked up deep into the gorge, and where it ended, we ran into a small stream, with fresh water and a large population of tadpoles.!  We took a slow walk back to our bus and returned to our hotels, having made some new friends, learned so much about this World Heritage site and experienced first hand it’s unspoiled beauty. Here is a link to some more photographs of our hike at Kata Tjuta.  http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-fourtenn-uluru-kata-tjuta-hike-february-17-2016Kata Tjuta hike -9

After an early lunch I decided to attend a demonstration sponsored by the resort, and hosted by a local aborigine on the hunting weapons and skills of the native aborigine people. It was very informative and we learned so much on how these people were able to survive in the harsh, dry, hot conditions of central Australia. Here is a link to some more photos of this demonstration http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/australia-day-fourteen-desert-gardens-resort-aborigine-hunting-talk-february-17-2017Desert Gardens aborigine hunting talk -3

After the program, I decided to brave the heat of the midday Australian sun, the temperature was near 100 degrees, and there are very few activities going on this time of the day. I decided to take my macro lens out for a hike around the resort grounds and see what I could see.  I was hoping for some exotic like a snake or lizard but hat to settle for ants, spiders and birds. but it was still a very interesting walk. -Desert gardens macro-4

In addition to the many species ants. there were actually more flowers in bloom than I first thought. And they were so different than the flowers I am used to in the temperate climate of Pennsylvania. -Desert gardens macro-19

And where there are flowers there are insects. It was no different here. I saw at least five different species of butterflies fluttering around and was able to get a photograph of a few of them. There were also some bees and wasp but they were a little to quick for me to photograph .-Desert gardens macro-14

I walked for about a mile but the heat, and my lack of sleep, made me decide to head inside. On the way I found this spider near my hotel room. Here is a link to some more photographs of my afternoon hike. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/australia/nggallery/australia/day-fourteen-desert-gardens-resort-macro-Desert gardens macro-25

I tried to nap, but instead did some laundry and edited some photographs and had dinner. And waited for the sunset. I scheduled a stargazing event and was looking forward to it. We met in the town square about an hour after sunset just myself, a young couple from England and their young son and infant, and our two guides from Outback Sky Journeys . What a wonderful evening. Unfortunately, the almost full moon prevented us from seeing the night sky at it’s best but we were still able to see and learn so much. I now know where the Southern Cross  is located and how to find it.  One ot the “pointer” stars is our closest neighbors, alpha centauri. I have wanted to see this stars since my days of watching “Lost in Space”  We then were treated to this clear night sky through a  9 1/2 inch telescope.  It was amazing. We looked at double stars, star clusters, galaxies, planets nebulae and the moon. I must again thank Dave Bateman, from Outback Sky Journeys  for this truly wonderful opportunity to  explore the beautiful night sky of central Australia.  And so ended another great day down under, they just seemed to keep getting better.Kata Tjuta hike -35

 

 “Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth.”
Ptolemy

 

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Mountain View Cemetery, A Winter Wonderland in Spring.

A lot of folks, myself included, weren’t happy with the snow storm we got here yesterday. Almost six inches of snow  in my backyard when it ended last night. I wasn’t looking forward to walking in it this morning.  April snow  (24 of 38)

I used to love snow as a kid. I would watch the forecast every night hoping for a big snow storm from November until March.  Besides the obvious benefit of having no school,  my friends and I loved playing in the snow. Snowmen, snow forts and snowballs kept us outdoors on the coldest of days. As we grew older we’d sled down the local hill well into the night, where we’d watch Orion and the other Winter constellations rise in the east. And than it was hockey on the ponds and stippings. We always seemed to have a fire going on hikes in the woods. I really loved the cold and snow. And my love of the Winter continued through high school.  My friends and I would hike into the woods in the surrounding  strip mines out near  White Rock,  or on a culm back we called ‘ flat top” or ‘killer’   or the more distant  Stoney Mountain or Humboldt Reservoir. . We were out   from dawn to dusk on the coldest of days with snow up to our knees in snow . and never minded it a bit.

But, as I grew older and I had to drive in it,and walk in it with the aches and pains caused by an  older body, I began to dread the cold and snow. Winter no longer was fun and I didn’t and don’t like it anymore. I still get out for my hikes and make the best of it but I so look forward to the Spring. April snow  (28 of 38)

So, this morning, as I was saying, I dreaded heading out for my morning walk. Well, all it took was one look at the trees encased in snow and the white blanket that was thrown across the land and I felt like a kid again. I took my usual walk through the Mountain View  Cemetery to visit my dad and what a beautiful winter wonderland awaited me.  It was such a wonderful walk taking in the delicate beauty of the snow covering each and every branch on every tree. Truly a miracle, this gift of frozen water. It brought back memories of how much I loved the snow as a child.   For a few moments,  I made a truce with Winter. It was a nice snow, I will admit.  And the best part of an April snow is it is almost gone already. It was nice but I hope I don’t see anymore until next Christmas Eve,   Took my camera on my walk this morning and here is a link to some more photos from  in the cemetery and in my back yard. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/photographs-5/nggallery/blog-photos/april-snow-apri-1-2015April snow  (37 of 38)

 

Snow provokes responses that reach right back to childhood.

Andy Goldsworthy

 

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Sunrise is always a good medicine for anything that ails you.

Good morning from Central America. Wasn’t the most pleasant night, spent a lot of time  in the bathroom,  but green tea,  imodium  and a light breakfast are helping.   Feeling so much better, and have to thank fellow traveler,  Dr. Nancy and the staff here who have been so helpful with my predicament. You always seem to meet the kindest of folks when you travel.  And of course the beautiful sunrise sure helped my spirits. .  Sure is beautiful down here. So many species of birds singing throughout the night and even more so at dawn.

Looks like I will not be going on a day trip but that works out. I will get to explore this quaint little village of Crooked Tree.  Going to try and get some more photos of the many species of birds that live near the lagoon. Unfortunately, it is still very high this year, so the birds are scattered. When it gets lower, during the dry season, which is starting now, they flock to the lower water levels to dine on the fish and snails in the lagoon. Still a remarkable experience to be here. Hope to share some more of it later and when I get back home. Here is the link to some more photos of todays beautiful sunrise. https://flic.kr/s/aHsk8ydtDG

Crooked Tree sunrise 047

 

Sleep, riches, and health to be truly enjoyed must be interrupted. ~Johann Paul Friedrich Richter

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Belize City Sunrise Walk, it’s good to be int the tropics in February.

Wanted to get some photos up before I left for Crooked Tree later today.  Didn’t sleep well but had to get up early to catch the sunrise. And it was worth it.

Walked on the sidewalk along the shore. So peaceful. Like in many towns, the walkers and runners who are up are the friendliest folks you can meet. Many a pleasant greeting was shared in passing as we took in the sun rising.Also got to see some wildlife, sea gulls, a few crane like birds and a frigate bird . Last time I saw one was when I visited the Galapagos Islands. You can see the cays that Belize is famous for in the distance in some of the sunrise photos I took.

And speaking of photos I know the albums I uploaded on my blog/website are slow to download. i am working on it. One of he reasons I didn’t sleep much. And trying to add a map page. But the i also loaded some of the photos to my Flicker page and I know some of your folks are viewing them there. Here is the link. https://flic.kr/s/aHsk4WEwvc  Well for a quick breakfast. Hope to post later today, but never know in a foreign country. Belize city morning walk 067

 

 “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for” – John A. Shedd

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