Thursday, April 24, 2014

Preview -- The Riverland, March 2014

The riverboat Captain Proud at her moorings in Murray Bridge.
Houseboats on the Murray River near Murray Bridge
The Murray River, from the foredeck  of the riverboat Captain Proud -- heading downriver toward Goolwa.
The Murray River near Swan Reach, South Australia
Cliffs tower over the river near Swan Reach, South Australia
Dawn breaks over the Murray at  Blanchetown, South Australia
Kookaburras in the pink of the dawn at Blanchetown, SA.

Wetlands at Blanchetown, SA, in the evening light 
Cliffs on the Murray River near Morgan, SA
The Morgan car ferry on the Murray River.
Mainstreet Morgan, South Australia
Site of the old boiler house on the old wharf at Morgan on the River Murray, SA.
The weather is changing rapidly over South Australia's Riverland.
We're off on the road to Waikerie --
The paddlewheel riverboat Murray River Queen, moored at Waikerie, South Australia
The Murray River at Pelican Point, not far from Waikerie, SA.
The historic -- 1860s -- coach inn at Overland Corner, South Australia...
The Overland Corner Hotel, authentic and original, inside and out.
The Overland Corner Hotel is under new management, with a great menu ... Riverland, South Australia.
Overland Corner itself is a wetland that has dried out: work is beginning to restore it.
Lola, the Mitsubishi Magna, "roughing it" in the wilderness .... almost!
Murray River Lock Number 3, at Overland Corner. Now, why does a river need a lock system? Stay tuned!
Welcome to Banrock Station,  an old sheep station that's become a winery and wetlands wildlife refuge...
Banrock Station's wetlands, from the balcony behind the winery's cafe.
Lake Bonney in dramatic weather, near Barmera, South Australia 
Vineyards by evening light -- Loxton, South Australia's Riverland
The rolling road to Karoonda, South Australia ... homeward bound
The Big Ram of Karoonda ... about two meters tall!
Sunset, on the road home from Murray Bridge
Lunch on a riverboat, fabulous houseboats among the willows on the riverbanks, water skiiers showing off ... dawn over the Murray River, mudstone cliffs and stormy skies ... brunch in a timewarp, step back to 1865 for tea, pelicans and monster lock gates, coffee and cake at a world-famous winery, a gigantic concrete ram in a town in the middle of nowhere, a spectacular sunset --

You wouldn't believe what you can do between 10:30am Saturday and 8:00pm Sunday, with an intrepid Mitsubishi Magna called Lola fueled up and ready to go, and a cabin with your name on it waiting in Blanchetown!

The next series of posts will share all, in order. We were trying to cover every kilometer of this river west of the South Australian border, and ran out of time only by about thee hours; but we covered most of it, and ... gives us a reason to go back and do it again, doesn't it?!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Alaska Memories: four seasons in one post

Summer in Alaska ... is there any more beautiful place in the world? I fell in love with it in a heartbeat --
-- and the way to explore the Great Land is by road. This Pontiac Sunfire did a lot a miles!
Alaska is a land of many rivers, spanned by bridges of every design imaginable, and right beside this one --
The Fur Shack, Alaskrafts, Northern Treasures. Dave is in the shot here ... look for the great legs, at right!
Summer in the Alaskan interior is a home for migratory birds. These are a kind of crane, which stops to graze
at Creamers Field, right outside Fairbanks...
A summer shower falls over the hills behind Creamers Field while --
birds flock overhead, headed from one feeding ground to the next...
Creamers Field was once a dairy -- duh -- but the facilities were long abandoned when these shots were
taken. In fact, it was already a State Migratory Waterfowl Refuge...
-- and today Creamers Field attracts campers, hikers, bird watchers from all over the world.
In fact, try this:
Nice lens flare here, if I do say so myself! The trick? Umm ... breathe on the lens. Honestly.
Summertime brings Alaska alive. You might not guess it, just glancing at this shot, but this is
Lake Hood -- attached to Anchorage Airport, and it's the busiest float plane facility in the world. 
Dozens of float plane flights leave or arrive on Lake Hood every hour throughout summer...
Calm waters, the Chugach Mountains for a backdrop, a blue sky day --
what more could you ask for?
The  heavy drone of big prop engines is a constant companion in Alaska in all seasons... this is a
Rust's Flying Service flight arriving home in 1998. Rust are still flying in 2014...
Many planes belong to private pilots and are parked, or moored, right there on the shores of Lake Hood...
The Chugach looks serene and pretty on a summer's morning...
...but looks are deceiving. The weather can change on a dime, and as often as not an Alaskan summer
will do this to you...
It's so dim, you're shooting 400 film at 10:30 in the morning! Cloud hangs low on the mountains
behind the Anchorage Airport light airplane field... 
Yep, it's been raining. It'll be raining again before long, and it's so humid, it feels almost hot,
even though it's only about 48 degrees Fahrenheit on this (!) summer morning. 
There's a sign there somewhere: give way to planes. A float plane heads for Lake Hood to depart --
-- and with rain impending, the photographer also departs ... to the terminal building. Starbucks. Coffee. Yeah.
But summer isn't always so grim in Alaska -- it can just as easily look like this:
There are at least two Summit Lakes in Alaska (and at least one more in BC). This is the Summit Lake
at Moose Pass, in glorious weather. 
Summit Lake at Moose Pass ... not quite visible at the resolution of this image
are the canoes for hire, on the opposite shore of the lake.
Somewhere at Moose Pass is a restaurant that makes the most fantastic burgers ...
Make the most of summer's long hours of daylight --
Welcome to beautiful downtown Talkeetna.
Dave's snapshot of Jade ... why is there a Canadian flag in the barrow?
Probably, there's a Canadian mountain climbing team in town.
And speaking of Summit Lake -- here's the one near Paxon, much further north.
The weather was changing as these images were captured. These
photos have been heavily "tweaked" to make them bright and
colorful. Later this same day, it bucketed down...
...and the rain kept falling. The creeks and lakes on the Chena Hot Springs Road were brimming; many overflowed...
With Chena Hot Springs Road about a foot underwater, Dave said to me, "Hop out of the car. I'll drive on,
turn around and speed through this coming back -- get pictures!" Pontiac Sunfire pluming water.
Chena Hot springs retort itself ... and you'll notice the flooding in the foreground!
And here is the hot spring itself ... boiling hot ... with a storm front coming in right behind the spa --
Dave soaks in the hot mineral waters: Chena Hot springs, Alaska.
Make the most of it, because fall is so close, you can taste it, and...
Fairbanks fall colors. Before you know it, the hills turn to a fantasy of elven gold.
Everywhere you look, every hillside, is gold -- for a brief handful of days: Fairbanks autumn, 1999.
The trail beckons the unwary traveler into an enchanted forest... Tolkien would have liked this.
Fairbanks fall colors don't last very long. When they happen, grab the cameras and run! Because --
The end of summer announces itself early with "termination dust" on the high slopes: early snow that can
fall even in July, and one day it sticks, and then there's more of it, and even more, and...
Suddenly the fall colors are gone and the birch looks naked...
Winter isn't far away: time to break out the warm clothes, because...
Alaska winter scenes ... the world looks so pretty --
Everything looks like a Christmas card! But winter is settling in,
and in Fairbanks it'll stay a long, long time.
The silence is profound. As an Australian, Jade had never heard (not heard?) anything like it. Dave remained
unimpressed and wondered what in the world she was taking pictures of. "The snow, dear." Hunh?!
Dave continues to look unimpressed -- watching the dog races start in downtown Fairbanks -- and
by now, this is March. Spring! You wouldn't know it, to look at the picture, but this is March.
Fairbanks dog mushing action. It all happens in March, before breakup can spoil the snow conditions...
Dog mushing is a national pastime in Fairbanks. On the many trails through the hills and woods,
hikers and cyclists must pull over and "give way to dog teams." Posted signs insist on it.
It's very cold -- or an Aussie thought so! -- but the snow conditions are perfect for mushing...
now, those are some happy dogs.
Fairbanks dog mushing pictures -- as rescued after 15 years! These pictures have been scanned and
enhanced to fix the spoiled colors, and painted to remove a lot of surface damage. Nice!
Like a scene from Snow Dogs, right? A blue sky day, perfect snow ... a little traveling music, please!

The captions on the images tell the whole story, so I'm not going to write too much here. It's been a lot of fun scanning these images, but there was a heck of a lot of work to be done to save them. They're anything up to 17 years old now, and many more are sitting in a box going redder with each passing month. If there was ever a rationalization for switching to digital, this is it!

Back soon with more, when I've run the scanner again.
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