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Confucius Say…

Every trip has its memorable features. Today’s prompt: Costume, brought to mind my trip to China last April. On that trip I ran into reenactments in Confucius Temples. The first, in the north-central part of Beijing, was most likely part of a middle school graduation ceremony:

The second was at Qufu, in Shandong Province, which is Confucius’s home town. I was traveling solo, but there was a large group tour for whom they performed several enactments. I had the best of both worlds. The people in the group kept being lined up to wait for the acts, but I wandered at will, then poked back into the crowd when things were happening…plus I caught a glimpse or two behind the scenes.

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A pall hung over us

Last summer we had an unusual situation, a significant amount of smoke from wildfires in British Columbia came down into the area and there was no wind to blow it off. The silence during the smoky hot spell felt eerie.

The reflections are an indication of the very low winds. In the evenings in summer the water is often fairly choppy instead of the light ripple. In the morning it is usually calmer but not the mirror like stillness. The sunsets are often lovely but at that time the sun just faded out through the thick atmosphere.

Twelve months of 2017-January

Today is Twelfth Night, the eve of Epiphany. Which, loosely, means seeing the light. In my backwards look at 2017 it is January.

In some ways my memories of last January are clear, in others less so. There was so very much to take in. A year ago I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina boarding the Norwegian Sun for a cruise around Cape Horn to Valparaiso/Santiago Chile.

It was an amazing trip and I never pulled my pictures and thoughts together to post about it. So here is a whirlwind tour of our whirlwind tour.

Buenos Aires was what I think of as a conglomerate city. It is huge both in population and size, but made up of neighborhoods. It is bright and refined; old and modern; and crazy and conservative at the same time.

A highlight of our time in Buenos Aires was a day trip to the Parana Delta. There are many islands and channels, no roads and electricity. Everything comes and goes by boat. They have gas boats, grocery boats. Even though the water is brown it is not polluted, just “clean dirt”.

We only really got a grasp of how big the city was from the water of the Rio de la Plata, which is so wide you can’t see across it! This picture doesn’t do it justice, it goes at least as far as the eye can see in both directions.

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The first port of call was Montevideo, Uruguay. We hung aboard the ship mostly with a brief walk into the old part of the city near the dock. We needed a rest day after Buenos Aires.

The second stop was Punta del Este.

Followed by a day at sea and a stop at Puerto Madryn. We were able to take a trip to Peninsula Valdes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its wildlife. An incredible variety of species live on the barren peninsula. The lad is so salty that the lamb meat doesn’t need to be salted.

Because of the distances we didn’t get much time in any one spot but still saw a lot.

The Patagonian land/sky scape:

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Peninsula Valdes

We had a day at sea between Puerto Madryn and the Falkland Islands. We saw wales but I didn’t get a good picture of them. In the Falklands we took a four wheel drive tour out to Volunteer Point which has colonies of Magellanic, Gentoo and King Penguins. At one point I wasn’t sure we were going to make it back, but it all worked out in the end.

The next day we were at Cape Horn. The spot is renouned for having the worst weather in the world but we were blessed by three foot seas. Some of the staff said they had been there in 30 foot seas (I’d have been pretty blue!). It’s easy to see why the area is so treacherous in stormy conditions.

Next stop was Ushuaia, Argentina, on the Beagle Channel. This is the port from which many of the expeditions to the Antarctic head out. We took a boat trip east on the Beagle Channel to Estancia Harberton, the “Uttermost Part of the Earth”, then back through the mountains of Tierra del Fuego.

Leaving Ushuaia the ship sailed west along the beagle Channel through the Avenue of the glaciers.

Punte Arenas, first stop in Chile, we just took a bus into town and wandered about. It is a colorful town.

Chilean Fjords

Puerto Chacabuco was tiny, we took an excursion to Coyhaique in hopes of see the Andes, but the weather didn’t cooperate. Still it was pretty.

Next was Puerto Montt, again the weather didn’t cooperate for see the Andes:

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Osomo Volcano

However we did see some great scenery lower down, especially Petrohue Falls, Lake Llanquihue and Puerto Varas.

Last stop was at Valparaiso, Chile. The tour/airport transfer was a whirlwind through Valparaiso and nearby Vino del Mar then across the Andes to Santiago. Thwarted again from seeing the Andes: Smoke from forest fires prevented seeing the mountains. There was really too much to take in (even too much food).

You have to get home sometime, but it would have been nice to take that day a little slower, especially since it ended with a very long wait at the airport, we couldn’t even check in because they don’t staff the desk until a couple of hours before your flight.

All in all it was a great trip. We got home on the 22nd and the only other thing I remember is that my son arrived on the 23rd for his Chinese New Year break.

2017 Favorites

Twelve months of 2017-February

It seems so very long ago.

Grandma was in a nursing home for rehab the whole month, my son visited from China over Chinese New Year, my youngest niece was born, a tree fell snapping power lines and pulling out a power pole over at Dad’s (he was out of town so I had to deal)…otherwise it was a wet, dreary month. Photographically moss caught my eye, the way it catches the low angle of sunlight in winters here makes it seem to glow from within, even on days with very little sunlight.

2017 Favorites

Twelve months of 2017-March

The end is in sight.

March had three distinct part for me.

At home

The month was mostly wet and dreary, I played with the macro setting on my camera some.

The Desert

I flew to Arizona to retrieve my father from his winter escape to Quartzsite Arizona.

This was a very rainy year and the greenest I have ever seen the desert landscape, in the 45 or so years I have been going there.

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China

I flew to China a few days after we got back. I spent a day in Beijing. Beijing is way too big for one day, I went to two spots in the Dongcheng  north part of the city: the Lama Temple and Confucius Temple. Just now realizing that I never pulled together posts about those two most visit-able spots.

I was waiting for my son to join me before then we flew together to Chongqing for the start of our downstream Yangtze River Cruise. He was to meet me at the Confucius Temple and I was hanging out where I could see him arrive after he called me from the subway stop.

The background for this: My son stopped getting his hair cut when he left Seattle to study in Japan (where he turned 18) back in 2007. It took me a minute to realize who was coming through the gate, but I’m glad I had the presence of mind to recognize him…and snap a quick one to send to his father.

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We flew to Chongqing the next morning, where we embarked on a downstream Yangtze River Cruise through the Three Gorges, we only actually cruised through two of the gorges because of maintenance being performed on the dam. The cruise started on March 31 so the first few pictures belong to March and the rest to April.

If you are interested in the downstream journey check out some of the posts from my most recent trip: April in China or this series of posts specifically about the Yangtze Three Gorges Cruise, which I have done twice, once going upstream and once downstream, Three Gorges.

Summary

It was quite a month: a green desert and a shorn son. My heart must be okay or I might have died of shock.

2017 Favorites

Twelve months of 2017-July

July was a relatively stress free month. Richard was retired by then and there were no health or administrative crises for grandma.

I spent some time experimenting with photography. In particular I was testing out settings for the eclipse. According to one source I found online you can practice your camera settings for an eclipse by using the full noon time sun for the partial phase using a filter and a full moon for totality. I have to say that those suggestions worked for my camera. You can see the eclipse pictures I took in my Twelve months of 2017-August post. I rather liked some of the pictures from my experimenting phase.

As always July seems to cry out for at least one picture from the beach:

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Great Blue Heron 

We went to Mount Rainier for our annual trip in July since we had our Ecliptic Trip planned for August. As always it was beautiful and the earlier time meant that we got to see the avalanche and glacier lilies that are usually done blooming by August.

 2017 Favorites

Twelve Months of 2017-October

October for me had two distinct parts.

China-Shouguang

I worked on composition while I was in China. Not technical composition, like the rule of thirds or leading lines (although I use these); I was trying to create images that gave a sense of place: What makes Shouguang uniquely itself? what does it share? The question of sharing was with respect to other cities in China and to other places in the world.

I did manage to do a series of posts on Shouguang after I got home this fall (posting has been pretty haphazard for me this year). The pictures for the above gallery were chosen to attempt to show the magnitude of the “small” city and convey that it also feels like a place for people. It didn’t feel impersonal, just spread out. Plus one picture from a traditional Chinese garden in Weifang, and a rather blurry photo of the smallest hummingbird I have ever seen. I thought at first that it was one very large bumblebee, then my son pointed out its beak. It was a dark, grey day so there was no chance for clarity.

Home-Seattle

Arriving home the clear air and splendid fall colors hit me between the eyes. I believe that my perception was sharpened by the muted and hazy conditions in Shouguang during the first half of the month. It really was a “The bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle” experience.
2017 Favorites