Monday, July 16, 2018

The Season of Green!

Have been back at "Ketelsen East" for a couple weeks and have immensely been enjoying the Summer season here! The trip up was "uneventful", but then, how often do you have eventful flights?! The only time I can remember a flight I'd call eventful was when Melinda surprisingly upgraded us to first class - now THAT was memorable! So it was a dull trip, but at least I booked a window seat to watch the country roll by. And fortunately for me this time, the window was actually possible to look through! Often they are behind your shoulder and takes a contortionist to look thru, let alone try to take a photo.

It seems lately that the flights have initially been much further south than years past. A few years back, we almost always flew past the LBT Observatory on Mount Graham 80 miles NE of Tucson. This time I was able to look down on Willcox, a good 25 miles south of Graham, making targeting the LBT all but impossible. Similarly, instead of passing right over the Clifton/Morenci copper mine with a great view, it was again a good 15 miles to the north as shown here at left.  Even cropping the full zoom shot at right did little to get detail like the earlier version (see link).

It is always a challenge to locate the path taken along the way. Usually you can look for landmarks or unusual formations, even road or river intersections. Look for something that would stand out while perusing Google maps, while noting the time stamp on the photos so you can figure out where to start your search. We crossed the Rio Grande in north-central New Mexico - that was easy enough to spot the green ribbon of fields that must use wells pulled from the river. But which city was that? The railroad yards at center help locate it to Belen, New Mexico. The Rio Grande is the meandering little stream in the sandy channel in the lower right part of the frame.

Once past the Rio Grande and east of Albuquerque, I'm pretty much lost using landmarks. I figured we crossed up through New Mexico and eventually into Kansas. As a farmer boy, I could see the irrigated fields, yet, also saw square fields of golden yellow. My friend who grew up in Kansas confirmed that the golden fields this time of year was likely winter wheat, probably in the process of being harvested or about to be.

The chance to reorient myself presented itself when we crossed what I thought was the Missouri River. It seemed small, but was long and windy, so figured that was it. I shot the unusual twisty stream emptying into it shown at left and figured it would be easy to locate on the Google Maps, and I was right - took about a minute of searching to find the exact spot where the Nodaway River empties into the Missouri, about 15 miles northwest of St Joseph on the Kansas/Missouri border...

It got hazy and cloudy which made looking more difficult, so missed the Mississippi crossing. A few turns of the aircraft made locating more difficult too. I never spotted the Illinois River sometimes seen, and we were getting close to landing and me without knowing where we were! Finally another turn and I spotted one of the more striking landmarks - the twin towers of the nuke plant near Byron, Illinois. Evidently a storm had just passed and with the humidity, the cooling towers were belching a steam trail that could likely have been seen for a hundred miles! The towers themselves are 500 feet high and when trailing a steam cloud are quite apparent. I visited the place once, but never blogged about it - an eerie place at night!

The nuke plant told me we were going to head in straight east to O'Hare, likely over "Ketelsen East". The storm that passed through before we did evidently left a lot of rain - some of the fields of corn had impromptu lakes standing in them!

Continuing eastwards, sure enough, the urban areas started, and I was able to pick out Randall Road that traverses north-south on the west side of most of the towns our here west of Chicago. Even before seeing the Fox River, I knew we were near the normal path, likely passing about a mile north of "Ketelsen East" on the way in. At right, spotted in the Fox River to the town a few miles north of me was the Grand Victoria Casino - permanently tied to the dock from back in the day when casinos had to be on "boats", even though the Fox isn't navigable by something this large... So thus ended the flight - dull and boring, right? Well, not when you are paying attention!

So by the time I got by baggage, got
picked up, went to dinner w/the friend who drove me home and got out to the house, it was dark, and it wasn't till the next morning that it hit me - it was GREEN outside! You have to realize that when I'd come up, Tucson hadn't had measureable rain in 4 months, and it was dry, mostly sporting shades of brown and grey. I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz stepping into the Technicolor world of Munchkin Land after a B&W existence! The daytime view out the bathroom window at left gave the first hint that "we weren't in AZ any more"! This is an HDR image, where 3 different exposures were combined to sample the extreme levels of illumination. This still life has appeared before in the blog, with the results of a blizzard outside the window from 2.5 years ago! Looked a little different then!

Stepping outside later in the day confirmed it... While I had been here a mere 6 weeks earlier, the trees had not fully leafed out before my departure, so the appearance was totally different. The shade under the 80 foot tall oaks and hickories was nearly impenetrable! And GREEN - did I mention the GREEN! It was dazzling to the eye it was so green. The shot at right above is looking out from my little stoop towards the north, taken with a fisheye lens stretched a little to look a little more normal.

The photo at left shows a shot towards where I just took the above image. The cottage is surrounded in several sides with plants, ferns shown here on the NE corner.

Taking an amble towards the river and looking back towards the house, you can see some of the trees still towering over the house - and of course, the American flag Melinda liked to hang while we were in residence, shown at right...

And of course, it isn't all green! There always seems to be something in bloom, and even as I arrived, the day lilies were nearing the end of their season. Here is a focus stack of 6 frames to extend the range of sharp focus.

Lots more to blog, lets see if I can start a trend and get more than one every month or so!