Monday, June 29, 2009

Far Views by Train, American Style

The images in this post were taken while on a train traveling from Chicago to Boston. As I mentioned in my last post, I've traveled in Europe and Africa by train and I was interested in what it would be like on a long-distance trip in my own country. The trip was interesting and a true learning experience for me.

Imagine yourself living with another adult for 24 hours in a roomette that measures 3 feet, 6 inches in width and 6 feet, 8 inches in length. Add a toilet with accompanying collapsing sink and two seats that convert into twin bunk beds. This setting is true "togetherness". Add the factor that 70% of USA train traffic is freight trains and the rail system is built for them, not for passenger comfort (the opposite % is true for European train use, and the comfort level in terms of smoothness of ride reflects it).

In spite of those conditions, the trip was enjoyable. Interesting people were met in the dining car, views from the train were those not usually seen when traveling by car, and the train staff was excellent. Would I do it again? Perhaps, but not in the near future. I would like to think that the USA will revise its thinking on its travel methods and improve the train system. Until that happens, I may still tough it out and try a westward trip (the trains are double deckers and more spacious, so I am told). You certainly do see views of the country not seen using other modes of transportation.

The images that I have included are a sampling of different views that struck my eye. My original intent was to experiment with black and white for the whole trip, but the sunset while traveling through the state of New York forced me to break my self-imposed rule. Flexibility is important at times, isn't it?

Next time I'll post scenes from Maine. This is another story to be told, a week-long deluge where I considered building an ark and changing my name to Noah. In the meantime, thank you for visiting. As you reach out beyond your present horizon, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Harbor in Black & White

I thought that I'd share a bit of my "personal space" with you. One of my local urban haunts is the harbor, source of excellent coffee, people-watching, and walking facilities. This particular day was one where the fog came rolling in and I thought that I'd try to capture its essence using a black and white mode. Black and white photography is something that I haven't experimented with for a long time, so I thought that I'd try it once more. I personally like the results; what do you think?

Sheboygan harbor is located in Wisconsin on the western side of Lake Michigan and is about 150 miles north of Chicago. The harbor, itself, is really a mixture of images. Boats that dock there include commercial fishing ships, private yachts,an occasional kayak, and a tour boat. The atmosphere is small town relaxed. On the north side of the harbor are rustic shanties that hold coffee houses, restaurants, and gift shops. On the south side of the harbor is a large conference center/water park hotel and modern shops, and condominiums. I spend my time on the rustic side of the harbor.
Before the harbor became gentryfied, coal boats and transAtlantic ships brought materials to local industries.

In two days, we leave for Maine. We'll be taking Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited train from Chicago to Boston, a 24 hour scenic(?)trip, and then driving to Maine from Boston. It will be good to see my Maine family again. Hopefully, there will also be photos to share when we return at the end of June.

Thank you for visiting, please stop by again. May you enjoy your own travels, where ever they may take you.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Duneside Lake Michigan

Just a few miles from my home is Terry Andrae State Park,a place of natural beauty that changes in appearance from day to day. There one can experience peace and quiet and diversity of nature ranging from sandy beaches to woodlands and extensive sand dunes to marshlands. It is a place that I visit weekly throughout the year and constantly marvel at the images that it presents. In this set of photos, I'd like to give you glimpses of the dunes as seen on a sunny, early summer day on the western shore of Lake Michigan.

One of the first things you may have noticed about these photos is the absence of people. No, this isn't Kerry avoiding intruding on people's lives again-the area is relatively unknown. There are days when you can wander throughout the park and see no one else except the park ranger at the entrance. This ability to experience nature without hordes of other sightseers is one of the aspects of the place that constantly draws me back. Without the crowds, it is not unusual to suddenly come across white tail deer, sandhill cranes, or other creatures undisturbed in their natural settings.

These photos of the dunes and the shore at the edge of the dunes are an attempt to give you a virtual experience of what they are like on a sunny, summer day. They apparently go through cycles-in the two decades I've been visiting them they have gone from bare sandscapes to their present mantle of grass. With the exception of a rope and plank cordwalk trail to preserve their natural state, the dunes are free from man's interference and are just there to be appreciated. I hope that you have enjoyed your mini-hike and have experienced the same peace of mind and sense of wonder that I always do when I visit.

To those who have visited before-this group of photos is one of the first done with my new Canon PowerShot camera. My other camera died and I'm rapidly getting used to only using the LCD screen as a viewer. So far, I am happy with the results, though I made many initial mistakes and missed some potentially good photos. Groan! Enough "camera talk".

Thank you for visiting. Please feel free to leave a comment, comments are always appreciated. May your own travels, both near and far, be interesting and enjoyable.