A jaunt through the mountains near Bran

During our recent visit to Bran Castle, we had a few spare hours that we chose to spend wandering through the mountains above Bran. We found a dirt road that wound its way up the mountains through a beautiful village called Sodohol and then entered into Bucegi National Park. We stumbled onto it by chance and followed it till we could go no further without damage to the underside of our car, so we parked it and walked. We had a wonderful time and I hope the photos you see here will show it. Some of them are high-resolution panoramas and one includes a view of Bran Castle from afar. Enjoy!

The dawn

It’s not often I wake up early enough to see the dawn. I usually work late into the night, because I find that’s when I can gather my thoughts and be at my most productive — when I’m alone, the noises of the day have subsided and the only sounds I hear are the reassuring churning of the hard drive platters in my Drobo and my own breath.

When I do manage to wake up early (or work through the night and into the dawn), I get these gorgeous, glorious views of the Earth waking up as that huge fireball called the Sun starts to light things up. Mind you, I’m not talking about the sunrise. It’s the dawn, also known as the daybreak. It’s when the darkness of the night starts to fade away and shapes begin to form out of the mist. It’s when things unseen become seen.

I thought I’d publish a gallery of various photos I’ve taken in recent years of the dawn. Some of the photos are from places where I’ve lived, others are from places I visited and most are from the road. My wife and I would often just get in our car and drive to some town where we had business in the middle of the night, so we’d be there in the morning. The roads were quiet and it was an experience unto itself to be in the middle of nowhere, our car a capsule of civilization and warmth in an otherwise cold place at a cold time, its headlights eyes, peering out into the darkness and making sense of it. Now that we have a small daughter, there’s no night driving. We’re too exhausted. We’re happy to take any and all sleep we can get. Which is what I’m going to do after publishing this post, because it’s way past midnight here.

This gallery isn’t exhaustive, it’s a work in progress (I hope I’m around for a long, long time to capture countless more dawns on bits and bytes) but I think it’s beautiful to look at and I hope you do too. Enjoy!

At the South Rim of the Grand Canyon

A few years ago, I visited the Grand Canyon; more precisely, a portion of its South Rim. It was winter, so the snow provided a nice color contrast to the golden-hued soil and rocks typically found there. I would have liked to spend more time there but our schedule allowed us only a few hours.

Here is a gallery of photographs from that trip. And there’s also video from the ride in the propeller plane that took us there.

Enjoy!

Springtime in our garden

This marks the third year in a row that I publish photos of flowers from our garden. It’s gotten to be somewhat of a tradition. These beautiful flowers are a source of joy for us and I hope that by sharing them with you, some of that joy brightens up your day as well.

This year, we’re particularly happy about our tulips. Ligia loves collecting various tulip bulbs and seeing the beautiful flowers they make each year. You’ll see a number of parrot and ruffled tulips among our photographs. I counted rococo, black parrot, apricot parrot, silver parrot and a very special bloom which I call striped peppermint, which I chose as the featured image for this post.

I freely admit I am a novice when it comes to flowers and botany, so please correct me if I made any mistakes with the names of the tulips.

A hike through the hills of Atel (Hetzeldorf)

Atel (Hetzeldorf) is a larger village in Southern Transilvania with a beautiful fortified church. The church is undergoing renovations and is closed to the public but the hills surrounding the village were certainly open and welcoming today, as we took a short hike to enjoy nature. In case you’d like to visit the place yourself, here’s a link to the spots we saw.

We’d come to get a bit of fresh air and as we were walking around with Sophie, exploring the flowers and the bugs and the birds and listening to the various sounds the latter two made, we spotted a building up on the hill, looking somewhat deserted. We decided to pay a visit and see what it was. It turned out to be the somewhat deserted church of the Saxon cemetery which overlooks the village.

If you don’t know the story of the Saxons of Transilvania, you need to read this. It tells only part of the story and obviously none of the heartache of the departure from their places of birth, but the deserted graves, tilting and knocked over by time, including the cobwebs on the church door, tell the story of a people that are no more, with only remnants here and there. These people built these magnificent structures and sturdy homes that have stood the test of time and now they are here no longer. Atel is only one of the many, many Saxon villages spread throughout Transilvania but for some reason, seeing all those graves in disarray made me realize how few Saxons there are left and what good work they’ve done over the many hundreds of years they were here.

I hope you’ll enjoy the photos and as usual, if you’re interested in using any of them, please see my licensing terms.

Springtime in our garden

Here are assorted photos taken of the apricot, cherry, apple and sour cherry blossoms in our garden, with various other flowers included for good measure.

Summer in our garden

I took these photos back in June in our garden. The apricots weren’t yet ripe but almost all of the flowers were in bloom. Ligia and I took daily walks in the garden, which is something we still love to do. The raspberries were ripe and I ate a handful every morning while they were in season. Enjoy the photos!

Panoramas from Southern Transilvania

Back in August, I took several panoramas during a trip from Sighisoara to Fagaras where we decided to take the winding country roads, which meant also meant driving on dirt roads for quite some time during that trip. The views were worth it. Here are a few of them. Go ahead, click through to see them at full size, the details are worth it.

Spring is here!

It was touch and go for a while this year, wasn’t it? We weren’t sure when Old Man Winter would go and Spring would finally be here to stay. I think we’re pretty safe now that the first blossoms are starting to come in.

Our apricot tree is in full bloom. The sweet cherry tree is also starting to blossom. No sign yet on the sour cherry trees. And of course the spring flowers are out, as you’ll see in the photos from our garden.

Enjoy!

A walk in the forest

I took these photos about 5½ years ago on a walk at the Audubon Naturalist Society in Chevy Chase, MD. They have such lovely fall foliage in their forest. As I edited the photos for the website, it brought back some fond memories of some of my first years together with my lovely wife. This year is our 10-year anniversary and we’re going to have a baby. The good times go by so fast, don’t they? 🙂

A late winter snowstorm

One thing about winters is they don’t like to leave. Just when you think they’re packing to go back north, they settle back down for at least a few more days. And they’re not shy about it, either. They’ll let loose and bring on a bonafide winter storm.

This particular one happened just about six years ago. The set of pictures you’re about to see were taken in Grosvenor Park and Cabin John Park, MD, and in Tyson’s Corner, McLean, VA.

Things can start out picturesque in the morning…

… and turn into this by evening.

By morning, things are back to picturesque — a beautiful, white winter picturesque.

Sadly, that doesn’t last long. In a day or two, rising temperatures melt it away.

By the way, there are few things that cheer me up better than warm miso soup and veggie sushi after exploring in the snow.

Water colors

Today’s post: water colors, and I mean that literally. 🙂

Ripples

Ripples

Ripples

Ripples

Ripples

Ripples