Monday, August 30, 2010

The rolling rocking Rockies

Not rock n' roll, but yes, really rock and roll in the real sense. Rocks everywhere - tall mountains made of bedrock, beds and beds of igneous, metamorphosed, and sedimented rock lifted, tilted, shifted, warped and folded into thousand meter tall mountain chains.  I have run out of linguistic superlatives to describe the Rocky Mountains - magnificent, spectacular, amazing, enormous, OMG, incredible, fantastic... and it still feels like I don't give this place justice.  Just go to Colorado and see it yourselves, and prepare to become speechless....

Red Mountain

Red Mountain, filled with iron (and yes, that mountain is probably around 14 000 feet, the tallest mountain in Sweden is about 6 000 feet for comparison). This photo is not photoshopped.

million dollar highway
Million dollar highway, built maybe a hundred years ago, and still narrow, bent out of shape, and scary. And fun. And pretty.

mountain meadow
Mountain meadows everywhere. Gorgeousness abound.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fire On the Rock

Fire On the Rock, originally uploaded by Withering Dawn.
A photo by AREA - the lichens in Colorado and New Mexico are amazing....

fire slit

Imagine that the only thing between you and a very hot, boiling steamy firebox that leads to a steam boiler that leads to pistons capable of hundreds, if not thousands of horse powers are two iron doors that you can open with a small handle - here it is! This is the closed doors to the firebox of steam locomotive 487 on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, the former narrow gauge part of the Denver and Rio Grande Western railroad in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico. The steam is still going strong, but only because of fantastic volunteers and other workers. We just happened to walk by and were invited up in the cab to see the real work environment of the engineer and fireman, thanks to some nice workers at this railroad in Chama. I have to say that I have never met such consistently nice people as in these areas. More photos from the center of the United States are coming, but I have 1500 photos or so to sort through :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Shaking light

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!   Literally... in this case.  This is from one of the tunnels on the Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, which goes between Chama (in New Mexico) and Antonito (in Colorado). We rode the 65 miles at 2500+ m elevation through forests, undeveloped valleys, and along sharp bends and high lines. That is higher than the highest mountain in Sweden. Gorgeous country, this America...

Being in a tunnel pulled by a 1925 K-36 steam engine gives you smoke and cinders in your hair, ears and nose, but it is a great experience. The photo above is a color photo by the way :)
More photos from our trip will be coming soon...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

OK snapshot: To sleep...

...perchance to dream?
Better get another cup!

My town- Pretzeltown!

In the last days it´s been a music festival here, called Pretzeltown. It´s a translation of the nickname my town has, "Kringelstan". In the last century´s beginning, there were women who sold their homebaked pretzels in the city and at the railway station. According to Wikipedia, their sales methods were so aggressive they were forbidden in the town streets. True or not, it´s a curiosity fact. Nowadays you can buy pretzels here, not salty, but sweet. But they are not something we usually have.

Welcome to Pretzeltown!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

OK snapshot: Ihärdig flit (Unrelenting work)

"Vi lossar sand, ibland, på söder mälarstrand, vi lossar hela dagen och vi var åtta man, som lossar sand, ibland, på söder mälarstrand..." (osv)

LS comment: The quote is an old Swedish song about dock workers moving sand off ships in Stockholm, maybe 100 years ago or so.  The photo is from the same place, on the south side of Riddarfjarden and the tower in the background is Stockholm's City Hall.

OK snapshot: Kärlek och konsekvens (Love and Consequences)

Of course, in this case, the love of ketchup.

Swedish food art.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

OK snapshot: ångslupsvåg (Steam boat wave)

On Lake Mälaren, outside Stockholm.

Comment from LS: OK's snapshots are all taken with an iPhone. 

unexpected guests...

Watch your step 2, originally uploaded by bulldog008.

Roadtripping.. part 3: Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is a giant state, like the big bloated brother next to little New Jersey. New Jersey has the beaches and the people (9 million of them) and is the most crowded state in the US (sigh, I wish I lived surrounded by less people). Pennsylvania has lots of 'empty' space of oak forests, rolling hills, small towns and large towns. Many of the rural towns have been suffering from economic problems from decades, since the manufacturing industry collapsed. We drove through Pennsylvania on our way to Binghamton, and found some nice gems:

Starrucca viaduct, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.

Starucca Viaduct, the largest, and at the time, most expensive, railroad viaduct in the world. In Lanesboro, PA, USA. Built 1847-1848 by the Erie Railroad, and still in use today.

Bliss Rubbish service

How about some rubbish service?

old Susquehanna depot station

The old Susquehanna railroad station, where no trains stop anymore. The station was renovated and made into a restaurant and bar, but that has closed and now it seems abandoned again.

cart and barrel

box car springs

I like the details on old railroad cars, like these springs on an old Erie Railroad box car. Look at those little wood pieces under, how long do they usually last?

More Pennsylvania photos here.

Blue gold

American blueberries, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.
Just a photo from our blueberry picking in July, when we picked (in a cultivated field, not wild) 15 kg blueberries in 1.5 hours. Of course these are the giant American species, not the small wild ones from Maine and Sweden, but still, they taste great.

Perfection in an oven

The best homemade pizza ever, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.

The last year we have made homemade pizza most every Friday night so we have now reached near-perfection (see photo).

It started with that we bought a pizza stone, a must for thin crust pizza. Then we made dough, partly whole wheat and often with dried herbs in it, made tomato sauce (usually not from a can, but cooked or blended by us), sliced up some mozzarella and added other necessary things (onion, olives, anchovies, artichoke hearts, shrimp, clams, fresh garlic, roasted red peppers, parmesan, basil, mushrooms, pepperoni, capers.... not all at once but in different combinations). One set of dough makes about 4 pizzas, and since each cook in 8-9 minutes it is easy to make them and eat them immediately. Yummy!

Another result of this is that I no longer eat pizza at restaurants (well, Nomad in Hopewell is an exception), because ours is so much better.

(If you want the dough recipe, make a comment below or send me an e-mail. It works great for pizza on the grill too, as well as flatbreads.)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bits and pieces

Maybe life in Earth started between thin sheets of mica ('glimmer' in Swedish).  I remember pulling thin sheets of muscovite (muskovit) mica apart at some of the old mines we visited when we were kids, thinking they were like layered bendable glass. I was told that in previous times people had used mica as 'windows' on their woodstoves for that reason, but I am not sure if it is true.  Scientists don't know if the mica theory is true either, but it is certainly a fascinating hypothesis that the first cells developed between thin mica layers. Read more here...

This is what global warming looks like. = now. (the link is to a pdf, check out the map on the second page.  Scary.)  And today's climate is getting more and more similar to Ordovician climates.

In the beginning, we were all wanderers... (Carl Sagan tribute)

Roadtripping... part 2: Rhode Island

Bear Mountain Bridge over the Hudson River
Driving across Bear Mountain Bridge in New York State, which crosses the Hudson River north of New York.  Great bridge, horrible driving directions from Google Map.  The trip from New Jersey to Rhode Island took me several hours longer than necessary. But the weather was gorgeous.

ceiling of the Biltmore Grand Ballroom

The old, historic Biltmore hotel has its Grand Ballroom on the 17th floor, and seems to be a relic of the gilded past. The views are grand, the plates have golden edges, and the AC was turned on too high so we froze. But it was fun! Especially when they auctioned off two 2 feet (60 cm) long penis-protectors made from gourds by natives from New Guinea, signed by the previous owner. The gourds were signed, I mean.

check your eyesight, which number?

In Providence you can have your eyes checked on the street without any fees. Guess what street number this clinic has?

summer storm at Point Judith, Rhode Island

On our way home from Rhode Island we decided to check out the ocean shore. That didn't really worked like we had planned. We were met by a giant thunderstorm with fierce rain at Point Judith lighthouse so we didn't even get out of the car. Half an hour later the sun shined again, but then we were on our way again. Rhode Island's coast is rocky, like most of Sweden's, and not the sandy, muddy mess we have along New Jersey. Rocks are better.

More photos from Rhode Island here.
sweet potato fries
They have great sweet potato fries in Connecticut.

Roadtripping...part 1: New Jersey

In the last couple of weeks we (or I) have made some road trips to drop and pick up kids in Binghamton, New York State (4.5 hours away), go to a conference in Providence, Rhode Island, or visit great little places here in New Jersey.  The photos from these trips are on my Flickr photostream, but here are some highlights:

willowwood mansion
Willowwood Arboretum is a public park in New Jersey, an old estate founded by two gardening brothers in the early 1900s. They and their hired gardener filled their large property with cultivated plants, including many Asian ones that had never before been cultivated in North America. It is a gorgeous place, with formal and informal gardens as well as woods, meadows, and whimsical and Japanese sculptures. And it is free! you can tell they have the whole property deer-fenced, just look at those tall flowers.  In my garden those plants would be chewed off 20 cm from the ground. We walked from Willowwood to the neighboring estate Bamboo Brook which has just been restored. It is a gorgeous little mansion on a hill with ponds, streams, terraces, and rock walls, surrounded by tall trees in the forest. Of course the day we were here it started to rain for the first time in 6 weeks, so I don't have many photos, but you can see some here.

(The red flower is a funky begonia.)

mediterranean garden

tea in the road?

On the way to Willowwood I found this 'homemade' road sign - what do you think, is it a warning for attacking T's?

Friday, August 13, 2010

OK snapshot: I väntan på bussen... (While waiting for the bus...)

...kan man göra lite gatukonst. ( can make some street art.)

Komposition i asfalt och betong, 2010. (Composition in asphalt and
concrete, 2010)

LS comment: I think an iphone application was involved in this as well.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Flyg, vackra ekorre, flyg! (fly, squirrel, fly!)

It is a good thing to stop the car to take photos of a beautiful landscape, because you never know what you will find and see. In the Pine Barrens, where we picked blueberries about a month ago, we saw this flying squirrel busily eating away on an immature pine cone. He/she didn't care much about us, and just ate and ate. You can tell it apart from the regular grey squirrels because of its smaller size, red tail, and larger eyes with white around it. Gorgeous animal!

Update - it isn't a flying squirrel, it is a red squirrel (or pine squirrel), as pointed out by the ever-knowledgeably Mr. Lebo. 

Where you are...

It is time for our little visitor map to be reset, which happens once a year, but before that happens, here is the visitors during the last 12 months to this blog.  You are really spread around the world!  27 000 visits or so in a year, that is about 75 readers a day.  Thanks for all your visits!

OK snapshot: Botten upp! (Bottoms up!)

Vid strömmen vid riksdagshuset. "Nisse, gula sidan upp!"
(Seen in the river at the Swedish parliament in Stockholm.)

OK snapshot: New Species!

"Caninus herbivorus", a vegetarian dog.
(In Swedish, hot dog is called 'varm korv', not 'varm hund'. Korv is
sausage, hund is dog.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

turning against the sun

sunflowers, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.

An unusual but gorgeous sight on the fields around here - a yellow sunflower extravagancy near Amwell Road in New Jersey. I really thought sunflowers turn with the sun, but these large ones don't. Maybe that is only true for the smaller flowers.

Rapport från en skurhink (Report from a cleaning bucket)

Yesterday evening. 95 degrees heat and high humidity. No air conditioning downstairs in the house. Nice dinner with pasta primavera. After dinner - finds out toilet downstairs have overflowed sometime during the day, nobody noticed. It was bad, really bad. Start to clean up, soon realize that the toilet drain is leaking under the floor and isn't just blocked. The whole sewer drain for the house is blocked, and is backed up into the toilet on the bottom floor. Sewer water is leaking dripping from the basement ceiling under the bathroom onto machinery and freezer - ick! Call Roto-Rooter, their emergency plummer arrives at 11 PM. 90 degrees heat. Wet stinky towels in buckets with bleach and water for later washing. The drain gets unplugged, the toilet drain seal in the downstairs bathroom is still broken and will be fixed later. By midnight we can flush toilets and take showers, but by then I am the only one awake. Sweating and awake. What blocked the drain? We don't know, but an ipod is missing from the party we had 2 days ago. Did someone flush it? Will we ever find out? This has happened before.

(Rapport från en skurhink is the title of a famous Swedish book by Maja Ekelöf)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, PP!

Update: Today's date is 8/9/10! That is pretty special!

Mount Washington railroad, originally uploaded by Vilseskogen.

This photo is from our trip to Mount Washington in New Hampshire, which has a narrow gauge railroad. I think the steam trains were replaced with diesel locomotives last year, unfortunately, but when we were there the little steam locomotives were pushing up tourist cars thousands of feet in the air.

Have a great birthday, PP!