Places you must see : Transfagarasean Road

21 Feb

Places you must see : Transfagarasean Road

The Transfăgărăşan or DN7C is the most dramatic and second-highest paved road in Romania. Built as a strategic military route, the 90 km of twists and turns run north to south across the tallest sections of the Southern Carpathians, between the highest peak in the country, Moldoveanu, and the second highest, Negoiu.

The road connects the historic regions of Transylvania and Wallachia, and the cities of Sibiu and Piteşti and was constructed between 1970 and 1974, during the rule of Nicolae Ceauşescu. It came as a response to the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Ceauşescu wanted to ensure quick military access across the mountains in the event the Soviets attempted a similar move into Romania.

Consequently, the road was built mainly with military forces, at a high cost both financially and from a human standpoint—roughly 6 million kilograms of dynamite were used on the northern face, and the official records mention that about 40 soldiers lost their lives in building accidents.

The road climbs to 2,034 metres altitude. The most spectacular route is from the North. It is a winding road, dotted with steep hairpin turns, long S-curves, and sharp descents. The Transfăgărăşan is both an attraction and a challenge for hikers, cyclists, drivers and motorcycle enthusiasts alike. Due to the topography, the average speed is around 40 km/h. The road also provides access to Bâlea Lake and Bâlea Waterfall. The road is usually closed from late October until late June because of snow. Depending on the weather, it may remain open until as late as November. It may also be closed, at times, because of weather conditions (it occasionally snows even in August). There are signs at the town of Curtea de Argeş and the village of Cartisoara that provide information on the passage. Travellers can find food and lodging at several hotels or chalets (cabane) along the way. Among the attractions along the southern section of the road, near the village of Arefu, is the Poienari fortress. The castle served as the residence of Vlad III the Impaler, the prince who inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula character. There is a parking area and a path to the ruins.

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Places you must see : Caño Cristales – Colombia

21 Feb

Places you must see : Caño Cristales – Colombia

Caño Cristales is a river located in the Serrania de la Macarena Mountains. The area where the river is found is so remote that you can only get there by horse, donkey, or on foot. Caño Cristales is filled with waterfalls, rapids, wells and hollows, with water so clear you can see all the way to the bottom. During most of the year the river seems like any other, with the water coursing over green algae rocks. Then during the period of time between the wet season and the dry season – which happens between September–November – the river transforms, becoming a river of color. The algae in the water produce a riot of color; red, blue, green, black and yellow line the river. This river has no fish because of the complexity of the channels. Caño Cristales has been called “The River of Five Colors”, “The Liquid Rainbow” and “The River That Ran Away From Paradise” and it’s honestly easy to see why. Cano-Cristales1

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Places you must see : The Lau Archipelago, Fiji

21 Feb

Places you must see : The Lau Archipelago, Fiji

Lầu Bảo Đại

Lầu Bảo Đại (Photo credit: Khánh Hmoong)

The Lau Archipelago, Fiji are situated in the southern Pacific Ocean, just east of the Koro Sea. Of this chain of about one hundred islands and islets, about thirty are inhabited. The Lau Group covers a land area of 188 square miles (487 square km), and had a population of 10,683.

For administrative reasons all of Lau is one district, but it is geographically divided into four subgroups: northern Lau, central Lau and southern Lau (which together form a chain of islands stretching 432 km in a north-south direction), and the Moala group, lying to the south of Lomaiviti.

Northern Lau includes the Exploring Islands (one large island and eight small ones, all enclosed within a barrier reef) and some 14 others of which Naitauba, Kanacea, Mago and Cicia are the most important.Central Lau includes five islands centring on Lakeba, which is the hereditary seat of the chiefs of Lau and the home of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

Southern Lau comprises 16 islands as well as some clusters, most of them grouped within 100 km of Lakeba. Beyond these, in the attenuated ‘tail’ of the archipelago, lie Vatoa and Ono, isolated from their nearest neighbours and from one another by wide stretches of open sea. The most outlying islands of southern Lau are actually closer to Tonga than they are to Fiji.

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Great Life Story

21 Feb

In the begining!

Dayton historical panorama

Dayton historical panorama (Photo credit: bellanox)

 

Real Estate is in My Blood

My father was a subdivider of real estate. Of course in 1929 that part of his business just completely collapsed. Nobody wanted to buy lots because they were going to build anything.

Most of my young life of lived in Oakwood, Ohio which is a suburb of Dayton. Throughout my life I worked almost exclusively as a real estate broker but there was a short period right after I graduated from Ohio state university when I worked as an advertising assistant in Decatur, Illinois.
When I graduated I went to work for the National Cash Register Company for a year. Then I stop that and went to Ohio state university. I think I probably entered Ohio State in about 1938.
I was in Ohio State for two years, and then I got a motorcycle. I had a bad accident that crushed my right arm and gave me a compound fracture of the right leg.

I went back to Ohio State in about 1940.

 

Originally I lived in Belmont which is another suburb of Dayton. Then we moved to Oakwood. My father was subdividing a farm. I went to Oakwood elementary school, Oakwood junior high, and Oakwood. High school and I went to college at Ohio State.
I was pretty much of a good kid. I was a paperboy; I carried the newspapers. I think I worked on the Dayton paper. Ultimately I worked my way up to the Paper route in Hills and Dales, which is an extremely high class neighborhood of Dayton. The paper subsidized me because it was a long route. I continued delivering papers until I graduated from high school.

 

In about 1937 my mother and father had moved to Findlay, Ohio where they had originally lived. He was operating a real estate business. My cousin Georgie was also involved in real estate.
I earned my license to sell real estate probably in about 1939. I liked the business.

When I got out of the service in early 1946, Ann and I and the baby went to Findlay, Ohio. That’s where we lived from then on.

My kids are Leni, Lisa, Andrew, Sarah, Robin, Jeffrey, Michelle, Lori, Julie, Robby.

 

I met my wife-to-be in about 1940. Her name was Ann Ruffin. We hit it off. After a year of dating we go

t married, and the bigger romance began. We were married 62 years! It would have been 63 years but she passed away in January, 2005. Her heart blew out. It was tough.

While we were married we had twelve pregnancies. One of them, a boy of about two years old, died of hydro encephalitis. We took him to children’s hospital in Columbus. They put in a shunt but it didn’t work.
Another one was stillborn.

But we had seven healthy girl babies and three boys. They grew up to be healthy, kids and adults. The youngest is 40 or 41; the oldest is 61.

All went to college except for one.

Needless to say we didn’t take a vacation every year or heat out every other night or even every week. It was a matter of self-control, which very few people have. Economic self-control, anyway.

Ann graduated from Ohio State also. Her degree was in social administration. I had a degree in business administration; I was marketing major.

This is important to me, yes it is. When we had our fifth child I decided to become a catholic. My wife was catholic, and I had been a nominal protestant, I guess.

So I converted to Catholicism and that was it.

Leisure and travel

Every year we went up to cedar point but we didn’t do any camping out. In Finley we lived at 829 South Main Street. With twelve rooms and three and a half baths.
There were no hardships. Some people might have thought we had hardships, but I never did. We had the usual number of teeth-straightening visits to the orthodontist, the optometrist… we did what we had to do.

Leni went to college at Kent state. Lisa went to go Ohio State. (Inaudible). Sarah went to the University of Dayton. Robin went to Findlay College and then Ohio Dominican in Columbus. Jeff was a preemie, and he didn’t have quite the mental capacity for college, but he went to Business College for two years in Toledo. He always had a little bit of difficulty getting a job or holding a job

 

Because of my arm I probably could have been exempted from service during WWII, but I didn

’t try it. I was inducted and went in through camp Perry. I was assigned to the fifth service command at fort Hays. I was t

here until I went to officer candidate school. That must have been in about 1939 or 1940.

Then I went back to fort Hays where I was assigned to the Fletcher general hospital as a second lieutenant. There I was a Custodial officer charged with taking care of all the equipment in the hospital. There were 3 one-hal

f mile-long ramps, so I had to do a lot of walking.

My wife and age to get herself assigned to Fletcher general hospital to do her fieldwork before she graduated. Then I went back to fort Hays and remained there until I was separated from the service as a first lieutenant. That’s about it.

 

One low point was when our boy Brian died. Other than that I didn’t have any low points. It was all

onward and upward. And in the meanwhile I made a lucky investment in First National stock, which ultimately became Fifth Third bank. To make a long story short I ended up with 6500 shares of Fifth Third stock which was worth perhaps $350,000.00.

That got me interested in the stock market so I invested whatever I could. I ended up with a couple million dollars in the stock market. It doesn’t seem like anything exceptional to me, but perhaps it is.
I think my income is currently in the range of 65,000 to $75,000.00 a year from dividends. You need that because it costs about $70,000.00 a year to live here in this facility.

When my wife died and my children spread all over the United States I wasn’t able to take care of myself. I still own my house. In the meanwhile we sold the one out on south main and bought another one on Coventry drive. It’s a three bedroom, two bathroom break ranch house. It’s got a two car garage. I still on that and I still on my

car which is in the driveway out there. I kept them so that if the kids came home they would have some place to stay and something to drive.

 

Decide what you want to do then plot how to get there. Self-control is essential. Economic self-contr

ol. It still puzzles me why so many people feel that they have to be out several times a week. It costs six or seven times what it cost to prepare that same meal at home.

Then there are all the people who buy lottery tickets and movies and things like that. I was always a voracious reader. I got my entertainment from reading. I’ve never seen a movie that could equal a good book. The mind can furnish things that the movies can’t do.

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17 Feb

Originally posted on God and Jesus:

JesusJesus

Protect me from sin

Jesus

Protect me from evil

Jesus

Carry me

In Your Arms

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17 Feb

Originally posted on Bologna:

All literature, highbrow or low, from the Aeneid onward, is fan fiction. … Through parody and pastiche, allusion and homage, retelling and reimagining the stories that were told before us … we proceed, seeking out the blank places in the map that our favorite writers, in their greatness and negligence, have left for us, hoping to pass on to our own readers–should we be lucky enough to find any–some of the pleasure that we ourselves have taken in the stuff that we love: to get in on the game. All novels are sequels; influence is bliss.

– Michael Chabon

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Places you must see : Wisteria Tunnel , Japan.

17 Feb
  • Wisteria (known as fuji in Japan) is said to be one of the archipelago’s most ancient noted flowering trees, even being described in the collected poems of the Man’yōshū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves).
  • Noda fuji, a species native to Japan, comes in varieties named for their cascading trusses: Usubeni fuji (light pink), Murasaki fuji (purple), Naga fuji (long), Yae kokuryu (double-petaled black dragon), and Shiro fuji (white), which come into bloom in that order. Finally, a yellow variant of wisteria (known as Golden chain or Common laburnum; [Laburnum anagyroides]) – and widely considered difficult to grow in Japan – can also be enjoyed for over a
    Wisteria

    Wisteria (Photo credit: The Eyes Have It!)

    Wisteria (Photo credit: The Eyes Have It!)

    month.

  • Three massive wisteria trellises extend for more than 1,000㎡, in addition to a large trellis of rare double-petaled wisteria, others suitably arranged as shrubs, an 80-meter tunnel of white and yellow wisteria, and some draped like a living screens, while the early evening sight of wisteria mirrored in the pond takes on an ethereal yet breathtaking beauty.
  • Light pink wisteria

    In mid April, the light pink wisteria is the first of the season to bloom. In contrast to red wisteria (a modern variant) that is found nationwide, these Noda wisteria racemes (hanging clusters) are about 40cm and a delicate pink. And so begin the annual Wisteria Stories. At around this time, the large wisteria also starts to bloom.

    Purple wisteria

    Whenever we think of wisteria, our first recollection is usually of its purple cascades. Clusters of Noda wisteria hanging about 40 to 50cm are arranged uniquely within the garden. Almost as if designed as art, each stem is subtly different in color – just like any other distinctive substance, radiating a singular tone (purple, bluish purple, and light bluish purple) to emphasize their beauty.

    White wisteria

    This is the third of our wisterias to come into bloom.
    Visitors can hardly hold themselves back from proclaiming: “Wow! So beautiful.” Many people struggle to find anything else to say. Whenever we hear such compliment, our belief that this garden is a power of good is reinforced. Walking through the 80-meter tunnel of white wisteria, gently assailed by its sweet aroma, is all but guaranteed to leave you feeling exultant.

    Double-petaled wisteria

    The Yae kokuryu (Double-petaled black dragon) wisteria is thought to be a mutation of Kokuryu fuji, which is in the Noda Wisteria family. This double-petaled wisteria is reputedly the largest one in Japan, and has the strongest aroma, appearing almost like a bunch of grapes from a little distance. It is much appreciated. Many people can be heard to profess: “I’ve never seen this before,” while admiring the trellis in the middle of the garden.

    Yellow wisteria

    Golden chain [Laburnum anagyroides vossi] was said to be imported to Japan in around 1970, and it is found in Austria and Switzerland. This has the largest and longest clusters of the Laburnum anagyroides family. It is known as “yellow wisteria” in this garden, since that is its common name in Japan. Our 80-meter tunnel of yellow wisteria is the longest one in Japan, and comes into bloom from early May – representing the final chapter in the wisteria Stories.
    About 200 yellow wisterias can be enjoyed until around the third week of May.

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