Catania Elephant

Catania Elephant

I took this while wandering around Catania, Sicily.  I knew nothing about it, other than it was something obviously important in town (elephant obelisks aren’t something you expect to see without reason).  As expected, Sicily is not rife with Elephants, so a google search for “Sicily Elephant” was fruitful.  From Wikipedia, of course:

Around 900, when Catania was part of the emirate of Sicily, it was known as Balad-Al-Fil and Medinat-Al-Fil, Catania’s two official Arabic appellatives. The first means “The Village or The Country of the Elephant”, while the second means “The City of the Elephant”. The Elephant is the lava sculpture of Piazza Duomo’s Fountain. Likely a prehistoric sculpture that was reforged in the Byzantine Era, it appears to be a talisman that was reputedly powerful enough to protect the city from enemies and to keep away misfortune, plagues, or natural calamities.

So, there you go.  Wander around and take pictures of the things that look interesting, even if you don’t know what they are.  You can always google it later.

Picture taken with Pentax Optio W60, 6.1mm (34mm equiv), shutter 1/250, ISO 50 – this thing is a joke compared to the 60D, but it fits in a pocket and can be safely strapped to the deck of a kayak while paddling.

Mt. Etna in Sicily

Mt. Etna

I’ve come upon my folder of pictures from Italy and on initial count had somewhere north of 4k pictures from the trip.  My goal is to reduce this number, but there are probably a couple dozen good ones in there for posting.  I’ll probably do a few from each country, because I think I went on this trip right before I started putting pictures up here, so none of these have been posted before.  If I get really inspired, I’ll post the whole batch along with a write-up of the trip before I forget any more details than I already have.

This one is of Mt. Etna in Sicily just after erupting in 2011.  Janet got to see it from the air as she was flying in and I think has a camera phone picture of the smoke cloud.  The rest of us (her included) got the ground view from a couple of tour vans after the work was complete at WPC 21.  It’s an active volcano, so there are limits on how close we could get, but it was fun walking around on the lava field as shown in the foreground of this picture.

Picture taken with Canon 60D, EF-S 17-85mm lens @ 17mm, f/11 , 1/320 sec shutter, ISO 100

Sailboat on Lake Michigan

Sailboat on Lake Michigan

Back to not dying today – though fevers do apparently yield some odd dreams.

Sometime not that long after the trip to Mackinac, there was a trip to the Traverse City area.  One of the things to do was go to the Sleeping Bear Dunes – Janet had never been there before and I hadn’t been there in a while.  We started on the hike back to Lake Michigan, but didn’t make it – in part because maybe we didn’t really try very hard and in part because the hot sand gave me a blister that then turned into a sizable hole in the sole of my foot.  There are a few pictures that may someday surface from the actual Dune Climb.

In addition to the Dune Climb, there is Pierce Stocking Drive (which until this very moment, I always though was Pier Stocking Drive – seemed like an odd name for Pier).  It winds up and through the dunes, just to the south of the climb I think.  On this drive is the Lake Michigan overlook which is a 450′ dune, and despite the name is climbable and not just for looking.  To take a section of that Wiki article:

Overlook 9 is next to the bluff on Lake Michigan, 450 feet (140 m) above the water […].  These two locations are considered especially hazardous because of the heights involved. In 2002, the Detroit Free Press noted that a half-dozen visitors have to be rescued by paramedics at these two overlooks after falls. The community of Glen Arbor has a special off-road vehicle to effect rescues from the base of the cliffs.

And, this picture of some random sailboat on Lake Michigan was taken from that overlook, having no other connection to the blathering above.  I don’t know anything about that boat or the person sailing it, and it’s not even a very good picture from a technical standpoint as I for some reason decided (or forgot I had previously decided) to take it at f/11, yielding a shutter speed that was too slow for the amount of movement present.  I just like the little orange boat against the patterns in the blue water.

Picture taken with Canon 60D, EF-S 18-135mm lens @ 135mm, f/11, 1/60 sec shutter, ISO 100