A glorious winter’s day spent with Golden Eagles in Eastern Ontario.
Faith moves mountains and Spain has been a devoutly Catholic country for centuries. This could have been on the minds of the of the first pilgrims on their way to Santiago, a religious act, which would end with their being in the presence of the Sepulcre of the Apostle Santiago ( Saint James) of the IX Century. Massive pilgrimages in the XI, XII and XIII centuries followed with the creation of hospices, shelters, monasteries, and even villages to aid the pilgrims in the achievement of their goal.
Some views of the churches and chapels associated with the Way of St. James through the historic regions of El Bierzo and Galicia. BUEN CAMINO!
This 12th century Romanesque church dedicated to St James is the only other temple along the Camino de Santiago, besides Santiago’s Cathedral, where pilgrims could, and still can, receive plenary indulgence. The requirements: having walked the necessary distance, attend mass and say their prayers, as well as being able to prove they can’t physically continue all the way to Santiago de Compostela, due to illness or physical weakness.
Welcome to Galicia! Dating from the 9th century, Santa Maria Real is the oldest building directly related to the Way of St. James and is located in the remote Celtic village of O’Cebreiro where the pilgrim’s path heads down into the Atlantic plain of Galicia.
The church of San Juan is an unusual Late Romanesque temple-fortress of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem as it was designed to be both a church and a castle and so has architectural characteristics of both buildings. The church was relocated stone by stone to its current position from the valley below in the 1960s when the river was flooded to form a reservoir. What an architectural feat! What a testament of faith!
One of my most memorable moments on the Camino was attending an evening service here with no more than 20 of the local faithful.
Beyond the Cathedral itself, Santiago seems to have a church at every turn throughout the old town. The church of San Francisco was founded by St. Francis himself during his pilgrimage to Santiago in 1214. This is the view from the patio garden of the lovely Hotel Costa Vella (highly recommended!).
Finisterre (or Land’s End in English) is a small community stituated on a rocky promontory on the Atlantic Coast. It is considered by many to be the official end of the Camino.
“February made me shiver, with every paper I’d deliver….
Bad news upon the doorstep, I couldn’t take one more step”.
Long before I became a teenager, I was a foot soldier in Roy Thompson’s press empire (later Lord Thompson of Fleet!) as a young paper delivery boy. Neither rain, sleet or snow (or the occasional dog bite!) kept little Billy from faithfully delivering the news on the doorsteps of his expectant and often demanding customers. Back then there was no “Daily Show” but people sure wanted their daily news and for the most part it wasn’t all that good.
During that time, America had sunk into a funk starting with the stalemate in Korea (a prime example of what happens when you don’t “win” wars!!), choosing the wrong side in the Suez Crisis (the first of many mistakes in the Middle East!), stumbling through both the Hungarian and Cuban revolutions and obviously loosing the space race. I say “obviously” because the US space program was an ad hoc amalgam of inter service rivalry with the Army’s Redstone rocket competing with the Navy’s Vanguard rocket. The only thing they had in common was their fiery explosions of failure on the launch pad, the news and pictures of which I dropped on my customers’ doorsteps with depressing regularity. Meanwhile the Soviets had launched Sputnik and were the first to reach the moon with their Luna 2 program and capped it all off with Yuri Gagarin’s orbiting of the earth. At the near apogee of Cold War tension it was clear that the Russian big idea was winning out over the West’s. And as Russia’s “Wild Duck” was about to shake hands with the Big Dipper, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper were probably holding hands when they crashed and burned at Clear Lake, Iowa. Hell, couldn’t we keep anything airborne!! Clearly not just the music had been dead for some time.
Then came the Bay of Pigs fiasco and America’s humiliation was complete. Several months later a young, tax slashing new President would in no uncertain terms commit America to landing not a robot, not a monkey, but a living, breathing man on the moon within a decade. How unrealistic, totally unbelievable!! Was he smoking something other than cigars??
A few months later a man destined to become America’s last national hero would be squeezed into the Mercury capsule and successfully blasted into space. With three circumnavigations of the planet, John Glenn, a fighter pilot in the 40s, a test pilot in the 50s and now America’s first astronaut in the 60s, had put his country back in the race!! Within the next decade earth’s celestial hostage would become America’s new Romper Room. Only the construction of the Panama Canal in modern peacetime and the Manhattan Project in war were comparable in scope to America’s successful lunar Apollo program.
But that was then. Since 1972 no one has returned. Think of that! Nearly as much time has passed since the last moon landing as existed between the Wright brothers first flimsy flight and John Glenn’s launch into history. Now when Americans heading to the International Space Station must hitch a ride on Russian rockets, the poor suffering American taxpayer might reasonably ask what return he has had from several hundreds of billions of dollars flowing into NASA over the past several decades. Apparently not much.
Of course the detour into advocacy of shaky climate change orthodoxy hasn’t helped (and against which 72 NASA astronauts and scientist have rebelled in an open letter to their presidentially appointed director). Neither has the new NASA priority of Islamic outreach. Not much bang for the buck there if you’ll excuse a pun.
So it was that I was thinking of John Glenn when I took the above photo two weeks ago on Grand Turk Island in the Caribbean. Not much happens on Grand Turk. But when it does, it stays on Grand Turk. Forever apparently. So it was with John Glenn’s sensational return to earth off the shores of Grand Turk in 1962.
What struck me the most was the diminutive, claustrophobic size of the Mercury capsule. I’ve done night dives in the Pacific and, I’ve squirmed through the Chu Chi tunnels in Vietnam. I think I can handle tight, dark spaces better than most. But I can’t understand how someone could have climbed into that tiny capsule with no chance of escape and risk immolation in yet another American rocket launch failure. John Glenn, you were a better man than I. Ave Atque Vale!
Knowing what we do now, riding in an open cavalcade with JFK is another risk I would want to avoid!! 54 years later they’re united again.
Hail and Farewell, the both of you!! You did us proud!!
Today is the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. One of the signal events of World War II if not the last century.
The following images were taken several years ago and are a token tribute to my cousin, Lt. Commander Bruce Reck. After the war a dedicated Scoutmaster and one heck of a nice guy. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I learned of his military service.
During World War II Bruce served on the USS Vega, the USS Wichita, the USS Wasp, the USS Axulite, the USS Kingfisher and the USS Enterprise. Stationed in Pearl Harbor on that fateful day, he took part as a diver in rescue and salvage operations in the aftermath of the attack. During the course of his naval service he received 14 medals including the Bronze Star and the Medal of Commendation for Valor. He died in Erie, Pennsylvania in 1995. Ave Atque Vale!!
The US National Parks Service allows those who survived the raid to have their ashes taken down to be buried alongside the remains of their former shipmates within the Arizona’s sunken hull.
Like a proud, indomitable warrior, one lone gunless turret stands guard over the remains of its sunken mother ship which still oozes a couple of gallons of oil daily, like some gigantic wounded beast that hasn’t entirely bled out.
Three men, Ronald Endicott (18), Clifford Olds (20) and Louis Costin (21) on board the West Virginia at the time of the attack, survived for 16 days, desperately banging on the ship’s sunken hull for a rescue which never came. Men on the surface did their utmost to avoid guard duty on the crippled ship so as not to hear the constant, macabre noise. There was nothing anyone could do. Cut a hole and risk flooding the compartment or use a torch and cause an explosion. Gradually the banging became less loud, less insistent. Then eventually it stopped. Six months later when the ship was finally surfaced, their remains were gathered and buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in the volcanic crater the locals call the Punchbowl, where the majority of the Pearl Harbor victims were buried. The date on their tombstones was backdated to December 7 to jive with the official navy story that the men had died at their battle stations so as to save the their families from the searing pain of the awful truth.
In Louis Costin’s locker they retrieved a watch which was destined to be a Christmas gift for his mother. Broken and waterlogged it was eventually sent home, where his mother had it repaired and wore it daily until her death in 1985 at the age of 92, thankfully never knowing the true story of her son’s gruesome, lingering death.
Like William Tecumseh Sherman said, “War is Hell!”
A recent trip to the Caribbean allowed me the chance to put my new travel sized three hundred mm f4 lens to the test. Although not as versatile and fast as the f2.8, with patience some decent shots can be obtained. Not a birding trip per se, however I was able to capture some of the island mainstays.
Or Tobacco Dove as it is known here in the Bahamas.
An unexpected treat I spotted from a beach bar on Turks and Caicos.
No trip to Barcelona is complete without visiting the architectural legacy of the city’s most famous genius, Antoni Gaudi (1852 – 1926).
Gaudí’s work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. Gaudí considered every detail of his creations and integrated into his architecture such crafts as ceramics, stainded glass, wrought ironwork forging, and carpentry. He also introduced new techniques in the treatment of materials, such as trencadís which used waste ceramic pieces.
Hemingway said of his response to viewing a Brughel for the first time that it was like a sudden blow to the solar plexus. My response to Gaudi’s architecture was a similar experience, simultaneously both visceral and staggering, a shock to the senses.
The cathedral that is Gaudi’s masterpiece in Barcelona. Started in 1920, set on fire in the Spanish civil war, and scheduled for completion within the next decade, almost a century after Gaudi’s premature accidental death in 1926 after being hit by a street tram. With nearly 3 million visitors each year, this is Spain’s biggest tourist attraction. Make sure you get your tickets at least a day in advance.
The park was built between 1900 and 1914 and was officially opened as a public park in 1926. In 1984 UNESCO declared the park a World Heritage Site. Güell and Gaudí conceived this park, situated within a natural park. They imagined an organized grouping of high-quality homes, decked out with all the latest technological advancements to ensure maximum comfort, finished off with an artistic touch of pure fantasy.
Casa Batlló is the result of a total restoration in 1904 of an old conventional house built in 1877. Gaudí used for it the typical constructive elements of the Modernisme (Catalan Art Nouveau) that include ceramics, stone, and forged iron. Even though it was highly criticized by the city during construction due to its radical design that broke all the bylaws of the city, in 1906 the Barcelona City Council awarded it the recognition of being one of the three best buildings of the year.
The Episcopal Palace in Astorga is only one of three Gaudi buildings erected outside of his native Catalonia.
A few shots of some of the locals encountered on a recent trip to the Caribbean.
I was working the back water of Saint Maarten when this delightful creature popped out of the grass and nearly frightened me to death!!
“Daniel is leaving tonight on a plane”
I can see the red tail-lights heading off for SPAIN!”
“They say Spain is pretty, though I’ve never been”
“Daniel says it’s the best place, he’s ever seen!”
“Do you still feel the pain of scars that won’t heal?”
“Your eyes have died, but you see more than I”
“Daniel you’re a star, in the face of the sky!!”
“Oh and I can see Daniel waving goodbye!”
“God it looks like Daniel, ….. must be the clouds in my eyes!”
Some odd shots from my recent London visit.
Frenetic construction activity near the Olympic Park as builders try to cope with housing demand.
Not much left of the old East End, but a few relics such as this still remain.
Jack the Ripper’s favourite pub! Stalked several of his victims from these premises.
Right across from the Liverpool Street station. One of my favourites back in the day when it proudly really lived up to its name as the dirtiest pub in London. Now terribly up market and yuppified.