Thursday, June 28, 2012

Huerto del Cura - Elche, Spain

On the way back from the beach in Alicante we stopped in the town of Elche. It is famous for 2 things. The number of plam trees in the city and the number of shoe factories.

The city of Elche has between 200.000 and 300,000 palm trees from all over the world.

This is a park called the Huerto del Cura. It is a small walled park in the center of the city.

Huerto apparently means small plot of land for growing palms and Cura is an honorific for a pastor or chaplain. The Chaplain, Jose Castano Sanchez owned the park until 1918.

I note that gives Garden of Healing in response to Huerto del Cura.

This is an Imperial Palm in the center of the park. This type of palm is known to sprout new branches from the roots. This one sprouted from a few feet up the trunk so a support mechanism has been built.

This tree is estimated to be about 165 years old.

This is a statue of the King Jaime I who liberated Elche from Arab rule in the 1265.

Someone has a sense of humor (or vandalism depending on your point of view). Click to enlarge and check out his out stretched hand.

I addition to the palms there is quite a selection of cacti. To tell you the truth I found them more interesting than the palms.

This looks to be a baby barrel cactus.

This is an older one.

I have no idea how long it takes for them to get this big.

This is a Agave Ferox.

Some of the cacti get very big.

This one reminded me of an alien creature.

What do you think?

This duck was hanging out in the pond near the cactus area.

Some flowers gracing the place, also.

These things are really tall. I imagine part of that is that they are growing in a protected area and are sheltered somewhat from the wind, etc.

Not sure what this is going to grow up to be but it is pretty small - about 12 inches tall.

I guess those are thorns although they look more like hair.

Here is another perspective on the cacti and some of the palms. Many of the palms are date palms and you can buy dates there.

The brochure says than palms aren't really a tree but rather herbaceous plants that can live for 200 to 300 years. The fibrous trunk allows the tree to bend rather than break in strong winds.

The palm trees in the Elche area are believed to date back to the Phoenician area about 2500 to 3000 years ago. Dates are likely to have been part of the Phoenician diet during long voyages.

I'm not sure what these cactus like plants are in the background.

This is an Yucca Elephantipes. I'm thinking that might be because the bottom of the trunk looks a little like an elephant's foot.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Beaches at Alicante, Spain

On Sunday, 2 colleagues and I took a drive to Alicante to see the Mediterranean. Alicante is a fairly big city right on the sea. This shot is from an area a little north of Alicante proper.

Apparently going to the beach is a popular Sunday afternoon past time. In Spain, it seems that most of the stores are closed on Sunday and it is very quiet downtown.

This beach is right near downtown Alicante. These apartment buildings and the road are jammed between the mountain and the sea.

Not so busy here although there were a lot of families having a picnic on the beach. A lot of them looked like they had come for the day.

These two ladies are were just down the beach from the shot above.

Click to enlarge.

Here is a really attentive boyfriend. He seems really concerned that his girl friend has enough suntan lotion on and he making sure she is completely covered.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lorca Castle

Three of my colleagues and I drove over to Lorca, Spain to visit the medieval castle there. We sort of got distracted from the GPS instructions by a sign pointing toward the castle instead of driving to the Tourist Center. We drove through this section of town (notice the nice straight roads) and then into an increasingly steep and narrow road with hairpin turns through this neighborhood.

After not seeing a sign for the castle for about 20 twists and turns we were loosing confidence. We pulled into a church parking area to evaluate our options. There weren't that many since it was a one-way road - we could only go up but we weren't sure if it was taking us to the castle. I took the opportunity to take this picture. About this time a police car shows up. Neither cop could speak English but they told us that indeed the road went to the castle. They left and we got back in the car. A few minutes later the cops return and motion us to follow them. Hmmm. Is this good or bad. Turns out it was good. A police escort right to the parking lot.

Parking lot at Lorca Castle

Here we are in the parking lot as we were leaving. When we arrived we were the only car in the lot except for the parking attendant.

Two other families arrived after us.

Alfonsina tower at Lorca castle in Lorca, Spain
I'm not sure when their busy time or busy season is. I guess August when many Europeans take vacation.

The towers are currently closed to visitors because of the earthquake last year. Maybe that is the reason there where so few people there. You can see 30% of the crowd walking up the sidewalk in this picture.

Alfonsina Tower at Lorca Castle

This is the Alfonsina tower near the entrance to the inner fortress.

The is the Espolon tower at the other end of the castle.

The castle was built in various stages form the 9th to the 15th century.

It was originally built and occupied by Muslims during the time that they controlled the area. The castle was conquered by Crown Prince Alfonso X in 1244. For 250 years, the castle stood on the frontier between the Muslim state of Granada (home of Alhambra) and the Christian areas to the east.
picture of herbs drying at Lorca Castle

This is sage drying at a little display set up to reflect some of the daily life in the castle.

On closer inspection that may be rosemary or thyme. I'm pretty sure it isn't parsley. Margot will correct me, I'm sure.

Notice anything unusual hanging on the line? I don't know what the story is with that. There wasn't a guide around to explain it.

picture of a cannon at Lorca castle

In the 19th century the castle was reconfigured during the War of Spanish Independence and cannons were added.

Learn more here ---> Wikipedia
picture of trebuchet at Lorca castle

This is a replica of a catapult used during the seige of Lorca.
picture of Spanish Armor

An example of Spanish armor.
picture of the view of Lorca from the castle

A view of Lorca from the castle.

Here are a few shots of some of the flora at the castle. I'm not sure what this is. If you click to enlarge it sort of looks like sunflower seeds but the plant shape isn't correct.

Any ideas?
Orange tree at Lorca castle

This is an orange tree. I don't know if I have mentioned it before but there is a tremendous amount of citrus and melons grown in this area.
a picture of pomegranate blossom and fruit at Lorca castle

This is a pomegranate flower and developing fruit.

Finally a shot of the four of us at the castle. From left to right Zhang Yong, Jia Wei, George Ye, and me.

George and I are standing on a lower step.

We represent 40% of the visitors that had arrived by 2:00 PM. Quite a change from the hoards of visitors at Alhambra in April. Of course, Alhambra is a much more interesting place to visit.

Murcia, Spain - Santuario de La Fuensanta, Again

Sanctuary of the Virgin of la Fuensanta at Murcia, Spain

I posted some pictures from Santuario de La Fuensanta a couple of months ago. I took a drive out to the church after work a couple of days this week and tried to get a few shots from different perspectives.

This shot is actually similar to one from last month put I thought the light was very nice in this one.

Click any picture to enlarge it.

This is a little niche that I presume at one time or on special occasions receives a statue of the Virgin Mary.

The air was pretty clear this day. This is a shot of the suburbs of Murcia looking east.

picture of the convent and Sanctuary of the Virgin of la Fuensanta

A wider shot similar to the one above.

Here a few shots from below the church.

I presume that the winding path leading up to the church has a series of spiritually significant stops. Perhaps a sort of stations of the cross?

Here is a more specific view of part of the path.

This fountain had water going into it but the pool was empty.

Click to enlarge.

Can anyone decipher the Roman numeral date?

Up above the church is a parc ecologic - I'm assuming that is a nature park. Anyway the road winds way up the mountain and along for some distance.

Beautiful views of the valley and interesting rock formations.

Link to April Pictures

Flag Counters - I've picked up visitors from 4 more countries recently - Cyprus, Bangladesh, South Africa and Sri Lanka. Still missing 5 states - North Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico and Vermont -although I did add a visitor from Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Evansville Freedom Festival Hadi ShrinersFest Air Show

Hadi Shriners Air Show flag display

On Saturday, June 9, before the bicycle race I went down to the Evansville river front to see the air.

This is the best shot of the opening act. The flag was going west and the planes east. I was just a moment late on the shutter.

picture of Gary Ward Aerobatics show at the Evansville Freedom Festival

The next couple of shots are of a guy named Gary Ward flying an MX2.

The MX2 is a carbon fiber structure with a 350 HP motor. I guess the carbon fiber is what keeps the wings on when it does things planes aren't supposed to do.

Here is in a flat spiral spin basically falling out of the sky upside down.

I used a 120-400 mm lens on a gimbal head to take the pictures. Sort of like taking pictures of birds in flight.

a close up picture of Gary Ward Aerobatics show at the Evansville Freedom Festival

Here is a closer look. I don't see how he keeps is stomach under control much less keeps track of where he is and which way is up and which way is down.

He has a nice website here -->  Gary Ward Aerobatics

Click any of the pictures to enlarge them.
picture of Gary Ward Aerobatics show at the Evansville Freedom Festival flying just above the river

These guys fly really low and fast.

picture of Gary Ward Aerobatics show at the Evansville Freedom Festival flying sideways
picture of Sky Combat Ace plane at the Evansville Freedom Festival flying just above the water

Here he is flying sort of sideways.

These next couple of shots are of a plane associated with SCA or Sky Combat Ace. If you have some serious money you can go up and participate in a simulated dog fight.

You know they are low when you can see the reflection on the water.
picture of Sky Combat Ace plane

They are based in Las Vegas. Next time you hit it big out there you should check it out.

The planes can pull up to 8 Gs. That is a lot.

Here is a link -->  Sky Combat Ace

I can't figure out what the devices on the end of the wings are.

picture of Matt Younkin Air Show at the Evansville Freedom Festival

This is twin Beech 18 piloted by Matt Younkin.This is basically a cargo aircraft but he can sure fly it.

I don't know if it is true but it seemed a little slower than the others but that might be just because it is bigger. It is certainly noisier.
another picture of Matt Younkin in Beech 18 at the Evansville Freedom Festival

He does rolls and loops in this thing.

It will be of some interest to a few family members that he is based in Siloam Springs, AR.

Here is a link to his website. -- >  Younkin Air
picture of Jim Weber in MXS at the Evansville Freedom Festival

This is another carbon fiber composite aircraft. It is an MXS. I wonder if it is a sister of the MX2 earlier?

The pilot is Jim Weber.
picture of Jim Weber in MXS at the Evansville Freedom Festival flying just above the river

He is right down on the river. There were a few boats on the shore and a lot more in the middle of the river watching the show. Barge traffic was halted.

Here's a link. --->  Tim Weber Air Shows
picture of Team RV at the Evansville Freedom Festival flying in close formation

This is a Team RV coming is for the start of their multi-plane show.

The website says there are 12 but I only counted 11. I guess someone didn't make the trip.
picture of Jerry Morris, Ron Schreck, and Mike Stewart from Team RV at the Evansville Freedom Festival flying in close formation

These planes are all homemade. Most by the person flying it.

I don't recognize the left-hand plane from the website but the others are Jerry Morris, Ron Schreck, and Mike Stewart.
picture of Mike Stewart and Jerry Morris from Team RV at the Evansville Freedom Festival flying in close formation

A couple more of the planes.

According to the web site the pilots of these 2 planes are Mike Stewart and Jerry Morris.

Here are 6 of them flying in close formation.
picture of all eleven planes from Team RV at the Evansville Freedom Festival flying in close formation

All eleven.

Here is a link to their website. -- >  Team RV
picture of Danny Kight, Tad Sargent, Greg Reese and James Clark from Team RV at the Evansville Freedom Festival flying in close formation

Here are Danny Kight, Tad Sargent, Greg Reese and James Clark.

They are really close to each other.

I demoted the Flag Counter to a lower position on the right-hand side of the blog. Seem to be stuck at 66 countries. The newest addition was Austria about a week ago.

Still missing 5 states - North Dakota, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico and Vermont. If you know someone there please send them a link to the blog. Thanks.

Here are links to a couple of recent postings - the bicycle race and the car show.
River City Bicycle Classic Race
Evansville Hadi Shriners Car Show