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Stars Over Brüschstockhügel

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Star Gazing Selfie from Mount Brüschstockhügel

View over Lake Wägitalersee. This outing was to be my first serious attempt at photographing the Milky Way. My youngest daughter and I drove from our home to nearby Mount Brüschstockhügel (1488m) in Canton Schwyz. We hiked up to the peak and settled into camp as low thin clouds slowly started to contaminate the previously crystal clear Swiss mountain sky. So ended my first quest. No worries, it was great practice, and pics would have simply been an added bonus anyway to ‘hangin and camping in the mountains with one of your kids!

 

 

Falls on the Tobelweb

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Beautiful series of falls on the nearby Tobelweg that leads from my ‘hood down to Küsnacht on Lake Zürich.  This is from one of my first outings with the new Sony A7R II last winter.  Still trying to get accustomed to the camera and the huge jump in technology since my last camera.

Swiss Winter Solitude & New Camera!

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Swiss Winter Solitude on the Wanderwegs

Finally! Like any self-respecting photographer (not) worth their weight in salt, I am about a year behind in posting my photographs. Today, however, marks a special day for me. I have finally caught up to the point where I post my FIRST PHOTO from my new camera (new Xmas 2016), a Sony A7R II. Today I officially retire postings from my Nikon D90 camera, a 12.3 MP camera that was my first DSLR camera, a trusty travel companion throughout Europe for the last 7 years, and a wonderful introduction into the world of digital imaging.

This is a shot taken last winter on the Glarnerweisweg, one of the many wanderwegs (trails) immediately behind my home. The Swiss are passionate about the outdoors and take their hiking seriously. Not only are there more than 62,400 km (38,800 mi) of marked hiking trails in this small country (roughly the size of West Virginia), but it seems that no matter where you are in any Swiss city or suburb, you are ALWAYS only a stones throw away from beautiful trails and open space.

 

 

Obergefell v. Hodges

On April 28, 2015, the US Supreme Court heard arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges over whether gay marriage was guaranteed by the Constitution, and whether or not gay marriages legalized in other states must be recognized in states which ban the practice. The Court subsequently ruled that gay marriage is a constitutional right, making it legal in all 50 states, and that all existing bans are invalid. Here are just a few of the demonstrators who rallied in front of the Supreme Court as it heard these historic argument.

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Dante’s Gate

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Dante’s Gate: Leper Entrance to Spinalonga Fortress.

 

Spinalonga was one of the last active leper colonies in Europe. There were two entrances through the massive stone walls of the Venetian fortress: one main gate, and one tiny dark tunnel of an entrance on the side of the island that was not much higher than head height. This was the lepers’ entrance, known as “Dante’s Gate”.  Due to the slow curve in the entrance path, peering into the tunnel caused daylight to close into darkness, giving no clue as to what horrors lie ahead. What the arriving lepers soon found on the other side was food, water, shelter, and medical attention.

The fortunes of the lepers on the island took a turn for the better in the 1930’s when law student Epameinondas Remoundakis arrived and pressed the Cretes for improvements to the inhuman living conditions.  Soon, the “houses of Spinalonga were whitewashed after many years of decay, the road around the island was opened, an outdoor cleaning service was set up, a theatre and cinema were built, and classical music was heard from the loudspeakers in the street. People fell in love and were married on Spinalonga. They had children, some of whom grew up with them without ever catching the disease. They looked after one another, did any work they could to improve their lives, ran their own kafeneion and barber shop, and had their own church of St Panteleimon, with a brave priest who, though not a leper himself, volunteered to spend his life among the exiles. Life on the Leper Island began to be more like that they had left behind when they had been forced to leave their homes and move to Spinalonga”.

 

 

 

The Leper Colony of Spinalonga

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Spialonga (Kalydon) is a Greek island in the Gulf of Elounda in north-eastern Crete.  The island has a long and turbulent history given its strategic location protecting the waters around the ancient city of Olous (Elounda), one of the most important towns on Crete between 3000-900 BC. In the 16th century the Venetians built the first bastion-type fortress on Spinalonga to protect the entranceway of the port of Olous. The fortress was key in helping the Venetians defend against the attacks of the Turks led by Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha, also know as the pirate Barbarossa. The island later fell to the Ottoman Turks, who held the island until 1903, after Crete won its independence

In  1903 a leper colony was established on the island. Cretans with leprosy were then rounded up from the caves where they had been forced to take refuge and sent to Spinalonga, where they received medical care, food, and shelter.  The leper colony was maintained for approximately 50 years, until soon after a cure for leprosy was discovered  in 1948 . The last of the lepers left the island in 1957. Approximately 400 people inhabited the colony during its era as a leper colony.

 

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