869 – River Deep Mountain High II

This gets really painful now. My last real post was for Friday and today it’s already Tuesday evening. On the other hand, Ted Byrne just congratulated me for the delay. He says it makes me human. Oh well 🙂

It took me so long, because I am a tad short of time, that’s one thing, and the other is, that I wanted to tell a story.

Have you ever been bucked off by a mountain? Well, I have on Saturday, but let me tell the whole thing chronologically.

Just as I left the house, I saw two contrails crossing. I took some quick snaps and at a lesser day I would have been satisfied. Not on Saturday though. We had wonderful sunny weather in Carinthia, I wanted to make a longer trip, and we decided to go down to Slovenia.

When we arrived there, it turned out to be more hazy than at home, but the signs of Spring approaching were everywhere, and most of all it was warm with almost no snow. It must have had something about 15 centigrades, I guess. I even saw the first flowers of this year.

The contrail image was taken with the Nikon 24/2.8, but I soon turned to the zooms. It’s much more convenient and sometimes you really need more reach. An example is this image of a rural church standing in a field. I liked the juxtaposition with the power lines, and 300mm at f13 was just right.

The plan was to leave the highway at Kranj, head for Škofja Loka and then cross over to Italy at Nova Gorica. I have drawn a map in Google Maps of what became the final route. I hope you appreciate it, because it took me an insane amount of time to make it 🙂

Actually, drawing routes on maps in Google Maps is not hard at all if you know how to do it. First of all, you have to be logged in with your Google Account. I know that some people are very sensitive to Google’s omnipresence, so I’d like to mention that you may want to log out after the map is finished. If you don’t do so, all your subsequent Google searches will be done on behalf of your account.

On the other hand, if you don’t trust Google, you have to use some anonymizing proxy anyway, because your IP address is as good as an account for the purpose of tracking your activities. I am a GMail and Google Reader user, and although I don’t necessarily trust Google more than any other company, I am always logged in.

When you are logged in, you see a link “My Maps”, and there you can edit your own maps, add markers and draw lines, just as I did.

Now, the trick in drawing routes is, to always begin with a straight line between start and finish. Click once for the start, double-click for the finish. This line will have a handle at each end and one exactly in the middle. Next you drag the middle handle to a point on the map where you want to have it, preferably in the middle. Oops, two new handles have appeared, one in each half of the line, each of them in the middle of the straight segment. You can repeat that as often as you need: grab the middle handle and pull it to its proper place. Each time two new handles appear, one to each side of the point that you have just moved. It’s really easy, actually much easier to do than to describe. Just give it a try.

The image with the bridges and the image of the castle were made in Škofja Loka, a beautiful little town north-west of Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana. This is a wonderfully picturesque place and I am sure to return sometime this year for a more thorough visit.

Did I promise an adventure story? Ooops, yes, I did. Well, here’s the adventure. If you look at the map, you see a marker in the south, labeled “Here we gave up“. When you zoom in, you see that we tried to take a shortcut between Dolenja Trebuša and ?epovan, and that we gave up.

Well, what you don’t see is, that this small and winding road crosses a mountain ridge, that it is a narrow dirt road without guard rails, hardly wide enough that two cars can pass each other, and most importantly, you don’t see that for long stretches this road is literally hewn into a sheer cliff, steeply rising to the right and falling 50, 100 or 200 meters to the left.

The road is closed in winter, but, hey, this is no winter any more, is it? In truly adventurous spirit we tried it. After all, what can happen? Now, when after some time the first snow and ice appeared, and when I had to zig-zag to avoid the fallen rocks on the road, I began to change my mind.

I finally gave up when I reached a place where I could turn the car. I happily admit that I was maybe not exactly in panic, but very far from feeling even remotely safe. The problem was, that I had no idea how far from the ridge we were. From what we saw, it could have been only another 50 meters up, but 200 or more were equally likely. Today, from the satellite map, I know that we had almost made it, but from where we stood, there was no chance to tell.

In a situation like this, all kinds of thoughts come up: What if there is snow across the road? What if there are so many and so big rocks on the road that I can’t drive through or around? What if I have to drive hundreds of meters backwards? Is it stupid to turn around or is it folly to not to, as long as you can?

It was a little ironic that just a minute or two after we had turned around, another car came up the road. It was someone from the region, thus the road was obviously safe. I felt a little stupid, but didn’t turn around again to follow him. Even if I had wanted to, I would not have been able to for at least a kilometer. Somehow grudgingly, but not really unhappy, I drove back down to Dolenja Trebuša. I will try the road one more time in summer, but this time I simply had enough.

Actually I am not really sure where I took this image. In any case it was before our little adventure. I suppose it must have been in the vicinity of Cerkno, one of Slovenia’s winter sports centers.

The final image was taken on our way back, north of Bovec. We had decided to skip Nova Gorica and to drive directly to the north, to cross the border to Italy slightly south of Tarvisio, and once there you are almost in Austria. Night had fallen, and in order to avoid the tripod, I used the Nikon 10.5mm fisheye wide open at f2.8. The image was taken at 1/4s at ISO 640. Well, this definitely is dark 🙂

The Image of the Day has been taken a little bit back down south, most likely not much north of Kobarid. I have used the Sigma 10-20mm. The contrast between the dark forest and the mountains reflecting the last rays of the sun was extreme. You can’t really see it in the image, but I was standing in front of an abyss that dropped down maybe about 100 meters. The river in the valley is called So?a, and for readers of Hemingway’s “A Farewell To Arms” it may be better known under its italian name Isonzo.

The novel plays further downriver, but this valley was the stage for some of the most fierce battles of WWI.

You may find the color of the water slightly exaggerated, but it’s actually quite correct. This river’s color is such an impossible cyan, it’s hard to believe even when you are there. I don’t know the exact reason for this extreme color, but it must be connected to some minerals in the water.

Hey, that’s it. The Song of the Day is again “River Deep, Mountain High“, but this time it’s the original by Tina Turner. Hmm … when last time I called the Deep Purple version the absolutely best version ever, I must admit that I had not heard Tina Turner in a long time. In fact, I did not have a single Tina Turner record in my collection. I have somewhat remedied that since, by at least putting her “Platinum Collection” into my Amazon shopping basket.

It’s hard to recommend a single version of this song, thus I may point you to an early version, most likely the classic Phil Spector production, to a recent version with orchestra from French television, and finally to a version that she performed with an all-star band recorded live in 1989 at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You may spot Little Richard, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon. The image quality is so bad, I could not recognize anybody else, but the performance is top notch. Or maybe 1996 live in Amsterdam? There are countless fantastic performances on YouTube, you could really get lost. Fact is, I did, and that’s another reason why you had to wait so long 🙂

7 thoughts on “869 – River Deep Mountain High II”

  1. these images are simply spectacular!! Every one is awe-inspiring. They were worth any and all risks it took to get them. I plan to revisit these many times. Whenever I need inspiration ;D


  2. Wow, that was quite a day, and very productive for images. I also enjoyed the map and narrative of the trip. Thanks for doing all that.

  3. That cyan/green color of the stream looks quite familiar. I’ve seen very similar in the coal country of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, so I suspect you are right about mineral content in the surrounding rock or the watershed.

  4. Okay… so you delayed. But could you just come back with one very good image? Nooooooooo! Instead you had to show off. Had to dump a truckload of really intriguing images all into one one post. Grumble..

    Okay… okay… congrats. Nice going… Well done… grumble…

  5. A one-day training session for SoFoBoMo 2009? 😉

    All in all it sounds like a great day, with some hmm.. roadblocks. Photographically speaking: definately a wonderful, almost “springy” selection. Thanks for sharing…!

  6. Carl, I’ve been told it’s the limestone. And really, the southern alps are all limestone and the rivers and lakes tend to be very cyan/blue around here, but still, this river beats them all.

    Thomas, not really a training session, but most likely my SoFoBoMo will be a one-day session again 🙂

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