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Last Weekend Alone

May 26-28
Written May 27-28
Dear Friends and Family,

This is my last weekend on Marianne's trip to California.  I have never particularly liked time without her, so I am definitely looking forward to picking her up Monday afternoon.  Meanwhile though, I do have a weekend to occupy and hopefully I will get some of this stuff up on "the net" so she can look in SFO, IAD, and FRA, before she makes it to NUE.

SATURDAY, up early in Pommersfelden

My original theory had been to make it to an interesting place for morning light, so photos look good.  I had chosen Nuremberg, about a half-hour away, but I just could not be inspired to look in a "strange"place so early in the morning.  (Dawn was at 5:30 am, making good picture time from 5:15 to about 6:30.)  Instead, I just hung around home.

First, I tried to get a spectacular dawn picture of our neighbor, the White Stone Palace.  Nah, not very good.  Then I turned a bit and tried a picture of sunrise in the village.  OK, but marginally so.  Next, I drove into town for a village scene.  At least reflections are always OK.  Finally, I drove across the valley to shoot our farm community from the other side and get more practice with panoramas, but the result again was not spectacular.

Never mind, you get to see them all.

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I did manage to make a traditional stop at Burkard's Bakery, always a worthwhile Saturday tradition.  Not a low-carb breakfast.  From there, it was a quick stop at the cleaners and then down to the big city of Nuremberg.  Big for us Pommersfeldians anyway.

SATURDAY, exotic safari

My goal was the Nuremberg Zoo.  I'd heard it was special, and my weekend dance card had plenty of space, so I thought I'd try my hand at animal shots.  At least it would use time and it is a lot cheaper than airfare to Namibia.  In fact, it turned out great.

d120526_01_ionGuard.jpgThe Nuremberg Zoo (Tiergarten N├╝rnberg in German) celebrates it's 100-year anniversary this year. It was originally installed in the quarry that produced the red sandstone of the city walls and of many of the old buildings in the 18th Century and before.  The 20th Century history had both times of great national pride in the 30's and serious destruction in the war of the 40's.  Sixty years later, it is thriving, with a wonderful combination of old tree-lined paths and spacious animal zones set in the original quarry  faces.   Plenty of fenced fields and even dolphin pools add the modern-zoo touch, but still, the old stone  grottoes  provided the historical perspective.  I suspect the animal population is down from "the good old days",  because all the residents seemed to have large spaces, certainly by old-zoo standards.

I wandered for almost four hours, including a pleasant lunch at the Teirgartenrestaurant, a pleasant beer-garden setting.  I was one of the few parts in the zoo without little kids, but I enjoyed their excitement.  I remember one little girl to whom all animals seemed to be either lions or horses or fish or birds.  She fit all the world's species into four buckets, and it made sense.  (I wasn't around when she would have come to the monkey and apes. That may have added a fifth species: big and little monkeys.)

Along the way, I took pictures of dozens of animals, trying to remember my last web-article training on animal photographs.  It said all animal pictures need to show eyes, preferably eyes looking right at you.  (True for people pictures too.)  I think the theory works, but actually getting semi-wild animals to look my way was purely a matter of luck.  I expect that, in the wild, the key needs to be patience, but in a zoo, there were always more animals just around the bend.

The picture highlight had to be the tiger lounging in the glass-walled lion house.  I swear the big cat posed, once she saw enough cameras pointed her way.   Here she and the rest of the horses, lions, fish, birds, and monkeys are, at least the ones I managed to photograph adequately.  In truth, there are many, many more.
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SUNDAY

This was just a quiet day for chores.  Making the house in order matters, with my partner coming back.  I don't make a great mess when she is gone, but the house does warrant some looking after.  And, there is always more garden cleaning!

The only excitement came when I was about to go a few-hundred meters/yards over to the Kellerhaus Kafe, for a lunch of coffee and cake.  Before I drove out of the driveway, it became clear our highway was closed, except for police cars and, especially, motor cycles.  I figured something was happening, so I grabbed the camera and went to an upstairs window to see what was up.  First there were more police vehicles, but the three leading bicycle riders  of the  International Bayern Rundfahrt (English: Tour of Bavaria) came zooming around the corner by our house; definitely serious riders.  In a minute or so, the crowd came, riders packed shoulder-to-shoulder, pouring past the house.  In a few seconds more, it was all over.

After that, it was back on the diet of cake and coffee, followed by a bar-b-que on the patio.  If only Bavarian weather were always this perfect.
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And now, I'm writing.  Hopefully, I'll get something done so my world traveler has some distractions in her hours of flight layovers.

MONDAY

Marianne wrote while I was sleeping.  It sounds like the flights have been OK so far, although a storm in the Washington, D.C. area did delay the cross-Atlantic flight.  I figure she is halfway by now, but the day will be long because she still has a three-hour layover in Frankfurt.

Now, on to breakfast and chores.

John



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