Ashland Trails

One of our favorite parts about this new town?

This is only 10 minutes from the house.

Ashland Trails

OK, 10 minutes by car.

More like 30 minutes by bike, since this spot is about 800′ above the town center.  But only four miles as the crow flies.

I’m looking forward to racing here, since they have both running and biking races up the mountain this summer.

Until then, these trails sure wipe out Skinny!

Quite a nice place…

…to wake up in.

Goddess and I were on the road this week.  A wide loop through Bavaria, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.  A route filled with landscapes that we love.

Plus this new one, which Goddess had never visited.

And acknowledged that it is not a bad place in which to wake up.

Menaggio Morning
Menaggio Morning

We even discussed the feasibility of my staying there while she drove up to Germany to “rescue” Skinny, our greyhound, while I looked for a place to live.

Never mind the fact that we would have to live like paupers here.

But it was still an interesting exercise.

That is the view of Lago Como (Lake Como), Italy, looking southward on the western shores from Menaggio.

It was a glorious morning, clear and +5C.  The roads were full of cyclists and runners, the shoreline full of fishermen, the cafés filling with patrons as they got ready for church.

Our kind of place.

Especially considering that some four hours later, we were exiting the north end of the Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland, where it was snowing at a rate of 4 inches per hour (10cm/hr) and visibility at best was 100 meters.

Although we could adjust there just fine.


Nestled nicely on the drive between here and here.

I’ve watched this stack for years, often driving past and wondering about shooting it.  There have been many, many days where the lighting, the wind and the clouds were perfect.

This wasn’t quite one of those days, but I did have my gear with me and plenty of time to stop.


The wind was a very fresh northerly.  I parked the car facing into the wind, which let me lift the back hatch and use the whole car as a wind block.  Very necessary during this 30 second exposure.

And while standing out there, it got me to thinking.  Here I am in Germany, taking pictures of industrial sites and no one so much as approached.  Much different than the land of the free and the home of the brave, where such activity is now considered a terrorist activity.

Have any of you ever been approached?  How did you handle it?

For those of you in the US, if you aren’t aware, here are your rights.  For those of you in the UK, here are yours.

Death Pipes

Another weekend of racing here.

Three weeks ago it was Formula 1.

Last week it was at the velodrome.

This week, we’re back at the local track for some drag racing.  Everything from garage built, street legal cars to top fuel dragsters; from sidecar motorcycles to jet-propelled motorcycles.

Needless to say, it’s loud.

And while it’s fun, for me the best part is that the entire arena is open.  That means we can walk down into the paddock amongst all the individual cars, walk right up to them and watch the crews tear down and rebuild the cars between races.

And like every other European event, we’re allowed to bring in bags and other items.  For me, that meant my full camera bag.  For others, it meant small kegs of beer or packs of sandwiches.

Good luck trying that in the States.

While I’m not necessarily a “car guy”, I love art.  And oftentimes cars are works of art, whether it be the lines in the body style or their paint jobs.

This one, named “Grid Girl”, was chock full of both.

Death Pipes

With a name like “Grid Girl” on paint scheme like this, you’d think that there would be a splash of femininity.

There was.  And it was that touch that really grabbed me.

Grid Girl

And there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.

Wet Race

The nice thing about a Formula 1 race weekend is that while the F1 drivers  may only get 1-2 hours of practice or qualification each day leading up to the main event, there are other events to enjoy.

Aside from the F3 (minor league) races, there was also the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup series.  So we got to watch overpowered Porsches race each other.

In the wet.

Wet Race

Take that, NASCAR.


With Hockenheim Ring just a few minutes walk from the house, we can always hear the cars and motorcycles running.  But it’s not obnoxious.

Actually kind of neat.

Every two years, they hold a Formula 1 race here.  We tried to go in 2010, but it didn’t work out.

There were other things going on this year, so we didn’t plan on making it this year either.  But luck had it that we were in town this weekend.  So we walked over this morning, hoping to just get in for the day, but managed to score two seats for the entire weekend.

Another item to cross off the list.

Today was just a practice day, with tomorrow being practice, then qualifying for Sunday’s race.

As has been the constant story this summer, it’s actually “Julember”, more November than July (thanks Michael).  So we took our jumpers and rain gear.  Which we needed.  Unlike NASCAR, these guys will run in the rain.

And can turn right.

With perfect timing, the rain started just before the afternoon practice session.  There was some hand-wringing as the teams tried to balance the risk exposure to the experience gained.  So for the first 10 minutes, nothing.  Then they got out there and started throwing the cars around the track.  It was amazing to see in person.

Our seats are just after the Mobel 1 curve on the track, which means that we face Sachskurve.  The combination of the two curves means that we’re facing an extremely scrunched S-curve.  So the drivers come flying into the Mobel 1 curve to our left, accelerate into the Sachs portion of the track, approach a broad hairpin, then dive into Sachscurve before sweeping in front of the grandstands.  An awesome spot, since we can see the cars actually cross directly in front of us three times every lap.

If you click on the link for Sachskurve (above), immediately at the start of the video you can see the stands that we’re sitting in, then see how Kimi Räikkönen works through the curves.

So really, we’re in an optimal spot to see the action.  Although we had missed it during today’s session, Michael Schumacher over corrected coming out of the Mobel 1 curve and hit the wall directly in front of where our seats are.  But we were able to see a similar chain of events play out later in the day as the GP3 drivers got in their practice sessions.

Here’s Brazilian Fabiano Machado taking advantage of a much drier track than the F1 drivers had to work with.


It’s quite an interesting experience.  We can’t see 85% of the track, but thanks to the big screen projections, we can follow the entire race, then hear, then see the cars as they come screaming into Mobel 1 curve.  Today, in the rain, the fastest speed I saw displayed on the screen was 285kph (177mph).

The track should be drier in the coming days, so those speeds will go up.

And we’re looking forward to it!