Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pine Creek Pass snow hike

During the week or so we've been back in Teton Valley, Idaho, it has snowed a lot. And then the last two or three days it started melting. Yesterday (Saturday) was beautiful and sunny.

I took the kids on a short hour-and-a-half trip to hike on the snow north of the top of Pine Creek Pass. We started out walking on snowmobile tracks and when we reached the end of those, we headed out on virgin snow. Mostly the snow was firm enough that we only sunk in a little, with a few exceptions.

We saw lots of snow fleas in some areas, and since it's always windy up there, some areas were windblown and rocks and scrub showed through, while in other areas there were deep drifts.

We started at elevation 6726 feet (2050 m) and topped out at 7316 feet (2230 m). It was bright and beautiful and even though we weren't out that long we got slightly sunburned thanks to the sun reflecting off the snow!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Кърджали, България / Kardzhali, Bulgaria

About a month ago I went on a day trip with my friend Иван Чакаров (Ivan Chakarov) to the south-central Bulgarian city Кърджали (Kardzhali), which is about a 95 km bus ride from Plovdiv and which lies about 60 km north of the border with Greece.

I was on a quest to find another Bulgarian friend I knew from my mission in Germany who I'd lost contact with. (Keeping in touch with people who moved around in the pre-Internet era was not easy!) This friend had long lived in Kardzhali and said it was a beautiful place he planned to go back to. The chance we would find him 22 years later was small, but it was worth a try and was a good reason to go see a different part of Bulgaria in the Rhodope mountains.

We came close to finding him. We found his old apartment and people who knew him, and he supposedly still lives in Kardzhali. But after much trying, we were not able to find him. The journey was interesting and mostly fun, and we got to see the river, city, suburbs, memorials, forest, park, cemetery, and a neighboring village (Сипей) with cows and goats. And we met some helpful and friendly people along the way.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Plovdiv Bogoroditsa church bells ringing

Here I happened to be walking by as evening began and the bells were ringing at the Church of the Holy Mother of God in Plovdiv, Bulgaria (църква Света Богородица, Пловдив, България):

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Husův sbor / Hus' house, Vinohrady, Prague

Near the end of our stay in Prague I came across this interesting Hussite columbarium in the Vinohrady area of Prague. I wasn't familiar with the term columbarium, which is an indoor graveyard of sorts for cremated remains. The Hus' House (Vinohrady) Wikipedia page and Prague city website page about it have interesting history to read.

First let's look at the outside:

The plaque below reads:

V květové revoluci 1945, kdy budova Čs. rozhlasu byla poškozena, vysílal pražský rozhlas z budovy zdejšího husova sboru ve dnech 7.-9. května zprávy o postupu spojeneckých armád, volání o pomoc bojující Praze.

Památník znázorňuje génia povstání s plamenným mečem revoluce.

Z vděčnosti Bohu a na věčnou paměť připomíná náboženská obec CČSH (Církev československá husitská) zde v Praze-Vinohradech.

Which Google Translate plus some manual corrections gives as:

In the May revolution of 1945, when the Czechoslovak Radio building had been damaged, Prague radio broadcast from the building of the local Hussite Church on 7th-9th May the message of the Allied armies, a cry for help of struggling Prague.

The memorial shows the genius of the rebellion with a flaming sword of revolution.

In gratitude to God and the eternal memory recalls the religious community of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church here in Prague-Vinohrady.

It is dedicated "to those who have gone before" (Těm, kteří nas předešli):

Some of my interior photos are of pretty low quality, taken by cell phone in dim lighting. But it's a really cool place:

Erin went by later to see it with the kids and they were able to see the church too. Here is the chapel:

Here is a short video of the columbarium done by Prague city; the title translates as Largest columbarium in Czechia:

And there is a nice user-controllable panoramic view from the above the church and columbarium here:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Plovdiv Ethnographic Museum

The Plovdiv Regional Ethnographic Museum is really close to us. Like it takes less than five minutes to walk there. So I don't know why it took us so long to go, but we finally did, and it was cool.

First, the kids had fun in the courtyard.

This is a huge, beautiful painting in the very large entry area.

From the second story windows looking out into the front courtyard.

I took tons of pictures of traditional costumes. They are so colorful and varied and have beautiful hand-knit socks and intricate scarves and sashes and all kinds of fancy braiding. I'll spare you all of my pictures of that stuff, though. Here's just one.

I think this is a typical rich person's Revival-era room.

Mira with some awesome rugs.

The kids exhausted after exploring the whole place. (Not really that exhausted. They just liked those wide window seats.)

From the front courtyard of the museum, which is a house that was built in 1847 for a wealthy merchant. The tower is the bell tower of Св. Св. Константин и Елена (Saints Konstantin and Elena) church.

Saint Konstantin is none other than Constantine the Great, who was the Roman Emperor who converted to Christianity. It still blows my mind that he was declared Emperor in York, England. At about the same time that he was building a cathedral in York, he was also building a cathedral in Sofia, which we saw when we visited. Only the foundations are left, but both sites have cathedrals there now -- York Minster and Sv. Sofia -- and have preserved the foundations under the newer cathedrals. Saint Elena (or Helena) was his mother. They are both saints in the Orthodox Church.

More graffiti

There's a lot of really cool street art in this pedestrian underpass in Plovdiv, but unfortunately, I don't have pictures of much of it.

Somewhere in Plovdiv.

This is a swimming pool on top of Mladezhki Halm, the tallest hill in Plovdiv.

Somewhere else in Plovdiv.

Somewhere in Sofia.

This is at the bottom of a memorial built for Buglaria's 1300th birthday, which Seth blogged about here (at the very end of the post).

Near the ancient aqueducts in Plovdiv.

A couple by Plovdiv's graffiti artist Билко (Bilko). Jon mentioned him here and included a link to an article about him, which is in Bulgarian, but Google Translate can help with that.