A New Purple Douglas Iris

In January I divided some purple Douglas iris plants, and yesterday I noticed the first bloom from the transplants. I had hoped for blooms this first spring. The purple flowers are more fragile than the white irises, but I admire the deep color and veins of the purple iris.

All eight transplants survived, showing that the purple irises are as hardy as the white irises. The Douglas irises (iris douglasiana) are California native plants, and they are in the shade of a coastal live oak. I used a normal lens (105 mm) with a short extension tube to get a larger photo of the flower.

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My First Camel Ride and the Sphinx

After seeing the pyramids and Khufu Ship, we went for a camel ride and saw the Sphinx. This was my time being close to camels, and I had the impression that they could be temperamental, so I was a bit apprehensive.

Getting on the camel and staying on the camel is tricky. You mount the camel when it’s sitting down, which is good. But you’re sitting on a saddle on top of the camel hump, so we still have to climb up to get on the saddle.

But then, the camel has to stand up. I forget which comes first, but the camel gets up with its front legs and hind legs separately, and the camel legs are long. So when the camel rises, its body is severely tilted, and you need to lean far forward and back to stay on the camel. From the photo, you can see that it’s a long way down if you fall.

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Cairo Citadel

We were surprised to learn that Egypt had been ruled by foreign powers for more than 2,000 years after the pharaohs. On a hill above Islamic Cairo, the Citadel had some buildings of these foreigner rulers:

  • The watchtower and other fortifications were built in the 12th century by the Arab Saladin, who took Jerusalem from the Crusaders in 1187.
  • The green dome in the center is the only mosque remaining from the Mamluks, former Turkish slaves who came to power in the 13th century.
  • In 1811, the Albanian Muhammad Ali invited hundreds of Mamluk leaders to a celebration for his son and slaughtered them, eliminating rivals for the control of Egypt. Mohammed Ali was aligned with the Ottoman Empire, and his Mosque of Mohammed Ali on the left is similar to Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia.

The Citadel and Islamic Cairo form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Founded in the 10th century, it (Cairo) became the new centre of the Islamic world, reaching its golden age in the 14th century.”

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Museum of Egyptian Antiquities

Interested in Egyptian antiquities, we started our Cairo visit at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. Shown above, the pool outside the museum has lotus and papyrus, symbols of Egypt. From a Metropolitan Museum of Art article,

Due to its prevalence in the Nile Delta, the papyrus was the heraldic plant of Lower (northern) Egypt, while the lily or lotus stood for Upper (southern) Egypt. When shown wound around the hieroglyph for “unite,” these two plants formed an emblem for the unification of the Two Lands of Egypt.

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Tips for Photos from a Helicopter

Kauai is beautiful, and a helicopter tour of Kauai was short and expensive, so I wanted to prepare for my first helicopter ride — selecting the helicopter tour, choosing the camera equipment and settings, and dressing for the ride. My post Kauai by Helicopter described what I saw on my helicopter tour; this post covers how I prepared and lessons learned.

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Kauai by Helicopter

On our first day on Kauai, I took a helicopter tour of the island. Seeing the Napali Coast from the air was the highlight, and there was more: a waterfall from the movie Jurassic Park, Waimea Canyon, and sheer cliffs with waterfalls. Kauai is a volcanic island with one of the rainiest spots in the world, where the rain erodes the hard rock, forming cliffs and feeding waterfalls.

To get photos without reflections from doors or windows, I rode a helicopter with the doors off. This post focuses on what I saw, and a second post will cover tips for taking photos on a Kauai helicopter ride.

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Kauai

This summer we visited the island of Kauai in Hawaii, where we enjoyed Kauai‘s high cliffs, deep valleys, and water. For six million years, “high annual rainfall has eroded deep valleys in the central mountains, carving out canyons with many scenic waterfalls.”

Above is a sunrise from our condo, where the rising sun paints the beach and trees with a red glow.

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