The Kaleberg Journal - November 2019

11/08 - Tigray - The Road From Mekele

We took an early flight from Addis Ababa north to Mekele. Airline security in Ethiopia is a bit different from that in the US. One must show a ticket or passport to enter the airport terminal and then there is primary security even before getting to the checkin area. Then, there is another round of security before one gets to the gate. It was definitely worth getting up bright and early to catch our flight.

There was a long drive from the airport to Gheralta. It was farm country and relatively dry. Various cactus like plants were cultivated as natural fences. The harvest was in. There were great stacks of grain and grain laid out for threshing. We pulled off the main road down towards what looked like nowhere. We approached a hill and were soon exploring a church, Wukro Chrikos, carved from the rock in a hillside.

The church grounds were green and peaceful. Inside the church there was a quiet sense of age. The carved walls were painted. There were signs of the fire damage from when the church was burned by Judith the Falasha and her armies. We could only peek past the curtains into the holy of holies, the most sacred part of the church. Ethiopian Christianity is one of the oldest branches of the religion and shares much with the Coptic church and, as we later learned, Jewish tradition.

We also stopped at the mosque in Negash. It was a place of refuge early in the history of Islam. The prophet sent twelve men and five women, one his daughter, to seek refuge in Ethiopia during the hegira. The mosque has endured, and has recently been remodeled with funds from the Turkish government.

Our drive was not yet over. We had a way to go, but we were already getting a sense of Tigray and of Ethiopia.

Tigray - Like most of Ethiopia, there was excellent cell phone coverage.

Harvest fields

Grain ready for threshing

Wukro Churkos as we approached

Old walls inside

The church was carved from the hillside.

The holy of holies

Another interior view

Looking out

The church yard

Another view of the church yard

Close up of one of the trees

The Negash Mosque, a place of refuge

The grounds of the mosque

A sign of life

Another view of the mosque

More of the grounds

Our drive continued.

More signs of harvest

Keywords: ethiopia

11/07 - TIgray - First Afternoon

We arrived at Korkor Lodge in Gheralta and settled in to our room. Tigray was at an elevation of over 7000', but we were still worried about mosquitos. Most of our trip to Ethiopia was to areas 8000' up or higher, so, for us, Tigray was the insect ridden low land. To be honest, we saw two mosquitos on our entire trip. One was already dead and the other may or may not have been an actual mosquito. Still, we were worried and put up a mosquito net over the open window of our room.

This part of Tigray has great red rock formations, eroded and fascinating and evocative of America's southwest. Still, everything was different, the plants, the birds, the fields and the place. Korkor Lodge was beautiful and a labor of love. We settled in comfortably.

After lunch, we set out down another country road and walked across fields towards the higher region at the edge of the valley. Here was another church carved into the hillside, Maryam Papaseit Church. This was a darker church and beautifully decorated with murals. It was too dark for many photographs, but there was a sense of being within the earth.

Rock formations in the distance

A farm

More rock formations

The view from our room

Exploring that afternoon

Rocky hillsides

In the distance

Another rock formation

A hyrax

Inside the church

Another view

A view from the church

Another view

Tree light

More fields and rock formations

Keywords: ethiopia

11/06 - Tigray - Birds of the FIrst Day

We photographed a number of birds on our very first day in TIgray. Most of them were unfamiliar. We'll provide some names and captions as we can.

Perhaps a blue winged goose and a hornbill

Pale batis

We have no idea.

No birds, just pretty flowers

Greater blue eared starling

European woodpecker ???

Probably a blue winged goose

A hornbill

That may or may not be a bird towards the edge of the moon.

Keywords: birds, ethiopia

11/05 - Welcome to Addis Ababa

We arrived late at night, and despite the reports of chaos at Bole International Airport, our entry to Ethiopia went smoothly. Our passports were in order, our e-Visas accepted, our checked bags waiting and our ride to the hotel was waiting for us.

We're staying at the Sheraton which is sort of a halfway house for people who want to immerse in Africa slowly. It is a first rate international hotel and a favorite with governments, NGOs and businesses. Unlike many luxury hotels around the world, everything works. It is cold, dark and quiet, so we can sleep as much as our jet lag allows.

The grounds are wonderfully landscaped. The pools are at the center of a beach club popular with the international community. There is a playground and children's village. There are restaurants, bars, lounges, meeting rooms, an executive club that brews fantastic coffee, gift shops, a bank and just about any amenity that one might want without leaving the grounds.

We have managed to walk two laps of the little jogging track that runs around the grounds. The elevation is over 8000 feet, but most of our trip is higher, so we'll have to get used to the thin air as well as the eleven hour - thank you, daylight savings time - time difference. En route, we flew over the Canadian Rockies. Most of those snow capped peaks topped out near the lobby level of our hotel.

There is a lot of construction in Addis Ababa, as framed by Sheraton landscaping.


More landscaping

Yes, gnomes are a problem in Ethiopia too.

The playground

Flame trees?

A typical hallway

More landscaping near the pool

One of the many local birds

Another local bird

Definitely a pigeon

Keywords: birds, ethiopia

11/04 - Why are we in Vancouver?

We are in Vancouver, BC, because it is our first stop on our way to Ethiopia. We arrived a day early so we don't have to worry about missing our flight.

There aren't a lot of flights to Addis Ababa from this hemisphere, and some of them only run every other day. We wanted a minimal number of stops and to avoid flying out of our way, for example, via Dubai. We chose Lufthansa which code shares its Ethiopian flights with Air Canada, United Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines and several others. It's ten plus hours to Frankfort via the polar route, then another seven hours or so to Addis Ababa, so stay tuned.

The via en route to Vancouver

Vancouver, BC

Some kind of steampunk festival? Eh?

Hotel window view

From Stanley Park, past the Lion's Gate Bridge

Another Stanley Park view

A cormorant

A wood duck

Great blue heron

Keywords: ethiopia, flying, vancouver

The Kaleberg Journal - October 2019

10/23 - Hurricane Ridge - Early Snow

There has been snow up at Hurricane Ridge for a while, but the road is still usually open. The Switchback Trail to Klahane Ridge is closed while they repair the road which is down to one lane there. The Hurricane Hill Trail is closed, because the twisty little road to Hurricane Hill is covered with snow and ice. The ridge, however, is reachable and navigable, though we recommend good boots for the snow and some icy patches.

The views are spectacular with the Olympic Mountains covered with fresh snow. It isn't very deep, so the richly colored late autumn grasses still cover areas. Call the park, 360 565 3131, before you go to make sure that the road is actually open since they'll close it for snow falls, white outs and heavy fog. Still, if you can make it up there, the ridge is beautiful.

Autumn grasses

Snow and trees and mountains


Further away

A bit more snow

The forest

The Olympic Mountains

Klahane Ridge

More of everything

The Olympic Mountains again

More autumn color

More mountains

More snow

Hurricane Hill Road

Mountain light

Keywords: autumn, hurricane hill, hurricane ridge, klahane ridge

10/19 - Machine Hallucinations

We didn't get to any museums on this trip to New York City, but we did get to watch an environmental movie. The old boiler room in the Chelsea Market has been turned into a theater showing us Machine Hallucinations. There's a bar on the mezzanine and lots of wall space for projection. We sat on a bench towards the back, but most of the audience sat on cushions on the floor. The high resolution spatial art was projected on the walls and the floor and on the audience, so it was an immersive experience. The children present loved it. It was a strange feeling having shapes and forms all about us and lapping at our feet like waves on a beach. Click a few of the images for some video to get a better sense of the show.

This is a fountain, decorated for Halloween, at Chelsea Market. It's not part of the exhibit.

Keywords: art, new york city

10/18 - A Journey to the Wilds of Brooklyn

On most of our trips to New York City, we stay in Manhattan, but this time we decided to head out to Brooklyn to see the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It was surprisingly easy. The Q train, despite rescheduling and rerouting, took us right from our hotel to the entrance of the gardens. En route, we crossed the East River on the Manhattan Bridge with great views of lower Manhattan.

The gardens were still in late summer. We wandered the trails through lakes and forests. There were ripe eggplants for the picking and flowers in bloom. We made our twisty way to the iconic greenhouse and our lenses were totally fogged in the rain forest habitat, then dried crystal clear in the desert. The BBG is justifiably famous, wonderfully maintained and delightfully curated. They even had a giant horsetail planted, so we felt right at home.

The Brooklyn Bridge as seen from our subway car

The Q train in Brooklyn with at least one tree growing and vernacular apartment buildings

The garden path

A beautiful clear day

Water lilies, sort of a theme this trip

The iconic greenhouse

The steamy jungle

Probably a hydrangea - Our lenses were too fogged to read the tag.

Natal plum - It had a delicious sweet scent that makes us long for a way to share aromas.

The temperate forest



The desert



More flowers

Another photo from the greenhouse

A bonsai tree from their great collection

Purple berries seen as we made our way back to the subway

Keywords: new york city

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