Fotoeins Fotografie

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Posts tagged ‘day trip’

1-day drive in the US Southwest: Cliff Dwellers to the South Rim

October 2018.

The following takes place entirely on day 10 (of 15) in our drive through the American Southwest. Day 9 was a long one on the road: from Flagstaff, we drove north on US-89 and US-89A next to Echo Cliffs and Vermilion Cliffs, and ending up at North Rim for our first-ever visit to the Grand Canyon. After overnighting at Cliff Dwellers Lodge, day 10 began with a stop at the Rock Houses nearby, then retracing the previous day’s drive back to Cameron, before turning west to spend the rest of the day at the Desert View section of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. That began our first-time visit to the South Rim, spanning two days (days 10 and 11).


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1-day drive in the US Southwest: Flagstaff to Vermilion Cliffs

Above/featured: Vermilion Cliffs loom over the new and old Navajo Bridge at left and right, respectively.

The following takes place on the first half of day 9 (of 15) in our drive through the American Southwest. From Flagstaff, we’re heading north on highway US-89, past Cameron, through the northern limit of the Painted Desert, and next to the Echo Cliffs. At Bitter Springs, the highway splits, and we head northwest on US-89A to Marble Canyon, where Navajo Bridge crosses over the Colorado River. The highway continues west into the Arizona Strip, below Vermilion Cliffs, past Cliff Dwellers, and into House Rock Valley.


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1-day drive in the American Southwest: Santa Fe to Flagstaff

Above/featured: Continental Divide. Rising to the north are red Entrada sandstone cliffs (Iyanbito member) from the middle Jurassic period about 170 million years ago. The cliffs are part of a geologic formation extending from northwest New Mexico into northeast Arizona, southeast Utah, and west-central Colorado.

The following takes place entirely within day 8 (of 15) on our drive through the American Southwest. From Santa Fe, New Mexico to our destination Flagstaff, Arizona, the day-long drive began on the short leg I-25 south to Albuquerque. This stretch of I-25 is along a part of the colonial road El Camino Real and parallel to the pre-1937 alignment of the now-famous highway US route 66 (US-66). In Albuquerque, we turned right onto I-40, heading westbound for the New Mexico-Arizona state border and beyond. The total distance was a little over 650 kilometres (400+ miles).

•   Historic Route 66 (US DoT Federal Highway Administration)
•   New Mexico US-66 Association
•   Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona
•   Why Route 66 became America’s most famous road, Vox on YouTube, 16 Aug 2019.


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My Tirol: Brenner Pass

After a mid-May morning in the Alpbach alpine valley, I spent the afternoon on rail to Brenner via Innsbruck, with both legs of the Innsbruck-Brenner stretch on the S-Bahn Tirol S4 train. I used my Eurail Pass the entire day.

Squeezed between the Stubai- and Zillertal-Alps in the Wipptal (Wipp valley), Brenner Pass stands at an elevation of 1370 metres (4495 feet) above sea level and is one of the lowest mountain passes in the Alps. The low mountain pass meant that humans have known about, climbed, and traversed this area for thousands of years. It’s also why the Romans incorporated this pass from the 2nd century AD/CE as a part of a critical north-south trade and security link between the heart of the empire to the south and the frontier provinces to the north.

By the Middle Ages, the pass was a part of the Holy Roman Empire on the “Via Imperii”; this imperial road stretched from Rome to Stettin via Florenz, Verona, Innsbruck, Augsburg, Nürnburg, Leipzig, and Cölln (Berlin). In the mid 15th-century, most long-distance trade between Augsburg and Venice was transported through Brenner Pass; by the early 16th-century, a north-south postal route was founded.

Empress Maria Theresa of the Habsburg Empire ordered in 1777 an upgrade and development of the road through the pass to mitigate the dangers of summer landslides and winter avalanches on the important trade route. Recognizing good timing and an opportunity, German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe travelled through Italy between 1786 and 1788, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Goethe would have started from Munich and travelled on the road for two days with a stop in Innsbruck before entering Italy. From his notes, he published in 1816 “Italian Journey” which became a best-selling book of its time and paved the way for Germans to satisfy their romantic dreams by travelling to Italy. The Brenner Railway line was inaugurated in 1867, heralding a faster connection between Innsbruck and Bolzano and the first rail line through the Alps. Construction of the 38-kilometre Brenner Autobahn between Innsbruck and Brenner Pass began in 1959 and by April 1971, drivers got to experience the full width of a speedy highway, now known as the A13 in Austria and E45 in Europe.

From its origins, the road today is a vital link between northern and southern Europe, providing trade shipments by truck and rail transports. Concern about environmental impact by record numbers of trucks (about 2 million every year#) is also why the European Union initiated construction of the Brenner Base Tunnel to divert more freight onto rail and further cut rail journey times between Austria and Italy by about an hour.

It’s difficult to imagine a time in the recent past where this border was heavily guarded and all traffic was stopped and checked, with stories of smugglers secretly climbing over the border mountains in the dark and stories of death from exposure and misadventure. With Austria’s formal acceptance of the Schengen Agreement and entry into the Schengen Area, all border controls here were abolished on 1 April 1998.

Separate European nations with unguarded borders was once thought impossible. It’s a modern idea that cannot be underestimated and for which I’m thankful: I arrived by plane in Frankfurt, Germany where I entered the European Union. Because Germany, Austria, and Italy are within the Schengen area, I was able to travel freely among these nations. From Stazione Brennero, I walked out into town and across the border from Italy to Austria and back again, without checks or controls.

# 2 million trucks per year, 5500 per day, or about 230 per hour. Delivering goods is an important economic engine, but that’s a lot of trucks, noise, and exhaust.


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My Tirol: Alpbach

On a beautiful spring morning, I set out from Innsbruck in a search for physicist Erwin Schrödinger. What Isaac Newton is to classical physics; Erwin Schrödinger is to quantum physics. In a modest church cemetery in the centre of Alpbach lie the graves for Erwin and Annemarie Schrödinger.

At an elevation of 974 metres (3196 feet), Alpbach is situated along the Alpbach river and nestled among the surrounding Kitzbühel Alps (Kitzbüheler Alpen). Many of the town’s buildings have traditional architecture with wood moulded and ornamented balconies. With population about 2600, key activities consist of summer hiking and winter skiing via a number of cable cars to the surrounding mountains including Wiedersberger Horn. Known also as “the town of thinkers” (Das Dorf der Denker), the 21st-century glass-and-wood construction of the Congress Centre was designed for the purpose of fostering and strengthening intra-European communication and cooperation. In the aftermath of the Second World War, Alpbach has hosted since 1945 the European Forum Alpbach, held annually in August with more than 5-thousand people in attendance.

This for me is classic Tirolean alpine idyll. Next time, I’d like to come back and stay awhile.


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