Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Definitions: Woodland

A woodland is a community of trees that are not so close that they can ever be more than just acquaintances.

As a group woodland trees trend toward the modest end of the size spectrum and accomplish only the lesser heights (though they stubbornly remain bushy on top), and stand far enough apart to preserve a fair amount of open space. This open space may be bare, or covered by shrubs, or populated by herbies such as various kinds of grasses.

The amount of crown cover in a woodland is usually low, ranging from 10% to 25%. Forests usually have 30% or more because a forest's trees grow closer together.

Crown cover, if you were wondering, is the percent of the ground beneath trees that is shaded by those trees. The shading is a result of the topmost layer of vegetation, which is what the "crown" is. The leafy bits.

Why don't they get closer, these trees? Who knows?

Are they shy? Maybe they have fights if they get too close. Maybe each tree thinks all the others are ugly. It could be that they smell bad (trees never bathe, you know). Hey, it could be any reason at all, or none.

Trees are like that. They look ordinary and boring but you never really know what's going on under the bark. They can even actually really and truly exhibit a thing called crown shyness (also known as canopy disengagement, canopy shyness, or intercrown spacing), which keeps their uppermost green foliage parts from touching the similar parts of any other trees. (The eww effect.)

Trees also do form real forests, which is what happens when you have the same sorts of trees but growing closer together, though at times all you get is these woodland areas (fewer trees, farther apart, as we said in the beginning). For some reason or other.

If you drift into one of these areas, sidle up to the trees, remain quiet, and pay attention, you may discover a few surprising things, like nymphs.

Yes. Nymphs.

Woodlands are where you find them (nowhere else, in fact), and there's a kind of nymph to suit just about every taste. You got your dryads, your hamadryads, your naiads, your nereids, and on and on, and your oreads.

These last ones, the oreads, are also known as "mountain nymphs", and can take on anyone, anywhere, at any time and go a full nine rounds without even breaking a sweat, so mind your manners or take a chance on getting whupped by one.

And nymphets too. Can't forget them, even if you try. Yet one more kind of nymph, but even more dangerous in their own way. You really, really don't want to mess with nymphets under any circumstances, or you will be so sorry, so very sorry. There are laws, you know. Watch it. Behave yourself.

But of course, if you are of the other persuasion, you got your woodland satyrs too. There's only the one kind of them, but they pretty much make up in strength, versatility, orneriness, and some other more intrusive tendencies what they may lack in numbers, as you may know if you've ever tried one on for size. But no nymphets. Remember that. No nymphets, ever. Leave them be.

So the moral of the story is: Enjoy woodlands while acting your age and obeying all laws and you should be fine unless something eats you. (The usual.)

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Taking The Nose Train: Inca Dinkings

Part 4: There used to be something here.

So, leaving the nose train behind, we hit the road again, enjoying more street scenes along the way.

Although I remember the day as sunny, it wasn't. But we did have some sights to ponder along the way. Like this truck.

OK, we must be getting close, eh?

Not technically an Inca ruin, but I still like it.

Ah, ruins, looking appropriately ruined. (And ruins of...? I don't know exactly what.)

Point taken, but then left in place.

And I missed the description of this too.

A good overview of the whole site. Wikipedia sez: "These are the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador." Fine and dandy.

Certainly large enough to walk around inside of.

With its own aqueduct. (Now defunct.)

And holes. Lots of holes. Our guide mumbled something about astronomical observations and two of our party nearly swooned. So like, anciently technical and spiritual-ish.

A shot of the fabled stonework. It's real.

Around the backside of the Temple of the Sun.

More stone. Fitted perfectly, no doubt.

And still in perfect working order, despite having had no maintenance for centuries.

And why would it need our help?

Our guide and driver. Competent.

Others, equally impressed.

Close to the stone.

Another view of the house-thingy.

The Temple of the Sun, "an elliptically shaped building constructed around a large rock," according to Wikipedia.

And probably the best shot of the lot. Somehow or other I didn't think to climb up there. Too bad for me.


Wikipedia's version.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Knowing The Nose

Part 3: At rest under the nostril.

A young entrepreneur at the ready.

One tourist bagged.


Downstream. Off limits.

Rubbery shrubbery. No need for armed guards if you've got enough of this.

While most continued stuffing their faces inside the cafe, the rest oggled critters. Note mouse traps to the left.

Not all gawkers were dumb gringos.

'Place child here.'

Spare, in case the other one goes flat.

Nope. Not much more to see from this angle either.

The train waits quietly for the return to begin.

Every kid loves this stuff, right?

Upstream. Still foggy in parts.

Oops! We're suddenly moving. Bye.

Pretty much the same going up as it was going down.

A home? A shed? We'll never know.

Bye again. We'll always remember you.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Descent Of The Nose Train

Part 2: Wheels along the nostril.

So we got started. And then what?

Scenery. Scenery and gawking.

I don't remember a lot. There were no guides, no narration. We just looked.

We looked and passed scenery.

It is a landscape of angles. Steepness. We followed the water. Water knows the way.

This route, as I understand, is still broken.

First there were cities, with footpaths between them. Then the railway. Then it fell into disuse.

Now part of it is a tourist route.

We pay and gawk. So be it.

The train runs down a slope, then off the end of the turn. Then it stops and the rails get moved. Then the train switches tracks and descends another section. Taking it like switchbacks on a trail.

Everyone there has a job.

And they all have to work together, bit by bit, descending.

There are views, but not from inside. The windows are not adequate. The terrain is too steep.

Once at the bottom, at the end of the trip, we were met by dancers. I didn't feel comfortable photographing them. Some tourists joined the dancing.

Once stopped, the train sat quietly. Most of the passengers immediately went to have lunch.

This is the one.

Where we didn't go. There was a bridge, and an armed guard. He stood on the bridge until we left.

But back in tour land, life went on.

Including cactapus.

Luckily for us, we were all easily amused — always ready for another chance to stand around.

And I really don't recognize this. It might be the little museum at the end of the line, and that might be the Devil's Nose. Who can say?

But there are things to see if you look.

Some day during a heavy rain this is all going to come down in a bunch

But not this day.

I did notice that I was bugged.

This is the station as seen from the museum. Guarded bridge at left.

Looks like they're big on mouse traps. Cafe inside.

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