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Looking down on America -- from 39,000 feet

... at 400 knots, the scenery whizzes by

from Don Norris



What else does one do when one turns 80? Especially when one's wife also has her 80th. Why, we fly to Rocky Mountains for two weeks of nosing around old mining towns, taking a 50-mile jaunt on a 130-year-old narrow gauge railway, and gathering up a notebook full of history on the Anasazi Indian culture.



And take pictures out the window of the Boeing 737, one of the fleet belonging to Southwest Air. Nobody flies on Tuesday -- well, almost nobody, and therefore we saved several hundred dollars and flew Boston to Denver for $89. Now that was a nice anniversary present. I used a Canon G-11 on the flight photos; it's my back-up to my big Nikon D300, which was all packed up in an overhead bin.



Between Lorry and me, we took close to 500 photos during the ensuing two
weeks -- and plan to do other photo essays in future issues of the Mirror.



New England and the eastern half of the country tends to be hilly, even mountainous, so rivers and roads meander through the valleys. Beyond Chicago our country appears relatively flat, and farmland gets divided into squares and rectangles. But recent agricultural methods, apparently, find circular farming more convenient, perhaps more efficient -- and the results create strange geometric patterns when seen from an airplane at 39,000 feet.



All these photos have been run through Adobe Photoshop -- most were taken from seven and a half miles up; hence there is a lot of atmosphere to cut through. I did notice that the air cleared up some after Chicago.



The question is, is it more economical to farm land in concentric circles, rather than in straight lines? The new way, however, makes for interesting pictures, if you can be far enough away.





... and if you get bored with the passing country outside your aircraft, there's usually some nice scenery aboard.



July 1, 2011


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