Upper Canada Village

Today Rosa, my mother-in-law Lemin and I visited Upper Canada Village to see the Medieval Festival. I visited Upper Canada Village once before when I was a child. The name Upper Canada refers to the political division (like a province) of British North America before Confederation. It covered southern Ontario and Quebec.

The Medieval Festival was held on the grounds of Upper Canada Village in two open fields.

When we arrived, there was a birds of prey demonstration by Dale Gienow. Some of the birds have previously appeared on TV and movies. He had a vulture, some smaller hawks and a huge owl.

Jousting competition
Jousting competition

After that, we watched the jousting competition. It was impressive. Thundering hooves shaking the earth and then – Clang! – the instant of contact. The forces must be tremendous. Twice, a knight was knocked off his horse. It must have hurt to fall from the height of the horse while wearing a metal suit with no padding!

After the competition ended, we walked around to see the other exhibits, such as crafts tents, a puppet show, belly dancing, village idiots, and a food booth with medieval fare.

Upper Canada Village replicates what life was like in Canada (British North America) in the 1860’s. The village buildings represents individual homes, a tinshop, a hotel (now a restaurant), a school, a chapel and a church, printing office, general store, a sawmill, flour mill, blacksmith’s, and a woollen factory. There was even a Masonic Lodge.

I was not expecting to see so much, and I was pleasantly surprised at the breadth of the village reproduction, including actors in period costumes.

We were famished so we walked to Willard’s Hotel, which is now a restaurant. I had some local cheeses served with fresh bread.

Blacksmith working the anvil
Blacksmith working the anvil

We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling around, seeing the homes and businesses. The woolen factory was neat, full of very complex machinery that took the raw wool, spun it into a thick braid and then refined it into a single thread. A separate room was for dying the wool thread.

Watching the blacksmith working metal was also fascinating, as he was also explaining what he was doing as he worked.

We spent about 4 hours at Upper Canada Village before heading for home.

2012 Venus Transit

Today was my last day in Kansas City.

Today was also the extremely rare Venus transit of the Sun. I had been planning to find someplace in Kansas City to buy welders glass #14 so that I could take pictures, but it was hard to find a retail store. Instead, I found out that the local Johnson County Community College was hosting a viewing party.

JCCC Venus transit party
JCCC Venus transit party

I invited everyone at the lab to come, but no one took me up on the offer. I left a little early hoping to beat the line-up. When I arrived and found my way into the building, I found that the line-up extended over 2 floors and was over an hour waiting time.

I spoke with one of the JCCC hosts, and they had only expected maybe 150 people. Instead, we calculated they might have about 2000 during the 5-hour transit.

I wish I had had something eat and read while I was waiting. I spoke a little with the others in the line.

When I finally reached the roof, there were two ways to view Venus. There was a hand-made viewing barrel with a solar filter that you hold up to your face. It was fascinating. I used it and hand-held my camera to get the shot below. The odd colour is from the reflections inside the barrel. You can even see some of the sunspots.

There were also three big telescopes set up with special solar filters. Two were sensitive to a particular hydrogen spectrum and one was sensitive to another spectrum. You could see different features using each telescope. It was so amazing to see such details on the disc of the Sun.

Venus (upper right) transit of the Sun
Venus (upper right) transit of the Sun

Kansas City Royals vs Oakland Athletics

Today, my last Sunday in Kansas, I went with my co-workers to see a Major League Baseball (MLB) game. The Kansas City Royals were hosting the Oakland Athletics at Kauffman Stadium.

Kauffman Stadium
Kauffman Stadium

We arrived around noon. The tickets, way up in the nosebleed section, were really inexpensive – only $9 each! Once inside, we grabbed a quick lunch and then made our way up to our seats.

As this was my first MLB game, I was expecting it would drag out. But the game moved along quickly.

During the 7th inning, I got up and walked around the stadium, seeing the different views and taking pictures. Down on the lowest level, the views were very good and I got some nice shots.

I am quite proud of two shots. The first one is Eric Hosmer of the Royals being hit by a pitch. The photo shows the ball just touching his shoulder. The other photo, possibly also of Eric Hosmer, looks like an out at first base by only a few inches – very close to call for an umpire.

We went for dinner after the game and finished off the day with dessert at The Cheesecake Factory.