Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Challenge

I first mentioned Rachel and her Summer Challenge at the end of this post about quail hunting. This year's Challenge is to hike to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite.

From Rachel's announcement email:


This year, I will be climbing Half Dome (http://www.yosemitehikes.com/yosemite-valley/half-dome/half-dome.htm) in Yosemite National Park in California with wonderful people in my life including my dear cousin Jaclyn, neighbor Susan, and adventurous Philly friends Patty and Marie. 

This challenge takes me back to a magical place I first visited with my family as a kid and have returned to repeatedly with friends. If you have been to Yosemite, you know. If you haven’t, go soon! It is incredibly gorgeous and powerful.


It was Patty that suggested the Half Dome hike for the Challenge. It is an "incredibly gorgeous and powerful" place. And like Rachel one I've visited multiple times. My most recent visit was Patty's first and it was a scouting trip for the Half Dome hike.

On our second day there we did a easy two mile hike to the top of Sentinel Dome, which is on the road to Glacier Point.

Here is Patty on Sentinel Dome.


Here's what she is pointing to.


It doesn't look too bad does it?

Her's Patty pointing to Half Dome from down in Yosemite Valley. Which is where the hike starts from.


That's a long way up!

~~~~~~~~~~

To learn more about the Challenge 
and how you can help raise money to combat 
Parkinson's Disease please visit Rachel's Challenge site.




Monday, June 23, 2014

Rock Fall!

CRRAAACK!

A plane zooming over? Thunder? What was that?


As we were coming off the mist trail and heading back to where we left the car, after taking a break at the hotdog truck, we heard this loud noise. Sounding like a military jet zooming over, but we saw nothing in the sky. Thunder? No clouds, no rain.

And then we remembered where we where.

It was a rock fall. In the direction of the parking lot. Uh oh.


We didn't see the actual fall itself. Now that would have been cool. But we did see the dust rising form where it landed, as you can see in the two images above, taken seconds after we heard the fall.

We were only half joking with our fellow travelers walking toward the parking lot, hoping that our cars were not crushed. They weren't.


I took this shot while where we entered the parking lot. The trees mark the far end. And as you can see the dust was rising just on the other side. A group of kids out hiking were huddled behind the remnants of a prior rock fall, their leader instructing them on how to hide behind boulders, trees, anything that could shield from falling debris.

While we heard what we thought was gravel continuing to slide down the mountain, we couldn't see any. Tired from the hike, we didn't feel like doing much exploring. Nor did we want to be around should any more of the mountainside come tumbling down.  So we headed back to our hotel, to enjoy another of those cold drinks on the big porch.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

On the Mist Trail

A recent trip to Yosemite National Park found us hiking the mist trail. This is the trail to half dome and someone, I won't mention of any of Patty's names, has set a goal of hiking to the top.

Me, I'm a wimp. I'm afraid of heights and the bit of the trail where you need to use the wire hand rails, especially on the way down, is a bit more than I want to deal with. So I'll be the support team, carrying water water up the to the point were the march to the summit begins.

The first landmark along the trail is the bridge with the view of Vernal Fall.


That's Vernal Fall in the distance. It doesn't look all that high up, but it is. After hiking a couple of miles you get to climb over six hundred steps. That's a lot of steps.

But if this girl could do it, I was sure we could.


Although I think she just went to the bridge and back. Still, three plus miles in a boot is none too shabby.

The mist trail is named such because it is quite wet when the water is flowing. And in May when we were there it was flowing. And it felt refreshing as we climbed up and up in the heat. We were soaked.


Just below the fall we were treated to this view. And I thought we were finished with the stairs.


 I was wrong. There were still plenty of stairs to go. And we kept climbing. And further up we were treated to a double rainbow.


Onward and upward until we reached our initial goal for the day, the top of Vernal Fall. Where we were greeted by steller's jays ...



.. and California ground squirrels..


Both of which knew that people meant food.

Our initial plan was to stop at Vernal Fall and head back down. But felling good we decided to go a bit further. We were up there so why not? We met some folks on their way back down who told us it was a nice hike and we would enjoy it. So we decided to keep on going. And it was a nice hike. Except for the last hundred meters or so ...

But we made it to the top. And the view was, as they say, spectacular.


This is Nevada Fall, 2000 feet above where we started. And half way to the summit of Half Done.

The falls was raging.


And despite my fear I leaned over the rail to get this shot:


Which was pretty much looking straight down.

We had planned to head back down the Mist Trail, but were advised to take the John Muir Trail instead, a much easier trail going down, no steps. It was the right choice.

We got great views of the falls without ...


... and with Half Dome in the distance.


There were flowers along the trail.


And views of other falls around the valley. Yosemite Fall,


and Illilouette Fall.


It was a long strenuous hike in an absolutely gorgeous setting on a perfect day. I can't wait to get back.

Extralimital

My first post for the new DVOC blog:

http://blogdvoc.blogspot.com/2014/06/extralimital-stellers-jay.html

Enjoy!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Art of the Brick

I'm not sure how she finds these things, but Patty found an art exhibit entitled, The Art of the Brick, featuring works by Nathan Sawaya, at the Discovery Museum in Manhattan. So we, along with a friend, drove on up one Saturday morning.  The "Brick" is that made by Lego. And that is Nathan's medium. He creates his art using Lego bricks.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I mean, an entire exhibit of Lego constructions?

We arrived at the museum, meeting up with two more friends, bought our tickets and headed for the exhibit. It was very well done, very clever and we all quite enjoyed it. The Art of the Brick exhibit is well worth a visit. Go see it if you can.


Curiously, while photographing the Lego art was allowed, the museum staff didn't want me photographing this sign. Thus a noisy photo, no chance to tweak the settings and reshoot.

The exhibit starts with a collection of painting reproductions. From the ancient:

The Second Chinese Horse, by artist Nathan Sawaya, brickartist.com

To the more recent:

The Scream, by artist Nathan Sawaya, brickartist.com

Starry Night, by artist Nathan Sawaya, brickartist.com

And note the different styles, The Scream is built with the Legos stacking up (the nibs on top) while The Second Chinese Horse and Starry Night with the bricks facing out.

Continuing, the next gallery held statues. Again from a variety of periods and cultures.


While not as big as the original, this one was large:

Moai, by artist Nathan Sawaya, brickartist.com

This one a bit smaller, but perhaps life size:

Sacrificial Vessel, by artist Nathan Sawaya, brickartist.com

(You knew I'd put this one in the post.)

Lest you think the exhibit was all reproductions, the majority was original works, presented in the next several galleries.

Globe and Facemask, by artist Nathan Sawaya, brickartist.com

Yellow, by artist Nathan Sawaya, brickartist.com

Facemask, by artist Nathan Sawaya, brickartist.com

As noted above, some of these are large.

Circle Torso, Triangle Torso,  Square Torso by artist Nathan Sawaya, brickartist.com

This one had a room to itself (note the person in the back right corner):

Dinosaur Skeleton, by artist Nathan Sawaya, brickartist.com

And of course I liked this one:

Cloud, by artist Nathan Sawaya, brickartist.com

We ended our stay by adding our names to the wall.


A very pleasant way to spend a morning.

~~~~~~~~~~

All of the artwork depicted in this post was created by Nathan Sawaya, who has graciously allowed for photography at the exhibit of his work. You can learn more at his website: brickartist.com 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

From the Ground

While I do get to travel to far away places, as mentioned in the last post, like most people the majority of my travel is more mundane, the daily commute to and from work. With plenty of time spent sitting in traffic.

But sometimes ...


... Ma Nature puts on a show.

While hiking in Moab many years ago, my brother taught me to look not just ahead, but also behind. The views can be spectacular in either direction. And on this drive, the view was definitely better behind me. My iPhone photo (an ancient iPhone 4) doesn't do the rainbow justice.

So look ahead, behind, up, down, left, right. It's a big world but there is stuff to see everywhere, even on the drive home form work.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

From the Air

I'm fortunate in that I get to travel on a fairly regular basis for both work and pleasure. And as is my custom I look for a window seat, preferably away form the wings. And so it was on our trip back from Costa Rica. And I managed to snap a few pictures ...

Including these:




My first ever good shots of a glory. I had seen glories a couple times before, but I either had no camera handy or only my cellphone. This time I was prepared and rewarded.

At the same time there was a rainbow a bit further back over the engine (I wasn't quite far enough away from the wing for my liking, but at least I wasn't completely blocked).



I also saw some wildfires, like this one in Florida.



Curiously for an astronomy enthusiast, I'm a fan of clouds. I've always imagined them as fantastical landscapes that I'd love to explore.


I'm even a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society.

And that's where I turned to for an explanation of what's going on in this photo.


The effect is subtle and difficult to photograph. And something I don't believe I had ever seen (or noticed) before. If you look under the clouds you can see a foggy patch.


Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the afore mentioned Cloud Appreciation Society, was kind enough to look at my image to try and figure out what I was seeing. He wrote, " I don't think this is a cloud effect.  It looks to me as if the white blurs below the clouds are reflections of the white parts of the cloud on the water's surface.  If the sun was behind you it would make sense that it could bounce off the clouds down to the sea and back to your vision."

And that's the best answer so far as to what this is. If you've any insight into what's going on please let me know in the comments.