Thursday, January 31, 2019

Winter Has Come

While not as bad as the places with low temperatures of -57° F, the Polar Vortex did make it's effects felt in these parts as it was 6° F when I woke up this morning.

And here are some shots from around the yard.

It's cold out there. Very cold.

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Feel free to bounce back to yesterday's post to warm up.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

House on Fire

If you time your visit just right, you'll arrive as the sun climbs over the rock wall, illuminating the sandstone on the ground below. Sandstone which reflects the light back up to the rock above the Anasazi ruin of a 'house'.

And if it s clear day, and your timing is right, it will look like the house is on fire.

It will look like this. (Did I mention you need to get your timing right?)

And this.

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The 'houses' were probably granaries for storing corn and not for human habitation. And this is just one of many (thousands) such ruins in Bears Ears National Monument.

We almost didn't see the 'fire' as we mis-identified the Canyon and the trailhead. And after walking two miles down and searching for a ruin that wasn't there, we had to hightail it to get back to our car and zip on down the correct trail. But make it we did and were rewarded with wonderful views and memories.

And some nice pictures.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Optical Illusion

Here are two pictures taken by Patty as I walked along Coopers Road back to Pakim Pond this past Saturday.

Go ahead and bigafy each image and note my size relative to the fence.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

First I'm tiny.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

And then, tall.

What's going on?

Monday, January 28, 2019

Weekend Wanderings ... Pakim Pond

A chilly Saturday but pleasant, a bit of cabin fever, so off we go.

When we arrived there were a few cars in the parking lot, and two people with binoculars in the picnic area. We quietly exited the car as they were looking intently at something in the trees.

Up there somewhere are birds. Or so we were told.

Kinglets, but we didn't see them. In fact, we saw no wildlife whatsoever. For the entire hike. No birds, no beasts, no bugs.

It didn't help the the pond was frozen over. Although it did make for a pretty picture.

After confirming the complete and utter lack of avifauna at the picnic area we started off down the trail.

Well Patty did anyways, as I kept stopping for pictures. It's what I do.

Where'd she go?

This map shows where she, and I, went. Starting at Pakim Pond at the upper left, we headed due east (north is up), then turning southeast (you can just barely make out hints of the trail) until we reached Muddy Road, the white line on the right. We followed that south to Glass House Road. Then southwest to Coopers Road, which we followed back to Pakim Pond. A nice unplanned saunter through the Pines.

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Throughout our ramble we came upon remnants of a former world, one of concrete structures long gone and surrounded by forest.

I know not what they were and my search, both in books and on line (albeit brief), came up empty.

Update: I expanded my search and found that the Lebanon Glass Works was in this area. "Glass House Road" was a clue to this:

"The Lebanon Glass Works was established in 1851 and was successful until 1867, when it shut down after depleting the supply of wood necessary for the furnace to operate."

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There were signs ...

... some informative ...

... some not so much ...

... some high-tech, for a passing fad ...

... and others meant to last (although I'm not so sure about the bench).

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We continued down the trail, which as you can see was rather easy to follow, even though we knew not where it led. We were relaxed and enjoying the scenery.

Eventually we arrived at the end of the trail, which required a slight detour around a water hazard.

Delivering us onto the aforementioned Muddy Road. Which wasn't.

Which took us to Glass House Road. No glass houses were in evidence. And through the gate bringing us to the no hunting zone, note the helpful signs on either side.

Flooded Road perhaps a better name on this day.

And while Patty was wearing her Muck Boots, I was not. And needed to negotiate the rapids ...

... and while there was an anxious moment when I hit an icy spot ...

... I made it across upright, unharmed, and most importantly, dry.

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From then on it was smooth sailing (walking) on back to our starting place.

We passed through the camping area where there were crazy people staying in tents! And other slightly less crazy people in cabins.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

And crazy people out walking in the 20° F weather.

Image courtesy Patty Rehn

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And soon enough we were back at the parking lot, in our car, and headed to the warmth of home.

It was a very nice way to spend one's time.

Sunday, January 27, 2019


While digging up my Halley's Comet photographs, I came across some even older images. From April 1981.

STS-1. The first launch of the Space Shuttle.

I was a student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a friend and fellow student, Scott Parks, had been an intern at NASA the previous summer. And he knew George Low, who was the president of the college and had run the Apollo program for NASA.

And thus, Scott, myself, and Jim Hill, one of my roommates, found ourselves on an air conditioned bus, heading toward the VIP viewing section. (Not the VVIP section, where the famous people were. But good enough for us.)

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We drove down from Troy, NY to Jim's grandparent's place in Florida near the space center, straight through, no stops. And it wasn't until the Carolina's that we learned that Jim didn't have a drivers license (Scott got the VIP passes, I had a car, and Jim had a place for us to stay). We were skipping school and not having a third driver was problematic. Especially for the trip home.

The shot above was from two days prior to the actual launch, as the launch was delayed. Computer issues if I recall correctly. This too was problematic as we had to get back to school for a test (we were all physics majors and had the same test for the same class). We were getting worried that we would have to leave before the launch, and that our trip would be for naught.

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We rode that bus out to the viewing site three times. And as they say, third time is the charm.

Ignition (bigafy to see the flames under Columbia).

Liftoff (no need to bigafy to see the flames now).

Thanks to the notch cut in the trees we could see the launch from the start. And shortly thereafter we heard it. It was loud. Very loud.

But we expected that.

What we didn't expect was that we FELT it. A rumbling that shook ones being. Quite awesome.

And then there was the cheering as the Shuttle program was finally off the ground. 

And while the Shuttle program would not live up to the promise, and suffer multiple tragedies, that was in the future.

Today was for celebration.

And celebrate we did as we watched as Columbia had near flawless liftoff into orbit.

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We made it back in time for our exam, Scott and I alternating driving duties and trying to sleep as we drove through the night. I do not remember how I did (driving, sleeping, or on the test). But as I graduated with a BS in Physics I must have done ok. And I got to see the first shuttle launch.

I had always hoped to get back for another launch, but that is yet to be (and, of course, would be for something other than a shuttle). I did make it back to Kennedy Space Center, and to the Space Shuttle exhibit. It was a fun visit. But not the same.

I'm still hoping that someday I'll experience that rumbling again.