Sunday, December 17, 2006

Playing Catch Up

Its been a while since I've had internet at home, so I'm catching up on my blogging. Inspired by my Uncle's archived frost photo, I'm adding two pictures from the last time I've really seen snow: March 2006, on the Olympic peninsula in Washington. Both are from my friend Sandy, who graciously copied all of her pictures for me after mine were lost. Having lived in Tennessee for the last five years, I've had to travel elsewhere for any taste of true winter weather. Now that I'm back in Pennsylvania, it seems like I've brought the Tennessee-style winter weather with me!
This is a temperate rainforest in Olympic National Park. We were actually there on Sandy's birthday, and we were both extremely interested to see snow in a rainforest. While the unsettled weather made for some interesting photo opportunities, I would love to go back when the rain and snow stays away for more than an hour at a time!

Cat Meets Bird (not quite)

This is Ansel, the Christmas cat. He's actually behaved pretty well, only removing two ornaments so far. Yesterday, Ansel had the chance to see a really cool bird, one much bigger than the ones he normally gets to watch. But he was sleeping upstairs and missed all the excitement.

Even though Ansel was asleep, one of my boys got to see the pheasant. I didn't realize it was outside, until Justin leapt up saying "what the heck is that?!?" He (the pheasant, not Justin) was about five feet away from the patio doors, using his head to dig into the mulch under the bushes.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday Afternoon History Lesson

We ran out this afternoon to Chiquies Rock, a county park just down the road. Here you can see a lot of history crossing the Susquehanna. The bridge in the distance carries Rt. 462 across the river. While its the prettier bridge, you can't see a thing as you cross it. The nearer bridge is the newer, helping Rt. 30 on its way across the nation. While its not as architecturally interesting, the view from it is far superior. In the middle, you can barely make out abutments that no longer hold any type of structure. As I understand it, prior to the Civil War, these supports held up the world's longest covered bridge, over one mile long. The bridge was burnt by locals during the war to prevent enemy troops from crossing the river. After that, several railroads used the same foundation, but now, no mode of transporation uses the old rock foundations.
Here you can see some of the farmland and small town-type landscapes of eastern Pennsylvania. You can actually spot where I live, just in front of the blue water tower in the upper middle part of the photograph. Even after writing a thesis about preserved farmland, I never expected to live right in the middle of some very dense patches of preserved farmland. While I don't know if it is preserved or not, a farm right down the road provides us with very interesting smells most days!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Back in Pennsylvania

I knew for sure I was back home when I saw a billboard advertising a jewelery store. The ad showed an intricate and obviously expensive diamond necklace, with the following text: "And his new shotgun cost how much?"

Sunrise, Sunset

Here are two very different perspectives on one very wild place, valley floor and mountain top. There's just something about Death Valley that makes you feel small and fragile. Its more than the spectacular scenery, its the inhospitable environment. In September, the daytime temperatures still hover near 100. At night, the ground radiates warmth, making sleeping bags unnecessary. You don't feel thirsty, but once you start drinking, you realize you can't stop.

I can't imagine how people explored and mined this part of the world without the benefit of cars with air conditioning. Or how the beasts of burden who carried the people and minerals managed to survive!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What am I?

So far, the options appear to be a Yorkian, a Yorkite, or my personal favorite, a Yorker. Regardless, today was my first day as a working Yorker. The job is very similar to what I did in Knoxville, just a little more specialized. The folks are real nice and friendly. So that's very good, and I'm extremely lucky to have good friends here who are taking excellent care of me till I find a place of my own. This will be my first blog with no pictures to accompany it, but with so many cool old buildings near where I work, I'm sure I'll have some up before very long. I already have a shot in mind!

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Mono Lake is a place I've wanted to go ever since I was wee little, looking at old National Geographics, and dreaming. I thought I knew what to expect: salty, big, with cool rock formations. But actually being there, walking along the shoreline, took my breath away. It was one of the four "WOW" moments I had on the trip. I walked into the water for just a minute or two. The water felt slippery, and my feet and sandals were crusty with salt once they dried off! The salt collects in the lake because it has no outlet to the ocean. The rock towers are made of a material called tufa, which is rock deposited by springs. The tufa builds up until it breaks the surface of the water, and sometimes keeps going. Many of the towers are exposed because the city of Los Angeles (nearly 400 miles away!) drew off large amounts of water from the lake's tributaries for use as a drinking supply. Courts have now restricted how much water the city can take. It is amazing to me, an Easterner who gets tired of having so much rain in these dreary Tennessee winters, how important water is in most parts of the West.

Tahoe Blue

I wanted to get some of my pictures from vacation up. These are from Lake Tahoe, where the color of the water has become a theme within the towns that surround the lake. We had a day full of beautiful sunshine to explore. As the sun went down, interesting clouds began to form. I had never seen anything quite like them. Most of our trip was spent exploring national parks, but Lake Tahoe ranks right up there with any of the parks, even though much of it is privately owned.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ocoee and Hiwassee

This last weekend, we went on two hikes that totaled about ten miles. Both hikes were flat walks along beautiful rivers, so the distance wasn't bad. Here are some of my favorite pictures. The first picture is the best result of experimentation with a new toy: a CPL filter. The golden rod and the lizard were interesting sights along the way. The last shot is of the Ocoee River. Its hard to see, but the water flow has been sculpted with cement and man-made boulders. The 1996 Atlanta Olympic whitewater events were held here. Apparently the natural river was not challenging enough!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Skylight Cave

Justin and I went to Cumberland Gap about two weekends ago. I work in the small town of Harrogate, which lies just below the gap, and I've been through the park briefly once before. But I got to do some more detailed investigation this time. One of the places we decided to hike, solely based on the name shown on the map, was Skylight Cave. It ended up being a really neat little cave with a large opening at ground level and a smaller opening higher up. It looked like the cave had a skylight. I took this picture from the back of the cave, looking up at the light in the ceiling. It doesn't do it justice; it was such an eerie light.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hummingbirds and Home

One staple of visiting Mom's house in the right season is hummingbird-watching. This particularly bossy individual staked out a feeder right outside the kitchen window and chased any other hummers that dared to approach. The little female spent a long time grooming and contorting herself, allowing me to take pictures through the window. This picture is probably the best of the session.