Well…not quite daily recently…

Archive for December, 2008

Photo #47 – 12.31.08

Ocean Sunrise

I always enjoy a good sunrise, especially when the clouds and other surroundings complement the rising sun.  This sunrise was in early January of 2006 while Heather, Amy, Brian and I were cruising down in the Bahamas.  Aside from feeling like I was the only passenger on the ship at that time (the outside decks were pretty much empty), it was pretty cool to see the sun rise upon the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean.

So if you are out allll night tonight celebrating the coming of 2009, check out the sunrise in the morning…I doubt you’ll be disappointed!  Happy New Year!


Photo #46 – 12.30.08

One-Room Kansas Schoolhouse (From a Distance)

This is Kansas.  Mostly flat, wide-open fields, tiny patches of trees, and an occasional building that pops up from the horizon.  In this case, the tiny building in the distance is an old one-room schoolhouse:

One-Room Kansas Schoolhouse (Up Close)

As the sign indicates, this building was a schoolhouse from 1887-1965, and my mom was a student there during some of the last years of its operation as a school.  We all paid a visit to this cozy schoolhouse and took a grand tour of the inside, and then someone my mom knew from her childhood stopped by.  My sister and I had a great time on the rusty swings outside too.  I believe it has been used from some community functions from time to time, as there were somewhat-recent 4-H signs and stuff.

Whenever my mom tells people she went to school in a tiny one-room schoolhouse in the countryside of Kansas, she usually gets a response like “Really??  You actually went to a one-room school??”


Photo #45 – 12.29.08

Sunset in the Yukon…at 11:15PM

The nights up in the North sure are short in the early summer!  Here in the beginning of July, the sun set around 11 at night and rose around 4.  During the night, though, it never really gets too dark because the sun doesn’t sink that far below the horizon…so when I headed to the outhouse one morning at 2am, I didn’t even need a light since it was a dusky gray out.

This sunset was gorgeous as the reds and oranges reflected off the clouds, which in turn was reflected in the flowing Wheaton River and cast the entire landscape in an orange hue.  After taking this photo and watching the clouds a bit longer, it was time to head back inside to bed for another fun day of field work the next day!

I never thought I’d sleep with a mask covering my eyes…but after my summer trip of camping in the Yukon, that eye mask was oh so nice.


Photo #44 – 12.28.08

Flat Brook in Stokes State Forest

The Flat Brook starts out as a fairly small brook in Stokes State Forest, flowing in shallow streams often filled with boulders of various sizes.  As it flows south out of Stokes and into the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, it gets a little bit bigger before reaching the Delaware River just north of Millbrook Village.

This portion of the Flat Brook is between the Steam Mill Trail (on the right bank in this photo) and the Parker Trail (on the left bank).  I was out on the Steam Mill Trail collecting GPS data for our new hiking maps covering all of High Point State Park, Stokes State Forest, and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.  I’m allllmost done with this trail map set…and I would recommend anyone that does any outdoor activities in this region to pick up a copy when it is available!


Photo #43 – 12.27.08

Parents in the Corn

This is what happens when you put my parents in a corn maze…they inevitably pose for a goofy picture!  Or maybe a couple of goofy pictures…

Mom and Dad Did It!

This corn maze was up in northern Vermont, and is ‘The Great Vermont Corn Maze’.  We only did the tiny corn maze because we figured we did not want to spend a couple hours trying to go through the large maze…  Fortunately, we all made it out alive, and then we played a big game of Ring Around the Rosy up on a hilltop overlooking the corn maze and surrounding Vermont landscape (Hannah and Madison insisted).

I’m sure my parents would give the Great Vermont Corn Maze two thumbs up.


Photo #42 – 12.26.08

Sparkling Star Trails in the Yukon

Have you ever seen the night sky quite like this?  I would guess not, since this is a 3 hour exposure of the northern sky that I captured one chilly night in the Yukon.  I brought my old 35mm camera up to try out some interesting starry sky pictures, and on this night I set up my tripod, opened the shutter, and went back inside to bed.  I had centered the shot on the North Star to creat the circular star trails effect, and the skies had been super clear when I set it up.  I set my alarm for 3 hours later, stumbled out of bed, put a bunch of layers on, and closed the shutter on the camera.  Hoping I got a good shot, I packed up the camera and went back to bed.

Upon developing the film later, I found that some clouds must have swept in at various times, causing some of the bright star trails to appear interrupted.  It actually created a pretty neat effect in my opinion!  I was able to get some other great star shots on other nights also…it definitely helped to be miles away from any sort of light pollution!


Photo #41 – 12.25.08

Merry Christmas!!

Heather and I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas!!!


Photo #40 – 12.24.08

Christmas Eve with Grandma and Grandpa

This photo was taken exactly 9 years ago on Christmas Eve back in 1999.  My aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousin Victoria all came to our house to celebrate Christmas Eve, and judging from our smiles in this photo, I think we all had a good time that night.

I’d have to look back at the other photos from that year to figure out what my presents were that year…but I’m sure they were really cool and not dorky at all.


Photo #39 – 12.23.08

Dad and his Toys at Christmas

So my dad has always had more toys than any of us.  The inner kid in him is always spotting some toy that he’d like to have.  Here he is from a couple years ago with a tap dancing Penguin from that ‘Happy Feet’ movie.  When he took it out of the package later that day, I think he enjoyed it just as much as little Hannah!

I wonder what kind of fun toy he’ll get this year??


Photo #38 – 12.22.08

Doctor Kristin!!

This is what happens when Kristin gets too close to the kids’ christmas presents…  Actually, she is just being a good mom and testing them out before letting Madison play with them.

It’s a tight fit, but yep, they work!


Photo #37 – 12.21.08

Christmas Lights

These colorful lights are on our big old spruce tree back home.  This tree was about 4 feet tall when we moved into our house in 1987…and it’s about 25 feet tall or so now.  I’m not quite sure when my dad put these lights on the tree, but I think they’ve been up there for quite a while now…it’s a bit tough to take them down and put them back up each year.

Of course, we could always borrow a bucket truck…


Photo #36 – 12.20.08

Where’s Baby Hannah?

Can you find Hannah hidden amongst this pile of wrapping paper??  I know it may be tough to find her…but she’s there.  This photo was taken at Christmas four years ago.  Hannah is a lot older and a lot bigger now, but she is definitely a fan of Christmas.

I know Christmas is still a few days away, but I figured I would put some various Christmas photos up this week.  I hope you enjoy them!


Photo #35 – 12.19.08

Montana Lightning

Have you ever tried to take a photo of lightning??  I have tried many times since this photo to catch a lightning bolt in action, and I have only partially succeeded.  It’s mostly about luck and being in the right place at the right time…and hoping for the best.

This shot was taken somewhere in Montana on our drive up to Glacier National Park.  A big storm swept down upon us, and as we were driving along, I decided to try to take pictures of the storm.  I used the setting on our camera that shoots 16 quick shots, aimed at the distant clouds, and clicked the button.  My timing was just right as I got the before, during, and after of the lightning strike, and it was centered right where I was aiming.  So I was pretty happy with that shot.

If you’re ever watching a real cool lightning storm, try to take some photos and see if you can catch a bolt or two!


Photo #34 – 12.18.08

My Favorite Outhouse in the Summer

My Favorite Outhouse in the Winter

This was our bathroom in the Yukon for much of the time, and it has to rank up there with one of the best outhouses around.  From its handcrafted, rustic wood build, to the fine collection of river rocks and animal skulls/antlers inside, this outhouse had it all.  The seat was a nice big sheet of foam, and the stack of reading material was fantastic… I learned how to build a log cabin from scratch in here.  On top of all that, I met a mouse friend one winter night who was keeping warm in the outhouse.

It was located about 100 feet from the cabin (just to the right out of this photo of the cabin), so it was always a fun walk at night.  Had it not been for this nightly trek, we would never have seen the most spectacular display of northern lights dancing above the moonlit Yukon landscape (Shannon, a fellow grad student, saw them on her way to the outhouse and came running back to tell me).

You’d be hard-pressed to find an outhouse as great as this one.


Photo #33 – 12.17.08

Dad and the Snowball

Look at that snowball!  I’d say  it’s a pretty nice one…not too big but still big enough to hurt, and nice and spherical to allow it to glide effortlessly through the air.  If you think my dad can make a good snowball, you’re right.  Of course, he did use a plastic ‘snowball maker’ to make this snowball, so he got a little help, but if you are ever in a situation where you are in need of large quantities of snowballs, you’ll wish you had one of these things.

Just look how many snowballs I plopped together in a short amount of time last winter!!

Snowball Pyramid

That’s a lot of snowballs…what is your estimate for how many snowballs are in this pyramid???


Photo #32 – 12.16.08

Heather with Moose Antlers

So Heather and I were walking around Epcot at Disney World, and we came to the country of Canada (probably my favorite!).  We checked out the gift shop sort of place, and of course they had all kinds of moose related stuff.  Heather just couldn’t resist trying on a pair of her own moose antlers and posing for a quick photo.  I tried on a coonskin hat sort of thing…not quite my look.  We had a lot more fun in Canada that day as well as the rest of Epcot.

Yay for Disney World!


Photo #31 – 12.15.08

Ferocious Jake

Okay, so maybe Jake wasn’t about to bite my head off…he was actually just letting out a huge yawn.  He had been sleeping on the deck, and then I woke him up as I was trying to take some pictures of him.  After I left him alone, he went right back to having a lazy April afternoon.

Jake was originally my sister’s cat, and then he became an outdoor cat at my parents’ house.  He used to be very aggressive, as you could barely pet him without having him hiss or swipe his claws at you.  But as he has grown older, he has also become a lot nicer.  I can now pet him for a whole 20 seconds before he has had enough!

But he’s still a good cat…especially when he leaves little mouse treats just outside the door for us to almost step on…


Photo #30 – 12.14.08

The Little Hikers

Hannah and Madison like to hike.  Or at least they seem to like doing stuff outdoors!  Here they are hiking on a portion of trail I cleared in the woods back home this past summer.  Unfortunately, I only finished about half of the trail…so it leads down into the woods but doesn’t loop back out of the woods yet.  But it’s a nice scenic walk in the woods, with a few stone steps and log borders.  Maybe I’ll be able to finish it for my parents next year, complete with a trail map.


Photo #29 – 12.13.08

Public Drinking Prohibited in the Yukon

There are definitely some interesting road signs up in the Yukon Territory.  Some have weird symbols, while others just make you wonder “Why?”  This one was on the Robert Campbell Highway (notice that this ‘highway’ is actually a dirt road…) near the small town of Ross River.  Maybe it isn’t too weird that public drinking isn’t allowed near a lake…but when the lake is named ‘Coffee Lake’…it just makes for a funny sign.

I think we drank some water while passing Coffee Lake…luckily, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was not around to enforce this prohibition.


Photo #28 – 12.12.08

Campfire + Spittin’ Liquor = WHOOOOSH!!

If you’ve ever wondered what a mouthful of potent whiskey can do to a good ole’ fashioned campfire, here ya go!  This photo is from the past summer when the Joaquin clan camped out in New York for the July 4th weekend, and it shows Uncle Bucky in action as he is finishing his elegant liquor spit.  I think almost everyone around the circle did a couple spits, with some great results, but Uncle Bucky had the most consistent bursts of flame.  And don’t think it was just the guys with great spits, because some of the ladies created some great balls of fire.

You know you’re in for some fun when my parents bring out a bottle of old fire-spittin’ whiskey!


Photo #27 – 12.11.08

Lombard Street 3-Car Garage, San Francisco

This is a fairly typical residential street in the hills of San Francisco.  Steep road, cars parked in such a way as to prevent any runaway cars, and staggered car garages…although I don’t recall seeing too many 3-car garages like this.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 3-car garage like this.

If the name ‘Lombard Street’ sounds familiar, it’s because it is pretty famous:

The Famous Lombard Street

About a block east from the 3-car garage, Lombard Street begins its descent as the Crookedest Street in the World (although another street in San Francisco makes this claim as well).  A series of 8 hairpin turns was constructed here because the natural grade of 27% was insanely steep for vehicular traffic.  It’s pretty touristy, with a constant parade of cars going down at 5mph and people walking on the stairs on either side, but it was still pretty cool.  And it was another great stop on my walking tour of San Francisco.


Photo #26 – 12.10.08

The Center of the United States of America

Wow, the center of the USA.  This is one place I never thought I would ever get to visit, but lo and behold, my parents and I ended up at the center one magical July day in 2002.  Just outside of Lebanon, Kansas is the geographic center of the lower 48 states.  This is described as the point upon which a cardboard cutout of the lower 48 states would balance.  Anyway, after passing some pastures and farm communities, we came upon a monument, an abandoned motel (for allll the tourists that come…), and a tiny chapel.

The Monument

I felt so special standing at the center of the US, with all of America (sorry Hawaii and Alaska…) being balanced upon this single location.  Of course, we only stuck around to take a few pictures and then got back in the car to continue on our drive back to New Jersey.  Unfortunately, we never did go to the town of Lebanon for souvenirs.


Photo #25 – 12.09.08

Ralph the Bear

Meet Ralph. Ralph was our neighborhood bear in Wantage back in 2007, and he made a number of appearances again in 2008. He may have demolished a bird feeder or two, but he was pretty friendly otherwise…of course, I never got too close to test that friendliness. On this occasion, I was down by our firepit cleaning up before a get together that night, and I turned my head to notice Ralph on our steps, about 15 feet away. I was able to get inside, grab my camera, and get back outside to catch him reaching for the bird feeder. He tried for a bit, but eventually gave up and wandered down into the woods.

This past summer, Ralph surprised me at least 3 times, including one time when he walked right behind me as I was cleaning my car. Of course, he always disappeared by the time I got my camera from inside.

I was disappointed he never really looked at me when I called his name…maybe he’ll respond to “Ralph!” next summer.


Photo #24 – 12.08.08

Lake McDonald Sunrise, Glacier National Park

This is probably my favorite self-portrait I’ve taken…even though I wasn’t even behind the camera…  In the summer of 2002, we took a family trip out to Kansas to visit my mom’s family and then up to Montana to for a week of Glacier National Park.  We shacked up in a place called Apgar Village Lodge (located in Apgar, Montana) at the base of Lake McDonald with an excellent view of the distant mountains.  I got up every morning for the sunrise, and each morning was a little different.  On this morning, the sky was super clear and the lake surface was extremely calm.  I sat down on the rocky beach and enjoyed the sunrise spectacle for quite a long time.  I had no desire to get up and leave, it was just so serene sitting along the lake by myself (although there were some professional photographers further down the beach capturing the mirrored-lake sunrise).

That sunrise is definitely in my top three…if not my favorite of all.