On the Beach…at Ocean Beach
Last week, Heather and I were able to get down to the lovely Jersey shore for some rest and relaxation with family and friends (actually, a whole lot of family!). We had some great weather…and I didn’t turn into a lobster for once! And Heather bravely went fairly far out into the ocean.
All in all, a nice lil’ vacation down on the beach.
Campfire Tepee at Sunset
A tepee of varying-sized tree limbs is certainly a great way to get a large fire going. This particular tepee up at the Joaquin Campground site was fairly large and, although it took a bit of effort to get the smaller stuff in the middle to catch, once it did, this fire was blazing.
By the end of the night, I think we made it through much of that woodpile in the background…
Ossabaw Island Pig
This dark pig sure was enjoying his nearby mudhole before I took this picture…as you can probably tell from his muddy legs. This pig was on the Great Hopes Plantation at Colonial Williamsburg, and he is of a breed that is similar to the pigs of the 17th century that played an important role in early colonial life. From bacon to Virginia ham, early colonists certainly enjoyed their pigs.
Looking straight up from the ground, the canopy in this particular bit of forest in Stokes State Forest is rather sparse, letting plenty of sunlight through the patches of pine needles.
This canopy is also a pretty cool fractal!
Sooo, the Snow was Deep…
As Ken K. and I were preparing our packs for a fun-filled day in the Upper Wheaton River Valley, I decided to investigate the snow and see how deep it was. As you can see in Ken’s photo above, it was a pretty good depth, and it only got deeper as we climbed the mountains…deep enough to do some snow cannonballs at one point!
Ponderer of Chocolate
A week ago, Noah celebrated his baptism with some delicious chocolate cake. Nice and gooey, the cake ended up all over his hands and face (although plenty made it into his mouth!). After finishing his piece, Noah appeared to strike a pondering pose.
Who knows what he may have been thinking…but maybe he was thinking about how amazing chocolate tastes…mmmmm.
Our First Christmas…S’more Style
Here is another ornament on our Christmas tree to help celebrate Christmas in July. Heather and I received this ‘Our 1st Christmas’ ornament for our wedding, and we both certainly love s’mores and other campfire treats (Heather is a campfire treat pro).
I think I could go for a S’more right about now…
Jodie’s camping kitchen is a good-sized prep area for all kinds of camping food. From the stove-top coffee pots to a little kitchen sink and other kitchen implements, this kitchen has pretty much everything you need for a great weekend. Plenty of coolers full of various things to drink and eat and a huge Jagermeister flag make this kitchen complete.
This is Bailey…in your face. He typically didn’t look this scary and was actually a large and lovable golden retriever. Of course, if you took away his favorite toy, his eyes would start to glow orange and you’d know you were in for a world of pain…(not really, but I had to come up with something to match this wacky photo of Bailey!).
On the last night of our honeymoon, Heather and I were treated to a nice sunset over the Atlantic Ocean. It was a bit windy on the back of the ship where this was taken, and we were dressed in our formal attire for dinner so we didn’t stay too long. But it was a nice way to finish up our lil’ vacation.
Cades Cove Panoramic View
(For the full resolution of this panorama, click here!)
Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a pretty popular destination. It has some neat old structures (such as small cabins, big cabins, and large barns), but the surrounding scenery is just beautiful. This panoramic shot captures only a little bit of the fantastic view that sweeps across this Tennessee landscape.
Rooster on a Stick??
This is a rooster…on a stick. He is fully adorned with colorful mardi gras beads, feather boas, a Jagermeister medallion and some shiny pinwheels.
You may ask, “Why??”….I’d say, “Why not?!”.
Harriman – Bear Mountain Trail Maps
Located in Rockland and Orange counties just north of the NY/NJ border, Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks are one of the most popular hiking destinations in the New York City metropolitan area. Harriman State Park, the second-largest state park in New York, has over 200 miles of marked trails (and plenty more miles of unmarked paths and roads). Bear Mountain is an impressive mountain along the Hudson River, and it is also the location of the initial section of the Appalachian Trail that opened in 1923.
Right now, I’m working on an update to this map set from the previous edition. I haven’t checked out many of the trails myself, so I would definitely like to go explore Harriman and Bear Mountain sometime.
Starry December Sky
With Orion hanging low in the southern sky, I took this photo on a not-super-cold December night while keeping an eye (and camera shutter) open for Geminid meteors. Orion is extremely easy to spot during the winter months with the Belt of Orion and hanging sword framed by a rough rectangle (trapezoid I guess) representing the body of Orion the Hunter.
On a nice, clear summer night, look up into the sky and look for some great summer constellations such as Cygnus (the swan), Sagittarius (the archer), Aquila (the eagle) and Scorpio (the scorpion).
Most “Special” Ornament on Our Tree
While we’re not anywhere near regular Christmas, ‘Christmas in July’ is fast approaching…so I decided to post a photo of one of the more, ummmm, unique ornaments on our tree. This fuzzy and woody cyclops creature was certainly carefully constructed by either myself, Kristin or Michael…and I’m sure that at one time in the past, he had two eyes, but I kind of like the one eye look.
So this cyclops gets my award for ‘Most “Special” Ornament on Our Tree”. Congratulations, little guy.
Heart of Stone
During my years at Susquehanna University studying geology, I spent a lot of time in the rock preparation room with rock-cutting saws, polishing tools, and thin-section slide-making tools. It was a lot of fun taking a cool rock and cutting it up like slices of bread…really hard bread that required some diamond-edged sawblades. One particular large rock had some pretty cool patterns inside (I think it was mostly some type of feldspar), and I decided to take a slice and try out some carving skills. In the end, I was pretty pleased with how it came out (even if it is a little uneven…hearts are difficult!).
While not nearly as large and grand as nearby Neuschwanstein Castle, Linderhof Palace and its surrounding gardens are pretty impressive. It was completed by King Ludwig II (as was Neuschwanstein) around the 1870s, and while it is his smallest castle, it was the only one he lived to see completed. The interior is pretty ornate and, when not covered with snow, so too are the gardens. This photo was taken from the top of the Terrace Gardens looking toward the palace and a large pool with a gilt fountain. Elsewhere on the property are things like a chapel, other fountains, and the Venus Grotto that was an artificial cave with a lake and waterfall and color-changing lights.
I’d like to go back when the gardens are blooming…but the snowy Bavarian Alps are quite pretty too.
Metropolis Atrium, Carnival Miracle
An 11-story atrium is not something that you might expect to find on a ship…but this one on the Carnival Miracle cruise ship is pretty cool. This photo was taken from the bottom floor looking up to the red-tinted windows above. The top floors are a fancy restaurant, and the atrium also includes three fun elevators (two of them are visible in the middle and left side).
It’s also fun to look straight down at the tiny people below through the windows from the top deck of the ship.
This is some serious depth hoar… These snow crystals on my gloved hand are called depth hoar and they are pretty cool to find in a snowpack. They’re faceted like jewels and don’t really stick together, so you can run them through your fingers as if you were playing with a handful of diamonds. This type of depth hoar forms in snowpack when the air temperature is consistently very low (the snow at the bottom of the snowpack warms up and releases water vapor that then recrystallizes into the large crystals shown above). These crystals also create a very unstable layer in the snow on steep slopes, and layers of depth hoar are one of the major triggers of avalanches.
Isn’t snow fun?!?
Amy and Brian in ‘Toy Story’
Don’t these two look great as little green Martians?? Heather took this shot of Amy and Brian on a family trip to Disney World more than 5 years ago as we were having fun with various props and boards like this one from Toy Story. With ‘Toy Story 3’ now in theaters, I thought this was an appropriate photo of them to post!
Amy and Brian are now less than 2 months away from calling one another husband and wife (or whatever weird names they might decide to call one another)! Woohoo!!
Our Cabin in the Smokies…
So there isn’t a lot of room in this Tennessee cabin, and it isn’t all that great at keeping little critters out…but it did the job for Heather and I during our week-long stay in Tennessee! Actually, our cabin was a little larger and critter-proof, but the cabin in the photo above has a certain amount of charm to it. It was one of several buildings on an old homestead in the Cades Cove section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Reynolds Mountain, Glacier National Park
The Continental Divide in Glacier National Park is very purdy in mid-July! Patches of snow mix with colorful wild flowers and rocky mountain summits, as shown in this photo of Reynolds Mountain taken from Logan Pass. At an elevation of 6646 feet, this is the highest elevation of the main road through the park, Going-to-the-Sun Road. Reynolds Mountain is an excellent example of a glacial horn, or a pyramid-shaped peak that has been carved by multiple glaciers.
It’s Your Birthday, Dad!
You were quite the cute baby, Dad! What’s not to love about that great hairstyle?!?
Have a Happy Birthday today!
Autumn Wetlands in Stokes
Just east of the trailhead for the Steam Mill Trail in Stokes State Forest, the Big Flat Brook meanders its way out of a large wetland area. On this particular October day, the surrounding trees were very colorful under some fairly gray skies and the brook itself was pretty still. The hike I took along the Steam Mill Trail was pretty peaceful, and I don’t think I saw a single person out there the whole time.