Solitude, but Not Alone

Solitude, but Not Alone

Trying out a new way to post blogs, since I have so much trouble with the wordpress formatter. It will be interesting to see how it pans out with regard to SEO. To me, this manner lets me add more of a personal touch that I can tailor according to how much time I have. Hope you enjoy!

2014-3-29 Houda Point Post

Here They Come!

Here They Come!

Perhaps you’ve been watching the amazing Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Cosmos television series? Last night, he touched on the fact that stars have long been used as a calendar, indicating when new seasons are around the bend [get planting, you!]. Certain constellations are tightly tied with seasons–such as Orion and Winter.

Less than 45 miles from Indianapolis, Brown County State Park is flooded with light pollution.

Less than 45 miles from Indianapolis, Brown County State Park is flooded with light pollution.

This winter, I’d been fussing about how slowly Orion moves. He’d climb over the eastern mountains, dangle over the Golden Gate Bridge [from the Marin Headlands, of course], and all and all, be a slow poke about his waltz across the sky. My impatience, stemming from the fact that I don’t usually look at the winter night sky, kept growing. It’s so difficult to live in a place where the temperature is mild year round [Ha! But I don’t ever feel warm.]. We made several trips up to Kneeland, a patch of human-created prairie where the astronomy club meets, this winter to stand in a forest of telescopes and gawk with like-minded folks and only encountered nippy conditions, but no frostbite.  To me, looking at the stars says very loudly SUMMER! My brain, in that warm, wind-swept prairie of South Dakota-mode, wondered why long underwear was necessary, and why the stars weren’t as familiar. Sirius? Isn’t that some form of radio?? Aldebaran? Don’t you mean Altair? And who is this Orion fellow anyway? Hercules! Hercules! [In my defense, my star gazing occurs between the hours of 9 and 12 pm–no early morning viewings for me, hence the missing the “other” part of the sky.]

So last night, after what feels like a long winter [probably since there was hardly any rain–hardly a winter!], the Big Dipper pointed to two bright stars [and one planet] creeping over the eastern mountains–Arcturus and Spica [and Mars–that’s a story for another day]! Summer stars, the stars I’m most familiar with, were shining and climbing. Soon they will be directly overhead, crowning the night skies of summer. Good Bye Orion! Good Bye Stars of Winter!

Orion sinks into the Pacific [center left], Sirius, the brightest star we see, glows in foggy conditions [left]. Taurus and the Pleiades follow to the right. All of these are topped by the Milky Way running horizontally across the top of the photo.  The orange glow of Eureka competes with the blue light from the Trinidad Head Lighthouse [on right].

Even with some light pollution but less-densely populated, we are lucky to live in such a dark area. Orion sinks into the Pacific [center left], Sirius, the brightest star we see, glows in foggy conditions [left]. Taurus and the Pleiades follow to the right. All of these are topped by the Milky Way running horizontally across the top of the photo. The orange glow of Eureka competes with the blue light from the Trinidad Head Lighthouse [on right].

Waves, Finally!

Waves -picking you up
Pushing you down
They’re always around
Waves-just like a dream
Silver and green
We live in between
They can carry you all the way to me
They can pull you out to the deep blue sea

- Blondfire Waves

There’s not one single wave in that music video, by the way.  This post, on the other hand…

As a result of a large storm system slamming the Oregon and Washington coast, our coast finally witnessed some of the largest waves it’s seen in nearly a year or more. Wave-watching, along with agate-hunting, is a sport around here, as documented by our local newspaper: http://photos.times-standard.com/2014/01/12/photos-breaking-waves-on-north-jetty/

Our group opted to head north to Elk Head above Trinidad.  The ground shook as we gathered in the parking lot. We missed the biggest waves that came during the cover of darkness, but it was a show nonetheless.

Waves, Breakers, Storm Waves

Waves, Ocean, Rock, Sea Stack

Waves, Breakers, Sea Foam,

Waves, Breakers, Ocean, Sea

Waves, Rock, Ocean, Pacific

Sea Gull, Waves, Breakers, Ocean, Sea, Pacific

Waves, Ocean, Rock, Pacific

Due to the fog, lighting, and sea spray, most of the photos did not have a lot of contrast. To get that low key, dramatic effect you expect in wave shots, some post processing is required [like most photos, fyi! Rarely do photos come straight out of the camera perfectly, just as negatives never came out of the darkroom untouched.] If your processing software can do it, tone curves are a good way to get contrasty results. That also means you might see more wave photos coming in the next few posts, since I didn’t have time to get to all of them in this round of editing!

 

November Flowers

Interesting little scene we happened upon in a creek that spills out into the Pacific. Someone had made a little fairyland out of the invasive flowers and washed-up bull kelp.

Queen Anne’s Lace gone to seed along side a Sitka spruce cone with a bull kelp aqueduct.

Some tiny [tiny!] flowers I managed to not get a great shot of. I’m not sure if they are currently flowering, or just dried from the salt spray.

Unknown micro flowers

Mimulus guttatus, sometimes referred to as the common or seep monkey flower, craves consistent water it would seem. Apparently this species can be found in many different sizes, and extensive genetic studies have been done on it. It can grow upright, or like this one, dangle upside down off the side of cliffs and rock faces. It needs only 13 cm of soil. Recently, it has been found to grow in old copper mines, tolerating what would normally be considered a toxic level of metal for anything else. Crazy little flowers!

Mimulus guttatus

According to Calflora, flowering occurs from April to July…since this little guy is a beach hermit, it probably never saw that memo. November is as good as any to bloom around here.

 

 

 

Aurulent Autumn

Autumn around here isn’t necessarily something that leaf peepers would come flocking to, as they do in my hometown in Indiana, but the season has its own charm.

Devils Punchbowl

Bigleaf Maples in Prairie Creek

The top photo is in the “high country” around 4,640ft or so just before Devils Punchbowl in the Siskiyou Wilderness. While it’s not the most dramatic hike in regard to fall color, it is amazing for the conifers.  It almost looks like a botanical garden set in granite peaks! Somewhere around 15 or 17 species are found up here, some left from the last glaciation period. Speaking of glaciers, the little lakes up there were carved by them. Worth a visit to this sensitive area–just tread lightly!

The second photo is from [of course!] Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Bigleaf maples are one of the few species in the redwoods that throw color into the forest during the fall. I’d assume that the prominence of yellow is one of the reasons banana slugs might be yellow. Pity, since that crunchy yellow leaf wasn’t actually so crunchy…more on the smooshy side…[a tip if you’re like me and have to move all banana slugs off the trail–don’t use water to remove the slime off your fingers, scrape it off instead!]

You’d think with all the yellow around, people would get sick of it, but October is odd here. Along with a scattering of blue-sky days, the thickest fog comes around during this month [9 days straight of fog, 3 minutes of sunshine on the 9th day, little over an hour on the 10th day, and about a half an hour this morning, the 11th day]. The golden yellows of autumn serve to remind us that we don’t live in a world of grey tones.

Surfer at Houda Point