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].

Advertisements

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!

 

Crumbling Castles

Crumbling Castles

Trinidad State Beach, Trinidad, California

The forests around here are amazing in their ability to hide rocks. In fact, I only know of one segment of trail [out of 70+ miles!] where one could go to inspect a rocky outcrop.  Thank heavens for the ragged coastline!  There is no end to rocky fascinations on this coast; from troves of multicolored sand grains to pebbly beaches and crumbling cliffs.  Miles and miles and miles demonstrating the handiwork of geology; of building and breaking down of massive amounts of minerals in the seemingly perpetual cycle of which these rocks pictured above only represent a brief blink of the eons that have already come and gone.  /geologicprose

The Rainy Season

This is our first winter here in the North Coast. We are at nearly the same latitude as Salt Lake City, Omaha, and Indianapolis and yet have no snow.  Thanks to the Pacific Ocean, we often don’t see temperatures below freezing. While that could be a consolation for some, we also get the majority of our precipitation during this time of year. Winter has been replaced with the rainy season.

The rainy season is beckoned in by radio ads talking about getting the greenhouses up as to not get caught off guard [certain cash crops can be severely damaged by the slightest rainfall], spiders disappearing, worms appearing [inside!], and birds coming down from the higher altitudes to stay warm.  I rather enjoy having company at the feeders, but I’m not too fond of peeling half desiccated worm bodies off the entry floor.

Glad to have enough light to catch this "Oregon" Dark-eyed Junco finally!

When the rains and wind let up, everyone floods outside. It is strange one day to walk the dog and see very few people moving about, and then the moment the sun breaks, people pop up like mushrooms. I guess it’s not so bad though, since looking like a drown rat walking something that looks like a drown polar bear isn’t really what I want everyone to see, just the other drown rats.

Chickens Enjoy Sunshine, but Most of All, Bugs

On a couple of fine days in between storms, we joined the crowds and headed to the beach. We really like walking around the beaches of Trinidad, and since in North Coast California, a busy day really isn’t all that busy.  The only place that has felt busy recently was Moonstone Beach with its dog walkers, rock climbers, hula hoopers, tight rope walkers, bocce ball players, kayakers, surfers, and general beach goers. Every time we go there is someone doing something you wouldn’t expect. And it’s not a developed beach, it’s a little cove blocked by cliffs on one side and the Little River on the other. It’s just easy to get to and has a cool name, I guess.

Anyway, we made it to Trinidad twice now between the sputtering showers and heaving, wind-driven downpours. 

It is one of my favorite places to mill around because of the color in the rocks. I feel like every time I go, I see a new rainbow in a rock. I believe most of that can be attributed to the hodge podge geologic composition of the North Coast Range that butts up against the ocean. Farther East you have mountain building due to volcanic activity. Out here, the North American plate is scraping against the Pacific plate, peeling off sea floor sediments and piling them up as the Coast Range. It’s essentially like mounding up what you can scrape off the top of a gravel road; it’s going to be a mix of whatever is in the way.

A Rainbow Rock in College Cove

Getting past this geology tangent, it is the rainy season when the land and sea really battle it out. Large waves are more frequent, chipping away at the cliffs and bluffs, but the rains do their part to put as much of the earth into the sea as possible.  All this sediment contributes to our murky seas, and possibly to the higher rate of shark attacks here. Since the visibility is reduced, sharks likely rely more on their electromagnetic sense than sight. Obviously, sharks don’t have hands, so they ‘feel’ around with their mouths.  There aren’t many people in the water, thankfully, but if we were as busy as southern California, yikes!

The Creeks are Swelling Fast

It is a dynamic coast that seems to be caught in a never-ending cycle of washing away, scraping up, and washing away again. Of course, it’s not just the rock sediment that gets caught up in this battle. On Pewetole Island, Sitka Spruce hangs on precariously to what used to be connected land. I’m not sure what species of tree that has been wedged between the boulders, but it attests to the force needed to place it there.

Pewetole Island Between Boulders

Waves Crashing on Pewetole

Remember when I mentioned that people pop up like mushrooms when it doesn’t rain?  The same fair weather rules apply to the crab fishermen. In the summer months, you hardly see a boat on the water [if you can see the water through the dense fog], but come the rainy season, boats line the Pacific’s horizon like streetlights on a major highway.  They have to battle the waves [most of the boats are fairly small], plow through the rain, and avoid the sea stacks that guard the rocky cliffs.  While I am sure they have a lot more on their mind, the crab fishermen can likely thank the rainy season to rush sediments down to the ocean where the prey items of the dungeness crabs feed, allowing the crabs to feast on the small, well-fed  shrimp and fish. From there, the now well-fed crabs are traded for bills to land on a plate. Cycles within the cycles of the rainy season.

Crab Boat Horizon