Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I'm Back! I Guess

Long time no blog and am trying to do better. Have I said that before??

For my  "Welcome Back" post, I have a rant to get out of my system. I'll try to be brief.

On November 5, I went down to Gulf Shores, Alabama, for a couple of days to enjoy the scenery and pleasant atmosphere at Gulf State Park. On the way down, I had to pass through the town of Foley, Alabama. Had I reached Foley during the daytime, I might not have noticed the Christmas decorations on the lightposts as I drove through the town. It was dark and the lights of the decorations were quite noticeable. Wait.  Didn't we just have Halloween? Isn't Thanksgiving coming up at the end of November? Do we really need to jump straight from Halloween decorations on September 1 (and I really like Halloween) to Christmas decorations on November 1? What happened to the harvest-oriented decorations (admitttedly, I can take or leave them) that used to be everywhere this time of year? I love Christmas, but really have no desire to look at Christmas decorations for two months any more than I want to look at Halloween decorations for two months. I guess I'm just an old cranky person. For those of you who enjoy putting up Halloween decorations on September 1 and Christmas decorations on November 1, fine, you are going to do it anyway. My apologies if I have seriously offended any of you. I just hope I don't have to listen to Christmas music everywhere I go starting next week.

Well, that's it. More later.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


These are skeins of yarn I've spun up from some fiber blending fun I've had since summer 2013. They are spun as  single  strands that would typically be respun with at least one other strand, a process called plying that yields 2-ply, 3-ply, or X-ply depending on how many strands are plied (twisted) together. These were so nice as single strand yarn, known as "singles," that I decided to leave them as is and not ply them. I will use them for freestyle weaving projects such as wall hangings, scarves, and shawls, but not soon. I love looking at these skeins just the way they are. The colors and textures  make me happy. I want to enjoy them like this for a while before I do anything else with them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Great Blue Heron

Some bad cell phone photos of Great Blue Herons made at various locations over the past few years

Ditto Landing, Huntsville, AL

Madison County Lake, AL

Gulf Shores State Park, FL

And back to Ditto Landing

Saturday, October 18, 2014

An Amazing Place: Crater Lake National Park

The long lost blogger has returned with more travel photos.

Our daughter went to visit a friend in Portland, Oregon back in March. The visit led to a summer job out there. We went to visit her in July and one place I really, really had to see was Crater Lake. What an indescribably beautiful place! 

I first heard of Crater Lake in 1974 when I was taking geology classes in college as a possible minor to my anthropology major. One of my classes focused on the geology of our national parks. Two parks that were already on my "must see" list were the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, but when the professor introduced us to Crater Lake, I knew that I absolutely had to add it to my list. So many years passed that I never really thought I'd make it. Then the Daughter went to work in Oregon for almost three months. Her dad and I planned a visit and Crater Lake was one of the places I did not intend to miss. 

Crater Lake was created about 7,700 years ago when a volcano of approximately 10,000-12,000 feet in height, now known as Mt. Mazama, erupted, causing the top to collapse and creating the existing caldera that is filled about halfway with water. Crater Lake is is about six miles long and four miles wide. The water is nearly 2000 feet deep and is some of the purest on earth. The lake is fed only by rain and snow. The water level is fairly constant due to evaporation and some seepage. No recreational watercraft are allowed and swimming is limited to one beach area at the end of the only trail where, according to the NPS Crater Lake brochure, "it is safe and legal to get down to the lake shore." The steeply sloping sides of the interior of the caldera range from 500 feet to almost 2000 feet from the rim to the lake surface. 

Daughter and friend enjoy the view from a most precarious spot. She's the one in the red shirt.

After the eruption of Mt. Mazama that left the approximately 4000-foot deep hole, there were several other eruptions over the next 300-400 years. As a result, there are  several other cinder cone volcanoes within Crater Lake. The only one that is visible from the surface of the lake is known as Wizard Island. It rises a total of about  2,700 feet from the bottom of the lake and is about 755 feet above the current lake surface.  There are three tour boats (the only watercraft other than two maintenance boats allowed on the lake) operated by Crater Lake National Park that make stops at Wizard Island. 

The caldera in the top of Wizard Island is about 500 feet across and 100 feet deep.

A view of Wizard Island from the Visitor Center overlook.

One final shot of Crater Lake. 

My cell phone photos do not do it justice. Actually, no photos really do. If you ever have the opportunity to travel to the Pacific Northwest, I hope you make Crater Lake National Park one of your destinations. It is about 125 miles from Eugene, Oregon and about 60 miles from Klamath Falls, Oregon. It was about a 4-hour drive from Portland and well worth the time.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Trips West 2013--Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

Back again. Finally. Technology and general lethargy are keeping me from the blog. No promises this time.

On the way home from our amazing trips last year, we toured some of the Petrified Forest National Park and drove through a portion of the Painted Desert, both just off Interstate 40 near Winslow, Arizona (click on the links for more info). Here are a few photos.

Some cell phone shots from the Petrified Forest
A very long petrified tree trunk

lovely colors in the petrified wood

No. 2 Son in foreground and Daughter back in the distance examine petrified trees
Our return to the Interstate took us on a scenic drive through part of the Painted Desert. These photos just don't do it justice. Next time I'll try the panoramic setting. Or the other camera.

What a beautiful part of the country. I hope I get to go back to the Southwest soon.

Friday, March 21, 2014

More Trips West 2013--Meteor Crater National Natural Landmark

We did a good bit of traveling at night as we headed out to New Mexico and Arizona in May. This meant that we missed a few sites we wanted to see, so we decided to visit them on the way back home. There were several places near Winslow, Arizona that were not to be missed. These included Meteor Crater Petrified Forest, and Painted Desert (click on the links for more information; you can also check the National Park Service websites for these sites).

Meteor Crater (or Barringer Crater), 37 miles east of Flagstaff and 18 miles west of Winslow is a huge meteor impact crater owned by the Barringer Family and not actually a national park or national monument, which would require federal ownership; however, it was designated a National Natural Landmark in November 1967. The crater was formed about 50,000 years ago when a meteor struck the Earth. Today it is about a mile across, 2.4 miles in circumfrence, and 550 feet deep. Photos made from the ground do not do it justice.  It was extremely windy the day we were there. Normally, crater rim tours are given throughout the day, weather permitting, but it was so windy during our visit that tours were cancelled because of the risk to visitor safety. Here are a few photos.

Just a small portion of the crater. This is a cell phone photo. I wasn't using the panoramic setting because I was making other photos with another camera. One day I will upload all those photos--when I have a lot of time.

Daughter and No. 2 Son getting blown fiercely by the high winds. It was difficult to even hold the camera still to make photos.

Probably my favorite photo of the day, made from the visitor center as we were returning the to car. Lenticular clouds, lens-shaped, stationary clouds that generally do not form in over all types of terrain. I have seen many photos of them, but never seen any in person until our visit to Meteor Crater. This was a real treat. You can see by the shape why folks sometimes think they are UFO's.

Next time: Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ok, RG, this one 's for you

Sedona, Arizona. Part of "The Trips West 2013."

Unfortunately, I did not get to spend as much time there as I'd hoped. Suffice it to say that the four or five hours we spent there were enough to make me want to go back. There were many rock shops and New Age shops and restaurants, but the best part was the absolutely beautiful scenery. After making a second trip to Sunset Crater, then driving to the nearby Wupatki Ruins, we drove from Flagstaff down to Sedona in the afternoon along what was one of the most nerve-wracking roads I've ever been on. Narrow, many hairpin turns and switchbacks with towering rock outcroppings on one side and sheer drops on the other. Once we got out of the nightmare portion of the drive, we were treated to a combination of breathtakingly beautiful red rock formations and lush forest trails and camping areas. We arrived in Sedona around 5:00 in the afternoon with a nearly full moon rising in the east. What a lovely sight. It put all the tourist shops and the rest of the town to shame. We wandered the streets a bit, browsed the shops, ate dinner, then returned to Flagstaff. I certainly hope I get to go back soon. 

The road to Sedona. It was like this or worse most of the way there.

Some of the beautiful rock formations along the drive to Sedona

Sedona moonrise

Just a small portion of the shops we saw