Today was a two weather day. The morning was gray and then wet, the afternoon sky was a treat in blue.
We started the morning by heading up the Notch Trail. Denise wasn't sure it was her kind of trail and as it turns out it wasn't. You know she doesn't like steep trails, don't you? Well, the Notch trail has a very steep section where there are logs tied together with chains. It kind of looked like a very funky ladder but Denise said it didn't feel like one. She started up it then thought better and turned back. Barb & Harvey continued up the trail while Denise, Blue, and I turned around. We did a bit of playing near the trailhead, then headed down the road to play with the camera. We had a really nice walk until it started raining. That's when Blue & I popped back in the camera bag, Denise popped the rain cover onto the bag and grabbed her raincoat too. The temperature was much cooler than yesterday, in the high 60s during the rain. I was glad to have a dry place to ride!
We were going to head out on the Castle Trail next but we decided to drive down the road instead. It seemed like the trail would be slippery when it was wet.
For once the forecast was exactly right. I checked it on Denise's phone when it was still raining. The forecast called for occasional rain until noon. And that's exactly when it stopped. After that the sky cleared and we were treated with blue, decorated by some white clouds. I think it's awesome that the weather wizard gifted us with pretty weather for our last afternoon in the park.
It was the middle of the afternoon when we returned to the eastern end of the Castle Trail to start walking. It was dry, and the air was much cooler than yesterday. I think it was just 80 degrees, quite comfortable for bouncing down the trail.
Tomorrow is going to be a long driving day. We'll be heading to Colorado Springs, driving south, touching 3 states as we travel.
Monday, August 31, 2015
Today was a two weather day. The morning was gray and then wet, the afternoon sky was a treat in blue.
I just had to find out what kind of rocks form the badlands so I asked Denise to check with the rangers in the park. Denise thought there was clay in the rocks; that was a pretty good guess. They are formed from clay, mud, and silt that is cemented together. The ranger said that is has a finer grain than sandstone but I guess it's kind of in the same rock family. Hmm... I didn't know that rocks have families!
It rained for a while this morning. After the rain the ground was very slippery. I guess that's from the clay content. Blue & I stayed nice and dry in Denise's camera bag while Denise slipped in the mud and almost ended up on the ground. That would have been really messy, it's a very good thing she was able to remain standing.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
I thought we might be driving a bit this morning before hiking; Denise told me yesterday that we might visit a park on the edge of the Black Hills today. I thought we should stay near and in Badlands. I told her that last night and she listened to me. I think that's a good thing.
We started our wanders this morning with a drive to Scenic, South Dakota. (I still think the town names here sound like descriptions instead of names. What do you think?) It looked like there were a couple of houses where people live, and there was a small post office too. Most of it was a ghost town, with lots of abandoned buildings. Denise played with her camera there for a while, and then we headed back to Interior and drove back into Badlands National Park.
Yesterday we walked part of the Castle Trail starting in the east. Today we again bounced down part of the trail, this time starting at the western end. The two ends of the trail are very different. The eastern side goes through badlands formations while the western side has more grasslands. As we walked more formations started to appear. The two ends of the trail are very different; I liked both of them!
After our rather hot walk we continued along the loop road, stopping when the mood hit to walk and to play with the camera.
This afternoon the car thermometer said that it was 104 degrees (Fahrenheit). That's really really hot! Luckily it was quite windy. I think that helped us feel a bit cooler than we would have felt without the wind. The wind also managed to blow the haze from the forest fires away for the day. I hope that the strong winds we have right now are a sign that tomorrow will allow blue skies to show again.
I was surprised when we turned off at one of the small hotels in Interior before we got back to the Circle View Ranch this afternoon. Denise's friends Barb & Harvey just arrived here today and Denise saw Barb standing there. So we stopped by to say hello. We're all going to be wandering in the park together tomorrow. I think it will be fun to share this beautiful place with our friends.
Yesterday was a day filled with walking and driving, a day that left me ready for relatively early sleep. I slept for a bit, then found myself in a state of wakefulness.
There was a loud noise, a banging sound repeating over and over and over again. After the thought that the house was going to fall down passed I decided to get up and see what was causing the noise. As I opened the door to my room I saw my neighbors across the hall opening theirs too. It turned out that a shutter for the window in the room had unlatched from the wall. With the very strong wind it was flapping, hitting the building and then the window. Luckily my neighbor had a wire hanger that he was able to use to fasten the noisy shutter to the wall. We pulled a chair up against it too, giving all of us a quiet night.
A real repair was completed today; that means we should have a quieter night.
Saturday, August 29, 2015
We spent the entire day today wandering in Badlands. The morning was our walking time and the afternoon was a combination of driving with a bit of walking.
Our morning started with a wonderful breakfast. We're staying at the Circle View Ranch in Interior, South Dakota. I still think that's a very odd name for a town! Our breakfast entrée was eggs covered with a tasty sauce. There were also cinnamon rolls, muffins, granola, and fresh fruit. It was very yummy, and it gave us enough energy to do a lot of wandering.
The trails in the park seem to be either really short or quite long. We started with a couple of short trails, then headed out on the Castle Trail. That trail was a long one; we walked out for a while, then turned back. I liked that trail - maybe I can convince Denise to head back out on the trail again before we leave here.
After our morning walks we turned to the west and drove Badlands Loop Road. We stopped at viewpoints and at occasional wide spots in the road. We walked down little trails and down non-trails too.
The air was quite hazy today. If I looked straight up at the sky then I could see blue but the horizon showed as gray. Denise told me that she heard the haze is coming from the big fires in Washington. I wonder what it will be like tomorrow.
Luckily the only rattlesnakes we have seen so far are pictures on signs.
Denise saw a little snake slithering along on one of the trails we were on today, no big snakes, and no rattlers. I suppose it's good to have warning signs. I don't mind being warned, I just don't want to meet a big snake.
Friday, August 28, 2015
Today was a three-state day! I'm really glad that Denise requested GPS in the rental car; it would have been hard for me to navigate using maps. We started on big roads near Denver but as we moved further away the roads were quite narrow. The speed limit was fast though.
I could see the mountains in the distance as we were leaving Denver. As we headed to the east we moved to the flatter part of the state, then we turned to the north and crossed into Nebraska. We passed through farmland wearing corn and hay, through fields filled with cattle and horses. The land was pretty flat until we got close to South Dakota. That's when it started to look more interesting with folded hills, lots of green, and more trees. It seemed when we were in Nebraska that we would see single trees; there are more trees here.
As we got closer to Interior we started seeing rock outcroppings. We'll see more when we go into the park in the morning.
Thursday, August 27, 2015
We're finally high in the air after a bit of an adventure on the ground. We were headed to a takeoff point when I looked to the front of the plane and noticed that the cockpit door was open. Uh oh! I tried to distract Denise but she noticed too. We both wondered what was wrong...
After a bit the pilot walked back to the front of the plane and said there was a panel that needed fixing. He and one of the flight attendants tried to fix whatever it was. That didn't work so we went back to the gate so a real mechanic could fix it. That created a bit of a delay. We're flying now; the Fly-Fi service shows a projected arrival time in Denver of 11:25 PM. That means we'll be landing about an hour late. Now it's really important that I convince Denise to take a nap!
Colorado is on Mountain Time, two hours earlier than home. I had to check the time in Nebraska and South Dakota. Both of those states are in two time zones, part Mountain, and part Central. It looks like Badlands is in the Mountain time zone; that means we'll won't need to change time more than once. I guess we won't need to change it at all though; Denise is wearing her Microsoft Band and that syncs with the time on her cell phone. The cell phone changes based on the cell towers where we are. So I guess her watch should change by itself when Denise turns airplane mode off on her phone. We'll find out if that really works in a couple of hours!
Tomorrow is going to be a driving day, from Denver to Interior, South Dakota. I thing that's an odd name for a town, don't you? I suppose it's descriptive, but it sounds like a regular word to me instead of a name.
In case you're curious, I'm posting this from 31,970 feet above central New York, and we're flying at a ground speed of 476 miles per hour. No wonder flying gets us places faster than driving!
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
The change in daylight has really hit me this week. It's still a month to the autumn equinox but the edges of the day are already shrinking.
I thought maybe I was imagining how big the change is so I went looking for a sunrise / sunset calendar. I found the US Naval Observatory's Sun or Moon Rise/Set Table for One Year calculator and requested the chart for my location (in Massachusetts). I found that on August 1st sunrise was at 5:36 AM and sunset was at 8:05 PM. Today, sunrise is at 6:02 AM and sunset will be at 7:31 PM. I guess I wasn't imagining the shrinking daylight - we've lost close to a half hour of morning light and half hour of evening light.
I prefer the cooler temperatures of the spring and fall but I think I prefer summer's longer days. It's still dark in the morning when I wake up, and the sky grows dark soon after my early evening walk. It seems it's time to start adjusting to shorter days again.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 6:00 AM
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Oh! It's time to bounce around the house to make sure Denise has everything we need to travel. Soon, in just a couple of days, it will be time to fly!
Remember when I last wrote back in June? I told you that I heard Denise talking with someone about Badlands National Park. And guess what! That's where we are heading. I'm so excited!
The closest airport to the park is in Rapid City, South Dakota. We can't get there from here on only one airplane so we're doing something that may seem a little silly and flying into Denver. It's only partially silly though because it's a non-stop flight, we'll drive to Badlands, and then when we head back to Colorado we'll be staying with some good friends of Denise's in Colorado Springs. They are going to meet us for part of the time in Badlands too.
Did you know there are only 5 states that Denise hasn't visited yet? By the end of the day on Friday that number should (will!) be down to two since we'll be driving through Nebraska on our way to South Dakota. The other three are Arkansas, Mississippi, and West Virginia. Maybe someday I'll help Denise plan visits to those states too.
Denise is working on the day that we're flying. She said she'll leave a little earlier than usual to come home before heading to the airport for our evening flight. Our travel day is going to be a really long day. I hope Denise manages to sleep a bit on the plane. She's not very good at that but maybe I've planted the idea early enough to help.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Today the weather wizard brought us fog and mist interspersed with light rain.
The heavy mist was with me as I walked, turning into real rain as soon as a pulled my camera out. I wandered through the garden enjoying late summer color, capturing flowers with my camera, and getting a bit wet since I chose not to wear a rain jacket. As soon as I turned towards home the late rain changed to mist again.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 6:30 PM
The Carlton Bridge in Bath, Maine shows two distinct conditions, a painted lift section and two very rusted connecting sections.
The bridge was changed from carrying rail and road traffic to rail only when the Sagadahoc Bridge opened in 2000. The new bridge carries a road high above the river with space for boats to pass underneath.
I find it very interesting that the lift section has been maintained in good shape while the connecting non-lift sections have deteriorated to a state of rust. An article in the Bangor Daily News on March 23, 2015 titled "Rail officials say rust will force decision on 88-year-old Bath bridge" describes the choice that must be made, repair or remove.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 10:24 AM
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Friday, August 21, 2015
Heavy rain this morning gave way to an interesting sky afternoon; it felt like a good time for a half-day holiday.
I headed to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge thinking that the beaches were still off limits. My timing was good though since the birds have vacated a good part of the beach, allowing a good part of it to reopen (today!). I walked on both the ocean and the inland side of the refuge, enjoying the beauty.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 9:20 PM
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Monday, August 17, 2015
Saturday, August 15, 2015
My failed attempt to visit Halibut Point State Park several weeks ago left me with a strong desire to walk in that park. This time I headed there early in the morning to find only a handful of cars in the park's lot. I wonder if there was a special event there when I was unable to park; even at mid-day when I headed home there was plenty of space in the parking lot.
As always, it was a good day for a walk in the park. I shared the views of the quarry with a few other people and quite a few sea gulls.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 8:35 PM
Friday, August 14, 2015
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Sunday, August 09, 2015
I needed a quick escape, a change of scenery. It was a good weekend for a visit and a wander in Maine.
My home base for the weekend was a friend's house in Yarmouth, giving me a wandering area that spanned from Portland in the south to Reid State Park on the western edge of Mid-coast Maine. The hightlights were coastal parks, fairy houses, and the bright colors of flowers.
Here's a photo from Reid State Park to whet your appetite. It's a gorgeous park with beaches between rocky sections, inland water too.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 7:53 PM
Thursday, August 06, 2015
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
I've been toying with the idea of buying a mirrorless camera for a while. Over the last month that thought became a constant companion.
I'm very happy with my Canon 7D but there are times when I'd like to wander with something smaller. At one point I used a point and shoot camera as that small wandering around camera but as time went by I was less happy with that solution. Over the last couple of years I stopped even thinking about using a P&S camera (other than my phone!). A small form factor camera that allowed me the control I have on my dSLR was moving forward as a must have; continuing development of mirrorless cameras made them much more interesting to me.
Sometimes I feel like I make purchase decisions in a snap. That's not the case since a lot of thought over days (or weeks) usually comes before the purchase. That was true of my recent decision.
Last week I ordered a Fuji X-T1 with two lenses, a walking around 18-135mm and a 60mm macro lens to help feed my need for flower photos. The camera and the 18-135 lens are weather resistant, sealed against dust and water and designed to work in temperatures down to -10C. That's a plus; I can continue wandering in wet and cold weather.
My first before-shooting task was to update the firmware in the camera. I was especially interested in the new Zone and Wide/Tracking modes in the updated auto focus system. I thought I was following the instructions of the firmware update page but somehow the page I was on neglected to point out the very important step of holding the DISP/BACK button while turning the camera on. That missing point led to my first contact with the Fuji support line. After waiting on hold for less than 5 minutes I had a good conversation with a support specialist. My question on how to update the camera's firmware was quickly answered; as it turned out I needed to update the firmware in one of the lenses as well. I picked up some good tips on the camera and was sent a link to a frequently updated web page that links to the firmware updates for Fuji's interchangeable camera bodies and lenses.
The camera is beautifully designed, small, comfortable to hold and use.
It will take a bit of use for the controls to become second nature although my weekend wanders have left me much more comfortable with the camera. It will also take some experimenting to understand all of the options hidden in this small camera.
I love the eye sensor mode for the viewfinder. If I hold the camera away from my eyes the tilting LCD panel shows the image I am about to take along with the camera settings. When I place my eye close to the electronic view finder (EVF) the LCD goes blank and the image is shown in the EVF. It's magic!
The one negative I've noticed is that the battery indicator needs some tuning. I'm not surprised that the battery life isn't extensive given the electronic nature of the camera but I am surprised that the indicator shows as fully charged and then flips into a red almost depleted indicator with little warning. I always carry extra charged batteries but it would be nice to have a little warning.It is possible to only show the image in the EVF but I like the flexibility of easily using either the EVF or the LCD. Given the tilting nature of the LCD I can see it being very useful to capture an image from different heights, with the camera held low or high.
My task for Friday was to become explore the camera, to start to accustom my fingers to making adjustments, to discover things that I'll need to know about later. I also spent some time skimming through the manual, downloading a PDF version that is much easier to read than the tiny print paper edition that came with the camera.
Over the next two days I went on multiple camera outings. I started at the Stevens-Coolidge Place where I played in the gardens, using both lenses to capture color. Later in the day I headed to the Cochran Wildlife Sanctuary to walk in the woods. On Sunday my camera destination was the New Hampshire coast for a glimpse of the ocean. The three different environments allowed me to see the behavior of the camera under different conditions and with very different targets.
Here are a few photos to show what the camera (and I) can accomplish together.
More photos from weekend wanders with my X-T1 are scattered through a few galleries, all tagged with the keyword "fuji xt1 1st look". To see the first photos from my new camera, click here.
After initial play I realized that I really needed a wide angle lens as well. A Fufifilm XF10-24 joined my lenses for this camera, giving me a reasonable kit for traveling (and wandering near home too).
Monday, August 03, 2015
Sunday, August 02, 2015
I don't know what drew my eye to the top shelf in the cookie aisle of the grocery store (especially since I wasn't looking for cookies!) but something did! A bag of Sheila G's Brownie Brittle jumped into my hands.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 4:35 PM