As you read this, think about the climate you’re leaving for your children and subsequent generations. Give them a chance to live full, quality lives. And by the way, extend your own.
Grafton Notch State Park is located near the Sunday River ski area and the New Hampshire border. I recently made an exploratory trip there looking for some open valley areas so I could take some mountain shots. Unfortunately, since the area is heavily forested (as is true throughout Maine) the best views are from Route 26 that cuts through the park. The max temperature was around 80o F. There was a threat of afternoon showers and since it was a weekday there were few people in the area. Although black fly season is upon us I had no problems with them (though I wore light colors, had repellent, and a head net); it was pretty nice. I’m also happy to say I hiked the Appalachian Trail (well, about a mile). I photographed with my medium format film camera.
I’m planning a return trip in the near future to hike up a couple of the lower summits to get some shots of the Grafton Notch and the mountains. Park signs indicated that bears are prevalent on the trails and that hikers should make noise prior to trail rises or curves so as not to spook a bear. If confronted by a bear, it’s best to hold your ground, make noise, and spread your arms (the same applies to mountain lions in Rock Mountain National Park). It’s also good to have bear spray, which is now on my list. If all else fails, you are supposed to use whatever is at hand and fight the bear–yikes!
If you’ve been to this park please leave me a comment about your experience. As always, you can find more of these photos at my on-line gallery.
A friend told me about bird banding being conducted by the Biodiversity Research Institute (BRI) here in Portland, so I stopped by to have a look. The feature attraction was a Northern Saw-whet Owl resting in a tree just above the entry path to the preserve. These birds are just passing through, on their way to Canada. They seem to be pretty comfortable around people.
The staff from the BRI were there to capture song birds so they could record their vital signs along with any prior banding information. Birds without bands were then banded. Aside from showing the birds to us lay folks, the birds were quickly released to minimize stress. Bird banders have to have a federal and state license to capture and handle birds. Here’s a rare Warbler that they were excited to find:
You can see more of these captures at my on-line gallery
I have updated and reorganized some of my pages on this blog into a four-part essay in order to present a better flow to my thoughts on industrialization, climate change, and health. So, if you’ve read them in the past, you might peruse them in the new order; they might provide some new insights. Start here, then click on the header tabs for the subsequent three parts.
Some images of our environment from prior posts, below.
A lovely day with high winds.
I recently visited friends from Rochester, New York who rented a farmhouse in the Adirondack Mountains State Park. This is the largest park in the lower 48, greater in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks, combined. Its boundary is shown on maps by a blue line that includes both public and private lands. The Adirondacks are geologically active and continue to rise.
This was my longest trip since the pandemic began. Traveling from Maine through New Hampshire and Vermont, the Green Mountains in the latter provided the more picturesque views as I wound my way through. Crossing the lower end of Lake Champlain on the bridge of the same name, I entered Essex County, New York, and made my way up to Elizabethtown, making the trip from Portland in about five and a half hours with two stops.
After lunch we did some exploratory hikes and had grandiose plans to shoot sunrises and the Milky Way, but alas, we were thwarted by clouds. We also had two days of spring snows, sometimes approaching white-out conditions. The result was fewer photos than planned. Most of the snow was gone a day after it ended, however.
As it turned out, the best photography opportunities were the surging white waters from the melting snow and ice flowing down the mountains, shown in the following video and photo.
We also saw several beavers in the area that, as you might expect, had been busy. You can see some of their work below. We thought the photo showing the downed tree across the stream was felled by the beavers to provide a bracing structure for their dam building materials. They seem pretty smart—perhaps they have civil engineering degrees from M.I.T.! We also found trees that can grow on boulders!
As we were driving along I decided I wanted to photograph the falls on Giant Mountain. And wouldn’t you know it? I left my long lens back at the farmhouse, thinking I wouldn’t need it on this foray. Instead, I shot the falls with my shorter zoom lens, then I tightly cropped the photo. As a result, it’s not super sharp but, not too bad.
However, the best part of the trip was getting together with friends after 15 months of lock down.
You can see a few more photos from this trip at my online gallery.
What experiences might you have had in the Adirondacks?
After reading my Earth Day 2021 post you might be wondering how on “Earth” NASA keeps track of all the probes way out there in space. We know that boats, cars, and airplanes need constant course corrections. So, how is this done with deep space probes and landers? It all happens at Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California where I had the opportunity to visit in 1986. I was there just as the very first close-up images of Halley’s Comet (see the video here) taken by the deep space probe, Giotto, were being displayed on the internal monitors. Those images would later be enhanced before sending them out to the media.
After that, our guide met our group and showed us around the facility’s technical equipment, including the Deep Space Network’s (DSN) mission control room, shown above. Looking much like an air traffic control radar room, it’s here the controllers monitor the probes, not with radar but with radio communications. Just as with all the manned spaceflight missions, they use the three antenna stations located at Goldstone, Southern California; Madrid, Spain; and Canberra, Australia. Together, these enable constant communication with the probes as the Earth rotates.
Communication is a bit tricky since commands have to be issued well ahead of time, depending on how far out the probe is. At the time of this writing a round trip signal to Voyager 2, now located outside our solar system, takes 1.47 days. Consequently, commands have to be timed within micro (or nano?) seconds so any course course corrections don’t send the probe off its intended path. This is done with computers since they are much better than humans at dealing with microseconds or less. There is, however, a digital atomic clock (based on the radioactive decay rate of Cesium) on the wall for human reference. It has an accuracy of +/- 1 second every 3 billion years, so you don’t have to reset it too often.
If you would like to check out the current communications state of the DSN (including those with Perseverance), updated every 5 seconds, click here. You can also see the video landing of Perseverance on Mars here.
During this time of declining trust of science and increasing acceptance of superstition and unsubstantiated beliefs, Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit might help you discern what’s possibly real.
There was time when we believed that we were the center of the universe and that we should have dominion over the Earth. But then Copernicus came along who asserted that the Sun is indeed the center of our solar system, the Moon being the only body that revolved around the Earth. I’m sure you know that this resulted in a bit of an uproar. As for the dominion idea, our use of resources, over-hunting, and factory farming of animals have contributed to climate change and the current sixth extinction. Watch Marvin Gaye’s video, Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology), released in 1971.
The following two photos show a contrast between Greenland’s Tunu Glacier in 1933 and 2013. This melt-back is characteristic of ice all around the world, though melt-back varies widely, depending on location.
It wasn’t so long ago that Carl Sagan and climate scientists started sounding the alarm that we were going down a dangerous path. Subsequent climate data has revealed that those early projections vastly underestimated what was happening, since we now know that climate change is not a linear but an exponential process. That is, it happens faster and faster over time.
The now famous photograph of Earth as a pale blue dot was taken on February 14, 1990 by the deep space probe, Voyager 1, from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles). The more recent
photograph was taken by the deep space probe, Cassini. Though more striking with Saturn in the foreground, it also shows how Earth is but a spec in the cosmos. As Sagan said in his book: Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. (Carl Sagan, The Pale Blue Dot, 1994)
People often say we have to save the Earth. Not so! The Earth will go on just fine without us. The issue is preserving the current biosphere that supports us and the other higher vertebrates. There will always be life on the planet so long as there’s liquid water. As I present every year, here is my fictionalized account of our worst scenario. Let’s do better!
Watch for this when it goes live at 7:00 AM (EDT) on April 22. In addition to my commentary and rewind of my short fiction, Xertox, the post will feature contributions from Marvin Gaye, Carl Sagan, and, of course, NASA and NOAA. You won’t want to miss it!
I am still experimenting with video settings, so my videos are not yet of the best quality. I also have to release even more friction on my tripod head since there are still some places where the head catches, as seen with the jumpy areas as I pan the camera. You do, however, get a sense of the general beach environment (with commentary), if you click on the following link: Popham Beach 360 Video
This park is far more photogenic than Reid State Park. The beach is S-shaped and about a couple of miles long. It also has some rocky Islands close-in that provide some interesting backdrops. As with Reid Beach last week, there were just enough people walking about, adding interest to some of my shots.
I used my tripod to stabilize the camera for all my shots. I also stopped my aperture down to f/32 in order to use slower shutter speeds to somewhat blur the waters. However, this resulted in a slight softening of the overall images, except for the two driftwood photos where I used f/8.
I plan to return to another area of the beach later this week.