This was actually one of the last things we did while I was over there; a nice little walk in the woods. That picture doesn’t do it justice—the walk started in the “it’s not spring yet” portion, but as we made our way downhill, we started to see actual greenery.
We had pretty good luck with the weather—it was nice and sunny while we were at the top of the hill; the wind picked up a bit right as we were getting to the shore of the reservoir, just enough to give the trees some fun movement.
I recently had the opportunity to visit a friend of mine over in Connecticut. I’ve never been to New England before (the closest I’d been previously was an hour spent in a New York airport, and given that I can’t even remember which airport it was, it clearly wasn’t the most fun visit), and I was pretty excited to see the sights.
The first place we went that made me glad I’d brought my camera was Wickham Park; it’s up on more of a hill than I initially realized, which made for a good panorama at the top.
A bit lower down, there are a few different ‘gardens’ around the park; the first one we wandered around was the ‘marshland’ theme, if I’m remember correctly.
Honestly, I think the top and bottom of the hill were the best parts; the gardens in between were… not all that impressive.
The “Oriental Garden”, for example, featured a rather sad pagoda and a very slimy pond.
I also didn’t bother taking any pictures of the “Irish Garden,” which looked like what happens when someone in the 1930s makes a garden, and it becomes too ‘historic’ to tear down for being a racist caricature. An aesthetic that was rather undercut by the sign at the end, which says it opened in 2016.
The “Scottish Garden” was a bit more interesting in the statuary, but rather lacking in actual plant life.
When we visited, I read through the pamphlet a bit, but it mostly boiled down to a list of all the different gardens, a brief mention that it was named after the rich fellow who’d established the place, and the fact that it’s a private park, owned and maintained by Bank of America on behalf of the family’s estate. (“Everything around here is owned by some bank of another,” I was told.)
But hey, it’s sitting on some pretty land, and I do like seeing parks that’re at least somewhat open to the public, so who am I to complain?
Joshua Tree National Park has been on my ‘places to visit’ list for quite a while. Honestly, I’m not sure how it wound up there, but I’m happy it did – from what I saw, it’s a pretty cool place.
(I was told by a friend that you should really try to stay for the whole day, especially sunset, and just see what it all looks like with different lighting conditions, but unfortunately wasn’t able to do that this time; next time, though…)
The park was established in the 1930s by FDR. At the time, the Works Progress Administration – among other things – was running a poster campaign intended to inspire the American people, I believe along the lines of ‘look at all this neat stuff our country has!’
As far as I can tell, Joshua Tree didn’t get any of those posters, unfortunately; something about the federal government very busy all of a sudden.
A lot of the posters that were produced are lost now, more’s the pity. It was an interesting aesthetic, and I’m a big fan of the whole “advertising for the national parks” thing.
Fun fact about the Joshua Tree: they don’t form rings in the way that other trees do; when scientists want to figure out how old one is, the preferred method is to measure the height, then divide by the species’ average growth rate.
The moral of the story here is that our national parks are a treasure, and we should continue to support them. (And expand them! Write to your congresspeople about it.)
This past weekend, I finally got a chance to visit another of Oregon’s tourist destinations: Detroit Lake. It’s a pretty cool place — used to be a valley, and then, y’know, industry happened; two dams later, there’s a lake. Normally the water level is a bit higher, but (I’m told) there was a storm early in the season, for which the folks in charge of the dam1 drained some water so they wouldn’t have overflow problems. Unfortunately for them, the fish were spawning at the time, and wound up taking advantage of the raised river level, and per the “don’t kill thousands of fish” directive, they were then required to maintain that higher river level. So the reservoir drained faster than usual, and the season got cut off earlier than usual. Bit of a bummer for the local businesses.
Presented in no particular order, some of my favorite photos from the trip:
You may not have heard, but there was an eclipse recently. While I wasn’t going to go out and buy one of those expensive camera filters for doing proper eclipse photography, I did have an extra pair of eclipse glasses and some duct tape, so I made do. (The photo above is without the filter; during totality, which I was in the zone of, you can look at the event with the naked eye… or the naked lens.)
This is right before totality began – just a sliver of the sun was still showing, but without a filter, that’s still a lot of light.
I was switching off lenses throughout – I had a prime lens with the makeshift filter attached, and a kit zoom that I used when I wanted no filter but didn’t want to deal with the duct tape. This is that kit zoom, no filter, at its maximum zoom level.
Finally, here’s what it looked like through the filter.
I’m not going to talk about it being a ‘life-changing experience’ or anything, but I will recommend checking out some of the recordings – I believe NASA put out a 3D livestream that I assume is archived somewhere, and lots of better photographers than I am got some good photos, I’m sure.
And hey, next time there’s going to be an eclipse in the US, go check it out.1
But, y’know, make sure to get your campground reservations a year early or so. ↩
Technically speaking, this is part of Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, but that’s a bit long of a name, and I rather like “Quarry Cove” better. I’m also quite happy to have had another opportunity to get my camera out.
You can’t go to Louisiana without visiting a swamp. It took us until the last couple weeks of the program, but we did eventually get around to it, and boy was it wonderful. Some of the best weather (in my opinion, at least) that we’ve had the whole time – it was a cool summer day, and the brief spat of rain we had while we were out there was very light, of that nice kind where you never get wet enough that it won’t dry off after a couple of minutes. It was wonderful.
I brought my camera, of course, because how could I not? By the end of the tour – it lasted a couple of hours – I’d snapped almost 500 pictures. It was one heck of a trip, and I’m incredibly glad that I went. (It also turned into one heck of a road trip getting back – the Atchafalaya Bridge had a couple accidents in the direction we were heading, and we wound up taking a detour that more than doubled the actual length of the bridge. It was an Adventure.)
As I write this, I have been sitting down for a couple hours, working away at sorting those pictures. By the time this goes up, I’ll have posted a few on my Instagram, because I’m not above a bit of shameless self-promotion. For the ones I kept for this here site, head below the fold.
Recently, we (the REU group) spent a day in New Orleans, wandering around and basically being Touristy McTouristface.1
Anyhow, I took my camera with me – how can I be a tourist without it?2
So, if you want to see some pictures of New Orleans looking pretty, head below the fold. (And I’ll add that ‘in pictures’ is one of the better ways to experience the French Quarter – it’s old, the water table is very shallow, and that means that it’s a rather fragrant area, even after the invention of sewers.)
So, not mentioned in my last post was the fact that, before going to Myrtles Plantation, we’d tried to go to the Louisiana State Capitol Building. Not that we were prevented from going or anything – it’s open to the public. (Though, admittedly, the fact that the main doors are blocked off is a bit foreboding.) The problem was more that it was very rainy, and we figured that the view from the top wouldn’t be the best through the clouds.
So instead we put it off for the next day. The weather was a bit better then – still cloudy, but not rainy and gross, and the clouds actually made it better, in my opinion.
The Louisiana State Capitol Building was constructed in the 1930s, and it looks like something out of Gotham City. It’s very cool. Photos below the fold.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned somewhere that I’m doing a bit of traveling this summer, though I’m definitely too lazy to go back and find where, exactly, I mentioned that.
Still, it’s a thing. I’m spending the summer in Louisiana, doing research on neural networks at Louisiana State University. Which is a full-time job, 40 hours a week, 9-5 and all that, but my weekends are free and I do occasionally leave my room in my free time, so I’ve got some photos to show y’all.
This first set are from Myrtles Plantation, which markets itself as “the most haunted house in the American South.” Went with my family, when they made the trip down here to visit – my sister is a big fan of all things spooky.
I brought my camera with me, of course, because what’s a paranormal investigator without a camera? Photos are below the fold – I’m not a fan of making people load lots of images on the front page, even with the new CDN up and running. It’s rude to people on mobile, or with metered connections.
So, as I mentioned in my previous post, I’m doing a bit of traveling this summer. The first trip was down to Los Angeles, because that’s the only place where you can go to get an Austrian Visa-D, if you live on the West Coast.1
Anyhow, while I was there I was able to meet up with a family friend and take some pictures out in Santa Monica. There’s a conference center there, the Serra Retreat Center, and it’s got some awesome views. Take a look, and feel free to click on any of these pictures to see them in a larger size:
One of the things I wanted to do while I was in LA was look at the mountains. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do since I read the essay after which I titled this post: Los Angeles Against the Mountains.
I read the essay for an English class I took, fully expecting to hate it – I have an inherent dislike of anything that’s intended to be ‘literature.’ I was wrong: the essay was a fascinating look at an aspect of Los Angeles that I’d never considered. Long story made incredibly short, the mountains over LA are unstable, and the city has to deal with flooding that gets turned into pseudo-pyroclastic flows by the amount of rubble put out by the mountains. It’s a wonderful read, and I highly recommend it.
Because heaven forbid we be able to turn in a stack of paperwork and get our fingerprints taken anywhere less than a thousand miles from home. ↩