I went all the way north to Potter County, Coudersport, PA a few weeks ago for the last new moon. Me and my favorite Juggalo, John, drove the 5+ hours each way to try and take pictures of the dark sky, stars, and the galactic center and band. We got up there a day early and the weather was nice, but the sky was completely cloudy with no chance of seeing stars. The next day, which was the actual new moon night was perfect. Clear skies all day and night. We woke up bright and early from our sleeping bags and tent and spent the entire day driving around the area looking for places and times to take pictures. The scouting was a huge success. We found a few geocaches during the day, which lead us to some great spots to photograph the night sky goodness. We ended up at 4 different locations throughout the night, as the galactic band/center moved across the sky. I am very pleased with some of the astro-photos I was able to make, being so new to astrophotography. There are some pictures HERE if you are interested.
Went out with a couple of new hiking friends last weekend. I got invited to do what I love most and just could not say no. In a happy addition they were going to one of my favorite, local places. We spent the day on the Mason Dixon Trail along the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. We did about a 10 miles out and back, with the first few miles in the dark using a head lamp. The leader of this hike is Glynn, and he is a ‘get it in’ type fella. I am much more about looking around, taking pictures, and searching for hidden treasures in the form of geocaches. We were done by 10:30am, WOW! The other 2 split, but I stuck around for another 5 hours and about 8 more miles. I also found a few geocaches along the way that I have wanted to search out for a while. It made for a great half-day, close to home adventure. Here are a couple pictures of the sunrise over the Susquehanna River with some mist I really enjoyed.
My buddy John and I went to the Pinnacle in Holtwood, PA for the last new moon a couple weeks ago. This is one of the highlight spots of the Conestoga Trail. The hopes were to find some place dark enough for star photos. We did not get anything amazing because the clouds kept coming through. But we did end up with a couple of lightening strikes and some nice dark sky shots. It wasn’t the greatest, but we had a lot of fun goofing off and I did end up with a few decent photos.
Located on the island of Floreana in the Galapagos Islands is a barrel on a stick just inland enough to not be impacted by the tides. This barrel (or one like it) has been used as a post station dating back to the whalers of the 1700’s. Sailors would drop off post for home and pick up anything that was heading to their next destination for hand delivery.
This practice still happens today, but in the form of postcards from tourists. Anyone that stops by is encouraged to leave a post card behind, and take any that are addressed to someone ‘near’ your own home. We took 2 postcards with us addressed for Maryland. Not close, but not far either, it is just Maryland. I am happy to say that we did our duty and dropped off our postcards last weekend during our drive home from West Virginia. The story of how it went down couldn’t get better if I sat and wrote a script of the perfect scenario.
We took 2 postcards from the Galapagos Islands that were in the same handwriting and addressed to 2 homes that were about 15 minutes apart, Gaithersburg and Derwood, Maryland. I wrote up a little note that explained who we were and what we did, in case nobody was home. We stopped at the first house and rang the doorbell. Nothing. Quite a disappointment. We left the postcard and the note in between 2 Amazon packages on the front porch. We loaded up to head to the next address. Someone was outside as we pulled up. I asked if so-and-so lived here and she skeptically said yes. As quickly as I could I explained I was here to hand deliver a post card from the Galapagos Islands. She caught on quickly and said it was from her son, to his sister, the lady’s daughter. She got really excited, started laughing and invited us in. As we were walking in the house I mentioned having just left another post card behind at another address in Derwood. She got a crooked face on while thinking and then exclaimed, “That’s my parents! They are inside right now!”
So we went inside for a few minutes and a few pictures. She text messaged her son in Boston while we were there to let him know his post cards showed up. It was truly a magical moment that gave hope to any happiness in humanity. So glad I was able to be a part of something so unique, special, and that brought so much joy to a bunch of people.
Recently we went to the mountains of West Virginia to a place called Nelson Rock. Nelson Rock is set up like an outdoor adventure park where hiking meets rock climbing. It is a feature made popular in WWII by the Italians in the Dolomites called a Via Ferrata. It is a series of steel cables, ladders, and fixed anchors around a mountain that allow human beings to climb around ‘easier’. It was amazing, the best thing I have ever done. It is a perfect combination of doing something that feels risky or adventurous while still remaining completely safe…that is if you are not afraid to look down into the abyss. I can’t wait to do it again and again. More than anything, I can’t believe my wife did this! I am so proud of her.
While we were down in West Virginia we also visited Seneca Rock. Someplace I have wanted to go for a long time, but found it hard to drive 5 hours 1-way for a short walk up Seneca Rock. We were only 20 minutes away and also checked out Seneca Rock. It was great, especially the rock scramble after the path to the top.
Here are some pictures if you are interested.
I find a lot of Geocaches, but this one is a big deal. It has plagued me and my close friends since 2013. It made me cry. Here is what a wrote in the internet about it for the community to read:
GC 2K765 – LOST81 (4.5/4.5) Walk Don’t Run
“I hugged and kissed my wife goodbye, possibly for the very last time. It was well known that I was going out to search for this geocache, and I would die in those woods before I came back without my name on the log. I packed up Friday afternoon after playing hooky from a half day of work. I put on my geocaching in the woods costume, brought 3 liters of water, a bag of nuts, a pen, and a morbid attitude. This geocache owns at least 5 hours of my life dating back to the very beginning of my Geocaching hobby. I have searched stage 1 at least 6 or 7 times, going back to 2013, and 2 dogs ago in my life. Most times it was with my best, well-seasoned, geocaching pals JoshInChains & Cinnamon. Other times my old best pal Charlie the Dog was with us. To this day I believe it is our failures at stage 1 that led to my old dogs cancer, he just couldn’t take the disappointment. None of us ever found it. I have also been here alone, and most recently with MyWifeTheMuggle. After that last failure, I had enough. All stages had been found very recently for the first time in years. So I knew (like I always did) that it was definitely there and ready to be found.
So I headed out onto the road with my gear, ready for the end of my world if it came to that. Once at the parking lot I left a note in my car and the car unlocked. Just in case it sat there overnight a ranger would know who to contact to come and retrieve the car. Out on the trail I found myself at a very familiar stage 1, I didn’t even turn my GPS machine on until I reached stage 1, it’s location was burnt like a middle-finger-shaped brand onto my brain. Surprisingly I only spent about 10-15 minutes at stage 1 this time. I arrived at stage 1 with a corn on the cob mentality. I was going to search this area the way I eat a piece of corn on the cob, start at the top, work to the side like a typewriter, and then press the carriage return button.
I was off to stage 2. Having done this hike numerous times my GPS machine has this trail well defined, so I knew basically where I would end up. Sure enough, that is where I ended up.
After a mid-day costume change I was off to find stage 2. I spent about 20-30 minutes here, I was very pleased with the time. Once I focused on the proper area I was rewarded fairly quickly. I spent a lot of time in the wrong places looking for the wrong things.
After my final costume change of the day I was off to stage 3. Again, the trail on my GPS machine showed me where I would end up. I got there fairly quickly, my body pulsing with adrenaline. Once very close to centering in on the coordinates I got a little discouraged. Not that I would not find it, just that I was all alone. When I do stupid things I usually have someone else nearby, or at least on standby with a 9 and a 1 already punched into a telephone. I saw where I might need to end up and then remembered the ratings of the adventure. No problem. I made my way to GZ the hardest way possible (in hindsight). I was getting close, I felt like the ozone levels in the air change as my head swirled with the ideas of how I was going to tell this story to my friends, enemies, and every stranger I encountered. I saw some obvious GZ spots. I set down my GPS machine to let it settle in on a signal. I walked over to a spot. Wide-eyed, mouth gaping, I poked my head in quickly, like I was entering a surprise party in my honor that I had gained advanced knowledge of. My head quickly dropped and hung like ripe, ready to be picked and eaten Pawpaw fruit, the Appalachian Banana. As my eyes gazed down and sideways I saw another spot, just like this spot a few feet away. I walked over with my fingers crossed and praying to other people’s imaginary Gods. I looked and saw nothing. I got down on my knees and looked further and wouldn’t you know it….WOOOOO FREAKING HOOOOOO!!
TSTF (twenty sixth to find)
I sat all the way down, reached for the container and pulled it out. I imagine the way I removed this container is the inspiration for the tree stump, wood monster scene in Flash Gordon. I opened up the container and basked in the smell that was released. It smelled like cotton candy infused with redemption. I can’t lie, a single tear rolled down my face when I first laid eyes on the container. I sat there, delighted with my day and savored the find for about 10 minutes. I read every log in the log book dating back to 2011. I don’t think I have ever done this. Never has an original log book, so old, been in such perfect condition. I was honored to scribble my nonsense in there and replace as found.
Thanks for the great hide and amazing adventure.
Thank you to everyone that has anything to do with these hides. Thank you to those that came before me and gave me the strength and encouragement to never give up. This one is for you Charlie the Dog.”
We were lucky enough to go to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador and Machu Picchu in Peru. We spent a week on a boat in the Galapagos, and almost a week bouncing around Peru, culminating in the finale at Machu Picchu. Some pictures are HERE.
It is no secret that this trip is not what I expected. I thought the Galapagos Islands were going to be an adventure trip. I am super happy to have been there, and that we are lucky enough to be able to go places like this. It was really unique to see the Galapagos Islands and the animals that only live there. But the trip was anything but adventurous. It was a lot of very short nature walks and the edges of the islands. Just not what I expected to be doing for a week. The entire trip was worth it for the single day we spent at Machu Picchu. The highlight was the hike up to Huayna Picchu, and from there looking over and down at the entire Machu Picchu village and valley. The Andes Mountains in South America make the Rockies look like sissies. Machu Picchu itself was just completely overrun with people and felt like a cattle wrangle at times. Again, tremendously grateful to have been able to even be there. The experience loses appeal each time I see some slut doing hair and makeup for a selfie at Machu Picchu.
I decided I would much rather spend 12 hours with 1 other person, walking to the top of a mountain, just to be the only people there.
Some pictures are HERE.
It was only the week before in Rocky Mountain National Park that I first tried to shoot lightning strikes. How fortunate that a mere week later I was presented with this opportunity.
This hiking trip got postponed due to weather and back problems. I wasn’t sure it was even going to happen. But now that this trip has come and gone, it went smooth beyond description. Nobody gets 7 days of perfect weather in the Colorado Rockies. Sunny and 70 degrees, cooler at elevation. It didn’t rain while we were doing things, it rained when we didn’t give a shit, and we got hailed on at the peak of Mt Ida, which only added to the experience. Several firsts for me. I was finally able to get OK shots of the Milky Way in the middle of the night. The moon was out, but hidden behind a mountain peak. I also took my first pictures of lightning strikes. There was a storm in the opposite direction of the sunset, over Denver. There were a few guys shooting pics of the lightening strikes. One of them was nice enough to give me a few tips and send me down the path. It was a lot of fun. The only real hiccup was getting home. Apparently there were no flights getting from Denver to Philadelphia for several days. We sat through several delays, got on the plane, drove away and back twice, and then finally decided to rent a car and drive home. While doing that we instead found a flight into BWI. Almost 24 hours at an airport to get home. Truly a very small penance to pay for the week we had. All in all it was a very romantic week with my friendly neighborhood Juggalo watching sunrises, sunsets, star gazing, fighting off nocturnal advances, and shivering in each other’s arms during thunder and lightning storms. There is a gallery of photos HERE.
We were lucky enough to get to Hawaii, Maui and Kauai to be specific, for the big 40th birfday celebration. Finally got around to getting through some of the pictures. They are HERE.