Wednesday, December 4, 2013
This photo sums up what I feel about this time between Thanksgiving and the New Year. There is a lot going on and sometimes all one can do is hang on and brace yourself for the ride. I'm not a bah humbug type of person with the holidays but I do like to lay low a bit and let some of the obnoxious parts pass me by.
These pictures are all ones that I took on my Grand Canyon river trip in the spring of 2000. They first three were all probably taken while we were scouting rapids. We would pull over and the people maneuvering the boats would discuss things over about lines and waves and such since the river was ever changing. After that, they would discuss the order of the boats going through the rapids. If you were in the first boat, you nervously walked back to the boat knowing full well you were now a guinea pig for the other three boats and you were lucky to get a picture of the latter boats running the rapids from far below.
However if you were in one of the last boats, we would linger along the shore and take some action shots of the first boats running the rapids. The previous three give you some sense of how large the water is on the Colorado river even though these rapids weren't nearly some of the biggest or worst. The raft shown above was our baggage raft and was around 20 feet long to give you some sense of scale. It allowed the wooden dory boats that the passengers rode in to be light enough that we could put ourselves in sportier parts of the rapids without being sluggish from the weight.
I took along a waterproof camera hoping to get action shots from the river but that didn't happen for the most part. Any really big rapids that we were running, I was 100% focused on the waves and throwing my weight around to one side or the other to keep the tiny dory boat upright. This required both hands to hold myself into the boat and not go for a swim. In the picture above, we came to one of the smaller unnamed rapids with a wave train at the end with some small 8 to 10 feet waves that we just surfed on through. This freed up one of my hands to take some action shots of running a rapids, one of the better ones shown above.
Monday, December 2, 2013
I know the above picture would have been more appropriate this past Thursday but like millions of people in America, I decided to stay home and be with my family instead of trying to lose the meaning of Christmas. This meant I was doing the things that families should be doing instead of spending time sitting in front of a computer. I smoked a turkey for our feast and took photos of two that lived to see another year. Actually there were four of them but I was taking the picture through the window and the best one (which is marginal at best) only showed two birds.
Later after our feed, we decided to walk off the turkey by partaking of another family tradition, the search for our Christmas tree. Because for the last handful of years we have been going down to Florida right after Christmas to spend time with my grandparents who only have a few Christmas' left in this world, we get our tree up early because we generally take it down early before we leave. Because we like to be environmentally friendly when possible and love the smell, we harvest red cedar trees for our Christmas trees and leave the plastic ones out of the landfill and avoid the mass produced ones they sell outside of box stores. The red cedar smells heavenly in the house and here is the big secret, add a small bottle of food coloring to the first can of water you give it and it turns a bright Christmas green color in about 24 to 48 hours.
Trying to make this long story shorter, while looking for our red cedar tree, we haven't to come across the below scene. I've always thought opossums looked kind of prehistoric especially when they open their mouth wide and show their teeth at you. This guy didn't do that but he certainly was a little perturbed that we came along and disturbed his nap. He did graciously allow me to take a few pictures of him so I walked away and let him resume his nap.
Friday, November 29, 2013
I finished scanning the pile of slides that I have been working on intermittently since about two years ago. Although I love seeing them again in a format easier to view, it was a lot of work getting them into a digital format. I thought that would be the end of it but when digging out the scanner box recently while cleaning out our office, I came across an attachment for the scanner to scan in negatives.
For awhile between the age of slides and I obtained my first digital camera, a space of probably over a decade, I put everything on prints. Although prints were easier to view, I found that I viewed them less often than I did the slides. The biggest reason is because they stayed in the envelopes that I got back from the developer and were never organized to weed out the bad ones.
My trip down the Grand Canyon in the spring of 2000 was the exception to the rule though because that trip meant so much to me. I carefully organized the photos and labeled the back of them as to what part of the canyon there were taken only to have the ink on the back of the photo smudge onto the one below it. I also gave away my copy of some of the prints to friends I met on the trip. The result was that I ended up with a smaller stack of ink smudged prints that I never looked at.
Finally thirteen years later, I have found the solution to my problem with the negative scanner. I am beginning the process of scanning in all the negatives so that I have digital copies of all the pictures in their pristine condition and I hope to once again arrange them and make them into some sort of album that I can once again look through easily and share with others. Modern technology is just wonderful.
The above picture was taken early on in the trip when I hiked up this steep canyon behind camp one afternoon when we stopped fairly early. It was an extremely steep hike and I ended it on top of this large flat boulder about 100 feet below the band of cliffs that prevent people from climbing up or down the side canyons in the area. The reason I stopped short of my goal was that this boulder which probably weighed several tons shifted when I stepped on the downhill edge of it and I figured that was far enough. Any further and I might accidentally send some huge boulder bouncing down the canyon and through camp and I would be persona non grata for the rest of the trip.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
In a city cemetery down the road from my place, a giant old oak tree succumbed to oak wilt like many of my trees have done. I have split my trees up for firewood but the city got a grant from a local historical organization and decided to do something different. They had a ten foot tall civil war solider carved into what remained of the stump. I stopped by the other day and couldn't resist taking a few pictures of it. According to the newspaper it was around 250 years old. I'm guessing the big one that I had removed next to my house last year was a little younger at about 200 years old.
I couldn't resist playing around with my panoramic feature on my new phone. I still like it but wish I was on some sort of moving trolley so that the whole picture didn't appear hinged at the middle. Funny thing though is that while taking this panoramic photo of the civil war soldier, I notice for the first time the fellow to the left of him in the distance that had an entire cannon mounted upright on his tombstone. (You can see it sticking up in the air!) I didn't have time on this trip but sometime soon I am going to have to walk over and see who he is. He must have some sort of military background I'm guessing and I'm sure there is an interesting story behind his grave.
Monday, November 25, 2013
I found this picture of the farm house where I grew up in recently while scanning some old slides. I lived in this farmhouse until I was probably 12 or 13 years old and have many fond memories of it. The enclosed porch on the left side of the photo is where I recently blogged about my dog Pepsi habit. The open porch on the right has two doors entering into the house, the nearer one to the office and the far one to my younger brother's bedroom. On the gable end facing the camera, the upper window was in the room where our ping pong table resided. There was probably only a foot of space on each side of the table and maybe two feet on each end before one hit the wall so I learned to play ping pong up close to the table, a trait that served me well in future years in ping pong tournaments.
This farmhouse has seven bedrooms though there were only my parents, younger brother and I. For the most part, the upper story was closed off all year round. If we wanted to go to one of the two storage rooms or ping pong room during the cold months of winter, we donned jackets and gloves. We heated the house with a wood stove during the winter and cooled it with box fans in the summer so it just made sense to keep near the core.
After my grandfather died, we moved a mile north to his farm because all the grain bins, equipment sheds and such were over there and it was more centrally located. My parents rented out this house for a few years but as rentals go in rural areas, the renters never took care of the place. Eventually it started to come apart at the seams and it was bulldozed in and set on fire. Now if you drive by all you see is a grassy area where it and the outbuildings once stood and a few of the old trees. The driveway doesn't even appear to be there but is under all the grass and weeds. Every once in awhile when I have the time, I like to drive over there and sit in the driveway envisioning the photo at the top of this post and remembering my childhood.