To see more colorful offerings for this week’s photo challenge, visit:
To see more colorful offerings for this week’s photo challenge, visit:
Posted by Evolution of X on April 8, 2013
I made our sons stand shivering in the driveway before school one morning while I tried to take photos of the frost on the car windows. I tried shooting through 2 different windows, from the inside and from the outside trying to get the right light and background. This is my favoriite (with a little help from Photoshop Elements to increase the contrast and sharpen).
To see more images for this week’s photo challenge go to:
Posted by Evolution of X on March 4, 2013
See more images for this week’s photo challenge at: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/forward/
Posted by Evolution of X on February 23, 2013
Before the Revolutionary war, a man by the name of Barnaby Cabe owned some land on a nearby river. After the war, his son built a mill and had 9 daughters many of whom married mill owners along the river. One daughter stayed on the family lands, married and took a new name. Her descendants occupied the land for another hundred years. It’s now part of a state park and just off a neglected path you can still visit the remains of the Cabe family cemetery.
The stones are scattered seemingly randomly and many are canted at strange angles. Trees have grown and fallen. Dead leaves carpet the whole area. The oldest stone markers aren’t even carved. One is a faded and broken slab of sandstone that dates the eighteenth century. There’s nothing about the woods immediately surrounding the graves that indicates that people once lived here – no remains of a household or clearing even. No view of the river. Just a few stones scattered forlornly among the trees.
Posted by Evolution of X on February 16, 2013
A little while back, WordPress suggested a photo prompt to recap the year in pictures. Life’s been hectic around here lately but I finally got around to putting together a little photo essay of the newest members of our family. We adopted Jack and Ozzie in December of 2011. Here’s a little bit of their first year with us:
I might dote on them a bit.
How about ya’ll? Do you have any furry family members you dote on? I know about some of you but always love to hear another pet story.
Posted by Evolution of X on January 11, 2013
A few days ago, while visiting my parents on the Mississippi Gulf coast, I went for walk on the beach with my camera. I was watching the sun set and trying to photograph a great blue heron perched on a piling, when this group flew over. When I zoomed in, I was startled to realize they were great egrets. I’ve never seen so many together before.
Posted by Evolution of X on December 22, 2012
Bodie Island Lighthouse was my first. It was a birthday present. No not the lighthouse, though wouldn’t that be cool? The trip to see it, I mean. My partner gave me a weekend at Nag’s Head for my 45th birthday. I had lived in North Carolina for 10 years and never been to the Outer Banks. Of course, it would have been so much cooler if she could have come with me but someone had to stay home to take care of the kids. (We made a family trip a few weeks later.)
This one also has the distinction of having a creepy name, because it is pronounced “body.” After literally minutes of research on the internet, I was unable to determine whether the name of the island (and light) was derived from the family who owned the land or simply from the number of shipwreck victims who washed up on its shores as local legend attests. Since I’ve never been one to let the truth get in the way of a good story, I’m going with the latter.
A few fun facts: It was completed in 1872, is 156 feet tall and its Fresnell lens (more on that here) has a beam range of 19 feet. Since it’s built on the sound side of the island, it’s surrounded by pine trees and marsh, an unusual setting for a lighthouse. Bodie Island was completely undeveloped when the lighthouse was new and accessible only by boat. Even the keeper’s family probably lived on nearby Roanoke Island (where the nearest school was) except during the summer. It must have been wonderfully creepy. It’s kind of creepy now, actually.
The keepers’ quarters serve as a ranger’s office and visitor center for the Hatteras National Seashore. Most importantly, there’s a gift store where you can buy a hat. (I try to buy a hat at every new coastal place I go. It’s kind of a rule.) I believe it’s currently undergoing a major restoration and is temporarily encased in scaffolding.
A few weeks after my weekend trip, my family spent a week at a rented beach house in Avon, one of those tiny villages on Hatteras, and that’s when I got to see my second lighthouse, the granddaddy of all the Outer Banks lights.
At 210 feet, the Cape Hatteras Light is the tallest brick lighthouse in the US and painted like a black and white barber pole. In 1873, the Light House Board decided that each of the lights on the Outer Banks should have their own distinctive daymark or color pattern so mariners could determine their location by day the way flash patterns allowed them to by night. That’s when the Cape Hatteras light got its stripes.
It was built in 1870 to protect one of the most dangerous sections of Atlantic coastline. Just offshore at Cape Hatteras, the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and the cold Labrador Current collide spawning storms, creating the ever-shifting Diamond Shoals and earning the area the nickname, the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
Another fun fact about the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse: Though it was originally a half mile from the ocean, a century of erosion threatened to topple it into the sea, so they moved it. That’s right. In 1999, while most Americans were busy making dire predictions about Y2K, a company called International Chimney Corp assisted by Expert House Movers of Maryland picked up the monster brick tower (and the keepers’ quarters) and moved them 2,900 feet – more than half a mile.
The lighthouse was open to the public again before the year was out. And, if you have a hardy masochistic streak, they’ll let you climb the 268 steps to the top.
Ocracoke Lighthouse was built in 1823 and stands 75 feet tall, making it the oldest and shortest of the Outer Banks lights. Its daymark is solid white. The original whitewash recipe was a combination of lime, salt, Spanish whiting, rice, glue and boiling water. Because there was a village at the busy Ocracoke inlet, keepers and their families had a social life and their children were schooled in the village.
The photo is a drive-by, or very nearly. It had been a long day, most of which we had spent in line at the ferry landing on Hatteras. Once we finally made it onto Ocracoke, we drove the length of the island, stopped in the quaint little village for an overpriced lunch, and drove by the very full parking lot of the lighthouse without stopping. I later stopped almost in the middle of a narrow road, blocking traffic and got out to snap this picture just before we drove back to the ferry.
Cape Lookout Lighthouse was completed in 1859 and is 163 feet tall. Like the other Outer Banks lighthouses, it was originally a red brick tower, and was painted with its current daymark pattern in 1873. Now I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that the diamond pattern assigned to the Cape Lookout Lighthouse was meant for Cape Hatteras (to signify Diamond Shoals) but the silly nits mixed them up when they painted them. But again, I got tired of trying to verify the facts online (because lately I have the attention span of a gnat), so I’m just going to take it on faith because it’s a good story.
I’d like to say that I took this photo for effect – to show how the Cape Lookout light might have looked to sailors at sea, but that would be a fib. If you saw my last post, you know that this was taken from the shore of the nearby island, Shackleford Banks, which is as close as I’ve managed to get so far.
You can climb this one too – just 207 steps or the equivalent of a 12-story building. Good luck with that. I’ll be admiring it from the bottom (one day).
That just leaves Currituck for me to see. The northernmost light, the one that got to keep its red bricks bare.
Anybody out there have a favorite lighthouse? Favorite short story featuring a lighthouse? (I’m thinking Bradbury.) Cool lighthouse legend? Lighthouse featured in a movie? Lighthouse anecdotes or trivia? Have you climbed one recently (or ever)? Don’t be shy.
Posted by Evolution of X on November 28, 2012
At the southern end of a 200-mile string of barrier islands off the North Carolina coast known as the Outer Banks is Cape Lookout National Seashore. And at the southern end of that is an uninhabited island called Shackleford Banks. I spent the day before Thanksgiving there with my parents.
The island is only accessible by boat but there are a couple of ferry services on the mainland in Beaufort. Beaufort itself is a cool little town established in 1709. It’s rich in history and very picturesque but its biggest claim to fame (and my favorite thing about it) is the fact the Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground just off its coast in 1718. The wreck was discovered in 1996 and is the subject of an ongoing archaeological research project.
You can view artifacts from the QAR in the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort which happened to be right across the street from our ferry service. So while we waited for our departure time, we got to wander about the museum examining artifacts from straight pins and tiny glass beads to cannon that had been buried under the shifting shoals of Beaufort Inlet for 300 years. To me, that’s a lot of fun and I tried to read every sign in the 45 minutes we had before our boat left.
Our ferry was a flat-bottomed skiff that offered no protection from the frigid late November wind which I thought it was invigorating. My parents looked slightly less thrilled, but 15 minutes of cold wind and spray seemed a small price to pay.
We were plenty warm enough once we arrived at the island and hiked the half a mile through the dunes to the ocean side.
And when we got there, it was delightfully deserted.
The Gulf Stream passes at it’s closest just off shore here before swinging away to the east bringing with it plenty of shells more common to shores farther south.
There were also plenty of shorebirds…
…and a lone shrimp boat being swarmed by gulls.
And to my delight, a bonus. To visit the Cape Lookout Lighthouse (and take a photo of it making my collection of Outer Banks lighthouses almost complete), we would have to have taken another, longer boat ride and our mini-vacation just didn’t allow time for both trips. But when I took a closer look at this photo, I realized the Cape Lookout Light is just barely visible on the horizon.
And even more delightful, on the walk back across the island, we got to see some of the wild horses that have lived on the island for about 400 years.
So I’ve added another island to my mental list of favorite places, and I’ll be going back first chance I get.
How about ya’ll? What’s one of your favorite places and why?
Posted by Evolution of X on November 25, 2012
In 1066, Halley’s Comet appeared just before the Battle of Hastings. The comet passed particularly close to the earth that year and was described by witnesses as a bright new star in the heavens. King Harold of England took it as a bad omen that he would lose the battle to William the Conqueror which we know, of course, he did. And we also know now that the comet probably had very little to do with it.
Halley’s comet swings through the inner solar system making itself visible to all of us here on Earth once every 76 years. It was 1986 the last time it swung by, and it won’t be back until 2061. Since that’s kind of a long time to wait, it’s fortunate that anyone can see bits and pieces of the comet every year in October when the Earth passes through the trail of debris it left on its last pass. This morning, I got up two hours before dawn and went out to watch, and try to photograph, the Orionid meteor shower.
I didn’t see any meteors but managed to photograph three. With 25 to 30 second exposure times, that wasn’t so hard to manage. I pushed the button on the camera and fidgeted in the cold drinking my coffee until I heard the shutter close and then pushed the button again. After an hour, I came in, reviewed the photos, and found 3 faint streaks indicating meteors. Then I drank coffee, ate chocolate eyeballs (my favorite Halloween candy), and watched the X-Files on Netflix until the sun rose and my family eventually got up. Not a bad morning.
So here’s the best of my meteors:
A few other interesting things in the photo: The brightest star in the frame, to the left of the meteor trail, is Jupiter. It appears right in the middle of the constellation Taurus. Almost directly to the left, at the edge of the frame, are the three stars making up Orion’s Belt. The top half of that constellation is also visible in the frame. The star cluster, Pleiades or the Seven Sisters, is also visible at the bottom of the frame near the tree tops. (If you continue the line defined by the meteor streak, toward the bottom of the photo, it will pass just to the left of the cluster.)
I’m just learning about the night sky and at first, could rarely find anything other than Orion or the Big Dipper without help. I use several websites to gather information but my favorite tool is the planetarium software, Stellarium. Here are a couple of screen shots showing the same part of the sky in the photo.
And here’s one with the constellation lines drawn in:
How cool is that? Stellarium can be downloaded for free at http://www.stellarium.org/
Though the best viewing was forecasted for this morning before dawn, the Orionid meteor shower will continue through tonight. See more here:
If you liked this post or learning a bit about things that happen in the night sky, you might enjoy the account of the last meteor shower I lost sleep over: Why I Stayed Up for the Perseids.
Posted by Evolution of X on October 21, 2012
Posted by Evolution of X on October 20, 2012