Early last week, there were a few very large flares on the surface of the sun. Each larger than the one prior, the flares ejected enough energy towards Earth that there was a promise of aurora. Some forecasts even had aurora visible as far south as northern California and Nevada.
Late Thursday evening, Goddess and I discussed the opportunity, and the likelihood that we’d be skunked, but it was a chance to get out into southeastern Oregon. The part of the state that most folks out this way don’t talk about.
“Because there’s nothing there”.
Some folks just don’t know how to look at things.
After a long day’s drive to Steens Mountain, we got out there just in time to start setting up camp before it got dark. After astronomical twilight passed, we had but 45 minutes before moonrise. That was our window to catch a glimpse.
We noticed a very diffuse glow along the northern horizon, from northwest to northeast, but nothing that would stand out as a definite observation. While taking pictures, I started to notice the moon rising to the east, some 20 minutes before we saw it. It wasn’t really visible to the eye, but quite obvious on 15 second exposures. The clouds over that direction helped with the effect.
The picture doesn’t do justice to the amount of stars we were able to see out there.
Our camp was at 7,400′ and, as is typical of a desert, very dry. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of smoke and haze in the area, thanks to the many wildfires burning in the surrounding states. You can catch a hint of that smoke in the reds near the moon and along the ridgeline to the left.
So while the aurora was a wash for us, the trip wasn’t. It’s an area I’ve been looking at for a while, trying to figure out a good reason to make a road trip out there. Well, other than making it a road trip. The promise of aurora was the trigger and even though we didn’t catch but maybe a hint, we’re glad for the trip. Many firsts for Goddess (like driving alongside a herd of wild pronghorn antelope) and hopefully enough of a hint of the beauty and history that she’ll be willing to go back.
Speaking of hints, that tree line is a grove of quaking aspen. Our campsite was among them and the mountain was covered in a patchwork pattern, each grove in a different stage of color, from normal summer greens to bright yellows to deep reds. An autumn worth of color in one spot.
Perhaps I’ll share.
With a couple of projects in the works that are taking up quite a bit of time, I’m going to have to focus on a different project for you all this month. I’ll give some details on the other projects later this month.
It’s a bit of fun, looking back at photos I’ve taken in the month of September over the years. Well, at least the digital years. I’d really have to do some digging into the negatives and log books to determine which analogue photos were taken in September, but that kind of defeats the purpose. So we’ll stick to the last 9 years or so.
That means that some of you will recognize some of these photos but a large majority of you will not. So it’s fun for me to hear new thoughts on images I was producing years ago.
Cosmos in Showa Kinen Park, Tachikawa, Japan, a suburb of Tokyo. We loved that park. Every season had a season-appropriate garden display; spring had tulips, autumn had cosmos and other plants. We’d walk for hours and enjoy the different views.
Unfortunately, our cosmos in the yard aren’t giving a showing quite as nice as these. It has been a dry summer, even with irrigation.
This photo was taken on September 19th, 2005. I haven’t reprocessed it since then. I think it stands on its own as originally presented.
What are your thoughts?
It’s in Oregon.
We were looking to get there early enough in the day to set up camp, then watch sunset from the summit, but it didn’t work out that way. And we didn’t have enough time to watch sunrise from the summit, as any hike up a Fuji should be spent, whether it be Mount Fuji or Fuji Mountain.
Instead, we watched the sun set on Fuji Mountain from across Waldo Lake, which is apparently the clearest lake in the United States, having recently beat out Crater Lake in clarity. It’s a beautiful lake, with no motorized conveyance allowed. Even Crater Lake allows the gas-powered tour boats, which may just be enough to affect the clarity.
In the photo below, Fuji mountain is the one with the rounded top and the sharp precipice on the right (west) side, just to the right of the furthest left lens flare.
If you look close, you’ll see a bazillion spots. That’s not a dirty sensor or lens (I got rid of those nasty spots), but a bazillion flying insects. Thankfully they were just gnats, not mosquitoes or any other nasty biting bugs. They were noticeable only when you focused on them, otherwise you could enjoy the scenery and not be bothered. But they sure show up in the photos.
We need to get up to the summit of Fuji mountain. It’s not an impressive mountain, topping out at just over 7,000 feet (compared to Mount Fuji’s 13,000’+ summit). But from all accounts, the view is just as marvelous.
We’ll report back.
It’s amazing what a change in a viewing angle will do.
This was the opposite direction from last Friday’s view of the smoke from the wildfires to our south. In contrast to that view, this is looking north and a bit earlier in the day.
I liked the way that these rocks were lined up. It sure looked like a comfy place to sit, lean back and enjoy the view on both sides of Big Red Mountain.
Keeping with the wildfire theme, here’s one from last evening’s sunset on top of Big Red Mountain, Siskiyou Crest, Jackson County, Oregon.
The mountain happens to be the spine of a botanical interest area that Goddess and I adopted a few months back. We’re responsible to monitoring the area for any damage to the ecosystem, as well as keeping an eye out for any new or invasive species. We’re asked to visit the area several times a year and report any findings so that nothing goes unnoticed for too long.
The area is worth a blog post of its own, which it will have to be.
It does not break my heart to have to go up there and monitor the area. Just a short 20 mile drive from the house and I’m completely alone. Very few people visit the summit and while I can see some activity on the roads and trails below, I rarely can hear them, so I’m effectively alone up there. It’s quite nice.
To our south, in northern California, a wildfire complex called Happy Camp has pushed over 45,000 acres, adding over 12,000 acres on Thursday alone. Goddess and I were able to see that explosive growth from our house, even though there are a few mountain ranges and quite a few miles (~45 miles) between us and the fire. The smoke was visible above the closest mountains, but with no real development. Then about an hour before sunset, it appeared as if a thunderstorm was growing over the fire. But it was pyrocumulus, a billowing cloud that develops due to intense heating on the ground. I mentioned to Goddess that its appearance was a bad sign for the firefighters. We found out today how true that was, as the local weather office passed this info:
I had already planned on visiting the botanical area on Friday, but that looked iffy, as the smoke drifted in and out of the area that I needed to be. Luckily, the smoke stayed clear the whole time I was there, with the plume passing just to my south and east.
All I needed was sunset.
Well worth the effort, although the whole exercise seemed a bit frivolous considering the hundreds of families who may lose their homes in the coming days.
A bit over a month ago, in mid-July, the fire season out east kicked off after a round of thunderstorms moved through.
Goddess and I spent a day driving out there and looking around, hoping for some good photo opportunities, especially as another round of thunderstorms moved in.
Instead, we spent a bit of time looking at the damage, including quite a few lost homes and decided to head to greener pastures.
It was quite depressing, especially seeing homes that burnt to the ground despite the owner’s work on good defensible space. But that is the risk whenever folks build in the forest, no matter how prepared they are.
But it can leave behind a bit of beauty.
It has been a stormy, rough week around here.
Not the weather, but life.
But like any other storm, it will clear up, bringing fresh new colors.
A couple of shots from a few weeks ago when we escaped the heat and headed to the coast.
This trip was Skinny’s first experience with the ocean. He loved the wide beach and sand for running, but wasn’t too sure about the moving water.
Mind you, he loves lying in a stream and letting the water rush over him. But that’s a constant movement. Much different than standing on sand and having the water rush up around your legs.
Or nose, in this case.
He was quite content to lie where he was, a good 40 yards or so from the water, which was also several feet below him, as the rushing waves had built up a nice sandbar at the edge.
But there’s always a good set of waves that haven’t followed the rules, which is why you should never turn your back on the ocean.
Or keep your eyes closed too much.
A few seconds later and the water was around his feet, forcing him to bound out of the way of the evil 1/2″ deep water.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get that shot. I was laughing too hard.
A perfectly good nap ruined.
And why the title? In some circles, he’s known as “Skinny Man”. That name predates his adopting us, so it sticks.