Archive for December 2013

The Fourth Season   Leave a comment

Arizona's Chiricahua National Monument. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/25/13.

Arizona’s Chiricahua National Monument. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 11/25/13.

Posted December 21, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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Denali National Park   6 comments

Denali NP 00Where Is It: The Park is over 300 miles north of Anchorage. You can drive part of the way … take a 91-mile road from the George Parks Highway to the mining camp of Kantishna. The road is largely unpaved. Only the first 15 miles are available to private vehicles. After that, you must use a bus service … 6 hours to Wonder Lake, or 4 hours to the Eielson Visitor Center.

The Birth: From the Park’s website:

Denali, the “High One,” is the name Athabascan native people gave the massive peak that crowns the 600-mile-long Alaska Range. Denali is also the name of an immense national park and preserve created from the former Mount McKinley National Park. In 1917 Mount McKinley National Park was established as a game refuge. The park and the massif including North America’s highest peak were named for former senator – later President – William McKinley. In 1980, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) enlarged the boundary by 4 million acres and redesignated it as Denali National Park and Preserve. It exemplifies interior Alaska’s character as one of the world’s last great frontiers, its wilderness is largely unspoiled.

Controversy: From Wikipedia:

The name of Mount McKinley National Park was subject to local criticism from the beginning of the park. The word “Denali” means “the high one” in the native Athabaskan language and refers to the mountain itself. The mountain was named after newly elected US president William McKinley in 1897 by local prospector William A. Dickey. In 1980, Mount McKinley National Park was combined with Denali National Monument. At that time the Alaska Board of Geographic Names changed the name of the mountain back to “Denali,” even though the U.S. Board of Geographic Names maintains “McKinley”. Alaskans tend to use “Denali” and rely on context to distinguish between the park and the mountain.

It Happened Here: There was a massive mudslide in November 2013, that covered the park road near mile 38 with mud up to 35′ deep. From National Park Traveler:

Blocks of permafrost-frozen, unconsolidated debris as thick as 15’ and the size of a small cabin had slid on a slippery, unfrozen clay that acted as the failure plane. With winter snows held off by unseasonably warm weather, the Denali road crew managed to clear the road of debris after considerable effort.

Size: 6,075,029 acres, of which 4,724,735.16 acres are federally owned. The national preserve is 1,334,200 acres, of which 1,304,132 acres are federally owned. On December 2, 1980, a 2,146,580 acre Denali Wilderness was established within the park.

# Visitors: 388,433 in 2012. August was the most attended; February was the least attended.

Plants: This subarctic wilderness is home to more than 1,500 species of vascular plants, mosses and lichens.

Animals: From the Park’s website:

Animal life and activity in Denali is dictated by the seasons. Winter is the longest season and the animals that are year-round residents are well-adapted to life in the subarctic. The brief spring season brings the return of 80% of Denali’s bird life, the waking of hibernating bears, and an increase in activity levels of wildlife. Summer is a time for raising young and preparing for migration, hibernation, or survival during the winter. Summer also brings hordes of insects, including mosquitoes. In late summer king and chum salmon run in the multitude of streams and rivers. In autumn, migrating birds fill the skies and bull moose gather their harems of cows for the mating season.

Year-round residents include all the mammals, fish, about 18 species of birds, and the one lone amphibian, the wood frog.

Choices: From

  • Overnight backpacking is a popular activity for wilderness trekking enthusiasts. Backcountry stays in Denali National Park require a free backcountry permit available at the visitor center during the summer months and at park headquarters during the winter months. Most areas require the use of Bear Resistant Food Containers, distributed free of charge with your backcountry permit. Bear encounters are fairly common, so learn how to handle them ahead of time.
  • The most challenging peak to summit in the United States is Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley). With a summit of 20,320 feet, temperatures known to fall below minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and 95-mile-per-hour winds, summiting Denali is for expert mountaineers only.
  • To access day hikes (and scout longer backpacking adventures) in Denali, follow the park road. Take a shuttle bus, get off at an interesting location, and hike from there. When you feel you’ve gone far enough, turn back and either wait for the next shuttle bus or walk along the road until the next bus comes.

Fees: The park entrance fee is $10.00 per person (youth age 15 years or younger are free). This fee provides the visitor a 7-day entrance permit.

Staying There: Inside the Park, there is lodging at Camp Denali, Kantishna Roadhouse and Northface Lodge.

Contact Info:

P.O. Box 9
Denali Park, AK 99755-0009

Current Issues: The wolf population in the Park is dropping, resulting in fewer wolf  viewing opportunities for Park visitors. Perhaps that is due to hunting of wolves in properties adjacent to the Park, but that has not been verified by NPS staff. Here are the stats, from National Park Traveler:

According to the park’s wolf viewing report, this past summer marked the third consecutive year that researchers “found that visitors traveling in buses on the Denali Park Road have had significantly declining opportunities to see wolves. In a random sample of 80 bus trips this summer, wolves were seen on three occasions, or about 4 percent of the trips. By contrast, in the three previous years the percentages were 12 percent (2012), 21 percent (2011) and 44 percent (2010).”



National Park Service: Denali National Park & Preserve

Terra Galleria: Denali

Denali Repeat Photos

On Dasher. On Dancer. On Prancer. On Vixen. On Dominick, on Snoopy, on Baron von Richthofen.   Leave a comment

Snoopy, Christmas, and Pizza. Some combinations are just meant to be!

Posted December 20, 2013 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Portraits: Migrant Mother, 1936   1 comment


Nipomo, Calif. Mar. 1936. Migrant agricultural worker’s family. Seven hungry children. Mother aged 32, the father is a native Californian. Destitute in a pea pickers camp, because of the failure of the early pea crop. These people had just sold their tent in order to buy food. Most of the 2,500 people in this camp were destitute. Library of Congress.

From the Library of Congress:

The photograph that has become known as “Migrant Mother” is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange made of Florence Owens Thompson and her children in February or March of 1936 in Nipomo, California. Lange was concluding a month’s trip photographing migratory farm labor around the state for what was then the Resettlement Administration. In 1960, Lange gave this account of the experience:

I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).

Posted December 19, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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On Family and Marriage: Henny Youngman   2 comments

“Do you know what it means to come home at night to a woman who’ll give you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you’re in the wrong house. That’s what it means.”

“When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”

“My grandmother is over eighty and still doesn’t need glasses. Drinks right out of the bottle.”

“My son complains about headaches. I tell him all the time, when you get out of bed, it’s feet first!”

“My dad was the town drunk. Most of the time that’s not so bad; but New York City?”

“I take my wife everywhere, but she keeps finding her way back.”

“Just got back from a pleasure trip: I took my mother-in-law to the airport.”

“The secret of a happy marriage remains a secret.”

I’ve got two wonderful children – and two out of five isn’t too bad.

What is a home without children? Quiet.

“My best friend ran away with my wife, and let me tell you, I miss him.”

“Just think, if it weren’t for marriage, men would go through life thinking they had no faults at all.”

“Losing a wife can be very hard. In my case, it was almost impossible.”

“Two guys in a gym, one putting on a girdle. One guys says, ‘Since when have you been wearing a girdle?’ Other guy says, ‘Since my wife found it in the glove compartment of our car.'”

“I’ve been in love with the same woman for forty-one years. If my wife finds out, she’ll kill me.”

“Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.”

“It’s not true that married men live longer than single men. It only seems longer.”

“Man is incomplete until he is married. Then he is finished.”

“I miss my wife’s cooking – as often as I can.”

Posted December 18, 2013 by henrymowry in Living Life

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Carlsbad Caverns National Park   5 comments

Where Is It: 150 miles east of El Paso, TX, or 300 miles southeast of Albuquerque, NM.

The Birth: In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge established Carlsbad Cave National Monument. In 1930, Congress authorized and then President Herbert Hoover approved the Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Size: 46,766 acres.

# Visitors: 2012 visitation was 381,058 people. July was the peak month, and January the least attended … even though the cave is a constant 56*, year round.

Plants: From the Park’s website:

The park’s diverse ecosystem provides habitat for many plants that are at the geographic limits of their ranges. For example, the Ponderosa Pine reaches its extreme eastern limit here and Chinkapin Oak is at the western edge of its range.

There is more diversity of cacti in the Chihuahuan Desert than in any other region. Experts believe that this plant family originated here or to the south, and expanded out through the New World. The park’s vascular plant list notes 26 species or subspecies of cacti, including two species that are federally listed.

The plant families with the most species in the park are species in the sunflower family, with 153 species, and grasses, with 135 species. There are more than 60 known species of the legume family and more than 30 each from the mustard and poinsettia families.

Animals: 17 species of bats live in the Park, including Mexican free-tailed bats. That species’ population in the Park was once estimated in the millions, but is now a fraction of that number. A study published in 2009 by a team from Boston University questions whether millions of bats ever existed in the caverns.

Choices: From

One full day allows you time to tour the main cavern and take a nature walk or a drive before watching the bats fly at sunset. For a second day’s activity, reserve space on a tour of “unimproved” Slaughter Canyon Cave, if you’re ready for a more rugged caving experience.

At the visitor center, select either the Natural Entrance Tour or the Big Room Tour (both are 1.25-mile walks). Try the first unless you have walking, breathing, or heart problems. It starts at the natural entrance and is mostly downhill, except for one stretch where you climb 83 feet; an elevator whisks you back to ground level. The Natural Entrance Tour is more intimate and may be less crowded than the Big Room.

Fees: Any tour costs each visitor $10.

Staying There: There are no campgrounds and no lodges in the Park. Backcountry camping is by permit; permits are free.

Contact Info:

3225 National Parks Highway
Carlsbad, New Mexico 88220
Visitor Information: 575.785.2232
Bat Flight Information: 575.785.3012

Current Issues: From Albuquerque Journal:

It’s been more than two decades since a discovery this big has been made at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in southeastern New Mexico.

Park officials announced this week that a new room has been discovered high in the ceiling of the main cavern. It was found on Halloween night by Derek Bristol, a caver and volunteer with the Cave Research Foundation, and Shawn Thomas, a cave technician at the park.

The two had climbed more than 250 feet to the “Spirit World” area to finish surveying as part of work to create a new map of the caverns. Once inside, they decided to make their way to a ledge about 15 feet away. The ledge had been observed on previous trips but never explored.

“Most of the time, obscure leads like this go nowhere,” Thomas said.

To their surprise, it opened up to a long passage.

“I remember being really shocked. I couldn’t believe this was happening,” said Thomas, who followed Bristol through the passage and into the large room they dubbed Halloween Hall. “There hasn’t been a room this big discovered in decades.”

Inside the colorful room were football-size crystal formations, light-blue endellite clay, a cascade of flow stone left behind by mineral deposits and thousands of bat bones. The room is about 100 feet in diameter.

Don’t Miss This: From

More than 300 known caves lie beneath the surface of the Chihuahuan Desert and Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico and west Texas. The Carlsbad Caverns National Park contains 113 of these caves, two of which—Carlsbad Caverns and Lechuguilla Cave—are among the largest and most magnificent underground formations in the world.


National Park Service: Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Jason’s Travels: My Favorite National Parks Of The West

Terra Galleria: Carlsbad Caverns

Always Know Who Made The Punch   Leave a comment

October 1954. "Actress Judy Holliday posed with a large 'vegetable man' designed by Federico Pallavicini." Kodachrome by Milton H. Greene for the Look magazine assignment "Holiday Punch -- Judy Holliday." Shorpy Historical Photos

October 1954. “Actress Judy Holliday posed with a large ‘vegetable man’ designed by Federico Pallavicini.” Kodachrome by Milton H. Greene for the Look magazine assignment “Holiday Punch — Judy Holliday.” Shorpy Historical Photos


Shorpy Historical Photos: Holiday Punch

Posted December 16, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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Great Basin National Park   2 comments

Great Basin NP 00Where Is It: About 300 miles north of Las Vegas.

The Birth: The Park was established on October 27, 1986 by President Ronald Reagan.

It Happened Here: In 1964, before the Park was established, an ancient bristlecone pine, found to be more than 4,900 years old, was cut down for scientific research.

Size: 77,082 acres

# Visitors: Great Basin National Park reported record attendance in 2012: 98,540. Peak attendance was in July; January had the least attendance.

Plants: From the sponsored Great Basin National Park Sights page:

The bristlecone pines are the stuff of legends. True masters of longevity, they endure not centuries but millennia. On rocky slopes beyond the end of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, you can walk among trees that have kept their grip on life for two to three thousand years – some much longer than that. A bristlecone pine found here was determined to be the world’s oldest living thing: 4,950 years of age.

Great Basin bristlecone pines (Pinus longaeva) are remarkable for their great age and their ability to survive adverse growing conditions. In fact, it seems one secret to their longevity is the harsh environment in which most bristlecone pines grow.

Bristlecone pines in Great Basin National Park grow in isolated groves just below treeline. Conditions are harsh, with cold temperatures, a short growing season, and high winds. Bristlecone pines in these high-elevation environments grow very slowly, and in some years don’t even add a ring of growth. This slow growth makes their wood very dense and resistant to insects, fungi, rot, and erosion. Vegetation is very sparse, limiting the role of fire. Bristlecone pine seeds are occassionally cached by birds at lower elevations. Bristlecone pines grow more rapidly in more “favorable” environments at lower elevations. They do not achieve their legendary age or fascinating twisted shapes.

While bristlecone pines are the longest-living tree, scientists debate what is truly the oldest living thing. The creosote bush that grows in the Mojave Desert may be older. The cresote achieves its age by “cloning” new bushes from its root system. Yet bristlecone pines surely deserve our respect for not only surviving harsh conditions, but thriving in harsh conditions.

Animals: Animals common to the Park range from pronghorn antelopes to pygmy rabbits, from mountain sheep to marmots, from ringtail cats to ermine.

Choices: From

Great Basin National Park offers three major attractions:

  1. Wheeler Peak, a 13,063 foot mountain that towers above the Great Basin.
  2. Bristlecone pines, a unique tree that grows to an amazing age � some are thought to be up to 5,000 years old.
  3. Lehman Caves – beautiful caverns that penetrate deep into an underground world full of stalactites, stalagmites and other decorations.

The park is a great place to explore, hike, camp and see unique sights.

Fees: There is no entrance fee.

Staying There: There are about 100 camping sites which currently cost $10/night. There is no other lodging in the Park.

Contact Info:

100 Great Basin National Park
Baker, NV 89311
Park Headquarters: (775) 234-7331
Lehman Caves Tours Advance Ticket Sales: (775) 234-7517


National Park Service: Great Basin National Park

Posted December 15, 2013 by henrymowry in National Parks

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Payton’s Merry-Go-Round Photo   Leave a comment

We were walking thru the mall with Payton, so she could go see Santa. And that’s when it happened.

She SCREAMED when she saw the Merry-Go-Round.


I blame Auntie Lauren, who introduced Payton to the joys of this mechanical amusement. I blame her because when Payton saw the merry-go-round, she screamed. Into my ear. And her not-quite-2-year-old lungs were well prepared for the scream to be noticed, believe me.

So, after she saw Santa, we returned to the merry-go-round with my best camera (the one in my hand), and I proceeded to shoot Payton with my Samsung III Droid. I ended up getting a pretty good shot.


1. I shot on every revolution of the merry-go-round. I didn’t know what would work.

2. I shot within the capabilities of the camera: the mall was brightly lit, and the distance to Payton was about 10′.

3. Payton’s Dad got 5′ ahead of me, and called to her on each revolution in an attempt to get her attention on the camera.

4. I adjusted the zoom between the shots to try and find the right balance between zoom and background fun.

5. I kept shooting, because I didn’t have time to check to see if I got a good photo or not.

6. I had 9 shots. Of those, only one was any good at all. Well, if you don’t count the one of the back of her head, which is pretty good if you like pictures of hair.

When you use the camera in your hand, you can still get great photos. Just understand the capabilities of your camera, be patient, be steady … and keep shooting.

MGR 01

She was moving, the merry-go-round was moving … I didn’t always get the timing right. Smartphone cameras don’t “engage the shutter” precisely when you push the button.

MGR 02

When you move, nothing can save the photo.

Getting the timing right ... but Miss P wasn't ready for her close-up on this revolution.

Getting the timing right … but Miss P wasn’t ready for her close-up on this revolution.

Mowry, Payton, Merry-go-round

Posted December 14, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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Portraits: The Riveter, 1943   Leave a comment

Woman is working on a "Vengeance" dive bomber Tennessee, February 1943. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Woman is working on a “Vengeance” dive bomber Tennessee, February 1943. Reproduction from color slide. Photo by Alfred T. Palmer. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Posted December 13, 2013 by henrymowry in Photography

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