Archive for January 2014

Borderline   1 comment

BorderlineIf you love our National Parks (I do) and you are an avid reader (I am), it’s inevitable that you will find Nevada Barr’s series of novels.  Anna Pigeon is the heroine, and she is a park ranger.

The novels – with the 18th installment expected April 1st – is not only a best-selling series, it’s also available for sale at select National Park gift shops!

The charm of the books is that Ms. Barr weaves  the unique character of her setting into the plot of each novel. Her love of nature is clear – she worked as a law enforcement ranger for several summers, so she does know something about the life of a ranger.

Barr, Nevada 2The current issues that impact the Park are endemic to each of her novels. With Borderline, the setting is the Big Bend National Park. The multi-layered plot is firmly focused on a central issue of that Park: border security.

And murder. Anna Pigeon is always surrounded by murder. She must be the unluckiest ranger in the country, because where she goes, the body count grows. In this particular case, there are 4 dead quickly and Pigeon’s river rafting group of 6 is running for their lives – with a newborn infant in Anna’s care.

As this plot thickens, you’ve got everything from a wayward Mexican cow to a politically climbing mayor from Houston complicating things. Barr’s plots are a bit wacky and fun … and the tension always builds to a surprising conclusion.

The novels are a bit formulaic for my taste … and when the action slows just a touch, that can become annoying. When the action ramps up, though, Anna Pidgeon is the friend we’d all like to have in a tight spot. Like with many cop novels (because she is a law enforcement ranger, paramedic and all-around survivor), Pigeon is always up to every task. The good girl always wins.

And that’s a wonderful thing.

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Big Bend National Park

NevadaBarr.com

Posted January 31, 2014 by henrymowry in National Parks, Reading

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Such A Big Mouth!   Leave a comment

Lunge feeding with several humpback whales in Kenai Fjords National Park.  Photo: Nirav Patel. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior 1/29/14.

Lunge feeding with several humpback whales in Kenai Fjords National Park.
Photo: Nirav Patel. Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior 1/29/14.

Heat   5 comments

Sunrise over Death Valley. Photo: David Kiene. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 1/18/14.

Sunrise over Death Valley. Photo: David Kiene. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 1/18/14.

The Challenger Disaster   2 comments

The NASA family lost seven of its own on the morning of January 28, 1986, when a booster engine failed, causing the Shuttle Challenger to break apart just 73 seconds after launch.  The crew of STS-51-L: Front row from left, Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair. Back row from left, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, Judith Resnik.

The NASA family lost seven of its own on the morning of January 28, 1986, when a booster engine failed, causing the Shuttle Challenger to break apart just 73 seconds after launch.
The crew of STS-51-L: Front row from left, Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair. Back row from left, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, Judith Resnik.

28 years ago today, the Challenger Space Shuttle blew up in the sky above Cape Kennedy after 73 seconds of flight.

The photo series linked below was shot by an unnamed NASA electrician that captured that short flight. Click here for the story of their discovery.

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Imgur.com: Photo series of the disaster

Posted January 28, 2014 by henrymowry in Photography

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Wind Cave National Park   1 comment

Wind Cave NP 00Where Is It: The Park is 6 miles north of Hot Springs, SD, or 60 miles southwest of Rapid City, SD. It’s 634 miles west of Minneapolis.

The Birth: From Wind.Cave.National-Park.com:

On 03 Jan 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the bill creating Wind Cave National Park. It was the seventh national park and the first one created to protect a cave. The parklands at that time were small and there were no bison, elk, or pronghorn. They came later as the park boundaries expanded.

In 1912, the American Bison Society was looking for a place to reestablish a bison herd. Because of the excellent prairie habitat around the park, a national game preserve was established bordering Wind Cave. It was managed by the U.S. Biological Survey. In 1913 and 1914, the animals began to arrive. Fourteen bison came from the New York Zoological Society, twenty-one elk arrived from Wyoming and thirteen pronghorn came from Alberta, Canada.

In July of 1935, the game preserve became part of Wind Cave National Park. During the early years of the preserve, the animals were kept in small enclosures. Eventually, it was realized that they needed more space. The bison and elk needed additional forage and the pronghorn needed room to escape from predators. With the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), fences within the park were removed. And in 1946, 16,341 additional acres were added, enlarging the park to 28,059 acres.

It Happened Here: From Wikipedia:

Caves are said to “breathe,” that is, air continually moves into or out of a cave, equalizing the atmospheric pressure of the cave and the outside air. When the air pressure is higher outside the cave than in it, air flows into the cave, raising cave’s pressure to match the outside pressure. When the air pressure inside the cave is higher than outside it, air flows out of it, lowering the air pressure within the cave. A large cave (such as Wind Cave) with only a few small openings will “breathe” more obviously than a small cave with many large openings.

Size: 33,847 acres

# Visitors: 516,142 in 2013. Peak attendance was in June; January was the least-attended month.

Animals: From the Park’s website:

The mixed-grass prairie that visitors see in the the park today is one of the few remaining and is home to native wildlife such as bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes and prairie dogs. In 1911, the American Bison Society looked for places to establish free roaming bison herds. They selected Wind Cave National Park as one of the first areas where these animals would be returned to the wild.

Bison, pronghorn, and elk were reintroduced to the park in 1913 and 1914. Because of this, we can see many prairie animals such as: elk, bison, pronghorn, turkeys, prairie dogs, and maybe even a black-footed ferret. And, just as important, we can see the habitat that supports them.

Choices: From NationalGeographic.com:

A good plan of action for a single-day visit would be to spend the morning in Wind Cave on one of the shorter introductory tours and the afternoon exploring the park’s prairies and forests on the Scenic Drive. A second day would be the time for one of the longer Candlelight or Cave Tours.

Fees: There are no fees to visit the Park. Cave tours are $7 to $23; campsites are $12.

Staying There: There are 75 campsites in Elk Mountain campground. The campground is open April – October.

Contact Info:

26611 US Highway 385
Hot Springs, SD 57747-6027
 
Visitor Information: 605-745-4600

Current Issues: From NationalParksTraveler.com:

It’s been a century since bison were returned to Wind Cave National Park via a recovery program for the shaggy animals, and while they’re thriving, overall, in the park, motorists are proving to be a great threat to them.

Since October motorists have killed at least six bison in the South Dakota park, and overall this year 14 bison have been killed in such collisions, Wind Cave officials report.

As a result of these accidents, the park is stepping up patrols, working on better signage, and hazing animals away from the roads.

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National Park Service: Wind Cave National Park

 

Sportsmanship   Leave a comment

Sportsmanship 02I seem to have lost my way. Perhaps I no longer understand what sportsmanship is in today’s culture, as we approach Superbowl XLVIII.

Robert Sherman’s postgame interview after his team won the NFC Championship became something as a sensation, as this amped-up, child of the inner city and Stanford graduate became a cause celebre. Here’s his confusing interview that made him one of the top stories heading into the Superbowl.

Want more? He’ll have another interview with Erin Andrews, airing in the “5-6 hour” of pre-game Superbowl coverage. When is that? No idea, but that’s what ESPN told me last night in a pre-game promo interview.

Sportsmanship 01

Sportsmanship is considered old fashioned in some circles … but is there anything wrong with shaking hands with a competitor after the game?

The second strike against my believing I understand today’s media is from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This bastion of old school journalism has hired a hater … called The Hater … whose job is to hate for his readers. Just in case they can’t find enough things to hate in the sports world without him. Here is what  they say:

In the city that’s too busy to hate, but where our most-cherished rivalry is considered “clean, old-fashioned hate,” let The Hater find the latest in sports that just needed to be hated on.

The Hater Blog

I never knew that I needed people to hate for me. Thank goodness old media is leaping into that breach.

Finally, I subscribe to the RSS feed of Bruins Nation. This week, I was banned from commenting on the board because I disagreed with the opinion of one of their authors. This author was incessantly attacking the UCLA basketball coach – incessantly. This coach, new to UCLA, came in with a regrettable past, but he’s contracted to be the coach for 7 years. The author takes total exception to this situation, and blogs about his  lack of desire to even watch UCLA basketball games. Remember how he’s a blogger on a sports blog? Here’s what I said:

When a sports journalist blogger thinks that not watching games qualifies him to comment on the game, it’s time for a re-evaluation. As much as I agree with some … SOME … of what you write, this is the last column of yours that I will read.

Endless whining is not effective commentary. I suggest you get a new hobby, since you don’t like watching basketball anymore.

I was immediately banned from the blog, insulted publicly and repeatedly, and thrown under the bus for not hating the coach like the author does.

Apparently I don’t always understand sports reporters.

Journalism, I mourn for thee.

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TeensHealth.com: Sportsmanship

CBSNews.com: “Unbelievable” Act Of Sportsmanship

ESPN: Fans Behaving Badly

Posted January 27, 2014 by henrymowry in Media, Sports

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Inauguration: 1857   Leave a comment

Inauguration of James Buchanan, President of the United States, at the east front of the U. S. Capitol, March 4, 1857. First photograph of an inauguration at the Capitol, which was still under construction in 1857. The stone yard in the foreground was covered with boards to provide a platform for the crowd. The life dates of the photographer, John Wood, are unknown, but he was the photographer for the Architect of the Capitol from 1856 to 1861. Mr. Wood then entered the war as a photographer of maps for McClellan.

Inauguration of James Buchanan, President of the United States, at the east front of the U. S. Capitol, March 4, 1857. First photograph of an inauguration at the Capitol, which was still under construction in 1857. The stone yard in the foreground was covered with boards to provide a platform for the crowd. The life dates of the photographer, John Wood, are unknown, but he was the photographer for the Architect of the Capitol from 1856 to 1861. Mr. Wood then entered the war as a photographer of maps for McClellan.

Posted January 26, 2014 by henrymowry in POTUS

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Biscayne National Park   Leave a comment

Biscayne NP 00Where Is It: Convoy Point, with a Visitor’s Center, is on the mainland, 10 miles west of Homestead, FL.

The Birth: From the Biscayne National Park Information Guide:

The park, located just 21 miles east of Everglades National Park, was established as a national monument in 1968. In 1980 it was enlarged to 181,500 acres and designated as a national park to protect a rare combination of terrestrial and undersea life, to preserve a scenic subtropical setting, and to provide an outstanding spot for recreation and relaxation.

Set apart as Biscayne National Monument in 1968. Designated a National Park by Congress and signed by President Jimmy Carter on 28 Jun 1980.

It Happened Here: From ParkVision:

Before the arrival of the Spanish the Biscayne area was inhabited by the Tequestas Indians, who lived comfortably on the bounty of the sea surrounding land. The Tequestas were particularly fond of conch and left middens which can still be seen in various locations in the park. The first Spaniard, Ponce de Leon, visited in 1513, taking on fresh water near Biscayne Bay. Unfortunately, the diseases introduced by the Spaniards had virtually eliminated the Tequestas by the mid 1700’s.

By the early 1800’s the park area had become a haven for pirates and buccaneers, like the famous “Black Caesar.” In 1819 Florida was acquired by the United States, and in the 1820’s the pirates were cleared from the park area.

The area was used for a number of purposes in the 1800’s, including the gathering of sponges. The islands of the park were also farmed, although a large hurricane in 1906 ended much of this activity. Subsequently, the main activities in the park area were rum smuggling and guiding of tourists who came to experience the sun and sea.

Size: 172,971 acres

# Visitors: 487,664 in 2013. November was the least attended month; August had peak attendance.

Flora & Fauna: From Wikipedia:

Biscayne National Park protects four distinct ecosystems: the shoreline mangrove swamp, the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay, the coral limestone keys and the offshore Florida Reef. The shoreline swamps of the mainland and island margins provide a nursery for larval and juvenile fish, molluscs and crustaceans. The bay waters harbor immature and adult fish, seagrass beds, sponges and soft corals, as well as manatees. The keys are covered with tropical vegetation including endangered cacti and palms, and their beaches provide nesting grounds for endangered sea turtles. Offshore reefs and waters harbor more than 200 species of fish, pelagic birds, whales and hard corals. Sixteen endangered species including the Schaus’ swallowtail butterfly, smalltooth sawfish, manatees, and green and hawksbill sea turtles may be observed in the park. Biscayne also has a small population of threatened American crocodiles and a few American alligators.

Animals: The Key Largo wood rat is an endangered species, building large stick houses that can be handed down for generations and stand 6′ stlal. They live in mature, tropical hardwood hammocks.

Choices: From NationalGeographic.com:

Unless you have your own boat, plan to see Biscayne on a concessioner-run cruise. You can look underwater on a reef cruise aboard a glass-bottom boat or swim the shallow waters on a snorkeling cruise. There are also scuba cruises to the outer reef for qualified divers. You should make reservations in advance. Cruises may be canceled if there are too few passengers or the weather is inclement. Although this is a water park, a walk around the mangrove shore will give you a chance to examine the coastal edges of the bay’s ecosystem. The Dante Fascell Visitor Center offers a museum, audiovisual programs, and ranger talks.

Fees: There are no entrance fees. There are fees for overnight camping, and for docking fees. See the Park’s website, here.

Staying There: The two campgrounds in the Park are located on two different islands: Boca Chita Key and Elliott Key. The campgrounds are open year round.

Contact Info:

9700 SW 328 Street
Homestead, Florida 33033
 
Visitor Information: 305-230-PARK (305-230-7275)

Current Issues: The Park recently installed shoal markers in an effort to protect seagrass beds and coral shoals from boaters. Read about it, here.

More

National Park Service: Biscayne National Park

PBS.org: Biscayne National Park

The Billion Dollar Marketing Bet   Leave a comment

March MadnessPerhaps you heard … Warren Buffet’s Quicken Loans is willing to pay someone $1,000,000,000 dollars if they can perfectly predict the March Madness NCAA college basketball bracket.

That’s one billion dollars.

March Madness, of course, is the big tournament that ends the top division of the men’s college basketball season. It’s one of the biggest betting occasions of the sports year. Office pools abound … every sports publisher creates a bracket so you can predict who will win the tournament from among the 68 teams that enter the tournament.

Here’s my take: when the 4th richest guy in the world says he’s going to give you that much money … it probably isn’t going to happen. And that’s exactly what the odds tell us.

Nothing wrong with playing the game, of course!  After all, you just might win. On the other hand, in 30 years of March Madness on ESPN’s website, not one person has ever gotten every game right.

Seems like Mr. Buffet is betting a winning hand. But doesn’t he always?

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FoxSports.com: March Madness…

Quicken Loans: Billion Dollar Bracket Challenge

Wall Street Journal: A $1 Billion Dollar Offer…

Washington Post: Warren Buffet, Quicken Loans…

Posted January 24, 2014 by henrymowry in Selling

The Idaho Wilderness   Leave a comment

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, BLM-Idaho will highlight 50 adventures in the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness Areas throughout 2014. Each “Wilderness Wednesday” during this year of celebration, the public will find a new post on BLM Idaho’s Facebook page, suggesting a new idea for a wilderness adventure.  All activities will also be featured on the BLM-Idaho website. Each wilderness adventure will identify the wilderness area and include a photo, brief description, suggested experience level, location and approximate time to complete. Posts will begin on January 22. Members of the public are encouraged to share their photos and experiences in Idaho’s wilderness by using #IdahoWilderness50. We will share our favorites on our Facebook page throughout the year. -Krista Berumen, BLM Idaho

Photos sent on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 1/22/14.

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