Archive for April 2014

Great Sand Dunes National Park   5 comments

Great Sand Dunes NP 00Where Is It: The Park is 170 miles south and west of Colorado Springs.

The Birth: from Wikipedia:

The dunes and surrounding area were designated a National Monument in 1932. On November 22, 2000, United States President Bill Clinton signed the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Act of 2000, aiming at ultimate national park status. With the help of the Nature Conservancy, the federal government purchased 97,000 acres of the Baca Ranch, which in effect tripled the size of the park. The purchase includes those sections of the ranch which previously bordered the park on the north and west sides and also included 14,165 feet (4,317 m) Kit Carson Mountain and 14,080 feet (4,292 m) subpeak Challenger Point, and the water drainages to the south. The land purchased was split into three sections. Part of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains would be transferred to the Rio Grande National Forest, another section to the west would be set aside as a wildlife area and would host a wild bison herd and the last section to the east would be transferred from the Rio Grande National Forest and would be open to some hunting.

It Happened Here: from Wikipedia:

The park contains the tallest sand dunes in North Americ, rising about 750 feet (230 m) from the floor of the San Luis Valley on the western base of the Sangre de Cristo Range, covering about 19,000 acres (7,700 ha). Researchers say that the dunes started forming less than 440,000 years ago.

The dunes were formed from sand and soil deposits of the Rio Grande and its tributaries, flowing through the San Luis Valley. Over the ages, westerly winds picked up sand particles from the river flood plain. As the wind lost power before crossing the Sangre de Cristo Range, the sand was deposited on the east edge of the valley. This process continues, and the dunes are slowly growing. The wind changes the shape of the dunes daily.

There are several streams flowing on the perimeter of the dunes. The streams erode the edge of the dune field, and sand is carried downstream. The water disappears into the ground, depositing sand on the surface. Winds pick up the deposits of sand, and blow them up onto the dune field once again.

Digging a couple inches into the dunes even at their peaks reveals wet sand. Part of the motivation of turning the Monument into a National Park was the extra protection of the water, which Colorado’s cities and agriculture covet.

Size: 84,997 acres

# Visitors: 242,841 in 2013. December – February are months with very little visitation; peak attendance is in July.

Animals: From the Park’s website:

Endemic species are those that exist at only one location or area on Earth. They tend to be more numerous in habitats that are distinctly different from the surrounding areas. The Great Sand Dunes harbor at least seven endemic species of insects. Many of the insects here are ‘sand obligates’, meaning that they are adapted uniquely for sandy habitats such as the dunefield. Currently, just over 1,000 different kinds of arthropods (insects and spiders) are known to live at the Great Sand Dunes. However, this may represent only about 25% of the total number of arthropods that may exist here.

Choices: Go sledding! The Park offers tips on what equipment works best, and when the best times are to sled the dunes.

Fees: $3/adult, ages 16 and up. The pass is good for 1 week.

Staying There: Pinyon Flats Campground has 44 spaces open to the public and available on a first come, first served basis. There are also group camping spaces that can be reserved in advance. Backcountry camping in designated areas is also available.

Contact Info:

11999 Highway 150
Mosca, CO 81146



National Park Service: Great Sand Dunes National Park Great Sand Dunes National Park Hiking

Backpacker: North America’s Highest Sandbox….


Watching Soccer From Hell   Leave a comment

This video surfaced today … it’s from a soccer semifinal match for the Greek Cup. The teams had just entered the pitch, and were engaging in the ceremonial photos with the refs and other team when the fans of PAOK decided to set their world on fire.

Can you imagine being in the stands around that conflagration?

Oh, and the match had to be delayed in order for the smoke to clear. The opposing team’s bench was actually set on fire.


Note to self: don’t watch soccer while in Greece.


NBCNews: Wild Greek Cup Match

USAToday: Greek Soccer Fans Kick Off Big Rivalry Game By Lighting Everything On Fire

Posted April 19, 2014 by henrymowry in Sports

Tagged with , , ,

The Glory Of The Milky Way   4 comments

This image was taken at Balanced Rock inside Arches National Park and includes Zodiacal Light and the Milky Way. Photo: Brad Goldpaint ( Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 4/15/14.

This image was taken at Balanced Rock inside Arches National Park and includes Zodiacal Light and the Milky Way.
Photo: Brad Goldpaint ( Posted on Tumblr by the US Department of the Interior, 4/15/14.

Slot Canyon   Leave a comment

The 112,500-acre Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness lies approximately 10 miles west of Page, Arizona in Coconino County, Arizona and Kane County, Utah. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 4/16/14.

Arguably some of the planet’s most unique and spectacular geologic features are the narrow slot canyons of the Colorado Plateau — and the grand-daddy of them all is Buckskin Gulch in the 112,500 acre, BLM-managed Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness/National Monument. Straddling the Utah/Arizona border, this 13 mile long canyon is 400 feet deep and sometimes as narrow as six feet — not just at the bottom, but all the way up to the canyon rims (thus the name “slot”). In places you can’t see the sky when looking up; only the sun’s indirect glow bouncing off the scalloped rock walls & creating an ever-changing colorful tapestry. Logs wedged between the narrow walls 20-30 feet above the stream-bed are a reminder to avoid the area during the summer monsoon, when flash floods combined with no escape routes make the canyon unsafe for hiking. The Wilderness lies approximately 10 miles west of Page, Arizona in Coconino County, Arizona and Kane County, Utah. Posted by the US Department of the Interior on Tumblr, 4/17/14.

Baseball Narrowcasting   Leave a comment

Dodgers LogoCome to find out, Major League Baseball is running the league with the intent of keeping every team very LOCAL.

That means that I can’t watch my Dodgers unless I subscribe to the ONE cable service that has them.

But it means there are a lot of people not watching their baseball teams. According to Yahoo, residents of Las Vegas can’t watch any of their regional teams:

… how can the league advocate for a system in which it prevents people in Las Vegas from seeing the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Giants, A’s and Diamondbacks if they buy its Extra Innings or packages? There’s a new slogan: What happens in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland and Arizona doesn’t stay in Vegas.

The same is true for baseball fans in Arkansas, Buffalo, Oklahoma, Iowa, and other MLB-defined “limited areas” that don’t have a clear regional team.

The result? People don’t get to watch baseball unless they are in the right area, and subscribe to the right cable service.

So what’s a fan to do? I thought radio was my answer. Velda got me the portable radio out of her closet … which proved to have leaking batteries that ruined the battery contacts. She bought another radio (every house should have at least one). The result? Static on the LA station, and static on the local station, neither of which worked when I was listening in, or around, my home. Static does not work for me.

Mizzou LogoMichael then turned me on to, which streams all of the games. You can listen to any stream, any game. Home or away. Every game. Plus, there are video highlights, box scores and other information about the game. It’s a subscription service, but the fee is really nominal.

Great, right?

Just don’t watch the stream on your screen. The video stream is up to 5 pitches and 2 batters away from the action that the audio delivers. Why can’t they get the audio to sync with the video stream? No idea.

But it doesn’t work, at all.

And the Dodgers’ video partner, Time Warner Cable, hasn’t made a deal with my Dish Network to carry my Dodgers.

So, there’s no good way to watch, and no streaming solution that really works.

It’s 2014, people. We have the technology. It’s baseball that has decided to take the money, and not deliver a watchable product to their fans.

And that’s not a good thing.

One more thing:

If you haven’t paid attention to the media coverage about Yasiel Puig, he’s a Cuban defector that joined the Dodgers last year. An truly interesting article in the Los Angeles magazine (link below) reports that he defected from Cuba with the help of a drug cartel. He was held hostage in Mexico. Now, he’s “free,” and owes his financier 20% of his earnings.

In Cuba, he was paid $17/month to play baseball. The Dodgers paid him $7 million a year … with the money from Time Warner Cable.

The cable company that won’t let me watch Puig play baseball unless I subscribe to their service.

Which I won’t do, as Time Warner doesn’t carry the networks for UCLA or Mizzou.

Sometimes, a sports fan just can’t win.UCLA Logo - Bear


Yahoo Sports: How MLB’s Blackout Policy….

Los Angeles Magazine: Escape From Cuba….

ESPN: No One Walks Off The Island

Posted April 17, 2014 by henrymowry in Sports

Tagged with , ,

Cades Cove Sunset   1 comment

Beautiful sunset over Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park this past weekend. Photo: Kristina Plaas. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior on 4/15/14.

Beautiful sunset over Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park this past weekend. Photo: Kristina Plaas. Tweeted by the US Department of the Interior on 4/15/14.

Share The Road   Leave a comment

Taken at Yellowstone National Park, and tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 4/13/14.

I think we should forgive the cyclists for riding on the wrong side of the road. Taken at Yellowstone National Park, and tweeted by the US Department of the Interior, 4/13/14.

Dry Tortugas National Park   Leave a comment

Dry Tortugas NP 00Where Is It: 70 miles west of Key West.

The Birth: From Wikipedia:

Fort Jefferson National Monument was designated by President Franklin D Roosevelt under the Antiquities Act on January 4, 1935. The monument was expanded in 1983 and redesignated as Dry Tortugas National Park on October 26, 1992 by an act of Congress. Dry Tortugas is presently managed by the staff of Everglades National Park. The park was established to protect the island and marine ecosystems of the Dry Tortugas, to preserve Fort Jefferson and submerged cultural resources such as shipwrecks, and to allow for public access in a regulated manner.

It Happened Here: From, the website that provides many of the beautiful pictures, below:

The name “Tortugas” was given by explorer Ponce de Leon in 1513 for the abundance of sea turtles ( the endangered green sea turtle and the threatened loggerhead turtle are still found) while “Dry” refers to the absence of available freshwater. A long-time pirate hide-out, the place was chosen by the US Navy as the “Gibraltar of the Gulf”, a strategic location to control shipping from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Despite formidable logistical challenges, Fort Jefferson, the largest brick structure in the Western Hemisphere, was built on Garden Key using 16 million hand-made bricks. However, by the time the fort was nearly finished, advances in artillery had rendered it obsolete, so its use was mostly as a civil war prison, holding 2500 prisoners and four men convicted of complicity in the assassination of President Lincoln.

Size: 64,701 acres

# Visitors: 58,401 visitors in 2013. This sparsely visited park had peak attendance in January.

Animals: From the Park’s website:

The park’s coral and sea grass communities are among the most vibrant in the Florida Keys. Hosting myriad species of colorful corals and reef fishes, these watery wonderlands entice exploration by intrepid snorkelers. Visitors who prefer to stay dry have the opportunity to observe other wildlife, including nearly 300 species of birds, the majority of which are migratory. The sooty tern finds its only regular nesting site in the United States on Bush Key, adjacent to Fort Jefferson. Large sea turtles lumber onto the park’s protected beaches each summer to bury their clutches of eggs. These and other wonders make this park a truly one-of-a-kind destination for wildlife viewing.

Fees: $5 for adults, good for 7 days.

Staying There: There are 13 camping sites available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Contact Info:

P.O. Box 6208
Key West, FL 33041
Phone: 305-242-7700



National Park Service:

Photo courtesy of Terra Galleria.

Proving You’re You   2 comments


There are so many things to love about this photograph!

There are so many things to love about this photograph!

From a hyperbolic op-ed piece on

We should be in a rage over the widespread attempts to disenfranchise voters, from the gutting of the Voting Rights Act to the rise of the Voter ID movement — a near-naked attempt by conservatives to diminish the number of Democratic voters.

And as over-the-top as this rhetoric is, come to find out the left side of the political spectrum is just getting warmed up. Here’s more inflammatory rhetoric from our Vice President, speaking in February:

… Vice President Joe Biden blamed “hatred” as the motivating force behind voter identification laws in states such as North Carolina, Alabama, and Texas. Biden wants new laws to block “former slave holding states in the south” from discrimination against blacks and other minorities.

Biden, speaking at a reception at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., in celebration of African-American History Month, said that, “These guys never go away. Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

So, according to Vice President Biden, I’m a hater. Because I wish to limit the franchise of voting, I must hate people. It’s true that I grew up in a former slave-holding state, so I must hate people. After all, slavery was only abolished 89 years before I was born, so I must still be a hater.

Me, a hater? Puh-leeze.

But, seriously, can someone please explain to me exactly why the voter ID movement is bad? If requiring you to show a picture ID is going to diminish the number of Democratic voters … am I to understand that there are a significant number of people that have NO ID in today’s world? Or, to be very specific, that there are a significant number of potentially Democratic voters that have NO ID today?


You have to show an ID to cash a check. You have to show an ID to use a credit card. You have to show an ID to pick up a child from school. You need an ID to get a library card.

I do not understand why showing an ID when I want to vote for a sheriff, a city councilman or a President is a bad thing. Can someone explain that to me, please?

There is a lawsuit now moving forward in Kansas that’s illustrative. Arthur Spry and Charles Hamner, residents of a retirement home in Overbrook, KS, are suing that they were denied their right to vote, as they did not have a driver’s license, computer, or access to the birth records needed to secure a photo ID and vote in a recent election. Interesting … I’ll just note that they might not have the ability to access their birth records, but they apparently did have the resources to file a lawsuit. Just sayin’.

There are anecdotal stories on both side of the equation for people to point to. Perhaps some people in nursing homes have been marginalized, and didn’t have the resources/time/understanding to get IDs, so they couldn’t vote. On the other side, there are stories of people proudly declaring that they voted for Obama 5 times in the last election.

I think both kinds of incidents are relatively insignificant. The thing I do believe, however, is that each citizen should vote … once. Non-citizens? They don’t get a vote.

Today, voter ID laws have been enacted in 30 states. Photo IDs are required in 12 states currently. 13 more states have photo ID legislation pending. Importantly, federal law requires that any such ID must be free. Free. It’s in the constitution, even. Check the 24th amendment, which was passed in 1964. Poll taxes, or charging people for the right to vote, cannot be done in federal elections … or now, in any civic election. Since IDs are free, what are the Democrats so afraid of? Could it be that would-be Democratic voters are incapable of getting a free ID when it’s offered?

So, if the cost of an ID is not the issue … what is it, exactly? That the government shouldn’t need to know if their voters are citizens when they step up to the ballot box?

Personally, I don’t think this is a left/right, Republican/Democrat or an entitled/downtrodden thing. It’s, simply, a right/wrong thing.

But wait! There was actual research done on the topic by my beloved Mizzou … and guess what the study, described in, found?

A 2008 University of Missouri study actually demonstrated that those who argue that Voter ID laws would suppress the vote are misguided. The study showed that Voter ID laws had little effect on voter turnout. Moreover, Jeffrey Milyo, professor of economics and public affairs at the University of Missouri and a scholar in the Center for Applied Economics at the University of Kansas, notes that overall voter turnout in Indiana actually increased after the implementation of photo ID.

I won’t go so far as to say that I think making a required photo ID will encourage more people to vote … but I am definitely of the opinion that having people prove their identity is a reasonable requirement before a person is allowed to vote. And, again, federal law requires that IDs be FREE to voters.

Can you prove that you’re you? Are you OK to prove that you’re you?

Youer Than You


New York Times: We Should Be In A Rage

Wikipedia: Voter ID Laws In The United States Trial Set….

The Empty Nest   1 comment

Empty Nest 01CJ Box is one of my favorite authors. Box is a native of Wyoming, and lives outside of Cheyenne with his wife and 3 daughters.

14 of his 18 novels feature Joe Pickett, a mystery-solving, accidental crime fighting Fish & Game Warden for the State of Wyoming. He loves nature, he loves solitude, he loves his family … and he’s got 3 daughters that he finds challenging.

No surprise there, right?

The latest novel is Stone Cold. Here’s where Joe and his wife Marybeth talk about their daughters:

“Oh,” she said, smiling wistfully, “life was so much easier when they were all my little chickens and I could keep an eye on them because they were close. Now Sheridan’s in another town, April’s going off the rails because of a cowboy, and Lucy wants to start dating. I feel like they’re drifting away from me.”

There were tears in her eyes, and Joe pulled her close. He said, “We’ve done all we can. You’re the greatest mother I’ve every been around – better than both of ours. Especially yours. They’ll be all right. You’ll be all right.”

“But I’ve lost control,” she said into his shoulder.

“That’s part of the deal, I think.” he said.

Indeed it is.

Little Girl is moving out today.

The nest is empty.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

That’s not to say the transition isn’t emotional. That’s not to say Little Girl didn’t ask me to tell Velda, because she didn’t want to.

That’s OK, she still did what she needed to do. Velda … well, she’s OK.

And Velda’s already ordered the bedroom set that will go into our new guest room. I think we’ll all be OK.



Wall Street Journal: The Art of Getting Junior To Leave Home

50 Is The New 40: Is Empty Nest For Real?