Category Archives: outdoor roadside attractions

A day trip to the area near a nuclear power plant, while the nation sleeps on power grid security, as possble war with North Korea looms

Today I visited Flag Ponds Nature Park, about ¾  mile north of Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, at 50 miles from Washington DC, north of Lusby, MD.

I just wanted to do a video related to concerns over power grid security, that I have discussed elsewhere, most recently with North Korea’s missile tests, which could (besides nuclear threats to the homeland) lead to threats to the power grid (E3) and electronics (E1).

You can drive off MD 4 toward the plant, some distance, despite the trespassing signs warning of arrest, until you can see some of the work buildings, then there is a gate (you would think it would be closer to Rt 4).  There is supposed to be a visitor’s center but it apparently only in the secured area (like on a military base).  The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is about 1500 feet inland.

You can see some of the layout from the beach at Flag Ponds, especially the fishing wharf.  Presumably the US Coast Guard watches the area.




In 1982, I visited the nuclear power plant in Glen Rose, TX with the Sierra Club before it opened.  It required a night of camping out. In 1988 I’d have a job interview for the place.

Wikipedia aerial of the Calvert Cliffs plant.

(Posted: Monday, December 11, 2017 at 8 PM EDT)

The Richmond monuments still stand, and not all of them have to do with the Confederacy

Today I visited the controversial monuments along Monument Ave. in Richmond VA.

There are some reports on the controversy, following Charlottesville, for example WTVR and Richmond Times Dispatch.

The westernmost one is of tennis star Arhtur Ashe.

But others include Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and (the most elaborate) Jefferson Davis.

Near the Davis monument, as I took a picture while stopped in the car, a vehicle threatened to sideswipe me.

After I parked and got out, a haggard woman came up to me and asked me if I could start her car when she lost the key. No, I’m no good at things you need for crime, which is a bit ironic.

But then another silver Focus identical to mine, and I tried to open that one before I found my own after the photos.

The Richmond Marathon was held today, and some streets around Broad and Boulevard had closures.

Arthur Ashe:

Jefferson Davis:

Robert E. Lee


(Posted: Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 at 7 PM EST)

Bedford County PA town recovers from spectacular train wreck and displacements; visit today

Today I made a brief visit through the town of Hyndman PA, on state route 96 in southern Bedford County, 10 miles north of the Maryland border above Cumberland.

On Wed. Aug. 2 CSX had a freight train derailment which led to a fire and evacuation of many residents.  Many had to stay in a shelter (maybe in Bedford) by some were housed by the railroad in hotels in Bedford or Cumberland. Winding up in a shelter because of disaster could happen to anyone.

Pittsburgh Post Gazette account.

WTAE account.

WESA FM account of return.

1   Stop on 96

2    Intersection where accident happened

3  cell phone


4  (cell phone) train passes

5 Bedford (cell phone)

I found that the accident did not happen on 96, but on a street that extends north of town.

(Posted: Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 at 10:45 PM EDT)

Burkittsville, Gathland State Park, MD, and The Blair Witch Project

Today, a quick day trip, to Burkittsville MD and Gathland State Park on South Mountain behind it, site of the black and white film “The Blair Witch Project” (1999), by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez.  I saw it at the old Uptown Theater in Minneapolis on a sold-out Friday night then, with Josh Hartnett standing in line (he had just made “Halloween: H20” at the time).

There is a museum to honor one of the country’s first war correspondents, George Townsend, during the Civil War. There is a masoleum and tomb, and a great arch.




A lesser known similar film from 1998 was “The Last Broadcast” (Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler, Wavelength Releasing), a “fact or fiction” docudrama about the disappearance and death of three young men in the New Jersey Pine Barrens from the supposed Jersey Devil.  I saw the film at the University of Minnesota Bell Auditorium, once of the first digitally shot features ever commercially made.


(Posted: Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 at 10:15 PM).

Or this one:

High Heels Race 2017 in Washington DC

I didn’t get a perch for the 2017 High Heels Race near JR’s in Washington DC on 17th St because I ate in a sports bar on Dupont Circle (Circa) and watched Clayton Kershaw mow down the Houston Astros for the Los Angeles Dodgers for a while.

There was one man, about 30, who must have been 7 feet or so.  It does seem that super-tall men are overrepresented in the (cis) gay male community.

There seemed to be more contestants than usual.  It took close to three minutes for the race, starting promptly at 9 PM EDT, to end.



(Posted: Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017 at 12 noon)

Day hike in the Catoctin Mountains in Maryland

I visited the Catoctins, which are a separate ridge just east of the Blue Ridge, really technically the Piedmont, very old.  I wanted to be a little fitter for a mandatory Medicare physical on Thursday.

I remember a Sierra Club hike on a rainy fall day in 1972, before “My Second Coming”.   Catoctin Park is now managed by the National Park Service, but Cunningham Falls is a state park.

1   Thurmont overlook

2   Air raid sirens as I leave the overlook from the valley below

3   Police appear on the road, tell me this is their “second rescue” of the day

4  Hog Rock, .4 mile from the road

5  Motorcycle gang with pop music

6   Blue Ridge over the next valley (Middletown)

7   Cunningham Falls


(Posted: Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 9 PM EDT)

Charlottesville Pride 2017, as well as the site of the Aug 12 riots and death

Charlottesville VA 2017 Pride was held in the Pavilion at the East end of the Charlottesville downtown plaza, about 2000 feet from Lee Park and 1000 feet from 4th St where the murder happened Aug 12.

Clip 1


3  The site of the death by automobile on Aug 12 during the riots after the supposed “Unite the Right” rally

4  Lee Park, with the statue covered

(Posted: Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 10 PM EDT)


Eclipse footage (82% where I was)


Here are two personal photos of a yard during the solar eclipse today in Arlington VA. It was 82% total.  The sunlight took on a dusky quality, seeming a little more orange.  It seemed a little alien.

Shortly after the sun returned in full, we had a brief heavy thunderstorm., with no wind. The rapid reheating of the atmosphere caused a thunderstorm cell to form.

1 – Dusky light

2 – You can see the crescents on the ground from the sunlight filtering through pinholes in the trees.

3 – PBS News Hour (4 hours)

4 Diamond Ring Effect

The total eclipse gives astronomers an unusual opportunity to study the Sun’s corona and prominences, with an eye to better understanding coronal mass ejections from solar storms that might do considerable damage to the US power grid, if an event the size of Carrington in 1857 were to happen again.  We judged a bullet in July 2012.

Jack Andraka has a better picture of the ground crescents on Twitter, link.

If you damaged your eyes, you may not know until the next day (MSN today).

(Posted: Monday, Aug. 21, 2017 at 9:15 PM EDT)