Category Archives: outdoor roadside attractions

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.

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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)

Gatlinburg visit, recovery from wildfire

Sunday night and Monday morning (July 9-10) I visited Gatlinburg, TN.  A huge wildfire took place on the mountains slopes surrounding the town in late November, 2016 (as detailed in an earlier post here May 24).

The town is encased on the western side of Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and you drive 5 miles of parkway from Pigeon Forge to get there.

The town seemed quite lively at night, with its theme park atmosphere.  10 miles to the S, Pigeon Forge has the appearance of a small Las Vegas, with a Titanic exhibit, upside down office building, and Hollywood replica.  That town was somewhat affected.

During the day Monday I took the chairlift ride and could see much more of the damage on the mountain slopes, including mountain homes that burned.  But it is true that the community is unusual in its direct exposure to possible wildfire, so building there entails some risk.

I do think that climate change has made the ferocity of the fire more likely.

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I didn’t get to the “Road to Nowhere” W of Asheville (on the east side of the mountains) but I encountered two short curved tunnels, each about 1/3 mile long (without elevation drainage like PA Turnpike has) on I-40 going Eastbound to Asheville.  This is a road to “somewhere” indeed.  The curve is to the left driving East.  There is a campground “Harmon’s Den”   Indeed, Richard Harmon is the greatest of all time.

 

(Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2017 at 10 EDT)

A visit to Crisfield, MD, on the Chesapeake Bay, max elevation 3 feet

Today I visited Crisfield. MD. on the SW tip of southern MD in the Chesapeake Bay’s “East Coast”.

The entire city lies at 3 feet or less elevation.  It appears to have had serious flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.  Tidal flooding is not much of a problem because the Bay extends much further north.

The people seem comfortable with the risk and unconcerned about climate change.  One veteran said the city was built back better after Sandy.

There is one big windmill.

There is a ferry to Tangier Island, VA, one round trip a day, no cars.

Smith Island appears visible.

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(Posted: Monday, July 3, 2017 at 10:45 PM)