336: The calm after the storm


As has become the pattern here recently, we had storms with heavy rain, lots of lightning and thunder, and gusty winds overnight and into the wee hours of the morning.  Shortly after sunrise the clouds began to break up, and all was calm.  The pond looked like glass.

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218: What the wind brought

(The big red ball.)

The Big Wind brought us a few gifts.  Some, like the big red ball, are whimsical and fun.  Others will require some clean-up.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Shadow

This week’s photo challenge (as you can tell by today’s post title) is Shadow.  One of the great things about being in Florida is all the sunshine.  The great thing about all the sunshine is it made it relatively easy for me to capture some shadows for this week’s  Weekly Photo Challenge brought to us by The Daily Post.

As I sit here typing, the early morning sun is creating all sorts of shadows and patterns in the room.  I’m tempted to get out the camera and take a few more shots, but that way leads to never getting this post ready to publish.

We had another beautiful sunrise this morning.  There were clouds on the horizon again.  I like watching the light play subtly on the clouds as the sun makes its way above the horizon line.

Day 168

Meeting my outdoor commitment here in Florida has been easy.  Today, though, brought some storms and by tomorrow it will be significantly cooler.

This morning's sunrise

M and I did get out and swim for a while this morning.  Since there was no lightning to go with the heavy rain, we figured once we’re wet, we’re wet.  Why bother to seek shelter?  Especially if the idea was to get wet in the first place?

Storm moving out to sea

Around noon some serious looking clouds moved in on us from the west.  We postponed our walk to lunch until there was a break in the rain.  (Have I mentioned that this is another car-less vacation for us?  We’re becoming experts at the car-less vacation.  We get loads of exercise that way and never have to worry about parking or paying to park.)

I really enjoyed watching the way the clouds and rain moved over us and then out across the ocean.  It’s not something I get to see everyday, nor is it something I would usually get to see so well demarcated.

Another interesting facet of the storm was a large gathering of birds.  There were the usual gulls along with an assortment of terns, pigeons, and turkey vultures (the turkey vultures, we were told, are wintering here).  It was difficult to capture in still photography.  I wish I’d thought to turn on the video but I was busy watching and trying to take the occasional photo.

Wind on the waves

The ocean calmed down considerably once the first round of heavy rain and wind moved through.  The temperature dropped almost 20 degrees.

After the storm

The clouds move in, the sun shines, the rain falls while the sun is shining and makes you wonder where on earth (or in heaven) can it be coming from.  The snowbirds have a two-word phrase for it all:  That’s Florida.  I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that since we arrived.

We met a man from Canada a few days ago who explained to us that we are not snowbirds.  A snowbird is someone who stays for a month or more (he stays for 3 months every year).  Since we are here for only 10 days, that makes us snowflakes.


132: Storm Watch

(On the road to the Wilderness Lodge.)

I’m going to try to get my post published early today.  I have a lot to do so we’ll see how it goes.  The weather folks have been yammering on about The Big Winter Storm for the past several days.  Round One came through last night and early this morning.  The sound of it woke me up around 2:30am.  I couldn’t figure out what it was at first.  It was a whooshing, shooshing, tinkling sound.  I finally got up to look out the patio door.  Being dark outside, I didn’t see much so I opened the door and realized some sort of frozen precipitation was falling.  Whether it was sleet or freezing rain, I’m not sure.   Very likely sleet from the sounds of it and the way things looked this morning.

(Still making our way to the lodge.)

In case you don’t know the difference, sleet is snow that melts in the sky and refreezes before hitting the ground.  It’s a lot like hail.  Freezing rain, a condition MUCH worse, is snow that melts and doesn’t refreeze until it hits a cold surface (when the temperature on the ground is below 32°F), causing a glaze of ice to cover everything.  This usually results in limbs falling off trees and power outages, not to mention (but I will anyhow) slick surfaces.

(It’s a wonder we got there at all since I had to keep stopping to take pictures.)

Round Two of the The Big Winter Storm is expected to arrive this evening in the form of freezing rain.  If all goes as predicted, that could mean a power outage which also means no water as well as no heat.  To get ready for that, I’ll be filling up pitchers, bottles, and the tub with water so we can cook, drink, wash up, brush our teeth, and flush the toilets.  (When the pond isn’t frozen, we can use pond water for that last purpose.)  Cooking can be accomplished on the gas stovetop since we don’t need electricity for that.  M will be hauling in firewood for heating purposes.

I also have to get outside for my daily adventure and feed the birds.

The Weekend Ski Trip

(The check-in place at Wilderness Lodge.)

As stated in a previous post, M and I made our way over to a ski resort (The Wilderness Lodge) in Pennsylvania on Sunday morning.  I don’t think we could have timed it any better.  The fresh snow we’d had overnight had been cleared from the roads, and it provided wonderful cross-country skiing conditions for us.  When we checked in the woman who took our money and gave us our ski passes mentioned that the forecast had been for an inch of snow and they got about seven inches instead.   With everything covered in snow, it sure was a beautiful ride.

(First look at the ski trail on the west side.)

After checking in and before putting on our skis, I took a couple of photos.  Then I put the camera away.  Not being familiar with the trails, and not being confident enough on skis to take it along, it seemed a good idea.  M and I decided to stay on the west side trails, behind the lodge, because (we were informed) those would be the easiest trails for beginners.  Even the intermediate trails were not too bad and we were able to handle them.

(Outside of the lodge.)

After about an hour of skiing, we went to the lodge for some lunch.  I did not bring my camera with me inside the lodge.  I wish I had.  It was a very winter skiing type of atmosphere.  Nothing fancy.  There was a roaring fire in a round fireplace as you enter the eating area where people put their gloves and mittens to dry out while they warmed up.

We had a delicious meal (soup and sandwiches) along with some hot tea.  We decided to stay away from the bar, the beer, and the wine since we were going back out for some more fun in the snow.  After refueling our bodies, we bundled up again for another round of skiing.

(My skis.)

This is where things got a little risky.  I decided to take the camera.  I put it under my coat and hoped for the best.  If we had decided to try different trails, I would not have taken it.  But we did okay on our first time around the beginner and intermediate trails so I thought I could risk it.

(Starting out.)

I didn’t remember the first and biggest downhill portion as being as long as it was.  I suspect that’s because I took it very slowly the first time around.  As I was going down the second time, I wondered where the big hill had come from.  About three-fourths of the way down my skis crossed and I went flying forward, crashing into the snow.  Thank goodness I managed to land in such a way that both the camera and my body were fine.

There were plenty of people out and about but most of the time M and I had the trails to ourselves.  Of course that wasn’t the case when I fell.  There was a group of about six people coming the other way to witness it.

With the fall out of the way, and being none the worse for it, I was able to carry on without the nervousness that initially plagued me and have some fun skiing and taking photos.  It was so beautiful back in the woods that I really wanted to be able to capture some of it.  I’m glad I took the risk.

(Hillocks, or mounds, in the snow.)

It was also remarkably quiet in the woods.  It was so quiet that when we stopped to listen, all we could hear were our own inhalations, exhalations, and heartbeats in between the occasional whoosh of snow as piles of it, large and small, fell from the trees.

(Small hills and curves.)

It took us a little longer to go around the loop the second time.  We avoided the trail marked “cardiac hill” except to stop and take a photo of M looking as though he just finished coming up the hill.  By the time we finished we were both thoroughly and wonderfully exhausted.

The Wilderness Lodge is about 40-50 miles south of Erie, Pennsylvania which is where we went next to spend the night at a hotel there.  We had a lovely dinner at a pub near our hotel and then, being so worn out, we crashed around 9pm.  That worked out well as we were up bright and early on Monday for our next adventure.  You’ll have to wait until tomorrow (or until the power comes back on if we have an outage) for the rest of the story.

It’s time for me to head outside to deal with some chores, storm preparation, and meet my daily commitment.  If anything of interest happens, I’ll be sure to come back and update this post.  (I don’t really expect that will be necessary.)

In a mood (14)

(Lone tree in the distance.  Red Rock Canyon.  Colorado Springs, Colorado.)

I stepped outside early today, about a half hour or so before sunrise.  Not that there was much of a sunrise to speak of since the weather didn’t change overnight.  Clouds, rain, mists, and the occasional break from the rain and mists continue to be the norm.  Rumor has it that the spinning low will move out tonight and tomorrow will be bright and sunny.

The world looks and feels different during the twilight hours.  It’s not quite dark, yet not quite light.  The camera doesn’t capture it well.  It’s probably not the camera’s fault but that of its user.  I fiddled with manual settings just to see what would come of it since none of the pre-sets were working well for me.  Only one photo seemed to almost capture the light of that time of day:

It’s a reflection of the neighbor’s house in the pond.  I often feel as though the house looms over that part of the pond, perhaps because it is so big.  Or perhaps because it wasn’t there when we moved here and even after a few years of living with it as part of our scenery I am still not used to it.  It’s one of those McMansions that sprung up when people were still living large and spending money like crazy.

The other photo I like from this morning is one of the asparagus ferns with raindrops scattered over them.  The droplets remind me of diamonds or ice.  But let’s not think about ice just yet.

I have some photos from our Colorado trip I put aside for another day and today feels like another day to me.  They will go well with this post, I think.

(Windmill on the plains of Colorado.)

Tomorrow I will be hopping on a train to take a trip back east.  It’s been decades since I’ve been on a long train trip.  I love traveling by train.  If I could, I’d travel by train whenever and wherever I travel outside of walking distance.   I suppose it’s possible that nothing is outside of walking distance if you have the time and energy for it, but I’m hoping you’ll know what I mean.

(Silo on the plains.)

I have to get up early, around 3:00am.  That means I have to make sure I’m packed and ready before I go to bed tonight.  I don’t want to be rushing around trying to find things that early in the day when it’s likely I’ll still be half asleep.

The reason for the trip is a ceremony at the hospice where my mother died.  They (the folks at hospice) call it a “life celebration.”  I’m trying to think of it in positive terms, as an opportunity to, well, celebrate Mom’s life.  Still, going back to hospice for the first time since Mom’s death is going to be a little rough and rocky emotionally.

(Storm approaching.  Rocky Mountain National Park.  Colorado.)

The traveling presents a small dilemma, maybe, in terms of my 365 commitment.  I am sure I will be able to get outside for a minimum of 30 minutes each day.  No problem there.  But I am not sure I will be able to blog about it daily.  I should have internet access.  I am not sure I will have the time.

(On the mesa near Boulder, Colorado.)

It will be a quick trip.  I’ll be coming back on Sunday.  Sunday might be the hardest day to post as I won’t be getting home until 10:00pm or later.

(Somewhere near Colorado Springs, Colorado.)

I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  In the meantime, I’ve set up a few auto-posts to take care of the daily posts and I’ll post when I can.