Archive for April, 2009

Season Compare: The Ellipse

When reading about the state tree of Colorado and our National Christmas Tree, I stumbled upon some historic photographs of The Ellipse that are close to a Creative Commons image on Flickr.

The Ellipse in early 1900s (Photograph from Wikimedia and the Library of Congress)

The Ellipse, undated, from the Norfolk and Western Historic Photograph Collection (Photograph courtesy of Norfolk Southern)

The Ellipse in November 2008 (Photograph by vladeb)

April 21, 2009 at 1:20 pm 1 comment

Trash Compare: Backpacking Versus Taco Bell

On this blog I’ve done season compares.  Here’s something new– A trash compare!  Last week, Ryan Somma and I went on a 30.2 mile backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail.  That meant Thursday, Friday and Saturday we carried our room and board, our food, our entertainment… and our trash.  When you are backpacking, you are conscious of weights and you try to keep the things you carry at a minimum. Trash is no exception.

Backpacking - Trash Compare
Trash Compare – Backpacking Versus Dinner

On the left is the waste from the backpacking trip. This includes trash from three breakfasts, three lunches, two dinners and daily snacks. It also includes debris from hygiene activities and some pieces of litter we picked up off the trail.

On the right– the waste from our dinner last night. We had Taco Bell and treated ourselves to homemade sundaes. The paper towels were from an unfortunate incident when I dropped my bowl of ice cream in the living room.

I suppose I could have compacted the Taco Bell trash more– perhaps storing the paper towels inside one of the Taco Bell containers. Nonetheless, I believe it is safe to say this one meal generated quite a bit of trash compared to eight on the trail.

Though I do have to say after 30.2 miles, that one trash-filled meal was incredibly satisfying.

Particularly the cold ice cream. 🙂

April 20, 2009 at 5:00 am 12 comments

Weekly Winners – April 12 – April 18, 2009

I am posting this week’s Weekly Winners pretty late in the day, but with good cause! I had an eventful week. Easter Sunday, the dogs were treated to outings in Hertford, North Carolina. Then on Wednesday, Ryan Somma and I embarked on a group backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail near Montebello, Virginia. We started at Punchbowl Mountain and 30.2 miles and three days later we were taking in the views on Spy Rock! Enjoy!

Hertford Tree Memorial - Pink Bloom and Sky
Pink Bloom and Sky, Hertford Tree Memorial

Hertford Tree Memorial - Dogwood Blossoms From Below
Dogwood Blossoms, Hertford Tree Memorial

Missing Mill Park - Henry's Slide - 3. Slide!
Henry’s First Slide Ride, Missing Mill Park (He didn’t like it)

Backpacking - Friday - Cold Mountain - Ryan and Vicky
Ryan and I on top of Cold Mountain, Appalachian Trail

Backpacking - Friday - Cold Mountain - Blazed Rock and Trail
Cold Mountain, Appalachian Trail

Backpacking - Saturday - Spy Rock - Sunbathers on Top
Sunbathers on Spy Rock, Appalachian Trail

Backpacking - Saturday - Spy Rock - Man Napping, Dog Enjoys View
Guy and Dog on Spy Rock, Appalachian Trail

Backpacking - Saturday - Spy Rock - Nerds Tongue
Young Emil Shows Off his “Nerds” Tongue (which matches his bandana)

More pictures of the Hertford Tree Memorial, pictures of Missing Mill Park and pictures of our backpacking trip are on my Flickr site.

Also, be sure to check out more of this week’s Weekly Winners out at Sarcastic Mom!

April 19, 2009 at 9:55 pm 3 comments

Arbor Day: Colorado

The National Christmas Tree
(Photo by M.V. Jantzen)
Happy Arbor Day, Colorado!

Colorado celebrates its Arbor Day the third Friday of April, so Happy Arbor Day Colorado!

Colorado selected their state tree in 1939. They picked the Colorado Blue Spruce (Picea pungens), a tree first discovered on famous Pike’s Peak.

Although there are a number of species that are popular as Christmas trees, it’s a Colorado Blue Spruce that has the honor of being our National Christmas Tree. It was planted in 1978 at The Ellipse, a garden behind the White House. The tree was 15 years old and 30 feet tall when it first arrived in Washington. Presidents have come and gone and the tree has been a first hand witness to changes in lighting technology. In 2007, after 29 years of service, this Colorado Blue Spruce found itself decorated with LED lights for the very first time.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

April 17, 2009 at 1:00 am 3 comments

[Hemi-]Parasite at Work

On Valentine’s Day, I pointed out that a romantic symbol, mistletoe, was actually a parasite.  Although mistletoe does make some of its own energy through photosynthesis, its roots also bore deep into the bark of the host tree and snags nutrients away.  It’s been called the “Vampire Plant” and the etymology of scientific name is particularly fitting.  The genus, Phoradendron, derives from Greek and means “Thief of Trees”.

I knew about mistletoe’s deviant habits back on Valentine’s Day, but at the time I hadn’t seen the theft first hand.  All the mistletoe I had run into had the anonymity of height on its side.  It was perched so high up in the tree branches, I couldn’t see what it is up to. That changed in March.  Ryan Somma and I took the dogs hiking on the Lassiter Trail at Merchant’s Millpond State Park.  Near the end of our journey, we passed by a patch of mistletoe that didn’t have the altitude aspirations of its kin.  This one was close enough to see.

Vicky Photographing Mistletoe
Me Shooting Mistletoe (Photograph by Ryan Somma)

And all the details were on display. The smoking gun. You could see how the plant dug down into the tree and cracked and damaged the bark.

Emerging from Bark


It wasn’t long after my first post, I got to see mistletoe in action.

A parasite at work.

April 16, 2009 at 6:00 am 1 comment

Happy Birthday, Jimmie Dog

Today my greyhound mix, Jimmie, turns twelve years old. Since he’s turned eleven, it has been an eventful year.

Jimmie watched as I packed and painted the Blacksburg house:

Craft Explosion - Jimmie and Crafts
Jimmie Helps Pack Crafts

As our possessions got sold and moved into storage, the poor dog had to scrounge for places to lay. But now, months later in a new state, he finally has a couch again!

Moving - Jimmie's Bed
Hunter Street - Jimmie, Khalif, Armani on CouchesNew Couch

New Friends
His new home has brought him new friends.

Elizabeth City - Hunter Street - Jimmie and Henry with Studying Kids
Qualik, Jacal, Tykee
Elizabeth City - Hunter Street - Jimmie (with Tongue) and Tykee

New Foods
He’s gotten to try new foods. Well, he’s gotten to try to try new foods.

Pig Pickin' - Chopping 7
Pig Pickin’
Jay's Birthday -  Ryan and Jimmie with Bone
Jay’s Birthday

New Scenery
He’s gotten to see new scenery!

Merchant's Millpond State Park - Jimmie Explores Swamp Merchant’s Millpond State Park
Merchant's Millpond State Park - Lassiter Swamp - Jimmie with Mossy Log Lassiter Swamp
Appomattox - Jimmie in Leaves Appomattox Nature Trail
Camden County Jeep Trail - Jimmie on Private Beach Camden County Jeep Trail
Bear Cliffs- Jimmie Looks at Trail Bear Cliffs
Lake Ridge Park Rowing - Jimmie Looks at Canoe Rowing at Lake Ridge
Newbold White House Recreation Trail - Jimmie in Cotton Field Newbold-White House
Douthat State Park - Blue Suck Falls Trail - Jimmie and Henry on Trails Douthat State Park

Old Scenery
Even with all that exploring, he’s gotten to visit some old favorites as well:

Wind Rocks - Dignified Jimmie Wind Rocks
Mountain Lake -  Jimmie Observes Mountain Lake
Sinking Creek Mountain - Top -  Jimmie Takes in View Sinking Creek Mountain
McAfee's Knob - Jimmie Looks at Lea McAfee’s Knob
Bald Knob - Jimmie Season Compare Bald Knob
Tinker Cliffs - Jimmie on Bridge Tinker Cliffs
Angel's Rest- Jimmie and Wilburn Valley View Angel’s Rest
Falls Ridge - Jimmie and Henry Look Falls Ridge
Rhododendron Gap - Jimmie on Windy Rock Mount Rogers

It’s been a great year!  I do believe young Jimmie has more adventures in a year than some people have in their entire lives!

Happy Birthday, Jimmie!

April 15, 2009 at 8:00 am 4 comments

Bald Eagle Web Cam

A few weeks ago, I got to see a real live pair of bald eagles in the wild! They were circling over Merchant’s Millpond State Park. Alas, even with 12x optical zoom and strategic cropping, this is as close as I was able to get:

Merchant's Millpond Canoeing - Bald Eagle (Cropped)
Vicky’s Blurry Bald Eagle

Well, now I can get up close and personal with Bald Eagles… and BABIES! Baby Bald Eagles!

Since 1997, Xcel Energy has been installing cameras to promote conservation efforts and give the public a chance to see birds nesting. Currently they have cameras for Falcons, Kestrels, Ospreys, Owls and, of course, Bald Eagles. The Bald Eagle nest is hopping at the moment.  It’s home to three adoreable and clumsy hatchlings.

Hat Tip, The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog

April 14, 2009 at 1:48 pm 5 comments

Silo Tree Additions – April 13, 2009

Another tree has been added to Silo Trees of the U.S. listing. This one does not add a new state, but it is still a milestone! This is the first photographer that I did not directly solicit on Flickr! Special thanks to Phil Houtz from Wild Rye for referring this tree my way. And what a great find by Homer-Dog from Homer’s Travels!


Bursting Into The Light This tree was discovered by Homer-Dog at Homer’s Travels. It’s across the road from a B-24 Memorial, south of Walnut, Iowa. Photograph courtesy of Homer-Dog. Hat Tip, Wild Rye.

More photos can be found in the Trees in Silos Flickr group. If you spot a silo tree you’d like to share, let me know… or be like Phil from Wild Rye and let the photographer know about me!  Either way works!

April 13, 2009 at 8:13 pm Leave a comment


Early this evening, this blog passed 400,000 total views. It hit 300,000 on September 26th, so it took roughly 6 1/2 months for this latest 100,000 views. It’s quite an improvement over the 16 months it took for me to get my very first 100,000!

Thank you for reading, thank you for commenting and thank you, WordPress, for having such great Search Engine Placement. : )

Finally, so *I* don’t have to work so hard to find out those older dates– here’s a reference table of my view milestones:

# of Views Date
0 March 3, 2006
100,000 July 16, 2007
200,000 March 5, 2008
300,000 September 26, 2008
400,000 April 12, 2009

April 12, 2009 at 7:11 pm 6 comments

Weekly Winners – April 5, 2009 – April 11, 2009

This week’s Weekly Winners come from Carrollton, Virginia where I attended my friend Meredith’s bridal shower. It also doubled as a wine tasting. The bride and groom are both wine enthusiasts and they wanted help deciding on the final selection for the wedding. We tasted and ranked three different red wines, three different white wines and a sparkling wine.

Meredith's Bridal Shower - Meredith and Peter Talk
The Bride and Groom Talk about Tasting Wine in South Africa

The wine was great and the food was excellent, but it was the children in attendance that really made the event memorable.

Meredith's Bridal Shower - Maya's Daughter
Contemplating Cupcakes

Meredith's Bridal Shower - Hugs and Happiness
Everyone Enjoys a Hug

Meredith's Bridal Shower - Jocelyn, Liam and Jill
Jocelyn, her little brother Liam, and Matron of Honor Jill

Meredith's Bridal Shower - Peek a Boo
Peek a Boo

Meredith's Bridal Shower - Eating Cupcake
After Coveting All Afternoon… Finally. A Cupcake

More pictures of Meredith’s Bridal Shower are on my Flickr site.

Also, be sure to check out more of this week’s Weekly Winners out at Sarcastic Mom!

April 12, 2009 at 6:29 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts Newer Posts

Flickr Photos

3D Printed Products