Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Snowshoe

My friend, Kim Amthor, and I went snowshoeing yesterday, even though the wind chills were well below zero. We decided to go from the Sable Visitor's Center, toward Sable Falls, since most of the trail is in the woods and protected from the wind. Since we both love the sand dunes, we had to at least take a peak. The wind was blowing so hard up there, that we only took time to look around and snap off a picture, then we headed back into the protection of the woods. Sable River, or Second Creek as we locals call it, is so beautiful this time of year.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cold and Blustery

After having temperatures in the mid-30s last weekend, the bottom has now dropped out of the thermometer. The ambient temperature this morning is in the single digits in Grand Marais. But with 20 to 30 mph winds, the wind chill is between -15 and -19 degrees!

Yesterday was cold, too, but the wind wasn't quite as bad. Dianna Bell and I did go cross country skiing anyway. Below are a couple of shots I took while out on the trail in the national park.

As I was checking my photos, I realized I had not posted these pictures taken in the Burt Township School Forest when I skied with friends Wendy Lynn, Kim Amthor, and Kathy Correll. For those of you who have explored the school forest, which is the largest school forest in the state of Michigan at around 1,600 acres, you'll recognize the chimney. This was the site of a one-room school building that unfortunately burned down several decades ago.

Editing of the manuscript is going well. I've received back a few of the copies that I sent out for review. The photographer, Tom, is also finalizing the photos. We are hoping to send the files off for pre-printing production sometime in the next two weeks! Below is yet another photo that will appear in the book. This is a picture of an iris agate from Tennessee. This optical property has been known for more than a hundred years. Although it seems that most iris agates have incredible tight bands, this is not the only characteristic that causes the iris effect. Scientists have determined that an agate will iris within a range of a hundred to more than 15,000 bands per inch, and up. Instead, the key factor is that the alternating layers must have higher and lower refractive indices. When light travels from air into a substance, its velocity is reduced. This change of speed at the surface interface causes light passing between the substances to be bent, or refracted. When white light is refracted, as when passing through a prism, waves of different frequencies (i.e., the various colors) are bent at different angles. The result is that light is dispersed and spread out into its component colors. When droplets of water in the air form the refracting interface, the result is a rainbow. When this happens between agate bands, the result is an iris effect As with most of the pictures in the book, this one was taken by Tom Shearer.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Taquamenon Falls and Canada Lakes Skies

After all the long days working on the book, my friend Diana Bell suggested that we head out of town on a ski trip. It was also a belated birthday present, which was terrific. Living on the south shore of Lake Superior, we don't see the sun much in the winter. However, last week we had at least 3 days with sunshine, including Thursday when we went out of town.

The temperature was around 30, but it had been cold at night so the skiing was fantastic. We skied at Canada Lakes, located a few miles southeast of Newberry, MI, for around 3 hours. What a great ski that was.

After we left Canada Lakes, we drove north through Newberry and went to the lower Taquamenon Falls. We skied to the falls, took the skies off, and walked down the steps. I always love going to the falls. There wasn't much ice on the falls given the high flow rate, but there was a lot of ice -- including some blue ice -- hanging from the walls of the gorge around the falls area. Beautiful.

Finally, before heading home, we had a nice dinner at the brewpub located on site in the state park. It was a great day.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Winter Beach

Work on the new agate book is progressing quite well. I apologize to all of you that I have had no new postings lately. My focus this past few weeks has been totally on the book. The draft is down and out for review. It will be longer than projected at around 260 pages with over 260 photos and diagrams. There are also 549 literature cites so far, which surprised even me. I knew I had done a lot of research, but....

I'll try now to catch up on some of my photos. Here are some that I took on January 6th when I snowshoed with museum assistant, Candace, from the boardwalk in town, down the beach in front of Woodland Park, to Sable Falls and back.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ski Adventure

Although I have head-lamped ski many times at night, I've never done so in the morning before sunrise, at least until today. Friends, Andy and Craig, asked me to tag along -- which is what I did. They had wider, back country skies; I did not. I made it all the way to the Lake Superior shoreline, through the school forest, but after 3 falls in the deep snow, I decided to ski the road back. It was beautiful, though, and a good way to start the day. Now, back to work on the book.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Canyon Falls in the Winter

Happy New Year!

On the way home from the Keweenaw the other day, I stopped to take a snowshoe at Canyon Falls, located around 10 miles east of L'Anse. The sun was out, which is something we don't see a lot in the winter with lake effect clouds always hanging overhead. Here are a few shots:

Work on the book is going well. I should be done with the writing in the next few days. Then I have to figure out which photos go where and prepare for the editing/review stage. This project has involved many hundreds of hours, but I've enjoyed every second. Here is another teaser photo that will be included in the book. It shows the infiltration channel of a Queensland shadow agate.