Apr 182013
 

One year ago, on April 17, I embarked on an adventure into Washington, DC.  I had my camera in hand as I rode the Metro into the city, destination: The National Mall.  It was an amazing site when I got there.  People were lining the roof tops of federal buildings.  The National Mall was filled with people in business suites.  Not just tourists come to see the sites of the Nation’s Capital.  Everyone was watching the sky, watching for the Space Shuttle Discovery to arrive from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Discovery on 747

Discovery on 747

People lining the roof tops of the National Mall

People lining the roof tops of the National Mall

Discovery atop a specially designed 747, circled the National Mall 3 times

Discovery atop a specially designed 747, circled the National Mall 3 times

 

 

This was the second most memorable NASA event for me, the most memorable being 2 trips and almost 5 days down to Cape Canaveral the previous year to see Endeavour’s final flight to space, but that is a different story.  (See my previous posts for more details 1,2,3,4,5,6,7) Discovery, or at least what was left of her after NASA gutted her out for display in a museum, was arriving to her final resting spot, the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly, Virginia.  The NASA 747 that carried her up the East Coast and to DC circled the National Mall several times before landing at Dulles National Airport, very near the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.  On April 19 there was a ceremony April 19, where Discovery was put nose-to-nose with Enterprise, the previously displayed shuttle at the Smithsonian, who was getting ready for her trip to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, New York.  Alas, I didn’t make it down to Virginia that day, but it was a site to see!  I watched from home, all the news stations were showing at least some of it. My hope is that the shuttle program is soon replaced by other space craft that can take us back to the moon, then on to Mars, and then beyond.

 

Here is the Smithsonian’s video about the arrival of Discovery:

Space Shuttle Discovery Delivered to the Smithsonian

 

 

Nov 012012
 

I have got to tell you that my excitement to go visit the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, NJ was not unwarranted!  It was amazing to watch the majestic creatures that were there.  They have 4 different pens for the wolf packs.  They have had the misfortune to have had several of their wolves die this past year, but it was from old age as the majority of the wolves there are 10 years +, which is older then they would have lived in the wild.  There are a few younger wolves including 3 British Columbian Wolves that are black that are being kept in a smaller pen for now as they were spoiled a bit by the older wolf pack they were tried to be introduced to, which caused them to become a little over aggressive towards the older wolves, so they needed to be put in their own pen.  These pups were about 18 months old when we saw them I believe.

Each pack was unique and it was fun to see the different interactions between the members of the packs.  All I have to say is that it was an amazing experience and I have to strongly suggest visiting this preserve to any who have a love of wildlife and/or photography!  The extra for the photographer’s option is well worth the money.  If you aren’t interested in photography, visit the preserve just to see the wolves during their twice daily wolf watch.

I do have to let you know that right now the preserve is without power due to Hurricane Sandy as it is located in New Jersey, but the owners are working on cleaning up and keeping the wolves safe.  They  also plan to adopt a few new pups next spring to introduce to their packs, so younger wolves will soon be joining the ranks.

 

Aug 242012
 

So I’m a little excited about embarking on Monday on my first trip into Canada.  I’ve been to the other side of Niagara Falls when I was a small child, but never further then that.  Our trip includes exploring St. Paul Street, going to the Notre Dame Basilica, exploring Old Montreal, and St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal, exploring Quebec, Chateau Frontenac, Montmorency Falls, The Sanctuary of Saint Anne De Beaupre, and ends with a visit to the Montreal Casino.  This is a bus trip through Flo’s Tours and White Star Tours, but still looking forward to sharing my pictures from the trip!  I hope to get some black and white film shots of the historical parts and the natural parts of the trip, along with digital color shots of the places we go.

Aug 202012
 

Zebra walking past an inflating balloon after the Dawn Patrol

Balloon taking off

All I can say about Albuquerque is if you ever get the chance to go there and experience the Balloon Fiesta, GO!  It is an experience that you will never forget and you will not regret it!  In 2011 I witnessed a world record being broken as they launched more balloons in an hour then had ever been launched before the first weekend we were there.  It was beautiful to behold and the sky was just filled with balloons!  There are many different events to behold, some very early, and some late.  The day starts with the Dawn Patrol.  And it is just what it sounds, balloons taking off in the pre-dawn light and it’s a site to behold as you can see the balloons gradually inflate and glow as their fires are lit and fill them with hot air…and then they sail up into the dark sky just before dawn, then as the sunrises, they can be seen floating around as the rest of the balloons fill and take off.  One of the great parts of the Fiesta is that you can walk around the field as the balloons are laid out for their flights, and then watch as they are filled and then take off.  Their are officials who monitor the take offs called zebras and I have to say that the zebras keep everything orderly and clear the area as the balloons take off.

There is little going on during the day after the morning balloons take off, so the park clears around 10-11, as the food and gift vendors close until the evening when the Evening Glow takes place.  In the evening no one takes off, but the balloons are laid out and inflated as everyone walks around and beholds all the unique balloons.  There is everything from standard balloons to special shapes that come in all shapes and sizes!

 

I’ve been to the Balloon Fiesta twice now and this past year I even got to go up in a balloon.  I was honored to represent the media at the event and will never forget my first balloon ride.  I hope to be able to up again in the future, too.  My flight almost didn’t happen because it was a windy day, and the pilot almost chose not to go, but the winds improved and we went.  It was not as long as many other people got to have, but it was long enough to make me want to have the experience again.  I’ve been in a chase crew twice now and that is almost more fun then going up…but as I said, ALMOST!  Sailing up and away from the field and then floating in the air with a balloon keeping you up is not something everyone would want to do, but most the pilots are very experienced and they know what they are doing.

 

don’t know for sure when I’ll make it back to another Balloon Fiesta.  I wish I could go every year, but that just isn’t in the cards.  But I know I’ll go back almost every chance I’m given!

Official Fiesta Balloon lowering the Stars and Stripes for the National Anthem after the Dawn Patrol but before most other balloons take off