I was not really in the mood to do much when we left the house yesterday afternoon. I left the Pentax 645NII kit, the Fujifilm kits, and the pack at home. I was hungry, so we drove by Arby’s for a sandwich (shared). Then we headed for Silver Saddle Ranch to get in a walk.
It was a beautiful fall day in Carson City. The sun was shining with maybe a little high clouds. It was strong enough to make mid-40ºF feel nice with a light cover. There was not a lot of traffic at the gate at 1330h. All of this raised my spirits, especially getting out of the house with The Girl.
What I did bring (besides The Girl), was the little Fujifilm X-E2 with the 27mm f/2.8 pancake lens mounted. This is the smallest digital camera I own1. I have it on a wrist strap, so I can let it dangle when I am busy with The Girl or want both hands free.
I made a few captures as we walked along. I made sure she checked in with me frequently. There were only a couple other walkers that I saw and none crossed paths with us. That made for a really nice walk.
The Girl got frisky a couple of times along the way and we paused to play. Those interactions always raise my spirits, and the did this day.
I grew more cautious as we approached the segment of the trail that has more traffic, but we saw no one. We paused at the ranch compound to look for possible photographs. I noticed this old gate and the light was just about right to bring out the texture in the wood. There was a power pole peeking out above the cross bar, but a judicious adjustment to my point of view hid it from the frame.
I made the capture. I am glad I decided to carry the camera along.
We ended the hike with some more play. She brought a stick and we wrestled over it for a few minutes as we walked.
The drive home was uneventful. The Girl crashed on her bed under my work table. It was a good day. Life is good!
1Well, that is not *exactly* true — I have a Panasonic ZS-40. I used it as a field camera for the Wilson Creek project. Its EVF and image quality make it such that I do not want to use it. Neither a very good. For a slightly larger package, I have better options that are much more enjoyable (and easy) to use.
A couple of weekends ago I decided it was time to not work all weekend. On Saturday morning, The Girl and I headed out, not knowing where I might end up. We walked for an hour out at Silver Saddle Ranch, then headed east on US 50. I was on the phone with my buddy Dick and indicated that I needed to get out and do something away from the house.
At first, I thought I would drive down to Yerington and activate the wildlife management area north of town. But, as I turned south on US 95, I decided that either Buckland Station or Ft. Churchill were both closer and needed to be activated.
Buckland Station won the coin toss. I parked the rig and looked for a place to deploy a wire. Seeing none, I retrieved the drive-on mast mount and the 10m SOTAbeams mast from the rig and set them up. I also retrieved the Elecraft KX3 and a small battery from the rig.
I used the Sagebrush Antenna deployed to near vertical with the distal end affixed to the top of the mast. The opposite end went to a cobrahead adapter and direct to the radio. I threw the counterpoise on the ground around the rig.
I sat down at my folding table with my back to the sun (it was chilly), started a log on my iPhone (HAMRS), and listened on 20m near the QRP watering hole of 14.060MHz. With nothing heard, I called QRL? (“Is the frequency in use?”) a couple of times, then hit the message button to transmit “CQ CQ POTA DE AG7TX AG7TX POTA K” a couple of times, then paused to listen for a caller.
While the radio was sending my general call, I spotted myself on the POTA network. After a few minutes, the calls began to come in. I worked each station as I could and even managed a few DX (foreign country) contacts. The most memorable being an OH1 station located in Finland.
I worked the bands for an hour or so and made my quota for an activation. I was cold, so The Girl and I headed home after a brief pit stop.
I woke Sunday morning again not wanting to spend the day working. So I puttered a bit over my morning coffee and then decided to get The Girl out to walk and do another POTA activation.
I grabbed a snack because my blood sugar has been falling unexpectedly, some water, and a battery for the radio. We loaded up into the rig and headed west to Spooner Summit. I pulled off onto the forest road and parked the rig at the staging area where I like to work.
The Girl and I then headed out to walk before I set up a radio. Again, I talked to my buddy in Montana as I walked. But I kept my eyes open for critters as I have seen a big coyote who is not afraid of humans several times.
She was ready to rest when we returned to the rig, so I gave her some water and put her in the 4Runner. She settled right down for a nap in the sun.
I retrieved the new line-throwing kit from the 4Runner, stretched out the line, and affixed the throw weight. After four or five throws, I was unable to hit my target branch. Instead of fumbling more, I retrieved the drive-on mast mount and the 10m mast from the rig and setup a wire antenna. I again used the Elecraft KX3 barefoot (10-15w of power) and set up my table and chair.
A wind had come up, maybe gusting to 10–15mph, but variable direction. It was kinda-sorta from the south, but was curling around to the point I could not get shelter.
So I put on my heavier hoodie, put my back to the wind (and the sun), and worked the radio. The higher bands have been good lately, so I started on 10m and worked my way down.
Again, it took an hour or hour-and-a-half to make my activation quota and work the bands dry. The sun was falling lower in the sky and I was cold, so I quit.
It did not take long to put away the station and get The Girl out for a last bit. She looked for critters and peed until I called her in and we got into the rig.
It was another good day and a good day for me to get outdoors. The Girl loved it, too.
I learned a few more things.
I need practice with the throwing kit. I suspect there is something of an art to using a throw weight and line to hit a particular target.
I need some kind of shelter for cool-weather activations. I looked at a fishing hut last year, but did not buy one. A small fishing hut that folds up would make a good operating shelter. I could deploy a heater (I have one) and place a mat for The Girl.
My principal reservation about a hut is the lack of windows. I like being outside because (in part) I like the sun and the light. I do not want my activation shelter to cut those things off.
I need the means to heat water and make coffee, tea, soup, or a hot meal. I have used the Trangia burner in another stove I have in my inventory. But it is not as handy as I want. Hence, I am working on an upgraded kit and some of the results are posted on this weblog.
The iPhone works for spotting myself and for logging, But I think a Rite-in-the-Rain notebook and pencil should be in my field kit. I am thinking again of reducing my dependence on technology, although it is good to be able to spot myself for SOTA/POTA activations.
HAMRS is well suited to logging POTA activations. It has features that display other activators and make it easy to log their information for park-to-park chasing.
I am not sure I ever documented my post-processing of POTA logs. Most of my activations are multiple parks, at least two. I have a couple of favorite places that are three or four park activations. That means the post-processing of my log requires some editing so that chasers get credit of more than one park. I also get credit for activating multiple parks.
The new field cooking kit is coming along. I will have the ability to make a hot drink or food in the field. This is a critical safety issue as hypothermia is real and it does not have to be very cold for it to strike. Hot food and drink are part of combating environmental dangers effectively.
I am really enjoying Morse Code. I still operate phone part of the time. But the ability to deploy a small radio kit and make contacts thousands of miles away with a few watts means everything is smaller, lighter, and simpler than a more powerful radio kit.
That is all I can think of. It was a good couple of days in the field. Life is good.
My Haley Strategic Flatpack Plus arrived yesterday. I bought (yet another) small tactical pack because I want to carry a few things in the field with me and a small camera bag. I want a pack that can carry the necessaries and a small QRP radio kit (if desired). I want to be able to carry a small camera bag cross body1 under the pack.
After the ham radio exam session yesterday, I came home and retrieved the pack from the parcel box. Well, that is, after getting The Girl out for a walk. It really is a small pack with an expanded capacity of about 700 cubic inches. (Flat is is closer to 100–200 cubic inches.) It has two compartments, a bladder pouch, and a small flat pouch. The latter is good for a small tarp or a flat paper map, folded (or both, I suppose).
Aside: I am a Volunteer Examiner for the American Relay Radio League. That means I am certified to proctor an amateur radio license examination and the FCC will accept the result.
I bought two of the clear top pouches, a large and a small. The inside of the pack is lined with a loop field, which means appropriately fitted pouches will affix to both the back of the pack and the inside of the large compartment top. One of these pouches will contain a set of clean clothes — shirt, undies, and socks. I will have a change of clothes. The second pouch (the small one) will catch something; I have not figured that out yet.
There is plenty of room for my small cook kit (the stove is above) so I can heat water for coffee/tea or to hydrated freeze-dried food for a hot meal. I have a small bottle to carry alcohol fuel for the Trangia burner. I will work on some of the remaining components today, but am thinking that a small medical kit (more than a boo-boo kit) to supplement my EDC pouch (cargo pocket), a small fire kit (to create warmth or cook), a small radio kit (one of my QRP rigs, plus battery and wire antenna), and cordage to put up a shelter (the tarp) will round it out. I can carry a water bottle(s) or put a small bladder in the bladder pouch.
Last night (early this morning), I was awake so I used the stove to heat water for tea. I then decided to use it again this morning to heat water for my coffee. The little burner works fine, but might need a wind screen for the field. I have a small bag to carry makings for coffee and tea. I could add a packet or two of soup mix without adding much weight.
Today I will determine whether (or not) I can carry a small Domke camera bag cross body under the pack straps and still have access to the camera. My camera will be either the Fujifilm X100V or the X-E4 (and a spare lens or two). The cameras are really small, so the bags are small, too.
This might actually work, be reasonably light, and provide routine and light emergency capability in the field when I am hiking with Sera or playing a little radio on a remote summit or a park. I am looking forward to getting in to the field today, even if the weather is quite a bit colder than it has been.
Also, the last of the camper parts are on the way. I hope to have it repaired in a week or two and plan to get out and do some camping before the end of the year.
Sera is snoozing under my worktable. It is a welcome sound. Life is good.
1I carry camera bags and cameras (on straps) cross body because I absolutely cannot stand to have anything hanging around my neck.
The Girl and I always enjoy our walks. But when the fall comes, the weather cools and our walks get even better. She does not burn out as quickly and loves all the fall scents.
I love the way the light changes as the sun falls in the sky. The quality of the light is less harsh, even during the midday hours. As the leaves change, the light is filtered not by the green of summer foliage, but by the warmer colors of the change. The yellows and reds warm up the light and the change excites my eyes. I almost always carry a camera, but I am really motivated in the fall.
Yesterday morning did not disappoint me. As we walked one of our favorite trails along the Carson River, the late-morning sunlight filtered through the gorgeous yellows of the changing cottonwoods. I was happy that I carried the Fuji X-H1 with the Fuji 18-135mm lens with me. That camera is a game-changer for me. The lens is one that has been in my kit from early in my Fuji experience. It is one of the better walk-around lenses that I have used. It certainly did not disappoint me Sunday morning. I came home with at least a handful of keepers.
I think this one is one of them. It reminds me that the time moves on, the seasons change — those outdoors as well as those inside us. The last few weeks challenged me. A project I am working on is a significant technical challenge. The struggle is reverse engineering a hydrologic system to determine how what happened came to be. The time pressure to get through the analysis is a secondary challenge and can add significantly to the pressure.
But, I think I have the system mostly figured out. A change in the schedule is taking some of the pressure off. I was blessed this weekend to have a few hours to just breathe. That breath was a most welcome relief and a reminder that the seasons change. Projects come and go, like the seasons. But there is more to life than just the work and the time outdoors this weekend was another reminder of that. I am blessed to live where I do and I am thankful.
Between taking care of my body and taking care of my projects, there has been little time to write or make photographs. The lack of good light during recent days has not been encouraging me to make photographs. When the light is flat or gray, possible subjects that might interest me just do not appeal. Therefore, although I carry a camera, I find myself not motivated to make captures.
However, one day over the last week we were walking out at Riverview Park along the Carson River. I stop at this old abandoned truck often. The place is an interesting overlook of the river. There are often waterfowl nearby and I like to watch and listen to them.
The truck proves an interesting subject sometimes. I wonder how, why, and when it was left here. Most of the assemblies are long gone; only a shell remains. I wonder what interesting life that vehicle might have had.
We walked later than usual on Friday. I decided to do the strength workout before walking, so after taking care of some work and feeding us, we left the house about 1100h and headed for Silver Saddle Ranch. I really enjoy walking the Mexican Ditch Trail.
We parked at the usual staging area and humped down the hill through the ranch complex. I noticed an North American Kestrel that I first saw a few days ago, sitting in a tree. He flew off down the lane a hundred yards and perched on a fence post. As we continued walking the lane, he spooked and flew off across the hayfield. That made me smile and I spoke to him as he flew away.
I so enjoy seeing birds along the walk. I carry binoculars in my kit so I can watch them. I have an application on my iPhone that helps me identify them. My logging of my sightings is used by the Cornell Ornithology Unit to track populations, I’m certain.
I also identified a Northern Flicker as we walked the trail. I often hear woodpeckers working as we walk, but they are furtive and do not want to be seen. But Friday I spotted one and was able to observe him long enough to get an identification. His call confirmed my identification. He didn’t stay on his perch long, however. But I also spotted a female at the same location, and she was very spooky. She used her camouflage to hide against the bark of a cottonwood tree she occupied. I was amused and thankful for seeing both birds.
There was a lot of flow in the Carson River that afternoon. I supposed we had enough rain and snow in the mountains to raise the flowrate substantially. We paused at the dam to watch and listen to the water flowing over the weir. I noticed some red buds or berries on some scraggly brush along the Mexican Ditch, so we paused a few minutes for me to make an image.
There we met Linda and Austin. Linda is a tall, slender woman about my age. She’s clearly taken care of herself. Austin is her rambunctious black dog. Austin teased and irritated The Girl until she chased him. They were a hoot to watch. We all shared the path back to the ranch buildings and then parted ways, each on their path.
It was a good day. The walk did me good. The birds provided some intellectual stimulation and joy. The exercise is always good. A tired dog is a happy dog. So is a tired old man.
The weather turned wet and gray yesterday evening. On our last walkies of the day, we drove over to the old orphanage doggie park and walked a circuit. It was spitting rain and the wind blew. While not cold, it wasn’t the best weather.
But The Girl is good so long as she’s moving. She’s hates being wet (but loves the snow), so I heard her shake now and again as she sniffed around. It’s a good sound and I enjoy.
The windproof hoodie I wore was enough to keep me warm. It was dark when we got out, but not bad with a light. So I enjoyed the outing and the time with The Girl.
I had to make a grocery run, so we drove to store, did the necessary reprovisioning to keep us fed, and returned home. It began raining not long after. I was glad to be home and have provisions for the next few days.
This morning is gray and rainy. I need to get out for a walk, so I’ll probably grab the M65 field jacket, put on my base layer bottoms, and get The Girl out for a walk. I really want to go walk the Carson River again today, so I think we will. Maybe there will be a photo-op out there. It will be a very different look from the recent walks.
But I was reminded of the wonderful hike we made up Deadman’s Creek Trail Sunday afternoon. While at the gazebo that overlooks Washoe Valley, I paused to make a panoramic image of the view. The fall colors are so warm and contrast so well with the cool colors of lake and sky. There is more water in Washoe Lake than I recall since we moved here in 2007. It is good to see.
It is a good. It was a good weekend. Now I’m off to go walk before the rains get started again. Life is good.
We are having some absolutely gorgeous weather this fall. Yes, we had a few cloudy, windy, cold days. But the sun came out late in the week, so the Girl and I went on a long easy hike from the staging area on Silver Saddle Ranch down to the Carson River and Mexican Dam. As I worked my way to the breakover where the trail heads down toward the river, I paused for a few minutes to take in the sun and the view. It was well worth the few minutes spent in field.
I will never tire of this view, no matter how many times I see it. Now I’m feeling the need to hike the Dead Truck Canyon trail again so I can get an overlook of Carson City. It would make a great image at the right time of day. It will be fun to push myself up the hill, too, with a full load out of my gear. I’ll bet my legs will complain. That is a good thing.
There’s an old Wife story about “spiney.” I think we were visiting with my dad one afternoon, probably a Sunday afternoon because I recall there being ham and beans in the large pot simmering on the range. That means the weather was cool and there was probably football to watch, back in the days when I watched professional sports. (I loved watching football games with dad.)
Wife remarked something about my few-day-old stubble and couldn’t think of an appropriate descriptor. Somehow or another, she managed to say something about me being “spiney,” and it came out unintentionally.
Of course, dad picked it up and ran with it, much to the embarrassment of Wife. That was another great laugh and a great Wife story.
We were hiking on the Riverview Park trails a week or so ago and came across a patch of cockleburs. When I saw them, several thoughts ran through my mind in quick succession.
“Boy, I’m glad that the Girl didn’t get into those! Even with her short fur, she’d be an unhappy Girl when I had to pull them from fur, ears, and feet.”
“Boy, I’m sure glad I didn’t get into those. They’d be a bitch to get out of my socks!”
“I sure got into a lot of those back in Missouri, particularly when squirrel hunting in the fall. They were a bitch to get out of my clothes and are spiney as hell!”
“Those might make an interesting photograph. I’d better make one.”
At that, I pulled up the Panasonic Lumix G3 and got to work. I happened to have the Wollensak 25mm f/1.9 cine lens on the camera. It has an interesting, if a bit busy, bokeh.
The Girl and I walked our in-town route this morning. I saw the light on these beauties and thought it would be worth the effort to make the capture. There was a north wind this morning, cool but not cold. But the hint is there that soon the colder days will come and the summer beauties will be gone, waiting for another year to show themselves.
I made the capture with the Fujian 50mm f/1.4 lens on my Lumix G3 body. This is a very good lens. It is not very sharp wide open, but the colors are good and there is a glow about the images that reminds me of old glass. The lens cannot be beat for these applications, especially at its price. It is a very good art lens. I like it quite a lot, particularly for close shots like this one.
Winter has its own appeal, the season when life regains strength for the coming burst of spring. I like the cold and the snow and the starkness of the grays against the cold blue of the winter sky. The warmth of the sun on my body on a cold winter morning reminds me that blood still runs hot in me. The reminder that there remains life to live and love to share with those close to me. It is a good reminder.
In a few more minutes, I’ll go do my first lower-body routine in a long time. Leg days are the hardest… the big muscles generate a lot of lactic acid and the burn is real. But, this is necessary and the results are worth the effort. Nothing good comes easy. But it is worth the effort and struggle. This body has to carry me along for as long as I live. I need to invest in it as well as the inner work.