I am on my way home from a site walk in Topanga, California. The site walk was a long time coming. I suppose it was because there are so many parties involved in the case. But it was good to get to see it.
I knew it would be too long of a trip to drive all the way back home after walking the site all morning. There was a lot of Los Angeles to traverse and traffic is always bad. So I planned on stopping midway and that turned out to be Lone Pine, California.
The hotel is decent enough if expensive. But it is the Fourth of July weekend and it also seems that since The Shutdown hotels are a lot more expensive than they were pre-virus. Nonetheless, I have a room.
The clerk gave me a heads-up that there are four restaurants in Lone Pine with outdoor seating that will accommodate my companion. I initially chose the Mt. Whitney cafe. But they ignored me.
I traveled a couple of blocks south and stopped in to The Grill. I was greeted as Sera and I approached the pavilion. The server greeted Sera, asked to pet, and brought water.
The proprietor came out, asked about Sera, and told me about his dogs.
I thought “this is the right place. I’m glad I was ignored at the other!”
So I ordered a Cobb salad and a Corona with lime. He brought me a beer glass, but I am old school and just dropped the lime in the bottle like I would at home.
Yes, you really cannot take me nice places.
In the end, the food was good, the treatment was stellar, and Sera met new friends.
It was a good day, a good evening, and life is good.
Yesterday morning, after waking early and morning coffee, The Girl and I got out for a nice walk at Silver Saddle Ranch. We walked our usual loop, starting at the upper staging area on the access road, north to the Mexican Ditch trail, then south through the ranch compound and back to the Mexican Ditch, then up the hill to the trail and back to the rig.
The loop is about a mile and three-quarters and takes something between 45 minutes and an hour to walk. It all depends on how long with linger along the way.
I knew I wanted to make an image for the day. The thistles are in bloom and provide a ready subject. I have used them before.
They still look good, though. So I paused while Sera hunted lizards and framed a couple of shots. The camera was the Fuji X-T1 and the Fujinon 35mm f/2. Sera chased of a bee that would have added interest. Oh well, next time.
Just as I looked up from the camera, I saw another walker and two dogs leaving the compound.
“Here!”” I called to Sera. She came in, I grabbed her collar, and attached her lead. Her energy level was still pretty high and I did not want her to run over to engage the other dogs.
The other handler leashed up her dogs as well. I appreciate that.
Dogs are dogs. That is OK. But a lot of handlers do not understand their animals.
The Girl (Sera) and walk past this freezeproof hydrant nearly every day. It is part of the stock watering system at Silver Saddle Ranch. Today it called to me. The light was flat but that is pretty easy to fix in post-processing. So I paused, checked for traffic, and made the capture.
The Girl and I then continued our walk and I made a few more images. In then end, though, when I reviewed my captures after we got home, I picked this one.
It was made with the Fuji X-T1 and an adapted Nikkor 135/3.5 telephoto. I like many of the Nikkor lenses nearly as much as the Fujinon glass.
Today is the Summer Solstice of 2023. That means summer begins today. However, the weather certainly does not feel it. As I write this (about noon), the temperature is 65ºF.
As is our usual routine, The Girl and I walked Silver Saddle Ranch this morning. We like to start at the upper staging area (away from the ranch compound) and walk in the sagebrush. There are a number of unmarked trails that are readily visible. We pick one of them.
This morning we walked our usual route, mostly. It was fairly cool, so Sera did not jump into the ditch when we first reached it. If it is warm, she will usually get wet before we move on.
We paused at the ranch compound so she could get a drink. Someone has graciously put a bucket under a freeze-proof hydrant and there is water there year round.
We walked on south along the trail and bypassed our usual turn west to continue to the ditch. I knew she was warm and wanted to get wet. She did.
There I paused for a minute and made today’s capture. I liked the contrast of bright green and sage gray. I did use the Velvia film simulation in camera. But the image is unadjusted — straight out of camera.
I call myself a “racoon photographer.” That is, I will eat about anything.
While reading David du Chemin’s weblog early this morning, I started thinking about my lifetime as a photographer. I commented on one of his recent posts, “I’ll never be a great photographer, one who garners a lot of attention. It is not my gift.” And I believe that. For one thing, I am not willing to spend hours working on a single image trying to perfect it.
But I am reminded that Wife said to me, more than once “You have a different way of looking at things.” She meant that I see things as I walk through life. And when I do, it nourishes me somehow to pause and make a photograph.
So, here I am… posting another image made in the field without a lot of post-processing. I made a few adjustments, but it took me only a few minutes.
The Girl and I walked this morning. It was a little late for good light, but I carried the little Fujifilm X-T1 with its compact normal lens. Of the subjects that caught my eye (so to speak), I like this capture the best. The play of light on the wood pleases me.
I had not intended any radio play when I rose Sunday morning. But, after getting some work done and then getting The Girl out for a walk, I sat at my work table thinking about what I should do and what I wanted to do.
I have an antenna provided by a colleague in The Tech Prepper Discord channel. It is intended for NVIS (near vertical incident skywave) operations, which is a useful tool for regional communications. The ability of a station to reach others in a range from local to about 500 miles out (or so) is critical for emergency communications.
It turns out this is a useful range for park activations (and summits).
NVIS uses frequencies below about 10MHz, which includes the 30m, 40m, 60m, 80m, and 160m amateur radio bands. I often see other activators using 60m, which is in the 5MHz range and is often available during the daytime hours.
But… I really did not feel like working that hard. (That is, working at testing an antenna.) I have been so busy the last few months that I am a bit burned out. I had a lot of fun in Missouri with my family and working parks on my way out and on my way back. But, there was quite a bit of pressure to get back and get work done (another report).
The report is nearly done (review comments on Monday) and another project will be completed shortly thereafter. But the bottom line is that I am mentally fatigued and need to regroup and recharge.
Field Day will be the coming weekend (24–25 June) and there will be some camping. That will help. But the following week is travel to SoCal for another field walk, then reduce results from that and prepare for upcoming field work.
So, OK, enough whining. The bottom line is that I wanted to get outside (the weather is gorgeous), maybe play a little radio, and not do anything like work.
At that point, I found myself stuck in a mental loop. The question “What do I want to do?” was quickly followed by “What radio do I want to take?” I went round and round, mentally, and could not make a decision.
Eventually, and this took some time, I decided to use whatever was already in the rig. I got Sera and we headed out. I bought a sandwich to share with Sera on the way and we drove up to Washoe Lake State Park (K-2640).
I was astounded by the amount of water in Washoe Lake. I know we had a lot of snow over the winter (the melt is not yet done), but all of the areas I normally use were under water. I found a little bit of dry ground, set up the Chameleon MPAS 2.0 in its vertical configuration (thought about using a wire, decided to use the vertical), and setup the ELecraft KX3 with the KXPA100 amplifier.
The island in the water is usually dry and I often setup the station near it… not on this trip. Probably not on any trip in the near future either.
I talked to my buddy Dick a bit while getting equipment out of the 4Runner. But I had to end the call to work on the station. I forgot my earbuds.
The bands were a little noisy. The Sun is busy right now, although the geomagnetic field of the Earth is relatively quiet. I set the radio to calling CQ and spotted myself.
None of the higher bands produced any calls. I had only one on 15m. When I got to the 20m band, things perked up. I worked a couple of nice pile-ups and found I could still copy Morse Code. I struggled with my sending, though. My key kept slipping on the surface of my folding table.
I quit about 1630h local (before we turn over a new day on UTC). It did not take long to put away the station. I got Sera out to play a little. She wanted to get in the water, but I did not want to have a wet dog in the rig… nor did I feel like using the towel on her and getting her all rowdy. (Heh)
In the end, it was a good day. I left with 28 contacts (plenty for my activation), a good deal of Sun and fresh air, and a happy dog.
I did learn a few things, as usual:
I really need to have a plan for these outings.
My propensity to get caught in a mental loop will be averted if I make such a plan.
I need to plan for experimental time, such as testing of the antenna provided by a friend. This is more like work, but is necessary if I am to learn more about radio.
The back of my rig is now disorganized. I need to spend some time sorting out the gear in my 4Runner and using the space efficiently.
The top of my folding table is too slick for the Begali Traveller key. I need a pad of some kind in the kit for this key. I could have gotten out the N3ZN key and bracket for the KX3 and used it. (It will not move because it is attached to the radio.) But I was already in the thick of the activation when I noticed the key moving.
I encountered the usual number of LIDS who will call, send their exchange, and then assume I copied them and logged them. I do not log these callers.
I know I had one operator who had a similar call to another I was working. He/she will think I logged the contact; but I did not because I did not copy their call or their exchange.
It was still a good day, even with the mental loop that trapped me for a half-hour. I enjoyed the outdoors. Washoe Lake is beautiful with all the water. The weather is absolutely gorgeous this spring — it is hard to believe it is nearly summer. We are usually much warmer by now. But, I will take it! Life is good. I am grateful.
We had a nice morning walk out at Silver Saddle Ranch this morning. It will be windy this afternoon. I know this partly because that is the forecast. However, the wind was already up at 0900h local, which is early. Also, the lenticular clouds foreshadow the coming of more wind.
It is a bit early for us to have Zephyr winds. But this is an unusual weather year. I think El Niño is strong this year. Now I wonder what the coming winter will bring. Will it be more heavy snow?
The Girl and I enjoyed the morning walk. I might even get out to play some radio this afternoon. We will see.
Over the last month or so, I have been asking myself “What can I do that will nourish my soul?” I go through these reflective periods now and again. I think it is a healthy thing to do.
Well, one of my answers was to get out my camera, charge the battery, and carry it along with me when out and about. The Fujifilm X-H1 was an acquisition I bought for the larger Fujinon lenses. Some of them just do not balance well on the smaller Fujifilm X-T1 body. I have not had this camera out in a long time. So, I thought it time to charge its battery, mount an appropriate lens, and carry it.
The main reason I have not flown my drone or carried a camera is because Sera requires a lot of attention in the field. We are now in snake season (again). She appears to be wary of snakes, particularly if they buzz and do not run away. But the risk of a bite is too great for me to ignore. So I am very careful in the field with her when the weather is warm.
That does not leave a lot of attention for the camera or a drone. At least, it did not until this season.
I plan on carrying a camera (other than my iPhone — long story there) for now. I really like carrying the X-T1 better, particularly with the lovely Fujinon 30/2.0 (30mm f/2.0) small lens. It is in the Fujinon compact lens series. It is very good (as are the others). It is very small and light. It makes great images.
However, on this day I carried the larger X-H1 body and the larger (and faster) 35/1.4 (35mm/f1.4) lens. I suspect that the image quality from both camera and lens is superior to the X-T1/30/2.0 combination… but not observable for a web image.
But the day I made this capture I carried the X-H1 and make some images with it. Silver Saddle Ranch provides lots of subjects.