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First bike ride of the year to work. I should not have waited so long, but between being lazy, benched, and bad weather today was the first time. The morning was chilly with the Madison airport temperature (the one reported) reading 57. I put on a sweat shirt and hat, but removed them half way into the ride. On the ride in I tried my new path to avoid biking along Broadway Street in Monona. But I forgot which direction to turn on Monona Drive and ended up taking a slightly longer route than I wanted. Still, the ride was 15.2 miles which is just a mile more than my normal ride. However, I did avoid Broadway, and that was nice.

For the return trip I wanted to take the north side of the lakes. This is a longer trip, but a different view. The one part of the trip I don't like it County Road M. There is no getting around it. If you want to bike around the north side of Lake Mendota, you have to ride County M for at least 1.5 miles. Then you have the option of County K, Oncken Road, or staying on M until well into Middleton. Normally I do Oncken Road. There is a large hill in the middle, but a nice coast after you get over it, and this route is a little shorter. County K is a little longer, and a little busier, but the hills are more gentle. Both Oncken and K come to County Road Q. Not particularly busy it leads to the North Lake subdivision—a labyrinth that if navigated correctly leads to the Pheasant Branch Creek Conservancy.

Winds today were unusual coming form the north east. Our winds are typically out of the west. This made the latter part of my trip rather pleasant as I had a good tailwind.

   I setup this shot with a long shutter exposure with the goal of blurring the people in the background using the motion of those walking by.  The shutter was open of 0.3 seconds to accomplish that.  Laura (the subject) was asked to sit mostly still for a few shots as I waited for people to walk by and took exposures.  All were by hand with no tripod.  I'm fairly pleased I am getting such long exposure times by just holding the camera. 
   In post-processing I desaturated the background.  Otherwise the shot is much as taken.

June 14, 2015

Azorius Gets Wires

   The cheapest 5 VDC power supply one can find these days is a cell phone charger.  I ordered a bunch of them because people always seem to need one, and used one to replace the battery packs in Azorius' terrarium.  The results are just want I wanted, and the setup works great. 

June 13, 2015

Vancouver Trip--Day 14: Home Again

South Dakota Sunrise

South Dakota Sunrise

   It was time to do the remaining 770 miles to get back home.  I woke to a wonderful sunrise this morning.  I had South Dakota, Minnesota, and western Wisconsin to traverse.  My book was on, and clouds kept the sun from getting too intense as I cross the great plains.  I like western Minnesota for all the massive wind farms they have—some must have had well over 100 turbines.  But this part of the trip was rather uneventful.  I pull back into Elmwood Park about 10:00 pm.  I had traveled 5,120 miles over 13 days, 3.5 hour, covered 9 states and 1 foreign province, finished 3 books and started a 4th, and completed my visitation to all of the 48 contiguous states.

June 12, 2015

Vancouver Trip--Day 13: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota

   A full day of driving with a lot of miles and a very pretty view.  I quickly sank into my audio book, finishing up one on presidency of Richard Nixon, and moving onto one on the history of banking in the U.S.  I covered more than 800 miles, driving from about 6:00 am MT to 11:30 pm MT.  The Rockie Mountains along this leg of the trip are really pleasant, and after such a good trip it was relaxing to just drive through them and enjoy the view.
   The other day I noticed a crack in my windshield.  It was a small ding, but as I drove it began to grow larger and larger.  I remember when it happened.  I don't recall if it was an RV or a simi-truck, and I was passing on the left going up a mountain when I heard a loud snap against my window.  I looked right after it happened, but I didn't see anything on my window at the time.  It was right on the black border, quite small at first, which is why I didn't notice it.  But as I drove, it was getting longer and longer.  I knew by the time I returned home it would be too long to drill and they would have to replace the entire windshield.  That's too bad, but stuff happens.

June 11, 2015

Vancouver Trip--Day 12: Starting my Return Home

Vantage Bridge, Washington

Vantage Bridge, Washington

   My time in Canada was at an end.  After breakfast it was time to make the border crossing and the long drive back home.  The trip to the border was rather uneventful, but I waited in line over an hour to cross.  Then the border guard wanted to give me the full treatment.  For their efforts, I have them nothing but flak, being loud, out spoken, and unapologetic for my behavior.  The border guards all acts like tough guys on a power trip, and treat you like an asshole.  But I am an American whether or not you like it.  I knew they couldn't not let me back into my own country, so might as well give these jerks a taste of their own medicine.  I knew the most they could do was stall me, but during that time I would make as much of a scene as I could.  In all it took around 3 hours.  They took my finger prints and did a full search of my car, putting everything back in the wrong place, and trying their best to intimidate me and find something they could hold me for.  The most they got was a bottle that contained ginseng root.  Laura got it for me because ginseng  is good for motion sickness.  The border guard claimed I couldn't bring this into the U.S. and made me walk back into Canada to throw it away.  I honestly didn't care, but I think they were incorrect—you can buy ginseng root in the U.S. and they were just trying to excerpt authority on someone who was being a major pest.  But they had to let me back in and I felt good for not letting my guard down.  But the border crossing cost me a lot of time.  I would not be passing through the Seattle area during rush hour—something I had hope to avoid and would have if the government employes I pay for weren't such useless pests. 
    To get around the Seattle area I tried using a highway about 10 miles east of the main Interstate.  It might have helped, but it too was quite busy.  Finally I made it to Interstate 90, which would take me all the way home.  I made it to Post Falls, Idaho and stopped for the night.

June 10, 2015

Vancouver Trip--Day 11: Hot Springs, Orcas, Departing Vancouver Island

Mother Orca

Mother Orca

   Today was setup to be an exciting day.  Our destination was Hot Springs Cove, which one can only reach by boat or air.  We had planned on doing a whale watching trip, but the tour company couldn't get enough people.  However, they said it was likely we would see some whales on this trip.  After my experense with being sea sick from surfing yesterday, I took no chances and loaded up on dimenhydrinate and took along ginger pills.  It must have worked because despite a quite bumpy ride I felt just fine the entire trip.
   The boat ride was really fantastic.  Our captain looked just like what I expected a boat captain should look like.  White hair with a white beard, and he seemed not only to know exactly how to navigate along the shore line for a scenic view, but were to spot wildlife.  We saw several sea otters, including a large group on our way to the springs.  It took around an hour to get there.  On the trip out it was slightly hazy, but I had a lot of good photo opportunities.
   At Hot Springs Cove it was a 2.5 km walk to the springs themselves.  While I had seen hot springs before, I had never been able to swim in them.  After the walk Laura and I suited up and tried out the water.  It was a lovely bathtub; one that never got cold and you didn't feel guilty for wasting water.  I spent a good deal of time soaking, and once I got into the hot springs I didn't want to get back out.  What I found to my delight was between the ocean water and the hot springs, my hair, which has been in rough shape from chlorinated pools, returned to its natural smooth state as a result of this trip.
   After the hot springs Laura and I hiked the coast a bit.  I have seen tidal pools at aquariums before, but this was the first time I would see real ones.  The rocks were covered in clams—thousands of them.  And the tidal pools were full of sea anemones and star fish.  It was really neat to see them like this.
   At last we had to return to the boat and make our way back to Tofino.  Our captain told us some orcas had been spotted along our return path and took us there to see them.  It was a mother and her calf.  Our boat had a microphone under the water, and you could hear the baby talking to his mother.  Each time the baby took a breath, he would dive and chatter.  When he stopped you knew he was about to come up for an other breath.  I turned to mush.  I adore cetacea (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), and this was a truly moving moment for me.  The boat could have sank and made me swim back, and it still would have been a great day.  I must make future plans to do whale watching.
   Once back on shoe, our time on Vancouver Island was about over.  We had to return to the ferry and make our way back to Vancouver.  Our trip boat trip had taken more than an hour longer than what we had expected, so we ended up having to get a latter ferry.  I'm glad we did because as we traveled the sun was setting and the view was gorgeous.  A fitting end to a fantastic several days of travel and exploration.