Monday, September 11, 2017

Late Summer Bee Rendezvous with Goldenrod


This bee has no problem with a snootful of goldenrod pollen. During these last few weeks of summer the goldenrod is in full bloom around the Midwest. At Hannen Lake park near Blairstown, Iowa there are large patches of goldenrod stretching around the park and surrounding pastures. Multiple bees were out in numbers doing their thing, spreading the pollen around.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eclipse over Fairmont, Nebraska


A total solar eclipse is something to behold. I have seen partial solar eclipses and thought highly of them, especially if the foreground had some interesting objects or the sun's surface had sunspots. This was my first visit to the zone of totality. It brought me to Fairmont, Nebraska where about 5,000 other eclipse enthusiasts gathered on Monday, August 21 to view the event.

The morning leading up to the eclipse was filled with clouds from a passing thunderstorm with periods of open blue skies. At totality the sky near the sun was mostly cloud free, which only accented the most wondrous sky event that I have witnessed.

Photos, films and video cannot do the totality event justice because of all the rapidly changing sky conditions, the crowd's reaction, and the grandeur of the what is being witnessed. To see the solar corona develop as the moon completely covers the sun is spectacularly unforgettable.

Do yourself a favor and make plans to see a total solar eclipse in person. For the US, that would be on April 8, 2024. I still have more photos of this event that I will post soon - more of what was happening with the crowds.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fairmont Nebraska Welcomes Diamond Rings at Great American Total Solar Eclipse 2017

What a spectacular event! A total solar eclipse is something that everyone should experience. At a well planned, town hosted site in Fairmont, Nebraska some 5,000 people gathered from all over to see totality on August 21, 2017. I took several photos of eclipse enthusiasts and of course the two celestial orbs doing their dance, that I will post soon.

Here are the two best images of the diamond ring effect direct from Fairmont. The top photo occurred as the moon slowly passed in front of the sun leaving what is termed the diamond ring effect. It lasts only a few seconds but can be seen again as the moon pulls away from the solar disk about two and a half minutes later. 


Clouds had been around for most of the morning leading up to the total eclipse. Totality started out with little to no clouds but gained a few more wisps in just a few minutes. The bottom photo shows the exiting diamond ring effect with clouds acting as a frame. Look close and see the solar prominence, large, bright features extending outward from the Sun's surface at the noon to four o'clock position. 

One thing that I learned - even the best photos and videos cannot do justice to the totality experience. So many changes occur in the minutes or seconds before totality - like the rapid darkening of the earth's sky, the slight decrease in air temperature, the expansion of the solar corona and so forth. I'll get more photos posted as soon as I can.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Dad and Son Hit the Links at Iowa Veteran's Home

On top of the hill at Marshalltown's Iowa Veterans Home is a huge lawn decorated with war monuments, mature shade trees and war relics.  A new IVH resident of just 20 days was out swinging the clubs at a few golf balls aimed at a nearby "hole."  The new resident's son and staff caretaker accompanied him for the short outing.



This gentleman, a U.S. Navy veteran is also an accomplished golfer.  He hails from Eldon, Iowa, home of the house that served as the backdrop in the "American Gothic" painting  by Grant Wood.  Both the son and the golfer worked for the railroad (several companies) throughout the years. 



The golf "hole" at the top of the hill was the 70mm French artillery piece.  Our senior golfer came close a few times to the target - most likely on purpose.



Even the IVH caretaker gave golf a try. After listening to some quick advice she launched a few Titleists towards the French cannon.  Remember to keep your head down and slow down your backswing.  She did just fine for her first time out.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Iowa Elk at a Summer's Rest


Photo assignment - snap anything outdoors. So I headed north and found a male elk watching over his herd at the Alexander Wildlife Area at Pinicon Ridge Park (a Linn country park) near Central City, Iowa.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

And in the End There's Dissolution


The closing down of a partnership for all the world to see is documented in this letter from three Beatles to the lawyer of the fourth Beatle. At the physical end of a Beatles exhibit earlier this year is this letter of legal wrangling. The dissolution of the group is well documented and I can't add anything here, except that to reflect on actual historical document associated with the group's demise. Good thing their music lives on and is appreciated by the next generation.

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Business of Pre-Beatlemania


What hasn't been written about the Beatles? One of the items on display in the touring Beatles exhibit featured at Davenport's Putnum Museum earlier this year is one of two known business cards of Beatle manager Brian Epstein. While the front side is very modestly designed - a few months before their iconic logo was developed, the back side was signed by all four Beatle members at the time.


On the back side of the business card John Lennon scribbled "Best Wishes" and signed his name. George Harrison and Paul McCartney signed too. The Beatles drummer at the time, Pete Best also penned the card's back. Best was dismissed as the Beatles drummer by Brian Epstein on August 16, 1962. Two days later, Ringo Starr joined the group and the rest is Beatlemania history.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Day After Christmas at Stone's River


This is what the day after Christmas looks like at the Stone's River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Seven months ago I re-visited the site to further understand the grounds and what happened there during the Civil War. Outside of the first class interpretive center visitors will find several well cared for trails. This tree lined path in the park is devoid of signs and monuments but highlights the season during the golden hour with greens and reds. To complement this quiet scene is what the national cemetery located across the park's entrance becomes during the holiday season. See a future blog post.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Corner Music in Chattanooga


A street performer in downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee sings a two verse song during a recent visit. I can't really understand his words but he is intent on playing and making sure everyone is happy. Following this performance he boarded a city bus and left the pedestrian-filled area. If you know what song he is playing leave a message or link in the comment section.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Stone's River Battlefield Cannon Study


A big draw for this Midwesterner is visiting any Civil War battlefield. In this case the reward is spending time in the Stones River National Battlefield in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I have been fortunate to visit it briefly twice now. The park consists of two sections. The battlefield and the national cemetery.


Park officials have placed chicken wire down the cannon to prevent animals and small children from crawling in.


I plan to visit the park again, educate myself on its history and showcase more of it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Deer Encounter


Sometimes you get lucky to be at the right spot, at the right time, AND have all your photo equipment function properly. Such was the case in spotting this winter fur-sporting deer in Anamosa, Iowa's Wapsipinicon State Park. Our tan friend here was quite approachable, most likely because he/she encounters many park visitors throughout the year.

Deer made Iowa news this week when the DNR reported another confirmed case of chronic wasting disease was found in Allamakee County (NE Iowa.) Efforts by DNR and hunter alliances are seeking to manage the spread of CWD, which was first diagnosed in Iowa during 2013.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Lincoln on Inauguration Day 2017


From America's heartland, a statue of Abraham Lincoln overlooks Galesburg, Illinois. Sworn into office today, the 45th president of the United States joined his predecessors in creating the latest chapter of the American experience.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Godspeed John Glenn


Mercury astronaut John Glenn died this week. He was the last of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and a true American hero. I found this 45 record two years ago from the Hasbro GI Joe collection. It was a companion piece to the astronaut version of GI Joe, complete with space suit and Mercury capsule. Side two contains audio clips from John Glenn's Mercury 7 flight that orbited the earth. Listen to the recording here. Although not included on this recording, fellow astronaut and mission Capcom, Scott Carpenter issued, "Godspeed John Glenn" as a traditional voyage wish during Freedom 7's liftoff from the Cape.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Remembrance Day Gettysburg - Iowa Connection


This year is the 153rd anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address delivered at the dedication ceremony of Soldiers' National Cemetery. Remembrance Day is an annual event to reflect upon the Gettysburg battle, watch modern reenactors parade through Gettysburg and hear Lincoln's famous speech. While I have detailed the Iowa connection before in the 42N blog (post here), today's anniversary of the Lincoln speech (actually it was yesterday) served as a reminder to re-photograph the monument in the Lisbon, Iowa cemetery before the winter snows come.



I submitted a story idea to the Cedar Rapids Gazette some time ago for their Sunday column about area history. The reporter did a great job in crafting the story of how the boulder got from the battlefield to Lisbon, Iowa. It is only one of two boulders to have been removed from the Gettysburg battlefield for display purposes. Read the Gazette article here.