Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Birthday!

April 6th was my birthday (so I guess this is a bit late). I am now half of almost a third of a century old (15)! Which, according to my grandparents and parents, means I have to get a job.

Since we were doing standardized testing on my birthday, we decided to wait to celebrate until Thursday. Some friends of ours came over and I had bean enchiladas with a gluten-free carrot cake, covered cashew frosting and  whip cream. Yum-yum. After finishing the carrot cake, I started on some individual caramel cakes that our friends gave me. My parents installed shelving in my closet for me and got me a Nikkor AF-S 55-200 mm DX SWM Lens. This will allow me to zoom in much more than I could with my previous lens. I also got a nice Eton FR400 Weather radio from my aunt and uncle. It has four different ways to power it (rechargable battery, disposable battery, crank dynamo, and AC power). It also has a light, siren, and, most importantly, a radio that recieves TV channels (audio only) and AM, FM, and weather. My great-grandpa got me a nice book about National Geographic photography (at least it sounds very nice, but its not here yet). My grandparents both got me money. Thanks to everyone for their gifts!

This Saturday I helped with a DDF sushi fundraiser. While I was on my trip, my team mates took pre-orders. Then this Saturday we cooked and sliced ingredients and rolled Sushi. We are raising money to pay for state, which was in February. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to go (I got to go to New Zealand instead) but next year I should be able to go.

We recently bought a laser point for our cat to play with. He will play with it for about five minutes before he gets bored. But for me, its a endless source of amusement. For example, a few nights ago I set up my camera on my tripod and took long exposure shots. I wrote my name, tried combining it with a flashlight, tried waving it around really fast, and more. Here are a few examples.

It also started snowing again just last night. When I woke up this morning, everything had gone from brown to white. For part of the day it poured down snow, but it now has warmed up a bit and some of it has melted. It took a few pictures, simultaneously trying out my telephoto lens. The first one is all the way zoomed out on one lens (18mm), the next all the way zoomed in on my other lens (200mm).

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I'm back

I'm back from my New Zealand trip, and I have just finally got around to writing something.

I was very glad to see my kitty, who has been enjoying the sunny weather (at least for the first week we were back). When we got back on March 26th, there was still about 8-inches of snow in the back yard, but now it's all gone. We have had a couple of days of rain, so that washed all the snow away.

We've been on some fun hikes in the two weeks since we've been back. We walked around on the beach a couple of times. There is a beach right along the road the we like go on short walks. If the tide is out, it isn't too close to the road and it can be very peaceful. We saw a washed up shark that had been reported on in the paper. A local children's group that studies wildlife dissected it and the ravens have been picking at it, so its mostly skin and bones now. We also saw some interesting chunks of ice that had frozen such that they broke easily into a bunch of little shards.

We also hiked up to Chilkat State Park. The road goes down to a picnic area on the beach, but they don't plow it in the winter, so we had to walk down. It was a nice walk, but we had to rush to make it to a meeting my mom had. My mom does a bulk produce order with a group of other people (to save on shipping).

While my mom was at a produce meeting, my sister went to play at a friends house and I went with my dad to Mud Bay for a short walk. Mud Bay is a deep and shallow bay with a road on only one side. On the other side are a bunch of houses. Because of our 17 foot tide range, , when the tide is high, you can't cross the bay unless you walk all the way around to to the top of the bay. Because of this, people who live across the bay have to watch the tides and see when they can cross.

I walked up near the top of the bay and took some pictures while my dad took a nap in the car. There were some nice "icebergs" that had melted on the bottom from water, but not on top, so a little island on the bottoms supported the top.

We also hiked a little ways up Mount Ripinsky on a little trail. The trailhead is just parked by flagging tape, so you would have to know about it to find it. It was little steep, and at times required scrambling up some rocks, but nothing too bad.

Today we went on a short walk partway out to battery point. Battery point is just past our summer cabin, so we often walk out there in the summer. But in the winter we usually only make it out a few times. Today we walked for a ways, but didn't have time to go all the way out. The battery point trail is a popular spot for cruise ship visitors, since the trail head is only about a mile from the cruise ship dock. Because it is used so much, the trail gets fairly worn out. Since most trails are just made of dirt, the continued usage wears away the dirt and exposes all of the tree roots. As that isn't very good for the trees, the park survice has been slowly recreating the trail to prevent this. Unfortunately, I am not particularly fond of their method. They cut a path about 4 foot wide and made a thick layer of gravel, held up by logs. While this gravel will cover the roots, it doesn't fit in with the natural environment and seems that it would be worse for the trail. They have also built bridges over most of the stream, but have made them out of treated wood, which isn't very good for the environment.

We also just went on a short hike up Mount Riley. We didn't make it very far, but it was nice to see the forest in the winter.  It is amazing the amount of diversity you will find in forests. Some, like the beginning of the Mount Riley trail, have very small trees, close together and dark. These usually have less moss or other vegetation.  I think that these must be new growth forests, meaning they have been logged or a fire has gone through. But on the same trail, we come to more open forests, with big beautiful spruce and hemlock trees, with lush green moss on the ground floor. These are old growth forests, and are much more beautiful and natural looking than new growth forests. Unfortunately, I only took pictures of the old growth forest, so I don't have any pictures to compare.

I also just recently found out that one of our local librarians had a surprise heart-attack and died. She was the cataloger and materials selector, so she picked out most of the books in the collection. She was very good at picking out a range of books for everyone's taste. I remember going into the Seattle Public Library, which is huge, probably 10 times the size of our library, and not finding as much that I liked as I did in Haines.