Monday, October 29, 2007

Going, going, gone?

I've known this was coming...but sad to see it was this soon...The castle is almost completely gone. It's the end of an era. Let's have a moment of silence.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The best time of year

I don't know about everyone else, but I love this time of year. Awesome leaf colors, crunching of the leaves, crisp cold air. Nevermind all those pesky bugs dying by the bucket load. I was out at a beautiful site this week. It had a nice rocky stream and it was all wooded. The leaves were splendid. The only problem is that I was super crunched for time. I had an hour there and tried to do as much as possible. I didn't finish so I'll be back next week.

The leaves have been hard to enjoy this week with all this rain. I've been outside at least part of the day most of this week. Driving in the rain during this time of year is precarious. Driving on wet leaves equals driving on a slip n slide. I slid like 20 feet down a hill on wednesday. Thankfully I stopped in time before hitting the car in front of me. The car had stopped short on a hill and it knew there wasn't enough room for me so it moved partially into oncoming traffic.

Then on the drive home in the rain on friday, I came close to a pretty serious accident on the highway. My pack and I were driving along and doing the speed limit since the weather was bad. There were four lanes. I was in the second from the right lane. A van was in the second from the left lane and slightly ahead of me, which left the far left lane open. Then all of a sudden I see this new black mustang next to me. I think it was attempting to pass the van and it started to lose control. It was between the far left and middle left lanes and it was weaving back and forth. Each weave got progressively worse and it was trying to slow down at the same time. Finally it looked like it might spin totally out but it just slammed into the median. I could see the pieces coming off the car I was so close.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Eye spy a salamander

Well this week has gotten off to a rotten start. On sunday, when I put my right contact in, it burned. I thought it might be because I forgot to rinse it off. So I rinsed it and tried again. It burned again but I just waited it out and eventually it stopped. Today I put a different contact in (cuz maybe it's a small tear in the contact or something like that) and it didn't that moment. But I could see my eye was quite bloodshot in one area...the area of the previous burning area. I could feel that my eye isn't right and I can see a little bump. I think it's just a scratch and swollen at the scratch. So tomorrow I probably unfortunately will be wearing my glasses. Not that I hate the way I look in them. I just hate the way that glasses feel...heavy and hot. I can already hear my mother now "I told you not to rub your eyes!!!"

But on the bright side, last week I found a young-in spotted salamander. I've seen a bunch but I have never personally caught on.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Line walking Part II

I'm having one of those weeks where I feel like I'm never home. I mean I sleep at home but that's about it. Stuff is starting to pile up....laundry, dishes, garbage, recycling, etc. But I managed to escape from work early today so I'm busy catching up while checking work email.
I was out walking the line again this week. I lost a second pair of sunglasses and had another good couple falls. I did remember my real camera so I got to take some pics of the awesome views we get. Look at this soft dried grass (top pic). Looks like a perfect nature bed.

We haven't seen any bears yet. Although there was something big going through the brush early in the day. Probably just a deer but you never know. Birdman, my companion for the day, brought bear mace. I had a good chuckle because he just left it in the truck. So I'm not sure what he was planning to do if there was a dangerous bear encounter....Is he going to say to the bear "Can you hold that thought while I hike a long way back to the truck?"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Here's my first video attempt on my camera and editing. It's certainly not "Gone with the Wind" here.

The turtlet update is that both have lost their egg tooths. Peanut pretty much refuses to eat the real food. He'll take a bite of the real food, mash it up, and spit it out. He insists on eating only the shrimp treats and the turtlets will duke it out to get one. I may have to do some tough love and only give them real food in hopes that Peanut will get hungry enough, he'll HAVE to eat the good food. But I feel bad since he's so little and I worry about him being hungry. They both have grown like a millimeter in 2 weeks and seem to be shedding.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I walk the line

Not my pic above. Most of my pics failed to save. We got a big power line job that goes through several NJ counties. I finally got to experience the madness of walking the line. My coworkers have been walking the line pretty much non-stop the past few weeks. We have to delineate the wetlands within the powerline right of way. That means climbing several mountains, crossing countless fences, crashing through thickets, clammering over logs and cut up trees, and attempting to cross rivers. I lost my favorite sunglasses, sustained numerous cuts, and fell once during this epic adventure. Plus it sure was hot for October. I don't know if it's this time of year but the gnats were circling non-stop. By the afternoon, the breeze started to kick in and it looked like it wanted to rain. Then a bit of thunder and lightning began. Luckily we timed it so that just as we got to the car it started pouring.

One of the highlights of the day was seeing this giant fish jump out of the water a couple times. In my head it was yelling "yee haw!!!!" Another highlight was seeing the leaf color change. It's kicking in up in north jersey right now. I also got to drive my car in the woods...and I mean woods. No real road. I did bump the front end on a stump and it partially ripped off some rubber and made a horrible thud noise. But I put the rubber back on and I think I'm ok.

Below is some milkweed going to seed. I wish I had some time to open some pods up and spread them.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Break out your microscopes kids

I was heading to my basement to take the turtlets out of their feeding tupperware and I stumbled upon this baby leadback salamander on the concrete in front of my and neighbor's basements. It sure was slimy sticky and really hard to pick up since it was so insanely small and squirming. I saw an adult redback salamander in the same area last year and rescued it, since you have to go down the stairs and there's nothing down there for them. Redback and leadbacks are the same species just different phase. Redbacks is more common and leadbacks have a gray hue to them. This one was so tiny it was difficult to accurately identify.

So I had a mini photo session with this little one. It sure was hard to steady my one hand and use the macro lens feature. I let it free in the landscaping and sprinkled it with water since I thought for a few minutes that it was dead. But it squirmed to life and away into the bushes it went.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A little bit of everything

I finally had a real field outing in what feels like weeks. I was out solo at a pretty big site close to home. I'm familiar with the area so I knew what I would be in for. The woods would have large trees with not much understory since it would all be eaten by deer and in the open spots it would like 100% invasive nasty thorny shrub species. This held true at this place.

The place is some sort of physical rehab center and I had to check in with the office. Thankfully I wasn't escorted around but the woman felt the need to tell me to watch out for the resident bear and that the deer were friendly (?ok??) and the sheep (double ???) were also friendly. I told her I was familiar with all and that I would be fine. I was on bear alert for the first hour and then after not seeing any signs of bears I mellowed out. But at one point I stopped to sit on the corner of a wall where two roads intersected. At first, the spot seemed fine but then it became stinkier and stinkier. I'm thinking if the bear was around it probably marked the spot and that's why it's so stinky. So I moved from that spot.

The site borders a large dammed lake with an old road around it. There's this fancy gate and some sort of sheep fountain. It was misting most of the morning but for whatever reason there are orbs in these first 3 pics. I would like to think they are ghosts but it's probably reflections off the mist. This road took a lot of work to put in with perfect rock walls on both sides. And everything is still in pretty good shape. It was so steep to the lake I couldn't even see it most of the time. All I saw was a slope covered by wisteria and was wondering how I would ever be able to hang flags down there in the right spots...anyone got mountain climing gear?

I had a few near falling situations on the steep slopes that are covered by rocks ranging in the size from gravel to the fist sized. You can see how steep the woods are in this pic.

Above is the big dam. I ventured out onto a small part of it and tried not to think about how high it was. This lake sure is going to be beautiful once the leaves change color on a sunny day.

Here's some ancient farm trailer complete with broken fan and other junk.