Back in mid-January of 2014, Cindy and I made a mad dash for the Outer Banks of North Carolina, to see a rare irruption of snowy owls all the way down on Ocracoke Island. While we were successful in that venture, we saw other things of note there as well – including a rare Chesapeake Bay skipjack, the Wilma Lee. You can read all about Chesapeake skipjacks here, but most of the remaining examples of them are on static displays at museums – not actually floating in the water or even able to sail anymore.
Within a few weeks after I had published my image on my old blog, I received a commercial use inquiry from an Annapolis-based sailing publication, Spinsheet. We negotiated terms, came to an agreement, and within a month my photo was used as the title image for their article on the Wilma Lee – which was being used at the time as a tourboat for visitors and as a floating classroom for school children. The Wilma Lee was severely damaged by Hurricane Arthur some six months after I took my photo of her, and she has since changed hands again and is now berthed at the Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park in Maryland.
Photo info: The Chesapeake skipjack, Wilma Lee Ocracoke docks Ocracoke Island, North Carolina January 2014 Apple iPhone 5S
It doesn’t seem possible that as much time has flown by as it has, but here we are. While exploring Yellowstone National Park, Cindy and I hiked up to the Mount Washburn fire lookout tower back in 2014 (2014!!! Jeez, it seems like yesterday!), and had a marvelous time doing so. As hikes go, it’s not terrible – unless you’re out-of-shape flatlanders, which we were at the time. The views from the trail are beautiful both on the way up and down, there are lot of critters to view both up close and through binoculars, not a lot of fellow hikers on the trail, wonderfully crisp air, and an absolutely spectacular 360° panorama at the top.
However, the Mt. Washburn trail is closed this entire year, due to the following road construction:
Tower-Roosevelt to Canyon Junction
Improvements: This segment of road remains largely unchanged since the last improvements in the 1930s. This construction project will widen the road and provide additional/improved pullouts; create a larger, safer parking area at Tower Fall General Store; and improve the trail and overlook for Tower Fall. To fund this project, the park received a grant through the Nationally Significant Federal Lands Program and will match it with fee dollars collected in the park.
Access: The road between Tower-Roosevelt and Canyon Junction will be completely closed for the 2021 season, which includes Tower Fall Campground and Tower Fall General Store. There will be no access to hiking trails in the closure, including Mount Washburn, Calcite Springs Overlook, and Tower Fall. From early November through March, Tower Fall and trails in the vicinity will be open for skis and snowshoes, snow-permitting (follow all closure signage posted at Tower-Roosevelt). The anticipated completion date for this project is May 2022.
People like to trash federal government workers all the time as being underworked and overpaid, undeserving of even the smallest things… like basic office supplies, clean and healthy working conditions, safe drinking water, a living wage, and many other aspects that we all take for granted in an office-based work environment. But they have no idea just how difficult some of those federal government agencies are to work in, like my former employer.
This is the basement hallway in the 60-year old building where my cubicle was located for the last six years of my career before I retired. If the image looks dark, that’s because it was; budget cuts at the time were so extreme that only two lights illuminated the entire length, from one end of the long building to the other. Many of the offices on this hallway – most of which were crammed to four times (or more) of their designed capacity with cubicles – had similar levels of illumination in them; i.e., almost nothing. Of course there were no windows.
Sound levels were so loud that they were just below the OSHA levels for required ear protection. The plumbing broke at least once or twice per year, flooding most of the hallway and offices with raw sewage, which required the replacement of everything that it touched. The drinking fountains were unusable for months at a time; sometimes because high levels of lead were discovered in them, sometimes because they were saturated with other contaminants.
We didn’t have a break room, and had no place where we could wash dishes or utensils if we brought our own lunch. Trash – even food waste – was only collected twice per week, which got rank and attracted vermin. The janitorial service was laughable.
I could go on and on. I only continued working in such bad conditions because I was so close to retirement.
Photo info: Basement hallway where I worked Gaithersburg, Maryland April 2013 Apple iPhone 4S