Monday, August 27, 2007

The Party

Too long ago on a homestead not too far away... :) Ok, seriously.

Two Thursdays ago our family traveled up to the Bittner's house in Olympia to celebrate a triple birthday party for Jacqueline (18), Gabriella and Abigail, in the form of an English country dance. I'll be honest, I knew that I didn't know how to dance, and I was a little bit reluctant to wear a costume, but before I knew it we were rolling up the interstate in long stockings, makeshift breeches (or whate'er you call 'em), vests and poofy shirts. :) Mom said, "Daniel Bittner needs to be a politician if he's convincing enough to make my boys wear all that." Anyhow, we fit right in and had fun with it.

Since we arrived early, we were taught most of the dances we needed to know for the evening, practiced for a while and then met some new folks as they began arriving.

Everything fell together (including the weather) and we all had a fantastic time of fellowship and fun. Mom took all these photos (I didn't even touch the camera--amazing huh?)

Virginia Reel

Tree Huggers

More reels

Josephina holding Christianna

Live music

Bittners and Berkompases

Christopher and Aimee

Daniel Bittner

I'm in there somewhere

Jacqueline and her father

Me again

Brian (middle), his sister and Daniel

Jacqueline and...Abigail? I'm wrong aren't I? :)

The official "Happy Birthday" quartet, Daniel, Phillip, Stephen and Stephen

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hey ya'll, here's what I picked up in Texas/New Mexico. We're waiting for our flight home from Phoenix right now (their Sky Harbor International Airport is massive btw).

Friday, August 24, 2007

Carlsbad Caverns: A Panoramic View

Dad and I spent the day at Carlsbad Caverns NM. It's late right now, but since I'm connected to lightning fast wireless internet I'll tide you over with a few of my best panoramas (Photoshop has an excellent stitch feature, try it out!). This cave is mindblowing, like nothing you've ever seen! and we were privileged to take a tour into some of the most stunning chambers in the Caverns. Don't you worry, I've got a lot more info and photos to post on this visit.

Rock of Ages
(column on left)

King's Palace

The Caveman
(lower left stalactite formation)

Petrified Forest National Park

It’s approximately 1600 miles to loop from Phoenix to Grand Canyon to Carlsbad Caverns and back to Phoenix, so we decided to head out for the caverns yesterday morning. After some more gift shopping (I’ve got some really cool shirts and Dad and I even got matching hoodies!) and one more stop at Desert View for some shopping and rock collecting we exited the park and headed east for Albuquerque NM. Before we hit the border though, we decided to stop for gas and ended up at Petrified Forest National Park. It looked intriguing so we decided to follow a road through the park, then cut east to the highway giving Albuquerque a miss. I’m glad we visited.

First you get to see Painted Desert, a beautiful splash of color in an otherwise drab environment.

This is a petrified tree trunk called Agate Bridge. I could have walked across it.

Then there’s Jasper Forest, a valley of fragmented petrified tree trunks—they don’t have a very solid explanation of how they got there.

Next we saw The Teepees, conical stone formations rising from the ground, with very distinct layering—once again how does that happen? There’s no water anywhere nearby, it’s pretty thirsty country people, how could that happen? Hmmm…maybe a flood?

Probably the coolest site was Crystal Forest, where you could walk a 0.8 mile paved trail through the scattered petrified remains of an ancient forest. This isn’t just any petrified wood though. Even the bark is preserved, and the “wood” itself is a rainbow of color. I was sorely tempted (I mean sorely tempted), but no, you’re not allowed to remove any petrified wood from the park, so photos were the closest I got to bringing some home.


That's solid crystallized wood, pretty fantastic huh?

This is one of my favorite shots of the day, the polarizing filter does wonders!

Finally we stopped at the Rainbow Forest visitor center which had the largest petrified log in the park, Old Faithful.

As we continued our journey we skirted an amazing thunder storm near Springfield. The sky was dark and ominous, and lightning ripped through the sky in phenomenal patterns, but thankfully we got to watch from a distance without being caught up in all that.

Yesterday evening we stayed in a Best Western Hotel in Roswell New Mexico…don’t know what Roswell is famous for? Extra-terrestrial, UFO Mecca. :) Thank goodness we missed their fair by a few months, that would be something. Yup, that’s me in front of the International Museum of UFO Research.

By the way, these photos were taken by both Dad and I, hope you enjoyed them.