Would You.. Could You.. Hike A Thousand Miles?

“The Mountains Are Calling
And I must Go.”


Curt Mekemson has just left on a thousand mile chunk of a hike that begins in Ashland Oregon, travels south to Mount Whitney, through Siskiyou, Marble, and Sierra Nevada Mountains.This is quite the hike, through some of the most beautiful places in America. Places most people, Americans too,  never will see. Curt Mekemson is  an excellent nature writer, with an eye for detail and a way with words that could convince anyone to go outside to play, to explore, to see the beauty of it all.

Author of  The Bush Devil Ate Sam,  I first came across a batch of stunning photos,  the Burning Man Collection, and have been enjoying Curt’s  writings, adventures,  and photography since. His insatiable curiosity for exploring the planet is matched by his wife Peggy, who sharing his wanderlust, high spirits and a fine camera eye of her own, …makes their website Wandering Through Time and Place  one of the best and most interesting websites to savor and enjoy.  A fellow WordPress Blogger, Curt has in turn been a real source of inspiration, support, and contributor of smart comments for my own, JoHannaMassey.com for several years now.

When it comes to backpacking, Curt Mekemson speaks with experience on provisioning, food considerations, resupply points,  and permits that all need to be planned out and reviewed when undertaking a big or small adventure.  Whether a novice backpacker, a seasoned explorer, or someone wanting to see/learn of the back country of America in almost real time, here’s your invitation:

I’m inviting everyone to join me, tell all your friends and family, co workers, neighbors, and acquaintances too. This is a real big deal hike and I am thrilled for my friend. Let’s tag along this next three months with  Curt Mekemson’s Hike of One Thousand miles. I just think it would be so cool, if a million people worldwide, but especially the WordPress bloggers followed along with Curt Mekemson’s One Thousand Mile Hike.

No matter how huge our numbers swell to, how gaily and  daily we tramp along with Curt, via WordPress, we will ‘leave no trace’ behind us, the lightness of Curt’s steps one for all and all for one!

All my best to each and everyone of you. See you along the trail!


“You Can Observe A Lot By Watching”

“You Can Observe A Lot By Watching”

A quick curving ascent of pavement above the City of Flagstaff Arizona, just before dusk.  A visit to the  Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff Arizona on the day of the Geminoid Meteor Showers.

Here is how the Lowell Observatory describes itself:

Lowell Observatory, founded by Perceival Lowell in 1894, is a private, non-profit institution dedicated to the research and education in astronomy. Home of many important astronomical discoveries including the first evidence of the expansion of the universe and discovery of the planet Pluto., Lowell Observatory continues as an active major research observatory today. Sharing our founder’s conviction that scientist bear an obligation to convey their work in a way that all interested people can appreciate, the Observatory also offers educational programs to school children, and the general public.

Here is how I describe the visit to the Lowell Observatory:

A day to savor as a time so filled to the brim, overflowing with wonder and  cool.  Of humans embracing and chasing curiosity, talent, and the very universe. Being at the Lowell Observatory opened me to both remember and consider anew about just how much bigger the Story unfolding is than my own experience.  A day full up with a strong infusion of inspiration

First we attended lectures on The Solar System, and another Stars and Galaxies. The young women who presented  were knowledgeable, well spoken, and passionate about their love of space and exploration. Learned so much, including that the, much photographed by me, moon was once a part of the earth and broke away;  the three qualifications to be considered a planet are : It is in orbit around the Sun. It has sufficient mass to assume hydro-static equilibrium (a nearly round shape). It must also  “clear the neighborhood” around its orbit which means it is  gravitationally in charge in its vicinity in space.

Next visited, the Putman Collection where the Science Library, artifacts, and collections are offered. Just a glimpse of a few of the displayed treasures:

Including the  centerpiece in the lobby –  Percival Lowell’s 1911 Stevens-Duryea automobile. “Big Red” was Lowell’s state-of-the-art “horseless carriage” which still appears in local parades:

Then to the telescopes to see what is currently in the sky!

The McAllister Telescope, a reflecting telescope with a Cassegrain optical system featuring a 16- inch primary mirror. The largest telescope I have personally ever seen.  The dials and mechanics mesmerize and dare me to figure out how they work together to show the very stars. Once again a Guide to knowledgeably/ enthusiastically explain, and assists in using the telescope. Adrenaline push and a happy dance;  then yet another look  into timelessness  with gratitude and high spirits step out into the cold fresh high altitude pine scented Flagstaff air. A short  walk to The Clark Telescope Dome:

The Clark Telescope Dome was built in 1896 by local bicycle repairmen Godfrey and Stanley Sykes. There is much local Ponderosa Pine in the construction and has the look and feel of love, artistic attention as well as sustainability of  Italian Cathedrals.  The Clark Telescope surprised me with it’s size, dwarfing,  the just minutes ago largest ever I”d seen,  McAllister Telescope. The Clark Telescope built in 1896 was the instrument used when the first evidence of the universe expanding was discovered. To have the opportunity to not only photograph this beautiful piece of equipment, but to watch it in motion as the dome is opened. Consider the Sykes brothers as chains, wheels,  and gears smoothly swing the scope into the place and yet another set of instruments to be adjusted and set. Then the  Guide offers a look, and there I am gone clear through space to see clear to turquoise blue Uranus. That’s right ! No words to use to describe to you the positive sea-change shift that such a look into space gives. Using the telescope that was used to discover the expansion the universe. Can you give me an Amen!

The night continued with a careful drive down Oak Creek Canyon with raccoons,deer, and skunk on the move and the Geminid Meteor Shower in dazzling full swing overhead. The energizing fullness and wonder of this visit to the Lowell Observatory remains.

I wish to take this time to thank you for your support, kind words, and interest in the success of JoHannaMassey.com in 2017. I enjoy visiting with you here, and on your websites whose quality challenge me to do better, teach and inform me daily, surprise me and make me laugh and provide a very real sense of a global community through WordPress. Such a diversity and exchange of ideas and people to appreciate and consider. May each and everyone  of you experience and share Joy and Peace during  this Holiday Season. Again, thank you. – JoHanna

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Dreams and False Alarms

“I pulled into the Cactus Tree Motel
To shower off the dust
And I slept on the strange pillows
Of my wanderlust
I dreamed of 747s
Over geometric farms
Dreams Amelia – dreams and false alarms.”
The high desert sky is big. I’ve seen it cower, awe, inspire, calm, humble, and straighten the shoulders on big guys and small children alike. These big skies will reveal when monsoon is coming, leaving, the heat is on, or off, snow is on the way, and which way the wind blows.  When there are large fires in California,  often enough smoke travels into Arizona, to add layers of colorful filtered light to the big sky sunset over the Mingus Mountains.
In all my years of observing this phenomenon, I admit to being startled by the massive scale of this color filled sunset. First time I have observed the entire big sky filled, and it’s message of just how large and deadly this last series of fires in California have been. The LA Times did a fine piece on where and how to help: How to Help Victims of Northern California Fires


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New Oxford American Dictionary:
scale 3 |skāl| 1 a graduated range of values forming a standard system for measuring or grading something: company employees have hit the top of their pay scales.the full range of different levels of people or things, from lowest to highest: two men at opposite ends of the social scale.a series of marks at regular intervals in a line used in measuring something: the mean delivery time is plotted against a scale on the right.a device having a series of marks at regular intervals in a line used in measuring something: she read the exact distance off a scale.a rule determining the distances between marks on a scale: the vertical axis is given on a logarithmic
scale.2 [in singular] the relative size or extent of something: no one foresaw the scale of the disaster | everything in the house is on a grand scale.[often as modifier] a ratio of size in a map, model, drawing, or plan: a one-fifth scale model of a seven-story building | an Ordnance Survey map on a scale of 1:2500.(in full scale of notation) Mathematics a system of numerical notation in which the value of a digit depends upon its position in the number, successive positions representing successive powers of a fixed base: the conversion of the number to the binary scale.
Photography the range of exposures over which a photographic material will give an acceptable variation in density.
3 Music an arrangement of the notes in any system of music in ascending or descending order of pitch: the scale of C major.

#Wordless Wednesday

The Primitive Records

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Stardate 2371.4:  Museum of Exploration: Laniakea Glactic Supercluster Exhibit. 

” The primitive records, images, and carbon based artifacts in this exhibit  (21st Century Earth) were thought to be the property of an individual of the species who called themselves  ‘homo sapiens’, from a planet they named Earth.  Acquired during 3rd exploration of the Laniakea Glactic Supercluster. “

In response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Earth

Today’s Music: David Bowie of course!  Life On Mars


Few People Know What Fish Think

“The fish in the creek said nothing.
Fish never do.
Few people know what fish
Think about injustice,
Or anything else.”

― Ursula K. Le Guin, Catwings

One of many afternoons spent at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Sweet Terry and I  would immerse ourselves in the mysteries of the ocean. A world-class marine educational attraction nestled on beautiful Yaquina Bay in Newport, the Oregon Coast Aquarium is surrounded by forest and estuary where many of the species exhibited within the Aquarium flourish in their native habitat. I especially love the ‘shark tunnel’ I call it, where you can walk through a clear tunnel with exhibited sharks and fish swimming all around. There are both inside and outside exhibits. A must see are the otter and sea lion exhibits, the octopus, and the wonderful groupers. It’s a peaceful place, and the exhibits are well maintained, volunteers are about to answer questions, and the exhibits change frequently enough to merit returning time and time again.

Today’s Music: Ringo Starr and the Roundheads- Octopuses Garden


Inside This Contradiction Are The Animals

“All zoos, even the most enlightened, are built upon the idea both beguiling and repellent—the notion that we can seek out the wildness of the world and behold its beauty, but that we must first contain that wildness. Zoos argue that they are fighting for the conservation of the Earth, that they educate the public and provide refuge and support for vanishing species. And they are right. Animal-rights groups argue that zoos traffic in living creatures, exploiting them for financial gain and amusement. And they are right. Caught inside this contradiction are the animals themselves, and the humans charged with their well-being.”
Thomas French, Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives

Never been a big fan of zoos.  Used to take my own growing up children to the Philadelphia Zoo. That was many years ago and I recall  a grim place of gray dungeons, bad smells, and too many people with children needing naps. I trust there have been huge changes there since my long ago visits.

My  recent visit to the San Diego Zoo in the US was quite the surprise. So clean, laid out to provide the animals more realistic habitats, didn’t smell bad at all, and there were many places for weary children and parents to take a shaded pause. A visit to the Denver Zoo in Colorado USA with the Grand Children  is a perfect day for Sweet Terry and I. They love that Zoo so much they are Members. There are volunteers and staff  positioned strategically with a wealth of knowledge, enthusiasm for teaching, and patience. The Grands  will bring up details they have learned days after a zoo visit, and their interest has spilled over into a keen interest in the animals natural habitats and preservation of those habitats.

Since the  40 Amur Leopards, 60 Javan Rhinoceros, 80 Panthers, 100 Red Wolfs, 350 Asiatic Lions that are left on the planet are part of a very long list of endangered species, it is important to get our children passionate about protecting their planet and the fellow species on it. The Grands demonstrate to me a zoo can play a role in doing just that.  I wonder about the bigger picture, of there being habitat available for these creatures to roam free, of our right as humans to destroy those habitats, or even to cage creatures. Still, it was just a perfect day at the San Diego Zoo. and I actually eagerly anticipate the next time we  share the Denver Zoo with the Grands.

Today’s Music: At The Zoo Simon & Garfunkel

Related: Too Big For The Tub