Author Archives: Jim R

About Jim R

Teacher of Science, Astronomy, Nature, among other things

Solar Eclipse | Totality Minus 3 Days

Three days and counting…

How I See It

The Moon is slowly making its way to the east for its date with the Sun. Today is 3 days before eclipse. At 5:58 am, well before sunrise, the waning crescent was high in the eastern sky not far from Venus. Our plan is to drive south into central Missouri with our daughter and two grandchildren. It will be fun to share this unique experience with them. News reports show traffic is already a problem in some areas as people position themselves for their best views. It should not be an issue for us.

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Morning Walk | Yellow Wildflowers

It was a beautiful morning for a walk with temperature in the low 60s and clear sky. The waning moon was visible above the western horizon. It was heading east for the grand solar eclipse on 21 August.

We set out from this location in Solon, Iowa. We walked about two miles west and then headed back. Lake Macbride trail heads west from the parking lot. It is mostly flat as it passes several wooded areas and native prairie restorations. Numerous wildflowers were showy in the prairies. Especially colorful were the yellow ones.

We captured photos of as many different ones as we could find. There might be some duplicates. We made no attempt to ID them. Fellow blogger Eliza Waters offered some IDs which are in the photo descriptions. See her comment below. All photos can be viewed larger for details.

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Hawk on a Light Pole

I just starting walking down the street and looked up. Sitting on the nearby light pole was this hawk staring down at me. The angle was bad to get a positive ID. It didn’t seem large enough for a Red Tail. It seemed more likely a Cooper. The tail was straight down on the opposite side of the pole. I couldn’t get in position to see it. What do you think it was?

Click any image for more detail.

Chicago | Always Fun to Visit

by Melanie and Jim

On our way back to Iowa from southern Ohio, we made a two-night stop in the Chicago area. Before we moved to Iowa in 1992, we lived and worked in the Chicago area. Though we’re glad we don’t live there, it’s always fun to go back, like visiting an old friend.

Chicago offers much to see and do. We had a big day ahead, with some firm plans and a lot of time for spontaneity. Under blue skies and in low 70s temperatures, we were ready to enjoy it.

To make getting around simple, we stayed in the suburb of Oak Park at the Write Inn. It was one block from the birthplace of Hemingway, three blocks from some Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, two blocks from eateries, and three blocks from the ‘L’ train station, our means of getting into the city. Oak Park is also short miles from Brookfield Zoo, where we spent the day before.

First we needed breakfast. The day before we asked a waitress at a Vietnamese restaurant where to get breakfast. She said go to George’s. That was good advice. We had breakfast, dinner, and breakfast the next day at George’s.

To use the L trains, we each bought a 24-hour pass for $10. That allowed us to leave our car parked in the garage used by the hotel. We were at the Loop on State Street within 25 minutes. After a walk of a few blocks, we crossed Michigan Ave and entered Millennium Park to enjoy the beautiful morning and do some people watching.

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Fawn | Hiding in Plain Sight

I stepped out the front door to see if anything was going on in the cul-de-sac. A slight motion caught my eye in front of the house across the way. I watched for a few moments. It was there in the bushes and plantings.

I went back into the house for my camera with a long zoom lens. The fawn rested quietly in the shade. The doe was nowhere to be seen. It remained there several hours. During the first 4 weeks, a fawn is commonly left in grassy protected areas while the doe forages.

The people who live there came home, opened the garage door, drove the car inside, and closed the door. The fawn didn’t budge. It was gone the next morning.

Yellowstone | Sheepeater | Geysers | Lower Falls

by Jim and Melanie

Our second full day in Yellowstone National Park was an active one. We arrived early at the north entrance at Gardiner and waited in line behind a few other vehicles. A mother elk came down a nearby hillside followed by her calf, young, wobbly legged and slow. She took her time and allowed it to stay close. Traffic stopped as they crossed. It was a wonderful start to the day.

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Yellowstone | Northeast Entrance

by Jim and Melanie

Highlights of day 4 of our journey to Yellowstone NP. We stayed overnight after day 3 in Thermopolis, Wyoming. The hot springs there were an attraction to the native residents for centuries. Today they are a tourist attraction. We soaked for a while in the free state park pool. Others cavorted in the commercial facility next door. The flow rate of the springs is much less than in the past.

We headed north to Cody after breakfast. From Cody, Yellowstone visitors usually drive west to enter the park. We chose to drive northwest and enter the park at the Northeast Entrance near Cooke City, Montana at the top center of this map. Later that evening we checked into a B&B north of the park. Click to embiggen for detail.

Google Maps

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