Thursday, August 29, 2013

Colorado Cloud Atlas: Big Sky Country!

Montana is often referred to as Big Sky Country.
But I think that Colorado gives Montana
a run for its money when it comes to big sky!

Every day in Colorado is a glorious free show.
All you have to do is look up.

Big Sky Country, Colorado Style

Last Friday as I walked to Parkway Bar and Grill
for the Ever~Patient's and my Friday Night Date Night,
I was treated to some spectacular clouds.


I often see altocumulus-castellanus clouds on sunny days.  
They can portend thunderstorms later in the day.
These clouds have turreted or tower-like projections 
that billow up from the base of the clouds, 
and they can be very beautiful.  

Most clouds form in the troposphere, 
the lowest part of Earth's atmosphere.
Altocumulus-castellanus clouds are mid-level clouds 
that occur at 6,500 - 20,000 feet or 2,000 - 6,000 meters.
Source:  Wikipedia 

Cumulus Congestus

Sure enough, as I walked to where I could see toward the west,
the altocumulus-castellanus clouds
quickly graded into cumulus congestus clouds.

These clouds, also known as towering cumulus,
are found in the mid-level of the troposphere.
Their tops look like cauliflower,
and they can produce light rain.
Source: windows2universe  

Cumulus Congestus

Talk about cauliflower in the sky!
A cloud like this makes me walk very fast!

Cauliflower in the Sky!

I made it to Parkway safe and dry ~
No big, billowing cumulonimbus showed up this time.

Late Monday afternoon,
it was a story with a different ending.

Cumulonimbus clouds rolled in, 
the skies opened up,
lightning flashed,
and thunder exploded.

Classic Cumulonimbus Cloud
Taken from Our Deck in August 2009

Cumulonimbus clouds 
are very tall and very large clouds.
They can extend throughout the troposphere 
from 6,500 - 60,000 feet or 2,000 - 16,000 meters.
Source:  Wikipedia

Cumulonimbus clouds are often found
together with low-level cumulus clouds.
Cumulus clouds develop 
below cumulonimbus clouds
at an altitude of less than 
6,500 feet or 2,000 meters.
Source:  Wikipedia

Do you know that in Colorado we have a monsoon?
Our monsoon is part of the annual monsoon that occurs
in the southwestern USA and northwestern Mexico.

Our monsoon typically begins in mid-July
and lasts until the end of August.

A shift in winds to the south
results in more moisture moving into Colorado
from the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

It doesn't rain every day, 
but rain takes place in a pattern of bursts and breaks.
Source:  NOAA

When we get a monsoon rainstorm,
it can be violent with heavy rainfall,
strong thunder and lightning, 
and sometimes shredding hail.

Flash floods can ravage the landscape,
especially in areas that have recently burned.

 Manitou Springs, Flash Flood, August 2013

Usually the biggest excitement 
during the monsoon rains 
is golfers fleeing the golf course.

Sometimes rain can pound down
when blue sky is close by.
Sometimes it can be raining 
on one side of our house
and not on the other!

Rain in the Distance,
No Rain Here,
Rain on the Backside of Our House (above)

And some days, like on Monday,
something special, almost magical,

I wish my camera could capture 
the beauty of our Colorado rainbows! 

Big Sky Country ~ Colorado style is spectacular!
And so are unexpected rainbows in your life!

An Unexpected Rainbow on My Grocery List!

This song, like a rainbow, can brighten any day:

US3 ~ Cantaloop
Source:  YouTube emimusic

Friday, August 23, 2013

Robin in the Sky ~ No Diamonds

I try to remember to take my camera everywhere I go.
I never know what I will chance upon.

Yesterday, squeezed between household chores
and a computer lesson at the Apple store,
I went on a fast 2.5 mile walk 
on a grey, cloudy morning.

I rounded a corner and came across serendipidy ~
robins hanging out in a small puddle!

I love robins!
My friend Kay, who has a blog full of heart and joy
and who loves birds,
posted on brown thrashers the other day.

She asked the question (which I forgot to answer!):
What was the first bird that you remember as a child 
that made you fall in love with birds?

The first bird I remember was a robin,
and I fell in love with birds immediately.
They have brought me joy all of my life,
and I have never tired of watching them.

So whispering "Please Stay!" I snapped and snapped!
Hope that you enjoy these photos as much as I do!

Kay is celebrating two years of writing her blog
with a giveaway ~ 
maybe you would like to check out her blog
and participate in her giveaway:

I have two other blogging friends 
who post incredible photographs of birds.
If you love birds, too, 
you will enjoy their  bird and nature photography!

Noushka in France:  1000-pattes/1000-tracks

Mark in Canada:  The Black River Blog

These sweet robins enjoying their puddle 
absolutely remind me 
of Rihanna's and Mikki Ekko's song Stay.
(And if anyone gets tattoos right, it's Rihanna!)

Have a serendipitous day!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Spaceport Colorado!

I live in the amazing city of Aurora, Colorado!
(Right above the sideways capital D in the lower middle of the map.)

City of Aurora Outlined in Purple
Source:  Google Maps

I first knew Aurora as an Oil Patch bedroom city east of Denver,
but over the past few decades it has become 
an amazing Front Range city in its own right.

Nearby Aurora City Park

Heritage Eagle Bend, Aurora
with Mount Evans in the Background

Among the many things I love about Aurora 
is that it's on its way to its own, honest-to-God spaceport!!!!!


Aurorans situated on the high plains 
to the east of the Denver Metro Area
are at the leading edge of commercial suborbital flight!

Well, technically, 
Front Range Airport is in Watkins
just northeast of Aurora,
but the city of Aurora is working hard
to make commercial suborbital flight
out of Front Range Airport a reality.
In the very near future!

Sign me up!!!!!
Source:  The Aurora Magazine:

2028:  That's the year!  
You could take off from Front Range Airport
and be in South Africa in about two and a half hours!

John Glenn returned to space at 77 ~
In 2028, I could go for "wave riding" 
by skipping along the Earth's atmosphere
to experience suborbital flight and weightlessness,
to see Earth as a ball,
and to be checking out Africa's wildlife in no time!

Hummm!  Just one problem ~
Fifteen years to win the Lotto!
The price of a ticket will not be cheap!

In March, 2013, it looked like 
Spaceport Colorado might be kaput.
The FAA was looking to cut costs because of sequestration
and considered closing Front Range Airport's control tower.
After lobbying by congressional members,
the control tower was spared.
Woop!  Woop!
The goal of our spaceport is for real!!!!!

What do you think about space travel?
I thought for sure by now 
we'd have colonies on the moon
and astronauts on Mars.
I am very disappointed with where we are,
because I believe humanity's future is in space.

Astronaut James Irwin of Apollo 15
on the Moon
The mountain in the background about three miles or five kilometers away is Hadley Delta 
with an elevation of approximately 13,124 feet or 4,000 meters ~
Doable if you've bagged a Fourteener!
Source:  Wikipedia

Moon Colony:  Lunar Mining Facility
Artist Pat Rawlins for NASA's Exploration Office
Source:  Wikipedia

Mars Colony
NASA Illustration
Source:  Wikipedia

On the PBS NewsHour last night (8/19/2013),
anchor Judy Woodruff discussed 
NASA's latest mission ~
Not to the moon  :(
Not to Mars  :(
But to an asteroid???

NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission is
to find, rendezvous with, capture, and relocate 
an asteroid to a stable point near the moon.
(To view the PBS NewHour report click here.) 

However, when you think about it,
being able to reach an asteroid is an important goal.
What if an asteroid were on a collision course with Earth?
It's happened before and will likely happen again.

Chicxulub Takes Out the Dinosaurs!
Artist:  Donald E. Davis  

NASA actually has a Near Earth Object Program 
to track asteroids and comets that pass close to Earth.
NASA doesn't think that we are in danger anytime soon; 
non-the-less, it's keeping an eye on NEOs.

Which brings me to my all-time favorite 
asteroid disaster film:  Armageddon.


Source:  Wikipedia

Do I care if the critics panned it? ~ NOT!
What can I say ~
I worked in the Oil Patch on drilling rigs.
I have tremendous admiration 
for the dangerous and necessary work drillers and roughnecks do.

Driller Jack Taylor and Me, 1981

 DNB Crew:  Trenton, Donnie, Mike,
Don (Driller) and Claude (Tool Pusher), 1981

How could I not appreciate Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis)
and his crew of deep-core drillers?
And doesn't Arwen get around ~ 
beautiful daughter of Elrond and Tyler!
While the movie had its share of scientific flaws, it was great fun!

And how about Aerosmith's biggest hit
I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing 
One of the great love songs!

Yup!  I live in an amazing city with an amazing future.
And I don't wanna miss a thing!
What do you look forward to in the future?

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Damned Mountain Can't Read!

Do you like to fly?
I love to fly!

Our home is located in the flight path
for Buckley Air Force Base.
Many days when I'm walking,
I get to see its F-16s flying overhead.
I always have to stop and watch them streaking by.
I've learned to look well ahead of the thundering sounds
to spot these beautiful birds.

I'd fly on one in a heartbeat if I had the chance!
Would you?

There are no better days than those when I wake up
and head to Denver International Airport (DIA) 
to FLY ~

E-470 on the Way to DIA

Presidential Supply Plane 
Takes Off from Buckley Air Force Base,
Aurora, Colorado 
After Presidential Visit, April 2013
(Photographed from Moving Car on E-470 on the Way to DIA)

I always get a thrill 
when I see DIA's iconic outline 
appear on the horizon.

DIA's Tented Roof and its Killer Horse

Just get me through security and into the sky!
Just give me a window seat with a clear view.
I have great fun photographing everything.

SWA Baggage Handlers DIA

Do you love the feeling 
of the jet engines powering up 
and the faster and faster roll down the runway 
to that magical moment of liftoff?

A Southwest Plane Comes in for a Landing,
As We Begin Our Roll Down the Runway
(Really SWA you could keep your windows cleaner for photographers like me!)

And we're up, up, and away!


On this flight to Reno we headed west over the Rockies.
Very little rock and roll headed west,
but the turbulence heading east off the Rockies
to land at DIA can be exciting!

Boulder, Colorado, and Its Flatirons

Our flight path took us over Boulder,   
and I snagged a shot of the Flatirons.
The tilted Flatirons take their name
from the flat, metal irons 
that pioneers heated on their stoves to press their clothes.

These conglomerate sandstones of the Fountain Formation 
are 290 to 296 million years old 
and were forced into their present position
during the Laramide Orogeny 35 to 80 million years ago.
The materials in these rocks eroded from the Ancestral Rockies ~
the Rockies that were here before our present Rockies!
How cool is that???? 

The Fountain Formation is found in numerous places
along Colorado's Front Range 
including at such well-known locations as
Garden of the Gods, Roxborough State Park, 
and Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

Whenever I fly I snap loads of photographs from my window seat.
On our way to Hawaii last May I happened to catch
one of my most favorite shots from the window of a plane.

The Continental Divide and Something Else!

Huh?  You may be thinking ~ 
just like the Ever-Patient Terry.
That's exciting???

Well, if you look closely 
from the lower left and the lower right,
you will see I-70 disappearing under the Continental Divide.
I caught both entrances 
to the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel!
Try that at tens of thousands of feet and moving very fast!

I always marvel at this tunnel when I drive through it.
It is an amazing engineering feat.

The tunnel consists of two bores:
Interstate 70 West passes through the Eisenhower bore 
which was the first one to open on March 8, 1973.
The westbound Eisenhower tunnel 
is 1.7 miles or 2.7 kilometers long.

Entering the Westbound Eisenhower Bore

I-70 East passes through the Johnson bore 
which opened in late December, 1979.
The eastbound Johnson tunnel is a few feet longer than the other. 

Entering the Eastbound Johnson Bore

The tunnels save drivers the 9.5 mile route over Loveland Pass.
The west bore reaches a maximum elevation 
of 11,158 feet or 3,401 meters above sea level.
The Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel 
is the longest and highest mountain tunnel 
in the USA's Interstate Highway System.

Through the Tunnel

Constructing both sides of the tunnel was challenging.
Boring under the continental divide
through granite, gneiss, and schist 
proved difficult for men and machines at such a high elevation. 

Workers discovered fault lines 
as they worked on the Eisenhower bore
and slipping occurred along those fault lines.
Although emergency steps were taken 
to prevent cave-ins and collapsing of the tunnels, 
nine workers died during their construction.

Commented one frustrated engineer:
"We were going by the book, 
but the damned mountain couldn't read." 

For a Map of I-70 and the Eisenhower Tunnel click below.

Snapping a photograph of a tunnel 
disappearing under a mountain range 
that separates water flowing into the Pacific Ocean
from water flowing into the Atlantic Ocean 
and the Gulf of Mexico?

I don't know about you,
but I think that's pretty damn cool!

Give me a plane, a camera, a window seat,
and clear skies ~ maybe cloudy skies,
and I can entertain myself endlessly!

:) !!!!!

Whenever I take-off on a plane, I'm singing, "Time for me to fly!"