Mt. Pemigewasset

A gorgeous day for a hike.

Andy and I climbed little Mt. Pemigewasset this morning, striding up a well-beaten path to the granite outcrops that provide grand views to the south and some between-trees peeks at the high peaks of the Franconia Range. There was a fluffy inch of fresh powder on top of last week’s crust, and another foot or two of older powder below the crust. As long as we stayed on the beaten path, our footing was fine (with microspikes)… but whenever we stepped off the path, we broke through the crust and sank to our knees. And step off we did! because we passed hikers by the dozens (my guess is 80-100 people) on this popular two-mile trail. A Sunday with bright sunshine and warm temps (20ºF), on a short easy trail to a spot with grand views, is bound to draw the crowds. Indeed, we were lucky to even find a parking space at the base.

David and Andy on Mt. Pemigewasset, Franconia Notch, NH.

There are a few more photos in the gallery. Compare with my visit to Pemigewasset last August.

Distance: 4 miles
Time: 1h50
Gain: 2552′

Icy soap bubbles

Not easy!

Inspired by a photograph I found online, I’ve experimented with soap bubbles in freezing conditions… they can turn to ice and persist quite a while. It’s harder than it looks! Here is my best early attempt – check the gallery for a slo-mo video too.

Soap bubble in freezing conditions.

I made bubble solution with water, Dawn dish soap, and an extra dose of glycerin for resilience. I found a fat straw and used it to blow bubbles directly onto a surface of snow – here, the railing of the deck. This photo is with my iPhone; last week I tried some with the Nikon D500 but, for now, I’m still learning the mechanics… blow a bubble, quickly set down the straw, pickup the camera, get into position, and snap a few shots before the bubble bursts. Repeat many times!

I need to find a better location – out of the wind, with a less-busy background, and where I can stand but not have myself (or the camera) reflected in the bubble.

Last week I tried this in colder temperatures (6ºF) and some bubbles would freeze (turn to ice) and stick around for 10 minutes or more, like those below.

Soap bubble in freezing conditions.

Tesla… not

A month of body work awaits!

Sadly, I lost my brand-new Tesla one week ago.

damage to my Model Y after another driver rear-ended me.

Well, to be more precise, my Tesla is now in the shop, after a distracted driver rear-ended me last Thursday at a remote intersection in Vermont. (Nobody was hurt.) I’ve spent the last week on the phone with Tesla, two insurance companies, and a couple of body shops trying to make arrangements. Not easy!

As it turns out, there are no Tesla-approved body shops in either Vermont or New Hampshire, so the closest realistic option was to tow my car about 20 miles from the accident to a garage, and then 160 miles from that garage to the body shop near Boston. Tesla cars require special training and equipment to repair, because of the high-voltage electronics and because of the aluminum body components.

On the other hand, a major advantage of Tesla cars is that they have cameras all around, always recording;* I was able to pull the USB memory stick after the accident, giving me a several dramatic views of the incident. Check out the gallery for two photos and two brief videos.

Now I’m in this Toyota RAV4 SUV rental car. Very odd blue!

* If you’re really into this stuff, check out the YouTube Channel Wham Bam TeslaCam for dramatic video captures by Tesla cars around the world. Ironically, I was watching video from that channel before I went out last Thursday.

Coyote party

A graphic reminder of the circle of life.

This weekend I woke in the middle of the night to a loud party just up the river. It was clearly a pack of coyotes, howling and yipping excitedly, and continued for perhaps ten minutes. Clearly, something big had happened in the coyote world! So the next day, as I was driving down the road, I looked out across the ice and saw what I expected: a large group of crows picking at a deer carcass, whatever was left after the coyotes had had their fill. Today, there was little left (below, and two more photos here). No scavengers were out there today, so I presume all the edible parts are gone.

Deer carcass out on the river ice – killed by coyotes and picked clean by many scavengers.

The site was perhaps 10 meters out from shore, right in front of one of my neighbor’s houses. She happened to be out shoveling snow as I walked by today. “Yesterday was a pretty dramatic scene,” she said, “as various scavengers competed for access to the remains. Murders and murders of crows* came by; even the local bald eagle tried to elbow his way in for a piece of the action.” She said she had snowshoed out onto the ice for a closer look; I chose to stay on shore and use my 500mm lens to snap my photos.

* yes, a “murder of crows” is the collective noun for a group of crows. [Wikipedia]

Shedding snow

Avalanches off our roof.

A few years ago we put a standing-seam metal roof on our house. They are more durable than asphalt shingles and do not accumulate snow or form ice dams. Well, they do accumulate snow during colder periods, like the last week, but when it gets warm (like today), that snow slides slowly off, often in huge sheets. Whump! it hits the ground. When Pam re-did the decking, a few years ago, she had the clever idea to make a section of the deck fold up against the house, allowing the snow to fall through to the ground below. I’ve written about this before – but today I captured a brief video for you. These are small, compared to what they can often be! The whole house shakes several times every minute, as this snow load drops off.

Ultrapot

A new cooking opportunity!

A couple of years ago we bought one of these newfangled multi-function cooking pots – specifically, a Müeller Ultra Pot. But it was just a couple of months ago that I realized the incredible potential of this device, when I discovered this new cookbook from Urvashi Pitre, Indian Instant Pot. As many of you know, I love Indian food and have refined my ability to make a very small number of Indian dishes… but with this cookbook, and this cook pot, I could do a lot more. Read on to see what I’ve tried so far!

Continue reading “Ultrapot”

Retroblog – Monkey bars

They’re very savvy.

When we lived in Bangalore we would occasionally encounter the resident band of monkeys – actually Bonnet Macaques – as they passed through the neighborhood, seeking any possible way to sneak into apartments and steal food. At least once, one pushed open the front door and came traipsing across the living room floor. We heard from others that these savvy critters knew how to find and open refrigerators. Check out this a pair of blog posts (and associated photo galleries) from November 2008!

Bonnet Macaques raid the rooftop and atrium of our apartment building at IISc.

Snow fleas

An early appearance of snow fleas.

When I was out skiing last week, on a sunny day in Hanover, I came across some bootprints in the snow … with little black specks hopping around inside. Snow fleas!

Snow fleas between my skis. Hanover.

This sighting was unusual, I thought, because I’ve never seen snow fleas so early in the season. They usually appear in March or April, when the air warms above the deep snowpack. This day it was not that warm – hovering around freezing – and there were only a few snow fleas. (Often they are so plentiful the snow is nearly covered!)

Snow fleas are tiny.

The thing is, they’re not even fleas, or even insects! They are springtails, and have a fascinating ability to live in freezing conditions. Coincidentally, a local naturalist came across snow fleas last week, too, and posted a short video.