Yosemite Fire Timelapse

There’s a wildfire burning in Yosemite National Park, and on September 7th, I had the chance to do another time lapse of it. This was taken from the Ahwahnee Meadow in Yosemite Valley, from right near Sentinel Dome, and from Glacier Point. The fire is called the Meadow Fire.

Advertisements

Dawn of a New Age

Moon rising over hotelIt has been a while since I’ve made a collage (I think the last one was my Deer Chicago piece) so I was excited to make these collages earlier this week during an art night with some friends.

The following piece is my boyfriend’s favorite. He likes the kid jumping off of the diving board into the pool of space. I think my favorite is the one of the man and the woman with the galaxy behind them. I love how excited the woman is. She is so INTO that galaxy.

I’m curious–do you have a favorite? Which one?

Collage of a pool and space

Woman and man look at galaxy

Woman peers out at galaxy Pool and spaceCollage of Jupiter and a vintage hotelWoman view from below with space in background

Night Photography

Traffic Trails in YosemiteHalf Dome at NightRed Light and Stars Half Dome, Leaves, and Stars Lights and StarsI tried my hand at night photography and discovered something I already knew–that I LOVE night photography. I ended up getting these amazing photos of stars, and sure there is some noise from the high ISO and they’re a little bit fuzzy, but I am incredibly pleased with them as a start.

I can’t wait to learn more and get good at taking pictures of the stars!

Mono Lake

Mono LakeA few weeks ago, we drove over to Mono Lake, a massive salty lake on the eastern border of Yosemite. I had seen the lake from afar before, and I knew it would be pretty, but I was still surprised by the beauty of this place. Around sunset, the sky was a bright hazy glow and the water had become a milky white. It was a stunning sight paired with the distant mountains and the dramatic tufa towers on the shores of the lake.

Tufa at Mono LakeAccording to the Mono Lake Committee website:

Tufa is essentially common limestone. What is uncommon about this limestone is the way it forms. Typically, underwater springs rich in calcium (the stuff in your bones) mix with lakewater rich in carbonates (the stuff in baking soda). As the calcium comes in contact with carbonates in the lake, a chemical reaction occurs resulting in calcium carbonate–limestone. The calcium carbonate precipitates (settles out of solution as a solid) around the spring, and over the course of decades to centuries, a tufa tower will grow. Tufa towers grow exclusively underwater, and some grow to heights of over 30 feet. The reason visitors see so much tufa around Mono Lake today is because the lake level fell dramatically after water diversions began in 1941.

Interesting!

Mono Lake Seagull Mono Lake Tufa Mono Lake Sunset

Yosemite Super Moon

Half Dome Yosemite Super MoonIt’s been ages since I’ve posted because I made the crazy decision to move to California and spend the summer living and working in Yosemite National Park.

That said, I figure it’s time to start sharing photos from my time here.

These are a few of the photos I took during the brilliant super moon last night in Yosemite. It was beautiful!  Trees in Super Moon LightMan Super MoonSuper Moon and Trees

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires Tango

Plaster crumbling from colorful old buildings, rusty iron balconies, black and white tile all cracked and broken, tropical plants so big they might be monsters. These are some of the things you see when you look into the a hidden courtyard in Buenos Aires. These things transport you to another world, a time of the past, and give you a  glimpse at what Argentina might really be like: quiet, nostalgic, and somewhat falling apart.

El Obelisco

After our time in Patagonia, we headed up to Buenos Aires to enjoy the last few days of our vacation. On our first day there, we quickly discovered that the streets of Buenos Aires are quite different from these whispering courtyards. Instead the streets are bustling and modern, with black and yellow taxis zipping by and people, young and old, walking swiftly to unknown destinations. Perhaps they’re on their way to a corner cafe to have a coffee or to an afternoon meeting in the hectic micro-center.

Or maybe they’re just on an afternoon stroll through one of Buenos Aires’ beautiful neighborhoods, each with its own distinct character.

My favorite neighborhoods were San Telmo and Recoleta. San Telmo is located just south of the city center and has a sort of alternative flair, with lots of run down restaurants and antique shops. Peek into any storefront and you might see hundreds of crystal chandeliers dangling from the ceiling. The neighborhood is also the home of a huge the San Telmo market, which occupies an entire city block and is a great place to buy antiques of all kinds, as well as leather goods, fresh veggies, and delicious sandwiches.

La BocaGabino Coria Peñaloza

Nuestra Señora del Pilar

Recoleta, on the other hand is quite different from San Telmo. It’s a beautiful residential neighborhood famous for it’s Parisian-style architecture and many green spaces. We loved strolling through the heart of Recoleta, a series of central plazas full of people selling artisan crafts, street musicians, jugglers, and many residents and tourists relaxing on the grass for a picnic or a bit of yerba mate.

The trees in these plazas are especially amazing. Right when we stepped out of the cab we saw a beautiful group of rubber trees. We went over to take a look at it only to discover that it was one monstrous tree. I later learned that this famous tree, nicknamed Gran Gomero, has branches that span over 150 feet. Huge!

We also enjoyed strolling  through the Recoleta cemetery, which is big enough to get lost in, and were amazed at the size of the mausoleums, each one bigger than the next. Many were falling apart from years of neglect.

LettersLightening StormLa Casa RosadaJim in Cafe

It seems that every block of Buenos Aires has five cafes. We also appreciated that. We spent hours sipping coffees, trying new apperitivos, and people watching, as we tried to decipher what Buenos Aires is really about. We only spent three nights there, not enough to figure it out, but we were definitely enchanted, both by the busy streets and the mysterious courtyards within them.

Perhaps one day we’ll return to discover a little bit more about what Buenos Aires really is.

Patagonia

Perito Moreno Glacier

On Sunday, I got back from an amazing two-week vacation to Argentina. The first stop on our trip was Patagonia to see the natural beauty of the country’s southernmost region. We camped for six nights in total, hiked many, many miles, and saw some of the most glorious views imaginable: massive blue glaciers, soaring peaks, and even the endangered huemul, a deer-like creature native to Patagonia, of which there are only 350 to 600 left in the world.

Jim at Perito Moreno Glacier Jeanne at Perito Moreno GlacierUs In Patagonia Patagonian Countryside Mount Fitz Roy Piedras Blancas Our Camp

Glaciar Grande The Endangered HuemulEmpanada de Cordero Leaving Patagonia

Lake House Bliss

Rocks on IceThis past weekend seven friends and I journeyed northward for a weekend at a lake house that I imagine to be Wisconsin’s most adorable. With its massive stone fireplace, seriously kitschy kitchen, and yards and yards of wood paneling, how could any cabin be better?

Add to that an extremely comfortable leather couch big enough to seat all eight of us, and you’ve got the perfect place to spend a fun weekend with friends.

And it was fun. I laughed so hard I could barely breathe, several times because of repeated impersonations of the “Cheese Doodles Guy.”

Bird HouseShore

Said Cheese Doodles Guy was on a recent Radio Lab episode about the feeling of bliss. In the episode, Cheese Doodles Guy (his real name is Aleksander Gamme) explains that as part of his preparation for a solo trek across Antarctica, he buried caches of food for himself so that he can avoid carrying all his provisions across the continent.  Later, you get to hear Cheese Doodles Guy experience extreme–and I’m talking extreme–happiness when he locates one of the caches of food after months of trekking alone.

Basically he just screams and screams with joy and then, between many Norwegian words, he says the words “Cheese Doodles.”

It’s an amazing clip and since several of us had heard the same Radio Lab episode, we couldn’t help but impersonate his screams and shout “Cheese Doodles” at the top of our lungs. It was so funny.

You can watch a video of Cheese Doodles Guy’s extreme happiness here.

WaterDead LeafDespite all this tomfoolery about the Cheese Doodles Guy, I spent a lot of time over the weekend thinking about what bliss really is. In the Radio Lab episode, they talk about bliss being this supreme state of happiness, almost like a religious experience, where feelings of joy and peace come together to create some amazing moment.

I think I’ve had moments like this. For me, they often result from being in the water. Perhaps in that warmth you feel when you first put on your clothes after a late night swim or during a sit in a hot spring deep within some ancient forest. During experiences like these, I’ve felt deeply at peace and content.

Our HouseOn Sunday night, after our lovely weekend had come to an end, I started to think more about the fact that most of my blissful experiences have a very physical element because of their connection to water. What I’m trying to say is, I think that getting out of a freezing cold mountain lake or relaxing in the warmth of a beautiful  hot spring results in an actual physical change in my body, perhaps the release of endorphins or  serotonin, that allows me to feel a state of bliss.

Huh. I guess this makes me think that I need to start respecting all of my feelings of happiness equally. I need to stop relying on bodies of water for providing these magical moments and realize that if I’m purely happy, it should be good enough to be considered bliss. I shouldn’t need that physical element. That magic.

And so I return to my friends screaming their heads off and pretending to be Cheese Doodles Guy and to all the other deep belly laughs, basketball games, meandering walks, and long talks that we all shared over the past few days.

These experiences all came together to create an amazing weekend that made me truly happy. It was a weekend that I hope to remember as a time of bliss.

Rock on IceFor anyone reading this, please share your comments! Feel free to respond to any of the following questions:

  • What do you think bliss is?
  • Is there a difference between happiness and bliss? What is it?
  • What have been some of your moments of bliss?

Day 366: Elk’s Own

Elks' Own Last night, I made my final creation for my 365 project. Since it was New Year’s Eve, I decided that a fancy beverage would be the perfect thing so I whipped up a batch of Elk’s Own cocktails. I followed the recipe in my Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide but added a bit more sugar so as to mimic the drinks I’ve had at establishments like The Whistler and Scofflaw in Chicago. They turned out pretty good–impressive considering it was my first time ever even using a cocktail shaker–and the port wine in the recipe gave the drinks a lovely color. See below for the recipe.

Jim and a DrinkHere’s Jim enjoying his Elks’ Own and looking rather dashing in his suit.Friend in Party HatChristina was celebrating the night (which was New Year’s Eve and her birthday!)  by dancing around with the flowers her husband gave her. She also wore the party hat I made for her all night. Yay!

RoomiesTo maintain some semblance of order, Christina wrote our name on all of our drinks. Here’s mine next to Jenny’s drink. She’s my roomie now, but she’s moving out at the end of January. I’m going to miss her!

Annnnyways, it was a fun night and a nice way to end a good year. I had many good times with friends and family over these past 12 months (examples: a lovely March campfire in my parents’ backyard, Sunday dinners with friends, an amazing birthday party), and I also feel like I achieved a lot with my 365 project. I made so many things, learned so much, and really proved to myself that I could take on such a difficult challenge.

Thanks so much to all my friends, family, and blog followers for all your support this year! You’ve been wonderful!

Elks’ Own Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 ounces rye whiskey (I used Old Overholt)
  • 3/4 ounces good port wine
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons of simple syrup
  • 1 egg white

Directions

  1. Add all the ingredients to a shaker and shake vigorously until a soft foam forms. About 30 seconds.
  2. Add ice and shake vigorously to cool the drink.
  3. Strain into a small glass and enjoy!