Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gone to St. Louis, brb...

WAD will be on hiatus while Guy and I drive to the heart of Kansas tonight ahead of the Impenetrable Icy Wall of Death that appears to be bearing down on Denver and the Front Range tonight. We'll stay in Kansas tonight and make the rest of the drive tomorrow ahead of the snow. Yes, we'll be careful. Yes, we'll call when we arrive/make landfall both nights. yes, I got Guy a cashmere sweater from Nordstrom's for Christmas. Yes, it fit. No, I didn't misjudge his size and buy him a large, which looks like a skintight "skinny" sweater like I usually do, rendering him hipster-like and forcing him to hide it in the back of his closet until we make a Goodwill run.

Back next week with more surprising tales of gossip, rumors, performance and pay reviews, and general mayhem.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Visual Inspiration: Shopping with Mom at Thanksgiving

I know, I know--I'm busier than a cat covering crap on a terrazzo floor right now, but I had to post a few pics of being out with Mom at the local mall during the post-Thanksgiving shopping hullaballoo.

Me: Ooo, that's cool! Can you make that?
Mom: The fuck you mean "can I make tha"...of course I can make that. I just have to adjust a pattern I bought in 1985.
Me: Those are big words from a woman wearing a stocking cap that looks like cat ears.
Mom: Bite me. My head's cold.

Me: Yeah, well, can you make that?
Mom: Nah, it's a knit, and you can't sew a knit. You have to knit a knit.
Me: Can't really wear a bra with that dress, can you?
Mom: And it's a thin knit. So it's a knit for nitwits.

Mom: Now I can make the hell out of this.
Me: Ooo, wonder if we can find that fabric at the fabric store tomorrow!
Mom: If we do, Imma get my sew on.
Me: [looks around] That saleslady is looking at us funny.
Mom: Act like you're taking a picture of me but get the jacket in the picture. You buy me the taffeta and you can have this.

Me: Mommy, look! Formal shorts!
Mom: [sighs] Christ almighty. An abomination.
Me: I bet I could rock those formal shorts.
Mom: [looking at me as I snapped the photo] Your short ass should be so lucky.
Me: What? I have nice legs.
Mom: Yeah they're nice, but you have the inseam of a dachsund.
Me: [mock offended] Mommy! How could you say such a thing to your dear Pixie?!
Mom: Cuz I'm the mommy, that's how.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Back after these messages...

Sorry folks, I'm on my way out of town for a business trip and haven't had time to collect my thoughts for a decent post lately. More when I return...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Well, so much for that break.

I posted recently about how I was looking forward to being back at 40 hours a week for a month or so, but recent events leaving me not so sure I can get the break I've needed. I was put on a small hospital project to do some conceptual and clinical design on the front end, but then another project kicked loose with an extremely accelerated schedule for conceptual design/early SD. Last week, we were given the go-ahead on conceptual design for two more small hospitals. Guess who's slated to work on at least one of them?

I mentioned to DA partner Bosley, with whom I'll be working again, that I have over a week of vacation time that I'm "supposed" to burn off by the end of the year, to which he replied, "Oh, don't worry, I'll make sure Accounting carries it over." Um...that was meant to tell you that I was really hoping to not be in the office for a week, ummm.... [shifting uncomfortably from one foot to the other] I really was hoping for that last week off so that I could take that time to do a few things around the house, plus just unwind during the shortest days of the year. It seems so odd that as architects we design for our buildings to respond to the climate and the seasons, but we don't allow our own bodies to do so. It's been a helluva year with Gestalt's Uber MOB, and I needed a month of just doing what I had to and going home so that I could start right back at it, 90 mph, in early January as I knew I would have to do. But alas, early January has leaked into early December.

If you're wanting to comment on this post with something along the lines of "well, many people would love to be as busy as you right now, count your blessings, those are the breaks with moving up the ladder like you've been this year," you can save it for someone who isn't burned the fuck out and exhausted from having lots of responsibility and little to no authority. I need to put my oxygen mask on before assisting others. I need a little rest now and again, and spending one week out of 52 in Yellowstone isn't going to cut it. And regardless of whether I'm an intern or an architect or a project manager or a partner, everyone needs a break now and again. There's nothing wrong with admitting one's humanity and occasional need for rest. The earth rests, and sometimes humans need to rest too.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Monday Visual Inspiration: Thankful indeed, but always looking up

From the trip home to Georgia for Thanksgiving:

One of the new kittens is thankful for Lenny. Here, they both sit in my lap while the kitten puts her wee floofy tabby paw on Lenny's big white one.

Mom is thankful for the new kittens, ReeRee and Dot. Here she snorgles Dot (I think) while showing me the beef jerky she bought Guy for his Christmas present from a Pilot store.

Shirley is thankful for her squeaky mousey that she has claimed as hers whenever she comes in the house, which is now everyday. We're all thankful for Shirley, who has made a near-full recovery from getting hit by a car a couple of months ago. (An SUV barreling down the road clipped Shirley straight on the side of her head and knocked her over. El Seebeno saw the accident happen and was able to take the pup straight to the vet, where they gave her some anti-stroke medicine that probably saved her life. The SUV that hit her didn't even slow down.)

I'm thankful for Guy's new project and for the fact that Design Associates has started hiring again and has several new projects in the house and in the pipeline. While I'm glad for what I have (and for what I've been able to hang onto over the past few rough years), I'm also thankful for the confidence to ask for more: a raise, a promotion, a new role on projects. I've asked Sven and Howie about making some of these things happen, and it seems like some good things might be coming my way, but I won't be holding my breath or betting on it until I see it (I don't want to jinx myself).

Being thankful, I'm finding, means that you can appreciate what you have but not be complacent about having better, about receiving new/more blessings that you deserve or have earned. It means to acknowledge and embrace the goodness you have in your life, both materially and spiritually, knowing that in some ways that's enough. But gratitude also means accepting more into your life--being willing to accept good things that come your way, even if sometimes you have to ask for those things. Fingers crossed that everyone else out there has these kinds of blessings coming to them as well.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Visual Inspiration: (Funny) signs o' the times

There are plenty of websites that make fun of and showcase funny signs (WIN! and There I Fixed It come to mind), but while Guy and I fly back from Georgia today I wanted to share a few I've seen recently out and about. Little moments that make me laugh--some unintentional, and some meant to be clear and yet funny).

Restroom in the Cherry Creek Library. Meddle not in the affairs of English majors, for thou art ignorant and do not possess a red pen.

Sign on the door of a coffee/pastry shop in Cherry Creek. Fine, I'll go go poop and pee without paying in the Whole Foods across the street, then.

Sign on some paints in a craft shop in a historical district in St. Louis. Gotta watch out for marauding bands of historical sticklers....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgivin', y'all!

Guy and I are getting on a plane today to fly to Georgia for Thanksgiving (a Thursday flight was the only way to get the ticket price to a reasonable amount). We considered not going to Georgia for the holiday because Thanksgiving flying is more painful than sitting front row at a Miley Cyrus-Justin Bieber double-bill concert, but a) I like as well as love my family, and b) my sister hasn't been able to fly out to see me for nearly two years. So in order for me to enjoy my peeps and for Kitty and me to spend some sista-time, I must needs get my behind on a plane.

An unintended good consequence of flying on Thanksgiving is that we have our Thursday festivities on Friday, effectively bowing out of the Black Friday nonsense. Guy gets to sprawl on Mom's sofa with three cats on him and watch some football, and we annoy Mom in the kitchen while El Seebeno putters around in the yard with the dogs--not a frenzied shopper or overpriced plastic-thingy to buy in sight. Later in the weekend we might leave El Seebeno and Guy at a bar while we gals go doodling through a fabric store (again, mostly to annoy Mom) and then hang out at the farm to make Christmas cookies. Should be a good time, indeed. Here's hoping your holiday is a good time too, wherever and with whomever you may be!

Monday, November 21, 2011


We recently had a web-blocking/censoring-thingy type of software put on all the computers in our office. The idea was that the partners of DA and the head of IT/Dungeon Master wanted to make sure that we capped access to anything potentially flammable (political sites and porn sites, but then I repeat myself), and they wanted to prevent streaming of data so that the internet had bandwidth available for when we needed to download something from an FTP site. Overall, it's not terrible, but it's pretty annoying. For starters, we were working on a job for a commercial client (a distillery), and we couldn't even access their website because it had to do with alcohol. Excuse me? We're architects--everything we do has to do with alcohol. We also are unable to access YouTube, which means I can't watch my sister's chicken and kitteh videos, but those in the office that use SketchUp can't access the tutorial videos that SketchUp posts on YouTube. So much for trying to learn something.

Because sites like Twitter and Facebook are also blocked, we on the front lines think it's not just about bandwidth but also about funwidth. It would seem that one of the goals of this is to stop access to websites where people might waste time, but apparently whoever installed this software has forgotten that people have been wasting time at work long before Facebook was invented. The internet screening software has a fancy name, but we in the trenches call it Funblocker.

Picture the scene: a Friday afternoon with Pixie, Intern Kimmy, and Ingrid, a fellow architect who also happens to be a lesbian (a fact that will be more meaningful in a moment).

Ingrid: Kimmy, when you build models in SketchUp, where do you get your site from?
Kimmy: Um...Google Earth is your best bet, but it might be blocked.
Ingrid: 'Kay. I wonder if Funblocker will...[mouse clicking] you gotta be kidding me!
Pixie: Seriously? Is Google Earth blocked?
Kimmy: Yeah, I've had that experience too. But you can click that button and file a request to have the site unblocked and they'll unblock it for you.
Pixie: What, are they worried you're gonna spend half your day on Google Earth or something?
Ingrid: The hell would I do on it? [clicking through various windows on Funblocker's appeal website]
Pixie: You could play a helluva game of Farmville, I guess.
Ingrid: Okay, it's asking me to label what the site's content pertains to...[scrolling] Accounting? Advertising? Alcohol? Oh, if only...wait, "Homosexuality?"
Kimmy: That's a category?!
Pixie: [looking over Ingrid's shoulder] Ooh, say that Google Earth can be categorized as "Homosexuality"!
Ingrid: Hell yeah! [pretends to type] "I want...the gayest mapping site...I can have. MapQuest isn'!"
Pixie and Kimmy: [doubled over laughing]
Ingrid: [still pretending to type] "I to use...Google import a site...into my model which...I am modeling in FlameUp."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Visual Inspiration: Things are looking up

Skylight in the shower in a guest room at the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House, near Death Valley, CA.

After having finished my CD deadline and a huge addendum deadline for Gestalt's Uber MOB, I'm finally feeling like I'm coming up for air. It looks like I'll be doing some design work on a small healthcare project we just scored, plus I'll be working on some big overall stuff for Design Associates' healthcare practice (some marketing, some organization of a database of all of our healthcare projects under a certain size, etc.) I'll be hopping in and out of the CA on Uber MOB as questions come up about the departments I worked on, but mercifully I won't be leading the day-to-day CA on the project. While I'm excited to work on all these things, it also looks like at least for the next couple of months, I'll be back at about 40 hours a week. That is strangely the part to which most I look forward. I need a little break as we wind down towards the winter solstice and I start putting my efforts towards a few visits back home as well as taking better care of the house and myself (and my two evil kittehs, one of whom appears to have put on a lot of weight in the past year).

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

O yayz! Iz Kitteh's Birfday! Lolz!

YAYZ! It's mai sister's birfday! Wishing luv and lulz and kittehs and a better job than what she's having to do now and a munniez and naps and MOAR KITTEHS!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Next on The Bachelorette: Pixie cleans the house

Guy left Sunday for a week-long trip for work, and I suddenly found myself in a quiet condo--no football on TV, so beeping and clicking of playing a video game on the computer, no shuffling through the house occasionally to get some Kool-Aid from the fridge or see what I was reading/doing/fiddling with. After I kissed him goodbye following a quick breakfast at Einstein's, I was met with a wall of strange, discomforting silence. So I did the only thing that felt right--I called my sister and started cleaning the house.

Guy has gone on business trips before, but it's been a long time (maybe two years, at least?) since he's been on one. Usually, those business trips are overnight--gone on Wednesday, back late on Thursday. I was now staring Guylessness in the face for five days, which was practically unthinkable for some reason. It was almost embarrassing to admit, especially since I had initially greeted the news of his trip with some relief. I figured some time apart is always good for us, since we do spend a lot of time together, snuggled down in the TV room every evening and within 20 feet of each other most of the weekends. I figured, with him out of the house for a stretch, I might get some cleaning done (me and my cleaning fetish!) and I won't have to watch whatever nonsense is on TV--sports, science shows, more sports, or the latest aliens/Doomsday show on History Channel, which has of late become enamored with alien-based and apocalypse-based programming.

So I talked to my sister for a while, and we went over everything that has happened to us in the past two weeks, and I cleared a great deal of clutter from the main areas of the house, even the TV room. I mopped and swept and Swiffed the hardwood floors and wiped down counters and put dishes in the dishwasher. Then I called Mom and painted my nails while we caught up on what all the critters, young and old, were doing around the farm. I polished off an entire book in one sitting (well, three sittings if you include getting up to go pee twice)--it was Beautiful Unbroken: One Nurse's Life, and it moved me to tears many times. And as I put the book down finally after finishing it and got up to feed the kittehs, I realized that the house...was still heavily quiet.

So I took a shower, heated up some leftover Chinese, and watched Sunday Night Football while waiting for Guy's call to say he'd made it to his hotel room all right. Sunday is a day for comfort, after all.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Visual Inspiration: Halloween 1981

I found this while flipping through some old photo albums. It wasn't the Halloween pic I was looking for, but it's still a good one. Kitty (left) and I (right) were ready to go trick-or-treating on a chilly October night in our Mom-made costumes. Halloween in rural Georgia usually means being driven door-to-door by your parents to the seven or so houses of your neighbors (all at least a half-mile apart). Stopping at my grandmother's was the evening's highlight--homemade sugar cookies and a chance to chat with her by her always-roasting-at-twice-the-temperature-of-hell fireplace. Sweet tea and sugar did I ever get to sleep?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Visual Inspiration: The tragedy of the poorly-planned toilet, Part 2

Poorly-designed toilet rooms make me sad. I'm sad because it's a waste of resources and building materials. I'm also sad because a poorly-designed toilet makes difficult for some of us the most basic and private of functions: going to the bathroom. Below is yet another example of an improperly-designed/built toilet room (photos taken at a gas station toilet room outside Estes Park, CO). Comments are below each photo.

Over and over, I see the same error: add some grab bars and the toilet room is now "accessible". There's nothing farther from the truth. Making a toilet room ADA compliant involves a series of space and fixture layouts and dimensions of various accessories in relation to each other and to the floor. The above shot shows some of these problems: the toilet paper dispenser is way too high above the grab bar, and the sink is located within the required clear space of the toilet. Also, the seat cover dispenser is way too high and it's above the toilet--both are no-no's. Further, the trashcan (albeit movable) is located within the toilet's clearspace. If you come in here in a wheelchair, pray you can roll up and hoist thyself onto the throne.

Here's the door from inside the toilet. The pull on the door is okay--it doesn't require grabbing, twisting, or pinching--but there's a metal box of some sort that seems to be in the way of the required 18" clear space on the pull side of the door. But what about that little locking mechanism above the pull handle? Well, it does require grasping, pinching, and twisting, which is not ADA compliant.

Mom is standing by the door to make another point about the door lock. Mom is 5'-4.5", so the door lock is maybe 8"-9" below Mom's head, making it about 56" above the floor. Unobstructed forward reach for someone in a wheelchair is 15"-48" above the floor, which means that not only is this door lock hard to operate if your hands are incapacitated in some way, but you'll have a tough row to hoe in your in a wheelchair and you pop in here for a quick dooky.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Scenes from a project, Part 1

Pixie, Contractor Sid, and some surgery staff members are in a conference room, discussing the layout of a pre-op and post-op suite.

Nurse 1: How big is that patient toilet?
Pixie: It's 7'-2" by 7'-6", a little over 50 square feet.
Nurse 2: Wow, it looks...big.
Nurse 1: [to Nurse 2] Our toilets at Bierstadt Building aren't ADA, that's why this looks so big.
Pixie: Correct. An ADA-compliant toilet is so big I can breakdance in it.
Nurse 2: Oh, okay, well that's fine. I wanna go back to the pre-op bays, though--
Contractor Sid: [looks up suddenly from his laptop] Wait, I wanna go back to the toilets. How did we all just miss Pixie breakdancing?

Pixie, Sven, Contractor Sid, and two Gestalt project managers are talking after the radiology user group meeting.

Pixie: So, the radiologists want to redesign the entire department to have the front desk towards the west instead of the east.
Sven: Aren't we a month out from the end of SDs?
Gestalt Mgr 1: This is a lot to change so close to the deadline--
Gestalt Mgr 2: But if these changes need to happen and the department won't work without it, then... [throws hands in air]
Pixie: Well, look: how about I take just an hour or so to see if what they want works?
Sven: Can you do that in an hour?
Pixie: Well, maybe two. Depends on what you [gestures at Gestalt Mgrs 1 and 2] want. Do you want me to see if it can really work, or do we just want to be able to say 'yeah we tried but it's not gonna work' to the radiologists?
Gestalt Mgr 1: Well, I suppose, um...
Pixie: I can make this plan work or not work. What I'm asking is, do you want me to use my powers for good or for evil?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Visual Inspiration: By God, if one is good, then two is better.

Vault toilet at the Mud Volcano area of Yellowstone National Park.

Guy rolled his eyes when I took this, but it cracks me up. It's like whoever was installing the grab bars said, "Listen, we're gonna make this sumbitch even more accessible! The only way this gets any more accessible is if we put a lift and winch in the ceiling!"

Grab bars do not an accessible toilet make. There are fixture heights, clearances, overlaps of clearances, door handles and hardware, and so on. This whole toilet is just....wrong. It's just wrong.

[throws down microphone in disgust, walks offstage]

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The deadline: close, but no cigar.

(A quote on a whiteboard in the Canyon Visitor Center at Yellowstone National Park. I'll wait while the grammar/spelling sticklers among us finish twitching.)

We wrapped up our 100% construction documents (CD) deadline for the Gestalt Uber MOB on Monday. I took today off to get a delayed break from the weekend I worked through, and many of my colleagues on the project did the same today and/or yesterday. But we're not done.

Generally, the architect has to produce an addendum (and sometimes multiple addenda) a few weeks after the CDs go out as a response to questions coming in from bidders on the project. However, the addendum/addenda are sometimes used to capture additional items that need to be coordinated but that couldn't be coordinated before the deadline. Also, the addendum can be used to revise the drawings to include last-minute owner-driven changes, of which there will be many in the Uber MOB.

The question we get sometimes, even from engineers and up-and-coming architects, is this: if we're gonna do an addendum anyway and it's a given, why don't we just move the CD deadline to when the addendum would be due? There are two reasons, one practical and one philosophical. The practical reason involves permitting: the CDs are complete enough to take to the city and/or county and start the process of getting a building permit. Since a building permit can take a fair amount of time (generally about a month for most large municipalities), the contractor wants to get that process moving with the CDs while the architect uses a little extra time to work out details or tweak scope in the drawings. The only reason to delay the CDs to match up with the addendum would be if the addendum would include info or drastic changes that could potentially affect the permitting process. The other (philosophical) reason for not moving the CD deadline to the addendum deadline is that this sort of delaying process could go on indefinitely. CDs are never really done--every architect can look at a set of CDs he or she has worked on and see four or five things they wanted to detail/fix/tweak/do better/differently. If we moved every CD deadline to match the addendum, it would get easy to delay it for just a few days or week more, then a few more, then the owner woud hear that we have extra time and say hey if we have some time, let's redesign the so-and-so to look like this and then we'd be forever tweaking the drawings.

So, I have an addendum due in about three weeks. But first, I need a manicure and a nap.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Happy birthday, Dad!

If my father were still alive, he'd be 65 today. That's old enough to retire legitimately, not partially as he intended to do when he was 52, or inadvertently as he did when he was 50. I often wonder what he'd be like now. Probably somewhat optimistic and mildly cantankerous, talking to me about Gestalt's Uber MOB and to Guy about his time in the Army and about investing and what Missouri is like. We went to dinner tonight (Mexican, one of Dad's favorites), and we'll have some chocolate cupcakes later this evening.

I love you Daddy, and I still miss you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Monday Visual Inspiration: Yellowstone, the Building Edition

Again, I appreciate everyone indulging me with the constant photo-posting while I get through this deadline. I took strangely few photos of buildings in Yellowstone, mostly because man-made built stuff takes up less than 2% of the area of the park. However, a few buildings were really cool, and I did get pictures of that which struck my fancy.

Gas station near the Roosevelt Lodge. What a wonderfully throwback early 1950s building.

Restaurant at the Canyon Lodge. Another wonderfully throwback 1950s A-frame building. Those light fixtures look custom...and original.

The lounge of the Canyon Lodge restaurant. Same light fixture with different bulbs in them. I'm amazed at how much of the original architecture and finishes are left in the buildings at Yellowstone. As someone who spends a lot of time facelifting buildings and interior design that's only 15 years old, I effing love this stuff.

The front of the Old Faithful Lodge at Old Faithful. Built in 1904, this building was made from actual lodgepole pines. As in, they cut down a big-ass tree, sat it up on the foundations, and braced it to some other lodgepole pines, and used them as the columns for the lodge. Check it, yo:

This is the main atrium inside Old Faithful. Architectural. History. Squee.

Cool acoustical baffle-cloud-thingys in the theater in the new Old Faithful Visitor Center.

The lakefront side of the Lake Yellowstone Lodge. This was the original lodge in the park (late 1800s), and it was facelifted about the time the Old Faithful Lodge was built (renovation overseen by Old Faithful's architect). It's a weirdly-nice building, though it reminds me of the Overlook Hotel in Kubrick's version of The Shining.

Each lodge also has a small general storage inside or near it. Some of them even have gas pumps, which is smart because doing the figure-8 loop of Yellowstone is a couple hundred miles. This was the old general store and gas station at Lake Yellowstone. It's boarded up now, but I love the forlorn nature of this building, photographed on the eve of our last day in Yellowstone.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Your indulgence, I beg it

I really appreciate everyone's patience right now. The construction documents for Gestalt's Uber MOB are due in two weeks, and I'm slammed busy. There's a lot to do, review, check, draw, markup, and fret over, and my team and I have our work cut out for us. Because of this, I haven't had the energy or even time to really do a good post or two for y'all about architecture, life, or anything. I check/email/review stuff and answer questions all day in a state that is super-busy bordering on frenetic, and I come home and collapse and read magazines because I don't have the energy to read a real book.

So, I keep posting about Yellowstone and coming home and resting. I'll be able to do better in a couple of weeks, but for right now I'm just posting pictures and apologies.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday Visual Inspiration: Yellowstone, the Critter Edition

OMG anipals! Half the reason I do anything in nature is to see critters whose cuteness rivals that of my own kittehs. Yellowstone certainly did not disappoint in this respect.

Smuffalo! We saw eleventy million buffalo in Yellowstone (bison, really--all pure buffalo are now gone, and all that are left are buffalo with a little bit of domesticated cattle genetics in them, hence the name bison). This one was a just a few inches shorter than our 4Runner's top. yikes. People have actually been killed by buffalo because they think they're a combination of teddy bear and moo cow. No and no.

Wee little bird in the super-hot waters of Mammoth Hot Springs. No idea how he stands it.

OMGPONIES!!1!!! We went horseback riding to a chuckwagon dinner our second night in the park. I'd like to go back sometime when I can ride with many fewer people and have a little more control over the horse. These were pretty well-trained trail horses who spent most of their time walking nose-to-butt with the other horses.

A heron in the early morning fog over Alum Creek.

Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore. Or maybe yeah, I dunno. Do you have any crackers or granola?"

Elk! We saw a fair amount of elk as well, mostly mamas and a few half-grown fawns.

You can barely see the coyote in the middle of this picture, but he's there, I promise.

We saw a few pronghorn antelope in the park, but most of them we saw outside of the park. They were not playing with the deer, but we also did not hear a discouraging word.

Oh my squee: chibbik. "Chibbik" is the word my family uses for "chipmunk", for whatever reason. We saw so many chipmunks that week that even Guy started saying "chibbik". They were always pesky/cute, but often they wouldn't be still enough to let me take a decent picture. This one, near Natural Bridge, was one exception.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday Visual Inspiration: Yellowstone, the Water and Geyser Edition

More images from the trip; commentary for each photo is just below the image.

Mammoth Hot Springs, from the top of the springs. Gallons upon gallons of steaming water burbling up from the depths of the earth and spilling over the edge of this natural infinity pool, leaving behind small deposits of minerals, leaving its trail marked in red, orange, white, and green.

Mammoth Hot Springs, from the bottom of the springs.

Part of the Norris Geyser Basin. The blue of this water is so heavenly it seems as if the rangers come out every morning at 5:30 to dump food coloring into the geysers and spring pools. That's why they tell you that the pools are 200 degrees at have sulfuric acid and arsenic in them--so you won't step in and find out that it's just food dye. (Note: water boils at 198 degrees in Yellowstone due to the elevation. Also note that they're not kidding about how hot these sumbitches are--you'll sweat while walking around the geysers on the elevated boardwalks, as the ground is over 200 degrees in some places.)

Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River. Even from this far away, there's a loud roar from the water.

Downstream from the Imperial Geyser Basin, which has sulfur in the water (hence the red-orange coloration in the stream). I touched the water here, about 150 feet downstream (which is technically a no-no), and the water was well over what I use in my shower, probably 140-ish degrees.

Old Faithful, of course!

The view of West Thumb Geysers from Yellowstone Lake, during Guy's and my kayak trip.

The shores of Yellowstone Lake, near a rock outcropping that is supposedly home to scads of marmots (though we saw none).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

But it was a bargain!

Seen in the parking lot of the Mud Volcano Geyser area.

"Look, Debbie, I know it doesn't quite fit the truck, but it was only $20! And just think--when we sleep in back while we're camping, we can just hang our butts over the tail gate and go pee! No shoes required!"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Visual Inspiration: Yellowstone, the Landscape Edition

There is much to say (and show) about the Magic and Wonder That Is Yellowstone, so I'll try to break up our week there into little themed chunks that are at least mildly interesting and possibly won't bog down your old computer and too-slow internet connection (Mom, I'm looking at you, and I know it's not your fault). Info on each photo is written below the image.

The basalt cliffs at Sheepeater's Cliff. Evidently, all the Native American tribes in the area thought the Tukudika folk of present-day Yellowstone were some bad motherfuckers, because they chased down and ate bighorn sheep and lived above 7,500 above sea level. Straight gangsta.

The white travertine formations caused by the geysers and springs at Mammoth Hot Springs.

Lost Lake, near the Roosevelt camp and cabins. Some large animals took a group crap near this beautiful vista--other than that, it was a great view and a really good hike.

I think this is near Fairy Falls, but I'm drawing a blank for some reason. It was just a great shot with the sky and clouds and little trees there in the shade.

The view north(ish) from a hill/small mountain we hiked up to get to Monument Geyser Basin. Extraordinary views. You see a lot of dead trees interspersed with the little green pines--that's from the fires of 1988. Those fires were the first to happen after the National Park Service (NPS) decided that, while it would protect buildings and people, it would no longer try to put out every single fire that started in its boundaries, whether it was human or natural in cause. 37% of the park burned that summer, which had seen record high temps and record low rainfall amounts. While folks were horrified to see the trees burned to crispy black sticks, it turns out that lodgepole pines actually need fire in order to reproduce on a real, grand scale--some of their seed cones won't open up unless the surrounding temperature gets over 150 degrees. What we now have is mile after mile of 6'-12' high green pines everywhere. Letting the 1988 fires burn themselves out was a controversial decision at the time, but we have to remember that forests work on a 20-50 year cycle, not a 1-2 year cycle like much of humans' timetables.

Mountain range in the Lamar Valley, towards the northeast entrance of the park.

Natural Bridge, near the Lake Yellowstone campground/hotel/cabins. You used to be able to walk across it, but you can now only walk around it. Probably a good thing--Guy does not need to tote my clumsy ass out of the forest after I fall off of something like this.