August 2009 Archives

Space Shuttle Discovery

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We had a long planned quick weekend trip to Florida to visit a dear Ponnusamy family friend in Clearwater.  As a bonus, I was able to change my flight last minute (through amazing magic with no fees) to arrive a day early to catch a night launch of Space Shuttle Discovery.  The bummer being that Lillie stayed back to wrap up business and take our originally scheduled flight.  She's a trouper.

With my parents and sister, we made the 2.5 hour drive from Tampa over to Space Walk Park in Titusville, Florida.  It's the closest spot you can get to (without tickets) with a clear view of the launch pad.  This clear view is still a whopping 12 miles away from the launch pad.

Quick aside: I'd be remiss to not mention Linda's Crab Shack en route in Plant City, Florida.  This is the kind of place you dream of finding on a little road trip.  I ate/covered myself in garlic butter drenched blue crabs, fried corn on the cob, and a baked potato for a whopping $11.  I could eat this stuff every day. Titusville about 1hr 45min before launch time, we staked out a pretty decent spot and I threw down my tripod amongst the hordes of other tripods.  Here's the launch pad lights in the distance:


Everything I read about taking photos of a launch is that it's not easy, and not to waste your time with it your first time so you can just enjoy the spectacle.  So my plan of attack was to go for a single long exposure that wouldn't even require me to even touch the camera after setting it up.

Of course I blew it--totally overexposed, but oh well!  You should at least be able to make out the fireball at the launch, and then the trail arcing up and a bit to the left is the shuttle taking off.  Pretty amazing that this was taken at basically the stroke of midnight.  Really does light up the sky.


My sister snagged some video on her little point and shoot.  The first 30-seconds are worth watching both for the visuals and hearing my sister drop some OMGs.  (email and RSS subscribers will have to click over to the site)


My brother and I have talked for years about needing/wanting to see a launch.  Sadly, he watched this one back in LA on the internet.  Sorry bro!  (You've got six more launches to make it down there...)  And I don't care how much the shuttle program costs us taxpayers because it's awesome.  If only we spent more money on such awesomeness.

Finally, we'll end with this photo from Clearwater Beach.  It would be a throwaway photo had it not been for the shirtless dude walking by in the background...


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Our friend Keith turning 30 got us on the plane to Burlington to celebrate SnoochFest with many other college chums.  Basecamp was at Mad River Glen near Fayston, Vermont (word is this is where the real skiing heads go to avoid the lodge crowd).

It was quite the celebration, though most of the photos are under lock and key.  Though this one of most of the crew is fit for public consumption:

Excellent stops on the weekend included:

Based on our 48 hours in Vermont, we are huge fans.  Love the feeling when we visit someplace new inside our borders and are completely blown away--gorgeous scenery, good food, gay marriage, Ben & Jerry's, etc.  Plus some of the best driving roads I've ever been on.  A fall colors foliage tour in 2010 is certainly on the calendar...

Cutthroat Pass

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This is the first in a series of belated posts after a busy (for us) August…

For many years, I've had my eye on this 11 mile one-way hike from Rainy Pass to Cutthroat Pass in the North Cascades.  It's snow free and hike-able for only a window of time in August/September, and this was finally the year we suckered some friends into doing it with us.

After needing my Matrix battery jumped (for the first time ever) outside the Mazama General Store, we started hiking at 3pm.  You might be thinking, "wow, that seems like a late start for an 11 mile hike".  And you would be correct.  But don't worry, we had TWO compasses packed.

At the top of the pass, it was pretty darn windy and chilly. It was a bit cloudy up there, so we were denied super scenic vistas but we did at least hear marmots whistling in the distance.  It's a very excellent hike across the board.  Here we are, in various states of fashion:

Descending from the top we met some campers who seemed quite concerned about seeing hikers in sandals and shorts towards the end of the day with 5 miles of hiking left in front of them.  They didn't know who they were talking to…

With the last drop of sunlight, we arrived at our shuttle Corolla.  Phew.  The bad part being that it was well after 9pm when we were back at camp, and we still needed to cook up dinner.  Good part Mark is a trooper and single handedly hooked up authentic (?) biryani in a single pot.

Meanwhile, Lillie was busy with important things like s'mores.

29 in South Haven, Michigan

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Lots of fresh and tasty food…(too much Bell's beer, though?)

Lake Michigan…

Vintage baseball with the South Haven Bark Peelers…

Rounded off with 3-way chili at the Cincinnati airport…