Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Up for Adventure: In Search of the Leonids

Posted by julie on Monday, 17 November 2014, 12:52

Still dark. While I didn’t see this meteor, I think there’s one in the upper right-hand portion of this photo (you may have to click on the photo to get a large enough version to see the meteor).

Very rarely is the sky completely clear for a meteor shower in western Oregon. We’ve been skunked even during the relentlessly clear summers we brag about—sometimes by smoke, sometimes by fog, always by light pollution if we don’t have the energy to go farther afield. But, when the forecast is for 22°F at 4 a.m., you can bet it’s going to be clear.

One cold, November night in New Mexico, 13 years ago, I woke up in my sleeping bag and happened to look at the sky as I was falling back to sleep. One of the benefits of eschewing a tent is that you may just wake up on the night of the Leonids meteor shower, which you didn’t even know existed, and have difficulty returning to sleep because you wouldn’t want to miss a meteor.


Looking west. I think the bright star near the center of the photo is Capella in the constellation Auriga, and I’m pretty sure some of the constellation Gemini is in the upper left corner of the photo.

We couldn’t see the Perseids last summer due to the weather; might we be able to catch the Leonids? First, I convinced my kids that waking up at 4 a.m. would be an adventure. If they gathered warm clothes before bedtime, maybe we would wake them up and try to see some meteors in the “morning” (term used loosely). My darling husband was only a slightly harder sell. I was surprised, because he likes his sleep. After a little dark sky and clear sky research, we decided to head east toward Oakridge, stopping at the east end of Lookout Point Reservoir, just across the railroad tracks in a grassy parking area. While we could hear traffic (and even see it if we weren’t looking at the sky), our location-picking was right on! It was dark, clear, and close to Eugene.

While I recommend the location, I also recommend arriving longer than 60 minutes before civil twilight. It just wasn’t dark enough for long. The real problem, though, was that this just isn’t a big “storm” year for the Leonids. Apparently, every 33 years or so, the Leonids can produce hundreds of meteors each minute. In 1833 and 1966, the Leonids produced spectacular storms. From my sleeping bag in the Gila National Forest, 2001 was impressive, too. Chris and I saw one meteor this morning; the kids missed it. But, snuggling in sleeping bags and drinking hot cocoa, they didn’t care a bit.


Tomorrow morning’s show might be even better, since the moon rises nearly an hour later. Go ahead; go on an adventure! A word to the adventurous, though: if you head out on a 22°F night, sleeping bags and hot chocolate aren’t merely nice to have; they’re a necessity.

(Please don’t tell my kids’ teachers that I woke them up at 4:25 a.m….They were just so game for an adventure, as my patient husband pointed up when he roused the kids at oh-dark-thirty.)



Will Those Teeth Really Fit?

Posted by julie on Thursday, 17 January 2013, 9:46

Will all these enormous, grown-up teeth really fit into this little mouth? Sylvan’s fingers are blue from his forensic science Daring Boys Club. His eyes are bloodshot from skiing this weekend (I need to buy him larger goggles; his head is too big for kid-size ones. That big brain that reliably beats most grown-ups at chess has to fit somewhere.)

While Sylvan was losing his fifth tooth and picking an Army duck from the secretary’s supply for birthday and missing tooth kids, Leslie and I ventured up to Marys Peak, the highest mountain in Oregon’s Coast Range.

You probably won’t see much in this photo, other than the ocean of clouds covering the valley. That’s Mt. Jefferson to the left, and the Three Sisters to the right, at the horizon in the Cascades. Leslie researched the mirage we saw that distorted the mountains. It was a fata morgana. It made the mountains look STRANGE. We could see Rainier, St. Helens, and Adams up in Washington state. It was an amazingly crystalline day.

We’re above the clouds on a foggy, cold, dank Willamette Valley Day. Yay! I’ve now climbed two mountains of my 40 for the year. Yay! I’m with a fun, adventurous friend. Yay!

Leslie found this guy at the end of our hike. We’re not sure if he was there at the beginning. Yes, we saw more than one logging truck on the way up to the Marys Peak trailhead.

Merry Christmas! Joyful Solstice! Happy Hannukah! (insert favorite winter holiday here)

Posted by julie on Tuesday, 25 December 2012, 0:19

We’ve been busy this month. Here’s a sampling:

Hmmm, I can’t put captions on the photos anymore. But please do notice:

  • that Elena wore cowgirl boots and Sylvan wore shorts to see Santa (who’s growing up in Oregon?).
  • that Sylvan was very excited to get a tree, and they were both very excited to read next to it the day we put it up. You should note that we cut this gorgeous Grand fir for a grand total of $14 (including two hot chocolates). Again, that’s Oregon.
  • that Elena is going to be so happy when she can read so she can sing Christmas songs by reading the lyrics. She is trying very hard in this photo.
  • that we just spend the last two days in the Winter Wonderland of the Oregon Cascades. Unbelievably powdery piles of snow! (For birders, we saw many mountain chickadees, some flittery wrens, a northern flicker, mergansers, a hairy woodpecker, an osprey, and we heard a bald eagle.)

One reason to live in Eugene

Posted by jonesey on Friday, 13 July 2012, 17:08

Because this starts on July 4th, like clockwork, and doesn’t let up until October 1.

90-day forecast

Five hot things

Posted by jonesey on Thursday, 8 December 2011, 5:54

San Diego. April 2011.

I worked on a grant application in my hotel room for 12 hours that day.

My creative wife. This project took her no time at all. She is amazing.

No, not the little girl, you sick puppy. *Behind* the little girl!

Thank you, Mr. Lawyer.


Hell freezes over

Posted by jonesey on Sunday, 20 November 2011, 17:05

“I’ll never have a cell phone” slowly turned into “Well, unless I could get an iPhone. Those things are pretty nice” and then into “I’m going on this long trip by myself. I should probably get a cell phone. You can’t find a pay phone anymore, for one thing.”

A long-lost Best Buy $10 gift card from a friend turned into a Wire-style burner phone, then a little trip to tip-land turned that into this:

Julie joins the 21st century. And not a moment too soon.