Montana man dies in Yosemite climbing accident The Associated Press Published: Monday, May. 20, 2013 – 6:09 pm Last Modified: Monday, May. 20, 2013 – 6:26 pm YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — Authorities say a Montana man has died in … Continue reading
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” -John 10:10
If we’re all honest, sometimes it feels like God doesn’t want us to have fun. I mean, when people around us are living for the moment, it sure does look appealing. And of course it’s appealing, otherwise people wouldn’t be doing it.
Tornadoes Level Homes in Okla., 1 Dead
Tornadoes ravaged portions of central Oklahoma on Sunday, reducing portions of a mobile home park to rubble and killing a 79-year-old man whose body was found out in the open.
“You can see where there’s absolutely nothing, then there are places where you have mobile home frames on top of each other, debris piled up,” Pottawatomie County Sheriff Mike Booth said after surviving damage in the Steelman Estates Mobile Home Park. “It looks like there’s been heavy equipment in there on a demolition tour.
“It’s pretty bad. It’s pretty much wiped out,” he said.
The Shawnee tornado was one of several that touched down in the nation’s midsection Sunday. Twisters, hail and high winds also struck Iowa and Kansas as part of a massive, northeastward-moving storm system that stretched from Texas to Minnesota.
Across the state, 21 people were injured, not including those who suffered bumps and bruises and chose not to visit a hospital, said Keli Cain, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Booth said six at Steelman Estates were hurt.
Following the twisters, local emergency officials went from home site to home site in an effort to account for everyone. Cain said that, many times in such situations, people who are not found immediately are discovered later to have left the area ahead of the storm. Booth said everyone from the trailer park had been found.
Forecasters had been warning of a general storm outbreak since Wednesday, and for Sunday’s storms some residents had more than a half-hour’s notice that a twister was on the way. Tornado watches and warnings were in effect through late Sunday in much of the nation’s midsection.
The trailer park west of Shawnee was among the hardest-hit areas, and among the hardest to reach, as tractor-trailers that forced the closure of a section of Interstate 40 north of the site and power lines draped across roads to the south.
James Hoke lives with his wife and two children in Steelman Estates. He said the family went into their storm cellar as the storm approached. When they came out, their mobile home had vanished.
“It took a dead hit,” Hoke said.
A storm spotter told the National Weather Service that the tornado left the earth “scoured” at the mobile home park — using a term used by storm chasers to describe grass being ripped out by high winds.
“It seemed like it went on forever. It was a big rumbling for a long time,” said Shawn Savory, standing outside his damaged remodeling business in Shawnee. “It was close enough that you could feel like you could reach out and touch it.”
Gov. Mary Fallin declared an emergency for 16 Oklahoma counties that suffered from severe storms and flooding during the weekend. The declaration lets local governments acquire goods quickly to respond to their residents’ needs and puts the state in line for federal help if it becomes necessary.
Heavy rains and straight-line winds hit much of western Oklahoma on Saturday. Tornadoes were also reported Sunday at Edmond, Arcadia and near Wellston to the north and northeast of Oklahoma City. The super cell that generated the twisters weakened as it approached Tulsa, 90 miles to the northeast.
“I knew it was coming,” said Randy Grau, who huddled with his wife and two young sons in their Edmond home’s safe room when the tornado hit. He said he peered out his window as the weather worsened and believed he saw a flock of birds heading down the street.
“Then I realized it was swirling debris. That’s when we shut the door of the safe room,” said Grau, adding that they remained in the room for 10 minutes.
In Wichita, Kan., a tornado touched down near Mid-Content Airport on the city’s southwest side shortly before 4 p.m., knocking out power to thousands of homes and businesses but bypassing the most populated areas of Kansas’ biggest city. The Wichita tornado was an EF1 on the enhanced Fujita scale, with winds of 110 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Randy Duncan said there were no reports of fatalities or injuries in Kansas.
There were also two reports of tornadoes touching down in Iowa on Sunday night, including one near Huxley, about 20 miles north of Des Moines, and one in Grundy County, which is northeast of Des Moines, according to the Des Moines Register. There were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.
In Oklahoma, aerial television news footage showed homes with significant damage northeast of Oklahoma City. Some outbuildings appeared to have been leveled, and some homes’ roofs or walls had been knocked down.
“When I first drove into the neighborhood, I didn’t see any major damage until I pulled into the front of my house,” said Csaba Mathe, of Edmond, who found a part of his neighbor’s fence in his swimming pool. “My reaction was: I hope insurance pays for the cleaning.”
“I typically have two trash cans, and now I have five in my driveway.”
The Storm Prediction Center had been warning about severe weather in the region since Wednesday, and on Friday, it zeroed in on Sunday as the day the storm system would likely pass through.
“They’ve been calling for this all day,” Edmond resident Anita Wright said after riding out the twister in an underground shelter. She and her husband, Ed, emerged from their hiding place to find uprooted trees, downed limbs and damaged gutters in their home.
In Katie Leathers’ backyard, the family’s trampoline was tossed through a section of fence and a giant tree uprooted.
“I saw all the trees waving, and that’s when I grabbed everyone and got into two closets,” Leathers said. “All these trees just snapped.”
1 of 2 California Wildfires Contained
Firefighters fully contained a fire north of Los Angeles and were gaining control of a second.
SANTA CLARITA, Calif. — One of two wildfires burning in the hills and mountains around Interstate 5 north of Los Angeles was fully contained Saturday, and authorities were getting an upper hand on the second one.
The 712-acre fire was contained late Saturday after breaking out Friday and briefly threatening an elementary school and about 20 homes, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.
When a wildfire is contained, it means firefighters have corralled it to keep it from advancing, but flames can continue to burn inside the fire line. Some 350 firefighters battled the blaze Saturday amid unpredictable winds and rough terrain.
The earlier fire that broke out Wednesday near Frazier Park was 80 percent contained Saturday after consuming some 4,358 acres.
That blaze was not threatening any homes or buildings but fire officials said containing it would be a long, difficult task because it was burning in such rugged and hard-to-reach terrain.
The cause was still under investigation.
Calif. crews mop up wildfire as rain falls.
CAMARILLO, Calif. — Rains moved across Southern California on Monday, dousing remnants of a wildfire that blackened thousands of acres in coastal mountains and bringing much-needed moisture to a region left parched by a dry winter.
The 44-square-mile burn area in the western Santa Monica Mountains was 85 percent surrounded, and firefighters worked in muddy and slippery conditions to complete containment.
Ventura County Fire spokesman Tony McHale said the wet weather significantly reduced fire activity. There were no remaining open flames, but firefighters remained on the lookout for flare-ups, he said.
The rains were expected to continue, and the fire was expected to be contained, on Tuesday.
The showers, heavy at times, marked a complete reversal of conditions that rapidly spread the blaze after it erupted early Thursday along U.S. 101 near the communities of Camarillo Springs and Thousand Oaks.
Dry and gusty Santa Ana winds blew in from the northeast toward the coast that morning, sending relative humidity levels plunging to single digits as temperatures soared into the 90s. With seasonal rainfall levels running only about a third of normal, vegetation was already dead or dry and ready to burn.
Investigators ruled out arson as the cause of the fire. Instead, they believe it was started by an undetermined roadside ignition of grass and debris on the edge of U.S. 101, said Tom Piranio, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“The topography plus the hot, windy weather created a perfect storm for the fire to spread fast,” he said.
The fire threatened 4,000 homes but damaged only 15 as it swept past neighborhoods and into Point Mugu State Park, which sprawls over peaks and canyons down to scenic Sycamore Cove on the Pacific shoreline.
Weather could aid firefighters battling California blaze
State parks District Superintendent Craig Sap said more than 85 percent of the 22-square-mile park burned, and the result was somewhat disorienting with the absence of familiar vegetation revealing previously hidden features.
“It’s a stark landscape,” he said.
A preliminary assessment of losses included a building, an electrical distribution system, campground vegetation and signage. Sap estimated the total damage at $290,000.
Despite the likelihood of rock falls, runoff problems and damage to fire roads, Sap noted that a silver lining of the fire would likely be sprouting of some species whose seeds are triggered by fire.
“There are plants you never see until you have a fire like this,” he said.
The National Weather Service said showers and temperatures as much as 10 degrees below normal would last into Tuesday.
In Northern California, meanwhile, a fire that has blackened 11 square miles of wilderness in Tehama County was 80 percent contained and was no longer an imminent threat to structures.
Ocean Horror Show: Dead Sea Birds With Bellies Full of Plastic Garbage
August 29, 2013
Sustainability, mass consumption, and what he calls “our culture of waste” have long been the backbone of Seattle-based photographer Chris Jordan’s work.
For the past four years his creative energy has been focused on a remote group of islands near Hawaii, 2,000 miles from the nearest continent. Yet there, on Midway Atoll, he has discovered a nightmare scenario that powerfully illustrates just how ruinous man’s impact on nature can be: hundreds, thousands of dead albatross chicks choked to death on man’s detritus, mostly shiny bits of plastic picked up from the nearby Pacific Ocean by their parents, and fed to them mistakenly as food.
The most prominent piece of waste? Disposable cigarette lighters, which float near the surface of the ocean. Glittering in the sun, they are seductive targets. When they are fed to infant birds and swallowed, none of the plastic disintegrates and instead eventually fills tiny stomachs.
Recently, Jordan has turned from photographing the dead birds, and the waste plastic that fills their stomachs and slowly kills them, to videoing. A successful Kickstarter effort ($122,000 from more than 16,000 donors) is funding the documentary film, which he anticipates will require two more visits so that he can capture the entire birth-life-and-death continuum in full.
“For me, kneeling over their carcasses is like looking into a macabre mirror,” he writes on his website. “These birds reflect back an appallingly emblematic result of the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth. Like the albatross, we first-world humans find ourselves lacking the ability to discern anymore what is nourishing from what is toxic to our lives and our spirits. Choked to death on our waste, the mythical albatross calls upon us to recognize that our greatest challenge lies not out there, but in here.”
Jordan’s documentary—”Midway: Message From the Gyre”—is expected to be finished next year. Check out this powerful gallery of Jordan’s photos here.
During my various adventuring, I have discovered that one never knows what they will discover. The expansive dry river bed stretched an easy 50 yards wide. The trek was arduous and demanding with the rough and uneven rock-covered ground. The sun is high and blistering. Gnats (my friend calls them Teensy Flies) swirl about my face, seeking moisture to rob from me. I sweat furiously and grimace as I roll my ankle yet again; man, I really don’t care for hiking over dry river rock. I look ahead, seeking my sons’ outline, his figure a black cutout, wreathed in the glaring sun, but he’s an acceptable distance ahead. He turns to check on my status and slightly waves, interesting how we think alike. He pauses at a junction.
We discuss whether to continue north or head east at the junction. Looking high and ahead we spot a copse of trees. It’s a no-brainier, let’s get into some shade, we forge onward, detouring to the easterly route. As we round the bend there are obvious signs of a recent flash-flood, carving huge sections from the forest floor. It is at least a six-foot deep divot by miles in length that has removed acres of shrubs, sycamore, pine and chaparral. After the devastating fire a few seasons ago, coupled with torrential rains shortly after, the forest is now transformed into a contrasting combination of desolation and of an environment in the throes of renewal. Fire is an important cycle of the forest and sections are healing and looking healthy with minimal debris carpeting the higher ground. Although, for this national forest to fully regenerate, it’ll be beyond my life span. Another 30 years for softwood conifers, to 200 years for the redwoods and certain pines. My son scrambles to the higher ground, among a mix of mature growth with second-growth trees and shrubs, he turns and extends his hand to assist me. We continue our exploration, remarking how drastically the area has changed.
As we pause to hydrate, a shaft of sunlight breaks through the canopy of trees. Something sparkles near the ground in front of me, it draws my eye. I stoop down to inspect the oddity and gasp when I identify the threat. I gravely warn my son, “Don’t move.” He looks at me, with concerned-wrinkled eyebrows, his water bottle paused midway. I point.
We have stumbled upon a trap. Another step and we would have been in very deep “Bandini”. Without moving our feet we scope our surroundings. My son spots then points to the joining trap wires, then to what the traps are protecting. Inadvertently, we have come upon an illegal marijuana farm, fully armed and exceedingly intent upon “no trespassing”. Oh, snap… My hands are suddenly very sweaty.
Lord, Your protection please! If there are guards present, please blind their eyes and ears to our unintended intrusion!
My son slowly steps back, soft, careful steps, his head swiveling in hyper vigilance. He extends his hand, indicating for me to follow. I hold his hand, fearful, barely breathing. Every muscle is tense. We scan for our incoming footprints to follow out and away but they are impossible to detect even with minimal forest debris.
Lord God, direct out steps.
I feel like I’m in a military movie, this is so surreal. My senses are heightened, we retreat very carefully, staying low, hunched, military style. My ears strain for the slightest sound. Were we detected? My son signals for me to stop, I pull-up silently and squat lower still, he senses something.
A sudden, alarming and tremendous CRACK! …
Was that a high-caliber rifle shot?!
… echoes through the canyon, then a sonic boom of falling rock from the canyons upper edge and massive boulders begin tumbling warp-speed towards the dry riverbed, along the bend that we took to enter this portion of the forest. The thundering roar of the rock-slide was a safe distance from us, yet with the present uncertainty, it quickly added to the confusion and sense of alarm. The ground shakes as during an earthquake. The rumbling is near deafening as the amount of falling rock increases in quantity and pace. Finally it settles with a choking dirt cloud, a bursting mushroom, it then blossoms indolently. I feel faint from anticipation and realize I had stopped breathing. I cover my mouth and nose with the crook of my arm, squeezing my eyes shut against the dust and old forest fire ash fragments.
I put my faith and trust… our lives… into Your Hands, Lord. Thank You, if we had stayed hiking among the dry riverbed, we would have been seriously injured. There would not have been ample time to scramble out of the path of the rock and landslide. Praise You, Lord!
We thoroughly scrutinize the area we have left behind us, low in the brush, high in the trees, and determine that we are alone and high-tail it back towards the dry riverbed. We are in the wide-open space, very public, as we check out the rock-slide. My son asks me if I’m alright, I respond wordlessly with a waffling gesture with my hand. It required very little discussion to conclude our “adventure” for the day, as we stumble-hiked over the miserable terrain, heading back to our vehicle. My son’s war whoop echoes across the massive canyon as we clear the “trouble” arena. If I had the ability, I would have joined his enthusiastic vocal relief, a woman’s voice just doesn’t do it justice though.
Thank You, Lord God. Thank You, thank You!
“… You are my Rock and my fortress and my deliverer; the God of my strength, in Whom I will trust.” 2 Samuel 22:2-3
THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING SYNTHETIC ABOUT THE WILDERNESS. It is so fresh, so honest and seemingly random. Zero pretense. I like it. I like it a lot. I think that God is expressing His majesty, His creative, limitless presence through nature, and through His people that He loves when we allow Him to. I’m surrounded by His presence, the evidence expressed in the numerous species of living things, the vastness of the sky, the universe. Even in the great variety of color. I suspect green is His favorite since it renews, returns every spring. Through His inexhaustible imagination, through His power over all, for nothing is too difficult for Him. Nothing.
It’s my first time “caving” and I’m stoked. As I drive through the winding road to get down to the caves entrance, I see movement off to my left. The dark form is heading up onto the road and I slam on brakes. Bear! Frantically, I scramble for my camera and head out onto the road. The bear is thin, and its fur is mangy. It stopped its foraging as soon as I exited my car and is now heading back down the hillside. It cries out with what almost sounds like “Ma!” Now I can’t see it any longer, only the movement of the brush branches; so I try tracing the moving bushes but come up empty. Just as I’m heading back I see it scuttle down from the tree it had scrambled up on. Obviously I really scared it, and clearly from its size it’s a juvenile, probably the runt of the litter at that; I’m mildly surprised it’s still alive. Disappointed that I missed yet another photo op, I continue my drive down towards the cave.
THE SOUND OF THE MOVING WATERS, SOME SCANTILY, some pooled, some rushing with surprising power, sound utterly fantastic in this underground world. The sights from initial to final are breathtaking. The stalactites (above, holding on tight/”tite”) and the stalagmites (below, powering up with might/”mites”) are plentiful, so varied. As I continue forward, my eyes feast upon the variety of tites, mites, soda straws, flowstones, helictites, and pillars. The few strategically placed lights (solar-powered from above) really highlight and enhanced the colors and other-worldly formations of mineral deposits. It’s wonderfully cool in this massive cave and plenty dark as well. I find that I’m just a tad off-balance working my way through the darkness but the tour is quite impressive. Most of the pics I take are in the complete dark and it wasn’t until I uploaded them onto my computer that I was able to see and appreciate them. Seriously cool formations, what an excellent adventure.
AS I HEAD BACK, I’M MINDFUL OF THE SECTION WHERE I SPOTTED THE JUVENILE bear and sure enough, I see the tip of an ear! With my heart racing, I pull over and I am shocked to see mama bear! I am so completely stoked, I am giggling as I capture her doing what is completely natural for her, in her natural habitat.
I don’t see the juvenile, but I’m very excited to have mama all to myself.
I even stopped snapping pics just to watch her. She’s so casual, sitting back as if the twisted undergrowth is her personal lounge chair. She swipes lazily at a berry-laden branch and pulls the berries to her mouth. I can’t completely comprehend just how relaxed she is, for she sure can see me if I can see her.
She gnaws gently at her leg, obviously taking care of an annoying itch. I glance over my shoulder time to time, just to be sure another bear isn’t coming up from behind me.
Remembering that these bears come down to lower elevations during this time of year to climb up into the oak trees to feed on acorns, I also scan nearby tree tops.
All is well, bless God.
Figuring I don’t want to intrude any longer, (I could have stayed all day, the relaxed actions of this powerful animal is fascinating.) I trek back to my truck and head on up to the main road. All the while I am laughing, thanking and praising God for the fantastic treat, and to have been able to safely capture some of it on film … well,
I flat-out got a slice of heaven today!
Thank You, Lord, that You made up for my missing a pic of the juvenile that I encountered earlier for an even better photo op!
Next, I need a picture of my own of the ever-elusive mountain lion.
That would really put me over the edge!
GRATEFUL FOR THIS NEW LEASE ON LIFE, THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE THE TIME to be outdoors experiencing, sighting, encountering, exploring, smelling, hearing, feeling, tracking, enjoying, documenting, collecting, photographing, fearing.Grateful for the physical demands; the climbing, the meager oxygen, the falling, the decent, the blisters, the aching muscles, the pain, cuts and bruises, the heat, the cold, the hunger and the thirst. Even the threatening times, the terror, the confusion, or when I’ve attempted a trail far beyond my experience or abilities.
Grateful that I began to notice that I tend to look down, straight ahead or to the side as I walk. Rarely up. Once I began to look up, what a refreshing perspective! (Not to mention the numerous stars!) This perspective reminds me to look up to Him, in all circumstances. In all trials, joyous occasions, new experiences, past experiences, and throughout my life, because there are continuous lessons to be learned and appreciated. It’s amazing what can be discovered when I look up time to time.
Grateful that I’m never too old to learn, to enjoy, to embrace, to change. Cherished family, good friends, warm hearts become my sum total. The heartache, trials and loss although perceived as beyond my ability of bearance, somehow I endure and I survive, building strength and character along the way. My heart overflows with memories and timeline snapshots of my life, some more vibrant than others, but forever locked away never to be forgotten.
I’m grateful and appreciate all of it. For I have a completely new field and range of admiration towards my creative, wise, uncreated God by witnessing His handiwork and experiencing His discipline, lessons, companionship, protection, His leading, clear intervention and approval. And through this, I am also finding purpose along the way.
And most importantly: He loves me and isn’t afraid to show it.
I’M IN A DIFFERENT SORT OF FOREST THIS OUTING. THE TOWERING, aptly named Giant Sequoia’s are a jaw-dropping experience to stand beneath. Exceedingly lush greenery, ferns, flowers and low-lying brush all dazzle the eye with such a nutrient-rich intensity, thriving in rich beauty beneath the trees. The large trees with thick, impressive branches often inhibit rainwater, greedily absorbing the moisture before it reaches the plant life beneath them. But the cool, moisture-rich fog that lingers beneath the trees keeps the forest floor inhabitants hydrated, allowing the plants to look longingly up at the giant redwoods. It seems almost as a love-story, the duo-shared nutrients feeding the other, depending upon one another in an almost intimate manner.
Even the long ago felled giants continue to feed the forested floor with the decaying wood. Beautiful, full ferns sprout from the tops of the now sideways trees. The champions lay precisely where they fell after a devastating flood in the 1960’s, their root system so very shallow, could not keep them upright in the weakened, saturated soil. I can only imagine the impact of it hitting the ground, surely it felt like an earthquake. The roar had to have been something of a train wreck and the massive wave it created in the flood waters must have been intense-intense. I picture something similar to high tide waves hitting cliff shore boulders, the impressive splash and height the foamy water reaching high, violently into the blue.
Its resting length is more than half of a football field and impossible to scramble to the end with the dense new-growth forest swaddling, caressing it. Even in its death it is fertilizing the forest for long-term health and providing essential habitats for endangered animal and insect species. Accordingly, these fallen trees are called nurse logs since they provide ecological facilitation to seedlings.
Puts giving your life for another in a completely different perspective.
These colossal ancient-of-days are at least 21 feet in diameter, jutting their spiking crowns 200-feet to over 400-feet into the sky. The thick, fibrous and split bark snakes irregularly upward and outward, cultivating protective highways and byways; trunk to branch, branch to twig, to the very narrow, high top of the tree. Protection is its mile marker, shielding the delicate inner structures from injury. This “guardian” is a thing of beauty, with tints of brown and red, shades of sienna and burnt umber all richly textured and variant. The cluster of trees so similar, the hues quite individual.
THE FOLLOWING MORNING I LEAVE MY CAMP EARLY AND BEGIN TO EXPLORE MORE FOREST. The feel of the land is very different in the early morning; a sense of refuge fills my spirit. Mystifying, even magical. So very quiet and tranquil. The environment is similar to a rain forest from another part of the world. Well, at least similar to photographs that I have seen of rain forests. And fortunately, this woodland is lacking the deadly snakes. There is a fantastic hush, a peaceful wonder in the air. The intensity of the giants can be overwhelming.
What an impressive, imaginative, creative God we serve. To have even thought up the idea of more than a septillion of created forms, with their reproductive capacities not to mention the inner, intricate workings and details, how it all works together, harmoniously, it’s too much for me to comprehend!
My God truly reigns.
A wild turkey trots across the path, quickly into camouflaging brush, and unfortunately too quick for me to capture on camera. Well, snap! I decide to stand still for a spell, see what else may cross my path. No more critters, but I spot an ugly banana slug among the debris. It is yellow-green with brown splotches, vacuuming the forest floor. Pass.
I capture a few pics of smaller nurse logs, redwood sorrel, orangebush monkey flower, a plethora of various ferns and mosses, and of course a pretty butterfly. Scrub jays are in abundance and squawk their territorial ranges, jousting, flying swiftly at intruding jays much like fighter jets.
I stand and attempt pics demonstrating the extreme height of the redwoods but struggle with getting dizzy as I tip my head back to capture it. Seriously. This really is “looking up”. But I did get some photos nonetheless.
I’m intrigued by the notches that remain in the tree stumps. I investigate and learn that the lumberjacks would hatch these notches in order to insert what is called a springboard. After seeing an old photo of these springboards, trust me, they are aptly named. One end of the board is placed in the notch, then they continue up the tree until the final springboard is inserted. It becomes a “platform” for the logger to begin chopping the behemoth down, all by hand. The springboard is used to get beyond the widest part of the tree to begin chopping at a narrower section. I would suppose that while they stood on these springboards, with the action of chopping either another notch to get higher, or from the vigorous action of sawing the giant tree down, that those boards they were standing on really began to “spring” up and down.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until much later that they discovered the wood from these trees was inadequate for building. Such an incredible, mortifying shame to have logged these ancient giants for nothing.
Crazy or gutsy, or desperate for work?
I’m so glad we are learning from our mistakes and are becoming better stewards of our facinating planet. Be kind to your environment, and leave no trace of your adventuring.
There are interesting info and photos at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logging Please check it out. It even shows where one springboard is inserted in a neighboring tree, enabling the logger to walk along the springboard to the opposite tree with just a vertical board placed to support the unnotched end of the springboard.