The sky in Joplin, MO, was especially nice on April 11 of this year (even a contrail went the right direction) so I rushed to find a foreground. The tornado monument worked rather well. The full inscription on this side is "The Miracle of the Human Spirit." The 5-year anniversary of the tornado is May 22, 2016
Know what overcast is good for? It's just a big ole neutral density filter, albeit literally a cloudy one. So here's the transit of Mercury across the Sun at 10:26 a.m., May 9, 2016, from Reno County, KS. I added an arrow to point out the tiny, fuzzy dot that is Mercury. The larger dark area above and to the left of Mercury is a sunspot.
An old wig-wag signal still works in Joplin, MO, where the Missouri and Northern Arkansas RR crosses 3rd st. A bit of research led me to Trainweb-org, which states this is the last operating Union Switch and Signal "DW" wigwag in the United States.
South Hutchinson, Kansas, April 22, 2016 - To whatever group it was shooting fireworks in South Hutchinson as the moon rose Friday night, THANKS! I always wanted something like this to work but the angle, timing, weather, moon phase, property accessibility, etc, hadn't lined up. Unfortunately, I am reminded of that least plausible sc-fi series ever, Space:1999.
Boots Court on Route 66, Carthage, MO, Architectural Neon Re-Lighting
The Boots Court, a restored 1939 motor court on Route 66 in Carthage, MO, hosted a celebration April 9, 2016, to commemorate the recent installation of green architectural neon that resembles what it had in earlier decades.
"Architectural neon" refers to neon lighting that, rather than being on a sign, is used to decorate or to outline the form of a building.
This design was above many of the Boots' windows.
Sisters Deborah "Debye" Harvey (left) and Priscilla "Pixie" Bledsaw bought the motor court in 2011 and have been very efficient in step-by-step restoration of the place to its 1940s appearance.
About 220 people attended from several states. In pre-dusk festivities, there were kids in stereotypical 1950s attire. I guess it's easier than say, 1939 attire.
I ran into an old friend from several previous Route 66 gatherings. Ron "Tattoo Man" Jones stands by his Route 66 themed car. He is known for over 80 tattoos on his body that depict Route 66 landmarks, including the Boots.
In a previous step toward the Boots journey to its classic appearance, Ron paid for restoration of the Boots Court neon sign.
He told me he had inherited a bit of money and thought this would be a good thing to do.
A metal sign on the pole promises a radio in every room.
I met some new people as well. Jennifer Cox, supporter of the Neon Heritage Preservation program of Missouri, holds an issue of Show Me Route 66 Magazine that features articles about neon along Missouri's stretches of Route 66.
Pitot (named after part of an airplane), nicknamed "Pete," entertained the crown by standing on two legs. Pete is an Australian cobberdog, a type bred for people who need guide dogs but who are extremely allergic. I was told Australian Copper dogs do not shed. The car behind him is a 1939 Packard 6 Sedan (highly modified) owned by Dale Janssen of Joplin, who is also one of Pete's humans.
I quickly became infatuated by the Packard's hood ornament.
at the Boots was open for touring.
They only rent five rooms for the time being and they were booked up for this night.
The "radio in every room" is on the desk.
Commemorative green LED pens were given out with the request that they be held aloft when the switch was thrown to turn on the new neon.
And here's a little video I made of the countdown and the actual lighting.
After the neon was turned on, I scrambled to get as many angles as I could before it was truly dark, a condition accelerated by an impending rain storm.
Ron's car has color-changing lights so I had fun with that.
Is that a ghost? Nope; someone just walked through one of my time exposures.
...more of my infatuation with that hood ornament.
Ace Jackalope found a pin to wear.
I came back the next night (April 10), and the western sky was generous.
And the night after that (April 11), I returned to chase the crescent moon. But this wasn't quite what I wanted so I went home and came back a couple hours later.
In the background you can see the Jasper County Courthouse with the star atop it. I had thought the star was only there in the Christmas season.
I got what I wanted much later, when the setting crescent moon had to shine through layers of Kansas smoke.
Great Blue Heron Fishing at Low Water Bridge, Joplin
Check out this Great Blue Heron having a fishie.
I spotted the bird recently while driving over Joplin's Low Water Bridge and stopped to watch it for awhile. It's visible on the right.
Here it is, shot from the bridge with I-44 in the background, which illustrates that Joplin's McIndoe Park and Low Water Bridge over Shoal Creek in the south part of that Missouri city can be a great place to observe wildlife along Shoal Creek. The bridge, variously called Jackson Avenue Low Water Crossing or, locally, just "Low Water Bridge" is endangered by a proposal to replace it with a taller, wider bridge that wouldn't be as affected by flooding as this one is. See this Joplin Globe article.
This proposal has met opposition due primarily to the historic value of the bridge, built, according to bridgehunter.com, in 1919
A petition is being circulated which calls for building the new bridge nearby but keeping Low Water Bridge for pedestrian and bicycle use. I think that's a good idea and I've signed it.
So here's that Blue Heron catching the fish.
This is the second fish he caught in 20 minutes. The first time, I was too far away to get it.
Back to that bridge...
One of the design principles of a low water bridge is that, due to the lack of guard rails, water flows over the small profile of the bridge. Here's that idea in action on April 26, 2011
Shoal Creek flooded. The bridge is actually submerged but you can tell where it is by the signs.
Following are a couple more videos I've shot in McIndoe Park, near Low Water Bridge.
A Neotibicen tibicen cicada is ovipositing (laying eggs) when a weed blowing in the wind annoys her to the point that she flies away. This was July 9, 2012 at 7:50pm. Due to nomenclature changes, Neoibicen tibicen was formerly known as Tibicen tibicen and before that, Tibicen chloromera.
August 11, 2011, 9:12 p.m - I had been looking for cicadas with no luck when I happened across this snake descending a tree along Shoal Creek. Note what happens when it checks out a spider on the way down. I believe it to be a black rat snake of the genus, Pantherophis, though I cannot ID the species (probably obsoleta). If anyone can ID the snake or spider, please comment.
Laurel Kane, Route 66 personality, informal tourism ambassador and curator of Afton Station in Afton, Oklahoma, died January 28 from the consequences of a fall. She was a fan of this blog and had her own quite amusing one.
She paid me the complement of asking advice on photography questions a couple times.
Laurel ran Afton Station, an old DX station, as a visitor center and museum which displayed a number of artifacts from Buffalo Ranch, a bygone attraction of Route 66 and a favorite of my brother's and mine when we were kids.
In addition, her ex-husband has a Packard museum at Afton Station. Plans are for Afton Station to stay open.
1. Shoot that picture now, even under bad conditions, because stuff happens.
2. Don't Google "Hooker Service."
The Route 66 structure at 231 W 7th in Joplin, which housed the defunct Roma Restaurant and a Chinese place before that, was demolished January 18, 2016, to make a parking lot. I didn't know that was coming but I shot the place on the 10th of this month so I have it for my records.
I say "demolished" but what I'm thinking is "put out of our misery," for the building was once a beautiful garage called Hooker Service before its (1980s, I think) makeover into faux Chinese fast food architecture and later revamping to make it look sort of Italian.
Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise, 1981, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
In light of the present restoration and planned re-exhibit of the eleven-foot studio filming model of Star Trek's U.S.S. Enterprise at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in 2016, I thought it time to share these scans of Ektachrome slides I shot of the model in the Summer of 1981.
This largest (about eleven feet) and main studio model of the Enterprise was built in December of 1964, so is already 51 years old. A few years after the show wrapped, the model was donated to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in 1973 and went on display in 1974 after restoration, the major parts of which involved replacing the engine nacelle domes and deflector dish which had been lost.
Aside from the pre-display 1974 restoration, the model has been restored twice since these photos were taken, once in 1984 and again in 1991-92. The later restoration stirred much controversy, part of which stems from lines being inscribed on the formerly smooth underside of the saucer.
The top of the saucer has had the least restoration and is the closest to the appearance of the model when Star Trek was filmed. Even while the series was in production, alterations were made, the most noticeable being the domed bridge which was taller in the first pilot, "The Cage." The engine nacelle domes were also different, having once had spikes on them. This is a view with flash.
This is the same view as above, but without flash.
Only the starboard (right) side of the model was used for filming. The wiring that ran to the model's interior illumination protruded from the port side of the model and was taped down for exhibit purposes at the Smithsonian, as seen here. This slide (no flash) was very dark and has been lightened significantly here. The red is from reflected ambient light sources.
Flash was used in this shot. When I assembled my AMT model Enterprise in about 1973, I'd have loved to have access to photos like these.
There's an excellent accounting of the history of the model at Memory Alpha.
The Celtic Tenors and Kansas City's historic Folly Theater allowed me to record one Christmas song from my seat in the third row during the trio's December 12 show in order that I might have something special to present on The Lope on Christmas Day. I picked "O Holy Night." Thanks to James Nelson of the Celtic Tenors and Brittney McGinley of the Folly for clearing this.
Incidentally, "the Celtic Tenors Christmas" CD is right up there with Johnny Mathis' "Merry Christmas" album. (PR pic)
Christmas maven Patsy Terrell of Hutchinson, KS, poses with the trio.
Leon, Kansas, Christmas Lights, 2014 (probably 2015 too)
To motorists along Kansas hwy 400, the small town of Leon (pop 691) is where you slow to 50 mph or risk a ticket from the near-omnipresent cop car that awaits.
Last Christmas season I decided to turn north on to their Main Street and was rewarded with a neat little downtown Yuletide scene.
Lights on agricultural equipment are not that unusual.
But the tree in the middle of the intersection, surrounded by hay bales and the town's only traffic light for a topper was pretty cool. There's also a star on the grain elevator in the distance.
A closer look at that tree topper is in order.
The town of Scammon, KS, also has a tree in an intersection but does not position it with a traffic light topper.
Decorated hay bales lean against the front of the State Bank of Leon.
I'm not generally a fan of the cross as a Christmas decoration. It seems the wrong season and it's kind of skipping to the end of the book, but I did like the texture of the stone wall with jagged wood beams protruding.
The mass-produced municipal plastic lantern was a good touch. This is the same model used in Joplin, MO, but with different colors.