Saturday, September 24, 2011

Go outside today!!

Today, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation are waiving entrance fees to the parks as part of National Public Lands Day. So, get your butt outside today and go for a hike!!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Research and the Parks: North America's Earliest Beaver Discovered

The National Park Service has several national monuments dedicated to fossil beds, one of them being the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument located near Dayville, Oregon. Last week, there was a fossil find which resulted in the earliest record of beavers in North America, 7-7.3 million years ago. The oldest previous record in North America dated to approximately 5 million years ago. The oldest "true beaver" fossil comes from Germany and dates to 10-12 million years ago.

The teeth found are almost identical to those of living beavers, indicated they have changed very little over the last 7 million years. It's good to know that lands that can provide important insights to the evolutionary history of animals and plants in North America are being preserved.  You can read more about this fossil find, the fossil beds, and how the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management work together to preserve these lands online (click here).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Like to take pictures?

Are you an amateur photographer living in the Los Angeles, California area? If so, you should get yourself over to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and snap a few photographs. The National Park Service is running the Spirit of the Mountains photo contest until September 30. Apparently, this is a beautiful place to get some amazing photographs. They have several different categories you can submit photos to, and winning entries swill be featured in the visitor center. Sounds nice to me!! For more information visit the website (click here). I'll leave you with this photo for inspiration.

Rude Point Sunset by John Mueller

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Writer in Residence Job-Poet

Are you a poet looking to get away so you can work on your writing? Well, the National Park Service has an opportunity for you. You can become the writer in residence at the Carl Sandburg National Historic Site for three weeks at the end of March 2012. You get a $1,500 stipend, as well as some peace and quiet to get some writing done in the beautiful setting of Hendersonville, North Carolina. I wish they needed a biologist in residence instead!! You can learn more about it by visiting their website (click here).

Who wouldn't want to live here for a week?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering September 11-Flight 93 Memorial

Ten years ago today, something terrible happened. I don't have to tell you what, because you know what happened. You probably remember exactly where you were when it happened too. I remember that I was starting senior year in high school. I was walking to class when someone said "Some planes hit some buildings". I thought they were crazy, but sure enough, when I got to my next class the teacher told us it was real.

4 planes full of people were lost that day, along with the people in the buildings those planes hit, and all of the first responders who went in to rescue people and didn't get out in time. Memorials at the Pentagon and at the World Trade Center are fully funded. However, the memorial for the last memorial is not. Flight 93 went down in a field in Shanksville, PA. It was thought to be headed to the White House or Capitol Building, but crashed after passengers tried to take control away from the hijackers.

Today, this site is being dedicated as a national memorial within the park system. However, there are many elements to the site that have not been added due to lack of funds. These elements include a visitor center, educational exhibits, and the 40 memorial grove of trees, one for each person on the flight that day.

I implore you today to make a donation to this worthy cause. Help remember these folks who fought to the very end. You can donate specifically to this cause through the National Park Foundation (click here). To learn more about this national memorial, you can visit the National Park Service dedicated website (click here).

Also, you can pay tribute to the other victims that day by visiting the other two memorials. Information on the Pentagon Memorial (click here) and the memorial at the site of the World Trade Center (click here) can be found at their dedicated websites.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Monocacy National Battlefield

Last Saturday, the hubby and I decided we needed to get out of the house and do something. It was a little gray and rainy, but we didn't care. I insisted that our outside activity included a visit to a national park site we hadn't been to yet. We settled on Monocacy National Battlefield for two reasons. The first is that we really like the area where it is located, just outside of Frederick, Maryland. The second is that you have to drive around to look at the sites. Being that it was rainy, we thought this was a good idea. The first place we stopped is the visitor center. We wanted to get ourselves oriented for the rest of the day. The visitor center also had an exhibit about the battle and a small gift shop (so I could get a little souvenir). Some pictures from the exhibits at the visitor center can be seen below.


The hats that they wore were known as kepis.

Looking out from the visitor center.

Me dressed up like a soldier.

 After we got all the information we needed, we started on the self-guided auto tour. The locations are numbered based on the sequence of the battle. We didn't go on the tour based on that though, we went based on the ease of driving. Our first stop was the Best Farm. I love looking at old houses, and this was one of them on this tour. Some pictures of this stop can be seen below.

The Best House

Trying out black and white pics with my camera. 


Fields of soybeans

Window inside of what might have been an old barn

Inside this old barn, their were little animal tracks

And the animal tracks led to this den like area.
I'm guessing it might be a fox den.

Inside the old barn

Outside of the old barn

Next, we stopped briefly at the 14th New Jersey monument. This marks the approximate center of the Union skirmish line.

 Our next stop was Gambrill Mill. What's nice about visiting this civil war site is that there are some walking trails you can go on. Gambrill Mill has one of those trails, which we decided to walk.

I loved this because it was a huge overgrown
meadow wherethe wheat fields used to be.

Hubby liked this tree because it was 3 in 1.

Bridge mentioned in the previous picture (obviously the burned down one was replaced).

Remnants from the old wheat fields.

Gambrill House is located here. Apparently, this is where the NPS trains
people on how to restore historic houses.

The mill. The visitor's center used to be located here.

Algae covered pond
We next headed to Thomas Farm. Here we hiked on the Thomas Farm Loop Trail and the Middle Ford Ferry Loop Trail. The Thomas Farm Loop Trail goes around what appears to be a still active corn field. The Middle Ford Ferry Loop Trail goes to where  you can see the Monocacy River. We really liked this trail, especially because no one was on it!!

Canadian geese in a cornfield

Barn and silo

Heading towards the trail

Cows from the neighboring farm

Looking back at the barn was we head up the trail

Hubby on the trail with the cornfield to the left

Ear of corn the hubby found

The large cornfield

Playing with the black and white settings again

Hay bale from far next door

It's hard to see, but we saw 8-10 deer feeding in the cornfield

The Monocacy River

On the Middle Ford Ferry Loop Trail

Back onto the Thomas Farm Loop Trail. Do you see the deer?

Looking off the trail into the woods where the deer ran off into

There's a deer in there somewhere

You could see the next stop on the auto tour at a distance from this trail

After that enjoyable hike, we headed to our final stop on the auto tour, the Worthington Farm. There was a really pretty old house. There are also two trails at this stop, but we didn't go on these. We'll save those for next time.

Hubby on the road to the house

Views from near Worthington House

Loved the red color of this house

Hubby in the kepi he insisted on getting at the gift shop

So, you can't actually go into the house. I took this picture thru the glass
next to the front door. Really love the staircase. 

Full view of the house
 Hubby and I really enjoyed our visit to the National Battlefield. If you want to learn more about the actual battle, you can read the brochure (click here). If you are in the D.C. area, this would make a really lovely day trip.