Friday, September 23, 2016

Photo Friday: Colorado in the fall

Last weekend I had the pleasure of spending 3 days in Colorado, hanging out with friends of the backpacking persuasion and doing a little hiking. I thought I'd share some photos.

We were camped at about 9500' in the mountains near Golden, CO (home of Coors Beer and the Colorado School of Mines, two facts which I hope are unrelated).
Aspens near camp where just starting to turn.

Food was a central theme of the weekend. That's not surprising--not only is it natural in any gathering of people, but backpackers are particularly obsessed with food.
Something good was heating in the dutch oven.
The member from Louisiana made gumbo.
On Saturday, a few of us went off to try our sea-level lungs against 13,605' Grey Wolf Mountain, from Guanella Pass. This is the same trailhead as for the heavily-traveled Bierstadt Mountain trail, but we quickly left the trail for a cross-country route we had all to ourselves.
Bierstadt on the right, and we are headed left--once we get through the willows and swamps. There were comments from the Louisiana hiker about coming all the way to CO to hike in a swamp. I contended that it was much nicer, because there were no gators nor snakes in this swamp.
Once out of the willows, the climbing began. It was sunny, but breezy and cool, as it is wont to be in late September at 11,000' or so. With the ground cover only ankle high we could pick our route with ease.
Who stole all the oxygen??
Halfway up there was a beautiful tarn.
In the morning.
The afternoon sky and light made it almost perfect. Note the snow on the north face of Bierstadt. There were localized thunderstorms in the area the day before, leaving bits of snow here and there high up.
The only "person" we saw on the climb was a mountain goat. Unlike some, he didn't come mooching, but required a long telephoto.

 Part of the fun of hiking with guys is they can handle the heavy lifting. Big mountains require big cairns.
Not really. That was there when we got there, and no way could they have actually lifted it, nor where they going to try.
 Three of us reached the summit of Grey Wolf Mtn.
I'm on the right in purple, in case you can't tell. It was blowing hard on the summit.
From the summit we could see how wide-spread the aspens are.

On the way back to camp we stopped and got a closer look at some of those aspens.

I haven't seen very many aspens that turn red, but there were patches of them, some much redder than these.
Just to cap it all off, while flying home on Monday, I got to look down on the area we hiked. The tallest thing with the long face pointing toward us is Mt. Evans, which has a road pretty much to the top for easy 14er-bagging. Just to its right is Bierstadt, and Grey Wolf Mountain is just in front of it.
Not a great photo because of shooting out the window of the plane.

Happy autumn equinox (only a day or two late)!

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2016
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday Update

Work slowed down over the weekend as the Ninja Librarian was checking out the fall color in Colorado and finishing an editing project for writer Lisa Frieden. But The Problem of Peggy is entering the final editing stages (we hope!), and the cover should be ready for release next week.

In other book news, the price for The Ninja Librarian has dropped to 99 cents for the ebook, at Amazon or Smashwords. So get a copy and discover the world of Skunk Corners for yourself!

Don't forget to take a look at Book 2, Return to Skunk Corners!

And now, just for fun, a glimpse of the golden aspens in Colorado. It was just a little early for the best color, but the weather was beautiful and so were the trees.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Middle Grade Monday: White Sands, Red Menace


Title: White Sands, Red Menace
Author: Ellen Klages
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers, 2008. 344 pages.
Source: Library

Publisher's Summary:
It is 1946. World War II is over--ended by the atomic bomb that Dewey Kerrigan's and Suze Gordon's scientist parents helped build. Dewey's been living with the Gordons since before the war's end, before her father died, moving south with them to Alamogordo, New Mexico. At the White Sands Missile Range, Phil Gordon is working on rockets that will someday go to the moon; at home, Terry Gordon is part of the scientists' movement against the Bomb. Dewey and Suze have conflicts of their own. Where does a girl who likes physics and math fit in? How do you know the right time to speak up and the right time to keep your head down? And, most important of all: What defines a family? 

My Review: 
I read and reviewed The Green Glass Sea a few weeks ago, and liked it enough that I hunted up the sequel to follow up on what became of Dewey and Suzy. The book is different from the first, but did not disappoint.

Despite being set in the heart of world-changing events, these books aren't about the big picture. They are about the lives of a couple of 12 or 13-year-old girls working out their own places in the world. Even more than The Green Glass Sea, I found White Sands, Red Menace to be about both girls, switching from Dewey's perspective to Suzy's in an easy-to-follow way (chapter by chapter), but not in a set pattern as far as I could tell. The author simply brings us into each girl's life when circumstances call for it.

On the surface, it is Dewey who has the most to deal with: her mother vanished when Dewey was a baby, so with her father dead she's pretty much an orphan, but not quite legally available for adoption, either. So she carries around a fear that the Gordons won't want or be able to keep her, and occasional battles with Suzy don't help.

But Suzy's life isn't easy either. She struggles with jealousy as her mother and Dewey share their love of science, leaving out the artistic Suzy. She just wants to go home to Berkeley and have everything like it was before the war. Instead, her father keeps wanting to stay on, enthralled by the excitement of what they are doing at Almagordo. It's pulling her family apart, and sometimes Suzy blames Dewey. And, for the first time, both girls make new friends, apart from each other, as they follow their own interests. We see them gradually working out how to be siblings without being in each other's faces all the time.

Once again the author brings meticulous research to the job to make 1940s Almagordo come to life, and modern children may be shocked to find that Dewey isn't allowed to take shop, and the Hispanic families aren't allowed to live in most neighborhoods of the town (even though, in fact, they were there first). For me, I'm old enough to remember when the curricular divide between boys and girls was still a de facto one, if not a matter of regulation, and I feel with Dewey's deep resentment of this! The growing concern about nuclear weapons and the divide between the scientists in the Gordons' own household is also well presented.

Definitely a sequel worth reading. I recommend starting with The Green Glass Sea, as things will make a great deal more sense and that was a great read. Ages 11 up, or thereabouts. There aren't exactly "adult" issues, but but definitely some adolescent issues come up.

Note: We visited White Sands National Monument (kind of on the opposite side from where the test site was) in, I think, 1968. Wish I had some photos to share, because the white sand is an amazing sight!

And my brother sent me some pictures! Color is a little weird because they are scanned from slides taken in the 1960s. So this isn't all that long after Suzy was there.
Like snow, only warm!

The campground (or picnic area?)

FTC Disclosure: I checked White Sands, Red Menace out of my library, and received nothing from the writer or publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are my own and those of no one else.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."