The Dragon Wagon

The Dragon Wagon
The landscaping changes often.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

California's Thomas Fire and Aftermath

While spending some time back in Southern California, we've been close to the massive Thomas wildfire.  This fire has now become the largest single wildfire in California since records for fire sizes began in the 1930s.  This fire was the result of a "perfect storm" of conditions, including no measurable rain in over 240 days, large amounts of very dry fuels (some of which had not burned in decades), extremely low relative humidity levels (as low as 1%), higher than normal temperatures and strong and gusty off-shore winds.

We were in the Cachuma Lake campground a few days after the fire began and the smoke and ash became fairly heavy.

Smoke covered sun.

Looking towards the Santa Ynez Mountain range

By December 28th, the main fire activity was well away from the populated coastal areas and road closures and evacuation orders had been lifted.  We decided to drive around to look at how close it had come to Santa Barbara County coastal communities and to view the aftermath of the fire.

Palm trees at Faria Beach

Foothills behind Carpinteria

Foothills behind Montecito

A close call...

...and a very grateful homeowner

Some areas had Phos-Chek fire retardant sprayed from trucks.

A Phos-Chek line dropped by aircraft

Overall, an army of firefighting crews did an amazing job of saving structures.  Only a few homes in the Carpinteria/Montecito areas were lost.  Unfortunately, many homes were lost in Ventura in the first day of the fire.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Yellowstone 2017

After heading west from South Dakota, we decided to drop down to visit Yellowstone.  We first spent a few days based in Gardiner, Montana, and then a few days based in West Yellowstone, Montana.

A badger near the Slough Creek Road

The trees in the Lamar Valley had pretty much lost their leaves.

Soda Butte at eastern end of the Lamar Valley

Interesting geology near Gardiner

Elk were still mowing the grass in Mammoth Village.

Bald Eagle near Swan Lake

Dusting of snow at Sheepeater Cliffs

A very empty Hayden Valley

Raven hoping for a handout

We got a couple inches of snow one night in Gardiner.

The snow didn't help our solar panel output.

Steam rising from Lower Geyser Basin

Panorama of the Midway Geyser Basin

Grand Prismatic Spring from the newly opened overlook

A coyote seen near Fountain Flat Drive

We often saw these creatures in the rivers.

A "small" crowd for the eruption of Old Faithful Geyser

Swan in the Firehole River

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Spearfish Canyon South Dakota

After spending several days in Rapid City to establish South Dakota as our legal domicile, we spent a couple of nights in Spearfish, South Dakota, to visit Spearfish Canyon.  Spearfish Canyon is a narrow gorge carved by Spearfish Creek in the northern edge of the Black Hills.

Since it was well into October, there was some nice fall color.

And a very dry waterfall

Some type of red berry

The previous night had dusted the higher elevations with some fresh snow.

As we drove to higher elevation, we got into the snow.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Sheffield New Brunswick Genealogy

We stopped in the Sheffield area along the St. John River in New Brunswick to do a little more genealogical research for Barbara.

Barbara found this plat map in the online New Brunswick archives that shows King's Land Grants that were issued in 1764.

Barbara's fourth great-grandfather, Samuel Upton, came from Massachusetts in 1764 and was awarded the plot numbered 27 on this map.  It was intriguing that the plots were 40 rods (220 yards) wide and up to 7 miles deep.  This insured that everyone had access to the river.

We happened to stay in a small campground in Sheffield associated with a country store and restaurant named Casey's.

While playing around with the map of land grants and some Google satellite imagery, we discovered that the campground just happened to sit right on the river end of Barbara's ancestor's land!

A short distance from Casey's store was this old house being reclaimed by the local vegetation.