As our week at the beach came to an end, Brian from next door came over to let me know there was a nice sunset and that I should come out with my camera. There was this single cloud, far out to sea, lit by the setting sun, surrounded by the blue of the ocean, the sky, and the other clouds. I’m pretty happy with this picture as a relaxing reminder of a mostly relaxing week. Being with family for a week, it’s inevitable that there will be little things but for the most part, it was very nice and that’s how I’m going to remember it. The cottage we were in this year was good, in terms of layout, giving us the space we needed to spread out. Having the pool was a bonus and more enjoyable that I would have expected. It was shared with the three connected units, but that hardly mattered. One of those units was our cousins and it was nice being so close to them. If nothing else, it meant they could stick their head in our door and let us know about sunsets (and, as it turned out tomorrow morning, leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) hatching at the end of our path to the beach).
As usual, we took a family photo at the beach on the last day when everyone was still there (George and Carmela left shortly after the photo was taken). Tsai-Hong and Cathy had gone for a walk and were a long time getting back, which created some tension. Of course they were understandably not anxious to sit for a picture the moment they got back. They had walked to the far end of the island and back, covering over eight miles. The weather cooperated, though, as the light overcast meant we didn’t have to squint into the sun or put our faces in shadow by facing away.
I’ve gone to the Green Swamp a few times during our weeks at the beach. Sometimes with a largish group and sometimes just a few others. I went by myself today and had a nice time. I planned not to go too far, with the primary goal of getting some pictures. I got some nice shots of Venus fly traps (Dionaea muscipula) and sundews (Drosera sp.). It was fairly dry and many of the pitcher plants (the purple Sarracenia purpurea And the yellow Sarracenia flava) were a little the worse for that. Still, I got some pictures. I also got a good shot of a palamedes swallowtail (Papilio palamedes (. But this is my favorite photo from the trip, showing the long leaf pines (Pinus palustris).
Cathy and I drove to the east end of Ocean Isle this morning and walked on the beach, looking for shells and coral and I took a few pictures. The other day we had noticed a boardwalk going into the scrub off of one of the back streets and we decided to see where it led. from the corner of e 4 sup th /sup and winston-salem streets we followed a combination of boardwalks (over wet areas) and sandy trails that go as far as Charlotte Street (although we didn’t actually go all the way to the end). We saw three species of spider. There were lots of these spinybacked orbweavers (Gasteracantha cancriformis). We also saw a golden-silk orbweaver (Nephila clavipes) and a black-and-yellow argiope (Argiope aurantia). I also got a pretty nice photo of a slant-faced grasshopper (Subfamily Gomphocerinae). It was hot but there were occasional breezes and it was mostly shady, so we enjoyed it pretty well.
Today was the first day this week I went out to take pictures of the sunrise. I thought about it two other days but didn’t go out. There are often nice sunrises here but I simply didn’t feel like it. Today I did and was rewarded with some nice pictures. When I first went out it was very blue. The clouds and the ocean were various shades ranging from pale to dark. Eventually, the sun actually rose and a fair amount of orange was added to the sky and the reflection of the sky in the water. This photo doesn’t really show much of the blue.
We have one evening each year where we all go out to dinner together, both our family and my Uncle George’s family. We were 26 for dinner this evening and if you’ve ever gone to a restaurant and said, “party of 26” you’ll have some idea what that’s like. Actually, this restaurant, the Inlet View outside of Shallotte, North Carolina, is pretty well equipped for groups that size. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to go early, if you don’t want a really long wait. After dinner we tried to get a photo of the youngest generation. Taking a picture of four children aged between just over a year and not quite five is a challenge, and this is about as good as I was able to get. At least none of them are screaming.
Generally you look west in the evening to see the sunset and the best colors are often in that direction. This evening the best view was to the east, as seen here. Although we’re on the eastern coast of North America, the coastline runs almost due east-west right here. So, rather than the sun rising over the ocean and setting over land, it rises to the left on the beach and sets to the right. Although I took a lot of pictures, mostly what I was doing was enjoying the reflections of the light as each wave receded, leaving a very flat, highly reflective surface on the lower beach.
It’s interesting how differently children react to things. Take the beach, for instance, and the waves from the ocean. Silas seems to really love the water and is happy sitting at the edge of the surf, letting the water come to him. His cousin is more apprehensive. I have no doubt that Kaien will grow into a love for the water to match his father’s but for now, he’s not so sure. Of course, a year from now, Silas might have traded his enjoyment for a more cautious approach. Every kid is different and even one kid changes from year to year. But for now, this little man is enjoying the beach.
We had a pretty sunset this evening. there was not a huge amount of color but on the horizon it was very nice and I thought it looked especially good through the dune grass growing between our cottage and the beach. We had a nice day with a very calm ocean for swimming. I’m a fan of body surfing and although it was quite calm, there were occasional waves that were good for riding. Cathy prefers using a boogie board, which is fine, but I like the feel of the water.
Cathy and I took a walk on the beach this morning, heading east. We stopped for a while to enjoy the tail end of the church service on the beach and then continued as far as the pier. On our way back, as we neared out cottage, we saw a bird circling over the water and occasionally diving for fish. As we got closer we were able to identify it as an osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and I was able to get a few pretty nice pictures, considering I only had a 100mm lens. I had thought about the possibility of renting a longer lens for this trip but decided against it. Birds are fine to photograph but really, this trip is not about wildlife photography, so I decided to put it off for another trip.
We spent the better part of the day driving to Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina today. We were delayed a little by a flat tire and the time it took to get that replaced but better to have it happen near home that when we were traveling 70 MPH on the highway. Traffic between the Occoquan River Bridge and Fredericksburg was as bad as ever. Actually, worse. Generally the GPS says “Fastest route despite delays” but today it not only told us to get off of 95 onto US 1, it twice took us off of Route 1 onto smaller streets. I’m not entirely sure that saved us any time and the delay added about two hours to the drive, but we did finally make it to the beach and were able to relax a bit. As you can see, we arrived to fine weather and a calm Atlantic Ocean.
I went out into the empty lot next to my building today but didn’t get a lot of pictures to show for it. There was a small depression in the ground, it looked like it might have been a deer footprint, with a small spider web in it. The spider web had water droplets on it, and that’s what you see here. The web itself is practically invisible so it just looks like water droplets floating in air. Very cool, I think. I didn’t have a tripod and even if I did, getting this close to the ground is a problem. I have a new (used) tripod with legs that spread far enough to get me pretty low but the central post is too long for that to make a difference. In any case, just the tripod head is too tall in this case. A bean bag would have been better, but I didn’t have that, either.
As I’ve mentioned, the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is the most plentiful, large butterfly in our yard all summer. They are followed by the monarch (Danaus plexippus) in a distant second place. They generally are harder to photograph than the swallowtails but this one let me get close and I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s perched on Verbena bonariensis growing in our front yard, near where the Colorado spruce used to be.
I was taking photos of the black-eyed Susan flowers this evening when I spotted this little fly, a transverse flower fly (Eristalis transversa) visiting them. It wouldn’t stay still for very long and I had a hard time getting a good picture. Ideally it would be on top of the dark eye in the flower, but I wasn’t able to get that. I like the combination of colors that matches the flowers. These are pretty little flies and easily spotted in the garden. As flies go, I enjoy these about as much as any.
We bought a new car today. It’s new to us, anyway, although it’s a 2007, so not really new. The timing is pretty great, coming as it does shortly after the old 2000 Town and Country gave up the ghost in Chicago, as Dorothy and Abba were driving to Albuquerque. I happened to mention Dorothy’s woes to a few coworkers and one of them said her parents were going to sell their car—also a Town and Country—because they are moving to Florida and already have cars there. We made the transaction today but still need to get it registered, but it’s here. The new pride of the fleet.
The tigers are out in force. We have tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium) blooming in a few areas in the yard. They are especially spectacular in the morning when the sun is on them. We also have tiger swallowtails (Papilio glaucus) in pretty good numbers. They are mostly on the tiger lilies and on the buddleia bushes and we’ve counted more than ten together on one buddleia bush. Most of them are the standard yellow and black but about ten percent are the darker version that I photographed a few days ago.
A few days ago I had a picture of a spider web, taken in Rock Creek Park (see Thursday, July 18, 2019). I mentioned that it belonged to a spined Micrathena (Micrathena gracilis) but the spider wasn’t in the picture. Today we had a little time before church so we walked in the Stadtman Preserve for a little and I saw another spined Micrathena and got this picture of her. It frankly isn’t a great picture but you can see where it gets its “spined” appellation. Sorry I have nothing better for today. Maybe tomorrow.
We hadn’t planned on going downtown today. It was about 100°F late this afternoon and we had not real interest in being out any more than necessary. However, we drove Cathy’s mom to a wedding in Rosslyn so we were pretty close. We went across the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge and parked just off of Constitution Avenue and then walked each to 14th street.
After getting dinner from a food truck and eating it in a pretty, little patio garden next to the African American Museum, we found our viewing spot for the show. I won’t say I remember it like it was yesterday but I definitely remember watching and being excited by the Apollo 11 moon launch and landing. For the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, a Saturn V rocket image was projected onto the side of the Washington Monument, starting at about 9:00 PM.
Then at 9:30, a show began, where they “constructed” the rocket on the launch pad and then it took off. We watched the stages separate and then the command and service modules, with the LEM attached, headed off to the moon, carrying Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. It was very hot and of course there were lots of people. Nevertheless, we were absolutely glad we went and really enjoyed the show.
Cathy’s mom had a visit today from an old friend and her husband. They brought these flowers, which was nice, and they looked lovely in the late afternoon sun coming in through the dining room windows. I took pictures of them from a bunch of different angles. Deep reds like this are a challenge for my digital camera and they tend to overwhelm the sensor but this one turned out pretty well. No disrespect meant towards Canon. It’s a really intense color and it came out well. Our eyes are such remarkable organs with the ability to see such a huge range of color and brightness that it isn’t actually surprising that technology is still trying to get there. We’ve come a long way, though.
I stopped and walked into Rock Creek Park on the way home today. It’s a nice, wooded area and generally away from traffic, so I like being there. It’s definitely high summer now and the underbrush is about at it’s deepest but I’m happy to leave the bike path and walk the short distance through the brush to the creek itself. I passed a few spider webs, which isn’t unusual this time of year, but it wasn’t until I got to this one that I stopped. This one had the sun shining on it and that made it a lot easier to photograph. This was made by a spined Micrathena (Micrathena gracilis), one of the orb weavers (family Araneidae).