Thursday, June 25, 2015

Picture of the Moment - Minnesota Misty Summer Morning

An iPhone 6 isn't the best camera, but you use what you have when the moment is magic.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Northern Minnesota Wildflowers - Colorful Summer Invaders

It's late spring or early summer in northern Minnesota, wildflower season. Roadside and forest meadows burst forth in early June, heralding the short growing season. It's a vibrant explosion of color, where some of the most prominent blooms are expatriates. We humans are not the only world travellers. Duluth, on Lake Superior, is the natural base from which to set out and appreciate the display. The great port on the greatest of lakes was also the entry point for these beautiful invaders.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Support Your Local Red Cross Heroes

Oklahoma tornado relief from
Hello friends around the world. As you may have recently seen, I am now a "Social Advocate" for the American Red Cross in Minnesota. As a frequent traveller, I am aware that any any moment I may need to rely on the emergency services provided by the Red Cross at home or abroad.

I'll be attending the 2015 Minnesota Red Cross Heroes Breakfast to be held at the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Minneapolis (Bloomington) this Thursday, June 18 from 7-10 am CST. This inspiring event will honor everyday people who helped others during a time of great need. See their stories here. If you're in Minnesota, you can register for the event here.

If you have a Twitter account, please consider retweeting messages I post (from @MichaelOrobona ) or those from others on the team during that time (Thursday, June 18th from 7-10 am CST), so we can keep the hashtags for the breakfast -- #RedCrossHeroes and #MNRedCross -- trending! Or, please share my related Facebook posts between now and the event (and after).

Be a hero. Consider supporting your own local Red Cross chapter, whether by giving blood, time or treasure. You may need it someday.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A Day in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Volcanoes. For a geologist they are the driving reason to visit Hawai'i. Along with dinosaurs (paleontology), volcanoes are one of the specialized fields of study where my profession intersects with coolness. My 8-year-old son prepared for our visit by watching an episode of the Magic School Bus, which raised me in his professional esteem. While my wife did most of the planning for our Hawai'i vacation, for Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park I possessively set the itinerary. 

Our first stop was logically at the Kīlauea Visitor Center, about an hour's climbing drive (45 km) from Hilo. It's an important first stop where rangers convey current park conditions. It is also a good place to purchase a jacket or hooded sweatshirt. Cold-weather apparel isn't on the priority packing list for most vacationers in tropical paradise, but moist air rising from the sea can make even the moderate elevations around Kīlauea (4000 ft or 1220 m) bone-chillingly damp. The visitor center gift shop does brisk business in rain gear and warm clothes, at prices that would make an exclusive vendor of water in the desert blush.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Antheraea Polyphemus Moth - Minnesota

Antheraea polyphemus can have the wingspan of a small bird, ranging from 10-15 cm (4-6 inches). This specimen is only about 12 cm wide, still significantly wider than my palm. A common large moth of North America, this one was observed resting adjacent to the door of my office complex in Forbes, Minnesota.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Picture of the Moment: Split Rock Lighthouse, Silver Bay, Minnesota

Split Rock Lighthouse, located in a state park of the same name near Silver Bay, is one of the most photographed spots in the State of Minnesota and a National Historic Landmark. Beyond is the massive Lake Superior, which contains approximately 10% of the liquid fresh water on Earth. Situated on a dramatic vertical cliff of diabase (shallowly emplaced intrusive igneous rock) about 130 feet (40 m) above the north shore of the lake, the lighthouse was built in response to the great Mataafa storm of November, 1905 that claimed 29 ships on Superior. Split Rock is widely considered one of the most beautiful lights in the United States, and the park is very popular with tourists during the summer months.

Framed prints of the light are a staple amongst local professional photographers. This unprofessional photo was taken just southwest of the lighthouse from a scenic viewpoint turn-off.

The lighthouse was retired in 1969, but still puts out a light annually in commemoration of the famous 1975 wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Split Rock Lighthouse is an easy hour's drive northeast from Duluth, Minnesota on the scenic State Highway 61.