Thursday, September 25, 2008

Seasonal Changes

Folks visiting Mt. Rainier National Park after the Labor Day holiday should consider the NPS uses September as the transistion month for seasonal operations at visitors centers and roads. In additon, the NPS has scheduled changes to accommodate the new visitors center at Paradise. These will be described below.

Visitors Centers: The Sunrise Visitors Center is closed (9/8/08). The old Jackson Visitors Center closed this coming Monday (9/29/08) and the new one opens October 10-11th, see Web page ). The Ohanopecosh Visitors Center closes Monday October 13th. The Longmire Visitors Center is open all year except for inclement weather.

Lodging: The Paradise Inn closes October 6th and National Park (Longmire) Inn is open year around.

Campgrounds: The White River campground closes September 29th. The Ohanopecosh and Cougar Rock campgrounds close October 6th. The Sunshine campground is permanently closed and the Ipsut Creek campground is now a hike-in backcountry campground now (permit required).

Roads: All highways are currently open except the Sunrise road which closes October 14th. The Westside Road is open to Dry Creek with some section still under construction, and will close at the highway turnoff sometime later this fall, depending on snowfall.

Trails: All trails are open at this time. You can get the latest status from the NPS Web page.

That's it for now. You can get additional information from the current conditions Web page.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Old, new and free

This is the last weekend the Jackson Visitors Center built in 1966 will be open. Monday it will closed in preparation for the opening of the new visitors center October 10-11th, see the NPS press release. It was forward thinking when it was designed and built, to expand the visitor's experience with 360 view of the area with a central auditorium for shows. I can't count the number of times I've walked in and around it. It's kinda' cool and will be missed.

To honor this, the NPS at Mt. Rainier NP is waving the entry fee for everyone this weekend, the 27-28th. And after the opening of Paradise Inn in May this year, Paradise will a new visitors center October 10th, nearing completion (photo below) the weekend I was there recently.

This is a longtime in coming and well worth the investment in our National Parks and especially Mt. Rainier NP. We should consider ourselves in the Northwest and Washington State blessed.

Monday, September 22, 2008

MPG V2.4

Click on photo for Photo Guide

I have walked through and updated the entire photo guide along with redesigning the table of contents, added some new Web pages with maps for wildflowers, updated the sun/moon Web page for months through December this year, added other on-line trail and hike guides, and made some cosmetic changes to the whole suite Web pages with the photo guide.

On the horizon are updates to the 1896 expedition project and adding new Web pages for other subjects, some with maps. After that are the preparation of the Web pages for the winter season and snow conditions. And whatever else crosses my mind to do with the guide.

September is a transistion month from summer to fall into winter. Everything changes, but it's also the best time to visit and photograph in Mt. Rainier NP. There are far fewer people, often good weather - albeit cooler and more unpredictable, and the fall season for wildflowers, trees, wildlife, etc. So, it's a good time to think about being there.

Otherwise that's it and keep check this blog and the three different news Web pages (see table of contents) for new and updated information.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

1896 expedition project

In July I wrote about the first scientific expedtion in and around Mt. Rainier in 1896, including a summit by the team of geologists and support team. Since the initial finding of the report of the expedtion, I've been researching the available reports, photos and maps from 1880 to 1920. And what have I found?

Well, for one I've found a number of maps showing the different natural features and development by settlers and the government, and some more descriptions of other trips in and around Mt. Rainier. So far, it's fair to say most of the reports deal summit trips or vacation trips, the former to explore the different routes to the top of Mt. Rainier, and the latter people who visited Longmire, the first settlement, and Paradise, the first visitor destination.

It's simply looking at the early history of Mt. Rainier National Park, and I know some have done more extensive research into the early history of the NP and I'm focusing specifically on the 1896 expedtion, but it's been an excellent history lesson for me to see and try to understand what people when through and did on their visit to Mt. Rainier NP. It's a far cry from what we have and do today.

In addition, I've discovered one interesting idea. The photos in the 1898 report about the 1896 expedition weren't necessarily taken during the expedtion. Some of them I've found in some of the photo archives of photographers working around Mt. Rainier 1890 to 1900. To date I've found the negatives used with the original report, and two other photo archives of photographers. I suspect there are more, and they will be found, eventually, as I progress.

And the maps? I found and have paper or digital copies of the first USGS map of the National Park (1915 from surveys 1910-11 and 1913) and the update in 1938. I've found some other smaller maps, most in pamphlets, books or reports, from the early 1900's to the mid-1920's. It's very interesting to see the early history of the development in the NP.

And other stuff? Well, I found and have copies of some of the original notes taken by the expedition members, and I am transcribing some of it. Some of the notes haven't been found, either because the archives for the member doesn't have them or they're somewhere else, or institutions or universities have returned my inquiries yet. Looking for field note(book)s for one 2-week expedtion in the career of scientist is the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Beside the 1896 report, I plan to produce digital files of relevant information and maps so others can see the early history of the NP. Any material I provide through the photo guide will adhere to the laws governing copyrights.

And that's the story so far. I'm still researching maps and photo archives while reading the 1896 expediton narrative in sufficient detail to map their route. It's still months to maybe a few years from anything more than an idea of their route and locate the photos, and then to return there with my 4x5 camera, but hey, what could be a better project?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Table of Contents

I'm doing a walk-through of my Mt. Rainier NP photograpy guide, checking a variety of small things like typos, grammer, spelling, links, phtos, etc. and doing updates, new information, news, links, etc. along with some tinkering with the design. To this end I started with a new table of contents. And before ya'll ask, as some have, why not a fancier design using pulldown menus, flash, etc, you know all that neat Web design tricks available now, I'll explain.

Well, I only intend to use new applications in selected places through out the guide and Website, for good reasons. The main design philosophy of my guide is simplicity, not just for the user/reader in terms of keeping pages within more conventional size for reading and printing, but also for me. You see, I'm not a highly technicallly knowledgeable Web designer-developer, and the simplier the pages are, especially using a template and consistent style, the easier the pages are to add and new update.

I only plan to use new Web design technology and applications as appropriate to the content, need and interest. This is shown with the addition of subject specific Web pages in the photo guide with Google maps. You gotta remember, I'm retired, older and a little, ok a lot, slower these days. And I have time. I'm not into deadlines because I've learned it adds unnecessary stress, especially when I'm learning something new.

So I develop new ideas with the design or content in small increments until I can imagine a major design idear or change, and then see the process to implement and test it, which I can do by tinkering with one Web page and the part is the beauty of the structure and organization of my Website. Every page is individual within a common template design, and can be changed without effecting the rest of the Web pages.

I realize this isn't necessarily efficient or productive from a Website perspective, but then it gives me tremendous flexibility with the content. While the pages are all designed around a specifc browser window and within a specific size content display, closer to paper publications, it allows me to vary the content within the Web page frame for the whole array of information, with text, maps, photos, etc. and even with newer Web technologies, such as Google maps, flash, etc., as I learn.

In addition, the difference between my Website and photo guide and others' is significant. While most photographers use a static Website, meaning what you see won't change very often over time, partly due to the design and partly due to less new content, mine is a very dynamic Website being updated routinely during the month. It wouldn't pay me to design a Website I have to completely rebuild every time I update it or write one using a script I have to keep rewritiing, testing and debugging.

This doesn't mean I'm a curmudgeon about Web designs. I actually look at a lot of Websites and pages to get new ideas, and I often look at the source code to see how it was designed and developed. I don't have the resources to use a professional Web designer, nor try to learn how to keep the Website updated if I did. It has to do with a small character flaw in that I like to understand everything about my Web pages.

To that end, I don't use wysiwyg packages to develop the Web pages, you know the ones you write text in blocks, move boxes around, and fill in gui boxes about features. I use source code writers, namely Adobe's GoLive and Bare Bone's BBEdit. It has a lot neat features for a code writer, but it's still about knowing what html, css, xml, java/javascript, etc. is and does. You write and it works or not.

Anyway, that's it and that's me. I hope you enjoy the photo guide, and yes, it will evolve, currently at WSR 2.4 and MPG 2.4. The rest will just happen as it does and I do.