Snow

Snow is rare on the Texas Gulf Coast. We typically get snow when it’s just above freezing, and it often melts as soon as it hits the warm ground. I knew it was lightly snowing when I went to bed Thursday night … but I never expected to wake up to a traditional winter wonderland.

Since snow that sticks is so rare, enjoying it is a two-step process: take lots of photos to prove it happened and play!

So here is my proof there was snow at my house.

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And here I am after making a snow angel.

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And here I am making a giant snowball to make a snowman.

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It turns out that making giant snowballs is hard work! And it also turns out that rolling the too-heavy-to-pick-up snowball across the warm driveway broke up the snowball. But I persevered and made a snowman.

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They say play is good for you. I think I got my fair share on Friday.

What do you like to do in the snow?

Loch Ness Monster

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While we were in Scotland, we drove past Loch Ness on the way to the Isle of Skye. We stopped and scanned the loch for monsters, but had no success. Unlike “see the Northern Lights”, I did feel like I could cross “search Loch Ness for monsters” off my bucket list. I hadn’t really expected to see any.

So imagine my surprise the next day when we were walking through the islands in the Ness River when we came across the monster! And it was very friendly, allowing us to sit on it for photos. My husband added to it, giving it feather ears. It was a delightful surprise, partly because it was a surprise.

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If you’re ever in the area, I recommend searching for it yourself.

Northern Lights, Inverness, Scotland, 3 AM

Whenever I am north, I always check two things: what is the geomagnetic activity and is the sky dark and clear?

We were in Scotland last week visiting our son and travelled to Inverness to see the sights up there. We scouted out a good aurora viewing spot (on the 5th floor of a parking garage) just in case. The sky was clear. I knew the geomagnetic activity would need to be at least kp 5 to have a chance of seeing anything, especially from the city. I set my alarm for 3 AM because that was when the predictions said we might have enough activity. I checked the aurora web site and saw this:

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Geomagnetic activity above kp 6! A G2 geomagnetic storm!

It was cold, but we went outside. It looked like there was a green glow around the moon.

I had my tiny travel tripod, and it did not reach high enough to see the horizon over the parking garage walls. But there was a handy grit container that I could put the tripod over to see over the wall.

I had read that unless you are very far north, the lights are not overhead but on the horizon, so I aimed my camera at the northern horizon.

Originally, the light was dim, but then it got brighter and it was green and it moved! What a treat! Then it went away, and it was time to get out of the cold and get a little more sleep before our tour in the morning.

Unfortunately, we did not get to see the Northern Lights again on this trip.  I hope to see them again sometime in the future!

Camera geek info:

Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at f/5.6, 8 second exposure, ISO 1250

Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus at infinity

Tripod

Cable release

Movie geek info:

Pictures cropped to use lower right quarter

Title screen 2 sec, other pictures 0.5 sec