Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 Alsatia Mummers Parade

There were enough pictures of the Alsatia Mummers Parade that I decided to split it off into its own blog entry. I was only able to stay for the first 10 minutes of the parade, but I took a bunch of pictures anyway. Unfortunately, I have had to manipulate the levels quite a bit because it was already pretty dark by the time the parade began and there wasn't much light where I was (at the start of the parade route). This is the banner at the start of the parade.

One of the first marchers in the parade is Little Heiskell, an icon of Hagerstown.

This was the first of many floats in the parade.

Here is Elmo and somebody who looks like Santa.

Santa had his own ride though. That would come later in the parade.

Here's a float for the Tri-State Farm Toy Collectors Club.

This float is loaded up with toddlers in some sort of cheerleading organization. There would be more small cheerleaders.

The scouts with another entry. The floats are judged, by the way.

Not all of the floats look like floats.

Some are pulled by antiques like this steam engine.

And some look like they should be pulled by something on four legs (although this one was hitched up to a pickup!).

And some floats carry things that should be on four legs, I guess.

An antique bus was also technically a float, maybe?

The Ali Ghan Shriners were there in force also. This is one of their cars warming up.

Some other cars they brought.

Well, this kind of looks like a hearse to me, but back in the day, they used hearses as ambulances, and that's what the first ambulances were modeled on, so I guess this is technically an old ambulance.

And the Shriners had a fire truck. They were prepared for any emergency involving their tiny cars, I guess!

There were lots of modern firetrucks, too.

Floats aren't the only thing in the parade. There are plenty of people marching along. Soldiers of different eras led the parade this year. There were some modern soldiers.

And there were some Civil War soldiers.

And even further back, to the Revolutionary War! Kind of like Little Heiskell!

There were color guards also.

The soldiers are not the only ones marching. A feature of this parade is the mummers. Basically, if you have a costume, and you want to march in the parade, you just sign up and do that. The local paper reports that there haven't been many mummers in recent years. The mummers are also judged and can win prizes. I think with a little more publicity they could get some more people to march in the parade as mummers!

This pair of mummers had a Christmas theme, even though the parade is held near Halloween.

Ah . . . did somebody say Halloween? This guy in the William Shatner mask was probably staying up past his bedtime to march in the parade!

More small persons marching in the parade, this time cheering their way along.

We have plenty of beauty pageants around here it seems. Here is Miss Outstanding Teen.

Nearby was Miss Washington County.

Another small cheerleader. Her eyes were not nearly so glowing in real life. Although that would have been cool.

And what does a flag squad march in front of?

That's right. A marching band. There are plenty of bands that march in the parade.

I didn't get to see a lot of the bands because I had to leave the parade early.

Last up, the banner for my old alma mater. One of them. I never did march in the band in high school. Too many classes, not enough time!

Saturday, October 31, 2009 

Category: Life

Sunday, August 30, 2009

August 2009!

Well, it's mid-November, so that means it's just about time I should be uploading pictures from August, right? So here they are. First up is a picture of the community event held by the church near my house. There was food, there was music (see the band under the tent on the right?), and there were games.

There was also a rock wall for kids. How about that?

Ever seen a tree exploded by lightning? These are some pictures from the first of a few geocaching trips I made in Greenbrier State Park.

This tree kind of wrecked its immediate surroundings. It was pretty tall.

A side view of the tree.

A close-up of the burned core of the tree trunk.

Here's the other side, equally charred.

This is why it is a bad idea to stand near a tall tree in a thunderstorm. The lightning strike blew burned, splintered shrapnel like this all over the place.

I think this was just another tree the exploded tree took out.

This is a picture of the top of the tree trunk.

And this is a picture of the bottom of the tree trunk. See how it goes all the way down? The roots are probably burned up, too.

This is a picture of the clearing that the falling tree both left and made. Maybe I'll visit the site again in the spring and see what grows up there.

I spent most of the weekends in the last half of August hiking around Greenbrier to find geocaches. This bolt was in the post of the sign that is at one of the park entrances.

Oh, but that was not just any bolt! It was a geocache container, big enough to just hold the log to sign.

There were all sorts of critters living on the sign. Or is it in the sign. Or around the sign? Anyway, I remember that on this trip I saw all kinds of granddaddy long legs. Granddaddy long legs are arachnids, but they are not spiders. Wikipedia also says there are 6400 species of them. Don't ask me which one this is. The article on Wikipedia refers to them as harvestmen--apparently this is the more common name for these things, but I never heard it before.

There were also some yellow jackets, which did not seem overly aggressive, which is a good thing. Apparently, yellow jackets are wasps. But not all wasps are yellow jackets, eh? Thanks again Wikipedia.

There are trails that go all through Greenbrier. Next to one of them is this low stone wall. I have no idea what it's doing in the middle of the woods. But there it is. I am sure there is some sort of history attached to it.

On this particular day, I was on a trail that lead up to a spot near the dam that created the lake. Looks remote huh?

Yeah, not quite. Unlike some of my geocache adventures, this is a state park, not a forest, preserve, or wildlife management area. That means it's developed! Of course, I was on the other side . . . .

This is a picture of Black Rock. I think. You can see a picture from Black Rock looking down at the lake in my blog entry called, conveniently enough, Black Rock. It is a little hard to see the lake in the picture though. You can only see the edge.

The following weekend, I went on a different trail. I saw these vines with blue berries and perfectly triangular leaves. I had never seen this kind of plant before.

Some hunting on the Internet led me to unhappy conclusion that this is an aggressive invasive species of plant known as Mile-A-Minute weed. It's a shame that it causes problems because it is not really a bad-looking plant! This was the first of two vines I encountered with small blue berries on them in Greenbrier. The second will have to wait until the next blog entry!

The remaining pictures are of a weird sunset near the end of August. I was on my way home from work, so these pictures were all taken with the camera in my phone.

The sky was gray and overcast, except that beyond the mountains, the sun was setting and causing the whole sky to take on a weird, uniform, orange-gray color in the west that gradually turned into gray.

Hopefully I will never see a color in real life that looks like this. If I do, it will probably be the last thing I do see before the shock wave from the nuclear blast hits me. But the orange glow was getting brighter the further I headed west. Still no visible clouds, though, just the uniform gray lit up by the orange.

Finally, when I cleared the second mountain on my way home, I got to see the edge of the clouds. The setting sun had apparently managed to find one patch of clear sky to squeeze into that was underneath the low-hanging solid gray cloud but still above the horizon and too low to be seen behind the mountains. It was something I've never seen before as far as I can remember.

From here on out, it's just the weird things that the sunset did to the color balance of my phone's camera.

Kind of the same as the last one, but the clouds are a little more interesting in this one.

Seriously, if you ever see this on the horizon, it's time to duck and cover.

Last one. Reality was somewhere in between these last few pictures. Even if the color is off, I still think they look neat. On the plus side, I didn't wreck my car while I was so busy driving and taking pictures. For this picture, at least, I had stopped. I was stopped in the middle of the road, but I was stopped! That's it for August!

Sunday, August 30, 2009 

Category: Life