Stars Over Wickahoney

These last two weeks have seen me focusing on three things: my Vardo, my writing, and my astrophotography.

Vardo

After much thought, I jumped at the chance to get a utility trailer, 6 feet by 12 feet, for a really good price. My original base, seen here, would have given me a 6 foot by 8 foot Vardo. The new trailer will let me have an 8 foot by 12 foot vardo plus a drop-down porch if I work it right. The extra room is very welcome and more appealing to my wife as well.

Factoring in the cost of paint, steel wool, a new trailer light system, new wheel bearings, sandpaper, new tongue, and sheet metal just to get that old base rebuilt into a foundation for the Vardo, getting this new trailer was actually cheaper. And the plan is to be able to remove the Vardo if I need to use the trailer for hauling stuff.

Image of a 6 foot by 12 foot utility trailer with one pair of wheels. Sides are an open framework of angled metal. Tail gate is about 4 feet tall when up and contains a metal mesh. Parked next to a blue-green 1992 Chevy Blazer in front of the garage in the driveway.

This is the new utility trailer that will become the base for the Vardo. I’m especially happy to get the all metal bed.

That tailgate will make a very nice sized porch with the addition of some drop-down or other legs if I do it right. I’ve already got some ideas how to work it and still be able to use it as a ramp if needed. It’ll be good for scraping off mud or stamping off dirt and sand before going inside, all that stuff will just fall through the grating.

Construction should be starting after the middle of September due to vacation plans and other such interruptions. The goal is to have it ready by 4 July 2015, when we go to Haines, Oregon, to my wife’s brother’s place. All her cousins and his friends get together then and have these huge motormansions (her term, not mine) or behemoth trailers. She’s tickled pink with the idea of seeing our cute little Vardo tucked in the field with all those. She’s even been coming up with ideas and suggestions for stuff in it. She’s apparently been talking about it so much so that even the oldest granddaughter made me agree that “it won’t just be a box on a trailer, but it’ll be a cute trailer.” I showed the granddaughter the pictures of Paleotool’s Vardo that I’m using as my guide and said, “it’s going to be like that.” She approves of that design, just like my wife. Clearly, I’m going to be spending a lot of time this winter in the garage and driveway.

And in trouble if I don’t get it done!

Besides, I’ve been dreaming of all the places to go camping around here. Farewell Bend. Cascade Reservoir. Bruneau Sand Dunes. Steck Recreation Site. Leslie Gulch. Those are just off the top of my head, there’s so many more.

Writing

Lately, I’ve been trying to go swimming every Tuesday and Thursday. I don’t always make it, but when I do I just swim laps. That has been very conductive to my writing process as it lets me just swim along and think about the storylines, back stories, future stories, or just mentally write. I don’t always remember those exactly (I need a waterproof laptop!) but I do remember enough to get a lot of it written down.

Recently, I’ve been trying to focus on the next short story, Scarle’s back story, as decided in my last blog posting. The last two times I went swimming, though, my mind drifted away from that and instead focused on another part of the overall story. It was something that I’d been wondering how to tell without revealing any secrets. Throughout the Tales of Pa’adhe I’m scattering little subtle clues that I don’t amplify or even, usually, reference again in the tale they appear in. They’re usually presented in passing and should be easily found in hindsight, but they all point to one thing and I had no idea how to present that to my readers.

I now have a solution to that conundrum and have written half of it. Unfortunately for my readers, this can only be told in The Final Voyage. But at least I clear everything up with it. As soon as I finish writing that section up, it’s back to Scarle’s back story and what’s supposed to be the current Work In Progress.

Astrophotography

Strictly speaking, I probably should just say “photography” since I’ve been busy with more than just astrophotography planning, photography-wise.

The last several days I’ve been planning for the trip back to Wickahoney this Saturday, 23 August 2014. We’ll be heading out Saturday, I’ll be shooting all night, and we’ll head back Sunday.

My main project is a time lapse of the Milky Way. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for some time now, and I think the Wickahoney ruins are a perfect foreground for it. I want to start shooting around civil twilight when the stars are just coming out and shoot until 3 AM Sunday or my batteries run out. I’m hoping for some additional foreground “action” in the time lapse, but it depends on the timing of when everyone gets there, where we set up, and all that good stuff. We’ll see how that works out. I’ll definitely get the Milky Way time lapse, which may or may not be all that great. I’m still learning to shoot good Milky Way images.

I also want to shoot a 360 degree panorama for incorporating into Stellarium as one of my three personal landscapes. That’s simple enough and just needs decent light. High noon Sunday should be good for that to minimize shadows. I need to re-do the other two to get a sharper division between the distant land and the sky, but that’s a project for another time. Each new 360 pano that I do teaches me something and each gets better.

Finally, I want to shoot some video for another project. Originally this was going to be another time lapse, but I ran into problems there: I only have two batteries for my main camera, and I need those intact for the Milky Way time lapse. I could shoot this with my second camera, but I plan to use that for other astrophotography shots and can’t guarantee the battery capacity of that, either. I’ve decided, then, that I will shoot this as a video and try to achieve the desired result post-production. As a time lapse it would have made it easy to do certain scenes, but my homework last week seems to indicate I can do the same with a video file anyway. We’ll see.

It does indicate I need to do something about my camera battery situation. I’ve several ideas for that, one of which is just get another battery for both cameras. I’ll need to address this soon so I will be good to go next time I head out for an all-night time lapse like this.

UPDATE: Here it is Thursday and now they’re predicting Saturday as partially cloudy and Sunday as clear. Hopefully, the night will still be clear!

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