Note: These photos are from Harmony Hill, a historically preserved property in Williamsburg, Ohio. The Clermont County Historical Society held an open house there on Saturday. Visitors have free access to archives during the event. A pair of Williamsburg business owners were utilizing the archives when I stopped by the open house.
Monarch butterflies are an easily recognizable species, but now they are also a species under threat.
According to the National Wildlife Federation monarchs have experienced a 90 percent decrease in population size in the past 20 years.
That decrease, and a loss of habitat, threatens monarch migratory patterns too.
That’s why Hamilton County Park environmental educator Adam McCosham (Mc-kosh-am) led a catch and release tagging event at Shaker Trace Nursery on Sunday.
The program uses unique ID stickers to tag monarchs to track their movements.
That data benefits researchers who are trying to understand the survivability rates of certain areas.
McCosham says the results are important to understanding not only the plight of the monarch, but other pollinators too.
Monarch butterflies have experienced a steady decrease in population size for the past 20 years, putting the future of a species and a phenomenon at risk.
The phenomenon at risk is the monarch’s migratory behavior, which makes them unique in the butterfly world.
Every year, around the beginning of October, monarchs begin to make the long trek south towards Mexico and the California coast where they roost.
But the same factors threatening monarch populations also pose the risk of disrupting their winter homes.
That’s why Adam McCosham, a Hamilton County Parks employee who serves as an environmental educator, led members of the public on a catch-and-release tagging event at Shaker Trace Nursery on Sunday.
Armed with butterfly nets, McCosham’s group attempted to catch monarchs, tag them with a unique ID sticker, and release them.
The hope is that when the butterflies reach their destination someone will notice the tag and record it to contribute to data that may prove helpful to researchers.
“You can see exactly where they’re going,” McCosham said. “You can also track survivor trends as well, like what areas are getting better survivability.”
Habitat loss impacts monarchs perhaps more than any single other factor.
The same flat land that attracts butterflies to open meadows are also attractive to developers.
Changing agriculture practices also impact the amount of milkweed readily available to monarchs, which they depend on for food and reproductive purposes.
“The thing that affects them the most here is genetically modified crops,” McCosham said.
McCosham caught the first monarch with a flick of the wrist near a row of purple aster flowers, folding the net over itself and trapping the insect.
He then removed the butterfly, attached a unique tracking sticker, and released the butterfly, now designated “XHL700.”
After the release, he records the date, the monarch’s gender, the unique ID, and the location of the catch on a sheet he will send to a lab in Kansas that will tabulate the date.
In total, McCosham’s group caught three monarchs.
“I had low expectations today,” he said. “Honestly, I didn’t know if we’d get any. We’re a little past their peak season.”
McCosham’s words echo underlying concerns he voices later, before his group of volunteers leave.
“Insects in general are important because they pollinate a lot of our food supply,” he said. “Monarchs could be an indicator—a keystone species—of pollinators plight.”
At first it was hard to tell what happened.
After University of Cincinnati sophomore midfielder David Sanz delivered a hard cross that was initially blocked by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis goalkeeper Michael Buck there was a scramble for the loose ball.
The Bearcats and Jaguars bunched together in the box, colliding at the ball for a brief instant.
Finally, UC freshman forward Austin Smythe emerged from the scrum galloping towards the sideline with arms outstretched.
Smythe’s goal, which came in the 62nd minute, proved to be the game-winner for the Bearcats in their 2-1 come from behind victory over IUPUI Friday night.
“I was happy to be in the right spot at the right time and tap it in,” Smythe said.
Trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Bearcats opened the second half much more aggressively by altering their formation to better facilitate up-tempo play.
“I thought we started out very slow,” UC head coach Hylton Dayes said. “We knew we had to change our shape and we had to basically chase the game.”
Usually the Bearcats like to control games by possessing the ball, but a stingy IUPUI team and inclement weather forced them to change to a 4-4-2 formation.
Lingering rain showers from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey soaked the playing field creating dead spots in some places where the ball would stop suddenly after shooting up small water geysers.
Exasperated players on both teams were puzzled by the balls unpredictability in certain corners of the field, causing them to avoid some spaces altogether.
The Bearcats adjustments at halftime payed off in the 55th minute when Sanz sliced a shot from the top of the box into the top right corner of the goal and past the outstretched arms of Buck.
Sanz, who has scored a goal in every game this season, is proving to be the catalyst of the Bearcats offense.
“In the second half when we’re at our best is when David is on the ball leading our press.” Dayes said.
Sanz’s sudden offensive production is due in no small part to the new role he has filled on the team this year.
Last year, Sanz was the team’s defensive midfielder. This year he’s attacking much more—he has three goals this season after notching just one in 2016.
Cincinnati maintained good possession of the ball for the remainder of the match, securing a soggy victory to improve their record to 2-1 this season.
“This is a great way to bounce back considering the elements and we fell behind a goal,” Dayes said. “It shows a young team maturing a little bit and finding different ways to win.”
Gettysburg will always be stuck in the past, because it will always be associated with the Civil War battle that bears its name, and the scores of dead who fell there.
Starting on July 1, 1863, Union and Confederate forces converged around the crossroads of Gettysburg and fought over the course of three sweltering summer days. Confederate General Robert E. Lee attempted to launch a second invasion of the North to divert action from Virginia and to pressure talk of peace in the North.
By the end of the battle there were 51,000 soldiers killed, wounded, captured or missing in action. It was the bloodiest battle of the war.
If it were not for the town’s bloody past, Gettysburg would be an idyllic, peaceful little town in the rolling hills of the Pennsylvania countryside. Re-enactors and guides certainly wouldn’t dress in Civil War era clothes if it were not for that fact. and Instead, the town is a tourist attraction for visitors interested in the history of the carnage that soaked the farmland in blood 154 years ago.
Even today, there is an odd detachment from Gettysburg’s past and it’s present. Essentially, the town’s surrounding area is one huge memorial–a cemetery for the thousands of soldiers who died. But families picnic and hike in the nearby woods, and kids laugh and play on the sites of some of the battlefield’s deadliest sites, including Little Round Top.
Little Round Top
On the first day of battle, the Confederates swept Federal forces from the fields north and west of Gettysburg. However, the Confederates were unable to secure the high ground to the south of town.
On the second day, Lee’s forces launched attacks on the battlefield’s heights. The Union’s left flank lay near Little Round Top, a rocky hill that dominates the surrounding territory.
Despite it’s height and obvious tactical advantage, Union forces did not occupy it when dawn broke on the second day of battle.
Five Union regiments occupied the rough land of the Devil’s Den, a place strewn with boulders as large as twenty feet across that was less than 500 yards away from Little Round Top.
Major General Gouverneur of New York was alarmed when he found Little Round Top unoccupied, essentially exposing the Union flank.
He sent aides galloping on horseback to fetch reinforcements to take up position on the hill.
A statue of Warren is mounted on Little Round Top. He remains transfixed with eyeglasses in hand, calmly surveying the lands in front of him. I speculate the monument belies the certain near-panic Warren must have been in when he ascended Little Round Top only to find a small Union survey team.
Reinforcements arrived on Little Round Top’s peak just as the fighting got underway.
At 4 p.m. Confederate forces marched through open farmland before diving into thick woods. Advancing in pockets–the main force quickly became separated in thickets and rough ground–the Confederates encountered Northern forces at the Devil’s Den.
From Little Round Top, the large dark boulders of Devil’s Den register to a sweep of the eye, but they might not be worth noting if they hadn’t seen terrible close-quater fighting.
After a pair of counterattacks, the Union forces were forced to retreat from Devil’s Den, leaving only Little Round Top to defend the North’s flank.
The initial Union reinforcements were almost overwhelmed on the hill, but once again a rider was dispatched to find anyone who could be compelled to come to the aide of the men on tip of Little Round Top.
Once again, reinforcements came, and the line somehow held off repeated attempts to take the high ground.
Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain–a former school professor–held the Union’s far left flank and made one of the most recognized small-unit command in the history of the U.S. military to end the engagement.
While holding the line against two advances, he ordered his men forward down the hill.
Charging into the Confederates like a swinging gate, Chamberlain pinned the surprised southerners against another Union force who had coincidentally moved into a position perfect for completing the maneuver. The Union held.
When you visit Little Round Top you can stand and survey the land beside Warren’s lifelike statue. However, it is difficult to imagine what the scene of battle looked like, or how terrible the sound of skirmishing in Devil’s Den must have sounded to the men arriving at Little Round Top. Instead, you hear the laughter of children, who scamper up and down the stone lookout tower on Little Round Top.
They can’t comprehend the enormous loss of life yet–they’re just too young to grasp how somber a place Gettysburg is or how hallowed the ground is. Sometimes a parent pulls their son or daughter aside and points out to some distant landmark to try to help them understand the soldier’s plight–tired, thirsty, sweating, fighting, scrambling, dying, bleeding out, screaming, expiring.
Still there’s a disconnect. Bodies don’t litter the grounds of Gettysburg anymore. Instead we build granite monuments that reach to the sky, lest any man forget the consequences of war or the tragedy of America’s greatest Constitutional crisis.
Kolob Canyons is Zion National Park’s less-visited far northwest corner. While the 2,000 foot cliff walls of Kolob bear a significant resemblance to the sheer cliffs of Zion, Kolob still maintains a unique identity of its own.
The narrow parallel box canyons of Kolob feel much more intimate than the grand vistas Zion offers. In Kolob, the nooks, crannies and fingers of canyons and draws feel private and personable.
Additionally, the creeks in the canyons seem greener than the arid climes of Zion. Conifers and dense vegetation crowd the banks of shallow streams.
Kolob is best viewed during the golden hours of the day, when the rising and setting sun shines its light on the high red-orange cliffs before filtering down and scattering through the green nooks of the canyon below where thin whiptail lizards scurry between rocks.
From Kolob’s visitor center, a drive through through Zion’s far corner is a short 5-mile drive, but the scenery and pulloffs make the trip feel far longer than what it actually is.
First, the road passes the Hurricane Cliffs, which are part of the 200-mile Hurricane Fault that comprises the western edge of the Markagunt Plateau. Then, there’s Taylor Creek’s piñon and juniper forests, followed by Horse Ranch Mountain,the park’s tallest point at 8,726 feet. Box Canyon and Timber Top Mountain’s fir and ponderosa pine covered heights round out the scenic views.
It’s no wonder how Kolob Canyons got their name. In Mormon scripture Kolob means “residence closest to heaven.”
You might notice a marker designating a far less tranquil historical period four miles beyond the visitor center, though.
Lee pass bears the name of John D. Lee, the only person convicted of a crime in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
In 1857 tensions were rising in southern Utah, a territory largely settled by Mormons. That year 1,500 U.S. soldiers were making their way to the territory, and that worried Mormon leaders.
In the two decades before 1857, Mormons had been driven out of both Illinois and Missouri. Once again, miscommunication and prejudice threatened to destabilize the peace. Mormons feared losing their way of life once again with the threat of approaching federal troops. To make matters worse for the Mormons, wagon trains bound for California passed through the territory they lived in. That meant competition for resources and an even greater influx of people in the region.
Tensions boiled when Lee and a force of militia men confronted and besieged a California bound wagon train from Arkansas. After days of exchanging shots, Lee entered the wagon circle and negotiated a peaceful resolution, promising safe passage.
However, when the militia men escorted the settlers from their wagons the settlers were shot and killed. Only young children who could not bear witness to the event were spared. In total, 120 people were killed in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
After the killing, the Mormon community attempted to cover up the act. Blame was passed on to Native Americans, who the Mormons reportedly joined forces with during the attack.
Ultimately, Utah militiamen and the U.S. Army never exchanged shots. Conflict and disputes were settled through peaceful negotiations. Lee was later executed for his role in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and in 1870 Lee and another major conspirator were excommunicated from the Church of Latter Day Saints.
On a good day silence lays on Kodachrome Basin State Park like a blanket. Consider Kodachrome a quiet alternative to Bryce Canyon National Park, which is only a little more than 20 miles away.
When the scenic overlooks at Bryce get packed, you can always hop onto Utah 12 and drive towards Cannonville, past lonely ranches that sit beside fields of alfalfa. Just past Cannonville, the road spills out into Kodachrome.
Unspoiled desert surrounds visitors in Kodachrome. Your eyes sweep easily across the park’s flat basins dotted with sage scrub and juniper trees up to an unobstructed blue sky filled with cotton candy cumulus and rosy sandstone cliffs.
When the park is silent–and it often is–there is nothing to be heard, except when the wind blows.
Unique geological features called sedimentary pipes, pillars or chimneys are found throughout Kodachrome. More than 60 of these formations populate the park, and they can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Geologists still speculate how the chimneys formed–some theorize that seismic activity was involved.
The pipes reach for the sky in the flatlands and from the cliffs like huge industrial earthen chimneys.
Kodachrome got its name from National Geographic explorers who photographed the area using Kodak film of the same name in 1949.
Writer and photographer Jack Breed was on assignment searching for unknown and unnamed geographical features when he and his expedition discovered arches, colored cliffs and those weird sedimentary pipes.
Breed thought it was just the perfect place for Kodachrome film, which revolutionized color photography.
Before Kodak created the film in 1935, taking color photographs was a long and laborious process that didn’t always produce great results.
Kodachrome revolutionized color film, and gained quite a reputation for its vivid colors and saturation.
The film became a favorite of National Geographic photographers and amateur photographers alike. Kodachrome film captured the Hindenburg crash, the Kennedy assassination in Dallas and countless family outings.
Ultimately, digital killed Kodachrome, and Kodak decided to discontinue it.
However, Kodachrome Basin State Park still bears the name of the film, with the approval of Kodak, of course. The name serves as a tribute to explorers and photographers in search of a world of vivid color.
Although Kodachrome offers horse rides, hiking and camping it’s relatively easy to avoid people there.
When I visited in early August with my father we didn’t see another soul besides the park ranger that greeted us at the entrance gate. The only other vehicle we saw in the park was parked inside the campground.
Animals can be as sparse as other people in the desert sometimes, especially during the heat of the day. Long-eared and gangly-legged jackrabbits bound in between sagebrush when the day is cool. Often, raptors can be spotted in the sky.
I was fortunate enough to watch a pair of golden eagles gliding along the rim of Kodachrome’s cliff. The huge birds shone in the sun, and it was so quiet that their cries carried all the way down to where I stood watching, binoculars in hand.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is a great example of the amount of natural diversity packed into Utah’s southwestern corner.
Located between Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks sits on the western edge of the Markagunt Plateau at an elevation higher than both Zion and Bryce.
Since Cedar Breaks has an elevation of over 10,000 feet above sea level it supports conditions that encourage an explosion of wildflowers in the park’s summer season.
Peaking in late July and lasting through August, the wildflowers enjoy the cool, moist conditions that elevation affords them.
When I visited Cedar Breaks in early August, the park’s forests and meadows were filled with the subdued hues of mountain bluebells, the red bristles of Indian paintbrush, the white pops of columbine, and the deep purple shades of beard tongue.
Color paints entire swaths of Cedar Breaks in the park’s meadows.
While Zion and Bryce do boast wildflowers of their own, the variety and amount of flowers that Cedar Breaks boasts provides a great contrast to the drier environments in lower lands.
More than 150 species of wildflowers grow in Cedar Breaks, and the greens of mountain meadows and forests add to the sense that the park is one huge natural garden.
Spruce and aspen trees populate the park’s forests, which are currently regenerating after having been recycled by native pine beetles.
The main geological feature in Cedar Breaks is its natural amphitheater, which is more than 2,000 feet deep and more than three miles across.
Like Bryce Canyon, the amphitheater in Cedar Breaks features rocky columns and spires. However, in Cedar Breaks you get the unique impression that the park’s mountain meadows and spruce forests are eroding away into the multicolored badlands of the amphitheater.
This contrast was noted by early settlers who named the area Cedar Breaks, noting the trees–which they mistook for cedars and are actually spruce and bristlecone pine–and the badlands in the amphitheater which they called “breaks”.
Along the rim of the amphitheater fields of flowers transition into scraggly outcroppings of twisted and ancient thousand-year-old bristlecone pines that grip rocky outcroppings by way of their powerful roots.
While Cedar Breaks is worth exploring because of its unique features, it’s worth noting that the park draws less visitors than Zion and Bryce. If you’re looking for a place to get away from people it’s definitely worth trying Cedar Breaks. In 2016 Cedar Breaks attracted 899,676 people, while more than 4 million people visited Zion and more than 2 million people visited Bryce.
Bryce Canyon’s name is a little misleading, because it isn’t a canyon. Bryce Canyon is actually a series of massive natural amphitheaters eroded into the Pink Cliffs of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in Utah.
Unique rock formations called hoodoos steal the show in Bryce’s amphitheaters. Hoodoo derives from the word voodoo, and carries similar connotations. Spainards believed the rock formations held a mystical appeal to Native Americans.
Although Paiutes did not revere the hoodoos, they told tales of animals and birds living in a city that was turned to stone by Coyote, who believed he had been mistreated by the city’s residents. The product of that transformation was the creation of the hoodoos.
It doesn’t take a stretch of the imagination to see the hoodoos as a stone city, or to see faces among the rocks. The spires of arches of these badlands look like a terrestrial city of towers and castles. Admittedly, some formations do take a bit of imagination to interpret. The formation of Bryce Canyon began 60 million years ago when sediment dropped and consolidated on the bottom a body of water called Lake Flagstaff. Then, the Colorado Plateau lifted unevenly 16 million years ago creating a series of plateaus we call the Grand Staircase today.
Resulting variations in the hardness of rock layers of limestone, siltstone, dolomite and mudstone help create the hoodoos. Water flowing through the cracks of soft rock erode away from harder rock layers, creating capstones with long necks–the spires of hoodoos. The constant freezing and thawing of snowmelt, and runoff from rainwater ensure the landscape will continue to change. In fact, it’s estimated that the Pink Cliffs recede one foot every 50-65 years due to erosion.
Sometimes the hoodoos seem alive, and that’s not just because the formations undergo constant change due to erosion. During the day, it appears as if the rocks change color and even shine in the light. You can track the progression of clouds and the sun by the changing colors of the hoodoos. The shades of red, pink, brown, yellow and black that color Bryce Canyon are caused by rust. Iron oxide colors the rock because it is either found within the rock formation itself, or it is carried into the rock by groundwater. Hoodoos are also colored by bacteria that ingest dust and produces iron that sticks to the rocks creating an effect known as desert varnish. Additionally, evaporating water creates salt deposits adding streaks of white to the hoodoos.
Visitors to Bryce Canyon can take in the park from several viewpoints along the park’s main road, but the best way to appreciate the hoodoos is to actually hike down in them. You can avoid the crowds on longer trails, and you get a much more intimate experience. It’s one thing to look out into the amphitheater, but it’s entirely different to be on its stage looking up at the hoodoos. The difference is like looking upon the ruins of a city melting into cliffs and dunes, and actually being in it.
That isn’t to say that the views from the Pink Cliffs’ edge isn’t impressive. They provide the best panoramas of the surrounding hills and mesas that spread out in the rolling greens of fir and ponderosa pine trees for as far as the eye can see.
When I saw Local H was coming to Newport to play at the Thompson House on their Anti-Folk Revival Tour in Drop-D with Filter and Helmet, I knew I had to go.
I circled the date in my mind (8/13/14) and salivated at the thought I might actually get to see one of my favorite bands live.
That might sound crazy, but I never thought I’d get the opportunity to actually hear Local H live. The band–always a power duo and always fronted by Scott Lucas–had dropped their first album in 1995, and I didn’t know how long Lucas was going to keep at it .
I was especially concerned because Lucas had suffered a damaged vocal cord while on tour in Russia after a mugging the previous year.
To call Local H a ’90s grunge relic would be doing Lucas and his band a disservice, because his sound has evolved and matured over time.
However, most people know Local H for their single “Bound for the Floor”, a song off the 1996 album As Good as Dead with a catchy riff. The song helped the record go gold and climbed the mainstream rock charts and the alt rock charts.
The band was poised to top their performance in 1998 when they released Pack up the Cats, a seamless concept album that displayed how far the band had come in a short time.
Sonically, Pack up the Cats was more polished–the bass popped, the distortion was soaked in energy, and Joe Daniels’ drums pounded out in frenzy. It was post-grunge Cheap Trick: pop rock, served hard.
However, Local H’s label–Island Records–was in the midst of a merger, and when the merger occurred the album was put on the back burner.
The album’s story about a self-absorbed rock star making it big and going bust took a tragically ironic turn. It could just as well have been about a two man band from tiny Zion, Illinois getting dumped on by a record label (maybe?).
But Lucas survived, changing drummers twice. He’s released eight studio albums total (not including EPs and two albums consisting totally of cover songs), including Whatever Happened to PJ Soles?–an album about a mid-life crisis in ode to the actor–and Hallelujah I’m a Bum–a record about the 2012 election and economic desperation.
Only one thing gave me pause about the Thompson House show: the poster said those in attendance had to be 21 or older. I was 19.
Nevertheless, my best friend’s sister had a friend who’d played at the Thompson House before. I had a way in, and a group to go with.
When we arrived at the Thompson House I was surprised that we didn’t have any trouble getting into the red brick mansion that sits in the shadow of Newport on the Levee.
We paid our $20 and were prompted to put on bracelets indicating we were underage.
In fact, we weren’t even the youngest people there. Although most of the people in attendance were in their 20s or 30s there was one kid who couldn’t have been any older than 13 with his dad. Both were decked out in black Local H T-shirts. The kid put on a show by playing a drum kit that happened to be in the front of the house.
The Thompson House has a gutted feel to it. Its inner spaces are kept clear for crowds, save for a couple bars with limited seating space towards the front of the house and the back of the house. It’s safe to say things were probably very different when John Thompson was born here in 1860. Thompson’s claim to fame is the Thompson submachine gun, made famous by gun-toting gangsters and U.S. servicemen in World War II.
There are a few rooms to mill about in, but the main attraction is the stage area in the rear of the house. Here, Local H put on a show.
It began simply. “Hey everybody. We’re Local H,” Scott Lucas said matter of factly. And then he and his new drummer, Ryan Harding, launched into their set list.
Once they started, they didn’t stop. It began with the energetic “All Right (Oh Yeah)”, then it hopped into the blitz of “Heavy Metal Bakesale”. Unexpectedly, the Chicago power duo launched into a cover of Lorde’s hit pop song “Team”. Lucas did the song justice, while keeping true to form.
From there, they bounced between the desperation of “Another February” and favorites like “Bound for the Floor”. They nearly played songs from all of their albums, including Hey Killer, which was still several months away from release at the time.
All the while, scantily clad women passed through the darkened room offering shots while onlookers from above leaned over balcony railing with beers in hand. Basically, it felt like a frat mansion if there were such a thing.
To me it was euphoria. Watching Lucas work his footpedals, switching between his bass pickups so he could play both guitar and bass at the same time was a revelation. Even better, the band retained the same sound they record in studio. Local H was back at it.
After the show, I got to meet Harding and Lucas at their merch table. I abstained from asking questions about lyrics and song titles so as not to risk sounding desperate. Instead, I complimented the set list. I bought Local H’s new EP, asked for an autograph and was satisfied. We stuck around late into the night to see Filter and Helmet play (talk about a ’90s reunion).
When my friend Paul spotted Local H packing up, he suggested we go get a picture. We approached Lucas, and asked if he’d take a picture. At first declined. Disheartened, I thanked him anyway.
Then, with newfound energy, Lucas said “No, come here. Get over here.”
Instead, Lucas came to me and wrapped his arm around my shoulder, reached for the phone and tried to rattled off a few selfies. He’d probably had a drink or two by then, but was still amicable.
He’d grown out his mane again like he had back in ’96. There were some silver hairs in it now though. “The old guy still freaking has it,” I thought.