I have to admit that I’m addicted to our country’s national parks. Over the years I’ve visited many of the parks all over, from the east to the west and from the north to the south.
In particular I’ve trekked the 1300 miles from my home in Grand Rapids, Michigan to western Wyoming – home to Yellowstone National Park – at least a dozen times. Yellowstone is one of my favorite destinations.
The souvenirs that I take from Yellowstone are strictly the photographs and videos that I capture.
For those of you who might want to experience a few of the varied and amazing thermal features found in Yellowstone, I’ve posted them below.
PLease note that each geyser is on a separate page in order to minimize web page delay.
I grew up the the New York City area and would regularly take 45-minute long ride on the passenger train from New Rochelle to Grand Central Station. Did this qualify me as a rider of the rails? Let’s see.
Some 20 years ago I was involved developing software for personal computers. One of our projects was to make simulations for trains. We found an interesting and unique train route that delivered raw materials from a mining area in Minnesota to the awaiting freighters along Lake Superior – known as the Erie Mining Corp route.
My task was to research the terrain and surroundings along the route so that we could reproduce the journey in a simulation. After arranging the “special” trip with the LTV Corporation (which owned the EMC route), I drove to Hoyt Lakes to meet with two members of the staff.
When I arrived, I was escorted to the rail head where we climbed aboard a vehicle that was outfitted to travel on the rails. I was seated in the front with a video camera where I would record all 3-1/2 hours of trip through the hills, mountains and flatlands to Taconite Harbor on north shore of Lake Superior.
This modified Ford pickup truck was specially fitted to ride and self-propel on the standard tracks.
On the right is one of the diesel freight locomotives that pulled the taconite pellets from Hoyt Lakes to Lake Superior.
It was an interesting ride – the tracks took us through forests, into narrow canyons, along open and hilly fields, passing rocky mountains, traversing bridges, through a tunnel and over rural road crossings.
For me the highlight of the trip was the 30 seconds or so that are illustrated below.
Towards the end of the route we arrived at Taconite Harbor. Below is the large unloading area where the taconite pellets are unloaded onto large lake freighters.
This journey in 2001 was the only time where I actually felt that I was riding the rails. An interesting and memorable ride.
I’ve had a couple of boxes full of VHS cassettes sitting in the basement for years. When I finally started looking through them, I saw that some of them dated back to the 1980’s – they’re more than 30 years old.
I shouldn’t have been surprised since we bought our first VHS camera when some of our kids were just babies. We have cassettes of babies, of birthdays, of holidays, of vacations, of weddings, of …. I think you can name other events as well.
My goal was to convert them so that the family would be able to easily view them on their computer or digital device. Initially this looked like an enormous task, but soon after I got started this turned into an enjoyable project.
Follow along as I go through the steps.
One of the items on my “to-do list” is to convert these old movies to a form that the family could easily watch and enjoy the events that we recorded years ago. But first I had to locate a VHS player. We hadn’t owned one for years.
I found one for sales in our area for a reasonable cost.
Next I needed a device to convert the video frames to a digital form that is copied to the computer.
Searching the Internet I found this inexpensive (about $10) device. The three connectors (red, white and yellow) plug into the VHS player and the other end is a USB connector plugs into my computer.
If you use a Windows computer, the above Video Converter comes with software to record the video to your computer. I use an iMac so the QuickTime application is used to record the digitized video.
Using QuickTime I watched the conversion of the first cassette on my computer screen. I was satisfied with the high quality of the resulting video and accompanying sound. However I immediately realized that this project was going to take a long time. Since many of my VHS cassettes were “full”, a two-hour recording takes two hours to digitize. Thankfully I could perform other tasks on my iMac while QuickTime was running in the background. To conserve time, I resigned myself to convert only one or two cassettes at one sitting.
By the fourth or fifth cassette I realized that I had a problem. Some of my cassettes were recorded at a “slower” speed (to save money by conserving recording capacity). As these cassettes were played, the movie would run at double speed with the sound garbled. The above video player that I purchased did not have a way to replay at this slower speed.
I tried to fix this by replaying the resulting digitized file at a slower speed but the video and sound were poor.
So I went searching for a second VHS player that was capable of playback at the slower recording speed and found this model for a reasonable cost.
After three weeks of converting boxes of old VHS cassettes I now have a large library of old family movies that I’m able to share with others digitally.
All of the effort turned out to be a lot less than I expected. I’m glad that I undertook this project and have already had lots of feedback from many of the faces in these “old” movies.