2018 Reading List

the last crypt book coverI discovered  some wonderful authors this year. The first one was Fernando Gamboa. He wrote a couple archaeology thrillers named The Last Crypt and Black City. The Last Crypt is about the lost treasure of the Templar’s. Black City is about the Lost City of Z. He also wrote a wonderful series named The Captain Riley Adventures, which takes place in the early 1940’s during World War II. I then found a wonderful story by Gamboa named GUINEA: A breathless thriller in the heart of darkness. This is the story of a young woman’s arrest and escape from “authorities” in Equatorial Guinea.

Another author that I started reading is Charles Brokaw. His character, Thomas Lords, is a Harvard  linguist and archaeology professor that specialized in ancient languages. the stories have a great combination of fast moving action and watching the characters solve historical mysteries and make fascinating discoveries.

adrift book coverI really enjoyed a couple mystery novels by Micki Browning named Adrift and Beached. The main reason that I enjoyed them so much is that they took place in Key Largo, Florida and involved scuba diving on the coral reefs off the coast. I love diving in Key Largo so I was familiar with the places mentioned in the novels. That knowledge enable me to have a vivid image of the various scenes and events in the story.

Douglas Richards wrote a couple science fiction books named Split Second and Time Frame that took a different approach to time travel than most other writers. What made the time travel theory used in this story different from others is that we could only travel back in time a fraction of a second. This actually made a duplicate (but younger by a split second) version of the person or object going back  in time. In effect, it was more of a teleportation device than a time travel device.

on leopard rock book coverI enjoyed many novels this year by Wilbur Smith, who is one of my favorite authors. He published an autobiography named On Leopard Rock, which was fantastic! I read a several of his books back in the late 80’s and early 90’s but lost track of his more recent project until a few years ago. On Leopard Rock inspired me to take another look at his more recent work. The Hector Cross series was different from most of Smith’s novels in that it takes place in modern times. In the book Those in Peril, Hector Cross and his security team must rescue the daughter of his wealthy employer from East African pirates.

His novel Sunbird is a two part story. The first part tells the story of the (fictional) archaeological discovery of an ancient Carthaginian city in northern Botswana in Africa. Northern Botswana is a long way from the Carthaginian empire on the Mediterranean coast of north Africa so it was a revolutionary discovery. Part two tells the story of the the cities rise to power and ultimate destruction. Although it was fiction Smith made it seem plausible that it could have happened and told a fantastic story with interesting characters, action and drama.

Eye of the Tiger is a shipwreck treasure hunting adventure that takes place in modern times in the Mozambique Channel and Indian Ocean off of the east coast of Africa. I totally loved the boating, diving and action adventure aspects of the story.

  1. Power and Empire (Jack Ryan) – Marc Cameron
  2. The Last Crypt – Fernando Gamboa
  3. The Prophecy – Heidi Hanley (Smith)
  4. Black City (Finding the Lost City of Z) – Fernando Gamboa
  5. Captain Riley (The Captain Riley Adventures Book 1) – Fernando Gamboa
  6. Darkness: Captain Riley II (The Captain Riley Adventures Book 2) – Fernando Gamboa
  7. The Atlantis Code – Charles Brokaw
  8. The Seventh Plague – James Rollins
  9. The Rising Sea – Clive Cussler and Graham Brown
  10. The Lucifer Code – Charles Brokaw
  11. Sackett’s Land – Louis L’Amour (re-read)
  12. To the Far Blue Mountains – Louis L’Amour (re-read)
  13. Warrior’s Path – Louis L’Amour (re-read)
  14. Adrift ( Mer Cavallo Mystery) – Micki Browning
  15. Beached ( Mer Cavallo Mystery) – Micki Browning
  16. On Leopard Rock – Wilbur Smith
  17. Line of Sight (Jack Ryan Jr.) – Mike Madden
  18. The Temple Mount Code – Charles Brokaw
  19. Split Second – Douglas E. Richards
  20. GUINEA: A breathless thriller in the heart of darkness – Fernando Gamboa
  21. Time Frame (Split Second series) – Douglas E. Richards
  22. Wildtrack – Bernard Cornwell
  23. The Oracle Code – Charles Brokaw
  24. Tears of the Jaguar – A.J. Hartley
  25. Shadow Tyrants: Clive Cussler (The Oregon Files) – Clive Cussler, Boyd Morrison
  26. Those in Peril (Hector Cross book 1) – Wilbur Smith
  27. Vicious Circle (Hector Cross book 2) – Wilbur Smith
  28. Shout at the Devil – Wilbur Smith
  29. The President is Missing – James Patterson and Bill Clinton
  30. Predator (Hector Cross book 3) – Wilbur Smith
  31. Sunbird – Wilbur Smith
  32. Eye of the Tiger – Wilbur Smith
  33. Assegai – Wilbur Smith
  34. Valley of the Shadow – Franklin Allen Leib
  35. Golden Lion – Wilbur Smith

Hiking Mt. Sunapee in Newbury, NH

Although I have been skiing at Mt. Sunapee for years I had not been on any of the hiking trails until this year.

I had Friday, October 26th off from work and decided to go hiking. Although the foliage had peaked the weather was perfect for hiking. One of my goals for the day was to scout the Summit Trail so that I could return later with people from one of the local Meetup.com groups that I belong to.

The Summit Trail is just one of several trails to the summit. I could get to the trail either from the Mt. Sunappe base lodge or the trailhead on Old Province Rd. I chose to start at the Old Province Rd. trailhead for this hike.

I made a couple wrong turns (and ended up on the ski trails) but eventually made it to the summit. As usual the view of Lake Sunapee was fantastic. When skiing I usually don’t have my good DLSR camera so this was an opportunity to get some better photos than I can get with a phone camera.

The photo below was taken from the top of the Skyway Ledges ski trail.

Hking Mt Sunapee October 26 2018-2

I also made a panorama photos from the top of the Wingding trail.

Hking Mt Sunapee October 26 2018-12

I switched to my 300mm lens and was able to get some shot of the White Mountains in the distance. The photo below is looking past the wind farm in Groton, NH towards an area of the White Mountains known as the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

Hking Mt Sunapee October 26 2018-3

Below is a photo looking past Mt. Cardigan (the first range on the left had side of the photo) with the snow covered mountains of Franconia Notch in the background.

Hking Mt Sunapee October 26 2018-5

It took a little longer than I expected to go back to Mt. Sunapee with the Meetup group. I was not able to schedule a hike until November 17th. By that time we had some early winter storms and had 5 inches of snow at the bottom and 7 to 8 inches at the summit. It was also cold and windy so I only took a few photos before getting out of the wind and heading back down the mountain. Although there was heavy cloud cover over the lake during my first few photos, I was lucky to catch a moment when the sun broke through to shine on Great Island down on the lake.

Hking Mt Sunapee Nov 17 2018-3

Nature Photos and Adobe Illustrator Artistic Effects

One of the fun graphic design project that I did this year was to apply Adobe Illustrator artistic effects to some of my underwater and wildlife photos. A couple of my favorite artistic effect are the Poster Edge and Watercolor effects.

The first images that I started working with was the Reef Shark photo from my trip to Key Largo last summer.

Reef Shark on Molasses Reef July 11 2018

Below is the image with the Poster Edges effect applied.

Reef Shark Poster Edges 1.png

Next I worked with an old image of some Banded Butterfly fish that I took while in Bonaire back in 2007.

DIGITAL IMAGE

Below is the same image with the Watercolor effect applied.

Banded butterflyfish Watercolor

Next I thought I would try working with some wildlife photos. I decided to start with a Whitetail Deer that I photographed back in July of 2015.

Whitetail Deer July 3 2015-3

Below is the same image with the Poster Edge effect applied.

Whitetail Deer Poster Edges

Below is the same image with the Watercolor effect applied.

Whitetail Deer Watercolor

The Poster Image effect is pretty cool but I think I like the Watercolor effect a little better.

Lobster at Fort Stark in New Castle, NH

For the September 8th  Atlantic Aquasport shore dive we ended up at Fort Stark in New Castle, New Hampshire.

We saw several American Lobster during the dive. One of them even tried to grab my camera with its claw.

We swam east into the Piscataqua River to get a little distance from the shore and depth and then turned south. The bottom was thick with hooked week, sea lettuce and green hair weed, giving the Lobsters lots of places to hide.

Lobster in Sea Lettuce at Fort Stark

Lobster 2 at Fort Stark

Towards the end of the dive I came upon an interesting scene. A Lobster was doing something with a crab or crab shell (I did not see any claws so it could have been just a shell) that was tucked up under a clump of seaweed.

The University of Maine Website tells us, “Lobsters like to eat crabs, clams, mussels, starfish, smaller fish, and sometimes even other lobsters.” So the the crab could have been killed by the lobster. If so, that must have been quite a battle.  Perhaps the lobster had eaten some of the crab and was hiding the rest for a later meal.

Resources

Sea Raven and Flounder at Nubble Light

I finally got back into diving in New England after more years than I care to admit. Back in 2015 I got a new Waterproof W4 5mm Wetsuit but never got to use it in the ocean, until now. I must say, it’s the best wetsuit that I have ever owned. It’s easy to put on and take off plus it’s actually comfortable to walk around in. So far, the combination of dive skin and 5mm wetsuit has kept me warm enough.

I have been attending the Saturday Morning Shore Dives at Atlantic Aquasport in Rye, NH. As they often do, we went up to Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick in York, Maine.

On the August 25th dive I crossed the channel with my dive buddy and went north along the island at around 20 feet deep. Several of us Aquasport divers were lucky enough to see a beautiful Sea Raven. As the Maine Guides Online website says, “Sea ravens may vary in color from blood red to reddish purple to yellow brown.” This one was a beautiful shade of yellow and a pleasure to watch!

One of the more common fish to see while shore diving in New England is the Cunner. The Maine Guides Online website tells us, “their usual size is between 6 and 10 inches in length and less than 3 pounds weight.” I got the camera out for the one below since it was one of the larger Cunner I had seen so far and it came in pretty close.

On the September 1st shore dive I did the same dive plan of crossing the channel and swimming along the west side of the island about 2o feet down. I saw lots of Cunner and a few lobster in the way out. On the way back to the shore I spotted a small Winter Flounder (pronounced Flounda in Maine) near the turn point to cross the channel. The Maine Guide Online site says, “Their color, which varies with the substrate they occupy, can range from reddish brown to olive green to almost black.” It also tells us, “Their eyes are located on their right side, thus making them a right sided flounder.”

I hope to go back for at least one more dive during the 2018 northern New England wetsuit season.

Sea Turtle encounter on Molasses Reef

I had a difficult time getting good video footage of sea turtles during the July 2018 trip until my last day of diving on Saturday, July 14th. We were on Molasses Reef towards the end of the afternoon dive when we watched a small sea turtle swim to the surface for a breath. I knew enough to be patient, let the turtle get some air and come back down to the bottom before getting some video footage.

Have no doubt, turtles are one of my favorite wildlife encounters! This poor turtle also looks like it has some damage on the back of its shell. I suppose it could have got hit by a boat or attacked by something. 😦

Resources

Lobed Star Coral at Horseshoe Reef

On July 11th, 2018 I was on a dive to Horseshoe Reef, which is up the coast from Key Largo. We got to see some interesting sea life plus some examples of healthier coral than other places in the marine sanctuary. During the dive it occurred to me that I should slow down a bit and get some video footage of the Lobed Star Coral I was swimming by.

 

One thing to notice is how lots of other species of coral, algae, tunicate, sponges and fish make their home on the coral mound. The Bi-colored Damselfish got a little angry with me when I crossed into its territory. It attacked my camera until I had moved on past. 🙂 Learn more about Lobed Star Coral by visiting the links below.

Resources

NOAA Fisheries Lobed Star Coral

Reefguide.org Lobed Star Coral