Water in the Desert

From the Interstate across Nevada, the desert landscape astonishes me with its variety. Far from being a boring wasteland, the expanses of waving grasses, shrubs, shallow water, and rock hills provide a spectacular mixture. Even when I know the biology and ecology behind it, my east-coast-calibrated brain still can’t quite grasp that all of this water doesn’t equal trees.

Water in the Desert

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Bay Clouds

So many of my summer pictures in from the Bay Area face downwards because the skies are either clear or marine-layer-obscured. This was one of the rare evenings with an amazing sky of deep blues and magentas above the Berkeley Hills.

Bay Clouds

St. Lawrence Winter Flight

I’ve previously compared the feel of St. Lawrence University’s campus in the winter to a ski resort missing its ski slopes; even from the air, the miniature snow city effect holds. Though I’m not sure I can explain the particular magic of this image, it currently holds the record has the most-liked picture on St. Lawrence’s Instagram. Perhaps it’s the glow of the setting sun on the buildings?

St. Lawrence Winter Flight

Sunset Drive to Grizzly Peak

Grizzly Peak’s superhuman view of the Bay Area seems so inaccessible; that we could drive there (albeit on steep, winding roads) is surreal. The alignment of mundane cars along the ridge seems like a different phase of matter from the glowing roads and epic accomplishments of civil engineering below. I suspect that those mundane cars will become a lot more interesting when I look back at this picture in 30 years.

Sunset Drive to Grizzly Peak

The Place and the View

During sabbatical, I posted a lot of views like the one below: A dramatic dusk view of Berkeley and San Francisco from Berkeley Lab’s Building 62, where I spent my days doing renewable energy research. Ending a productive day, I’d step out onto the balcony a 30-second walk down the hall from my office to find these views readily available (when the marine layer didn’t intervene).

The View from the Place

But to my memory, I’ve posted few shots of that balcony that was so integral to the sabbatical experience. Circling around to the adjacent Molecular Foundry, I took this image that (in the top left) shows that small balcony (with sun conveniently reflecting), as well as some of the lab infrastructure around in it. In the foreground is the liquid nitrogen storage tank for the foundry with its radiator covered in ice.

The Place for the View

Edge of the Orbital

The (distorted) ring of the Bay Area, with “impassable” hills along the edge and “empty” water in the middle, reminds me of the ring-shaped space stations of science fiction. The strangeness of the Bay only adds to the perception of visiting an alien planet.

Edge of the Orbital