Wednesday, September 30, 2009

In our own back yard...

While Lander itself may be a little flat, it doesn't take long to get up into some serious mountains. The slanted foothills, jutting up from the high plains, block the town's view of the Wind River Mountains, but that makes them all the more impressive when you come around a corner or up over a ridge and suddenly, there they are, piles of craggy rocks and mountain spines and glaciers and thunderheads, looming above you and reaching ever upwards.

Though not as tall as the Colorado Rockies, the Winds are by far more rugged and daunting. While in Colorado, most 14ers are accessible almost to the top by a car - and not even a high clearance car, at that - the peaks here, less than 14,000 feet, are so remote, it takes two days to even hike to the base camp in order to ascend them. People who spend their lives climbing 14ers in Colorado continuously fail to conquer Gannet or Wind River peaks. Wyoming wilderness is awfully dangerous to Coloradans. It makes me cheerful.

This small clearing came up on us 5 miles in... We were expecting to hit Smith Lake after 5 miles, but apparently it would be another 2 until we could jump into freezing, glacially-supplied lakes!

Finally! Smith Lake! We went for a quick swim before the rains swept in and chased us back to sunnier pastures. But it is truly awesome that this is practically our back yard.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Books Week Proclomation

Borrowed from Laura Settle, located at Self Absorbed Ideas (give her a visit!):

WHEREAS, the freedom to read is essential to our democracy, and reading is among our greatest freedoms; and

WHEREAS, privacy is essential to the exercise of that freedom, and the right to privacy is the right to open inquiry without having the subject of one's interest examined or scrutinized by others; and

WHEREAS, the freedom to read is protected by our Constitution; and

WHEREAS some individuals, groups, and public authorities work to remove or limit access to reading materials, to censor content in schools, to label "controversial" views, to distribute lists of "objectionable" books or authors, and to purge libraries of materials reflecting the diversity of society; and

WHEREAS, both governmental intimidation and the fear of censorship cause authors who seek to avoid controversy to practice self-censorship, thus limiting our access to new ideas; and

WHEREAS, every silencing of a heresy, every enforcement of an orthodoxy, diminishes the toughness and resilience of American society and leaves it less able to deal with controversy and difference; and

WHEREAS, Americans still favor free enterprise in ideas and expression, and can be trusted to exercise critical judgment, to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe, and to exercise the responsibilities that accompany this freedom; and

WHEREAS, intellectual freedom is essential to the preservation of a free society and a creative culture; and

WHEREAS, conformity limits the range and variety of inquiry and expression on which our democracy and our culture depend; and

WHEREAS, the American Library Association's Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year as a reminder to Americans not to take their precious freedom for granted; and

WHEREAS, Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that I, Kathryn Byerly, celebrate the American Library Association's Banned Books Week, the twenty-sixth of September through the third of October 2009, and be it further

RESOLVED, that I, Kathryn Byerly, encourage all libraries and bookstores to acquire and make available materials representative of all the people in our society; and be it further

RESOLVED, that I, Kathryn Byerly, encourage free people to read freely, now and forever.

Adopted by Kathryn Byerly, At-Large Cultural Resources Specialist
Lander, WY
28 September 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Second Century Commission - What should our parks look like in 2116?

So finally, after months of deliberation and writing and rewriting, the National Parks' Second Century Commission, a group of very important people enlisted to sit around and chitchat about what our national parks should look like in their second century (beginning in 2016), has released a revelation (of sorts, if you can call "Let's keep doing what we're doing" a revelation). As a cultural resource specialist with the National Parks Conservation Association, I was one of the experts enlisted to present my research for the Commission's information. My job was to point out the most pressing issues (concerns? challenges?) facing cultural resources in national parks.

The final report has been completed and publicly released. Though this format is rather rough, keep an eye out for a really pretty version to be published by National Geographic shortly.

A link to the final report here.

A link to the Cultural Resources report here (look for my name on page 17!).

A link to the appendices for the report, which includes my paper on the challenges facing the management of cultural resources (I'm listed as an official advisor on page 4! My particular paper is on page 155, so take a look!).

They are all PDFs, so be patient with the downloads.


Friday, September 25, 2009

First Snow

We got our first real snow of the season last weekend. Well, in reality, it's been such a mild, wet summer, that there have been flurries and even a tad of accumulation up in the Winds all summer long. But this is the first stuff we've been able to see from our place since the last of what we could see melted away mid-August.

It was all melted sadly away by early afternoon. Nothing ruins a perfectly good, snowy, cloudy morning like sunshine.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Because there exists an entire genre of photos based around people jumping... here is a set of me jumping. Just because I can. OK, and some of me more falling than jumping, but it wasn't for lack of trying...

Castle Gardens, WY

Joshua Tree National Park

On the way to Homestead Meadows, Roosevelt National Forest, CO

Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO

Arran Island, Scotland

Arran Island, Scotland

Arran Island, Scotland

Albufeira, Portugal

The Sahara Desert, probably Algeria but maybe Morocco

And yes, I have awesome arm swings.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Damnit, even Nedry knew not to mess with the raptor fences...

The best part about Jurassic Park (the movie) is that it is 15 years old, and aside from an excited comment about interactive CD-Roms (who would get that excited today?) and some dated Unix graphics, it looks like it could have been made this year. The graphics and animation are still top notch, and - most importantly - the T-Rex still looks as real as it did the day it came out. And some movies are still struggling to create such realistic imagery.

What a great movie.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dabbling in wedding photography...

Maybe I should start branching out! I did pretty good for a girl with a point and shoot.

Scenes from my cousin's wedding in Silverton, CA at a private estate. The full collection of photos can be seen on flickr or on my facebook account.

This is the actual wedding location... not too shabby, eh?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Scenes from Joshua Tree

National Park Unit #102 on my "visited" list:

Joshua Tree National Park, a barren desert hiding a climber's paradise. No crowds, no fluff. No one else in better climbing gear than you. Of course, no one for whom to show off, but that's such a minor negative. A 2-hour-ish drive from Anaheim, where we were for a wedding, which is practically a commute for us Westerners. More of a destination vacation for our easterly brethren. And the gateway communities, Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, CA, were perfect little examples of what national parks can do to the surrounding areas. Outfitters and funky shops and little cafes serving vegan-friendly food full of liberal, educated people who came for a vacation and never left...

It's all quite fascinating, really.

And we got to see the San Andreas Fault and all the sad little resorts towns that will be obliterated when it goes...

The family, taking a break at a funky cafe in Joshua Tree, CA

Friday, September 4, 2009

Jon and Lauren's Wedding, Chico Hot Springs, MT

Weekend of August 23, 2009:

Some of my best shots from the Berens-Silano wedding.. Point-and-shoot only (I broke JM's nice camera!!!) Apparently grainy, black and white shots are back in style!

A pair of sandhill cranes, endless plains of bison, several really annoying bison-jams, and what might have been some bears hiding off the road later... we return to Wyoming.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I can completely understand why people do reenactments. There's such a large group of us in today's modern American society who have a wanderlust that takes us not to faraway lands but, instead, to faraway times. We have a knack for idealizing the past and wanting to be a part of it. A past of heroes and fantasy and simpler times made more complicated by war or famine or dragons or some form of dauntless and epic challenge which, in our imaginations, we meet with bravado and charm and gallant stoicism and from which we always emerge bruised and battered yet victorious.

So despite the adventures that can be gleaned in a world made small and close and accessible by airplanes and the internet and television, we spend time contemplating time travel, jousting, and the tragedy and adventure of the Civil War. While everyday technology and the economy dictate who we are and what is possible, who we are while reenacting is limited only by our interpretations of history (often fluid) and our imaginations. We can be generals or warriors or jousters or belly dancers or rebel leaders and we can dress up and ride horses and carry swords and fire canons. Whether it's folly at a RennFest or down and dirty history at a Civil War reenactment, we can live our world's histories and escape from our own mediocrities as we see fit.

Some scenes from Gold Rush Days at South Pass City in Wyoming...