Wednesday, August 14, 2019

North Coast Night Lights: Reflections at Richardson Grove

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 3:29 PM

Watch for falling rocks and stars in the Upside-Down. (We loved the reflection). - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Watch for falling rocks and stars in the Upside-Down. (We loved the reflection).
As you read on your computer or mobile device, remember that you, too, can unplug, go outside not too far from where you are now and experience a night something like the one in this image. I took a break from plugged-in things for a week and camped for part of it in Southern Humboldt’s Richardson Grove State Park with family. It’s not a wilderness area, but it is in a beautiful natural setting among hills covered in redwood and mixed forests along the South Fork Eel River.

Sitting in the shade in our camp in Oak Flat campground, we counted eight different tree species and a myriad of plants and shrubs without leaving our seats. Not that we sat around all day, although while sitting and tuning in to the surroundings there was plenty going on around the campground to keep me entirely fascinated, whether it was the activities other campers or things happening in the surrounding forest.

It has been a while since I last backpacked in the wilderness, but I used to a lot and I know what it is like to really get away from everything people-related. This wasn’t that. It is a campground. One hears and sees other campers. Even U.S. Highway 101 goes by not far away, though as a two-lane road weaving through giant redwoods. No it isn’t the wilderness, but you are in the forest, with nature all around. Sitting in it and soaking it in absolutely recharged me. Even listening to the wind while unplugged was recharging. We humans are part of nature, not part of the internet. Nature recharges us.
My brother Seth and I watch the world go by one summer night on the banks of the South Fork Eel River in Richardson Grove, Humboldt County, California - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • My brother Seth and I watch the world go by one summer night on the banks of the South Fork Eel River in Richardson Grove, Humboldt County, California
I hadn’t seen the South Fork Eel River looking so good at this time of year in many summers, and it had been longer since I last enjoyed a good dip in it. The Eel was clear and comfortably cool, with far more water in it than I had expected. It’s shallow near the bank where you see my brother and me standing beneath the night sky, easy to wade in. It gets gradually deeper until near the far shore my brother couldn’t reach the surface with his outstretched arm while standing on the bottom. It’s a tranquil stretch with a very slow current. It would be nice for the entire family.

Humanity disappointed me when we came upon the jarring sight of plastic trash left on the bank of the river by swimmers the previous day. I want to express how unutterably lame that is, but I find my vocabulary temporarily reduced to four-letter words. Some … let’s call them jerks, had brought their candy and plastic-wrapped crap to the riverside — and then left the trash there. I wonder what level of care they had, if any. Did they leave it for someone else to pick up? Thanks, that’s really crappy. Or did they not even care that much? Either way we were disgusted with them (“Houston, we’ve found lower life forms!”). We decided we would come back later with trash bags to clean up after them.

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Gist Hall Re-Opens After Asbestos Shutdown

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 1:12 PM

Humboldt State University - FILE
  • File
  • Humboldt State University
After a presence of disturbed asbestos found in a “space used to help circulate air” closed down Gist Hall in May, Humboldt State University has announced the building reopened this week.

Right before the spring semester ended, HSU closed down the building to test for traces of asbestos. Tests later confirmed no asbestos fibers were found in the air but some materials did contain asbestos, leading the school to close down the building.

Throughout the summer, the school worked with an outside firm to clean the building and hired a contractor to remove the “disturbed material” before the fall semester. The school passed the final air clearance test and has reopened the building.

Gist Hall’s reopening will be celebrated Thursday, Aug. 15, with light refreshments, a release states. Classes resume Aug. 26.

Read the full press release below:
After final air clearance test results showed that no asbestos fibers were detected in the air, Gist Hall re-opened as scheduled on Monday, August 12 at 8 a.m.

HSU will celebrate the re-opening on Thursday, August 15 in the lobby of Gist Hall starting at 8:30 a.m. Light refreshments will be served.

On May 10, Gist Hall was shut down out of an abundance of caution following the discovery of the possible presence of disturbed asbestos. The disturbed material was found during a check of the building’s systems following reports of heating issues. It was discovered in a plenum — a space used to help circulate air — behind an access panel on the second floor.

After an extensive evaluation, the building was closed that day to ensure the health and safety of students and employees. Classes were relocated, all activities were suspended, and the campus community was notified. Various tests conducted over the next few weeks showed: No asbestos fibers were in the air.

The material presumed to be disturbed asbestos contained some asbestos fibers. Asbestos fibers were not present in similar loose material that had been found in various areas of the building. Contractors removed the disturbed asbestos and the University passed the required final air clearance test.
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Eureka Hit a Record High on Tuesday

Posted By on Wed, Aug 14, 2019 at 11:25 AM

If you were wondering, the coast did set a record temperature for the day yesterday at 71. That bested the 2003 high of 70, according the Eureka office of the National Weather Service.

Of course that’s nothing in comparison to the what-the-heck highs of early June, when the 11th saw Eureka hit a scorching 85 degrees, a tie for the month’s record, followed by another record the next day when Woodley Island hit 71 by 9 a.m.

The normal temperature for the day was 64 and last year the high was 59.

If another record is to be set or hit today on the coast, temps will need to reach 74 on the coast. The forecast for Eureka is a high of 72 but inland the mercury is expected to soar, with Garberville looking at 95 degrees and Hoopa at 97.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Rollback of Endangered Species' Protections Raising Fears

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 2:53 PM

  • Courtesy of Redwood National Park
  • A wild-hatched condor.
The Trump administration’s move to weaken what many see as key aspects of the Endangered Species Act is garnering outrage and pushback, with critics fearing a greater deterioration of the natural world amid the planet’s growing biodiversity crisis.

Credited with saving the bald eagle — among many iconic species, including several on the North Coast — and giving others —  like the condor — a fighting chance, the ESA was enacted in 1973 by then-President Richard Nixon.

That year, fewer than 500 pairs of the United States’ national symbol were left in the wild while today some 10,000 sets of the stealth raptors with a distinctive snowy white head are found just in the lower 48 states alone.

While the ESA has seen many successes over the years, the rollbacks expected to be enacted soon come on the heels of a United Nation’s report released in May that found “the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world.”

According to an Aug. 12 joint announcement from U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ESA regulatory changes are “designed to increase transparency and effectiveness and bring the administration of the Act into the 21st century.”

“The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal —recovery of our rarest species. The Act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation,” U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, an attorney and former oil industry lobbyist, said in the release. “An effectively administered Act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation.”

Meanwhile, conservation organizations like Center Biological Diversity are sounding the alarm bells about what these changes could spell for already at-risk species like the polar bear and are mounting a campaign to reverse the alterations.

“We can stop this disaster, but it's going to require pulling out every stop,” a post on the center’s website states. “Tell your member of Congress to do everything in their power to defend wildlife and uphold the Endangered Species Act in this time of extinction crisis.

Read the USFW and NOAA release below:

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UPDATE: Sheriff's Office IDs Man Killed in McKinleyville Stabbing

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 11:00 AM


The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has identified the man who died in a McKinleyville stabbing as Rohnert Park resident Dylon T. Liakos. He was 30.

No new details of the incident were released.

According to HCSO, the Criminal Investigations Division is “still actively investigating the case.”

See the entire release at the bottom of the story.


The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 40-year-old McKinleyville man on suspicion of murder Saturday in connection with the death of a man who was apparently stabbed during an altercation.

According to a press release, deputies were called to the 1100 block of Boss Road just after midnight Saturday on a report of a disturbance and found an unresponsive male on the sidewalk.

The man, whose identity has not been released, was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Brian Leiteritz was later arrested and booked into jail on suspicion of murder.

“Deputies were familiar with the residence, and some of the involved individuals, as there have been repeated calls for service at that location in the recent past,” the release states.

Few other details were immediately available and the investigation is ongoing, according to HCSO.

Read the HCSO release below:
On 08-10-19, at about 12:10 AM, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a disturbance on the 1100 block of Boss Rd., in McKinleyville. It was reported that a male subject may have been stabbed during the incident. It was also reported that a male subject was on the ground and unresponsive.

Deputies were familiar with the residence, and some of the involved individuals, as there have been repeated calls for service at that location in the recent past.

Deputies arrived on scene and located an unresponsive male on the sidewalk. Lifesaving efforts were started and the subject was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Criminal Investigations Division responded to the scene and began conducting an investigation. Deputies later arrested Brian Leiteritz, age 40, of McKinleyville. He was charged with murder and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility.

The investigation is ongoing. Updates may follow if new information is developed.

Updated HCSO release:
On 08-10-19, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into a reported stabbing that occurred on the 1100 block of Boss Rd. in McKinleyville, in which a male died.

The decedent has been identified as Dylon T. Liakos, age 30, of Rohnert Park, Ca.

The Criminal Investigations Division is still actively investigating the case.

Anyone with information about this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.

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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Coastal Commission: If Trinidad Rancheria Can Find Water, it Can Build its Hotel

Posted By on Sat, Aug 10, 2019 at 8:29 AM

The California Coastal Commission went against the recommendation of its staff Thursday and gave the Trinidad Rancheria the go-ahead — or a “conditional concurrence” — to build a five-story hotel on its property off Scenic Drive south of the city.

This means that the Coastal Commission, which is tasked by law with protecting the California coastline, will not stand in the way of the Bureau of Indian Affairs granting the Rancheria a lease and a loan guarantee so that the project can start. The “conditional” part of the concurrence means the commission is giving the Rancheria six months to come up with a reliable water source — either through an agreement with the city of Trinidad or by proving its newly drilled well has the capability to provide the 14,000 gallons of of potable water per day that the hotel will require without draining neighboring wells. According to Trinidad Rancheria CEO Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, the well can produce 8,040 gallons per day.

An artistic rendering created by the Trinidad Rancheria of what its proposed Scenic Drive hotel project would look like from Trinidad Bay. - TRINIDAD RANCHERIA
  • Trinidad Rancheria
  • An artistic rendering created by the Trinidad Rancheria of what its proposed Scenic Drive hotel project would look like from Trinidad Bay.
The decision came at the very end of an eight-hour meeting, much of which was devoted to the problems of other communities along California’s long coastline. By the time the hotel project was heard, the audience, which earlier in the day had overflowed the Wharfinger building’s main hall, had largely thinned out. Nonetheless, enough members of the public stayed to fill an hour with comments praising or criticizing the project.

The commission had also previously received about 190 public weighing in an all sides of the hotel.

This is the third time the hotel proposal has appeared before the commission. The previous two times, the commission objected to the proposal, effectively blocking it. Like all federally recognized tribes, the Trinidad Rancheria has the legal status of a sovereign nation, meaning it is not subject to state or local authority, which includes the California Coastal Commission. However, it is subject to the authority of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). In order to approve a project, the BIA has to affirm that the project will not conflict with any state laws, hence the need for the Coastal Commission’s “concurrence.”

An artistic rendering of the proposed hotel project at Cher-Ae Heights Casino off Scenic Drive south of Trinidad. - SUBMITTED
  • An artistic rendering of the proposed hotel project at Cher-Ae Heights Casino off Scenic Drive south of Trinidad.
The issue that has drawn the most public attention has been the hotel’s size and corporate appearance. Many residents — and some who live outside the area but vacation here — feel the hotel would clash with the serene forested look of the Trinidad Bay coastline.

The issue of most concern to the commission, however, was not the building’s appearance but the lack of a confirmed water source for the project.

The Rancheria hopes to be able to hook up to the city of Trinidad’s municipal water system but the city is unsure of its ability to meet the future needs of its own residents. It has commissioned a series of studies that will not be completed until December and the city has said it will not make any commitments to other entities before that time.

The amount of water reportedly needed by the hotel seems to be a moving target, decreasing each time it comes before a public body. The draft Environmental Assessment for the hotel stated that 18,860 gallons per day would be required. This later went down to 14,184 gallons per day. On July 26, a letter from the Rancheria said that a more accurate figure would be 9,000 gallons per day, although this low figure only reflected 60 percent occupancy, obviously a less-than-desirable outcome for the hotel’s backers.

(The water-related material sent to the Coastal Commission can be found online here; scroll to Item 12b and click on Appendix C).

At the Aug. 8 hearing, the project was first reviewed in depth by the commission staff; then project proponents and opponents each got to have their say; and last, the long-suffering members of the public each got their two or three minutes to speak. Amy Deutschke, the BIA official in charge of the project, started the debate by insisting that the only things being considered were a loan guarantee and a lease — the actual building was immaterial. The Coastal Commission disagreed with her.

Trinidad Rancheria Chair Garth Sundberg then said that the Rancheria had listened to everybody’s concerns about the view and tried to address them.

“We love the view from here,” he said. “We need economic development on the Rancheria. … It will create jobs, benefit the health and welfare of our members ... I want you to know that although we want the permits, we are going to go forward anyway.”

Hostler-Carmesin then gave the 100-year-old history of the Trinidad Rancheria, described a 10-year planning process for the tribe’s commercial development and emphasized the many contributions the Rancheria had made to the greater community. She then announced that the Rancheria had successfully drilled for water on its own land, and estimated that “our pumping capacity is at 8,640 and it is indicating that we have an adequate supply of water for peak usage.”

Then, Trinidad resident Richard Johnson spoke representing Humboldt Alliance for Responsible Planning (HARP), a grassroots group opposed to the project.

“We may have differences of opinion but we are all in this together and we all share the same limited resources,” he said, adding that while his group supports the Rancheria’s efforts to improve its economic status, approval of the project as it was presented would violate federal and state laws.

There was not yet enough evidence, he said, to determine whether or not the Rancheria’s new well could provide enough water to serve the hotel on a long-term sustainable basis.

“We all live in the Luffenholtz watershed and we have a finite amount of water,” Johnson continued. “Development of any well, whether on the Rancheria property or in other areas of our watershed, could affect other nearby wells by increased water withdrawal. It’s important to recognize that there is development planned for the future based on the Rancheria’s comprehensive community-based plan … Likely, the water requirements for the Rancheria will increase due to that development.”

For the next hour, members of the public spoke, some stalwartly defending the Rancheria’s right as a sovereign nation to do whatever it pleased with its land and others criticizing the project’s design and the perceived inadequacy of information about water.

Eventually, public comment closed, and the members of the commission got down to the gritty task of coming to some sort of conclusion.

The commission was clearly conflicted, with some members resonating more to the theme of past racial injustices inflicted upon Native Americans and others more concerned with the apparent inconsistencies with the Coastal Act pointed out by the commission’s staff. Motions were made, amended and withdrawn. Some commissioners worried that if a decision was made in favor of the Rancheria that it would set a precedent allowing other projects of questionable legality to be approved.

The question of what will happen if the city does not provide water and the well water is not potable, or reliable — or for that matter, how the hotel will make up the difference between the estimated water from the well and its projected needs — was an item of strong concern to most commission members.

During one emotional exchange with the commission, Hostler-Carmensin insisted vehemently that enough water would somehow be found, that the tribe intended to move ahead and added that the tribe had already sunk more than $5 million into the project.

“Passion does not equal water,” Commission Chair Dayna Bochco retorted. “What happens if you build the hotel and there is no water?”

Hostler-Carmesin said in that case, the hotel would be unable to open. That final decision, she said, would be up to the Trinidad Rancheria Tribal Council.

Speaking to her fellow commissioners, Bochco described the visuals of the project as “disappointing” and said that she understood why the community was not happy.

Nonetheless, the commission eventually voted 6 to 3 to grant a conditional concurrence to the BIA. The passed motion specifies that “prior to commencement of construction,” the BIA shall provide commission staff that either the city of Trinidad has agreed to provide water to the project or that the Rancheria has found an alternative source and conducted an analysis on its effects on coastal resources pursuant to the California Coastal Act.

Newly seated Commissioner Mike Wilson, Humboldt’s Third District County Supervisor, voted with the majority to approve the conditional concurrence.

Editor's note: This story has been updated from a previous version to correct an editing error regarding the commission's discussion of the project's visual impacts, and to correct the spelling of Jacque Hoster-Carmesin's name. The Journal regrets the errors.
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Friday, August 9, 2019

HSU Enters Interim Agreement to Farm Out KHSU Management

Posted By on Fri, Aug 9, 2019 at 9:25 AM

Humboldt State University has entered into an interim agreement with Capital Public Radio in Sacramento to provide “programming assistance” to KHSU-FM, which was controversially gutted by the university back in April.

“The agreement allows KHSU to continue airing national and state programming as the university considers various approaches KHSU’s future,” states a university press release. “As a next step, HSU will be assessing options for maintaining KHSU as a vital public service radio station and ensuring its alignment with the university’s teaching mission.”

Under the agreement, which extends through October, Capital Public Radio will serve as KHSU’s station manager and essentially run the station.

  • Mark McKenna
  • KHSU's studio.
As far as long-term solutions, the release states that HSU is considering joining ongoing partnership discussions between Capital Public Radio and North State Public Radio in Chico. But the release makes clear HSU is still assessing its options.

Before formally entering into any long-term discussions, the release states new HSU President Tom Jackson Jr. has indicated he wants to clarify “Humboldt’s overall goals for KHSU” and wants to gather input from faculty and students “to learn more about their interest in KHSU.”

“One thing he says he has heard frequently is the importance of the station’s presence and news role in connecting communities stretching from Petrolia to Crescent City,” the release states.

See the full press release from HSU copied below:

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Thursday, August 8, 2019

Rainbow Ridge Treesitter Comes Down

Posted By on Thu, Aug 8, 2019 at 12:34 PM

Activists paint Rainbow Ridge protest signs. - BLOCKADE BABES INSTAGRAM
  • Blockade Babes Instagram
  • Activists paint Rainbow Ridge protest signs.
After two months, a treesitter who goes by “Rook” has come down from a perch in the canopy of a giant Douglas fir where she was protesting Humboldt Redwood Co.’s timber activities at Rainbow Ridge, according to a release from Earth First! Humboldt.

Rook was escorted from the scene by security but was not arrested.

Logging in the area has been a source of contention between the company and those fighting to save the forest stand that protesters say deserves protection due to its ecological significance.

Dueling opinion pieces in the Journal have laid out the disputes about whether HRC is following the sustainability practices the company promised to adhere to and clashes over the treatment of protesters at Rainbow Ridge.

Rook and Earth First! Humboldt allege she was harassed and endured “harsh conditions” during her time in the tree, which the company has denied.

“The tree I’ve been living in has all the important physical characteristics associated with old growth,” Rook says in the release, “but still falls outside of HRCs qualifiers for protected status, which primarily depends on age. While HRC promotes their policy as ecologically sound and sustainable, they continue to log un-entered stands and send forest giants like this to the sawmill.”

Four protesters were arrested in June after they allegedly blocked off the entry gate to Humboldt Redwood Co. property on Monument Road in Rio Dell.

"Protests and acts of civil disobedience are expected to continue," the release states.

Read the Earth First! Humboldt release below:

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Familiar Face Takes a Seat on Rio Dell City Council

Posted By on Wed, Aug 7, 2019 at 12:50 PM

Councilmember Gordon Johnson is sworn in on Tuesday. - CITY OF RIO DELL
  • City of Rio Dell
  • Councilmember Gordon Johnson is sworn in on Tuesday.

The Rio Dell City Council welcomed a familiar face back to the dais Tuesday, when Gordon Johnson was once again sworn in following the resignation of Bryan Richter for personal reasons.

Johnson, a longtime resident and civil engineer, will serve until 2022. He was previously appointed to a council seat in 2013 and elected to a term in 2014, which ended last year.

Two others, Amanda Carter and Alonzo Bradford, applied for the seat but later withdrew their names.

“I want to welcome Gordon back to the council,” Mayor Debra Garnes said in a statement. “He comes back at a time of tremendous change in the city – positive changes that he was a part of getting started. It’s important to have a steady, knowledgeable person like him right now.”

Read the full release below:

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North Coast Night Lights: Unexpected Magic: Rabbit Stargazer

Posted By on Wed, Aug 7, 2019 at 10:46 AM

What makes a photograph special isn’t always what was planned but what happens instead. Of course, sometimes what happens instead can make a mess of things. One has no choice in the matter, but it seems to me that if I’m open to the possibility that something unexpected can make the photo better then delightful surprises will occasionally find me and enter my images.

It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes an outing ends with nothing good. And that is OK. I’ve awakened before dawn and gone out numerous times without bringing home an exciting image. But I don’t feel disappointed at those times because they are only the flip side; I feel the balance that exists and I know that the times when I bring nothing back get me that much closer to the next time that magic will enter the image and give me something special. Is it magic when it happens? Luck? Or just plain probability? I don’t know but it works for me, and I am grateful for it and like working with it.
Taking pictures at regular intervals, my camera caught a curious rabbit that had come out to see what was so interesting. I wonder what it saw. This animation comprises 11 separate still images, each 30 seconds long. That means the rabbit stayed there watching for over 5 minutes. The changing light is moonlight passing behind trees during the exposure. This view is cropped close to the rabbit. August 2016. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • Taking pictures at regular intervals, my camera caught a curious rabbit that had come out to see what was so interesting. I wonder what it saw. This animation comprises 11 separate still images, each 30 seconds long. That means the rabbit stayed there watching for over 5 minutes. The changing light is moonlight passing behind trees during the exposure. This view is cropped close to the rabbit. August 2016.
A bit of the magic hopped into the frame one August night in 2016 while photographing the Perseid meteor shower. When I discovered it later, it instantly became the star of my evening’s photos for me. I was photographing from a friend’s house who lived far from city lights. In a darker area over a little hill away from the house lights I’d set up my camera and programmed its intervalometer to take long exposure photographs one after another.

While the camera photographed, we watched the skies from a location nearer the house and the conveniences of deck chairs and refreshments. I had no idea that a curious furry little critter had come out to watch the stars near my camera until I looked through the images the next day. If I hadn’t been away from my camera s/he wouldn’t have come.
An uncropped view, this is also a composite of two photographs. The camera was set to take photos at regular intervals and made over 500 exposures from here. The large meteor above crossed the sky where you see it, but after the rabbit had left. The smaller meteor flashed in the sky as the rabbit watched. - DAVID WILSON
  • David Wilson
  • An uncropped view, this is also a composite of two photographs. The camera was set to take photos at regular intervals and made over 500 exposures from here. The large meteor above crossed the sky where you see it, but after the rabbit had left. The smaller meteor flashed in the sky as the rabbit watched.
The rabbit sat by my camera for almost six minutes while the camera took pictures. Each photograph was a 30-second exposure, and the rabbit appeared in eleven of them, mostly sitting and looking this way and that in the starry night. It sat fairly still in some of the images, but in others it moved while the shutter was open, becoming streaks or leaving ghost images of its silhouette. Was s/he watching the shooting stars, drawn out by the magic of a meteor shower as I was? I fancy s/he was sharing the wonder of the night sky so full of stars and meteors, airplanes and satellites. Or was it perhaps watching the camera, wondering what that contraption was which sat upon metal legs and clicked every 30 seconds?

The Perseid meteor shower will peak the night of Aug. 12-13, 2019, but with fewer meteors per hour than usual as a bright moon will wash out the dimmer streaks.

To keep abreast of David Wilson’s most current photography or peer into its past, visit and contact him at his website or follow him on Instagram at @david_wilson_mfx .
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