For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to take a sunrise photo from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine. Yesterday, I crossed that puppy off my bucket list.
Cadillac Mountain is one of the highest points on the eastern seaboard. Most people think that this peak is first to see the sun all year long, as I had thought, but we were mistaken. Even though it's not the easternmost point in the US, Cadillac's height does allow it, for roughly half the year, to receive the first rays of sunshine in the continental US. The other half of the year, from March to October, a slightly taller peak near the Canadian border has that honor. The tilt of the earth and changing position of the sun throughout the year is what causes this difference.
Regardless, as a photographer, it was still high on my bucket list. I've been camping (glamping?) the last two weeks about 20 miles from the Park, which resides on Mount Desert Island on the rocky Maine coast, and I wanted to see and photograph the sunrise there. However, another quirk of Maine's environment nearly foiled that. Almost every day I've been here it had either been raining or extremely foggy at daybreak -- until yesterday.
I had been checking forecasts twice or three times a day since I've been here and it finally appeared that Thursday would be clear. I went to bed early so I could get up at 4am to set out for Cadillac and was awakened at about 12:30am by a severe thunderstorm, one that had not been in the forecast. I decided to give it one more day and fortunately, the weather stayed clear on Thursday night. At 4am Friday morning it was as dark as midnight but I packed a brunch and headed out.
When I arrived at the park a little more than an hour before sunrise, it was quite foggy but it was starting to lift. However about a half-mile from the parking lot, cars were parked on both sides of the road. This didn't bode well. Sure enough, I drove through the jam-packed parking lot and back down the road to the end of the parking line. There must have been 500 vehicles parked in and around the mountain peak's visitor center.
I hiked through the crowd carrying my camera backpack and my own tripod, stepping down several levels of rock shelves and I was able to get to a large stone block with no other photographers in front of me. I set up just as the sun poked out of the fog. If you have never taken sunrise or sunset pictures, it's difficult to understand the excitement of the time limit you're given. The sun is moving with or without your readiness or the equipment's corporation.
One of the exciting aspects of our full-time RV'ing adventure is that these bucket list opportunities will avail themselves with some regularity. In a sticks-and-bricks home, it's just too difficult (and expensive) to take the time to do it all.
No, it's about political posts...
I grew up in the Watts-riot, Vietnam-war-protest, Cold-War era. Needless to say, I've seen passion in politics. Passion can bring about change and unite the public in ways that the news by itself cannot. After all, if you are truly concerned about your children, your grandchildren and the future of the planet, passion can be a catalyst.
However, blind passion without common sense, with only dislike or hatred at its core, can bring about stagnation, as the opposition employs the same. There are two (or more) sides to any political argument. Too often the most important thing to the supporters of a candidate, an elected official or a proposition is to win the election by any means necessary. I'm not idealistic enough to ignore 240 years of mudslinging and dirty politics in this country. However, the Internet and access to the American voter, combined with a new generation of Americans that have grown up with the Internet, have amplified mudslinging to levels never before imagined.
I have been unfollowing people recently on my personal Facebook account, even family members, not because I dislike them or even for their views, but simply because they refuse to do even the simplest fact-checking before they re-post something as long as it supports their agenda. Let me repeat, before they re-post something, meaning they don't often submit original thoughts. This re-posting mania has been the reason the Russians have been so effective at distributing fake news and political lies. There are several fact-checking websites for political statements making the rounds, such as snopes.com and factcheck.org, that will give people as unbiased an opinion about a statement as is possible and it takes only moments.
I'm not saying that all political posts are lies, either. Successful politicians often start with a truth and twist it to suit their purposes. This is why the fact-checking sites will commonly say that a specific claim in a statement or ad is somewhat true but needs context. Remember that end results from statistical analysis can be made to justify any particular view. For example, I saw a post that said that the nine states with the worst poverty levels had one thing in common, that they were all right-to-work states. Okay, so I asked the question, how many of the other 41 states were also right-to-work states? The answer was 25. So being a right-to-work state really didn't make the difference for poverty levels. The statement was literally true, but the implication that right-to-work was the root cause of poverty was incorrect, or at least gravely misunderstood.
I'm asking a few things from my friends and family. First, do a simple fact-check before you re-post or share a political statement. Second, write your own posts on occasion instead of always sharing posts from others. Last, grow a thick skin. Not everyone will agree with you and that doesn't make them bad people, or ignoramuses. It just means they have a brain of their own, and possibly interests that don't line up with yours.
One more thing about passion: just because someone has passion doesn't make them right, as the South found out in the Civil War.