I don’t know of any family relationship that exists in my family or in Bob’s family, but I have always had an interest in Benjamin Franklin anyway. I have done a lot of hiking in my life, and sometimes, like it or not, bad weather comes in before we were done with our hike. I think anyone who has hiked much knows that one of your worst enemies on a hike…other than mountain lions, bears, or snakes…is lightning. Personally, when I start to hear thunder, I figure it’s time to head for shelter, but when you are four or five miles from your car, in the middle of a bunch of trees, heading for shelter isn’t always an easy task.
Ben Franklin, on the other hand saw lightning as a challenge to be explored. I think he had to have known the dangers of such an adventure, because he was a scientist after all. That didn’t really matter to him much, or if it did, he did not show it. Ben Franklin became interested in electricity in the mid-1740s. Not much was known about the subject, but he would spend the next decade conducting experiments using electricity. It was Ben who coined terms still in use today. You now them…battery, conductor, and electrician. He also invented the lightning rod, which is now used to protect buildings and ships. All of these things came from his many experiments. Ben Franklin was an amazing man, publisher, and writer, but it is really not in his writings that I find myself intrigued, but rather his electrical experiments. On this day, June 10, 1752, Ben flew his now infamous kite during a thunderstorm to collect a charge in a Leyden jar, when the kite was struck by lightning. He wanted to demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning.
Benjamin Franklin was born January 17, 1706. People might think that Benjamin Franklin was a highly educated man, but in reality, his formal education ended at age ten. Then he went to work for his brother, James as a printer, but after a dispute in 1723, he left Boston and moved to Philadelphia and found work as a printer. He moved to London for a short time and worked there as a printer, and then returned to Philadelphia. He became a successful businessman whose publishing ventures included the Pennsylvania Gazette and Poor Richard’s Almanack, a collection of homespun proverbs advocating hard work and honesty in order to get ahead. Eventually, Benjamin Franklin became an overachiever…or at least in the eyes of many people. I think he was just interested in a lot of things.
Of course, we all know about Benjamin Franklin’s career as a statesman, which spanned for decades, his years as a legislator, and his diplomatic years in England and France. He is the only politician to have signed all four documents fundamental to the creation of the US: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris (1783), which established peace with Great Britain, and the U.S. Constitution (1787). Yes, he was an all around amazing man, but I will always love the idea of his lightning experiments the best.
We are a little bit past the middle of summer, and it is a time when it usually starts to get pretty dry in Wyoming, but this is not a normal year…in many places. We have had a wet year so far, but nevertheless, in the last few weeks, I have noticed more brown in our lawn than before. One would think that with all the snow we got this year, and the overflowing rivers, that the lawns would be lush and green, but that is not the case. It doesn’t take many days at almost 100 degrees to scorch the grass…not to mention the people.
My daughter, Amy loves the rain. When the clouds start moving in, she stars cheering. Most people hate to have it rain at the end of a work day in the summer, because it ruins their plans for the evening, but rain makes Amy come alive. When it starts to rain, it is all Amy can do not to run out the door to go drive in the rain. She says there is nothing quite like driving in the rain. Each of us has something that makes us feel alive. Of all the different things it could be, rain is probably one of the nicest.
I particularly like thunder storms, provided I am not out in them. Lightning and the ensuing thunder are God’s fireworks, if you ask me, and I think it is beautiful. I guess that is why I would rather see those clouds move in a little later in the day. Lightning is at its best after dark. I love how it lights up the whole sky, and when the thunder rolls, especially if the strike was close, the whole house shakes. It’s very cool and it always makes a cozy night at home that much more cozy.
There just really isn’t a negative side to a rain storm, including afterward. The lightning flashes, the thunder rolls, the rain pours down, the air smells fresh and clean, and then, after it’s all over, comes the promise…the rainbow…the last beauty of the storm. There is just something about a rainbow. It’s beauty and mystery are beyond compare. Though many have tried to explain how it might come to be, but it just doesn’t add up. It’s God’s masterpiece. His gift to us. His promise. And it is awesome. All of it, together making up the beauty of the mid-summer rain.
Yesterday’s bad weather gave way to a very nice morning, so Bob and I set out for Harney Peak again. We are either determined or crazy, and since we passed a guy who went up and down twice today, I don’t think I’m so crazy. Today’s hike would be different. Our hikes up Harney Peak now total 6.8, with yesterday’s disappointing short hike to 1/2 mile from the top when we had to go down because of weather.
The weather this morning was perfect for a hike. The temperature was not too hot and not too cool. We started out early to beat the heat that would surely come. We were on top by 10:45 am. Many times when we have gone to Harney Peak, it was cold and we ate our lunch and headed back down out of the cold wind. Once again, this time would be different. It was so nice on top that we decided to take some extra time to eat our lunch and enjoy nature.
We found a spot to eat our lunch, and cool off. After eating most of our lunch in the shade, we decided to finish up in a more sunny spot. The chipmunks on the peak have lived their lives around people, and they have very little fear of us. The seem to think that your lunch is meant to be shared with them. I suppose that is because so many people do share with them. If you try to share with them, however, don’t bother with the bread. These little guys are picky. They want the chips.
Bob had Fritos, and that is one of their favorites. As we sat there, one little guy decided that we had a lunch date, and he was going to get to those Fritos even if he had to climb over me to get them…well almost. He wasn’t quite that brave, but he did go around me to get to those chips. And after getting his reward a couple of times, we were pals. He got very brave, coming back for more and even eating his chip by my feet. He was so cute. And after a while, he even agreed to pose for a few pictures. I think he knew I was going to write about him and would need a photo for proof of our lunch date.
The morning started out sunny with only a chance of late afternoon thunderstorms. We headed out at about 9:00 am for a 2 hour hike up the mountain, an hour on top for lunch, and a 2 hour hike back down the mountain. That was the plan anyway, but as sometimes happens, things didn’t go according to plan.
We were about half way in when the clouds rolled in and the thunder began. It wasn’t the first time we had hiked in a little but of thunder, but it is in moments like those that you begin to look for possible areas of shelter as you hike along. Knowing what I do of the area, I know that many of the lightning strikes in the area hit on or very near the Harney Peak tower. Being about 1.9 miles from the top gives a little feeling of safety, but you still need to be on your toes. Since we could see areas of sunshine behind the clouds, we decided to press on and hoped the storm would pass uneventfully.
Of course, when we were thinking of uneventfully, we meant that the lightning would pass on. That did happen, but in it’s place came the rain, and soft hail. Since we were higher now, and after trying to wait it out for about 20 minutes during which we were pretty thoroughly soaked, we made the determination that it would most likely not blow over.
And so it was with sadness that we decided to turn back only 1/2 mile from our prize. This was to have been our 6th trip up Harney Peak, but instead it would be trip 5.8. As we head back down to a rock that would make a perfect shelter, the rain continues to pour down. We are still amazed at the people who we continue to pass heading up as we head down. Finally, we get to the rock shelter and finally we are able to dry out a little. We stayed there about another 20 minutes, then decided to head back to the car. We were cold and bummed.
Heading back we could see the clouds rolling in again, as people continued to head up the mountain. Then the thunder began to roll again, and we knew we had made the right decision. No sooner had we reached the car and started eating our lunch, than the rain poured down with a vengeance. Oh well, maybe we will try again tomorrow.