The Doldrums of January

A winter storm came through on Sunday. I was determined to get back to the towpath before the storm hit. Too many weekends had passed without my having had the experience. I would go in spite of the very cold morning that was predicted. And I was prepared to go by myself if that was the only way to make it happen.

It was about 15°F (-9.44°C) when I arrived at Rileys Lock very early in the morning.

Because of the cold, I took the concept of layering of clothes to an extreme for this outing. Four layers of clothing protected the chest and the family jewels. Two layers of socks and gloves, and a skullcap and a hoodie protected the extremities.

The first thing I noticed was the new bridge over Seneca Creek at Rileys Lock. A closer look revealed that the bridge was still under construction and was closed off.

I had no option but to head south towards Pennyfield Lock.

It was a dull and grey morning. The sun struggled from behind a thick layer of clouds that portended the coming of the storm later in the day.The water in the canal was freezing in sections because of the cold.The river still flowed freely on the other side of the trail.

The conditions were such that even the little birds flying around the trail did little to raise my level of enthusiasm. Only the colorful cardinals, now clearly visible against the brown of the deleaved plants and trees, managed to draw my attention for an extended period of time. I was not motivated to take pictures, let alone take off my thick outer later of gloves to fiddle with the camera to try to optimize any picture being taken.

Regardless of all my caution, my fingers and toes began to freeze up.

I kept walking along trying to quieten my mind. I only saw one person on the trail during the early part of the walk. His jacket was a shade of blue that caught your attention from far away, especially in the dull brown background. He turned around as I was approaching him and went back the way he had come. I was very surprised to encounter a bicyclist. He came up from behind very quietly when I thought was the only one on the trail. I might have been singing before he warned me of his presence and passed me by.

I was able to eventually internalize and mentally adapt to the cold. I reached Pennyfield Lock and kept walking past the landmark. The place could have served as a milestone to use to turn back to return to my car. My thought when I had left home that morning was that I would see how it felt walking in the cold, and turn back the moment I felt that I was on a fool’s errand and was putting myself in some danger. At that point many of my fingers were still partially numb. Some had reached an intermediate state of pain which I think had to do with the pressure on the blood vessels as they attempted to open up in my fingers. It was actually usually a good sign. I could manage, even if my extremities were not in a completely good state. I had experience with the situation and knew how bad it would get. It also helped that there was no breeze at that point. I still could feel my nose.

It was a little bit after I passed Pennyfield lock that I decided that I would try to cover about 8 miles. It felt doable. I was comfortable.

I turned back at the point where the trail ran next to the cliffs before Swains Lock. I began to encounter more people on the way back to Rileys Lock. As I was not getting good opportunities for taking pictures, the camera went back into the backpack. I decided to start jogging. It was simply something that I felt like doing at that moment. There was no planning involved.

It was a different experience once I started jogging. First of all, the movement and the rhythm of the breathing came easy even though I had not run on the trail for probably a few years. I could keep going, and the going was easy. Perhaps it was due to the fact that I had done some jogging on the treadmill earlier in the week.

And then something magical began to happen. The blood began to flow through to my extremities more freely. I could feel it. The frozen feeling began to vanish slowly, although painfully. Before long, my fingers and toes were feeling fine and I had found a rhythm on the trail. It was a rhythm that I thought I could manage forever. The miles were passing by effortlessly.

It was about 19°F by the time I got back to the car. I was not feeling the cold in the least bit!

It started snowing in the afternoon.

https://www.gocomics.com/barneyandclyde/2022/01/16

Its Just Another Day

I hate to admit it, but I do have the Monday Morning Blues today. The worries/annoyances have risen to the surface – Omicron, Build Back Better, stock market, etc.. The microwave oven happened to breathe its last yesterday. It has to be fixed before the rest of the family arrives for the Christmas holiday. The laundry and the groceries have to be done. It is colder than usual this morning, and the Reynauds is always there in the background. I think I can find plenty of stuff to get worked up about if I put my mind to it!😄

The conditions for our Sunday morning walk yesterday were not ideal. Although the temperature was supposed to be in the 40s – not too bad – it was cloudy, and there was a breeze coming through. There was the promise of the sunshine that was to come later in the day, with the blue sky poking through the clouds in the distance, but that did not do anything to help us feel warmer on the trail that time of the morning. My fingers never warmed up in spite of the 7 mile walk.

There were a couple of exciting sightings during the walk. The red-shouldered hawk settled on a branch just above the trail and sat there while I took its pictures. We were close to Swains Lock when that happened.

The bird eventually became shy and turned its head the other way.

We also saw a nest on the other side of the river with a couple of bald eagles in it. Their season for nesting is beginning. We have to thank the birders – a small group of older women – whose actions in the distance on the trail gave us a clue about the presence of the nest. (They also identified the red-shouldered hawk for us when we saw it the first time.)

Its just another day.

A Morning For The Freight Trains

We walked to the town of Brunswick and its big marshalling yard for the CSX railroad last Sunday. We encountered the freight trains well before we got there.

We were still driving from home towards the parking lot at Lander Lock, the starting point of our walk, when, at Dickerson, I sighted the rear-end of the freight train crossing the bridge over the road. The train was headed towards the bridge at the Monocacy river. When we reached Point Of Rocks about 10 to 15 minutes later, we saw the same train running on the tracks parallel to the road we were on. We then landed up at Lander Lock another 10 to 15 minutes later just as the same train was passing by. We had to stop at the railroad crossing to let it go by before proceeding to the parking lot.

It was in the 30s when we started our walk from next to the lock house.

It was the Sycamore trees that drew my attention early in the walk. One wonders if I ever will tire of their majesty?!

The first stop was Catoctin Aqueduct. You can see how low the sun was in the sky from this picture that was taken from the walkway on one side of the aqueduct.

We could hear the activity in the railroad yard even before we crossed Little Catoctin Creek a little later.We had to go down to the level of the creek to cross the creek. The original culvert over the canal was destroyed in a storm in May 2018 and has still not been replaced.

Little Catoctin Creek is located near the eastern end of the Brunswick railroad yard. The first thing we noticed was the back-and-forth shunting activity going on with a locomotive consist of three engines attached to a number of freight cars carrying containers with J. B. Hunt logos on their sides. (We originally mistook them for containers carrying ketchup and other tomato products!🤨)

The railroad yard was, as usual, full of freight cars dispersed over the different tracks. You could see and hear the occasional locomotive located behind the carriages on the tracks closer to the trail. There is a background rumbling sound of the locomotives at rest, and the occasional creaking and clanging of metal when freight cars are being moved around, when you are walking in this area.

This is a picture from the trail beside the yard.The sky was absolutely clear! This part of the towpath has actually been converted to a gravel road that people can drive on to get to a privately owned family campsite next to the river.

The distance we covered during the walk was a little more than what we usually tackle. The Brunswick parking lot for the towpath was slightly further away than what I had expected. I took some additional time to walk the extra distance on my own, looping back on the road next to the railroad yard to get back to the trail. This is a picture of the Maryland Route 17 bridge at Brunswick taken during that part of the walk.There were a couple of trains parked on the tracks at the far end of the yard.I see trains at this location almost every time I pass by on the road. (You can actually see these trains on the other side of the bridge if you open up the picture of the bridge!)

As we were departing the area of the railroad yard on our way back to Lander Lock, the train that we had seen moving about in the yard let out three blasts of its horn (similar to this sound) and started moving in our direction. It was still moving quite slowly, still picking up speed, when the locomotives passed us by. The train consist itself was much longer than the J. B. Hunt set of container cars that we had originally seen. With its over 160 varied freight cars, it was long enough (and slow enough!) that we even reached the Catoctin Aqueduct on foot on the trail before the train fully passed us by!

We made a stop at the Rocky Point Creamery on our drive back home to pick up some ice cream. We have driven past this place for many years, and this is the first time we stopped to investigate further. The ice cream remains to be consumed at this point in time!

Little Pool

We had visited Big Pool on the C&O Canal earlier this year. We decided to go to Little Pool, its little sister, on Sunday. Little Pool is located just a few miles west of Big Pool. To start a walk at Little Pool, one must get to a parking lot for the canal that is difficult to access, one which does not get much use. The information about the approach to the lot requires a little bit of research. It is possible that not many people know about its existence.

This parking lot, just outside of Hancock, is located off an on-ramp to Interstate 70 going east. The only access to the road leading to this ramp from the highway is from an exit on I-70 heading west. The exit is located in the middle of the countryside. You could miss it easily – in the blink of an eye – if you were were not aware of it, or if you were distracted. There is no exit from I-70 to this parking lot if you are headed east on the highway, and there is no way to get onto I-70 West from the parking lot.

I had found this parking lot many years ago when I was discovering these sections of the C&O canal for the first time. I had only been there once – in 2007. In fact, I had written about this place at that time in an email to friends and family! That outing on the C&O canal was the first time I had made it to the town of Hancock, the furthest west I had been at that point. I had started a run at Little Pool on that day.

Nothing had changed regarding the nature of the parking lot since 2007.We were the only ones there – both when we arrived and when we departed the place after the walk! This parking lot serves both the WMRT and the C&O Canal. (We had been to the WMRT at Pearre, MD, just a few weeks earlier when searching (unsuccessfully!) for the colors of Fall.) You walk down to the WMRT from the parking lot.

You then cross the WMRT to walk down to Little Pool.The pool was bathed in a lovely early morning light. We walked east, towards Big Pool, on the towpath from that point. I had wanted to walk all the way to the aqueduct at Licking Creek, but had misjudged the distance. We turned back before we got there. Here are some pictures from this part of the walk.

We were walking in the direction of the rising sun at this point. It warmed us up nicely in spite of the low early morning temperatures. The last picture in the above sequence shows a trailer park on the West Virginia side of the river, and a freight train crossing a bridge over a minor tributary of the Potomac called Sleepy Creek.

We walked past a couple of locations along the canal where the waste weir for that section of the canal was built on the berm side of the canal, away from the river. The water from the waste weir fed into a culvert under the canal that led to the river. The usual practice, which seems to make more sense, was to build waste weirs on the side of the canal facing the river.

We walked back to Little Pool, and then continued the walk along Little Pool towards Hancock.

We saw a few birds that morning. I even caught sight of an bald eagle in the distance. It was too far away to get a good picture. We saw woodpeckers, bluebirds, cardinals, nuthatches, and even a family of what I suspect were ring-necked ducks on the water.The bluebirds were too small and restless to keep a track of long enough to take a picture of. There was another bird that we could not recognize that kept flying ahead of us over the trail. It would take off as we approached, and then land once again further along on the trail. It then started doing this activity over the canal bed – flying ahead of us as we approached and then landing next to the trail – again and again. I tried to have my camera ready for a photo-opp but was unsuccessful. I finally gave up tracking the bird.

The views of the trail ahead of us got my attention in the morning light.We did not quite reach Hancock before we turned back. We had walked over 8 miles that morning.

This was a morning for strange sightings. We saw what looked like a weasel in the water at Little Pool. But everything I have read so far suggests that weasels are not present in these parts. We also saw what looked like a pig in the median of the highway as we were driving home. That was quite strange. We were left wondering how it got there, and from where!

One more thing that was unusual about this outing was that we did not encounter a single person on the trail that morning. This might have primarily been due to the fact that the WMRT runs parallel to the towpath in this section. Its pavement provides a much smoother surface for bikers who are passing through to ride on than the towpath.

Halloween Sunday On The Trail

We started our walk from the parking lot at the Dickerson Conservation Center on Halloween Sunday. We walked towards the Monocacy Aqueduct. The colors were rather dull. It took a while for the sun to emerge.

Later on during the walk, we ran into some young people dressed up for Halloween.We saw them a couple of times on the trail. They looked like they had actually walked a significant distance.

The trail was mostly green, but we encountered a few trees with yellow. We have come to the realization that a lot of the yellow is due to the turning of the Pawpaw trees.

We crossed the Monocacy Aqueduct but did not quite get to Noland Ferry before we turned back. The river was running a little high that morning. I have taken so many pictures from this perspective that I neglected to take another one that morning.

I liked this picture of Spinks Lock (Lock 27) with its lock house. The lock lies just beyond the power station at Dickerson.

My eyes were drawn to this sight of the drying leaves of a sycamore tree up in the sky, caught in the early morning light. The blue and the white in the sky provided a nice contrast to what we were seeing on the trail.

Williamsport and Pearre, MD, On The Same Morning

It was our first weekend walk along the C&O Canal after my return from India. After our earlier somewhat less successful experiences in the Shenandoah National Park with the viewing of Fall colors, we were going to give it a shot once again. But, based on experiences of past years, I was also not expecting much success in this regard. Except for in a few short sections of the canal closer to the city, the leaves on the trees along the towpath tend to fade to shades of yellow, with perhaps an occasional tinge of orange if you are lucky, or turn directly to brown. You do not see much of the reds.

In any case, we decided to give it a try, and headed to a place that was much more north and west of where we lived, where, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Fall was well underway. We went to Williamsport.

Unfortunately, we arrived in Williamsport to find that most of the vegetation was still green.We walked south on the trail up to a section just beyond the re-watered part of the canal. At that point we determined that the colors were not going to improve. We aborted the walk, returned to the car, and decided to drive further west to see if we could have better luck in our endeavors. This part of the Sunday morning activities was totally unplanned.

In any case, before leaving Williamsport, I managed to get a picture of the restored Conococheague aqueduct from the level of the creek, something I was unable to do during our previous visit.

We drove west past Hancock. Soon after, just before the Sideling Hill cut on highway I-68, we turned south onto Woodmont Road, one of the occasional narrow local roads that run through this extremely rural section of Maryland.

(As an aside, Sideling Hill is actually a somewhat long (but not very tall) mountain ridge of the Appalachians that runs all the way north into Pennsylvania and south, parallel to the border of Maryland and West Virginia, to West Virginia. The Potomac river forms the border of Maryland and West Virginia here. At some point the river turns and cuts through the ridge. The border of the states continues to follow the river.)

This space was a part of Maryland that I used to come to by myself, to run and explore, every once in a while in the past, but not recently. This section of the Maryland is lightly populated and heavily wooded. The drive south on Woodmont Road was quite nice, and we could see some color on the trees along the way.

We ended up at the parking lot for the Western Maryland Railroad Trail (WMRT) in Pearre, MD. This parking lot used to be the western terminus for the WMRT. We discovered that morning that the trail has been further extended a few miles west.

We were able to get on to the C&O canal towpath from the WMRT using a connector between the two trails. Alas, the vegetation here was also mostly green. We took the trail headed in a westerly direction. It was less than a mile before we crossed the Sideling creek and Aqueduct.The railings on the WMRT (behind the aqueduct in the picture above) looked new from the level of the aqueduct. This was our first hint that that trail might have been extended beyond Pearre. It was perhaps more than a mile after that before we came to a place where we saw the following structure.We realized that this was the place where the extension of the WMRT on the railroad right-of-way ended. This was where the WMRT connected back to the towpath.

We decided to tranfer to the WMRT for our return to Pearre. There was a little more color to be experienced from this perspective, but not much.The trail was very nicely paved and in much better shape than the towpath in these parts.

It turned into a long morning because of our having gone to two different places, and because of the extended distance away from home that we had traveled. I was tired, and it put me in a bad place later in the day for the first music practice after my return from India.

We have not had much success so far this year in our quirky annual endeavor of trying to find places to experience the colors of Fall. It may not be too surprising to some that I have been observing the fuller phenomenon of Fall, with more of its brilliant colors, more vividly closer to home – on the local roads – in recent days. I do not know yet if I will end up taking pictures.

The Sunflower Gardens Mini-Adventures

We have known for a few years that the State of Maryland manages a few sunflower gardens in the area of McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area near Sycamore Landing, one of our starting points for Sunday morning walks along the towpath. The exact locations of the gardens can change every year. The primary purpose of the sunflower gardens is to provide food for birds. That having been said, The Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the organization that maintains the area, allows visitors to the many sunflower gardens, including the one next to the parking lot at Sycamore Landing for the C&O Canal.

We went to see the sunflowers for first time this year. This year, all of the gardens other than the one at Sycamore Landing are accessed from parking lots along a rough road called Hunter Quarter Road. Hunter Quarter Road is a diversion from a main road called River Road. It runs parallel to River Road for a short while. River Road itself runs roughly parallel to the Potomac river. It is the road we take to get to both Sycamore Landing and Edwards Ferry. McKee Beshers WMA occupies all of the space between River Road and the C&O Canal park next to the Potomac River. River Road and the towpath are spaced by a distance of roughly a mile. The wildlife management area is broken up into woods, swamps, and plots of land which either lie fallow or are used for growing plants like corn, and even sunflower. I suspect that some of the plots are leased out to people. This being a wildlife management area, there is plenty of wildlife, including a variety of flora and fauna.

Here are some pictures from the outing!

The following pictures are from the first location that we stopped at. The garden had to be accessed via a trail through a wooded area.The sunflower garden itself was next to a cornfield.

The sunflower plants here were growing in the midst of some other tall wild plants.

It was still a little cloudy at that time of the morning. We could see the occasional aircraft flying in the direction of Dulles airport.

The sunflowers were easier to view at the second place that we stopped at.

We saw a lot of goldfinches flying around the sunflower field. They would occasionally land on the sunflower plants, sometimes sitting on top of the plants, and sometimes going down into the leaves of plants themselves. They did not stay in any one place for too long.

Beyond the sunflower garden, we were able to follow the pathway in the direction of the Potomac River, all the way to its end. We then had to walk through a field of fairly mature corn plants to get into the woods next to the canal. It could have been a setting for a Stephen King novel.On the other side of the cornfield, a trail led through woods to the prism of the canal and the towpath on its other side, and then the river just beyond.

We did not see any sunflowers at the final place that we stopped at. The pathway in this area lay next to a swamp. There were plenty of interesting other plants to be seen. These are some of the newer ones.

There were also mallows and bindweed aplenty in this last section.

Here is a picture of a bird I do not recall ever having seen before. It was very cooperative when it came to my taking its picture. I have been unable to identify it so far. Notice the multi-colored beak.

We have been aware of the existence of the McKee Beshers Wildlife Management Area for a long time. I have actually studied a map of the area in the past to figure out if there were places to hike. I had been looking forward to exploring this space for a few years. Now it is done thanks to the sunflower gardens! We might return to the place in the future.

Walk, Bike, and Run

I felt good this morning. I was able to go for a run after a somewhat long break. The last couple of days have been a little cooler than usual, and the temperature was in the 60s when I started out. I thought that I would feel a little sluggish because of the break. That happened to not be the case. I got my mojo going pretty quickly, probably because of the cool temperatures. The running came easy. I was was able to maintain a decent pace throughout the run, and I actually felt wonderfully refreshed the rest of the morning.

We walked from Weverton to Harpers Ferry last Sunday. We were walking a section of this trail for the first time this year. Because of the location closer to Harper Ferry, there was more activity on the trail than one wishes and hopes for. But it was OK. We still had our extended periods of quiet. Here are some pictures from the walk.

The railroad line runs beside the canal all the way to Harpers Ferry.

This is the Route 340 bridge across the Potomac.

The river is very rough downstream of Harpers Ferry. The water is also very low in summer.

Harpers Ferry is across the river in West Virginia at the meeting point of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. The railroad line crosses over the river on the bridges to the right of the picture.

The newer flowers that we saw for the year during this walk include White Campion,

Buttonbush,

Queen Anne Lace (here in its early stage),

flowers that I was unsuccessful in identifying last year too,

Crown Vetch (distinguished from Red Clover because of the nature of the leaves),

Hedge Bindweed,

Wild Sweet William,

Rose of Sharon,

and Asiatic Dayflower.

My bike ride last Wednesday started once again at Pennyfield lock, but this time I headed towards Washington, DC. I rode up to Chain Bridge. It was a typical hot and humid Washington, DC, summer day. I covered more distance this time than I did during my first ride of the year last week. I put in a little more effort than during that first ride – keeping up a decent speed on the trail. There were quite a few people on the trail in spite of the heat. Thankfully, interactions with folks I encountered were generally pleasant, including a conversation with a couple who were in the early stages of an ambitious ride of over 60 miles! I hope they made it.

Here are a couple of pictures from my ride. The first one was taken at Widewater.

You can make out the typical haze of a Washington, DC, summer day in the second picture.

The Heat of Summer – Once Again!

Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city…
…………..The Lovin’ Spoonful

The temperatures began its rise into the 90s last weekend. Knowing that it was going to get very hot, we started our walk earlier than usual on Sunday. We were on the trail at Swains Lock before 8 O’clock! In spite of the early start, it did not take too long before we began to feel the sweat collecting on our necks and back. It was going to be one of those days!

We walked towards Great Falls. Here is a picture of the tavern at Great Falls.

We continue to see flowers for the first time this year along the towpath. The numbers I am recording are staggering. These include Tall Meadow Rue,

Yarrow,


Trumpet Flower,


Pickerelweed,


Mullein,Thistle,what I believe is Bindweed of some kind,


Black Cohosh,


Day Lily,Basil Bee Balm,

and a couple of flowers that I could not identify.

We also found raspberryand pawpaw fruitalong the trail.

The heat of the summer also brings out the dragonflies and the butterflies. We saw a few skimmers, a zebra swallowtail, and even a Red Admiral and a Crescent butterfly. (I will post some of these and other pictures in my Pbase photo galleries.)

We took a detour on to the River Trail just north of Great Falls on our way back to Swains Lock. It was a delightful experience! We ended up walking on a narrow trail along the side of the river. There were very few people on the trail and we saw a lot of birds. There were so many herons on the other side of the river, with many of them standing on their own individual rocks!I have to believe that there is a park on the other side of the river that is attracting the herons.

We also saw a Indigo Bunting.At first I was not sure about the identity of this bird, being confused by a shaft of light falling on its breast, but I now feel more confident of my conclusion. (Of course, I am not an expert on this matter, and my process for identifying a bird is always subject to verification/confirmation by any knowledgeable birder or ornithologist who happens to come this way!)

Here is the video of the song that I mentioned at the beginning of the blog.

The Cicadas In Full Force

The Cicadas seem to have ramped up their numbers and activity these days. It got so loud one afternoon that we could not even follow the conversations on the TV show that we were watching in the living room with the patio door open. We had to close the door! The trees in the backyard and in the front are full of these creatures. This is how it sounded one afternoon from the deck.

If you look at a capture of the volume levels for the above audio recording (processed using an app called Audacity), it looks like this!There is a real pattern here. They are actually communicating in their own way.

There are dead cicadas all over the ground in the outdoors these days, anywhere you walk. It is difficult to avoid stepping on them. The birds must be having a feast. You can hear the cicadas buzzing in the air, and watch them flying all over the place. You may even get hit by a cicada every once in a while if you are outside for a long time. While there can be a somewhat panicky reaction when this happens, with some frenzied flapping of the hand(s) where you thought the insect made contact with you, they are actually quite harmless!

We continued to experience the presence of the cicadas during for our walk from Edwards Ferry last weekend. Here is a picture of one of them.This is also the time for dragonflies and butterflies. Here are some pictures. We saw a few different kinds of dragonflies, but I had a difficult time getting them in a position where they could be photographed properly. I was successful with this Common Whitetail male.

You can see two Cabbage White butterflies in the picture below.

This is a a Question Mark butterfly. As you can see, I had to be happy with getting a picture from a significant distance away.

The picture below is of a Northern Pearly Eye butterfly on the trail. It might be sitting on the remains of a dead field mouse. That was the conclusion I drew when looking at the rest of what lay around it. Interestingly enough, we saw a couple of dead frogs on on the trail. The sight was surprising enough for me to give a yelp and leap into the air on one occasion to avoid stepping on it.

Here are a few of the newer flowers this year.

This is the flower of what seems to be a somewhat common weed. It is easy to miss because the plant is very small, and I did not realize how common it was until looked around more carefully this year. I have seen it in other, very different, locations. I have also seen it in the past years but have been unsuccessful in identifying it so far. The flower looks like a sombrero to me.This one is called Deptford Pink. It is a real tiny plant.

And this is Chicory. We will be seeing much more of this all around us from now on – as the weather heats up.

I thought these mushrooms on the trail were quite pretty. They were tiny. You may be able to make the size out from the size of the stones around them.

Another week passes by as we quickly head towards the Summer Solstice and the official start of summer in these parts. Outdoor activities, including the barbecues, the lazing around swimming pools, the visits to the beaches, etc.., have already begun since Memorial day. The increased vaccination rates have made it possible for people to gather together in a safer manner than was possible last year.

Unfortunately, there are still many who do not want to be vaccinated in our country. Some do not “believe” in the vaccines. Some talk about their “freedoms”. Perhaps there are also some who still even refuse to acknowledge the reality of the pandemic. It is a pity that people do not understand the concept of living in a society where we all need to pull together and look out for each other. It is also a pity that there are people living in an “advanced nation” who do not even recognize that the science and the technology that was responsible for providing us these vaccines is the same thing that is allowing us to exist and also enjoy our current lifestyles at the current moment in time in the earth’s history. It is especially a pity when people in our country do not realize how fortunate they are to have vaccines freely available. They still do not want the vaccines, even while other countries are suffering because they do not have enough, or any.