Photography by J. Mita Studios

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Chasing Clouds

As I left Manchester, CT today around 11 a.m., I was amazed at the incredible clouds in the sky.  Rarely do we see such drama in Connecticut.  I only had my mobile phone with me, but the urge to photograph these clouds was too strong to resist.  As I looked to the north, there was a huge rain front apparent, but west and east seemed to have some character.  However, where was I going to go to find a vantage point to photograph these formations, even if I only had my phone camera.  So began my two hour jaunt chasing clouds as I tried to avoid the solid gray rain line and follow the much more interesting thunderheads.  Of course, as I traveled 84E, I did a bad thing and turned on my phone to get a photo of the road as
I traveled toward Boston.

As I drove on the highway, my first thought was to go as high as I could.  My first stop would be Fox Tower in Vernon, CT.  As I entered Henry Park I was disappointed to see more gray covering the sky.  I hurridly followed the tower road up to Fox Tower, but the most interesting clouds were behind the tree line.  Even so, I tried to capture a few.

I would not be satisfied until I tried another vantage point.  As I traveled toward Tolland on Rt. 30, I decided as I sat at the traffic light, just as it turned, that I wanted to try Soapstone Mountain.  The gray cloud was right over me and sprinkles began, but I swerved left and headed toward Stafford Springs. 

The closer I got to the mountain, the more the rain came.  At last I saw the sign for Soapstone, and traveled up the  long winding mountain road.

Soapstone Mountain is an easy place to drive to.  It offers an amazing view all the way to New Hampshire.  The Nipmuck called the mountain Missatchawag, or "place at the great hill."  I have spent many hours up there, hiking as a child and climbing the fire tower at the top.  The fire tower is now gone, replaced by a much lower observation deck, but you can still see a wide expanse of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. 

Out of my car, the raindrops began to alleviate, and I climbed to the deck and was well pleased.  The clouds were large and clear, and I snapped away, learning how to use the phone camera zoom which I never knew how before.  The wind was snapping the trees a little, and I saw several hawks flying across the many hills surrounding Soapstone.

The many directions I could turn offered more great subjects.  The sun was shining at this point and I had a wonderful half hour just gazing and snapping.  I was totally alone on the mountain.  I felt as if my ancestors were whispering to me on the constant wind that blew. 

On my way home, I took Route 30 from Stafford towards Crystal Lake.  As I saw the clouds in front of me, I had the urge once again to stop along the way.  At the farthest point of Crystal Lake is a pull off area.  That is where I parked and found I couldn't take my eyes off of the lake.  It was stunning, and the entire time I was there I did not stop taking photos.  The Nipmuck used to call the lake Wabaquassett, which means "place of cattails."  That sounds much more fitting than Crystal Lake. 

So ended my day of chasing clouds. 

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