Posted August 8, 2017
If you’re a fan of competitive cycling – on display this week at the first-ever Colorado Classic cycling race – it’s hard to miss the point we’ve been making all summer, that natural gas and oil not only make lots of entertainment and activities possible, they make them better – and our lives along with them. Energy fuels, yes. At the same time, natural gas and oil and the chemicals and products derived from them are interwoven in modern life: making things lighter, yet stronger; durable, yet more comfortable. And more. Cycling illustrates – whether it’s a big-time event like the Colorado Classic or a summer family ride in the park.
In Colorado, there are plenty of outdoor activities that get the blood pumping. In winter, there’s skiing and snowboarding at any number of resorts in the Rockies. In the summer, with the sun warming the peaks and the valleys, many love to hit the road on bicycles. From the bicycle’s tires and frame to the bicyclist’s helmet, oil and natural gas make the ride smooth, comfortable and as safe as possible.
Posted August 3, 2017
It’s a trip of a lifetime – Yellowstone. It certainly was for our family years ago, when the kids were still kids. Old Faithful, Yellowstone Lake, buffalo roaming. We didn’t see any bears, but the elk walked around our cabin cluster like they owned the place (which, in a way, they do).
With about 96 percent of Yellowstone National Park located in Wyoming (Montana and Idaho have slivers of it), the nation’s first national park and the state share an identity. Yellowstone is home for bison and a number of other animals; the Wyoming state flag has a great big bison on it. The park, the West, the Rockies, open spaces – all beckon Americans from every corner of the country. Energy takes them there and helps create memories that last forever.
Posted August 1, 2017
Mount Washington is New England’s highest peak, rising to 6,289 feet in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest, about three hours north of the state capital at Concord. The summit offers breathtaking views in all directions – on a clear day you can see the Atlantic Ocean from up there. Yet, getting there is at least as exhilarating as arriving. That’s where energy comes in.
If you’re eager, experienced and fit, you can hike all the way up in four hours or so. Some of the gear that hikers need is made with or from petroleum, which we touched on in the West Virginia chapter of this series. For a climb like Mount Washington, you need stuff that’s lightweight yet durable and water resistant. You also can drive up or be driven to the summit. Again, energy.
There’s also the Mount Washington Cog Railway.
Posted July 27, 2017
With energy, colors are brighter, they last longer and they’re easier to use. Energy also helps artists create, fueling critical key processes lots of artists use. This includes a number of them who’ll be part of the “Art in the Pearl” event, a Labor Day Weekend fine arts and crafts festival staged each year in the streets of Portland’s Pearl District.
Posted July 25, 2017
South Carolina has South of the Border, the world’s largest ball of twine sits under a shelter in Kansas, Tennessee has Rock City and Minnesota is home to the SPAM Museum. Yet, probably none is as famous the world over as Wall Drug – relentlessly, ubiquitously, hawking “free ice water” to draw visitors to the king of kitsch for 81 years. While the town of Wall is smaller than the tip of a pen on the Rand McNally, no one else has a photo-op magnet, for youngsters and oldsters alike, that’s better than Wall Drug’s big ‘ol “Jackalope.” Behind the ice water billboards, the Jackalope and all the rest of Wall Drug’s crazy-quilt allure, there’s energy.
Posted July 20, 2017
People have been fascinated by celestial bodies since antiquity. Cave drawings, such as those as Lascaux, France, include depictions of the stars. The Pleiades and Orion are mentioned in the book of Job, one of the oldest books in the Bible.
Next week, some descendants of those ancient star-gazers will congregate in one of the remotest parts of Nebraska for the annual Nebraska Star Party, July 23-28 at Snake Campground at the Merritt Reservoir. Since 1994 the event has attracted hundreds of people eager to capitalize on the dark nothingness in a sparsely populated patch of the Great Plains that’s mostly unspoiled by human illumination. They come, they camp, they scan the heavens. This video from the 2015 event captures the flavor of the setting, you know, with the lights on:
This part of Nebraska is dark enough to see many of the night’s lights with the naked eye, but Clete Baker, an organizer for the five-day star party, says most participants will opt for enhancing devices – most of them made with natural gas and oil.
Posted July 18, 2017
Thinking about packing for the beach: Everything must be lightweight for the tromp to the shore – and as water-resistant as possible. You know all the tents, umbrellas, blankets, towels, buckets, pails, shovels and whatnot will be wet and sandy coming back, so … thank goodness for energy.
Oil and natural gas are a beachgoer’s buddies. Thanks in large part to those two, we’ve got plastics, synthetic materials and fabrics that are functional and durable for beach leisure, yet light on your load – especially on the straggle back to the car or beach house with a 2-year-old on one shoulder. Your time at the beach is made better, safer and more enjoyable because of modern, versatile natural gas and oil.
Posted July 14, 2017
With around 108,000 registered boats in a state that is home to 3.6 million people – about one boat for every 33 residents – getting out on the water is broadly popular in Connecticut. No question, keeping this New England state’s boating appetite sated takes a lot of energy, and not just for filling gas tanks. Today’s natural gas and oil move us, but they also make summer recreation, including boating, better.
From electricity (in Connecticut nearly 49 percent came from natural gas-powered generation in 2016) for manufacturing to petroleum for materials and gasoline for engines, energy is both the glue and the driver of summer’s maritime adventures. Even the transportation of boats to sellers, homes and marinas, typically on trucks and trains, depends on traditional fossil fuels.
Posted July 12, 2017
Beaches seem to get all the glory during the summer. Consider how often you see depictions of a sunbaked shoreline, a crowded beach, people in sunglasses and bathing suits swatting volleyballs, tossing Frisbees and otherwise frolicking in or near water. Sounds great, yet the 61 percent of Americans who don’t live in counties directly on the shoreline are more likely to enjoy summertime sun, sand and water at a lake.
Nobody does lakes quite like Minnesota – you know, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” (actually 11,842, but that’s not as snappy on a license plate). While Alaska has more lakes, Minnesota really is synonymous with the summer lake life: relaxing weekends, hopping on a jet ski and zooming off with friends or pulling out the kayaks and navigating the back channels. Energy makes these happen and makes them more enjoyable – as it does so many of the hobbies, activities and travels of summer.
Manufacturers like Polaris and Arctic Cat, both headquartered in Minnesota, juice up their jet skis with impressive engines and sleek bodies that cut through the water while the needle climbs on the speedometer. These high-end personal water craft are a complete-package energy product. Their bodies typically are shaped from fiberglass, an amalgamation of glass fibers that usually is formed using natural gas. And don’t forget to fill up that gas tank and check your engine’s oil before you head out for a long day on the water!
Posted July 10, 2017
Dawn breaks on a summer morning along Montana’s Blackfoot River. A group of veteran fly-fishing anglers finds a good spot to start their day and watches as the rising sun sparkles on the easy-moving water. Taking in the stillness around them, they spot an elk drinking from the other side and begin connecting flies to lines at the end of graphite rods.
It’s truly a scene right out of the film, “A River Runs Through It.” And while the Blackfoot’s rocks might not have cryptic messages secreted under them, the thrilling anticipation for fly fishing at daybreak, felt by Norman and Paul Maclean in the movie, is palpable. Indeed, fly fishing enthusiasts in Montana and across the country hunger for the experience year after year. Energy makes a sport nearly as old as Montana’s craggy mountain peaks a modern-day source of idyllic joy. It’s what energy does: More than just serving as fuels, natural gas and oil improve the experiences of so many of the summer things we enjoy.
Fly fishing demands a lot of skill, as well as learning how to master its specialized equipment. You don’t just stagger into a Montana river or stream and start pulling in succulent trout. Yet, thanks to natural gas and oil, the equipment itself is strong and reliable.