My cousin and I took an afternoon hike to Palmer Lake on Friday. So warmer temperatures than our earlier hikes, and while the uphill portions were nothing compared to the day before, I found myself struggling to get my breath. And wondering how I managed the day before at all. My Steps app is a disappointment to me. I feel like I ought to get extra credit for all the uphill hiking I’ve done. My first impression of FL was that I didn’t like it because it was too flat, but I’ll have a new appreciation for the nice flat walks from now on. Here are some shots from that Palmer Lake hike. The colorful columbine, the common merganser, the western bluebird, and the scenery. Its always about the scenery, and the buffalo on the way.
On Thursday I found myself on a chauffeur driven trip just up the road to Yellowstone National Park. My friend Karen not only did the driving, but her time here has turned her into an expert in the area. I only wish I could remember half of what she told me as were toured the park.
Entering from the south entrance the first major area we reached was Old Faithful. Karen says that she has a knack for just missing the eruption, but not this time. I took my first picture as we walked from the parking lot for fear that I’d miss it altogether. And then another, and another. There is a boardwalk that lets you walk among the geysers and springs, and each direction you look has you gasping in amazement (not so much the altitude, that’s getting better). As you walk you can’t help but notice the sulfur odor, as you find your self amazed at all the geysers, big ones and tiny little ones, evidence of eruptions under your feet as it the place has a life of it’s own. Which I suppose it does. Karen pointed out the buffalo hoof marks in the land between the geysers. Some buffalo prefer to roam this area, eating vegetation which grows in this odd environment. And these buffalo don’t live as long as they might, the grasses have minerals which wear their teeth more quickly than other diets would. Just one of the many lessons of the day for me. Rivers also rise from this area on their way to the sea. I suppose they join other rivers and lakes on their way, but they are born here.
Our photography guru, Jeff, once pointedly commented that he always crops his pictures to further emphasize the subject of the photo. I felt like he was talking just to me. But some of these photos were so nice, I thought, and included the colors, the rivers, the historic Old Faithful Inn, and I couldn’t bear to crop. Maybe that’s one of the joys of this stage of life, breaking the rules that you obsessively followed all your life. It seems to be working for me…
Tuesday started off so nicely. I was in search of coffee and found a view of the mountains with reflections in the water of the marina. I then headed out for a drive, just to see what I could see. There were beautiful views everywhere, I stopped at every turnout that I saw. I took pictures of the signs to remember why I stopped and to learn a little of how all this magnificent scenery came to be. I found a tour group stopped to take pictures, so I also stopped to see what it was that they saw. To my surprise it was a great blue heron, which was new to the people on the tour. I have come to realize that the birds I’ve seen in Florida are also found far and wide, they don’t just belong to us. The Cunningham ranch was an interesting stop also. Yes, a nice day, until the problems with the wifi and cell service made everything grind to a halt. And I thought I had figured out a solution, but then the computer decided not to take a charge. If you are reading this then the current solution is working. I hope so because I keep taking more pictures despite the problems.
Did this day really start in Florida? That seems like so long ago. I had never driven through the Florida panhandle before, and knowing that I was passing all those wonderful Gulf beaches just to the south of the highway was distressing. I felt like there ought to be a view, or something. I expected to be dying to stop for photos at Mobile, AL also, but maybe it was the dreary skies that stopped that from looking so enticing. I loved the fabulous Alabama welcome center with it’s beautiful setting of rolling hills, but it turned out that I only dipped my toe in Alabama because I was in Mississippi in no time flat.
Aside from seeing signs for Laurel, MS, which made me want to go drive through the town and look for the houses I’ve seen on Home Town (love that show), there wasn’t much to see. I was on smaller roads at this point, going through towns, and seeing little old houses looking weather worn and a bit tipsy. I wished I dared to take a picture of that little slice of Americana, but it would have been rude. I did see what I thought was a sign on the side of a barn, it announced, in big letters, Shelton Fireworks. And in only slightly smaller letters underneath were the words, ‘No Smoking.” I heard Charley say, plain as day, ‘No Shit Sherlock’. That had me laughing for 20 miles at least. My other take-away from driving through MS was that every time it was time to pay attention and look for my exit the skies would open and a downpour would totally blot out the view. I began to take it personally.
My choice of the Southern of the two routes the GPS suggested was the right choice for me. I had the cruise control on for at least 75% of the time, with a nice chunk of highway to myself. Not much to see but an easy drive, and eventually a sign said that the Mississippi Welcome Center and rest area was a mile ahead. I took the exit and panicked a little because the building was right there on the road and the parking lot was small and I was afraid I’d get trapped and have to back up. But it was deceiving, there were pull through spaces for trucks, and the modest looking building I saw from the road belied the spectacular veranda and view of the Mississippi River and the two bridges, one of which I would find myself traveling over when I got back on the road. I would have kicked myself if I hadn’t stopped. And the bridge to the right was a railroad bridge I noticed. It’s a shame I didn’t stick around a few more minutes because as I drove over the bridge I saw a train coming towards me heading for the other bridge. It seemed miles long, I wish I’d gotten that picture. When I landed on the other side of the bridge it was to the announcement that I was entering Louisiana. Three new states to me, and a lot of miles in one day, and as I drove I thought about how nice it would be to fall into comfy hotel bed, with wifi, and all the coffee I want in the morning. So here I am, tired but happy, so I’ll just say goodnight from Shreveport LA.
When I get up early enough to go out for the sunrise I usually open my front door to look outside to see what the sky looks like. But lately I think I’m hoping that it looks overcast enough to stay home. Then I can pat myself on the back for not wasting time, but then I waste time at home so really all I would save is gas. When I look out and see a crescent moon in a clear sky, especially when it’s in the eastern sky, then I can’t resist going out. In my mind I see a nice sunrise with the crescent moon above, but in all honesty I don’t think that shot has ever presented itself. The moon is too high, and the sunrise colors were developing slightly to the north.
There are two bridges to shoot from in Aripeka, and the first has houses that I hope will have lights on to give extra interest to the shot. This morning there were no lights, but there were plenty of no-see-ums, so I moved on.
The second bridge is where I always hope to see One-Foot Fred, but he wasn’t out today. But one of the neighbors walked out to watch the sunrise and it turned out that he is the guy I recently heard call Fred’s name, and when Fred flew over he was treated to breakfast. I mentioned to him that I used to see Fred whenever I came for the sunrise, but then didn’t see him for a long while. He told me that the Great Blue Herons are very territorial and the two-footed heron that I did see had run Fred off. But as happens so often when these birds co-exist with fishermen, that heron got tangled up in fishing line, and someone cut the line instead of untangling him, so he flew off, but only barely, and it was surely a death sentence for that bird. Sad news for that bird, but good news for Fred who is back, and comes for breakfast every day, he said. Finger mullet, about $10 worth a day.
Fred was luckier than that other heron. He also became tangled up in fishing line, but this gentleman and another one worked to cut him free, all except for that foot, because Fred became so violent that they had to let him go. He said it was awful to watch as that foot became useless and eventually just wasn’t there anymore. It does seem that human interaction with wildlife is usually not in the animal’s best interest. But for now Fred seems to have it made, I hope it lasts…
And always check the sky behind you for reflections in the clouds.
Yesterday I managed to solve a problem that’s been plaguing me. I didn’t so much as persevere until I solved it, I just eventually gave up and threw money at it. Charley would approve. So with my laptop/external hard drive issues behind me I found myself in range of the Nature Coast Botanical Garden, and of course I stopped in. A low-tech respite in what had been a frustrating day. There were beautiful flowers everywhere, but hardly a butterfly to go with them. Or bees, I didn’t see bees either.
With this computer issue finally solved, a nice check mark on my to-do list, I decided to relax and watch some TV. I know, I had just declared that I had OD’d on TV after so much binge watching. Turns out I won’t be watching after all because the TV is deader than the proverbial doornail. A victim of the wicked thunderstorm the night before maybe? One step forward…