Sunday, December 07, 2008

Teton Beach

Here, many weeks and one day late, is an SPS post: on the shore of Jackson Lake, taken down at surf level.

The wind whipped up some strong waves as it cruised down the mountains and over the open water.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Taking Our Turkey on the Road

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, we took our turkey on the road - to Detroit for some sightseeing and the Thanksgiving Day football game between the Lions and the Titans. In the morning we visited Belle Isle, a park on an island in the Detroit River, which separates the USA from Canada. Downtown Detroit is on the right, Windsor, Canada, is on the left.

Canada geese were everywhere, but I just had to stop here and take a picture of Canada geese with Canada itself in the background.

Then, on to the football game. The Lions have not been having a good season, and they were playing a very good team, the Titans. So the result was as to be expected, but, this was my first pro football game experience, and we still had a great time!

Some play action with the ball - go Lions go!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Fall Farmland

I couldn't let it go one full month without a post, although I'm cutting it close! Suffice it to say, I'd be happy if I never had to paint another, well, anything, again in my life (nevermind that there's still a good bit of painting to be done ... grrrrr) :)

In any case, I was able to ditch my chores and sneak back to my parents' house a few weekends ago, where I got to slink around a few real backcountry areas with Dad, and look for some prime fall photos.

Although the sunny early morning sky quickly changed over to clouds, we were still able to find some good opportunities.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Even the Smallest of Observers ...

... can enjoy Old Faithful:

Although, I think this guy was way more interested in soliciting crumbs from the human observers of the geyser, than the geyser itself.

"Can I pretty please have some crackers? Please??"

Friday, September 19, 2008

Blink and you'll miss it ...

Before we left for our Yellowstone adventure, I spent some time photographing hummingbirds on the deck outside Mom & Dad's place.

I managed to take some nicely posed pictures of several hummers, but this photo still has a certain charm, I think :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

SPS: The Opposite of Parks ...

... is very private space, the home. Last evening, Justin and I signed all the necessary million papers to come into possession of our first place! So, SPS goes out the window just for today and I celebrate our entrance into a long phase of packing, moving, redecorating, coordinating both major and minor repairs, and ultimately, settling in to a new rhythm of life.

The house we chose needs some serious TLC (and possibly even some tough love!). But its bones are great, for being 120 years in service, and we have high expectations for the place. Today begins a weekend of cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, then painting, painting, painting. If my posts are a bit more infrequent over the next two months or so, then just know I'm probably up to my eyeballs in paint/dust/sanding/packing/moving :)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

SPS: Now for those pictures I owe you ...

I think the Tetons must be one of the most stunning things you can lay your eyes upon. Unfortunately, our second foray in the park was spent trying to outrun rain clouds. However, the swirling clouds did provide for some unique photo opportunities.

Here, rain on the mountains is moving up from the south, while dark clouds blow over the range from the northwest, below.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Rolling Photo Safari

A new approach to capturing the action!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Yellowstone rocks in all sorts of ways ...

I have to admit, Yellowstone is one of my favorite places, if not THE favorite place, I have ever been. Because of my feelings, I have managed to finagle trips there AOAP (as often as possible). This recent trip was my 3rd visit, and it was great to share a place I love, with people that I love, people that had not been to visit before. Each time I visit, I leave feeling like a kid again, thrilled that nature has come up with things I could not have begun to imagine, and I think my travel mates felt the same way.

This trip, we had the luxury of more time to explore, and I used this opportunity to visit places a little more off the beaten path in the park, places I hadn't ever gotten to. One of these places was Harlequin Lake, a small body of water that lies on a ledge above the valley of the Madison River.

Here's the sunset from Harlequin Lake. Mom, Justin, and I took the short trek to Harlequin while Dad was busy with elk. The lake was very peaceful, but we were able to observe a number of ducks, and what was most likely a beaver. A great finish to our first foray into the park!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Top of the World

We're engaged!

Here's the story:

We have been in Yellowstone (we being Justin, myself, and my parents) for the past 6 days. On Wednesday, we hiked up Mount Washburn, a high peak in the middle of park. It is a three mile uphill hike one way, so we planned on hoofing it, with Mom and Dad going at their own pace and returning to the van once they got tired. We lost Dad pretty soon, not because he turned back, but because he found lots of photo opportunities. Mom, however, was determined to keep pace with us, and after much huffing and puffing, the three of us made it to the top.

There is a fire tower at the top of Mt. Washburn, and the public can access two levels of it, one enclosed, and one an open deck. We investigated the tower, and then returned outside to soak in the scenery. Then, shock of all shocks, Dad appears! We assumed that he'd turned back long ago to snooze while we huffed.

Justin connived to get me away from Mom & Dad by saying that he wanted to take pictures from the second deck of the fire tower. From the open deck, we were looking out over all of Yellowstone on a fine clear day, and it seemed like we were on top of the world. He opened up his camera bag, but he pulled out a little velvet box instead of a camera ... and I said yes! Perfect man, perfect place :)

Pretty soon after, we went down to tell Mom & Dad, and Dad took the picture I posted above.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Today, I am away from my own computer and personal warehouse of digital photos, so I'm just gonna have to owe you a Super Park picture or two :)

Fortunately, we'll be leaving for Yellowstone tomorrow, so hopefully I'll be able to capture a really really super picture to share!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Are You Feeling Disgruntled?

These guys are :)

These shots were taken back in March, at Mom's birdfeeding stations. As this is a busy week, I thought I would catch up on some photos I've been meaning to post, but just have never gotten around to. These aren't the best quality pictures, but the birds are cute even if they are ticked off about something :)

I doubt they really are angry, but they may be alarmed or suspicious of the shadow that keeps moving behind the window nearby (me with my camera).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

SPS: Yellowstone Warm-Up

We'll be heading out West next weekend, to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I am posting a picture from Yellowstone to get warmed up this weekend. Here's the last one out of a set of black and white photos I took almost three years ago now.

This is the general landscape outside of Gardiner, MT, the northern entrance to the park. I'm also posting the picture in color, because I'm not sure anymore which one I like best!

The twist with this upcoming vacation is that my parents are going to be along for the ride. They have not been out West, so it's going to be an all-around adventure. I am sure you'll see quite a few interesting blog posts from my Dad and me in early September!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Calendar Girl

Please forgive me for tooting my own horn, but I received some happy photo-related news recently, and wanted to share. I posted the snowy flowers below on my blog April of last year. In May of this year, I entered it in a contest. The contest was held to choose twelve shots for the 2009 calender for Glen Helen, a beautiful nature preserve in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

The picture was taken in Glen Helen in 2007, on the day before Easter, in early April. Snow flurries had been blowing through all day, coating the ground but not sticking for long. The powers-that-be chose this shot to represent the month of March, and I am thrilled.

If any of you are familiar with Glen Helen, you are already aware of what a special place it is. Glen Helen is not municipally-owned and receives no public funding. The preserve is part of the Glen Helen Ecology Institute, which, in turn, is a part of nearby Antioch College. The preserve relies heavily on volunteers, donations, and fundraisers, including the sale of calendars, for its continued operations. Basically, they do a lot with just a little! If you are ever in that neck of the woods, be sure to stop by and visit, it is well worth it.

If you'd like to know more about the glen, here is the website.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Full Pony Experience

Our first day out on Assateague, I had a close encounter with a pony in the parking lot. I was getting into the car to pull out my camera because I had seen a group of ponies on the other side of the lot. By the time I made it to the car, the ponies had made their way across the lot and one passed between my barely open car door and the car next to me. He never batted an eye!

Another day, we found traffic brought to a standstill by a pony clopping down the road at a very leisurely pace. A pony jam!

From the campground, we could see ponies grazing in the marshes on the bay side of the island at sunrise.

Now this pony, I felt sure was a pregnant female, because the horse had big, distended, lopsided belly. The pony was communicating deeply with the van, or else it was sleeping, because it held this position for quite a while. Later, we had very obvious confirmation that it was a male horse, so not pregnant! When we were packing up to leave the beach on our last day, we had to hurry, because this horse was slowly working his way down the parking lot, stopping and snoozing in front of each car. We wanted to get in and get going before he got to ours :)

As great as all these daylight run-ins with ponies were, I have no pictures of our hands-down coolest pony experience. We were woken up, in the tent, one night by the most curious set of sounds: chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, THUMP!, chomp, chomp, chomp, chomp, THUMP!

In fact, I wear earplugs when I camp, so I was really just catching the THUMP part, by feeling the impact through the ground. I pulled my earplugs out to hear Justin say very softly, "I think there's a pony out there!" Sure enough, we could just barely make out the shadowy outline of a pony right in our campsite. The horse was browsing, hence the chomping, and stomping the ground about every fourth chomp, probably to dislodge attacking bugs, hence the thumping.

The pony worked its way around the campsite, eventually mowing the grass right in front of our tent. It came within 2 feet of the tent door, easily. I was slightly worried that it wouldn't see my flip-flops, which I'd left right outside the tent door, and munch those, too!

Later the pony worked its way further away, and also pushed its way through several large clumps of brush that separated the camp sites. I was also slightly worried that he'd work his way back through the clump of brush at the rear of our tent and stumble right into us in the dark. But no such luck, and pretty soon our night was pony-free, leaving us with awesome memories :)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

SPS: Bombay Hook

A lot of times, things aren't black and white, but sometimes they are! Here's a great egret and a glossy ibis, showing that opposites might not attract, but at least they don't mind each other.

And here's a group of avocets, a wading bird with striking coloration - black, white, olive, and a wash of rusty red.

All these birds were in Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware. I've seen this refuge mentioned a couple of times in bird books and in articles on great places to see migratory birds, so of course I've been itching to get there. We thought we'd swing in and just see what types of activities they had, hiking or scenic drives or whatnot, because it isn't really a time for migratory birds to be on hand. But we were pleased to find all sorts of waterfowl in residence, including many great and snowy egrets, and a large flock of avocets.

I thought Bombay Hook sounded terribly exotic, but the name apparently originates from what the original Dutch and German settlers called the stretch of land: Boompies Hoeck, which means "tree thicket."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Beach & Bay Crabs

Ghost crabs were pretty common on the beach. Here's a big one:

The crabs emerge from holes in the sand, scuttle sideways very quickly, and then return to their holes in the blink of an eye. Because they're basically sand-colored, we thought we were seeing things at first!

We found some crab "dens" where their scuttling tracks were quite evident. One day on the beach, I had a good time with three or four ghost crabs, watching the very tips of the eyes emerge from a hidey-hole, then seeing the crab make a run for it. I'm not sure what they were after, although I did see one latch on to a piece of seaweed and run back into its lair.

On the bay side, we saw fiddler crabs. On the Chincoteague end of Assateague, the Park Service had built a wooden boardwalk out through the salt marshes. The ground was crawling with these little crabs. Fiddler crabs are identified easily by their lopsided claws ... probably the origin of their name, too.

Monday, August 04, 2008

SPS: Pony Time

This weekend, we went camping on Assateague Island, which lays across the Maryland/Virginia border. We were on the part owned by the National Park Service, in Maryland. Assateague is a typical barrier island with a twist: a herd of wild horses, affectionately known as ponies, roams the island freely, including the beach!

Of course, seagulls, like this laughing gull, make the beach their home, too.

The beach was not crowded any of the days we were there, so it was much easier to see some of the beach's natural denizens.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bird Bonanza

Here's a wide view of the bird haven I was exploring in the last post. There's really no current to the water, its separated from the main river by the stretch of rocks and trees to the right.

When birds have crests, like this Cedar Waxwing, Justin tells me they have "hair-do's." I like how the silhouette put focus on this guy's 'do :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

SPS: More from the Township

We revisited East Donegal Twp Park Thursday evening. This time I came a little more prepared for birding, but I still managed to take mostly "sasquatch" pictures, where you can only make out something blurry and obscured in the trees, far in the distance :)

But on the way to the bird area (a backwater eddy in the river), I found a lovely reflection in a shallow pool. The presence of, well, pond scum, gave certain areas a watercolor effect.

This bird is blurry, but not obscured, so he makes the blog. Quite a few great blue herons showed up to fish in the shallow water - the first time we visited the park, I counted 10 or 11 that flew by us within the space of about two minutes.

And here's one that's obscured but relatively in focus. The mystery bird of the evening was this fellow, later identified as an immature black-crowned night heron. They are much smaller than the great blues, and this one stuck to the shoreline. So mostly I could see bits and pieces of bird through the heavy vegetation.

Through the course of about an hour, we were able to see several great blues, a group of Canada geese, a mama mallard and her brood, the black-crowned night heron, two green herons, a great egret, a kingfisher, and the normal complement of swallows, finches, etc. This place is definitely on my bird hang-out list now!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fulton Flora & Fauna

Some more photos from our last stay at my parent's:

Alert deer heads emerging from a field is a classic Fulton County scene.

This flower probably has an official name, but we always knew it as Butter-and-eggs. I guess that name comes from the colors of the flower. I like the smell of the plant - not the flower, but the foliage.

Chicory could be called a roadside weed, but it is also one of the reasons that blue is my favorite color. I was always frustrated by the fact that chicory blooms only last for about half a day, and fade quickly when cut. I just had to view them in their natural habitat :)

And here's how I took advantage of Mom & Dad's hummingbird portrait studio. These little guys were fascinating to watch!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

SPS: Joseph E. Ibberson Natural Area

We visited Ibberson, which is north of Harrisburg, about this time last summer. There was a small area planted with coneflower and other wildflowers, and I was able to capture a butterfly sampling the wares. I like this photo because both the butterfly and the flower look a little worse for the wear.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Midnight Marauders

This last weekend, Ansel (the cat) alerted us to some activity outside the dining room window at Mom's house: bandits at the bird feeders!

I have never seen a flying squirrel up close and in person before. They are not shy when peanuts are at stake. We were at the window, talking loudly and shining a flashlight - we even opened it slightly, about two feet away from them - and it didn't slow the thievery at all. The cat was about to burst :) I got the photos by going out on the deck and leaning out around the corner of the house.

Here you can see the extra skin that stretches along their sides, enabling them to glide from perch to perch. I have to admit, the squirrels are the quintessential "cute" animals - fuzzy bodies, gigantic eyes, endearing antics. But, when they started scurrying up and down the chimney at lightning speed, they looked like dark flying shadows and came across as something out of a scary movie :)