Category Archives: Travel

Post Rock Fences in Kansas

I saw these limestone fence posts, called post rocks, on a recent drive to western Kansas.

I saw these limestone fence posts, called post rocks, on a recent drive to western Kansas.

I’ve lived in Kansas most of my life, but I hadn’t seen more than a few limestone fence posts until this past weekend when I saw miles of them as I drove west in a section of the state I’d never visited before.  It has been estimated that at the peak of their use, there were about 40,000 miles of these stone post fences in central Kansas.  In the last  quarter of the 19th century, ranchers and farmers needed fences to keep the cattle from wandering onto cropland, but wood was scarce. Providentially, there is a bed of limestone buried only a few inches beneath the top soil, which is about about 18 inches in thickness, the perfect dimension for fence posts. It was easy to shape the soft stone, which hardened, enabling the posts to resist weathering in the elements.

About Post Rocks in Kansas.

More about Post Rock Fences and Where to Find Them.

 

1 Comment

Filed under History, Kansas, Life, Photography, Travel

Montez Gallery in Truchas, New Mexico

Rey Montez is a handsome man, but you'll have to visit his gallery in Truchas, New Mexico, to see for yourself. He doesn't like to be photographed!  His Montez Gallery showcases a variety of art, including Spanish colonial art, religious art and contemporary art.

Rey Montez is a handsome man, but you’ll have to visit his gallery in Truchas, New Mexico, to see for yourself. He doesn’t like to be photographed! His Montez Gallery showcases a variety of art, including Spanish colonial art, religious art and contemporary art.

On our recent photography tour, Lynn S. and I were heading to Taos, New Mexico, on the High Road on Easter Sunday, not thinking any galleries or shops would be open, but still hopeful.  If all doors were shut, there would always be the gorgeous mountain scenery to photograph and maybe the exterior of a church. Apple trees were in bloom.  An occasional lilac bush was a burst of purple along the road side.

The Montez Gallery occupies an old church in Truchas, New Mexico.

The Montez Gallery occupies an old church in Truchas, New Mexico.

We entered the little mountain town of Truchas, (Lynn at the wheel at the wheel of her car; I feel bad for not doing any driving…) on the lookout.  We saw a little adobe church with a tin roof and tin bell tower.   A sign said: The Montez Gallery.  The church was now a gallery. Cars were in the parking lot.  Could it be open?

The Montez Gallery celebrated its 25th year in 2014.  The gallery is in an old church in Truchas, New Mexico.

The Montez Gallery celebrated its 25th year in 2014. The gallery is in an old church in Truchas, New Mexico.

Not only was the Montez Gallery open, but there was a reception for the gallery’s 25th year. Cake, coffee, cookies!  The owner, Rey Montez, told guests about  the art featured in his gallery and the history of the people in the area.  His family has been in northern New Mexico for centuries. You can read more about him, the gallery and collectors in the links below.  Many notable people have made the same stop at the Montez Gallery.

Nuestra Señora del Rosario (Holy Rosary) Mission Church was built in 1764 in Truchas, New Mexico. It is open in June, July and August. We visited the town in April, so we weren't able to go inside to see the two large altar-screens (reredos) by the renowned santero Pedro Antonio Fresquis.

Nuestra Señora del Rosario (Holy Rosary) Mission Church was built in 1764 in Truchas, New Mexico. It is open in June, July and August.

We also found an old mission church in Truchas,  Nuestra Señora del Rosario (Holy Rosary) Mission Church, which was built in 1764. It’s open in June, July and August. We visited the town in April, so we weren’t able to go inside to see the two large altar-screens (reredos) by the renowned santero Pedro Antonio Fresquis.

Cake, coffee and cookies for 25th anniversary of The Montez Gallery.

Cake, coffee and cookies for 25th anniversary of The Montez Gallery.

Truchas was established by a Spanish Royal Land grant in 1754. The full name of the town is Río de las Truchas, which means “river of trout.”  The first settlers built irrigation ditches from the trout-filled river to bring water to the town, which is at an elevation of 8,000 feet.  Truchas is mentioned in Willa Cather’s 1927 novel “Death Comes for the Archbishop”; Book Two Chapter 2. Robert Redford’s “The Milagro Beanfield War” (1988) was filmed on location in Truchas.   Several Truchas residents had roles in the movie.

Here is a view of Truchas, New Mexico, just off of the road through the town, showing Truchas Peak.

Here is a view of Truchas, New Mexico, just off of the road through the town, showing Truchas Peak.

On a hillside, stones spell out the name of the city of Truchas.

On a hillside, stones spell out the name of the city of Truchas.

Church Bell Tower in Truchas, New Mexico Post Card
The Montez Gallery is in an old church. Here’s the church bell tower.

 

MóntezGallery Website.

About Móntez Gallery, Part One.

About Móntez Gallery, Part Two.

About High Road Artisans in Truchas.

 

5 Comments

Filed under Art, Photography, Travel

UFO Cattle Crossing Sign in New Mexico

Pranksters have placed UFO stickers on cattle crossing signs on US Highway 68 between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico.

Pranksters have placed UFO stickers on cattle crossing signs on US Highway 68 between Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico.

My friend and fellow photographer Lynn and I recently returned from a thousand-mile (probably more) photography road trip, starting from Kansas City and making a round trip through New Mexico. I took about 4,000 photos, some great, some lousy, most were fun, especially this one of a UFO sign on a cattle crossing sign on Highway 68 from Santa Fe to Taos.

Pranksters placed the stickers on signs, which officials remove and then more stickers re-appear.   Click the link if you want to know the less humorous history behind the stickers… (I don’t recommend it.) Cattle Abductions.

4 Comments

Filed under Animals, Journalism, Life, Photography, Travel

I Gotta Crow About Kauai Chickens

A chick stopped to take a drink in the rainwater in a snorkel mask in the yard of the house where we were staying.  His mothers and siblings are just ahead.

A chick stopped to take a drink in the rainwater in a snorkel mask in the yard of the house where we were staying. His mothers and siblings are just ahead.

Clucking and crowing chickens, crashing waves and whirring helicopters are the sounds I’ll always associate with Kauai, the oldest of the main inhabited Hawaiian islands.

Every morning during our too-short visit to paradise, my husband and I awoke to huge waves crashing on the beach in the bay outside of our house and the crowing of roosters.

A mother hen and her chicks would make the rounds of the neighborhood several times a day. First, you’d hear the cheep cheep cheep of the chicks and then the occasional cluck of the mother as they pecked their way through the grass and bushes of the yard.

Helicopters were often crossing the sky to take tourists to view the many incredible sights, which have often been filmed for movies (“Jurassic Park,” is one example.) I’ve only been in a helicopter once — to fly over Maui almost 20 years ago. It was gorgeous, but I haven’t gotten up the nerve to get into a helicopter since. My husband and I did take a boat trip on this vacation. First time I ever got sea sick. (More about that later…)

Mother hens and their chicks were everywhere on Kauai.

Mother hens and their chicks were everywhere on Kauai.

Chickens were everywhere! Other islands have wild chickens, (A rooster showed up for my son’s beach wedding in St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands) but Kauai has CHICKENS. On every trail, on the beaches, in shopping center parking lots, on the sidewalks outside of restaurants, in parks, in churchyards, every neighborhood, everywhere. They are gorgeous and colorful. They are descended from the Junglefowl that the ancient Hawaiians brought with them centuries ago. They’ve bred with other types of chickens that others have brought to the island, but have mostly retained the gorgeous Junglefowl coloring. The chickens have no predator, other than man and cats, so they thrive.  People say they aren’t good to eat, so they are mostly even safe from humans. There are mongooses on some of the other islands, such as the Big Island and Maui, which eat chickens and eggs. There are mongooses on St. John, too. But mongooses were never introduced to Kauai.

Here’s What I Wrote About The Mongoose in an Earlier Post.

Here are some of my chicken photos. Yes, I do like to take photos of chickens, maybe a little too much.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

3 Comments

Filed under Animals, Birds, Life, Natural History, Nature, Photography, Travel

Taro — It’s What’s for Dinner

These taro fries from Tropical Taco in Hanalei, Kauai, were delicious!

These taro fries from Tropical Taco in Hanalei, Kauai, were delicious!

Taro, known in the Hawaiian language as kalo, is the Hawaiian people’s most important crop. They brought it with them in their voyaging canoes when they migrated to the Hawaiian islands at least by 1,000 A.D. and possibly as early as 200 A.D. Kaua’i was the first inhabited Hawaiian island and is where most of Hawaiian taro is grown today. Seventy percent of the taro is grown in Hanalei River Valley, which includes the 917-acre Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge.  The 917-acre refuge was established in 1972 to provide nesting and feeding habitat for endangered Hawaiian water birds, including the Hawaiian duck (koloa maoli), coot (‘alae ke’oke’o), moorhen (‘alae ‘ula), and stilt (ae’o).

The Hanalei River was designated an American Heritage River on July 30, 1998. The major bridge across the river (still one lane) is on Hawaii Route 560, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Hawaii.  When you’re waiting to cross the bridge to the town of Hanalei, you can see the taro fields beyond.

A taro field in the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge in northern Kauai.

A taro field in the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge in northern Kauai.

A tractor prepares a taro field in the Hanalei River Valley.

A tractor prepares a taro field in the Hanalei River Valley.

Water flows from a taro field in Limahuli Garden in northern Kauai. The rock walls you can see in the background are part of an important archeological site and are about 700 years old.

Water flows from a taro field in Limahuli Garden in northern Kauai. The rock walls you can see in the background are part of an important archeological site and are about 700 years old.

The rock walls surrounding the taro fields are estimated to be about 700 years old in the Limahuli Tropical Botanical Garden in north Kauai west of Hanalei. The rock walls were part of an irrigation system that diverted some water from the Limahuli River to grow taro.

The rock walls surrounding the taro fields are estimated to be about 700 years old in the Limahuli Tropical Botanical Garden in north Kauai west of Hanalei. The rock walls were part of an irrigation system that diverted some water from the Limahuli River to grow taro.

I've never eaten a McDonald's pie before, but we couldn't resist trying this taro version at a McDonald's in Lihue, Kauai. It tasted like pineapple, which was likely an added flavor, because our taro fries didn't taste like pineapple. Anyway, it wasn't bad for a fried fast food pie.

I’ve never eaten a McDonald’s pie before, but we couldn’t resist trying this taro version at a McDonald’s in Lihue, Kauai. It tasted like pineapple, which was likely an added flavor, because our taro fries didn’t taste like pineapple. Anyway, it wasn’t bad for a fried fast food pie.

You can see the taro fields on either side of the Hanalei River.  This is also a wildlife refuge.

You can see the taro fields on either side of the Hanalei River. This is also a wildlife refuge.

Limahuli Garden and Preserve in northern Kauai.

Limahuli Garden and Preserve in northern Kauai.

Terraced taro fields are in the Limahuli Garden and Preserve.  The rock walls you can see in the background are part of an important archeological site and are about 700 years old.

Terraced taro fields are in the Limahuli Garden and Preserve. The rock walls you can see in the background are part of an important archeological site and are about 700 years old.

Here are some traditional Hawaiian foods, including taro, dried coconut and dried fish. We tried these foods at a Hawaiian ceremony in a park on the Kona Coast of the Big Island on February 2011.

Here are some traditional Hawaiian foods, including taro, dried coconut and dried fish. We tried these foods at a Hawaiian ceremony in a park on the Kona Coast of the Big Island on February 2011.

About Poi, Poi to the World.

Wikipedia: About Taro.

Here’s an excerpt about taro in Hawaii from the Wikipedia Entry for Taro: In Hawaii, taro, or kalo in the Hawaiian language, is a traditional form of food sustenance and nutrition, known from ancient Hawaiian culture. The contemporary Hawaiian diet consists of many tuberous plants, particularly sweet potato and taro. Some of the uses for taro include poi, table taro, taro chips, and luau leaf. In Hawaii, taro is farmed under either dryland or wetland conditions. Taro farming in the Hawaiian islands is especially challenging because of difficulties in accessing fresh water. Taro is usually grown in pondfields known as loʻi in Hawaiian. Cool, flowing water yields the best crop. Typical dryland or upland varieties (varieties grown in watered but not flooded fields) in Hawaii are lehua maoli and bun long, the latter widely known as Chinese taro. Bun long is used for making taro chips. Dasheen (also called “eddo”) is another “dryland” variety of C. esculenta grown for its edible corms or sometimes just as an ornamental plant.

The Hawaii Agricultural Statistics Service puts the 10-year median production of taro in the Hawaiian Islands at about 6.1 million pounds (2,800 t; Viotti, 2004). However, 2003 taro production in Hawaii was only 5 million pounds (2,300 t), an all-time low (record keeping started in 1946). The previous low, reached in 1997, was 5.5 million pounds (2,500 t). Despite generally growing demand, production was even lower in 2005: only 4 million pounds, with kalo for processing into poi accounting for 97.5%. Urbanization has driven down harvests from a high of 14.1 million pounds (6,400 t) in 1948, but more recently the decline has resulted from pests and diseases. A non-native apple snail (Pomacea canaliculata) is a major culprit in the current crop decline. Also, a plant rot disease traced to a newly identified species of the fungal genus Phytophthora now plagues crops throughout the state. Although pesticides could control both pests to some extent, pesticide use in the pondfields is barred because of the clear opportunity for chemicals to quickly migrate into streams and then into the ocean.

Important aspects of Hawaiian culture revolves around taro cultivation and consumption. For example, the newer name for a traditional Hawaiian feast, luau, comes from the taro. Young taro tops baked with coconut milk and chicken or octopus arms are frequently served at luaus. Also, one cannot fight when a bowl of poi is open. By ancient Hawaiian custom, it is considered disrespectful to fight in front of an elder. One should not raise the voice, speak angrily, or make rude comments or gestures. An open poi bowl is connected to this concept because Haloa (Taro) is the name of the first-born son of the parents who begat the human race. The ancient Hawaiians identified so strongly with taro that the Hawaiian term for family, `ohana, is derived from the word `oha, the shoot or sucker which grows from the taro corm. As young shoots grow from the corm, so people grow from their family.

11 Comments

Filed under Food, Gardening, Photography, Travel

Hanalei Bay Surfing Dog

A man and his dog paddleboard in Hanalei Bay on the island of Kaua'i in Hawai'i.

A man and his dog paddleboard in Hanalei Bay on the island of Kaua’i in Hawai’i.

The surf on most of the north shore of Kaua’i was rough when my husband and I visited there in late February and early March 2014, but the waves on the north shore’s Hanalei Bay were not as wild as the rest of the coast.  I’m no expert, but Hanalei Bay seems a good place to surf.  It’s shallow, there’s a great pier and a nice beach with lots of parking. Plenty of people of all ages were surfing and paddleboarding, including this man and his dog.

While a crowd of us on the pier watched the action, I heard someone say that this man has a website.  I didn’t catch the name, and I couldn’t find any information when I searched online for Hanalei “surfing dog” and “paddleboard dog.”  Maybe someone can help me and link the website in the comments? (Check the comments for updated information on Keoni Durant, the Kauai Carver, and Milo the Surfing Pomeranian.)

A man and his dog paddleboard in Hanalei Bay on the island of Kaua'i in Hawai'i.

A man and his dog paddleboard in Hanalei Bay on the island of Kaua’i in Hawai’i.

Several major films were shot at Hanalei Bay including: academy award winner “The Descendents” along with “Soul Surfer,” “South Pacific,” “Miss Sadie Hawkins,” “Pagan Love Song” and “Honeymoon in Vegas.”

Other north shore of Kauai film locations include Limahuli Gardens in Hanalei, featured in “Jurassic Park,” and Honopu and Kalalau Beach on the Na Pali Coast, featured in “King Kong” and “Pirates.”

Hanalei Bay Featured in Movie Locations

8 Comments

Filed under Travel

Texas Rose Festival Queen’s Tea in 2011

Here's a view of the gorgeous train of the 2011 Texas Rose Festival Queen at the Queen's Tea, held the third weekend in October every year at the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden.

Here’s a view of the gorgeous train of the 2011 Texas Rose Festival Queen at the Queen’s Tea, held the third weekend in October every year at the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden.

It’s time for the  2013 Texas Rose Festival, which is October 17th – 20th. This year’s festival, the 80th, features “Raindrops on Roses and Other Favorite Things” as its theme.  The Texas Rose Festival started in 1933 and is held every year on the third weekend in October at the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden.

Here are photographs from the 2011 Queen’s Tea at the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden, as part of the festivities of the 2011 Texas Rose Festival. Click on the thumbnails to see full size-size photos with captions in a slide show.

One of the biggest events in the Texas Rose Festival is the parade, which you can read about by clicking on 2011 Texas Rose Festival Parade.  Lots of photos!
About the Texas Rose Festival.

Official Texas Rose Festival Website.

Tyler Municipal Rose Garden.

6 Comments

Filed under Photography, Travel

Racing Bison in Yellowstone National Park

Bison race along the Yellowstone River in the Hayden valley of Yellowstone National Park .

Bison race along the Yellowstone River in the Hayden valley of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, enjoying the sunny day.

In the last week of August 2013, these bison were racing along the Yellowstone River in the Hayden Valley of Yellowstone National Park, enjoying the warm weather.  The third bison, the one in back, quickly dropped out of the race.  I entered another photo of this bison race in the Official Federal Recreation Lands 2013 Photo Contest.  Click on these links to see my entries (and vote, if you would be so kind!) and also learn about the contest.  Photographs taken on America’s federal lands, national parks and historical sites from Jan. 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2013, are eligible.  Did I mention there were prizes! If you enter the contest, be sure to put the link to your photos in the comment section.

“Racing Bison” Entry.

“Two Bison on the Overlook” Entry.

“Paddle Boarder in Trunk Bay in Virgin Islands National Park” entry.

8 Comments

Filed under Animals, Photography, Travel

Massive Fire Near Yosemite National Park

A giant sequoia towers above visitors to Tuolumne Grove in Yosemite National Park. Tuolumne is one of three named sequoia groves in Yosemite.

A giant sequoia towers above visitors to Tuolumne Grove in Yosemite National Park. Tuolumne is one of three named sequoia groves in Yosemite.

A year ago (September 2012) my husband and I visited Yosemite National Park, a magnificent place.  Here are some photos from the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, which is near the Rim Fire, California’s fourth largest fire since 1932. It’s burning an area more than seven times larger than San Francisco (about 368 square miles), according to an NBC story. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported that the Rim Fire was 75% contained Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2013.

The Yosemite park staff posted this on its Facebook page: Giant sequoias are resistant to, and thrive on, frequent small fires that naturally burned every several years. In order to protect the giant sequoias from the extremely intense Rim Fire, crews performed some protective work in the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias just over a week ago (as you can see in this video). Since then, firing operations in the area have provided additional protection. So, while fire maps show the Tuolumne Grove within the fire perimeter, the giant sequoias are safe. 

You can see the video by clicking on Post by Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite National Park Facebook Page

Why a Century of Fire Prevention Means Trouble for Yosemite’s Giant Sequoias

Click on any thumbnail to see a much larger size in a slide show, including Tuolumne Signs in a readable size.

Yosemite National Park video.

3 Comments

Filed under Conservation, Natural History, Photography, Travel

Drive-By Tourist in Boston

My daughter, son-in-law and I were stuck in traffic during Boston rush hour after leaving the Museum of Science. That's when I saw the Bunker Hill obelisk.

My daughter, son-in-law and I were stuck in traffic during Boston rush hour after leaving the Museum of Science. That’s when I saw the Bunker Hill Monument.

Earlier this month, my daughter, son-in-law and I left the Museum of Science in Boston at the beginning of rush hour. Stuck in traffic, I was happy to see that I could notch another site on my tourist belt without leaving the car when I saw the Bunker Hill Monument through the windshield.  On my left was Bunker Hill Community College. I leaned out of the window and grabbed a couple of shots. I was going to straighten the photo I included here, but that would have cut out some of the signs. In the sky, you can just make out a jet airplane, which you can see when you click on the photo to see it full size.

The obelisk commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill, which took place in the Charlestown area of Boston during the American Revolutionary War. The Americans lost the battle, which took place on June 17, 1775, but the British lost so many men, including many officers, that it was a Phyrric victory in which the gain was small but the cost was very high. The order “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” was made popular in stories about the battle of Bunker Hill, although that wasn’t the first case in which that phrase was used.

The Bunker Hill Monument stands 221 feet (67 m) high on Breed’s Hill. The Marquis de Lafayette laid the cornerstone on June 17, 1825, the fiftieth anniversary of the battle.  Daniel Webster delivered an address during the cornerstone dedication. Soil from Bunker Hill was sprinkled on the graves of Lafayette and his wife. Some day, I need to return to visit the Bunker Hill Monument site on foot.

About the Battle of Bunker Hill.

6 Comments

Filed under History, Photography, Travel