A beautiful sunset sky is a backdrop for the historic Lackman-Thompson farm house in Lenexa, Kansas. The farmhouse is part of the Lackman-Thompson estate, which includes a brick barn, used for events, and several historic out buildings.
The Lackman-Thompson estate was once home to Margaretha and William Lackman, German immigrants who came to America in 1885. The Lackmans sold their estate to Kansas City horse and mule dealer Frank Thompson in 1908.
In 1932, the farm’s original barn burned down, which gave Thompson the opportunity to build a new brick barn — the barn that still stands today. The Thompsons’ son, Hugh, sold much of their estate to be developed into Southlake Business Park and bequeathed the remaining land to the Johnson County Community College Foundation.
The Lackman-Thompson Estate was placed on the Register for Historic Kansas Places — the only structure in Lenexa to receive the honor. In 1996, The JCCC Foundation offered the property to the City of Lenexa to preserve it and put it to good public use. Lenexa worked with many partners, including the Kansas State Historical Society, to honor the agreement.
The original Lackman house is now the home of the Lenexa Chamber of Commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureau and Economic Development Office. The city restored the barn, preserving its historical character as well as modernizing it.
Thousands of people thronged around the Union Pacific’s Big Boy Steam Locomotive 4014 when it stopped at the Union Pacific Depot in Lawrence, Kansas, on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019.
On Nov. 19, 2019, My husband and I drove to Lawrence to see the Union Pacific’s Big Boy Steam Locomotive number 4014, which is touring the Union Pacific system throughout 2019 to commemorate the transcontinental railroad’s 150th anniversary. We knew there would be a crowd, but we didn’t expect the thousands of people who showed up. I love trains, especially old steam whistles. I love to feel the rumbling of the train as it races by. Kansas City, where I live, is the second largest rail transportation center in the United States. If I had really been on the ball, I would have followed Big Boy’s schedule more closely and seen Big Boy when it roared past on the tracks less than a mile from my house on its way to Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri, on Nov. 17.
The locomotive began its journey in May 4, 2019, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Its circuit ends on Nov. 26 in Cheyenne.
“The completion of the Transcontinental Railroad May 10, 1869, is recognized as one of our country’s biggest achievements and one of mankind’s biggest accomplishments.
It’s been compared to the Apollo 11 moon landing in terms of the vision, dedication, innovation and collaboration needed to connect the country with a ribbon of rail.
In May 2019, the whole world observed the 150th anniversary of the driving of the Golden Spike, which marked the transcontinental railroad’s completion, and Union Pacific led the celebrations.”
From the Union Pacific Website, linked at the bottom of the post:
“Twenty-five Big Boys were built exclusively for Union Pacific Railroad, the first of which was delivered in 1941. The locomotives were 132 feet long and weighed 1.2 million pounds. Because of their great length, the frames of the Big Boys were “hinged,” or articulated, to allow them to negotiate curves. They had a 4-8-8-4 wheel arrangement, which meant they had four wheels on the leading set of “pilot” wheels which guided the engine, eight drivers, another set of eight drivers, and four wheels following which supported the rear of the locomotive. The massive engines normally operated between Ogden, Utah, and Cheyenne, Wyo.
There are seven Big Boys on public display in various cities around the country. They can be found in St. Louis, Missouri; Dallas, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado; Scranton, Pennsylvania; Green Bay, Wisconsin; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Union Pacific Big Boy Steam Locomotive 4014 Journey.
From the Missouri Department of Transportation Website:
“Missouri is home to an extensive rail system. Railroads are essential to the state’s economy and the region’s economic competitiveness. Missouri has the 10th largest number of railroad miles in the United States with approximately 4,800 miles of track, 2,500 miles of yard track and about 7,300 public and private highway-rail crossings. Twenty freight railroads operate in the state, carrying the fourth largest amount of freight tonnage in the nation. Kansas City and St. Louis are ranked as the second and third largest rail transportation centers in the nation, respectively. Overall, the state’s rail system moves the equivalent of more than 21 million truckloads per year.”
Hays House Restaurant on the Santa Fe Trail. Seth M. Hays, a grandson of Daniel Boone, was the first white settler in Council Grove in 1847 in what is now the state of Kansas. In 1857 he opened the Hays House Tavern and Restaurant. Today, Hays House is the oldest continuously operating restaurant west of the Mississippi River. Its customers have included Jesse James and George Armstrong Custer (and me!)
My children’s elementary and middle schools were near the start of the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas City, Missouri, but I didn’t pay that much attention to the trail until much later. Now I’m slowly visiting towns and cities along the trail — not in any particular order. In fact, it wasn’t until I visited Santa Fe, New Mexico, the end of the trail, that I thought “Hey, this trail starts near my house!”
This post focuses on Council Grove, Kansas, one of the more significant towns on the Santa Fe Trail. The town was named after an agreement between European Americans and the Osage Nation about allowing settlers’ wagon trains to pass through the area and proceed to the West. Pioneers gathered at a grove of trees so that wagons could band together for their trip west. Council Grove has 15 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One is the Post Office Oak. Travelers left their mail at this tree to be picked up by others going in the right direction. General George Armstrong Custer slept in the town with his troops during the American Civil War, under a large tree known now as the Custer Elm.
Built in 1882, the Farmers and Drovers Bank, Council Grove, Kansas, is one of the oldest banks in Kansas, and is still in operation today. The bank is on Main Street, which is the old Santa Fe Trail, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 21, 1971
Council Grove Carnegie Library, Kansas
The one-story, brick eclectic Neo-Classical Carnegie Library building sits on the south side of Main Street in Council Grove, Kansas. Red rose bushes flank the entrance steps.
Main Street is a section of the old Santa Fe Trail. Council Grove is a Santa Fe Trail National Historic Landmark town.
The library, built in 1916, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 25, 1987. Now the Carnegie library building is the home of the Morris County Historical Society.
Kaw Mission, Council Grove, Kansas
A sycamore tree and a white oak shade the historic Kaw Mission in Council Grove, Kansas.
Kaw Mission is a historic church mission at 500 N. Mission Street that was home, school and church to 30 Kaw boys from 1851–1854. It is near the Santa Fe Trail in the Flint Hills.
It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.
The site is now administered by the Kansas Historical Society as Kaw Mission State Historic Site. The state of Kansas was named for the Kaw (or Kansa).
Last Chance Store, Council Grove, Kansas.
Built in 1857 by Tom Hill, the Last Chance Store in Council Grove, Kansas, was the last opportunity for freighters bound for Santa Fe, New Mexico, to pick up supplies for their journey. It is also the oldest commercial building in Council Grove. The building has served as post office facilities, government trading house and polling place. The building’s architecture marks a transition from the Frontier style of construction to the Prairie Vernacular style.The store is on Main Street (Highway 40) which is also the Santa Fe Trail. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 21, 1971, and is part of the National Historic Landmark Council Grove Historic District.
Madonna of the Trail, Council Grove, Kansas
The “Madonna of the Trail” sculpture in Council Grove, Kansas, is one in a series of 12 monuments dedicated to the spirit of pioneer women in the United States. The monuments were commissioned by the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR). They were installed in each of the 12 states along the National Old Trails Road, which extended from Cumberland, Maryland, to Upland, California. Much of the National Old Trails Highway later became U.S. Highway 40 and U.S. Highway 66 (Route 66.)
Dedicated in 1928 and 1929, the twelve statues, created by sculptor August Leimbach, have become sources of local pride and all are currently in good condition and on display, thanks to local and national efforts.
Terwilliger House, Council Grove, Kansas
The Rawlinson-Terwilliger House was built by Abraham and Mary Rawlinson in 1860-61. This stone home was the last house that freighters carrying goods passed going west on the Santa Fe Trail when leaving Council Grove as late as 1863. The Rawlinson-Terwilliger Home is the oldest stone home and the second oldest home remaining alongside the Santa Fe Trail in Kansas.
Cottage House Hotel, Council Grove, Kansas.
According to the Cottage House hotel website, the hotel began as a three-room cottage and blacksmith shop, built in 1867. Today the hotel has 26 rooms in the main building, 10 rooms in adjacent motel unit and a honeymoon cottage. The hotel was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 4, 1988.
All rooms in the main hotel building are decorated and furnished in keeping with the period in which they were built.
Lace curtains and selected antique furnishings are featured throughout the building, though each room is different. All rooms have private baths, cable TV, WI-FI and modern heating and air conditioning.
My library doppelganger SHER C often reserves books I want to read, have read or need to read. Here’s a book that my doppelganger reserved that I need to read! Don’t worry. I left it on the shelf or him or her. I just reserved my own copy.
When you order a book online from the Johnson County (Kansas) Library, you can pick it up on the shelf at the branch you choose. A shortened version of your name will be on the spine. My name is SHER C. There’s another SHER C, whose reserved book choices are often so similar to mine. I call him/her my library #doppelgänger.
My library doppelgänger SHER C often reserves books I want to read, have read or need to read. Here’s one I need to read!
“The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo.
In this case, the other SHER C is also my library angel. If anyone struggles with decluttering, it’s me! I’m practically a hoarder!
The word doppelgänger is from the German Doppelgänger, a compound noun formed by combining the two nouns Doppel (double) and Gänger (walker or goer).
The Library Angel is a phenomenon described by Arthur Koestler in which information (typically in libraries) becomes accessible through chance or coincidence rather than through the use of a cataloguing system.
The Library Angel can be regarded as a form of synchronicity. Bernard Beitman, who conducted research in coincidence studies, found that 18% of his respondents had acquired information in an unexpected way.
Arthur Koestler coined the term library angel for frequently experienced meaningful coincidences in which the right book or reference suddenly presents itself at a moment of need.
A Gulf Fritillary Butterfly sips nectar from a Swamp Milkweed flower.
Over the years, I’ve planted many plants in my backyard to attract and feed butterflies with mixed results. I’m lucky to have a lot of tall trees in my yard, but that also makes my little plot of land less than ideal for a butterfly garden. I only have full sunlight for a few hours a day. Also, my garden adjoins the “rough” of a golf course, and those plants, including poison ivy, invade my garden. Still, I get a few butterfly visitors who lay their eggs on my plants.
Ten years ago, I planted some Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), which grew vigorously, but the Monarch butterflies, which require milkweed, ignored it. Instead they preferred the tropical milkweed, which must be planted every year. Perhaps the Monarchs were dreaming of their species’ winter quarters in Mexico. So I pulled out most of the swamp milkweed from my garden and dutifully planted tropical milkweed every year.
Swamp Milkweed in the rough of a golf course.
Since being mostly banished from my garden (because it takes up so much space), the Swamp Milkweed has now moved into and prospered in the rough of the adjoining golf course, where it is even vanquishing the poison ivy. Hurrah! I hope the Monarch butterflies find this ever growing patch of Swamp Milkweed and don’t ignore it this time. There are beautiful blooms to sip from and huge leaves to lay eggs on, a great source of caterpillar food. Let us hope the golf course groundskeeper won’t mow it down.
To learn more about Monarch Butterflies, which are dwindling in numbers due to loss of habitat due to herbicides and other factors, go to Monarch Watch and Monarch Watch Blog.
You can see my “Valentine Diner” photograph in the center of this ten-second video of Art Gras 2017, a juried art show in Leawood, Kansas. The action is at 4x normal speed, I’m guessing. After I watched the video several times looking for people I know, I saw myself in the first aisle closest to the camera. My daughter appeared briefly later. It’s our ten seconds of fame.
When you read a photographer’s biography on a website, you will often find the phrase “passion for photography.” It might seem trite, especially when you read it over and over. But it’s absolutely true. How else can you describe the overwhelming need to take photographs. The reason for the passion differs, perhaps, but the drive is the same. Many photographers describe this urge, mania or whatever it is as beginning as soon as they knew what a camera was. The evolution of photography with a camera built into a phone makes it easier to feed this passion.
A different passion is showing your art in galleries and art shows, which I’ve done the last few years. I’ve included a few photographs of my adventures in the Kansas City art show world. I’m not as enthusiastic about entering art shows as some are. I only enter local shows. Some people enter shows throughout the country, which means shipping your work, not an easy task. That’s dedication.
One of the best parts of being in this art world is the many wonderful friends that you make. They are also very inspiring.
Here are some quotes from famous and not so famous photographers, who will explain this passion better than I can:
“When I have a camera in my hand, I know no fear.” Alfred Eisenstaedt
My Photographs in 2017 Arti Gras Juried Art Show, Leawood, Kansas. “Valentine Diner” won first place in photography.
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” Ansel Adams
“The quickest way to make money from your camera is to sell it.” anonymous
“A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” Ansel Adams
“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” Dorothea Lange
“Every viewer is going to get a different thing. That’s the thing about painting, photography, cinema.” David Lynch
“Photography records the gamut of feelings written on the human face, the beauty of the earth and skies that man has inherited, and the wealth and confusion man has created. It is a major force in explaining man to man.” Edward Steichen
“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer – and often the supreme disappointment.” Ansel Adams
“I’ve always believed that photography is a way to shape human perception.” James Balog
“Traditionally, photography is supposed to capture an event that has passed; but that is not what I’m looking for. Photography brings the past into the present when you look at it.” Julian Schnabel
“Photography is the easiest medium with which to be merely competent. Almost anybody can be competent. It’s the hardest medium in which to have some sort of personal vision and to have a signature style.” Chuck Close
Here a man enjoys reading a book in a quiet corner of Corinth Library where my photographs are on display. A photography group I belong to displayed some of the member photographs in the library, which is a branch of the Johnson County Library. The Johnson County Library displays a wide range of art in changing exhibitions.
“People think because it’s photography it’s not worth as much, and because it’s a woman artist, you’re still not getting as much – there’s still definitely that happening. I’m still really competitive when it comes to, I guess, the male painters and male artists. I still think that’s really unfair.” Cindy Sherman
“In a world and a life that moves so fast, photography just makes the sound go out and it makes you stop and take a pause. Photography calms me.” Drew Barrymore
“I never shot on sets, but if I was traveling somewhere or on location, I would always have my camera, and I’d always be – it’s that kind of fly on the wall approach to photography, though. I don’t engage the subject. I like to sneak around, skulk about in the dark.” Jessica Lange
“Photography, alone of the arts, seems perfected to serve the desire humans have for a moment – this very moment – to stay.” Sam Abell
“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.” Ansel Adams
Many art shows give patrons the opportunity to vote for their favorite artwork. My photograph of a “Rancher Starting a Controlled Burn” is on the left at the Buttonwood Art Space in Kansas City, Missouri. Perhaps being displayed over the ballots gave my photograph an advantage, because it won the “Patrons Choice” award in 2015 for “Visions of the Flint Hills.” Buttonwood Art Space has supported the Flint Hills area of Kansas and its through an annual art benefit featuring art of this essential grassland prairie.
My photography has been accepted in several local art shows, including Arti Gras, Leawood, Kansas; the “Visions of the Flint Hills” exhibit at Buttonwood Art Space, Kansas City, Missouri; “Art at the Center’s National Juried Exhibition” in Overland Park, Kansas; and “State of the Arts” juried art show in Prairie Village, Kansas. My work has been featured at the Overland Park galleries of InterUrban ArtHouse and Images Art Gallery, where I was a member and now continue as an associate. My photography was part of an exhibition in 2016 at the Corinth branch of the Johnson County Public Library. Additionally, I have art piled up all over my house!
The first time I entered “Valentine Diner” was the 2016 annual juried “State of the Arts” show in Prairie Village, Kansas. Only one artwork from each artist is accepted and it must have been produced within the two previous years. The juried exhibit is on display in the R.G. Endres Gallery every October. The photograph of the “Blue Swallow Motel” on the left is by my friend Marla Craven.
Some of my worst photos — fuzzy, overexposed, etc — I’ve taken at art shows. It’s hard to take photos when you’re holding a glass of wine and clutching a program. But I still want to document the event. Here, William Rose, a fantastic artist, announces the winners of the 2016 “Art at the Center” annual juried art show. Rose was the juror for the show.
A male monarch butterfly sips from a tropical milkweed flower in my neighborhood butterfly garden. Just a few weeks ago, almost two dozen Monarch butterfly caterpillars were feasting on these milkweeds. Is this an adult returning to his nursery before heading off to begin the journey to a winter in Mexico?
As summer draws to a close, our neighborhood butterfly garden is now a flowering paradise finally crowded with bugs and animals. During June, July and August, the garden reminded me of a dinner party where few of the guests showed up, despite the mass of plants that bloomed all summer. We did get a lot of rabbits, who found the young plants very tasty and ate them almost to the dirt. Joan, one of the hardest working neighborhood gardeners, built cages around the tender coneflowers and tropical milkweed plants so that they’d have a chance to provide food for other animals, and of course to be beautiful for our enjoyment.
A Monarch butterfly sipping nectar from a tropical milkweed flower in the neighborhood butterfly garden.
I’ve seen many types of butterflies in the garden this week. The two species I plant specifically for are the Monarch Butterfly and the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. We plant food plants for the caterpillars and lots of flowering plants that butterflies and other pollinating insects prefer for nectar. For Black Swallowtail caterpillars, we plant bronze fennel and parsley. Monarch Butterfly caterpillars will only eat milkweed, and they sometimes are picky about which kind of milkweed. Tropical milkweed is the most popular milkweed in our Kansas City area garden, and it has lovely scarlet and yellow flowers, too. Unfortunately, it’s an annual in our climate so it has to be re-planted every spring. I buy my plants from Monarch Watch on the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence, Kansas, at their plant sale in May. Monarch Watch sells a lot of plants for butterflies and other pollinators. Their butterfly garden is worth visiting. They also have an open house in September every year.
Protecting and fostering pollinators is good for the environment and for our food supply. A large percentage of our food plants must be pollinated to produce a crop. On a recent visit to the garden, a ruby-throated hummingbird whizzed by me. Ruby-throated hummingbirds, which are also pollinators, also visit the feeder at my house.
The Monarch butterfly population is in serious decline, so I would encourage everyone with a yard to plan a butterfly garden. To find out more click on this link: Monarch Watch.
In the upper left is a Red-spotted Purple butterfly. The lower left is a Painted Lady butterfly. Can anyone tell me in the comments what the other two butterflies are? Can you see the insect lurking or resting under the petals of the coneflower?
In the top left photo, a Black Swallowtail caterpillar eating fennel. In the lower left photo, a crowd of Black Swallowtail caterpillars eat parsley. In the upper right photo, two Monarch butterfly caterpillars thrash around as their antennae meet. In the center right photo, a Monarch butterfly caterpillar eats Tropical Milkweed. In the bottom right photo, Black Swallowtail butterfly eggs glisten on the narrow leaves of a bronze fennel.
Here is a collage of photos from the founding days of the neighborhood butterfly garden. The top photo is from 2012, a hot summer in which I had to bring gallons of water from my house to water the new plants, because the sprinkler system didn’t provide enough water. The bottom three photos are from 2013.
An empty Monarch butterfly chrysalis hangs from a butterfly bush.
I first saw a Valentine Diner at the Classical Gas Museum in Embudo, New Mexico. The museum, in the Rio Grande River Valley, is a collection of antique gas pumps, neon signs, soda machines, oil cans, vintage trucks and cars, plus plenty of other items.
I grew up in the Wichita, Kansas, area but it wasn’t until I visited a museum in New Mexico a couple of years ago that I found out about a hometown industry — the Valentine Diner. My family moved to the Wichita area because of its biggest manufacturing business — airplanes — but somehow I missed this smaller manufacturing cousin.
The diners were manufactured in Wichita by Valentine Manufacturing, Inc., from the late 1930s into the mid-1970s. Sales of the buildings expanded nationwide, and soon Valentine diners were installed all over the United States. About 2,200 of the portable diners, in a wide range of sizes. Some served only a handful of customers, while the double deluxe versions were as large as many restaurants with added areas that featured several booths, tables and a long counter with stools.
Numerous Valentine diner buildings are still in use today, but many are no longer diners, but serve as headquarters for other types of businesses, such as used car lot offices and dog grooming salons. One 8-stool Valentine building was converted to an Albuquerque, New Mexico, Police Substation
Menu of Terry’s Diner, which has maintained the sign and location of Brint’s Diner in an historic Valentine diner building in Wichita, Kansas.
One Valentine diner still serving delicious meals is Brint’s Diner in Wichita, where my mother and I enjoyed a meal. The red and white checkered linoleum tile floor, the red vinyl booths and bar stools and the aluminum trimmed interior provide a delightful vintage atmosphere. The diner attracts a loyal following. The Brint’s building is a double deluxe model. The diner concept was based on railroad dining cars, but with a parking lot and the addition of porches and other extras they settled in as permanent residents of their neighborhoods.
The Grinder Man sandwich shop in Wichita, Kansas, is an A-frame model of a Valentine Diner.
This Valentine Diner building in Wichita, Kansas, formerly a Lil Joe’s Dyne-Quik, is now closed. Sign says that the building was closed due to unsafe conditions.
Brint’s Diner (actually Terry’s Diner) in Wichita, Kansas, is a Double Deluxe model of a Valentine Diner building.
Daffodils, blooming early in my neighborhood this year (February 2016). Always a cheerful sight.
Our 2015-2016 Winter hasn’t been harsh, very little snow, so I won’t complain.
Magnolia blooming at Boone Hall Plantation, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
However, that doesn’t stop me for wishing for the flowers of Spring! I’ve already seen daffodils in bloom in the neighborhood, so I’ve gotten part of my wish. Here are some photos of blooms from previous Springs from my travels in different parts of the country.
Wisteria in Bloom at Loose Park Bridge, Kansas City, Missouri.
With a newly broken toe, I walked a long trail and climbed 374 steps to the summit of Bartolome Island, which is famous for Pinnacle Rock, a towering obelisk that rises from the shore and is the best known landmark in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. I’d broken my toe when I slipped on a wet boat deck, exhausted from snorkeling in deep water, but I wasn’t going to miss this view even though a storm was rolling in. It started to rainhard as our group made its way down. Amazingly my cameras weren’t damaged. My son took pity on me and carried my heavier camera, and we both protected them as best we could under our shirts. We’d left the camera bags in the boat.
Photographs are powerful souvenirs from trips. When we look at a photo that we’ve taken, we remember so much more than what the photograph seems to reveal. We can relieve the whole experience.
We remember the people we traveled with, even meals we ate that day, the weather, and in my case, the mishaps that occurred while I was taking the photos. Sometimes, it’s easier to remember the injuries than the many more times I escaped unscathed. Anyway, I’m not complaining, because every bug bite, black eye, bruise, scraped knee and broken bone was worth it. I’m lucky I didn’t fall from a cliff or attacked by a wild animal, as has happened to some photographers when they were engrossed in taking a photograph. I’ve had some close calls, such as encountering a tiger snake in Tasmania, Australia, while my friends and I were on a walk. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see and photograph so many wonderful places, animals and people.
As we were driving along a highway in Kauai, Hawaii, my husband pointed out the surfers on this beach, so we stopped, where I took a lot of photographs, including this fabulous sunset over Niihau Island. Afterward, as I was climbing up the rocks to the parking lot, holding a camera in each hand with the straps wrapped around my wrists, I lost my balance and fell on my face. I got a black eye. But I saved my cameras! And look at this photo!
I was so intent on photographing roses at the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden during the Texas Rose Festival that I didn’t notice tiny ants crawling over my bare toes in sandals. The ants looked harmless, but they were fire ants. I brushed them off, but it was too late. Wow, their tiny stings hurt for days! Now I know why Texans favor cowboy boots. Cowboy boots are not just for riding horses.
Look how smart these tourists are wearing their rubber boots as they listen to their guide talk about giant tortoises in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador. You can see a giant tortoise in the background on the right. We had just arrived on the Galapagos Islands. It was hot, and I decided against wearing any boots. I thought I’d just wash my flip-flop-clad feet if I stepped into mud. But mud wasn’t the only hazard. As I stood on a trail, I saw tiny ants crawling over my toes. Yes, fire ants again! They’ve invaded the Galapagos Islands! They stung me, and I had to deal with that pain plus sun-burned feet. (And later sun-burned shoulders, too.)
This is the most iconic view of Machu Picchu in Peru. Even though I took a bus up a steep hill to the entrance, there were a lot of steps to reach this point. Normally, I could have easily walked it, but I was still weak from acute altitude sickness in Cusco, which is at an elevation of 11,152 feet. It was a relief to come down to 7,970 feet at Machu Picchu. I happy to make the journey to this magnificent place, even though I felt so weak. Somehow I managed to take a lot of photos!
I have a scar on my knee from scraping my knee when I stepped into a hole at Squaw Creek Wildlife Refuge in Mound City, Missouri. I was hurrying to a viewing stand, not paying attention, and found myself on the ground. “Are you ok,” my friend asked as she helped me up. “More importantly, are your cameras ok?” she joked. My knee was scuffed up, but my cameras were fine! We were there to see the more than a million snow geese that visit the refuge as they migrate, shown in my photograph here. Seeing and hearing the rush of those birds as they lifted en masse into the air was a magnificent experience, worth the pain, although next time I’ll be more careful when I walk!
I got scratched by some dried weeds when I took this photograph of a bison cow at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge in Kansas. (There was a tall fence between us, so no danger from the bison.) I thought the scratches were all that happened to me until a week later I felt what I thought was a scab on the back of my shoulder. I scratched at it. The scab started walking. It was a tick! I’m sure it crawled on me in that tall grass. For months after that, every time I felt tired or had a headache, I thought I had some kind of tick fever. I even got tested for it, rare for me. Results were negative. Phew!
Sometimes, we venture into dangerous areas, where lions and leopards roam freely, and miraculously leave unscathed. We watched as this Cape Buffalo Bull enjoyed a mud bath in Mala Mala Game Reserve in South Africa. Guess he didn’t like us spying on us, because after his bath he started our way. His buddy, who had taken the first bath, was watching us from the bushes. Fortunately, it was a stand-off . Our guide backed up the jeep, and we were out of there! Cape Buffalo are dangerous. They can gore you.
My friend Anita recorded this encounter in Tasmania, Australia. I had a crazy notion that I wanted to pet a Tasmanian Devil. The keeper at NatureWorld held this young devil so I could have my wish. “Nice devil, devil,” I said as I stroked him. A young man also wanted to join in. The once calm devil jerked his head around, and growled. You can see the man’s hand pulling back in the bottom photo. I didn’t lose any fingers!
Four of us were on a hike in Tasmania, when Anita saw this very poisonous tiger snake heading our way. For some crazy reason, my husband threw a stick near it, thinking he could scare it away, but that just provoked the snake, which reared up. You never saw four people run so fast in the other direction. We jumped in the car and hurried away.
Because of the weather, the captain of our boat warned us that the trip along the Na Pali Coast of Kauai could be rough and said we could reschedule, but we only had two days left on the island. I’d never been seasick before. How bad could it be? Even though my husband and I took the recommended seasick pills, we both got sick. How sick? I used three buckets! TMI, I know. The swells were seventeen-feet high. We couldn’t even think of eating the sunset dinner buffet. The sun refused to come out from behind the clouds, and we had to put away our cameras, so we didn’t get any close photos of the humpback whales we saw. But it definitely was a memorable trip, even without beautiful photos.
Here’s one of the videos I shot before the seas got really rough. You can see how gloomy it was. You can also see a humpback whale breaching in the distance.