Tag Archives: Tourism

Have a Nice Trip

View From Bartolome Peak in The Galapagos Islands Poster

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.


Surfer at Sunset on Kauai Beach, Niihau on Horizon Poster

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!

Apricot Hybrid Tea Rose With Honeybee Photo Print

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.

Galapagos Islands Tourists at Tortoise Sanctuary Postcard

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.)

Machu Picchu Overlook, Peru Poster

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!

Snow Geese Taking off at Squaw Creek Refuge Poster

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!

Bison Cow in Flint Hills, Kansas Postcard

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!



Cape Buffalo Enjoying Mud Bath, South Africa Postcard

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.

Petting a Tasmanian Devil

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!

Tiger snake heading our way!

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.

The captain warned us that the trip 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.

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.



Filed under Animals, Australia, Photography, Travel

“There’s Tourists in Them Thar Hills”

A stage coach in Silverton, Colorado, waits for riders.

A stage coach in Silverton, Colorado, waits for riders.

If you want to get high, the place to go is Silverton, Colorado, and I’m not talking about anything you smoke.  I visited this gorgeous very high-altitude Rocky Mountain town in June 2015. John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” song would be an appropriate soundtrack to this post.

Silverton  is a former silver mining town that now mines tourists, who visit the charming historic town with its Wild West and Victorian ambiance in a spectacular mountain setting.

With a mean elevation of 11,240 feet (3426 meters), Silverton is in San Juan County, which is the highest county in the United States. It’s also the county with the smallest population in Colorado. Most or all of Silverton is now included in a federally designated National Historic Landmark District, the Silverton Historic District. Silverton is linked to Durango by the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a National Historic Landmark. Tourism provides the gold and silver in Silverton, not mining. Also supporting the population is maintenance of US 550 (which links Montrose with Durango via Silverton), mine pollution remediation, and retirees. In 2002 an extreme ski mountain, Silverton Mountain, opened near the town.

The Durango Silverton train arrives in Silverton, Colorado.

The Durango Silverton train arrives in Silverton, Colorado.

Tourists arrive by car, motorcycle, bus and train.  I drove, trying to keep my car on the road while peeking at the scenery as we climbed the steep narrow highway from Durango.  It also rained from time to time, adding to the thrill of mountain adventure.  This trip I skipped traveling the section of the highway north of Silverton, called the Million Dollar Highway, which I like to call the Million HOLLER highway, because it truly is scary.  I’m sure I screamed a lot on that trip, something I almost never do, not very helpful to the nerves of the driver, my husband. Even though it was years ago, when we traveled on the Million Holler Highway  in the dark, in the rain, my heart still hammers thinking about it.

I first heard the quote “There’s gold in them thar hills” years ago, and never knew where it came from.  Now, I’ve learned that the saying is associated with the  first major gold rush, which was in the United States was in Dahlonega, Georgia, in 1828.

Wikipedia entry about Silverton, Colorado.

San Juan County Courthouse, Silverton, Colorado Postcard

The San Juan County Courthouse is in Silverton, Colorado. San Juan County has the highest average elevation of any county in the United States and the smallest population in Colorado.

Shady Lady Restaurant

This house built in 1888 was the last brothel in Silverton, Colorado. Madam Jew Fanny closed shop in 1947. This restaurant is right by the railroad stop, so it’s periodically very crowded. People in period costumes urge tourists to come inside. We didn’t eat there. The reviews for the most part weren’t favorable, and it doesn’t take credit cards.

Animas River in Silverton, Colorado

In this photograph from June 2015, snowmelt and heavy rain combine to produce the rushing waters of the Animas River which flows through the Silverton area, shown here, to the city of Durango in Colorado. The Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad travels 45.4 miles each way along the Animas River from Durango to Silverton during our summer season May through October.

Getting Around in Silverton, Colorado

Many tourists get around in Silverton, Colorado, after arriving on the train, but you can also take a stagecoach ride or rent a bike.

Silverton, Colorado, Train Depot Postcard

Silverton, Colorado, Train Depot.

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Filed under History, Photography, Travel

It’s Tea Time at Charleston Tea Plantation

A sign shows the distance to other parts of the world where tea plants are grown.

A sign shows the distance to other parts of the world where tea plants are grown.

What sounds perfect on a rainy chilly day?  Hot tea!  We’d set out from Kiawah Island in late February (2015) to visit some notable outdoor sites in Charleston, South Carolina, but the morning rain persisted so we saw little more than gift shops (where we could stay dry).  As we returned to Kiawah, we turned off at the Charleston Tea Plantation, which is about twenty miles south of Charleston on Wadmalaw Island. We could stay dry in a trolley as we rode around the plantation.  And there was plenty of free hot tea in the gift shop!

Guests tour the Charleston Tea Plantation on one of two trolleys. This one was purchased from the Kentucky Derby city of Louisville, Kentucky, and still retains its name of "Man of War," a famous race horse.

Guests tour the Charleston Tea Plantation on one of two trolleys. This one was purchased from the Kentucky Derby city of Louisville, Kentucky, and still retains its name of “Man of War,” a famous race horse.

It was overcast and a little misty when we arrived, but no umbrellas were required.   My hair was already frizzed out by now anyway.  According to the plantation’s website, “Wadmalaw Island is in the heart of South Carolina’s Lowcountry…Wadmalaw provides the perfect environment for propagating tea. With its sandy soils, sub-tropical climate and average rainfall of 52 inches per year, Wadmalaw possess idyllic conditions for the Camellia Sinensis plant. This plant is currently used to produce both black and green teas and exists in over 320 varieties on the 127 acre grounds of the Charleston Tea Plantation.”

Here are two kinds of American Classic Tea -- Charleston Breakfast Tea and Governor Gray, flavored with bergamot, one of my favorites.

Here are two kinds of American Classic Tea — Charleston Breakfast Tea and Governor Gray, flavored with bergamot, one of my favorites.

Owned by the Bigelow Tea Company, the plantation grows the tea sold under the brand name American Classic Tea. The Charleston Tea Plantation is the only working tea plantation in North America and is open to the public for tours of the grounds and factory and for hosting private events. Every year the plantation also hosts the First Flush Festival celebrating the beginning of the harvest season.  The name, First Flush, means the new leaves that are beginning to grow on the tea plant bushes that are ready to be harvested for production.

The tea Plant, Camellia sinensis, needs a lot of moisture, but doesn't like wet roots, so good sources of water, as well as good drainage are required to keep the plants healthy.

The tea Plant, Camellia sinensis, needs a lot of moisture, but doesn’t like wet roots, so good sources of water, as well as good drainage are required to keep the plants healthy.

Since 1987, the American Classic Tea brand of the Charleston Tea Plantation has been the official tea of the White House.

Plenty of rain is what Camellia sinensis likes, so at least the tea plants were happy!  There were several types of hot tea waiting for us to try, which we happily drank while waiting for our $10 trolley ride. Our trolley was called “Man of War,” named after the famous horse. Our driver told us that the plantation bought the trolley on ebay from the city of Louisville, the Kentucky Derby town.  We stopped along the way at the state-of-the-art greenhouse, where tea plant propagation takes place. The tour is narrated in a recording by William Barclay Hall, founder of American Classic Tea and world renowned Tea Taster, as well as by the very knowledgeable driver.  The plantation was only started in 1960, although other southern plantations had tried to grow tea plants previously.

The leaves are processed at the plantation factory, but the final product is packaged in Connecticut. We were there during the off-season, so we didn’t see any harvesting or processing.

Experimental tea plants at Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina.

Experimental tea plants at Charleston Tea Plantation in South Carolina.

From Wikipedia:  “In 1799, French botanist, Francois Andre Michaux brought the Camellia Sinensis  plant to the United States and gave it to Henry Middleton. They planted the tea at Middleton’s plantation. The tea seemed to thrive in areas like Charleston and Georgetown.  It took many attempts by multiple companies and individuals to successfully establish a tea company without an early failure. These failures included plantations in Georgetown, Greenville and Summerville, the longest of which lasted less than twenty years. The Thomas J Lipton Company decided to give it a try.  In 1960, they bought the failing tea plantation in Summerville and in 1963 they moved out to Wadmalaw Island  and operated a research station for about twenty-five years. 

You can't visit the Charleston Tea Plantation without taking home some tea! The plantation website also links to shops where the tea is sold.

You can’t visit the Charleston Tea Plantation without taking home some tea! The plantation website also links to shops where the tea is sold.

The Charleston Tea Plantation, as it is known today, was established in 1987 when Mack Fleming and William (Bill) Barclay Hall bought the land and the research station from the Lipton Company. Mack Fleming, a horticultural professor, had been running the plantation for the Lipton Company and Bill Hall was a third generation tea tester from England.  Along with establishing the plantation, they created the American Classic Tea brand. ”  The R.C. Bigelow Company in Connecticut bought the plantation about a decade ago.

Charles Tea Plantation Website.

Wikipedia: Charleston Tea Plantation

Bigelow Tea Company.

Health and Beauty Tips Using Tea!

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Filed under Drink, Gardening, History, Photography, Tea, 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.


Filed under History, Photography, Travel

Oh, Fudge!

Children are enthralled as they watch workers make fudge in one of Murdick’s Fudge Shops on Mackinac Island, Michigan.

“The perfect candle scent for Mackinac Island would be a layer of fudge-scented wax, then a layer of lilac, then at the bottom a layer of horse manure,” joked Joe, one of our carriage drivers on our recent (and first) trip to Mackinac Island, a beautiful island in Lake Huron just between Michigan’s Upper and Lower penisulas.

Unfortunately, we just missed lilac season, but we did see plenty of fudge shops and horses, when my husband and I visited in late June.   There are more than a hundred varieties of the Common Lilac on Mackinac Island, which celebrates lilacs with a 10-day festival every mid-June, which concludes with a horse-drawn lilac parade.  I’d love to return for that event.

Even though no cars, trucks or other motorized vehicles are allowed on the island, there’s a lot of traffic with horse-drawn carriages, people on horseback as well as hundreds of bicyclists and thousands of walkers.  (The island does allow one police car, one ambulance and some electric golf carts on the golf course.)

Here are some of the fudge flavors available at Murdick’s Fudge on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Butter Pecan, Plain Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Walnut.

Six fudge companies operate fudge shops on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Since each company seems to have at least two shops and some operate even more, that’s a lot of fudge on this small island. There are competing fudge shops next door to each other and some companies have opened fudge shops on opposite sides of the street — sort of like Starbucks Coffee. But, honestly, can you ever have enough fudge? There are as many as 15,000 tourists a day in peak season, so there is an enormous market for fudge. I bought fudge at Murdick’s Fudge. The Murdick Family opened its fudge shop in 1887, when sailmakers Henry and Rome Murdick came to Mackinac Island to make giant awnings for The Grand Hotel (the hotel was constructed in only 93 days!)

I bought the fudge for a gift, but I’m hoping the recipients will offer me a taste. (Yes, I managed to come home with uneaten fudge.) I’ve been known to preach (or even screech) about the dangers of sugar, but calorie counts don’t apply to any food eaten or bought on vacation, so I’ve been told. Even sugar is exempted. (Ok, even I don’t believe that.) But an occasional very small indulgence is good for the food soul. I’ll take a couple of extra laps around the neighborhood.

Mackinac Island, which is 3.8 square miles, has 80 miles of trails, if you want to walk off your fudge there. The entire island is a National Historic Landmark and 80 percent of it is Mackinac Island State Park. Initially, it was the second U.S. National Park, but the Feds later turned it over to the state of Michigan.

You can count at least three fudge shops in this photograph of a street on Mackinac Island, Michigan. You’d need four hands to count all of the fudge shops on the small island. The fudge shops are clustered conveniently close to where the tourists get off of the ferry. There are as many as 15,000 tourists a day in peak season. The fudge demand is enormous!

Here, the lovely cashier prepares my fudge purchase. I bought plain chocolate, chocolate espresso and chocolate cherry.

About Mackinac Island

Directory of Mackinac Island Fudge Shops.

History of Murdick’s Fudge.

Mackinac Island Lilac Festival.

Mackinac Island Lilacs.


Filed under Food, Humor, Life, Photography, Travel

Leap of Faith in the Wisconsin Dells

I was lucky to get this shot as a German Shepherd makes the leap made famous by Ashley Bennett in his father Henry Hamilton Bennett’s 1886 photograph “Leaping the Chasm at Stand Rock” in the Wisconsin River Dells.

On a recent driving trip through Wisconsin and Michigan, I was reminded in the Wisconsin Dells of how much progress has been made in photographic technology.  Photographers owe a debt to the early innovators, such as nineteenth century Wisconsin photographer Henry Hamilton Bennett.  Bennett originated the concept of photojournalism, invented a stop action shutter (which he called the “snapper”), improved the speed of the chemical exposure process and created other photographic innovations.  His photographs attracted throngs of tourists to the beauty of the sandstone gorges of the Wisconsin River Dells.  (The city of Wisconsin Dells is also now the self-proclaimed Waterpark Capital of the World.)

Bennett is considered one of the top landscape photographers of the 19th century, although I confess I’d never heard of him even though I’ve read a lot of history about photography. So I’m making up for that deficit now.

In 1886, Bennett took his iconic shot of his son Ashley jumping the five and a half feet from Stand Rock to a ledge and back to show how his shutter could freeze action. Ashley had to jump seventeen times before his father thought he had the perfect shot. Some people initially thought the photograph was a trick, because in those days capturing an exposure took a long time, which is why everyone looks so glum in their portraits. They had to stand still, not moving a muscle. Photographic chemicals took a while to react to light. Any part that moved during the long exposure time would be a blur.

In 1886, Ashley Bennett jumps from a ledge to Stand Rock in the Wisconsin River Dells in a demonstration of his father Henry Hamilton Bennett’s new stop action camera shutter. The photograph is called “Leaping the Chasm at Stand Rock.”

When people saw Bennett’s numerous gorgeous shots of the gorge, they swarmed to the Wisconsin Dells, where they could get their own photographs taken as they made the leap. This, after paddling boats to the site, under the direction of a guide.  Eventually, tourist leaps were stopped because of the risk. (Think of the lawsuits!) Now tourists (such as myself) watch a German Shepherd make the leap. You have to be quick to take your own stop-action photograph, because the dog makes the leap only once. I was lucky to get a full-body view as the dog leaped in his return to the ledge. There’s a net below the gap to catch any dog that doesn’t make it, but our guide assured us that no dog has ever fallen. Bennett’s photograph makes the distance from rock to rock look a lot farther. Even so, call me chicken, but I wouldn’t make any leap father than a foot at that height.

Here’s my first attempt to photograph the dog leaping from a ledge to Stand Rock in the Wisconsin Dells. The leap looks scarier in this photograph than in the shot when I captured the entire dog spanning the gap.

There’s plenty more to learn about Bennett, photography and the Wisconsin Dells.   Here are the links. You make the leap.

Wisconsin Dells History and Information.

More about Henry Hamilton Bennett.

The Stand Rock photograph was featured in Terrence Malick’s opening credits of his movie “Days of Heaven.”

Terrence Malick’s blog post featuring Henry Hamilton Bennett’s iconic photograph of his son Ashley jumping to Stand Rock in the Wisconsin Dells.

In the center of this photograph is Chimney Rock, one of the sandstone formations along the Upper Dells of the Wisconsin Dells section of the Wisconsin River.

For a full resolution version click here: Dog Jumping From Stand Rock in Wisconsin Dells.

Dog Jumping from Stand Rock in Wisconsin Dells Poster


Filed under Photography

It’s Grand!

Rock squirrel at the Grand Canyon

This rock squirrel hangs out at a scenic outlook at the Grand Canyon. He's got his eye on another vista -- your backpack full of snacks.

We made a detour to the Grand Canyon on our drive home in September from California (Yes, I’ll be wringing posts out of that trip for some time to come!)  It was well worth the four hours’ deviation from our dash (just ask a certain highway patrolman in New Mexico) back to Kansas City, even though we’d visited the Grand Canyon before.   We visited the South Rim, which is about 80 miles north of Flagstaff, in northern Arizona. The North Rim is where that transparent walkway juts out over the canyon. You will not be getting me on that!

Backpack thief!

Rangers caution against giving the rock squirrels any food. It isn't good for them, and they can bite. This rock squirrel (Spermophilus variegatus) thinks he can sneak in, grab a granola bar and scamper away.

You feel very small and insignificant standing near the edge looking out at a vast display of millions of years of erosion.  One of these days I may actually make the grueling hike to the bottom.  My sister and her family have done it.  Others I know have rafted the Colorado River, which looks like a skinny ribbon at the bottom. It’s supposed to be a spectacular trip.  If you’ve done either, please comment below and tell me about your experiences. If you’ve been to the rim of the Grand Canyon, please comment.  If you’ve never been, add your thoughts. If you think it’s a just an overrated ditch, let me know, too. 

Here’s what the Grand Canyon National Park has to say about the Grand Canyon:

A powerful and inspiring landscape, the Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size; 277 river miles (446km) long, up to 18 miles (29km) wide, and a mile (1.6km) deep.

While standing at the edge of this breath-taking sight, I got a cell phone call from my son.  I’d forgotten my phone was even on, and even though I was glad to hear from him, it didn’t seem quite right to be talking when I should have been deep in contemplation. But that didn’t stop me from getting an update on his job search. (He got a job!)  I was one of the few speaking English there, too. There were probably a dozen languages being spoken.   Five million tourists visit every year. I was thrilled to be among that number.

Link to the National Park website: Grand Canyon National Park   Part One of the California Road Trip Saga is Surf’s up.

Tourists at the Grand Canyon.

Tourists at the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon. Everywhere you look, it's grand!

Pronghorn antelope.

Pronghorn antelope graze near the Grand Canyon.


Filed under Animals, Life, National Parks, Nature, Personal, Photography, Travel

Just Call Me Little Bo Peep

There are tens of millions of sheep in Australia and New Zealand, but this is as close as I got to any of them.

There are tens of millions of sheep in Australia and New Zealand, but this is as close as I got to any of them. These sheep are grazing at Port Arthur Historic Site, the location of a 19th century penal colony in Tasmania, Australia.

Sheep are probably more common in Australia than kangaroos, but on a recent visit there I never got close enough to hear so much as a bleat.   I wanted to see a sheep shearing (as seen on “The Thorn Birds”).  I  wanted a picturesque mob of sheep to flood out onto the quaint road, you know, the usual tourist adventures.  I should have just looked in my own neighborhood. (There’s a hilarious video about a movie starring sheep at the bottom of this post as a reward for traveling on my nostalgia trip.)

Horses on the ranch down the street from me.

Horses on the ranch down the street from me.

A friend, Evan J., told me about a sheep shearing he participated in recently at a farm not too far away from me.  In six months, the sheep will need another hair cut.  Only a tornado is going to keep me away.

Farmers are dedicated, determined and dazzling.  I’m in awe of what they accomplish and remember the hard work of my grandparents’ farm.  It’s easy to take farm fields and pastures for granted, until the raw timbers of subdivisions take their places.  I live in a suburb on the edge of the Kansas City metropolitan area, near horses and soybean fields.  I’m always afraid I’ll find a CVS pharmacy staked out in the horse pasture. (Our neighborhood has already fought a CVS.)  One nearby farm was just sold off and leveled last year.  Asphalt streets curve around empty lots where a barn surrounded by hay bales once stood.  My own yard was once part of a forest that is now a golf course, so I can’t say I haven’t contributed to the sprawl.

This old barn and soybean field won't be here long.  It's prime real estate, surrounded by upscale subdivisions and shopping centers.  Only the economic downturn is keeping development at bay.

This old barn and soybean field won't be here long. It's prime real estate, surrounded by upscale subdivisions and shopping centers. Only the economic downturn is keeping development at bay.

People can satisfy a little of their farm curiosity in our county with a visit to Deanna Rose Farm, a city park with farm animals and historic rural buildings.  Hopefully, small family farms don’t become novelty items that are remembered only in parks. 

I’ve been following the blog of Paula, who raises sheep and cattle and does just about everything else on her organic farm in Devon, England.  Here’s her post on lambing.  Lambing — It’s Started.  Her blog has great photos, too!

Closer to home, Natalya of Pinwheel Farm writes about the joys and sorrows of raising sheep. You can find “Girls at War” and “Memorable Shearing Day, two of her posts on sheep, at Pinwheel Farm.

I watched the movie “Black Sheep” on the plane trip from New Zealand.  It’s so hilariously Kiwi.  Sort of cheesy, but in a good way.  The special effects reminded me of those in “Dr. Who,” the ones with Tom Baker, my favorite doctor.  Here’s the imdb.com link, including videos, about the movie  Black Sheep.  Below is the video of the movie trailer.  The video is over the top, but there’s a lot of wry Kiwi wit in the movie. For more Kiwi wit and news, check out Kiwibloke on my blogroll.


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