Category: State Parks

Photography Challenge Day 153: Cooler areas for a hot summer day

So today’s photographs are yet more throwback/flashback winners. I decided that since we’re in the middle of the ”dog days of summer” with triple digit heat with even higher heat indexes I wanted to share some photographs that reminded me of cooler temperatures.

So when thinking of cooler temperatures, what automatically comes to mind? Swimming, being out on the water, but also being underground in caves.

One of the formations in the main cavern at Carlsbad Caverns National Park

We went to Carlsbad Caverns last year as part of a quick whirlwind trip through New Mexico. While it was my first time there, I enjoyed it and would love to go back and explore more. There is a lot to see within the main cavern, and I would actually like to go on one of the guided tours within other caves that have entrances via the main cavern. The only reason why I didn’t do one to begin with–I didn’t know that it was going to be a five hour round trip tour.

Besides the caverns, there are numerous hiking trails that one can go on as well. I also enjoy hiking, but wasn’t dressed for it and again we hadn’t planned on doing any-though I’d like to hike a little bit of a trail just to see what type of wild flowers or animals are around. I know there are rattlesnakes, we’ve heard them–luckily we didn’t see them on the trip.

My other favorite place to escape the heat is going to a lake, and not just any lake. I prefer sandy bottom lakes, that you can actually see where you’re walking and if it’s a little rocky that’s fine–they’re at least smooth rocks that you’re walking on. So one destination that I have enjoyed going to over the years has been Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota. This is a large fresh body lake that has actually become one of Minnesota’s latest state parks.

Sunset over Frazer Bay, Lake Vermilion St. Louis County Minnesota

Swimming, kayaking, bird watching, star gazing, and watching the sunsets are things that I have always enjoyed doing when going to Lake Vermilion. I remember kayaking out to an island and watching the bald eagles feed their young. This was the first place where I actually saw a bald eagle in the wild, and we use to see them sit atop of the large pine trees gazing out over the water before launching out to hunt for a meal (either for themselves or their young).

Going to the ocean is another way of getting away from the heat–though you do need to stay in the water, or have a really nice large beach umbrella to stay out of the sun. While I’ve been to the ocean several times (both Atlantic and Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico as well)–I’ve only managed to capture a sunset picture from the Gulf of Mexico, when we went down to South Padre Island years ago.

Sunset over the bay, South Padre Island Texas

What I liked about this sunset picture was actually managing to capture the heron hunting as well. There weren’t any clouds in the sky that day, so there wasn’t any pinks and reds streaking across the sky that I would see when looking at a sunset over Lake Vermilion. It was different, but just as beautiful. Now that I’ve gone back through photographs of different locations–I would like to try to capture more sunsets over water (be it lakes, rivers, or oceans). It’s a nice way of saying it’s been a beautiful day, and tomorrow will be just as nice.

That will be a goal for my travels in 2020–capture at least one sunset picture from one new location. If I travel back to areas I’ve been before (say Boston), then try to go on a harbor cruise and get a picture of the sun setting over the harbor (I do have one of it setting over the river). Also I should try to get at least one new sunrise picture as well in my 2020 travels.

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Photography Challenge day 129: Waterfall Wednesday Edition

So today’s photography winner is a small waterfall that I spotted on a hike in Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas.

Mini Waterfall in the park

We had gone to Devil’s Den State Park a couple of years ago for a mini vacation. I actually managed to hike probably a quarter of the paths within the park. This waterfall was spotted on the Devil’s Den trail, which also had a lot of neat rock formations as well.

Openings in the rocks.

I remember looking at the openings and wishing that I was a rock climber (and that it was allowed in this part of the park). I think it would have been cool to get closer to the openings and get some interior pictures.

It’s been recently shown that spending at least two hours a week outdoors and in nature is a good way of getting a good emotional reset. While I do spend time outdoors–it’s mainly on the weekend. I now realize that I need to find the time to get outdoors (and not just walking to the bus stop or sitting in the backyard at the end of the day) each day so that I can get back on an even keel in terms of how I deal with each day.

I would like to get back to Devil’s Den and hike the trails that I didn’t have time to hike the first time around (fossil flats, finish yellow rock–only did about a quarter of it before turning around, and hike part of a horse trail). I would also like to possibly camp out at Devil’s Den (we stayed in one of the cabins), though it would have to be at a time when all the insects were at an all time low (mosquitoes and ticks in particular).

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Photography Challenge Day 128: Reptile Tuesday

I know, its suppose to be Turtle Tuesday–but I couldn’t decide on a turtle picture to share, so I decided I’d do a group post and make it reptile Tuesday instead.

In terms of age–reptiles are one of the oldest groups of animals on the planet. The taxa group Reptilia include all living reptiles (snakes, crocodiles, alligators, turtles, lizards, and tuatara), and their extinct relatives.

Alligator at the birding center, South Padre Island TX

I was lucky to get the picture of this alligator before it decided to retreat back below the waters. Crocodiles and alligators are actually more closely related to birds, then they are to other reptile groups.

Box turtle seen on walk at Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas

There is one reptile that I haven’t seen that many of lately–turtles, and I’m not talking about water turtles–I’m talking about box turtles. I use to see these guys constantly and even helped one or two cross busy intersections (to make sure that they wouldn’t get hit by cars). I have only seen at most two over the past couple of years.

This guy was a large one that I spotted on an evening walk in Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas a few years ago.

The only reptiles that I will admit to avoiding are the ones that can harm me–so mainly the poisonous snakes, and I don’t plan on getting really close to any alligator or crocodiles either.

I’m going to have to see if I’m able to spot any box turtles or lizards this summer–I’ve already spotted the water turtles, and water snakes so I’d like to see if I can spot other reptiles this summer in addition to these.

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Photography Challenge Day 101: Waterfall Wednesday.

So today’s pictures are for #waterfallwednesday. Also I was feeling slightly nostalgic and wanted to look back on my first big solo trip that I took in 2009. One of the places that I visited within Hilo, was the Wailuku River State Park, which had a nice waterfall.

Rainbow Falls

I actually went to the this particular state park twice–once on my own, and then as part of a group tour.

The waterfall was nice–not gushing over, but it had been awhile since they had any rain, so things were drying up a little. I would have loved to see the rainbow that forms in the morning–but my hotel wasn’t close to the falls, and it wasn’t open that early anyway.

Another waterfall

I wished that I had seen these waterfalls when the water was flowing nice and fast over them–to where you would be barely able to make out the caves below them. Even though they were “small” waterfalls–at least there was enough water flowing over them to be waterfalls.

One thing I would like to do–travel and see how many different pictures of different waterfalls I could capture. I’ve gotten several from different state parks in northern Minnesota. They’re a thing of beauty when they’re flowing and a thing of wonder when there isn’t much water flowing and you can see under the falls.

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