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.
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.
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.
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.
Today’s photographs are all throwback photographs to different trips that I’ve taken over the years. One thing I’ve realized is that I do love to travel, both by myself and with others–it all depends on where I’m going.
In terms of going to different national parks and doing things like camping and hiking–I think I’d like to be with at least one other person. That way if something goes wrong–there is someone else there to help.
There are several national parks that I would love to visit and hike in–but am realistic enough to know that I need to be in better physical (and mental) shape to handle the hikes and changes in elevation.
Visiting a new city, this is something that I can go either way–on my own or with friends. Sometimes it’s better with people I know, and other times if there isn’t anyone I know–I’m trying to get slightly outside my comfort zone.
The trip to Boston was actually to visit with friends from grad school. So it was fun to catch up, and see a city I enjoy being in. Boston is one city that I think I could probably spend a better part of several years exploring with a camera and still get a different shot every day.
There are several cities that I would like to visit (either for art galleries, zoos, or something else that I’ve found interesting within them), but haven’t decided on when I would go–but I’m realizing that time slips away faster than we think as we get older. I’ve also come to realization about a few other things (but they don’t fit with the current topic).
Next week I’ll share some more throwback photographs from other trips.
So today’s photograph winners are from two previous trips I’ve taken (one with family) and one on my own. Both are reminders that, we should be taking time off to explore new places and/or just be outdoors. There was no mini-vacation last month, but I’m thinking that I should start trying to narrow down ideas of places I’d like to go and explore.
Last year was my first time going to Carlsbad Caverns, and exploring the large cavern. I took massive amounts of pictures, but still feel like there were other angles to explore in terms of photography.
I’d also like to go back and go on a guided tour into the other caverns that are behind (or below) the main cavern. I’d also like to hike one or two of the trails, but making sure that I avoid the rattlers at all costs (I now know that a rattlesnake rattling it’s tail sound like a bunch of angry cicadas).
There are several other national parks that I’d like to go and visit, so I will have to figure out who to go with (hiking in theory really shouldn’t be done alone).
The second throwback photograph goes to Stonehenge. I hadn’t realized that it has been it has been over a year and a half since I went to England for a combination networking/mental health break. One of the sites that I wanted to see was Stonehenge.
While it doesn’t look like much (as you can’t get that close to the rocks), you can’t help but be impressed at how people managed to 1) move these large rocks to basically the middle of nowhere, and then 2) stand them up, and even get larger ones on top of those.
I’m wanting to do another international trip, and am debating between which continent/countries to visit. It is one of the things I’ve put on my 1001 day goal–visit at least 3 new countries (so maybe there is a way for me to make it a multi-country trip), and I’m hoping to do at least 1 new country during my reboot break.
Well today’s post is actually going to be several posts
combined into one to play catch-up on the photography challenge. Since the
weather has been rainy, cloudy, and then slightly sunny—our internet/wifi has
been the same—down, down, up, down, down, oh you can have access for about three
minutes and then down again over the past few days.
This unfortunately is why I didn’t get pictures posted after Tuesday (yes, I could have tried to find the time at work to post—but I didn’t feel comfortable doing that) night. Therefore today’s post is going to be a mix of different things. So let’s get started on the photography challenge catch-up.
The winner for day 80 (Wednesday) is the hummingbird at the back feeder. We usually try to get our hummingbird feeder out in mid-April to feed the hummingbirds as they migrate through—though the ruby-throated hummingbird does summer in Oklahoma. It looks like either it’s a female ruby-throated hummingbird at the feeder, or a young male that hasn’t molted into the bright red throat.
What are some cool facts about the ruby-throated
This is basically the only hummingbird that is seen in the
eastern United States; as it is the only breeding hummingbird east of the Great
It can beat its wings approximately 53 times a second (that
means its beating its wings almost 3200 times a minute).
Due to having extremely short legs, it shuffles along its
perch (it doesn’t walk or hop). But it can still scratch its head & neck if
It belongs to the order Apodiformes (along with swifts), and
the name means “without feet”—mainly because in flight it doesn’t look to have
While they mainly feed at flowers (or feeders that have
sugar water), they will occasionally eat small insects as well.
Depending on the number of broods, the female may start
building a new nest while still feeding the nestlings in the first nest (as the
nest will stretch as the young grow).
They can migrate a long distance (for example from Canada
down to Costa Rica), and often fly over the Gulf of Mexico during migration
As much as I’d love to get a picture of one trying to shuffle along a branch–they usually perch extremely high (sometimes I can get a picture of it sitting on the power lines), but I doubt I’d be able to catch it close to its nest where it’d most likely be shuffling along a branch.
The winners for day 81 (Thursday) are the squirrels hanging from the birdfeeders in the backyard.
So we had to buy a new birdfeeder after the squirrels had
chewed a hole in the lid of the one I’d bought a few years earlier from the
national wildlife foundation. This is a birdfeeder we have hanging in front of
the window in the living room, where the cats can lay on the back of the
loveseat and watch the birds, and anyone sitting in the recliner across the
room can also watch the birds.
Since we live next to a small creek, and not that far from
some wooded areas, we have quite a few squirrels in the neighborhood. These
little critters also like to help themselves to the birdseed and bird suets in
the backyard, so we try to get the birdfeeders that claim to be “squirrel
Well as you can tell from the picture—the squirrels have
figured out how to get around the “squirrel proof” byline and get to the
birdseed. This particular feeder is suppose to be weight sensitive—to where if
something heavy is on it, the bars slide down and the animal can’t get to the
A young raccoon had broken the lid earlier this spring—I’d
found the feeder on the ground and the lid pulled off, and since then the
squirrels have figured out that if they “hug” the feeder they can distribute
their weight and still get to the bird seed.
So yesterday would have been day 82 of the photography challenge. This is the day that I usually try to also share some of the fish pictures I’ve taken over the years–making it a FishyFriday post as well. So in addition to that–it’s also a FlashbackFriday post to one of my trips to the New England Aquarium.
I’ve realized that one thing I should start doing when I go
to aquariums/zoos/museums and am taking pictures—I should also try to get
pictures of the plaques that state what animals are in the exhibit (or time
period if I’m in a museum). It is quite
difficult to google “black and white stripped fish new England aquarium” and
actually get a good hit on what that particular fish actually is.
Thankfully, I have managed to identify all three of the fish
(though it took quite a bit of time to be able to do so).
The yellow-striped fish is actually a French grunt fish (Haemulon flavolineatum). This fish
species is actually native to western Atlantic ocean and can be found basically
from South Carolina down into the Gulf of Mexico & Caribbean and then
downwards towards northern coast of Brazil.
They feed primarily on small crustaceans and mollusks that
they hunt for during the night. They stay in close proximity to coral reefs
(probably to be able to dart to safety to escape predators) while hunting.
Their name comes from the noise they make when they grind their teeth together.
The second fish is the balloonfish. This fish is also known
as the pufferfish, blowfish, and bubblefish (just to name a few of the other
The habitat of the balloonfish, are the warm shallow coastal
waters; more specifically coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds.
They stay hidden for the most part during the day—though I’m sure they’ve given
plenty of scuba divers and snorkelers a shock if they’re accidentally awoken in
They are nocturnal feeders, going after clams, snails,
hermit crabs, sea urchins, and other mollusks that dwell on the sea floor.
If something comes upon them (and they think they could be
eaten), balloonfish will puff up to almost three times their normal size; this
puffing also allows for special scales to stick out, and they then look like a
spiked football, which most predators will then leave alone. The bubblefish
will then float away, and may wait awhile before releasing the air (or water)
to shrink back down to its normal size.
The final fish is the honeycomb cowfish. This fish gets its
name from the hexagonal scales that cover most of its body. This is one of the ways that the fish is able
to blend in with the coral reefs it calls home, though they are also found in
seagrass beds as well.
This fish is found in the western Atlantic (east coast of
the United States), the Caribbean, and then down towards Brazil. While it isn’t
found in the Gulf of Mexico, it can be found around Florida (mainly on the
Atlantic side and the Keys).
They feed on shrimp, algae, and sponges during the day. Another way that they protect themselves from
predators (aside from the hexagonal scale like armor) is the ability to change their
color to blend in with their surrounds as well. Once they sense a threat—they can
change their colors, and then remain stationary for quite some time.
Now we’re finally up to today’s photography challenge winner, and it’s one of the hundred or so I took last year on our small vacation down to New Mexico. One of the places that we went to was Carlsbad Cavern National Park.
. While we only spent a short time in the caves, I managed
to get over a hundred pictures of the caves. Because no matter which way you
turned, there was a new angle to take a picture, different lighting, and so
This is one of my favorite pictures of the caves, showing
the “draperies” of the caves. As one of the signs stated: “Draperies form where
water containing dissolved limestone runs down the ceiling leaving traces of
calcite. Over hundreds of years, calcite crystals accumulate. When water stops
flowing, draperies stop growing.”
The proper name for the draperies is actually “speleothems”. Since we only spent time in a small part of the national park (the main caves and then a small drive through one of the canyons), I’d like to go back at some point—but maybe actually signup for a tour of the inner caves—which is basically a five hour round trip in and out (which is one of the reasons why I didn’t do it last time). I know that I need to be in a little bit better physical (and possibly even mental) state than what I currently am in.
So I’ve managed to catch up on the photography challenge, and hopefully the wifi connection will behave and I won’t have to many other multiple post days. Though while in a slight enforced ban on electronics–I was able to get some other things done (there will be several posts coming over the next few weeks on this)–so that was one small bright spot. Until the next picture–remember to try to find the beauty in the everyday.
Spent several hours at Carlsbad Caverns yesterday. With getting into the caverns there are two ways of doing it–the elevator (which will take you down the 750 feet into the heart of the caverns), or you can walk in. The walk in is a little over a mile of winding down into the caves through the natural entrance of the cave (which has a small amphitheater in front of it, as this is also where the bats fly out come night fall). We walked in through the natural entrance, which was winding down through the caves and seeing numerous different formations. Then once we were in the main cavern–it was about another mile and a half path around that room.
One of the formations looked like either a rabid mole, or some other type of animal. Or at least I’m seeing something’s fangs and claws in the rock formation.
There were numerous people who were hiking quickly through the cave, if to say “I hiked through the caverns”. Having this mentality had them missing a lot of scenery–such as the ceiling. You could stop just about anywhere in the cavern and look up at the ceiling and see the spectacular formations hanging from the ceilings.
There were also numerous columns that looked like they were covered in an almost popcorn like mosaic. There were columns that looked similar, but there were also columns that looked nice and sharp, but others were smooth and round.
Then there was this structure that looked either like an old man sitting or an rocky “groot”.
The hike throughout the main cavern was almost unearthly, there were different formations throughout the entire the cave. There were also little pools of water throughout the cavern, and water dripping off the ceiling (no guano droppings in the main cavern), and then there were deep pits and pools that if you looked down–all you will see is pitch black (I tried to take a picture, and it is all black–because you can’t see the bottom, and there is no light to illuminate the bottom).
There are numerous things that one can do at the park. There is of course the main cavern, that you can walk through at your own pace (which you can enter through either the elevator or walking in through the natural entrance). There are also guided tours that you can sign up for. I’d though of doing one–but with going on the weekend there are only two that are offered–and you have to be there at least thirty minutes before the tour is suppose to happen. I didn’t make it on one–because (1) I was walking through the main cavern, and (2) didn’t know how long the tour would last (they last basically about 5 1/2 hours). So now that I know the time frame for doing an guided tour, next time I come–I may try to get on a guided tour and see some of the other caverns that you can’t see on your own.
Other things include going on the loop drive. This is an nine and a half mile drive (Walnut Canyon Desert Drive) that takes you through the mountains. We didn’t see any wildlife (though there was the telltale sound of a rattlesnake at the rattlesnake canyon overlook). There were flowers and numerous other things flowering, and towering mesas (or small mountains). We saw swallows, and the occasional insect buzzing through quickly (I think there were one or two small butterflies).
There were hiking paths, throughout the area (but with the temperatures and the fact that one of the paths was called rattlesnake canyon trail–I didn’t try to hike any of them this time around). There was another drive that one could do–you had to leave the park, drive south a little, and then get on an unpaved trail to the slaughter canyon cave (and there were two hiking trails that headed off from there)–we didn’t do this one–again, something to try to do next time down to the caverns.
The park is something that one can be done within a day (if you just do the main cavern and maybe the walnut canyon desert drive). I’d like to try an hike on one of the trails (but would need to make sure that I had everything one would need to for hiking through a desert/arid area).
Loved the park, and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a national park to visit, and one especially if you enjoy an geological unique area.