Tag: throwbackthursday

Hiking and Kayaking within the Buffalo National River area

Another #throwbackthursdaytravel page is live under the travel tab. This week was highlighting our first trip to Arkansas, when we spent a few days in the Buffalo National River area.

Looking at the Buffalo River and the cliffs

My dad decided he wanted to do something a little different for our mini-vacation that year–and that was to paddle down a portion of the Buffalo River.

Showcasing what approximately ten miles of river looks like.

We managed to spend a couple of days exploring the area (hiking along various trails that followed the river), before we worked up the courage to actually put our kayaks in the water and head down the river.

As shown on the above map, we put our kayaks in the river at the Ponca site, and paddled/floated down the river for about 10 minutes until we got ‘out’ at Kyle’s Landing (luckily we had someone drive our van down there so we could get back to the cabin).

It was an interesting trip, and I learned quite a bit–such as inflatable kayaks probably weren’t the smartest choice of kayaks to use, class II rapids aren’t ‘baby rapids’, and I shouldn’t freak out when I flip the kayak.

One of the main rapids seen on the river

I would love to go back and visit the area again (and perhaps spend a little more time in the area), possibly spend more time hiking than floating down the river, but I am able to say that I did something that month that I’d never done before: kayaking over class I and II rapids in an inflatable kayak.

Wildflowers seen in the woods around the Buffalo River

Curious to know if you’ve been to the Buffalo River? If you’ve visited the area, did you just hike or did you kayak/canoe/float down the river and how far?

No Comments fitnessHealthnatureoutdoorsPhotographytravel

The ‘duck-like’ rails: American Coot & Common Gallinule pages are live

So another series of bird pages are live under the bird tab.

This week, I managed to add pages for the order Gruiformes, family Rallidae, and then for the following species: the American coot, and the common gallinule (also know previously as the common moorhen in most bird books).

The pages for the order and family are ‘short’ (less than 300 words), and I decided that I could add more information and update the pages throughout the year. I figured that it was more important in actually getting the pages ‘up’ than having a ‘perfect’ page–I’m slowly getting better at the whole progress over perfection.

American coots swimming at Boomer Lake

Of the 138 species that make up the family Rallidae, nine can be found within the United States. Though spotting roughly a little over half of them (five of the nine species are rails) will take quite a bit of patience on my part (it is easier to spot a coot, gallinule, or crake than it is to spot a rail). Of the remaining forty-five percent (four of the nine species)–I’ve managed to spot two: teh American coot (which is present at Boomer Lake, basically every winter), and the common gallinule (which I saw on a trip down to South Padre Island, Texas years ago).

Common Gallinule and chick grazing

It always amazes me when I see the coots out on Boomer Lake and I remember that they aren’t ducks, but members of the rail family (since they swim and occasionally ‘dabble’ like ducks), but once you see their yellow-green legs and lobbed toes, you realize you’re not looking at a duck.

If I want to try to spot the purple gallinule, that will require another trip to the gulf coast or Caribbean. Spotting the sora might be as difficult as spotting a rail (they’re not quite as secretive but pretty close), though they are a migratory species through Oklahoma–so I might be able to spot them close to the banks of either Boomer Lake or possibly Sanborn Lake this fall (if I’m willing to be closer to the ‘weeds’).

As I mentioned on the various pages in terms of the photography goals: overall I would like to get a picture of a member of each family (and for the Rallidae family–a picture of the other North American species, plus a picture of one on each of the other continents), and possibly a picture of one grazing with the young or possibly trying to take off in flight.

Next up in terms of bird pages will be either the order/family/species for the cormorant and freightbird, or the mourning dove and rock dove (feral pigeon).

Have you managed to see a rail in the wild? If so–where were you, and how long did you have to wait for it to come out of the thicket?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographytravel

Throwback Thursday Photography Edition: Two more ‘day-trip’ pages are up

So today’s post is pulling double duty again–entry into the photography challenge (#throwbackthursday) and announcing that there are two additional travel pages up.

‘Gloss Mountain’, western Oklahoma

So I’ve been slowly working on expanding the number of pages that I have under the current ‘tabs’ on the website. While I’ve been getting better at posting the bird pages, I’ve been lagging on updating the travel section.

My main reason for being slow–I haven’t done any ‘new’ traveling in a couple of years (since May 2018), and that means that everything currently can be consider ‘throw-back’, ‘flash-back’, or ‘way-back’ in terms of hashtags.

I will be adding in more pages, but most will have the disclaimer that it has been ‘X’ years since I’ve been to ‘Y’ so things might have changed over the years.

Over the past month, I have slowly added in two new travel pages from a couple of ‘day trips’ we had taken over the years. I would have to say that there are probably plenty of things to do in every state, depending on what you like to do. I like to be outdoors, but with others (safety in numbers), but if I’m exploring a new city–I’m happier on my own.

The ‘day trips’ were basically drives out to the western part of the state, and stopping at a couple of state parks.

One trip was a drive to Gloss Mountain State Park, where my dad and I did a little hiking. This is a small state park right off the highway, that has hiking paths and tables for picnics–no camping though. We went in the fall when the weather was a little cooler, and that meant there were less chances of crossing paths with any snakes.

If you drive north about an hour, you will end up at the Great Salt Plains State Park. We actually tried to combine these two day trips into a single trip, but found out that we had just missed the digging season for the salt crystals by a week.

Looking out onto the salt plains

We actually went back out west to dig for crystals the following fall (but before the digging area was closed), and had a unique time digging for selenite crystals.

Selenite crystals

The only thing I would have done differently on that trip–was to have more water, a pail/box (or something to carry the crystals), and possibly a small stool to sit on. While I don’t mind digging in the sand/salt–I don’t enjoy having it work its way into my shorts.

While it has been about four years since we’ve been to either Gloss Mountain State Park or Great Salt Plains State Park, I’m hoping to make the trips back west again–but possibly at times when the wildflowers are blooming (for Gloss Mountain), and early fall for a hike at Great Salt Plains State Park. Just need to figure out who to rope into the trip(s).

Have you even digging for crystals or rocks? Where is your favorite place to hike?

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Photography Challenge Catch-up: Days 130 through 133

Well today’s photography challenge post is hopefully going to play catch up and starting tomorrow I will be back to doing daily posts. The last few days I just couldn’t decide on a photograph to share, and if I could decide on a photograph—I ended up with writers block and couldn’t figure out what to say with the photograph.

Thursday’s photographs are a #throwback photograph series to my whirlwind trip to London two years ago. I tried to cram a week’s worth of sightseeing into a few days. I managed to see quite a bit, but would love to go back and take a little more time and visit a few more places. So the photograph is one of the many that I took while walking through the Tower of London, and then visiting the Tower Bridge.

Tower of London, London UK

One of the things that I decided not to do while visiting the Tower of London was going up (and down) the stairs in the White Tower. I had decided that with all the walking I’d been doing through the day—I didn’t need to climb 204 stairs. Though I think it would be neat to look out from the top of the White Tower.

Tower Bridge, London UK

Looking back through the photographs has me itching to plan another trip somewhere, though currently I’m not sure where. I have several ideas of places I would like to go, I will just have to try and narrow the list to one for travel and then maybe one or two for networking.

Friday’s photograph is a #fungalfriday photo. This picture is actually quite old—I took it a little over two years ago, but that has been how long since we’ve seen this type of mushroom around the area.

Oyster mushrooms growing on a dead tree.

 This is an oyster mushroom—it’s one of the edible ones that grows on dead and dying trees. We use to have these popping up at least once to twice a year, but then the neighbor’s son moved into their place and sprayed herbicides along the creek bed and that spelled the end to our yearly collection of oyster mushrooms. I loved simmering them and then freezing them—we had quite a bit stored, but then used them in different meals.

I’d like to become better at identifying mushrooms in the wild, that way I know which ones are the edible ones and which ones are the ones that can kill you. Besides liking to eat mushrooms—I think they’re cool objects to photograph as well.

Mallards grooming themselves.

Saturday’s photograph winner is of two (of the many ducks) sitting on a log and grooming themselves. This is a log where if I manage to get up to the lake at dawn, I would usually see a great blue heron or an egret standing and waiting for their breakfast to swim pas them. Though lately since I’ve been getting up there after dawn, I’ve seen either the ducks or at times turtles sunning themselves on the log. I am going to have to try to start getting up earlier to manage to get up to the lake for some sunrise pictures.

Today’s winner of the photography challenge are the two pictures I managed to get of the sun as it was going in and out of the clouds this morning. It almost seemed like I was taking pictures of the moon moving in and out of the clouds—but we’re heading into a new moon phase—so it was the sun that looked so odd this morning.

Some dark moving clouds moving across the sun.

On the walk this morning, I noticed that there were numerous dark clouds rolling through the area—luckily no rain fell. But as the clouds rolled through, they managed to act as a natural blinder for the sun and gave the optical illusion of it pretending to be the moon.

The sun behind dark moving clouds.

With these pictures I’ve managed to catch up on the photography challenge. I’m going to try to take a new picture every day (either with the camera or my phone), that way something new will be posted (instead of picking a random photo out of my weekend work). Whether or not I manage to take a picture every day will depend mainly on the weather (temperature), and my mood—but hopefully the idea of a small walk will help spur the imagination and give me new photography ideas.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotographytravel

Photography Challenge day 116: Throwback Thursday edition

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.

The main cavern at Carlsbad Caverns

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.

Sunset over Boston, looking out from the Skywalk Observatory

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.

No Comments National ParksnaturePhotographytravel

Photography Challenge day 109: Throwback Thursday duel edition.

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.

Inside the Grand (or great) Cavern at Carlsbad Caverns

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).

Sunny October day at Stonehenge

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.

No Comments National ParksPhotographytravel

Photography Challenge Day 102: Throwback Thursday–Reptiles I saw on the big Island

So I’m in a mood to where I’m looking back at old pictures and trying to decide where and when I’m going to take another solo vacation. I’ve realized that I don’t do it often enough (I don’t mind traveling with friends or family), but there is something about picking a place to go, and then having all the control over what one does while they are there.

Today’s throwback pictures are throwbacks to my trip to Hawaii back in 2009. The theme of the pictures is simple–it’s reptiles.

Green Sea Turtle swimming in Hilo Bay

So one of my favorite animals that I actually got to see in the wild–the sea turtle. Green Sea Turtles are common around the islands (they’re one of five species found in the area). The one I would really love to see in the wild is the leatherback sea turtle–it’s the largest sea turtle (and the fourth heaviest reptile) in the world.

I may have to look into a good snorkel mask that I can fit over my glasses so that if I ever decide to go back and snorkel–I’d be able to see what I’m trying to take pictures of.

Green Anole

The other two smaller reptiles that I saw, were two lizards that kept me company during the day and early evenings when I was in my hotel room.

The first one that I saw was the green anole. This little guy, isn’t native to the islands–but they’ve established themselves quite nicely. They were originally brought over to sell in pet stores, but then they either escaped or were let loose. After awhile they managed to establish themselves on the islands.

Gold dust day gecko

The other lizard that I saw was much more colorful. I knew that it was a gecko due to the toes, but I wasn’t certain at the time of the species. This guy stands out brilliantly due to being a day gecko. These geckos are native to Madagascar and other islands off the east coast of Africa. Therefore since they’re out during the day–they need to be able to blend in with the vegetation, hence the bright green coloring. While it is hard to see in this picture–they also have a vivid blue ring around their eyes.

Top view of a gold dust day gecko

You can see a little bit of the blue around the eyes from the top. You can also see all the “gold” dusting on the back of the gecko as well. While the presence of either lizard is a double edge sword. They can be considered somewhat beneficial–they eat obnoxious insects, but at the same time they could be driving undiscovered insects and small invertebrates extinct as well.

I would like to go back to the islands one of these years, and try to see what other wildlife I can get pictures of: there are four other sea turtles in the waters surrounding the islands, whales, rays, fish, birds, and flowers. That will be the next goal–more wildlife pictures from another island (or a different part of the big island).

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Photography Challenge: Throwback Thursday Edition–Trip to the British Museum

One of the many things to see in the British Museum.

Well I decided that today’s picture was going to be in the throwback edition. Looking through my photos, I decided that I wanted to remember my brief trip to London and the surrounding area that I took almost a year and a half ago.

This trip was during the time that I was job searching (as I’d been laid off from my job in August of 2017 due to budget issues), and I decided that I needed a break from things. I made it a two for one trip–I was going to try to network (there was a career event that I registered for) and also treat it as a mini vacation at the same time. So this was a whirlwind trip, where I left the US on Monday, landed in London on Tuesday, did the networking event on Wednesday and then spent the next three days sighting seeing as much as possible.

Going to London was my second trip abroad (first was in college for a forestry class & we went to Honduras), and my second large solo vacation as well (my first large solo vacation was going to Hawaii after passing my PhD proposal exam in grad school).

I loved the British Museum, & I know for a fact that I didn’t see everything in the museum either. So, hey–one reason to go back, I need to see the other half of the museum. I’m pretty sure that I missed the portions on Asia. But I love going to museums, zoos, aquariums–places that one can learn, and the exhibits while they might not “change”, the second time seeing them you see things in a different light or notice something that you didn’t see before.

It has also reminded me that it’s been awhile since I took a “big” trip, so maybe that is something that I should slowly start planning for in the fall. There are quite a few different places that I would like to travel & see–Australia, Scotland, Italy, and Finland just to name a few countries. Will just have to see what the year brings and maybe–just maybe there will be another trip abroad later this year.

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