Close encounter with a Western Rattlesnake

on high alert

on high alert (more pictures below)

What would you do, if were strolling along a dirt road with three large dogs on the leash … suddenly you see a snake on the roadside. Of course, curiosity got the better of me. See, we just moved to the Trinidad area in Colorado. We now live on 35 acres of prairie land just north of town. It’s very pretty there … to the east we have an amazing view of open prairie, and to the west we see majestic mountains. Trinidad lies in the path of the historic Santa Fe Trail, and many times my western-loving mind strays back in time and sees a train of covered wagons move across the vast expanse of the prairie.

But back to the rattle snake. When I first saw it on my walk with the dogs, I wasn’t quite sure what kind of snake I was looking at. It was about 7 feet away from me, and because it blended in so well with the road, I couldn’t make out the exact shape of its head. Its body was fat, though, and I figured that I needed to be extremely careful. Still, I was curious and wanted to find out, if it was a rattlesnake. I have never seen a living rattlesnake before and am very inexperienced in identifying them.

The snake didn’t move much, and, thank goodness, neither did the dogs. I leaned forward a little bit to get a look at the tail … but all I could make out were the markings that changed from blotches to dark rings towards the tail. Then, suddenly, the front of the snake shot around, the tail went straight up and I got to hear the unmistakable sound of the rattle … for the first time in my life. WOW!!! My Shar Pei reacted instantly by charging at the viper, and I reacted instantly by jumping back and pulling him with me to safety. Thank goodness, Sharpie didn’t give me any trouble. (I usually feel sorry that my dogs never get to run off leash, but this evening I was extremely grateful for this little bit of physical restraint.)

I would have expected my adrenaline to spike, but to my surprise, I remained remarkably calm. And I was very happy and excited over the encounter. The only thing that was a bit disappointing was the fact that I didn’t have my camera with me. But when I got home, I armed myself with my camera and asked my hubby to take me back up the road again in the hope that the snake would still be there. As you can see by the pictures, I got lucky. Needless to say, all pictures were taken from the safety of our vehicle.

the rattle

the rattle

markings of a Western Rattlesnake

markings of a Western Rattlesnake

what a grumpy looking face ... lol

what a grumpy looking face … lol

in full view

in full view

amazing how it blends in

amazing how it blends in

last but not least: what a pretty profile

last but not least: what a pretty profile

 

Categories: Colorado 2015 | 5 Comments

A Wagon rolling westward (2008)

As I went through some old paperwork today, I came upon something I had written during our 2008 trip to Colorado. I thought it would be something nice to share on here.

 

Got a wagon rolling westward  

‘cross the eastern Kansas plains  

Towards the Rocky Mountain Skies 

Tallyho we go

Got the hearts of two common drifters

In these super-modern times

Got that itch to haunt some ghosts

from long ago

 

It’s the year 2008

A buck too short, and way too late

We go on chasing these weary ghosts from way back when

In these modern times, you know

We share some dreams from long ago

Of wide open spaces and solitude

Tallyho we go

 

Traveling through Kansas and into Colorado is like traveling back in time – away from a hectic, fast-paced, modern East, towards a lifestyle that still embraces the pioneer dreams of the old West. With every foot we climbed in altitude, our excitement increased. Fields of sunflowers announced what would be in store for us. Gone was every bit of stress and annoyance that always seem to go hand in hand with a busy work schedule. It’s time to wind down, relax and enjoy!

We have already spent a rather interesting night in our vehicle: Two medium-size dogs and two adults crammed together on an uncomfortably small fold-down bed in the back of our van, at a rest area east of Kansas City. Our travel companions are Skinny and Liesl. They are used to traveling, and they love it every bit as much as we do. Our next stop was planned for a rest area east of Denver, but the skies looked rather stormy, and it was still a little too early to call it a day, so we decided to push on through The Mile-High City.

It was our first long distance road trip with this 6-cyl. Dodge Ram van – pulling a pop-up camper. Very slowly and not always so surely, we made it up to Eisenhower Tunnel, and down the other side until we pulled off the Interstate to find a National Forest campground close to historic Empire. By the time we got our camp set up and the dogs walked, a very dark night put an end to the day. It was a good day, which finally brought us to our beloved Rocky Mountains. There’s just nothing quite like the smell of spruces combined with the feel of fresh, brisk Rocky Mountain air.

The next morning, we got on the road just in time to see a rising sun pour its morning glow upon the snowcapped mountains (first picture below). The air seemed brisker yet, and with the heat blowing full force and the windows down, we started our 2008 Colorado vacation photo journey.

 

The first morning

The first morning

Colorado Moon

Colorado Moon

My favorite scenery

My favorite scenery

Freedom

Freedom

 

 

Categories: Trip Diaries ... old and new | Leave a comment

Wildlife USA

As much as I love the natural wonders and the historical sites of this beautiful country, my heart belongs to the animals. ALL animals. Well, I admit, I’m not all too big on bugs, but even they have their place in this world, and if there is a pretty butterfly, I will take the shot.

I am a very lucky gal. Despite a non-travel related fulltime job, I have been able to travel thousands of miles over the past few years, and I have gotten to see a lot of wildlife. I’m not a wildlife photographer … as such, one has to sit still for long periods of time and spend tons of time waiting for the right moment. With a husband and three dogs for travel companions, that just wouldn’t work. So, all my wildlife pictures are “lucky” shots. And every time something runs, crawls or flies in front of my lens, I feel like a kid in a candy store. Hope you enjoy looking at the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them!

1. Coyote: This is one of my favorites … I took it at Yellowstone National Park. This beautiful little guy was running right by our car, and I took the picture out of the moving vehicle. How lucky can you get?

Coyote

Coyote

2. Elk: This is also a picture taken at Yellowstone National Park. A woman in front of me warned me about a possible “Elk attack” … guess what, all I had to do was make sure that she would stay right there between the Elk and me.

Elk

Elk

3. Lizards: Probably my luckiest wildlife moment was catching the life and death struggle of a couple of lizzards along the Colorado River in Utah. I was on the way to Arches National Park, when I wanted to take some pictures of the River. Suddenly, this big lizard comes out of the brush and stopped dead. I also stopped moving, and slowly got my camera ready, and just as I took my first shot, a second lizard (the smaller one) came out. I captured their struggle in a 7-picture series … but I’m only posting three of them now.

Caught

Caught

The fight

The fight

Victory and death

Victory and death

4. Buffalo: Yes, Yellowstone National Park is a wildlife lover’s paradise. Mr. Bison was rolling in the dust as we came by. Then it got up and shook the dust off. Wow! 

Buffalo

Buffalo

5. Bald Eagle: This Bald Eagle is nesting on the grounds of the Shilo National Military Park in Tennessee. I guess this picture says it all.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

6. Mule Deer: Colorado has a wonderful abundance of Mule Deer. I love this little buck, and how he stared at me. He was right there in our camp.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer

I’ll post some more pictures in the next few days.

Categories: Wildlife | Leave a comment

Mesa Verde & Riders of the Purple Sage (by Zane Grey)

Cliff Dwellings

Cliff Dwellings

About a year and a half ago, I read a book by Zane Grey. The title was “Riders of the Purple Sage”. Have you ever read it? If you love the American (South) West but have never read this wonderful novel, you might want to. Keep in mind, though, that it was written over a hundred years ago … way before the era of color TV and digital technology. To bring the beauty of the American West closer to his readers, Zane Grey’s descriptions of the landscape were lengthy and very detailed. This is not for everyone, but something I have always enjoyed about his books.

By now, you are probably wondering what “Riders of the Purple Sage” and Mesa Verde have in common, especially since the story takes place in Mormon Utah. See, one of the characters in the book (he is a young man) discovers a beautiful, almost inaccessible valley. He was so stunned by what he found that he called it “Surprise Valley”. The valley is surrounded by typical Utah rock, there is lots of wildlife and also water, and the only traces of any humans having ever been there were a few Native American ruins and artifacts.

I have been to Mesa Verde once several years before I read the book. Then I read the book, and last year, my hubby and I made it back to Mesa Verde. The amazing thing was that thanks to the book, I experienced Mesa Verde in a totally different way. Driving up to the Mesa felt as though I was shadowing that young man as he explored his “Surprise Valley”. I was in awe just as he was. I noticed every detail, every dead tree, every rock, patches of green grass, the birds, everything. What an incredible experience that was.

on the way up to the Mesa

stunning million-dollar views

stunning million-dollar views

my Mesa Verde "Surprise Valley"

my Mesa Verde “Surprise Valley”

thanks, Zane Grey, for opening my eyes

thanks, Zane Grey, for opening my eyes

more of my "Surprise Valley"

more of my “Surprise Valley”

Cliff Dwellings everywhere

Cliff Dwellings everywhere

hanging in there

hanging in there

just a tree

just a tree

the views are just stunning

the views are just stunning

Cliff Dwellings right below a fire line

Cliff Dwellings right below a fire line

Canyon views

Canyon views

black and white with a hint of green

black and white with a hint of green

another canyon

another canyon

can you imagine living like this?

can you imagine living like this?

leaving the area again through my "Surprise Valley"

leaving the area again through my “Surprise Valley”

and last but not least, another spectacular view

and last but not least, another spectacular view

If you plan on visiting Mesa Verde, do yourself a favor and read “Riders of the Purple Sage” first. I promise, you will not regret it. Hope you enjoyed this quick photo journey.

 

Categories: 4-Corners region - 2014 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Spectacular Watkins Glen State Park

I hardly ever get to travel to the north-eastern states. This year, however, I got to visit an amazing State Park in the beautiful State of New York. The village of Watkins Glen is located south of Seneca Lake in Schuyler County. The centerpiece of Watkins Glen State Park is a spectacular gorge; the entrance to the Gorge is near the Village. Unfortunately, dogs are not permitted in the gorge, but are allowed in the upper part of the park. Since my hubby and I always travel with our dogs, we decided to limit our visit to the trails of the upper part. However, even though the trails are great and the views into the gorge are stunning, it was apparent that one had to walk the trails up the gorge to really experience the place. So we figured that one of us could stay with the dogs in the vehicle, while the other could go and explore. We took turns, but needless to say, I stayed gone longer (after all, I did have to take lots of pictures for this blog). Yet, not wanting to leave my family behind for too long, my little journey up the gorge covered only about a fifth of the whole trail (I turned back at Cavern Cascade).

Anyway, should you decide to visit the Gorge, be prepared to climb lots of stone steps (over 800 throughout) and watch out for slippery parts on the trail. And please, DO NOT forget to bring a good camera. It would be a shame, if you couldn’t relive this park over and over again. 

first glimpse at a promising photo journey

first glimpse at a promising photo journey

entering through the tunnel

entering through Entrance Tunnel

looking back at the bridge

looking back at Sentry Bridge

no matter how beautiful the gorge, don't forget to look up ... it's worth it

no matter how beautiful the gorge, don’t forget to look up … it’s worth it

one of the 19 waterfalls in the gorge

one of the 19 waterfalls in the gorge

Glen Creek

Glen Creek

a view up a small portion of the gorge

a view up a small portion of the gorge

the powers of glaciers and water

the powers of glaciers and water

looking down into a heart-shaped pool

looking down into a heart-shaped pool

approaching Cavern Cascade

approaching Cavern Cascade

the bottom of Cavern Cascade

the bottom of Cavern Cascade

looking out from behind Cavern Cascade

looking out from behind Cavern Cascade

watching the water hit the pool

watching the water hit the pool

another view of the pool at Cavern Cascade

another view of the pool at Cavern Cascade

heading back

heading back

Categories: Pennsylvania 2014 | Leave a comment

An early morning in Sugar Valley, Clinton Co, PA

Logan Mills Covered Bridge

Logan Mills Covered Bridge

September seemed like a great time of the year to take my camera to central Pennsylvania. Although, it was still a little too early to catch the brilliant display of fall colors, my camera and I did not have to return home empty handed. Sugar Valley’s natural beauty, Amish communities and historical sites were especially charming, and photo ops were plentiful. As always, I am not going to bore you with my writing, but let the pictures do the talking. By the way, Sugar Valley is located in Clinton Co, PA. Have fun on the journey.

 

Early Morning in the Valley

Early Morning in the Valley

Logan Mills Gristmill

Logan Mills Gristmill

Logan Mills Gristmill

Logan Mills Gristmill

Logan Mills Covered Bridge

Logan Mills Covered Bridge

An Amish Workday

An Amish Workday

Amish Farm Life

Amish Farm Life

Early Morning Sleepy Town

Early Morning Sleepy Town

A Beautiful Amish Barn

A Beautiful Amish Barn

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Let's be Patriotic

Let’s be Patriotic

It's like stepping back in time

It’s like stepping back in time

Amish Home

Amish Home

Logan Mills area

Logan Mills area

First Fall Colors

First Fall Colors

Pumpkin Time

Pumpkin Time

Another Amish Barn

Another Amish Barn

And another Clothes Line

And another Clothes Line

Bringing in the Harvest

Bringing in the Harvest

Charming Scenery

Charming Scenery

The last of my Amish Farms

The last of my Amish Farms

Categories: Pennsylvania 2014 | Leave a comment

Dismals Canyon – pure magic in Franklin Co, AL

It’s not a secret that my travel-heart belongs to the American West, but every once in a while, mostly by accident, my hubby and I stumble across a place here in the East that is just pure magic. Dismals Canyon near Phil Campbell in Franklin County, Alabama, is one of those places, probably even one of the most beautiful spots I have visited in the Southeast.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

As soon as you climb down the wooden stairs to the bottom of Rainbow Falls, you will find yourself at the beginning of paradise. From here on, you will stumble over roots, climb between huge moss and fern-covered boulders, cross creeks and get lost in a world you didn’t even know existed. Enjoy this little photo journey, and if you get a chance to, visit the Canyon. You will NOT regret it!

My favorite picture of the Rainbow Falls

My favorite picture of the Rainbow Falls

the old mill stone at the Falls

the old mill stone at the Falls

My favorite shot of the day

My favorite shot of the day

A walk between the rocks

A walk between the rocks

Some wild roots

Some wild roots

The forest

The forest

Looking up

Looking up

Tight squeeze

Tight squeeze

Fancy creek crossing

Fancy creek crossing

Just a rock wall

Just a rock wall

A giant's foot?

A giant’s foot?

A home for a gnome?

A home for a gnome?

Hang on when crossing that bridge

Hang on when crossing that bridge

Like a home in the woods

Like a home in the woods

Roots on the rocks - how do they do it?

Roots on the rocks – how do they do it?

Inside Burr's Hideout

Inside Burr’s Hideout

Stunning timbers

Stunning forest

Creek reflections

Creek reflections

Boulders in the woods

Boulders in the woods

Simply amazing

Simply amazing

A snaking tree

A snaking tree

And to honor their beauty, one more shot of the Rainbow Falls

And to honor their beauty, one more shot of the Rainbow Falls

By the way, we were there in early July. We spent several hours exploring every crevice of the Canyon, spent hours in awe and amazement. Our day there was a Saturday, and we only met a handful of people. It was very quiet there, and most of the time it seemed as if we had the place all to ourselves. At the end of our journey, Rainbow Falls bid us farewell with this short but beautiful display of rainbow colors. And because we have built up a hefty appetite and thirst, we treated ourselves to a good salad and a Coke at the store on the top (GREAT FOOD, fantastic service).

 

Categories: Day trips closer to home | Tags: | Leave a comment

Bluff Fort for the photographer

Bluff Fort is not just for the history buff or the friend of the American West, full of photo ops it is a little known piece of paradise for the artistic photographer of any skill level. I am still a beginner, currently armed with a Sony DSC-HX200V bridge camera. It is really not hard to take nice pictures in such amazing surroundings. Here are my favorites of our wonderful tour through the Bluff Fort Historic Site in southeastern Utah. (P.S. I know, I usually don’t ask for comments, but I sure would love to hear from you on these shots. Just curious how you like them. Thanks!)

final destination

final destination

rolling ... rolling ... rolling

rolling … rolling … rolling

reflections of the past

reflections of the past

the bell of history

the bell of history

the wheel

the wheel

the wheel - b&w

the wheel – b&w

wagons west

wagons west

wagons west - b&w

wagons west – b&w

 

 

Categories: 4-Corners region - 2014 | Leave a comment

Bluff Fort Historic Site, Utah – wagons and grounds

Bluff Fort - a historic gem

Bluff Fort – a historic gem

Touring the cabins was great, but exploring the Fort’s historic grounds, amidst authentic and rebuilt wagons and handcarts, and the various statues and flags was fascinating. As usual, I don’t want to bore you with a lot of words but instead give you an idea of what you will find, should you decide to visit this awesome place. The rest is up to your imagination.

 

replica of the "meetinghouse"

replica of the “meetinghouse”

the statue of John Taylor

the statue of John Taylor

one of the original buildings

one of the original buildings

old water trough

old water trough

a look at the interior of the Fort

a look at the interior of the Fort

original log building

original log building

inside the original log building

inside the original log building

modest furnishings inside the original log building

modest furnishings inside the original log building

preserving history

preserving history

looking out

looking out

replica of a Mormon handcart

replica of a Mormon handcart

old wagon

old wagon

that's what I call "roughing it"

that’s what I call “roughing it”

more wagons

more wagons

the grounds

the grounds

 

 

Categories: 4-Corners region - 2014 | Leave a comment

Bluff Fort Historic Site, Utah – the cabins

 

View of some of the cabins surrounding the "Fort"

View of some of the cabins surrounding the “Fort”

 

If you find yourself traveling through the southeastern most corner of Utah, you do not want to skip Bluff Fort Historic Site. Silly us, we didn’t take the time to visit this special place last year; silly us, there are lots of things we didn’t do last year … but we did them this year.
To me, one of the neatest things about historic sites is the feeling of time travel I get when visiting. Surrounded by imagined ghosts, gone are the worries of the world … no phones or computers … no CNN or Fox News … no stress. Just me and my ghosts! As Joe and I strolled from cabin to cabin, read family story after family story and took in an old reality so different from todays, I gained a whole new appreciation for the simplicities of early Mormon life. If it would have been up to me, I would have spent a night in a different cabin throughout our vacation. Sure would have been a lot of fun sleeping with the ghosts. Hope you enjoy the tour!

A story of Lemuel Redd

A story of Lemuel Redd

inside the Lemuel Redd Family Cabin

inside the Lemuel Redd Family Cabin

The story of Amasa Barton

The story of Amasa Barton

inside Amasa Barton's blacksmith shop

inside Amasa Barton’s blacksmith shop

About George B Hobbs

About George B Hobbs

inside the Hobbs Siblings cabin

inside the Hobbs Siblings cabin

here is another view

here is another view

The story of Jens Nielson

The story of Jens Nielson

inside the Decker Family cabin

inside the Decker Family cabin

the Hanson Bayles cabin

the Hanson Bayles cabin

Frederick I Jones & Mary M Jones - family pictures ...

Frederick I Jones & Mary M Jones – family pictures …

... and other cabin interior

… and other cabin interior

Samuel Wood, Josephine C Wood (Aunt Jody) and Emma Wood called these walls home ...

Samuel Wood, Josephine C Wood (Aunt Jody) and Emma Wood called these walls home …

... with their modest furnishings in this tiny space ...

… with their modest furnishings in this tiny space …

... but cozy, nevertheless

… but cozy, nevertheless

here is a closer look at their family

here is a closer look at their family

The sign outside the "Butt" cabin ...

The sign outside the “Butt” cabin …

... and its interior

… and its interior

showing another corner of the "Butt" cabin

showing another corner of the “Butt” cabin

 

 

Categories: 4-Corners region - 2014 | Leave a comment

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