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After a too short stay near Sisters, OR. we headed on down the road to an interesting RV park just north of Klamath Falls. (Interesting side note: there are no falls in or near Klamath Falls. The lady at the park had no idea how the name came about.) The park is located in the middle of a working ranch which, in turn, is essentially in the middle of nowhere, as ranches are prone to be. It was a lovely short stay. We didn’t see the coyotes, but we saw a lot of cattle and a bald eagle.

We also saw Crater Lake. Twice. Holy crap, is it pretty. We took a 2 hour ranger-led trolley tour that was well worth the time and expense. Took lots of pictures, a couple of nice walks. and had a nice lunch at the lodge. This was the reason we slid on down here and we are so glad we did. Nice place.

Wizard Island, Crater Lake National Park 8/16/19

Crater Lake National Park 8/16/19

Wizard Island, Crater Lake National Park 8/16/19

Crater Lake National Park 8/16/19

The view SE from Crater Lake National Park 8/16/19

Crater Lake National Park 8/16/19

The Pinnacles, Crater Lake National Park 8/16/19

Phantom Ship Island, Crater Lake National Park 8/16/19

A ferocious local. Crater Lake National Park 8/16/19

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone NP 6/20/19

OK, this is my last dedicated Yellowstone post, at least until next time. As to be expected, there are a multitude of beautiful sights to be seen throughout the park. Wide valleys, towering mountains, winding creeks and rivers. The light changes the view from moment to moment, requiring repeated visits to savor everything there is to offer. Below are a handful of these wonderful sights.

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone NP 6/20/19

Lamar Valley, Yellowstone NP 6/20/19

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone NP 6/19/19

Yellowstone Lower Falls, Yellowstone NP, 6/19/19

Tower Falls, Yellowstone NP 6/19/19

 

Sylvan Lake, Custer SP, South Dakota 5/30/19

This will be short on words and a bit long on pictures. While still parked near Custer, SD, we continued to enjoy the many outstanding things to do. We went to Wind Cave NP for a nice drive/walk, went to Hot Springs on a rainy day to tour the Mammoth Site (an indoor dig that is uncovering tons of mammoth bones), and to Sylvan Lake for a beautiful walk. We also took a day trip to the Badlands. Wow, just wow. Too much to do in the 8 days we were in Custer. We’ll be back.

Patti and I both noted that this really felt like the real beginning of how we want to travel. Up to this point we were trying to get somewhere (Winnebago, in Iowa) by a certain time. Now we are going pretty much where we want to go and seeing pretty much what we want to see. And it just doesn’t suck.

Now, some photos:

The Mammoth Site. Hot Springs, SD 5/27/19

The Mammoth Site. Hot Springs, SD 5/27/19

Nice view. The Badlands, South Dakota 5/29/19

The Badlands, South Dakota 5/29/19

The Badlands, South Dakota 5/29/19

Note the sheep hanging out on the ridge. The Badlands, South Dakota 5/29/19

The Badlands, South Dakota 5/29/19

The Badlands, South Dakota 5/29/19

These guys are all over Custer. Custer, SD 5/30/19

Here’s some shots that may or may not fit into any single category. I just like them for one reason or another. Explanation/comments below each one.

Lake Mary Jane, Orlando, FL 10/11/13

Lake Mary Jane, Orlando, FL 10/11/13

Early in October, Columbus Day weekend to be precise, the weather here finally started to cool. By which I mean we had a weekend where the highs only reached the low 80’s and the lowest low actually dipped below 60 (to like 59). We were fortunate enough to be camping at Moss Park for this major Central Florida event and I got up early to catch the sunrise over Lake Mary Jane. I actually had to wear my long pants! Alas, the temps have gone back up again and it’s still not cool enough to wear our new Italian leather jackets, but soon. Soon.

Cocoa Beach, FL, 10/20/13

Cocoa Beach, FL, 10/20/13

There are many feral cats up and down the beaches here. This fellow is a regular at our beachside watering hole. He is always close by, but is not very social with humans, with one exception. There’s a guy that shows up most every evening and buys a pitcher of beer. The cat is actively waiting for him and, as soon as the guy sits, trots on over to collect his due. The guy gives the cat several handfuls of kitty treats which disappear in a jiffy. Cat takes a bath, guy drinks his pitcher and enjoys the ocean and everybody’s happy.

Florence, Italy, 9/15/13

Florence, Italy, 9/15/13

We saw these ladies begging in both Florence and Rome. They apparently stay like this, unmoving, for hours at a time. They must make enough to make it worthwhile. I would not be shocked if, at the end of the day, she gets up, stretches, and turns around, gets in that (expensive) car, and drives home.

Corniglia, Italy, 9/13/13

Corniglia, Italy, 9/13/13

Patti calls these the steps from hell, and we only went down them! There are 365 of them (one for every day of the year) and we were very tired after hiking the Cinque Trail when we went down them to catch a train. It seemed as if they would never end. (Patti weighs in: I called these steps the Nine Circles of Hell. They seemed to never end. Also, after making it along the not-so-easy trail from Vernazza and down and around these millions o’ steps, I fell. On a sidewalk. No hill. No rocks. An ordinary walkway made of concrete, except for that one little crack where I stepped and my ankle said ENOUGH and down I went. I said a naughty word. Loudly. Fortunately, aside from acute embarrassment and a skinned knee, I was fine.)

Cocoa Beach, FL, 10/20/13

Cocoa Beach, FL, 10/20/13

Ya gotta love Cocoa Beach. You can’t walk your dog on the beach, but adult beverages are fine. As long as the container it’s in is less than gallon size. You can have as many of those containers as you like, though. It’s actually very civilized.

Rockledge, FL, 7/1/13

Rockledge, FL, 7/1/13

While driving to a regular appointment one day I saw that the Sand Hill crane family that lives along the way had grown. The next several times I went that way at that time I made sure to have my camera with me. I knew that these cranes are creatures of habit and that they have a regular route they follow. Sure enough I got lucky and got several nice shots. Love their knobby knees.

Cocoa Beach, FL, 10/20/13

Cocoa Beach, FL, 10/20/13

Nice custom paint job. I really need to post this to Redditt. Those folks would love it.

While in Italy we saw many great faces. Some were odd, many were beautiful and more than one were just plain strange. I was only able to capture a few while remaining discreet. Here are some of them: artists (many of those we saw were full of character), a cook, a cop (in one of their many different silly hats) and a very happy tourist.

Artist, Piazza Navona Rome, Italy, 9/18/13

Artist, Piazza Navona
Rome, Italy, 9/18/13

Our Vatican Guide Vatican City, 9/9/13

Ludovica, Our Vatican Guide
Vatican City, 9/9/13

Artists, Outside The Pitti Palace Florence, Italy, 9/16/13

Artists, Outside the Pitti Palace
Florence, Italy, 9/16/13

A Character in Piazza Navona Rome, Italy, 9/18/13

A Character in Piazza Navona
Rome, Italy, 9/18/13

Law Enforcement Florence, Italy, 9/18/13

Law Enforcement
Florence, Italy, 9/18/13

Artist, Piazza Navona Rome, Italy, 9/18/13

Artist, Piazza Navona
Rome, Italy, 9/18/13

Our Pesto Tutor Sestri Levante, Italy, 9/12/13

Our Pesto Tutor
Sestri Levante, Italy, 9/12/13

A Face seen at the Vatican Vatican City, 9/9/13

A Face Seen at the Vatican
Vatican City, 9/9/13

A Very Happy Tourist/Photographer Florence, Italy, 9/16/13

A Very Happy Tourist/Photographer
Florence, Italy, 9/16/13

So, as you know from the previous post, we recently attended the Discworld Convention that was held in what will always be considered our hometown of Baltimore (so what if I haven’t actually lived there in 30+ years). We had an excellent time there making lots of new friends and meeting many interesting people who share our love of the books of Terry Pratchett. Below is a smattering of some of the completely normal people in attendance.

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/5/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/5/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/6/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/6/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/5/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/5/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/6/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/6/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, Md. 7/5/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, Md. 7/5/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/6/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/6/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/6/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/6/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/7/13

North American Discworld Convention, Baltimore, MD. 7/7/13

So, here we are in Baltimore at our first convention. We’re having a great time meeting lots of interesting folks. I thought I’d shoot out a quick post showing you some of our new friends. Just some down to earth types that you could meet anywhere.
Note: this is short since I have to do this in the hotel lobby. What is it with top line hotels charging outrageous prices for Internet in your room? This is just cheap.

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Cooper's Hawk, Rockledge, FL 2/24/13

Adult Cooper’s Hawk, Rockledge, FL 2/24/13

The Gray Cat and I were standing on the screen porch checking out the back yard the other day when a big brown hawk swooped by. He (she?) was about 10′ out and no more than 2′ off the ground and moving at a pretty good clip. He ended up sitting on a pole in my neighbor’s yard so I ran inside, grabbed the camera and went back out. I thought the shots came out OK, but he split to the power line after only a few. The image to the right is heavily cropped; megapixels to the rescue, but click on it to see it full-size. Nice. I liked it enough to want to post it, but I wanted to know what I was showing, so I emailed a copy to my buddy, George, and asked him a simple question: what is it?

George, as well as his partner Maureen, is an avid bird watcher. He lives in urban Baltimore and rural Virginia, regularly alternating between the two places.  Many times I’ve been with him as he’s driving and he’ll gyrate in his seat pointing out some avian as we slow and weave. He and Maureen even went to Cuba with the Audubon Society for a bird census. If anyone could answer me, he could do so pretty simply and straightforwardly: “Why that’s a <insert bird here>”. A few words and done.

Nope.

I received 2 emails back-to-back asking questions: “was it in FL?”, “how big’s the pole?”.  Then I got my answer. And a few words:

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Well, it is a Cooper’s Hawk, Accipiter cooperii. That was my first guess since it is the most common accipiter on the East coast from Florida to New England. Adults measure 16-17 inches and that jives with the scale (I actually scaled your full photo with my architect’s scale 🙂

It could have been a Sharp-Shinned Hawk if it were 3/4 of that size but they are less frequent. Likewise it could have been a Northern Goshawk if larger (X 1 1/4) and you took the photo in GSMNP. Goshawks don’t go down to Florida though. They are a sensible bird.

Accipiters are “bird hawks”…as their main diet is birds (but they will also take lizards and the like, so that Cooper’s is probably loving it in your backyard) I occasionally see them on our property in Rappahannock County. They dash in from the woods in a burst of speed and snatch a bird from our bird feeders then fly off. Even had a Cooper’s frequenting my back yard when I lived on Pilgrim Rd. in Baltimore. They are everywhere. Awesome predator. They can dart through woods with amazing speed and maneuverability due to their feather design…something to watch! I’ve had the good fortune to witness it several times. Mother Nature’s original stealth fighter.

I know, I know…This is probably more information than you need or want to know…and don’t get me started talking about Buteo hawks. Caption the photo as an adult Cooper’s Hawk.

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He can talk like that about trees, too.
George, 1/14/12

George, 1/14/12

OK, so I haven’t been posting recently. Here are some random images from the last several months to get back into the swing of things. First up is the view from the balcony of our hotel room on Thanksgiving morning. Fog & sunrise combined to provide an interesting shot.

 

Lake Buena Vista, FL, 11/25/10

From our New Years camping trip, here’s a couple of critters. First up, a Sand Hill Crane with a broken leg.

 

Moss Park, Orange County, FL, 12/31/10

The deer came through our site twice a day.

 

Moss Park, Orange County, FL, 12/31/10

Moss Park, Orange County, FL, 12/31/10

Finally, another deer shot from 2 years ago. This is on the Johnson Space Center property in Houston.

 

JSC, TX, 1/22/09

Stay tuned…I’ll be posting more regularly.  No, really.

22 years ago (!), in what now seems like a previous life, I took my family on vacation to a cabin near the Great Smokey National Park. We shared the cabin with my good friend George and his family. Things did not go smoothly. Blood was shed on multiple occasions and I will never forget a wild ride down the mountain trying to keep the ambulance in sight. But that’s the subject for a different post. This post concerns what we now refer to as “George Moments”.

If you are familiar with the GSMNP, you will be aware that quite often there are scenic pullovers. George finds it impossible to pass these by, but rather he MUST stop at each one, gaze about and snap some photos. It makes for, shall we say, lengthy journeys.

When my bride and I went to Ireland on our honeymoon I took my new Minolta digital camera. We drove the SW of Ireland for 13 days (a different stop almost every night, which we won’t do again) and during that time I took about 1500 photos. We would be driving along, I’d see a beautiful sight and I’d HAVE to pull over to capture it. After a short ride up the road I’d see another beautiful or interesting sight and pull over again. Repeat. And repeat again. For 13 days. These quickly became referred to as “George Moments”. We’d be riding down the road and I’d holler “George Moment” and two things would happen simultaneously: I’d start looking for a place to pull over and there would be a rolling of eyes from the navigator. The sigh was optional.

I took a bunch of grief from the navigator during this trip, but when we got home we had a nice, chronological collection of our trip. Even the navigator admits, reluctantly, that it turned out pretty well. (Site here) We have since had many George Moments in many different places. On our Montana trip we took our new point & shoot and the navigator took it upon herself to chronicle them. Smartass.

Stay tuned for George Moments from Scotland.

Maggie Valley, NC, 1988

Above: George recovering from the first of several injuries sustained by multiple people during this trip. I can’t find the wider shot that includes the bottle of Cuervo next to the chair.

Below: Part of the George Moment collection.

Grand Tetons, WY, 2007