What a Beautiful Day!

Today was spectacular! The weather was perfect, and everything about the day warbled spring!

I started the day heading over to pick my mother up for breakfast.  On the way over (less than half a mile, by the way), my daughter and I managed to rescue two animals from being hit by a car.  Granted it was my car, but that’s beside the point.  Before we even got out of the neighborhood, we happened upon a mama bird giving her baby a flying lesson.  Unfortunately, Junior ended up sitting in the middle of the road. My daughter hopped out and got the little fluff-ball out of the road while mama bird watched and squawked a bit nervously.  Then, on my mother’s dirt road, I had to hit the brakes, because there sat a turtle basking in the sun.  My daughter hopped out again and gingerly picked that little guy up and put him on the side of the road out of the way too.  Then it was off to breakfast!

After breakfast, my daughter headed off to work, and Mama decided she wanted to go for a walk (as neither of us really wanted to go home and cut grass).  My feet weren’t quite dressed for the adventure, so we headed back to my house for shoes, water, and of course, my camera.  Then we headed off to Turner Lake Park to walk some trails and photograph whatever caught my fancy.  Boy were there some things to photograph today!

Turtles ruled the pond today!  There were more turtles there today than I have ever seen!  On this log alone, there were 19!

May 02, 2018Turner Lake34.jpg There were at least three different species as far as I could tell, and they were everywhere. I took more photos of turtles on this one day than I have taken in all my years of photography put together.  It was fantastic!

Along the trails, Mama and I talked and talked, and I spotted some small butterflies, a frog, some flowers, some insects…the usual stuff.

As we headed out of the woods and back around the lake, I happened to spot a Great Blue Heron across the water.  I watched him for a bit and took quite a number of photos.  Mama had a bit of trouble seeing him from that distance because he blended in to his environment so well.

As we made our way back toward the car, we stopped by where the geese hang out.  They are pretty used to people hanging about, so they went about their business of preening and napping.  And of course, I sat and watched and photographed.

A couple of squirrels wanted in on the photo shoot too, so I took pictures of their cute little selves.

As we walked away from the geese, however, we saw a very unfortunate little casualty.  A big brown bat was flopping around on the shore.  He seemed very injured and not very interested having anything bother him in what I believe were his final moments.  It was quite sad.  He was quite beautiful.

Then I saw the Great Blue Heron fly over to our side of the pond, so I was able to get a few great shots of him up close.

Then, we headed over to the dock to see the ducks.  There were a few of these guys hanging about.

As we walked out on the dock, I noticed quite a commotion going on in the trees near the water’s edge.  Some birds were having quite a fit over something.  Curious, I headed over to take a look.  I watched them fussing about and carrying on for a bit, and then I noticed what all of the commotion was about.  It appeared that a black racer had invaded the little bluebird couple’s humble abode.  I assume he made a meal out of their future offspring…very sad and unfortunate, but I suppose it is the “circle of life”.  I’ve never really photographed a snake before, so I seized the opportunity born from this unfortunate event.  I was able to get fairly close as he was in a tree and not likely to be able to get at me (though I think he was more afraid of me than the other way around).

We spent about three hours out there at the lake, and we thought we were done with our little adventure.  But just as soon as I turned down the drive to take Mama back home, I had to stop again.  There on the side of that little dirt road sat two little bunny rabbits.  My daughter grabbed the camera from the back of the car, and I was able to get a couple of good shots before they hopped away.

What an amazingly beautiful day!

 

 

Old Car City

Well, the year of 2017 found me twice in this gem of a place in the middle of nowhere in White, Georgia. It is a true photographer’s heaven, especially if you love old cars, junkyards, and the beauty of nature reclaiming the landscape. It’s not too shabby for getting those creep factor shots in either…a bit eerie when you’re wandering about in there alone. No need to worry though. The owners are fantastic, the trails are well worn, and the signage along the way is quite entertaining.

When my photography club set up this outing, my first thought was, “If only I had known about this place while my Daddy was still alive. He would have loved it!” This thought was only confirmed as I arrived there and began wandering about.

When you first go in, you might stumble upon some interesting, and maybe even creepy things …like dolls. “Dolls?” you ask, “in an old car junkyard?” That’s right…dolls.

You just never know where you might find one…or twenty…lying about. Now, I don’t think they move about, so you might be safe. But one just never really knows, you know.

You’ll mostly definitely stumble upon an old bicycle line-up.  It leads the way into the heart of the city.

Oh, and another doll. I forgot about her. I think she’s been waiting a really long time for a ride.

There are also other odds and ends scattered about, like old cash registers, chairs, cans…you name it, and you can probably find it in there somewhere.

Oh, and there’s another doll I missed. Strange how they mysteriously pop up. Hopefully, we won’t run into any more.

Did I mention that there’s a bit of an artistic flair to this 32-acre masterpiece?

Now, be sure to put your walking shoes on and take some water and snacks when you head out there (because I know you’ll want to see this place for yourself).  There are 6 miles of walking trails, and trust me, you’ll get wandering about and turned around and travel the same trail twice or more, and that 6 will turn into 10 pretty quick! Well, maybe not quick, because it’ll take you all day and probably a couple more to see everything. And if you spread your visits out like I did, you might just find a few things change in the newer parts. Then you’ll have to see it all again.

Well, thankfully no dolls showed up in the middle of those trails. I was beginning to get a little worried. So now I guess it’s time to get to what you really wanted to see…all of those old cars.

Mother Nature decided to put her artistic touch throughout the city, and I think she got a little carried away with a few of her pieces.

But for the most part, nature and machine blend quite nicely.

I thought we were safe from the dolls, but I see one popped up on the hood of a truck. That little one is especially creepy.

While you’re there, don’t miss all of the cool hood ornaments.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Some of those aren’t actually hood ornaments. But hey, at least we didn’t run into anymore creepy dolls.

So, I hope you enjoyed the journey, and if you ever get the chance, head on out and see this place for yourself.

Happy trails!

Providence Canyon State Park

Late this summer, I had the opportunity to visit another state park gem…Providence Canyon State Park. It is what we in Georgia refer to as the Little Grand Canyon. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon, so I don’t know how close to the truth that description is; however, I did find the canyons here to be quite fascinating.

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The most striking feature about the canyon is how soft the walls are. There were many signs stating that climbing and repelling were prohibited, but I assumed the warnings were in place because the state did not wish to be responsible for anyone getting hurt. It was not until we reached the bottom of the canyon and I actually ran my fingers along one of the walls that I realized just how dangerous attempting to climb or repel on them might be. The walls felt as if they were made of pure sand. The sand glittered in the little rivulets of water flowing in the canyon valley and tumbled down the walls with as little as a butterfly landing.

I couldn’t imagine anyone attempting to climb the walls. It was more than obvious that the canyon was carved out from erosion. What was truly amazing was that the walls were even there…that they did not fall. Not only were they there, but people wandered about at the top along the rim trail. The fact that those massive walls were mostly sand and that we were walking and driving on the land above was astonishing! God’s world is truly amazing!

The day we visited the park was beautiful in that there were little to no clouds. As we gazed up at the canyon walls, we could take in the sight of the white and red colored walls against a beautiful deep blue sky. It was truly breathtaking. Of course, the heat was also breathtaking…quite literally. Within a couple of hours of exploring, we had consumed our water, my fair skin was burning, and we were drenched in sweat. Thankfully, I brought my tripod into the canyon to get some good shots, because my hands were shaking too much from heat and exertion to get any good clear shots hand-held.

The contrast of the blue sky made for some interesting black and white photos as well.

Another spectacular sight we were privileged to see on this particular day was swarms of butterflies everywhere. Not only were there the usual little swarms of sulphers, but there were also Common Buckeyes and Gulf Fritillaries. I had never seen quite so many of the two latter species in such great numbers in one place before, and their colors were bright and shimmering in the sunlight streaming into the canyon. It was like walking through a fairyland. I sat for quite some time trying to get some good photos of those busy little insects flitting from place to place. Out of the many shots I took, only a few came out clear. It was quite relaxing to just sit and watch them flit about, and every one that landed on the sandy walls sent a little stream of sand trickling down. It was a bit unnerving that such a tiny, lightweight creature could disturb the walls so. It made me wonder what happened when a rain storm came through.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to explore much on this warm day. I will be heading out there when the weather is cooler to do some more exploring soon I hope. But until then, I hope you enjoy the shots I was able to get from this expedition.

Family, Girls’ Trips, and Coastal Towns (Part 4)

Charleston, SC 

Wow! So it has only taken me three months to finally finish editing these photos and get around to writing this blog. This hot summer proved to be a busy one! But now I’ll sit down and tell you about a trip to one of my favorite places…Charleston, SC. I absolutely adore this city, and my daughter and I visited here for a mother-daughter trip for the second time in two years. This time we were able to take our time and explore and have fun!

The trip out was pretty nice, and we listened to our favorite music all the way. We only had to turn around once when Googly Bear told us to “stay right to keep left”. That produced quite the confusion and laughter. Along the way, however, we happened upon a woods fire. I think it was a controlled burn as it was happening on a tree farm. We were on a back road somewhere in South Carolina, so we stopped, got out, and took some photos.

I decided that a couple of these shots would make for some good light glowing in the eerie fog photos, so I doctored them up a bit in post-processsing and came up with these:

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And as for spooky photos, Charleston is a great place to do a little ghost hunting. We headed out every evening for a little ghost hunting and exploring the city at night. We didn’t find any ghosts this time, but we found some places they sure would like. The city is filled with graveyards, old churches, and parks full of haunting stories and pirate tales. If you ever make it out there, be sure to take one of the walking ghost tours.

Aside from ghost hunting, this trip gave me and my daughter some bonding time…mostly in the form of me acting like a teenager again. Our condo had a loft with some pretty good acoustics, so we sang and said silly stuff just to hear our voices bounce around the room. It also made a good spot to throw pillows from. We stayed up late giggling and having a blast!

During the days, we explored the city hitting the Market first to pick up a few things we can only find in Charleston. Then we hit the sidewalks to find all that we could find in a two day span.  There are several interesting historic churches and graveyards to visit,

as well as dozens of historic buildings,

and interesting doors, alleys, parks, and windows.

We were also able to visit the Nathaniel Russel House with its beautiful gardens…

…lovely antique decor…

…and stunning architecture.

(And that gold paint on the crown molding…it has actual 24 kt gold in it! Wow!)

Well, at the end of this trip, we had walked our feet off and had a wonderful little girls’ trip. Of course, as is the case with most of our trips, there must be some disaster along with our adventure. I ran over something in the road and got a hole in my tire just outside of Charleston. Much thanks to the SCDOT for coming to assist me with a tire change and the wonderful guy at Automotive Solutions for repairing the tire and getting us back on the road and headed home.

And that, my friends, is the end of our Spring 2016 girls’ adventures. Keep checking for future adventures! A trip back out to Arkansas and Missouri are soon to come!

 

Family, Girls’ Trips, and Coastal Towns (Part 3)

Savannah, GA

Well, Savannah just happens to be on our way home from Jekyll Island, so it seemed like a perfect place to stop to eat…and take pictures, and visit churches, and see parks, and get chocolate! What can I say? We’re women. We need chocolate.

Now, after the adventures of the previous two days, you would think we would have no energy left for walking. Well, you would be right…but we mustered some up anyway. We thought we might indulge in a carriage ride, but apparently it was necessary to book those in advance if possible, so we had to pass. I did, however, get a couple of nice photos of some carriages and horses…

…and a dog poking his head out of a second story window where some construction was in progress.

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And of course, the squirrels couldn’t let the dogs and horses take all of the camera time, so a couple of those little guys posed for photos too.

The flowers were in bloom, so the parks were dotted with lots of beautiful colors.

And my beautiful daughter…well, we had to purchase a souvenir T-shirt to cover her sunburned shoulders.

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And a fountain seemed to be a great place for two girls to stop and rest their feet (and text I suppose).

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Now this was rather a rushed trip, as it is impossible to see all there is to see in Savannah in an afternoon. I, however, did my best to provide a speed tour. The Lutheran church, the Catholic church, and Forsyth Park made the list for the day to introduce my family to the beauty of Savannah.

We stopped in at the Lutheran Church first. I had visited this one in the past and wanted to show my mother the stained glass windows.

After visiting here for a few minutes, a nice gentleman who was a member of the church told us a little bit about the history of the building. Then he recommended that we take a short walk to the Catholic cathedral to see its beauty. The last time I was in the city, we didn’t make it to the Catholic church before the doors were closed to the public. This day, however, we were lucky enough to get to go inside. And what a sight it was!

It felt a bit irreverent walking around taking photos in the church like that, but there were others there admiring and taking photos as well. I hope we didn’t disturb those who had come there for more spiritual reasons.

Our next stop was Forsyth Park which is the largest of the parks in Savannah. We were greeted on entering by a young barefoot man playing his acoustic guitar and singing.

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I think perhaps he was one of the college students.

Finally, we headed to LuLu’s Chocolate Bar to indulge in a decadent chocolate confection. I, unfortunately, have no photos of that wondrous dessert as we ate it…all.  Now, though this is the end of this adventure, there is still one more to come. About a month later, my daughter and I traveled to the beautiful city of Charleston, so stay tuned for that adventure!

 

Family, Girls’ Trips, and Coastal Towns (Part 2)

Jekyll Island, GA: Day 2

Day two of our adventure found us in the historic district of Jekyll Island on the north end of the island. My niece wanted to see the nature center, so it was just me and my daughter for the first part of the morning. Nothing was quite opened yet, so we walked around a bit and took some photos.

There were several beautiful old buildings, and it was nice and quiet beside the water. But eventually the hour neared 10am, so we headed back over to the benches in front of the fudge shop. Yes…we were waiting for the fudge shop to open, because one must have some chocolate to begin one’s adventure. As we waited patiently for that door to open, I spied a squirrel in the tree above busily building a nest. He was quite fun to watch, though not quite that easy to capture in picture.

When lunch time rolled around, the rest of the family joined us. They were coming from the turtle center, so we were trying to meet them near there. I, of course, got out the handy-dandy brochure with a map. Apparently, I am no good at reading handy-dandy brochures with maps, because I took us the long way around to go right next door. But, we did eventually find one another. I got a few good photos on the scenic route to the turtle center as well.

Now the trees in this area were perfect for photo ops, so I, totally to the dismay of the younger of our party, delayed lunch for a bit to take photos.

Though I was met with some complaints, I think in the end she enjoyed monkeying around in the trees. In fact, she even made a friend. And in the end, we did make our way to fill our tummies. After lunch, my daughter and I decided that we wanted to see the Sea Turtle Hospital, so we went and visited the recuperating sea turtles before we left.

After this adventure, I took everyone to my favorite place on the island…the Driftwood Beach. It proved to be the perfect place for portrait photography.

I think my models had a bit of fun doing the shoot, and I might have had a little fun too. The only challenge was that it was a bit windy…

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…just a little bit.

I was amazed by the patterns the water had carved into the driftwood, and there was one stump on the beach with some particularly interesting patterns and a little puddle of water standing beneath it. Of course, we all had to dip our toes in the little puddle of water, but I’ll spare you the feet pictures.

Well…maybe I won’t spare you the feet pictures…

I will, however, spare you the photos of me dancing around on the beach. That’s just not pretty. No one wants to see that…except my daughter, who may blackmail with them later in life.

Later in the evening, we returned to the nature viewing area and fishing pier. I did capture a few photos of some of the fishermen’s catches, but seeing as how the photos made me nauseous later (and were only taken at the request of my niece with the somewhat morbid sense of awe)…I’ll not be including them. I did manage a few shots of some noisy gulls and some lovely shots of a couple of brown pelicans…and one little boat-tailed grackle who managed to get his silhouette in the mix.

And the final joy was watching a dolphin play near the pier. This was the second dolphin I had seen on this trip. The first was playing near the beach on our first morning there. With all of the natural wonders to be seen, this is the perfect vacation destination for nature enthusiasts and photographers. I know it is one of my favorite places!

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But don’t go away yet! There are still two more destinations I have to share with you, so stay tuned!

Family, Girls’ Trips, and Coastal Towns (Part 1)

Jekyll Island, GA (Day 1)

Nothing says “Fantastic Spring Break!” like having the privilege of taking your niece on her first trip to the ocean. This year Spring Break was supposed to hold the bittersweet adventure of sending my son off to the Coast Guard, but that adventure was delayed and another began. I called my mother, and by the end of the day, she, my sister, my niece, my daughter and myself were packed and off to the beach. My almost seven year old niece had never been to the ocean before, so her Aunt Athenia was very happy to take her and prepared to take lots and lots of photos. And yes, I do intend to share many of them with you.

Of course, the first photo has to be a child’s first view of the ocean…

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…but she didn’t quite cooperate on the waiting for me part, and she really didn’t want to turn around for a picture either. But as soon as she made her way down to the water, we were in for a solid morning of exploring the beach ecosystem and getting our feet wet in the waves.

It was such a joy searching for sand dollars, crabs, shells, and other beach creatures and watching my niece enjoy the beach with her mother.

We even chased a few birds here and there.