NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Petroglyph Love, Moab 2009

Mark and Bobbie from Box Canyon Blog are in Moab right now, and that has me thinking of our short time there in 2009. Of all the places we've been it's the one that I can't wait for us to get back to.  We were only there for a few days, and it's a place that grew on me quickly.

Unfortunately I'm not as poetic as Mark, if you want to read about the throes of ecstasy seeing all that red rock can bring, head on over to his blog and see it through his eyes.  All I know is before we left I was in Love with a capital L, and I've spent every white midwest winter since then dreaming of snow drifting across that Entrada and Navajo Sandstone.

I wrote about our trip and my dreaming of returning in another post, but I thought I'd take the time to revisit the topic and go into a little depth about a new obsession that our trip awakened besides the red rock...petroglyphs.

When we stopped into the Moab visitor center a lovely lady told us we should check out some of the area petroglyphs and gave us a brochure detailing how to find them. Petroglyphs are pecked into or incised on stone walls, and pictographs were painted on stone. We haven't seen any pictographs yet, but certainly enjoyed the petroglyphs. If you want to know a little more about the rock art and the people who made it, go here.

 We started with the 125 foot panel on Potash Road.  The black patina on these sandstone cliffs is especially good for petroglyphs and the images represent a wide variety of topics from  hunting to ceremonial practices to domestic life.  Dating the rock art is difficult, but most of the rock art in the area is from multiple periods. The figures seemed so alien, but I've since done some homework and they make sense when you know the history.

What we thought looked like aliens is probably Fremont warriors with shields wearing ear bobs that hang down to their shoulders and possibly a headdress.

This one really confused me with all the lines, but after reading about the giant desert centipedes that live in the region it all clicked. The small figure in the middle toward the bottom looks like an archer chasing a big horn sheep.

This one was a little more obviously a hunting scene, including archers, big horn sheep and a rather large bear!

Looks like a scorpion on the bottom left, and some type of bird figure on the far right.  The figures holding hands are perhaps women dancing. 

We were so enthralled by these images from the past that we also searched out the boulder with the birthing scene. It took us awhile to find, but I was glad that we didn't give up!

There is some debate as to whether it really is a birthing scene or just an enlarged vulva meant to depict fertility, but either way it is still a unique representation. Ranger Kathryn's blog, which I found this morning, says a breech birth...hmmm, makes sense!  There are a variety of images on the boulder. As for the image below...I still don't have a clue!  Witch on a broomstick since it's almost Halloween?  Maybe someone can help me out!

There is only one petroglyph site open to the public in Wisconsin at Roche-a-Cri State Park. I meant to get there this year but I guess it will have to wait until next year because it's a 3 hour drive from here and there is a lot more to see in the area so I'll want to make it a camping trip.

I also read a couple of great books by Craig Childs that fueled my new obsession about ancient southwestern culture.  I may not be as obsessed as he is...but I did get some great ideas for future trips, including a desire to go visit Chaco Culture. When you're traveling you just never know where your adventures will really end up taking you.  I know I got a lot more out of our trip to Moab than I had planned on!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park Wildlife Moments, June 2011

Of all the places we've been so far, nothing beats Custer State Park for wildlife viewing!  We went for our second visit in June of 2011, and we couldn't wait to go for a drive along Wildlife Loop. The variety of wildlife you can see without ever leaving your car is astounding, but stay in your car...those bison aren't as cute and cuddly as they look!

And if the bison aren't cute enough for you, spend some time watching the prairie dogs.  I could have watched them all day, Wayne had to just put it in drive even though I was protesting.  My mother wondered why I found rodents so cute...until she watched them for herself! Again, stay in your car because coyotes and rattlesnakes frequent prairie dog towns, and the adorable rodents are carriers of plague.  We saw quite a few young prairie dogs peeking out of their holes while their mothers foraged nearby, and with patience I finally got a shot of this group of five youngsters.

One time as we were passing a prairie dog town we spied a burrowing owl for a brief second, but by the time we stopped and backed up he was nowhere to be seen.  The pronged antelope are a little harder to photograph as they are a little more skittish as well as fast!  The males seemed to be less wary than the females.

If you look around rock and brush piles carefully you might even spy a marmot or two, but they tend to disappear quickly as well.

When you get tired of driving around Custer State Park, continue on into Wind Cave National Park, where the vistas and the wildlife are just as plentiful. My mom and I went for a short hike one day and besides seeing some cliff swallows we saw this mama turkey and her babies.  What are baby turkeys called? Turklets? Whatever they are called, their orange legs are adorable!

Wayne and I detoured into Wind Cave on a dirt road shortly before dusk one evening and spotted a buzzard at the turnoff, a coyote looking for a snack in a prairie dog town, a baby antelope hiding in the grass while waiting for mom to return and a trio of elk. And since we made that extra effort to take the well maintained dirt road, we had it mostly to ourselves. Pack your camera, buckle your seatbelt and enjoy!

Healthy buzzards...lots of roadkill, perhaps?
coyote looking for a prairie dog sized snack
baby antelope are hard to find...I saw this one's ears poking above the grass
End of our day...but not theirs! Elk love the night life!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rabbit Season! Duck Season!

I was awoken by the sound of gunshots on the lake this morning. Therefore I present Messieurs Daffy and Bugs on this early Sunday morning in what I assume is duck season.

If that one only whetted your appetite for more, well then, here's a second helping! I'm driving an hour each way to Whole Foods today to do some shopping for those items that no one else carries.  And I'm sure I'll be hearing "rabbit season! duck season!" in my head off and on all afternoon. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Devil's Tower National Monument, June 2011

While in Custer, South Dakota in 2011 we took a daytrip to Devil's Tower National Monument.
 President Theodore Roosevelt established Devil's Tower as the nation’s first national
monument on September 24, 1906.
Devil's Tower is a monolithic igneous intrusion; several geologists believe the molten rock comprising the Tower might not have surfaced, other researchers are convinced the tower is all that remains of what once was a large explosive volcano. 

There are plenty of opportunities to stop along the road and gawk on the way in, but it was a bit hairy when we came to a section of the road that had fallen away on a high curve.  I couldn't get a picture because there was no place to stop without holding up traffic, but it was quite a sight to see a chunk of what used to be road hanging out over a big drop!  There is a nice 40 site park service campground on the way in with views of the tower and the Belle Fourche River. There is no dump station or hookups at this site which is why we came as a daytrip from Custer.

The picture above was taken from the parking lot by the visitor center, which we visited to learn about the tower's formation and history. As the magma rock cooled, it contracted, forming hexagonal (and sometime 4-, 5- and 7-sided) columns separated by vertical cracks.

A 1.5 hour ranger led hike around the base of the tower is offered, but we took the less traveled 2.8 mile Red Beds Trail around the monument to enjoy the surrounding views and get a feel for the tower as part of its surroundings.  The trail starts off at the base of the tower and meanders through a Ponderosa Pine forest.  After hiking about 3/4 mile the forest comes out into some beautiful meadows with views of the area.  The going gets a little more difficult with a series of swithbacks that lead down and away from the tower. 

Soon you enter an area with red clay and sand that give the trail its name.  We couldn't believe how much the terrain of the trail kept changing! I don't think we've ever been on shorter trail that had such variety of habitat.

After turning back toward the tower you have to climb back up toward it and we had to stop a few times to catch our breath, but the reward is getting to a side of the tower you can't see from most spots in the park. Very cool, and we came upon a ranger just minutes afterward to finish our walk with. We learned from her that there is a whole ecosystem on the top, including deer and even snakes!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Crazy Horse Memorial Annual Volksmarch, June 2011

We didn't plan it, but we found out during our trip to South Dakota in 2011 that we happened to be in town at the only time of year visitors are allowed to go to the top of Crazy Horse Memorial. The Volksmarch makes its way through the forest and then up the road to the nine story tall face of the Native American Chief. The hike is 6.2 miles in total length and it generally draws up to 15,000 participants.  Admission to the memorial is free for participants, but they encourage donations.

We were on a mission to get up there before it got too crowded at the top, and at times I even broke into an uphill jog.  Some of the participants were not "crazy" about that!  As we got closer to the top the fatigue from all that hard work at elevation threatened to get to us, but we pushed on through.

From there, getting down was easy, and pretty short too! Most of the hike is getting up through the woods.  When we were done we met my parents down at the visitor center and we all went inside to enjoy the museum together.

The museum contains collections of art and artifacts reflecting the diverse histories and cultures of the American Indian people, information about the carving of the memorial itself, and Native American artisans with their wares are scattered throughout the facility. 

Don't judge my father too harshly for his cute yellow purse, I swear he was just holding it for my mom!  If you're planning a trip to South Dakota to see Crazy Horse, consider going for the Volksmarch, I know we're glad we got to experience it!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chihuly glass exhibit and more in Saint Louis, 2006

I was inspired by Sharon over at The Odd Essay to write a post about an anniversary trip we took in November 2006 to Saint Louis. What prompted it was her photos of an exhibit of Chihuly glass in Seattle. We saw a similar exhibit at the Missouri Botanical Garden, which wasn't on our itinerary but one of those things that you stumble upon unexpectedly that end up making the trip.

Happy 17th Anniversary!

We look so young in that photo! We didn't even have any gray hair 6 years ago! The glass in the garden exhibit was the highlight of our trip, but there were other great things to see. St. Louis' Union Station was brimming with beautiful art and architecture..and had been converted to a mall and hotel. Much of the original impressive architecture remains in the Grand Hall and the exterior still looked as it must have on opening day in 1894. The only train departing from the station was the Hogwarts Express, but I couldn't find the ticket seller so I stayed in St. Louis.

Another surprise was the Old Courthouse which was within walking distance of our hotel.  Part of its unfortunate history includes the auctioning of slaves on its steps, but it is also the site of the Dred Scott case.  He had lived in free territories with his master, including Minnesota and Illinois. These states held that a slaveholder forfeited his rights to property by illegally holding a slave to a state that prohibited the institution and where there was no law to support his controlling the slave. Congress had never before addressed whether slaves were free if they set foot upon free soil. Scott lost the case at first, but a jury voted in his favor upon appeal. In 1852, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down the lower court ruling. Scott was defeated again in federal court, and yet again when his case reached the United States Supreme Court. This decision hastened the start of the Civil War as it inflamed tensions over the issue. Scott and his family eventually gained their freedom when they were returned to a prior owner and that other owner granted them emancipation in 1857.  Scott only lived another 17 months, dying from tuberculosis, but his wife survived another 18 years.

Also interesting was St. Louis' most well known landmark, the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.  Not very pretty close up, but I got what I thought was an interesting photo by lying on the ground. We didn't feel the need to take a ride to the top, but visited the museum and bought a pack of playing cards that depicts the building of the arch which we used on our last camping trip while playing a game of cribbage.

All this reminiscing has got me thinking maybe we should do something special for our anniversary again.  We'll be married 23 years next might be too late to come up with a plan for this year, but not for next year!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Union Spring Trail, Tale of the Friendly Squirrel

Some of the trails in the Porcupine Mountains allow biking, and one of these is the Union Spring Trail.

It's 4 miles out to the spring and back, and we went most of that way by bike but had to lean them against a tree for the last bit as the trail got narrow and a bit muddy in spots.

On foot we got a chance to spy some fungi, but Wayne was not happy to spot a snake.  I was lagging behind with my camera and suddenly he was shouting a word that begins with the letter "f" repeatedly.  I thought he had gone ankle deep in some mud, and had quite a laugh when he pointed out the cause of his distress...

 While Wayne wasn't about to make friends with the garden snake, he did make friends with a local squirrel while on the trail.

The Union Spring is the second largest natural spring in Michigan. From the floating dock, you can view over 700 gallons of clear water bubble out the ground each minute, though the size of the spring will vary with rainfall. It's not the same as the springs in Yellowstone....but then again there's nothing like Yellowstone, now, is there?

Check out our video below (my first attempt at editing a video with our Adobe Premiere Elements 10 software) to see his new friend, the spring itself, and then part of our ride back down the trail.  I had some trouble figuring out how to do everything, but not too bad for a first attempt and hopefully I will do better next time!

Click on the You Tube icon at the bottom of the frame to view it full size and see our squirrel friend!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Quincy Mine

While we were in the Houghton area to pick up some information on Isle Royale National Park the ranger gave us some information on other local area attractions in "Copper Country".  We didn't have time to explore them on this trip, but took the suggestions in case we were back again someday.  Before we left the Houghton area we took a short drive up to Quincy Mine to have a quick peek.

Once a flourishing copper mine, the Quincy Hoist Association offers both surface and underground tours of the Quincy Mine, a part of the Keweenaw National Historic Park. The copper mine was owned by the Quincy Mining Company and operated between 1846 and 1945

The Quincy Number 2 shaft was the world's deepest shaft, at 9,260 feet. To raise and lower ore and workers into this shaft, the world's largest steam-driven mine hoist was built in 1918 and housed in the Quincy Number 2 Hoist House. We skipped the tour due to time constraints, but the grounds were open for exploration and we had fun poking around the ruins.  Mines are not something we've ever toured, so now we have something new to add to our must-see list!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Oh that Nonesuch Shale!

The nonesuch shale contains layers of gray to black shale, siltstone and sandstone as well as deposits of copper.  I tried to find more information than this on the internet....but what I found was so snore inducing that I won't trouble you with it  Let's just say it was fun to walk on and I liked the way the shale broke off in large flat pieces.  Lots of geometric visual punch, much more fun than plain sand!  Hope you enjoy looking at it as much as we did while we were in the Keeweenaw Penninsula area of Michigan!

I swear I did not arrange this composition, nature did!

Was walking along, looked down, and there was my name!