My wonderful husband and I recently took a little trip to bike ride on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail in Iowa. It used to be a train track. It's a rails to trails project.
Much of the Wabash Trace looks like this.
The green was almost overwhelming for us as we've been in such a drought.
There are many bridges. Birds fly across the trail constantly and SING!
We also saw squirrels and deer. We heard a lot of frogs.
Since we visited during a week when numerous thunderstorms were in the area, we encountered some downed trees. Most were dead branches or trunks that we could easily lift out of the way. Others were more challenging.
We were able to make a cleared area on the right hand side to go around this one pushing our bikes.
About three miles into our first trek on the trail, I blew a tube.
We were standing on a bridge looking at a river while our bikes where parked when my back tire went BAM! Scared us. No problem as we have extra tubes along. However, when the tube blew, a piece of tube actually cut through the side of my tire.
WH did put a tube back into the tire so we could push it back easier. Riding on it would likely have worn a hole in the new tube where the tire was damaged.
Before heading back on foot, WH got this photo of me on the bridge where the tube blew. He thought the sepia tone gave it that 'old west' look.
We walked our bikes back together until the last mile of trail. Then, WH rode ahead and back to where we were staying, got our truck with the bike rack and met me at the end of the trail. We called a bike shop in Council Bluffs, IA and made a trip into the city to get the tire replaced.
Council Bluffs, IA and Omaha, NE have many bike paths. There is a new pedestrian/bike bridge which crosses the Missouri River connecting the bike trails. We took the opportunity to try out my new tire on the trails and crossed the curving bridge.
The second day of our biking adventure was our 20th wedding anniversary--May 29.
The trail was kind of soft from all the rain. We also encountered these (multiple) downed trees at the end of a bridge. WH held branches apart and I carried each bike through the tangle of limbs.
As we headed down the trail farther, it started to rain. A stop to put on a little rain gear and on we went to Imogene, IA where we arrived as the local bar and grill was opening for lunch. We ordered a little food and watched the radar as a thunderstorm came through.
Once the storm cleared, we biked up to St. Patrick Catholic Church which is on the national register of historic places.
We decided to head back to where we were staying via the blacktop roads rather than the now muddier trail. As we made our way up a hill, we heard the rumble of thunder and could see another shower moving toward us. We pulled off at a cross road as a pickup came up the hill. It pulled over too and the man said, "get in, I don't want you out here in a storm." He was one of the locals back at the bar and grill who we'd talked to briefly. The bikes went into the bed of the truck, we climbed into the cab and just a bit down the road, it POURED rain. So, we have now 'hitched a ride with a stranger' and were very glad we did.
We spent the rest of the afternoon inside listening to the thunder and rain.
Our last day biking was perfect weather wise and on the trail. The trail wasn't as soft and we only had to move a couple of small branches out of our way. WH took this photo of me over his shoulder while biking.
We returned to our cabin that afternoon and relaxed while watching this wren dart in and out of a gourd birdhouse.
Here's to the next 20 years!
While the area we were in had a lot of rain swelling the rivers flooding some places, Garden on Sherlock Street received just enough rain to keep the garden watered nicely and a little wind but nothing bad. Severe weather did some damage in counties near us. Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected by the recent storms especially in Oklahoma.
I've tried to include a lot of web links in case you want to read more about the places we visited.
Our drive to BCNP included an overnight stop in Grand Junction, CO. They have a winding Main Street with trees and little park spaces.
There are a handful of fountains including this one which changes patterns. You're never sure how the water will spray.
There is a lot of art tucked in along the street.
On Sunday, we arrived at our main destination. BCNP was breathtaking!!!
The canyon is filled with interesting rock formations. The colors include orange, white, pink, purple and red with the green of the pine trees. There are a lot of overlooks. You can drive along the rim and stop at each one. They are all beautiful.
We then returned to the road along the rim in BCNP to see more of the overlooks we hadn't gotten to yet.
It was interesting to see water run down the rock formations in the canyon.
Even in the rain, the colors are great.
We did find it ironic that we went to the Desert Southwest to see a real rain.
Tuesday afternoon, the clouds broke apart and we got in a bike ride.
There is a paved bike trail along Scenic Highway 12 just west of BCNP in Dixie National Forest. My wonderful husband recorded this video of me biking the trail. You'll notice the highway and red rock formations on the right. There is a wash where water flows on the left. I was amazed he got this steady of a video while biking.
We went west on the trail first which was mostly downhill. We had a bit of a workout coming back east. We just stopped often to rest and take photos of the amazing scenery.
I took these photos at the hotel where we stayed just to show all my blogging friends that this tree is loved.
They built the roof edge and gutter around the tree trunk.
On the day we left BCNP, we made a stop at Kodachrome Basin State Park where they believe sand deposits filled in former geyser vents. Today, the softer rock around the vents is gone leaving these spires.
We found a place to stay for Thursday night and then took a road trip across northern New Mexico with our last night's stay in Cimarron, NM. This is the St. James Hotel. There are many tales of gunfights here (they have the bullet holes in the old dining room ceiling still). Famous "old west" people stayed here and it is said to be haunted.
Our room was in the annex south of the main hotel which is a standard hotel because all the historic rooms were booked. The hotel has a modern restaurant with a patio/entertainment area out back. Since it was Friday, there was a live band. The town has a lot of history and we walked around town reading about its interesting past.
Our last day of vacation included checking out the many Santa Fe Trail ruts which can be seen near Cimarron. Picture wagons coming over this hill.
I just had to report back that this one earned me the champion ribbon in amateur adult photography at our county fair. It was rated first for the landscape category. I was so surprised. The judge said my lighting was great. He/she (I have no idea who the judge was) had only one critique. He/she thought the tree trunks in the corner were distracting. I kind of like them. Maybe that was just a personal preference comment.
I put this photo on my computer's desktop. The memory of how cold the water in that stream was helps when we hit over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
I enjoy taking photos. The garden is my main subject; but when we travel, I like to try to get nice scenic photos too.
I have been trying for a handful of years to get "flowing water" photos.
I read the camera manual. I read photography websites. Etc. Etc.
Eventually, I wrote out a little note card of the camera settings that were suppose to help make "flowing water" photos. I tried those settings. No "flowing water."
The weekend before our trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park, I crammed like I was taking a final in college. I played with the camera. I read online information. Everything I could think of. I made more notes.
During our drive to the park, my wonderful husband suggested I try to explain what I had learned to him. I did and the whole shutter speed, lighting thing came together better in my mind.
We hiked to Zapata Falls one morning of our vacation. The falls are hidden in a crevasse. We had to hike in the shallow stream bed to see them. It was hard to take nice photos of the falls. Plus, the water was COLD! So I'm not sharing those photos here. I want to share my "flowing water" photos.
The stream from the falls was in the shade. Here was my chance.
I still have some things to learn about the lighting and a few other settings to improve the overall photo, but I got "flowing water!" I also understand having a filter will make a big difference especially if the water is in sunlight.
I was very excited!
This is what I did:
TV mode set to 15"
white balance for cloudy
used the timer (physically pushing the button on the camera can mess up the shot)
Saturday morning, my wonderful husband and I got up early to do some bike riding before the heat and the wind got started. We beat the heat. The wind started while we were returning home. Our bike rides in the countryside usually include photo opportunities.
We saw a lot of milkweed along the roads. I searched the plants for monarch butterfly caterpillars, but never saw one.
WH has gotten on a kick lately of taking photos of me taking photos.
I was capturing this shot of a milkweed pod forming.
We also saw a pasture filled with what I think is Prairie Coneflower Ratibida columnifera.
The two lines in the photo are barbed wire fence.
The rest of our Saturday was spent at my parents' farm. I headed right out to the fields to take photos of the golden wheat because it is ripe and ready to cut.
WH captured me in another photo. Have I mentioned he is also into sepia tone photos?
My parents are retired and rent their farm ground to other farmers. They receive a share of the crop as payment. A few hours after I took my photos, the combine arrived to cut the field closest to the farmhouse.
The grain goes from combine to grain wagon and is hauled to the elevator. Eventually, it will be marketed and processed for many foods.
It is dry, hot and windy here. Perfect wheat harvest weather.
The landscape is very interesting. Desert with a large dune field up against a mountain range. I'll spare you the geology presentation, but if you like knowing how areas like this form, this link has the information.
On the day of our anniversary (May 29), we got up before the sun and hiked the dune field early in the day climbing to the top of the two tallest points. High Dune 650 feet (198 m) high and Star Dune
750 feet (229 m). Yes, Star Dune is actually taller than High Dune. High Dune is the one you see easiest from the creek. My guess is it was named first and then someone climbed it and realized there was a taller dune west of it. You have to be out on the dunes to see Star Dune.
This is me hiking up a dune.
You can go anywhere you want in the dunes.
Even though sand blows everyday and covers your tracks, the main dune landscape has changed very little. They had a photo from 1911 and a photo from 2011 that showed the same shapes.
The air temperature was pretty mild, but the sun at the higher elevation really heats up the sand. We were off the dune field by mid day and enjoyed walking in the creek that only runs in the spring and early summer around the east side of the dune field. It is shallow and so fun to play in the sand and water. All ages have a great time in the creek. There were families building sand castles and picnicking.
The next day, we hiked up a mountain pass.
We saw tons of humming birds.
There were a lot of wildflowers blooming.
While some of the trail was open with a lot of rocky areas, parts of it were very lush with beautiful trees and green meadows.
I also saw a black bear, but do not have a photo of it. By the time I saw it making tracks away from us and told my wonderful husband, it was gone. WH didn't even have time to see it. He says his first thought when I said, "bear" was, "how close is it?" I was using our bear bell which rings while you hike; so, you are always making noise to give the bears time to leave. I guess it works as the bear was going away from us. The next day at the visitor center, we were asking about another hiking trail and mentioned the bear. A park ranger asked us to fill out a report on the bear sighting. So, if you ever see a bear and want it documented, make notes! We wish we had made a better effort to note where I saw the bear for the ranger.
Our hike the last day visiting GSDNP was a mix of mountain and sand. We ended it back in the creek. Here's WH cooling his feet in the water. The water is a comfortable temperature because the hot sand warms it up.
I admit that I was a bit worried about the garden while we were gone. I made sure everything was watered well and moved some containers around before leaving. I did not have anyone come to water for me.
I wondered if I would miss the last of the spring crops like the peas and lettuce. I worried that the squash bugs would destroy all the cucurbits. We did an intense squash bug hunt the day before leaving on our trip and found a lot of squash bugs. You can read more about our squash bug hunting here and here.
About half way through our trip, our garden was drenched during a thunderstorm and there was some serious hail in the area, but luckily not in our neighborhood. No hail damage at GonSS.
I returned to a garden that was growing like crazy.
Lettuce and peas in the basket and a nice harvest of kohlrabi.
The flower surprise upon returning was the lavender. It is really blooming.
I hope to get some time in the garden this week and will be by to visit soon.