Wednesday, December 31, 2008

When The Snow Melts

Okay, back to business today. This is what I've been waiting to show you! I took these photos on a hiking trip, on the day the temperature skyrocketed, and all of our snow melted. A foot of snow on the ground was turned to water in just one day. This was in the morning of that day, and it had only just begun.

The rivers were flooded over in several places. As you can imagine, there was water everywhere. This top photo shows what I had to walk on then. This is from the front of the nature park. The trail is still pavement here. On most of these trails, there was a thick layer of ice. It wasn't easy walking on them.

This ice was really very treacherous to walk on. One wrong step and I'd be laying down instead of walking. You can see the shine on it's surface. On top of the ice is a layer of liquid water to make it even more slippery. It was like this everywhere in the park.

Further down the trail, where there was a little more snow, is where the melting ice was now flowing water. You can see the mist that's rising up. This mist is happening as a reaction of the rapidly melting snow and ice.

Down in that area there is water flowing in small streams that help the ice melt even faster. It's fascinating to see all of this mist floating around. It made it hard to see for any great distance in some areas. Some people may not like that, but it makes things more exciting and mysterious for me.

I've been to this place many times before, but there's always something new to see out here. One day there might be birds flying around, and the next day there might be mist and water everywhere. What more could anyone ask for? Well, maybe a sack of gold, but I know there's none of that out there.

Water is also collecting in any low area, and that also creates even more of this mist. You can see in this photo where the snow is turning rapidly into water, and there is more mist rising off of it. There were very many places like this in the park.

when I took this picture, I was standing on a trail that was a wet sheet of ice. It was threatening to turn into slush. I was walking in water flowing across the path in many places. Some of these areas on the path still had thick snow on them, and I was sinking down into this wet slushy mess.

This really wasn't very easy to walk on, and my legs still hurt from this several days later. Imagine taking a step onto four inches of snow. Halfway down it turns to slush. Then at the bottom is a wet slippery layer of ice. I had to take very careful steps. I got tired very quickly.

I was glad to stop here and take a few shots of this place. Where the water was pooling up on this place above, it was flowing across the path to lower ground. There was so much water that it had to go somewhere. Snow can pile up, but everyone knows that water has to go somewhere, and it will fill any low area up quickly.

This last one for today is one of the places the water had to go. It was forming temporary rivers in several places. These rivers were moving pretty fast, and they were kind of deep in several spots. Usually this area is only a little on the damp side.

I don't know who left the footprints leading down to the water. It looks like they walked right in. Maybe they went over there before the water was there. They look kind of fresh though. That person must have had very wet feet after that. I can't imagine even the best boots keeping the water out that well.

This post was just to give you an idea of the conditions that existed out there. There were very many interesting things to see that day, not all of them melting snow and ice. I'll be focusing on the events of that day in the next few posts. There were some exciting and even perilous things I have to show you.

There also were some great moments where I was relieved to see something that I didn't quite expect, but I was hoping for. You'll understand when I explain in a later post. There were also some other great encounters that make me feel like I truly am The Everyday Adventurer. I know you'll like these upcoming posts, so come back and take a look.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Because Of The Huge Windstorm

I'm back! It probably wasn't even noticeable that I was gone, but I was. We had a huge windstorm! As a result, my electricity was gone for about a day and a half. I got lucky, because I had a post already queued up for yesterday. I was able to answer a few comments yesterday, from another computer, but that was all I could do here.

It was sometime in the middle of the night when my power went out. The wind sounded, and felt, like it was going to blow my house away. I'm glad I'm a mouse, and not a little pig, or I might be homeless right now. When the lights went out, I looked out the window, and saw bright flashes down the street.

It turned out to be a power line that had been knocked down by something. The huge flash, and the light it was giving off, brightened up the night. Everything was bright, except the things that were supposed to be, including my house. It must have been a very violent scene down there that night. I'm glad I wasn't anywhere near it.

The first photo above shows the area where the power line went down. They had to block the road, so that nobody would be killed by it. I really had nothing better to do than to drive around looking at the destruction. I don't like when people do that, but I had a reason. If I didn't do it, I wouldn't be able to report on it here.

For miles around, the traffic lights were out. Luckily the other drivers, for the most part, followed the rules of the road at these intersections. It was much easier getting through these areas than I expected. There were of course the crazies out there, but not really as many as there could have been.

I actually drove around for several hours looking at these things. I was hoping they would fix the power quickly, but it was obvious to me that it wasn't going to happen. I really hate when the power goes out like this. If it was warmer outside, it wouldn't be so bad. Since it's the middle of winter, it was a small disaster.

Here's something funny that I saw along the way. Look closely at the pickup. There are painted flames on it. This is an official truck from the fire department. Of course, you can see the official markings all over it. This is the only place that I have ever seen something like this. They must get a lot of money for this. Maybe somebody donated this. I really don't know.

As you can see, there are plenty of firemen and trucks from the fire department, but there is no sign of anything from the electric company. They must have been very busy, so they couldn't get to this yet. I really have no idea how many places like this there were around here. I didn't have much access to the news for a long time.

This is another scene that was repeated very many times near me. I took around a dozen pictures like this one. There were trees down everywhere I went. I saw another place with a row of trees down, and there were just as many more there that were ready to fall.

These others were uprooted about halfway, but had not fallen yet. I don't know what happens to them when they're like that, but I guess I'm going to find out. I couldn't get any shots of these, because of heavy traffic, but I'm sure you can imagine just from what's in the picture above.

Take a closer look at the size of this tree. There is a house behind it. The tree is almost bigger than the house. These were powerful winds that knocked that tree down. I wonder what kind of devastation these winds did at some of the nature parks.

Since I wasn't in any great hurry to go home, I decided to check out some of the parks. Woodland Hills has a history of fallen trees that I've documented here a few times before. I halfway knew what I might find when I went there, and I wasn't wrong.

I kind of figured it would be closed to the public on this day. I was right. I would have liked to go in there and see what became of this forest, but I wasn't going to do it even if this place was open. I'm guessing that it's not a very safe place to be right now. Trees seem to fall down in there every time there's a large storm. I'll check it out as soon as it's safe.

Well, that's a small sampling of what happened. My electricity came back on about forty five minutes before I got home from work on Monday. Before that, I had to stay with relatives. A day and a half before it came back. I'm happy to be able to sleep in my own bed again.

I'd like to say that the power outage is not really an everyday adventure, but my power goes out at least once a year. Usually it's during the summer, so it's not so bad. You would think they'd figure this out, and fix it in my area. I hope that's it for this year.

I had planned on showing another odd bit of weather. The snow that I've been showing lately is gone! Over a foot of snow melted in just one day! I have pictures of some of the flooding that it caused. I'll show you some of these things in the upcoming days, unless something else happens.

As I write this, the wind is blowing again. It's not as bad as before, and I hope it's not going to be another problem. I've had enough of this wind for now. Tomorrow will be a better day, and I'll be back to my hiking. I hope I'll have more time on here then too. See you then.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Strangest Tracks Of All

Yesterday, at the end of my Fairy Snow post, I promised to show you the strangest tracks of all. Well, I'm not one to disappoint anyone, unless I think it might be funny, so I'll show you what I was talking about. You'll be shocked and amazed!

But first I want to mention something. Our unpredictable weather struck again, and most of this snow has melted. I've told you how much snow this was before, and that's what made this such a very amazing occurrence. I'll show that to you in a day or so, but I really wanted to make sure you saw this first. So here goes!

As I was looking at the by now typical animal tracks, and watching the falling snow, I saw something odd. Some of the tracks from back where I came from were different than the others. They were much bigger than any deer or dog tracks. I couldn't help wondering what made them.

I know what you're thinking. You think they are human tracks. You also think that I'm the one that made them. I mean, they were back from where I came from after all. By now you think that I might be playing a strange joke on you. You might be right! But just maybe you're wrong. Maybe...

I told you I knew what you were thinking. I have to confess, these tracks are indeed human tracks. I told you they were strange. They were also made by me. But wait, don't go away angry! I can explain this just a little bit further. I admit that it is a little bit of a joke, but only a little. There's more to this story. Read on. You won't be sorry.

Anyway, as I said, these were human tracks. And they were made by me, but only some of them. I was apparently not alone in the woods. See, I told you this was strange. I was back here in this deep snow, and there was another presence besides me! Of course I needed to investigate, didn't I?

So I decided to follow these strange tracks. It should be easy to find the person that made them. After all, I am an expert tracker. I've been doing this a whole month! The tracks seemed to be following my own, most of them right in top of my own tracks. These others seemed to be a bit smaller than mine though. See, I told you I'm an expert. You shouldn't doubt me like that.

It wasn't easy walking back through the deep snow, but I managed to follow them all the way back to their source. I was tired and ready to go back in the house, but I found out exactly who it was that made these tracks. You won't believe it, but here goes!

It was Alice! I have actual photos of her for you. She has proven to be very elusive, but here they are. I seem to be able to get shots of things all around her, but not her. I've taken so many photos of animals, but not many humans. I guess they're too quick for me. Alice is no exception. She's been much too quick for me.

On this day I was fast enough to get a few photos of her before she disappeared. I'm not sure that I'll get any more. So I guess these are good enough. You can see this shy creature staring off into the distance, as if she's completely unaware of my presence. I highly doubt that is true, since she followed me all the way to those trees back there.

I think she's being too quick for me again. This is all we're going to get, unfortunately. Like I said, she's a shy creature. If she's spooked she'll run away quicker than any scared deer. But I wonder what would happen if I called her name. Let's find out.

That was a mistake! There she goes. She's running off into the distance. I somehow knew that wasn't going to work. I could kick myself. I should have snuck back into the house. Then I could have locked her out here. All alone in the cold. Okay, okay, just kidding.

Well, that's enough of this foolishness for today. I thought this was a fun little post, and it gave everyone a chance to get a small look at the real Alice. She was here for a brief time, but then went home later that day. She had fun out there in that cold, deep snow. I think even more than I did.

I'll be back tomorrow with something a little more serious. I'll show you what happens when over a foot of snow all of a sudden melts in just one day. I have the pictures of what it looked like. It's an amazing thing to see. Come back tomorrow, and see for yourself.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fairy Snow

The other day when I was out back looking at the animal tracks behind my house, I took a few other pictures as well. I mentioned in that earlier post that it had been snowing then. Now that I know how to capture falling snow with the camera, I do so whenever I can.

I was done looking at all of the tracks in the snow, and ready to head back to the house, when I had the idea to get some more snow photos. I didn't really intend to post them here, because I've already shown some very good photos of falling snow before. But as I took the pictures, I soon realized that even a pictures of snow can be unique and interesting.

When I looked into the view screen of the camera I noticed that it was capturing the snow in kind of a strange way. Maybe it was the type of snow that was falling. The temperature can effect the size and shape of the snow, so maybe that's why these photos were different than my others.

Instead of the harsh, almost angular, streaks of snow that I've shown before, these that I show here now look like delicate orbs of light, that brightened this dark and gloomy day. I couldn't really see the snow in this way with my eyes. I needed the camera to bring out this magical looking scene.

Years ago I remember seeing pictures from a movie, of fairies flying around in a magical field. They would flit about everywhere, while the people stood there enraptured by what they were seeing. The whole scene looked a lot like these pictures. Even the falling snow resembled those fairies. Seeing these photos of mine, I began to understand what those people might have been feeling.

I began to feel as if there was magic all around me. This was only out behind my house, but I started experiencing that total feeling of peace that I only get out in nature. Where I was standing, I was surrounded by trees, and I couldn't see any houses or civilization. I was all alone!

I didn't want to leave this place now, but I knew I had to do it. Also, I didn't want to walk back through that deep snow. It was hard enough getting back there, it wasn't going to be much easier going back. I knew I had to go anyway, so I turned and started walking.

Then I saw the strangest thing of all! It was more tracks in the snow. I'm not going to reveal exactly what kind of tracks I saw today. I'll tell you all about them tomorrow. Who knows? It might even be entertaining.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Covered In Ice

Yesterday morning when I went outside, I discovered everything was covered in ice. Unfortunately, I never thought at the time to take any pictures of the ice that was everywhere. The photos here are from a week ago, but they still fit the story, you'll see.

I've talked before about our unpredictable weather here. Well, we've gone from bitter cold to warm and raining. This morning it was too warm to snow, so it rained. The big problem was that it was still cold enough for the rain to freeze once it touched the ground.

And it did freeze in a big way. It wasn't a very big ice storm, as far as ice storms go, but it was just big enough to cause problems for anyone who was stupid enough to venture out. That would be me. I didn't really want to be out there, but sometimes you just can't avoid these things. I almost turned right around and went back inside.

As soon as got outside, I saw that there was ice covering everything, including my truck. Ice is probably the worst thing to have to scrape off of a vehicle. You only have to push snow off, but as I said, you have to scrape ice. It's not easy, and you have to get it off the windshield to see anything. Not fun at all!

I got the truck cleaned off and drove out to the road. There were car accidents every few blocks on my street alone. It was like driving on a wet sheet of glass. One false move and you could end up crashing your car. Hit the brakes to hard and you'd never stop.

The only thing to do was to drive very slowly, and be very careful with you brakes. Not everyone understands this, even people who've experienced this kind of thing before. That makes extra problems for everyone. Even if your driving is fine, someone else might have a problem close by your car. Then you're both in trouble.

I saw people that didn't want to use any common sense. They were driving way too fast, and too close to other vehicles. They were sliding around all over the place, but they still didn't have the sense to slow down. You would think they would begin to understand. Where is their sense of danger?

Others were in accidents even when they did nothing wrong. There was a car that had slid off the road into a snowbank. He was stuck with no way out. No rescue would come for hours, because everyone was busy. He'd have to wait his turn. There were others like that along the way, but to many to talk about.

I did what I had to do without incident, and I was grateful that I made it back home safe and sound. After getting back home, I decided that today wasn't really a good day to go back out. If it's not the cold stopping me, it's something else. Maybe tomorrow will work out a little better.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Animal Activity

Christmas is over, and I'm back from my little pause. I never really left, but I've had a few busy days where I couldn't really get on here as much as I usually do. I noticed that it's been the same for a lot of other people too. I wondered what it would be like, and now I know.

Just as a reminder, the last thing I talked about was the bitterly cold weather here. Well, that has passed us by now, and I'm ready to go! I've been outside now, doing what I like to do, only once so far since then, but I'm ready to go back out there now. I've been waiting so long, and now I have the time again.

The first thing I did was to go out behind my house, and see what the situation was back there. The snow had gotten very deep out there, and along with the cold it had been an impossible task to walk through that up until now. Since I knew that I wouldn't freeze to death now, I knew it was the right time.

Because the snow was so deep, and it covered everything, I decided to do something back there that I haven't done up until now. I was going to go all the way back to the trees to check for animal activity. I was going to see if any animals had left tracks back there.

I haven't seen anything moving back there for about a month, so I didn't really expect to see that much. I didn't really want to walk through all of that snow, so I couldn't imagine any animals wanting to do it either. But then, they have to be out here, but I don't. Maybe I might find something.

It was not easy getting back there at all. I soon found out that the snow came all the way up to my knees! On top of that, the wind was blowing hard, and it was snowing again. If you look at the first photo, you can see the snow in the air. I didn't even need the flash to capture it. Even with all of this, I began my journey to the treeline.

After trekking through the deep snow, I finally made it all the way to the back. What I found there was astonishing! Not only were there animal tracks, but there were a lot of them. Maybe it took a while to make these tracks, but there was something that had been all over the place back here.

Whatever this animal was, it had been going in and out of the trees in several places. Maybe there was only one, and maybe there were several animals. I really don't know. The snow was too deep to find out what made the tracks. Plus it was snowing then too, so any identifying marks were quickly being covered up.

Maybe it was just a neighborhood dog, but I choose to imagine that it was something much more exciting. There have been several coyote sightings nearby. I heard that they are becoming a problem very close by. These animals are closely related to dogs, but they're wild and they can get mean if they're hungry.

I saw something like one of these predators back here last spring, but nothing since. I've warned people not to let their kids go back there alone. An animal like this can be very dangerous. There aren't many really dangerous animals around here, but a coyote is one of them. The animal I saw was cunning, and it watched me with intelligence in it's eyes.

Who knows? This could also be deer tracks. It's hard to see them in this picture, but this area is full of tracks. None of them human. This is the area that the deer go when they leave my yard. It's some kind of animal highway or something.

I've walked in there to see where they go from there, but I couldn't find any obvious path. I'll have to check again for more tracks another time. Maybe I can solve this little mystery then. I didn't stay out here for very long this time, because my camera was getting snowed on, and I don't want it to get ruined. That wouldn't be good at all!

I see all of these tracks, and hope that I can spot a real animal this winter. I know they're out there. I think it's only a matter of time before I see one. One of these days I might have photos of an animal walking through the snow. Then I'll show them to you all. It obviously hasn't happen yet, but I can dream.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Red Neck Christmas

I'm not the author of this little story, and I don't know who wrote this, but I thought it might be kind of amusing for you. -Ratty

A Red Neck Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the trailer Not a creature was stirrin' 'cept a redneck named Taylor. His first name was Bubba, Joe was his middle, And a-runnin' down his chin was a trickle of spittle. His socks, they were hung by the chimney with care, And therefore there was a foul stench in the air. That Bubba got scared and rousted the boys. There was Rufus, 12 Jim Bob was 11 Dud goin' on 10 Otis was 7. John, George and Chucky Were 5,4, and 3: The twins were both girls so they let them be. They jumped in their overalls, no need for a shirt, Threw a hat on each head, then turned with a jerk. They ran to the gun rack that hung on the wall. There were 17 shotguns they grabbed them all. Bubba said to the young'uns, "now hesh up ya'll! The last thing we wanna do is wake up yer Maw." Maw was expecting and needed her sleep, So out they crept out the door without making a peep. They all looked around, and then they all spit. The young'uns asked Bubba, "Paw, what is it?" Bubba just stared he could not say a word. This was just like all of The stories he'd heard. It was Santy Claus on the roof, darn tootin' But the boys didn't know they was about to start shootin'! They aimed their shotguns and nearly made a mistake That would have resulted in venison steak. Bubba hollered out, "don't shoot, boys!" That's Santy Claus And he's brought us some toys. The dogs were a-barkin' and a-raisin' cain, And Bubba whistled, and shouted, and called them by name. "Down, Spot! shut up Bullet! quiet, Roscoe and Enos! Git, Turnip and Tater and Sam and Bosco!" "Git down from that porch! git down off that wall! Quit shakin the trailer, or you'll make Santy fall!" The dogs kept a-barkin' and wouldn't shut up, And they trampled poor Pete Who was only a pup. Santy opened his bag, And threw out some toys. Bubba got most, but left a few for the boys. Since the guns had been dropped he just might not die. He jumped in his sleigh, told his reindeer to hurry. The trailer started to wobble santa started to worry. Just as the reindeer got into the air, The trailer collapsed, but Bubba didn't care. He was busy lookin' at all his new toys. Then a thought hit him, and he said to the boys: "Go check on yer Maw, make sure she's all right. That roof fallin' on her could-a hurt just a might." But Maw was OK, and the girls were too. They fixed up the trailer it looked good as new. And as for Bubba, he liked Old St. Nick, But Santa thought Bubba was a pure-in-tee hick! Bubba had a nice Christmas, and the boys did, too. And the Taylors wish a Yee Haw Merry Christmas to you!!!

I'll be back tomorrow with my normal everyday adventures. See you then.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Christmas Eve

It's going to be a couple of very busy days for me today and tomorrow. Even so, I'll have something here for each day. This post for today, of course. And one that's maybe a little bit special tomorrow.

First, I'd like to update everyone on my recent stuck inside with no new adventures situation. That's done! I've been outside looking around, and I have some cool stuff for you right after Christmas. That means no more stir crazy posts, just crazy posts. I like crazy sometimes. It gives life an extra kick.

Anyway, today I'd like to tell you what I do this time of year. Since I grew up in the United States, I was raised in basically a Christian environment. I'll tell you now though that my family is not necessarily very religious. That's our option in a free country. We're not blind to religion, and we also respect others religions, but we keep our beliefs mostly to ourselves.

I don't usually like to talk about this, because I have many different friends, with many different religions. They're all wonderful people, and I respect them all very much. My internet friends are among those great people that I have a great deal of respect for. That means you!

But as I said before, we're basically Christian, so we celebrate Christmas, of course. Mainly, my extended family gets together on Christmas Eve, and we leave Christmas day for each section of the family. It's my Christmas Eve that I want to talk about today. I want to give you a glimpse of what it's like.

We all get together at the home of the most senior member of the family. There, we have a quiet celebration. It's mostly so our family can be together and show our appreciation for one another. We've been doing this ever since I can remember.

Now it's not a polite religious gathering or anything like that. It's just a fun little night where we share presents with each other, eat snacks, and catch up on what each of us has been doing. I guess I said it in the wrong order. We actually open the presents last, but everything happens as it happens.

We've had a few amusing things happen over the years too. Like the time my nephew snuck a few sips of an alcoholic beverage, and ended up drunk. He was only eight years old. His dad was a little upset, and looked at him and said. "Look at him, he's half drunk!"

The boy looked back, and slurred, "I'm not half drunk, old man. I'm all the way drunk!" Of course, the rest of us laughed out loud at this. His dad was not amused one bit. I think they watch him a little more carefully now.

Then there was the time that another nephew walked into the room eating the dog treats that I gave to my dog five minutes before. I'll confess now, somebody who writes on this blog gave him those dog treats. That person thinks it's highly amusing for the kids to eat dog treats. I wonder who that could be?

Hey, it doesn't hurt them. And besides, it leaves their teeth clean, and gives them a shiny coat of fur. I have one cousin who's now in his late twenties, and still loves dog biscuits. His own mother watches him eat them, simply because he's kind of unstoppable.

Things aren't all as strange as that, but I like those things the best. I guess I'm the evil one in the family when it comes to things like that. I just love seeing the look on the parents' faces when their kid does something that's totally messed up. It wouldn't be fun without a little laughter anyway.

What we mostly do though is share our cookie recipes, and sit around talking. Then when everyone has gotten a little something to eat, and we've made the kids wait for a sufficient time, we all begin to open gifts from each other. That's what we plan on anyway. It usually works out somewhere in that general frame.

Well, that's it! I didn't intend for this one to be as long as it was. This was just a small look into what I do for the holidays. If any of you would like to share your own experiences, no matter what they are, please leave me a nice long comment, or even a short one. I'd love to read about how you do things. All religions or lack of them are welcome here.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Frozen Pond

Something I've been waiting for since I bought my camera, was to take a picture of my favorite pond when it was covered with ice. I took these just before it got so cold here. When I first saw the pond, I wondered what it would look like with a sheet of ice on top. I knew back then that it would be a fun adventure.

I've actually never been close to a pond that was this frozen before. I've seen movies where people went out on ponds like this to play and ice skate. Inevitably, someone would always fall through the ice. The fate of the person depended on what type of movie it was.

Needless to say, I wasn't planning on walking out on this ice. It looks like it is frozen pretty solidly, but I wouldn't take the chance, especially since I'm usually alone. The next hiker would walk past wondering what that big dark spot in the ice was. Actually, if you think about it in a certain way, that would be kind of funny.

The idea of floating a mannequin into the water just before it froze, and then watching the reactions from unsuspecting people later might be hilarious; until the police get involved. Next stop, jail time. So don't try this at home, or anywhere else for that matter.

Maybe it's not as funny as I originally thought. Just think of what would happen to the poor person that found it. It would probably traumatize the discoverer of your handiwork in the worst way. That's the problem with thinking up these evil type of jokes. In the end I always feel bad about it. Now I feel like a complete villain.

On the other hand, why don't these kind of thoughts leave me? Just looking at that ice, I remember back when there were ducks swimming around in the pond. There are goose tracks on the pond right now. Now, I keep seeing an image in my mind of a duck with it's feet frozen in the pond, just standing there looking around. And I want to laugh like a maniac!

The problem is that I would feel terrible for the poor little duck. But next I imagine the sad, horrified look on my face, and I want to laugh even louder! What did those poor ducks ever do to me, but give me joy at their very presence? What cruel thing did I do to deserve this torment from my evil half?

I think I need to get out a little more. This is the result when an Everyday Adventurer is cooped up inside too much. I think I need to try at least a short adventure until warmer weather comes. When it gets warmer, just another ten degrees, I'll go on a good outdoor journey, and take a nice long hike through the forest. Then I'll be all better, won't I?

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Monday, December 22, 2008


Today was a day that I've been dreading. Everything came to a halt for one day for me. I've had to limit my adventures to indoor activities. The temperature outside is only two degrees Fahrenheit, or about minus sixteen degrees Celsius. So because of that, this will be a short post.

This is the main problem with winter. We get very cold days like these. There is nothing that we can do except wait. Maybe there are some brave souls out there, who want to venture out in this weather, but I'm not one of them.

Instead, I'm going to show you some of my photos from the big snowstorm the other day so that I have something recent on here today. I wanted to show these photos anyway, and now I have my excuse to do so. I think they give a good view of the snow we have gotten in the last two days.

When I say I have been limited to indoor activities, I don't exactly mean that I've been only inside my house. Of course, I've had to go outside to do ordinary things, like shovel snow off of my sidewalk, and scoop out a car. I don't think these things are a very fun adventure at all.

I do have to say that there are some beautiful scenes in these photographs. I would brag and take full credit for them, but it was actually nature that made these look good. It really is hard for me to give away the credit, but it's true. All I did was click the button on the camera.

This last picture shows the same picnic table that I've shown in a few other posts, like The Mist. There is a mound of dirt from a photo in that post, that I show here in the first photo. But now it's completely covered in snow. These two things look very different now, don't they?

The combination of the deep snow and this bitter cold is a frustrating thing for me. I had big plans to go hiking this weekend, but the weather didn't improve. It only got worse. The rest of the week isn't going to be much better, but I'll come up with something. I'll have all day today to think of something.

This was a disjointed post because of my frustration with this weather, but I'll be back tomorrow with hopefully something great. I'm getting ideas already! See you tomorrow, and in the meantime, I hope you enjoy these photos. This day gave me the opportunity to show them to you, which I guess is pretty good.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

After The Blizzard

At the time you are reading this, we have had a huge winter snowstorm here, about two days ago. There was about ten inches of snow that fell on us in a matter of only a few hours. I had to drive to work right in the middle of that storm. I couldn't really get any photos until after everything was over.

I decided to show you a few places near me, so that you can see some of the results of this storm. This was the biggest snowstorm we have had in several years. They had to use plows to move the snow out of the way, so the streets could be cleared enough to drive on them.

In several places this snow was piled as tall as I am, and I'm not a short person. The last time I remember the snow having to be piled up this high was when I was a child of maybe ten years old. That was a very long time ago. It seems like only a few years ago to me.

Back then, I remember my grandpa shoveling snow and ice out of the street, so that he could get his car out. The small streets weren't plowed back then. If you wanted to get a car out, you had to dig it out yourself. Times have changed a lot since then. I miss my grandpa, he was the best.

Here is a photo from behind my house of the snow that fell on us. Notice how nothing at all has disturbed the surface of this snow yet? I plan on going out there very soon, and messing it all up. I'm going to walk back to those trees and look for animal tracks.

It's not going to be very easy for me to get back there, because the snow is very deep. That makes it really difficult to walk through, but I want to see if any living creature has been back there yet. Normally, there would be no snow back there yet, and there would still be animals to find.

The funny thing is that the first official day of winter is today, December 21. When this snowstorm hit, it wasn't even officially winter yet. With all the snow we've had already, we might be in for a long winter. This is something we haven't really been used to here in Michigan until recently.

I wonder if I picked the right winter to hike in it for the first time. This makes things really difficult for me, a very inexperienced winter hiker. I can't go out to my beloved nature trails nearly as much as I'd like. It gets very frustrating at times.

At least I know that if I'm going to learn to deal with hiking in winter and snow, this may be the perfect year to do it. If I can learn to get around successfully now, I'll be ready for years to come. I'll come out of this winter as a very confident winter hiker.

Even though we were hit very hard by this storm, it wasn't nearly as devastating as it could have been. The government around here seemed to be well prepared for it. They had snowplow trucks, and salt trucks out immediately, so they could keep the roads as clear as possible. It took over a day for the roads to be cleared, but they did it.

Again, they had to pile up the snow wherever they could, to get it out of the way. That's what they usually do with it, but this year there is so much more they have to move out of the way. Sometimes they can't really do much with it at all.

This makes it hard for anyone that is walking, because the sidewalks just can't be cleared very quickly. Most people that have to walk in places like you see in this last photo, have to do so in the street. That's very dangerous around here with the fast moving traffic. I won't walk anywhere except for a place away from any moving vehicles.

I hope I'll be able to have access to the hiking trails soon. I'm not sure if they'll be able to clear those areas enough to get close to them yet. There is also supposed to be more snow on the way. It's beginning to look like I'm going to have my greatest challenge yet this year. How will I do new things out there if I can't get there? I'll have to think of something. This should be good. I'll be back tomorrow with something new.

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Great Tree

Today I have a post for you with a few less words than usual. There's plenty to talk about, but I wanted to show you something that I found interesting. There aren't really many words to describe it. So here goes.

I found this tree while I was out wandering around not too long ago. It was later in the evening, and night was quickly approaching. I looked at the tree and the horizon stretched out behind it, and just found it incredibly beautiful.

I'm not really sure what it was about the tree that I liked, but it just seemed to jump out at me. It gave me images in my mind of artistic photos that I've seen in the past. This is no great art or anything. It's just an attractive scene that I happened to come across.

Maybe it was the odd symmetry of the tree that I like so much. It just seemed so unusual out there in that field all alone. There are no leaves left on it at all anymore, but I think that adds to the quiet beauty of the tree and the scene.

It seemed almost as if the tree was trimmed to look as it did, but it's obvious that it wasn't. You can see from this zoomed out photo that it's out there all by itself. I think the coming darkness also added to the whole effect it had on me. It made the tree look almost like a shadow of itself.

I still don't know what it was about the whole thing, but it made me want to go home and take a nap. I lost all words and just stood there and stared at it. I never once thought about approaching it. It seemed wrong to do that for some reason. I was completely content to stay where I was and look at this great tree.

I'll be back tomorrow with something new and exciting for all to see.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Wildlife Trails

Today is maybe a continuation from yesterday's post. I wanted to show the abundance of animals that are out here during the winter. All of these little trails in these photos were made by animals. Every one of the tracks are animal tracks.

As I walked through the forest, I saw these side trails with the animal tracks every few minutes. I never really thought about it at the time, but there are more animal trails out there than there are trails made by humans. It's amazing that I stood near so much wildlife, but didn't ever really see anything.

All I could think about while I was out there was the fact that I saw almost no animals at all. I really wanted a good photo of an animal out there in the snow. But it wasn't going to happen then. Even after seeing all of these tracks, I thought that I was alone.

I now realize that you never know what's lurking out there in the woods when you are hiking along the nature trails all alone. Anything could be out there watching and waiting. You could be out there walking along in the quiet peaceful winter air, and then suddenly something comes crashing out of the forest. That would be almost... Scary!

Alright, back to the subject. In this second photo, it looks like there have been crowds passing through the forest here. These are again, all animal tracks. The human trails look every bit as crowded, but I never thought there were so many animals out here.

I always thought that the animals went somewhere else, or just hibernated during the winter. I never thought about them being out here all winter long. I guess it's not really that easy to migrate to a different place. I really never imagined it would be like this.

It's amazing how there can be so many animals out here, but then they can stay so very well hidden. I guess they have to find places to keep warm just like us humans do. Things like these animal tracks bring so many new thoughts and ideas to the surface of my mind. I'm not sure I have the time to describe them all.

This last photo is of the surface of the pond in the back of Woodland Hills Nature Park. It's completely frozen already. If you look closely at the picture, you can see thousands of dark spots. These are also more animal tracks.

I would guess that these tracks belong to either geese or ducks, or maybe even both. As many of you know, I've seen goose tracks on a frozen pond before. Maybe there have been other small animals out there on that ice too. It probably would hold some of the small animals.

I couldn't get very close to these particular tracks, because I wasn't going to walk out onto that ice. While it was frozen enough for what was out there, I'm sure it would not have held me (Help me, I'm drowning!). Falling through the ice is probably not the most fun I would have on an everyday adventure.

Well, it's been fun for me talking about these animal trails, but that's enough for today. Maybe next time I go out, I'll remember to get pictures of where the human and animal trails meet. To me, it's a very interesting subject, that I have yet to fully explore. Until next time, I'm done, for now.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Animal Tracks

Rabbit TracksRabbit Tracks

I set out on my new everyday adventure with a goal. I knew what I had to do. It was something I was planning since last summer. There were some specific photos that I had been waiting to get. Since the snow was now here, I was ready to get these pictures of some animal tracks.

The first thing I found were some rabbit tracks, or as Elmer Fudd would say, "Wabbit twacks!" I found these at the very front of the park, only a little way into the hiking trail. I have never actually seen an animal this close to the front, so I was more than a little surprised to see them.

I knew what these were right away, because I have seen rabbit tracks before. I learned several years ago what they were. Somebody that knew more about this kind of thing back then told me what they were. I was surprised that I knew what these were right away. I had forgotten all about learning what these were. It's amazing what a new discovery can bring up from the past.

It looks like the mark in the back was left by only one foot, but it's really both feet. When a rabbit hops around, it's back feet come down very close together. It's a simple explanation, but that's how it was explained to me, and it makes good sense. You can actually see two marks if you examine it closely.

Deer TracksDeer Tracks

Almost as soon as I saw the rabbit tracks, I came upon these deer tracks. Nobody ever taught me how to identify deer tracks. Somehow I just knew what kind of animal they belonged to the very first time I ever saw any. Maybe it's some kind of instinctive thing that's embedded into me from ancient humans. Wouldn't that be cool, if it was true?

I was even more surprised to see these deer tracks so close to the front of the park, than I was with the rabbit tracks. I've seen deer on these particular trails only three times, and each time it's only been one at a time. Two have been at the very back of the park, and one was at about the middle.

I got the best look at the one in the middle of the park. But it was long before I ever carried a camera with me, so I have no record of it. It was the first time I was ever able to try my technique on how to get close to a deer, and it worked like a charm. I was able to get close enough to touch it, but I didn't do it. I also used a subtle trick to make it move away from me.

Oh, back to the tracks. I followed these winter deer tracks all the way to the back of the park. They weaved in and out of the main nature trail. Sometimes they followed the man made trail, and sometimes they would leave the trail to move along the many deer trails that intersect these hiking trails. I even saw a few of these tracks on the bridge.

Squirrel TracksSquirrel Tracks

I didn't see any tracks like these squirrel tracks, until I reached the very back of the park. They're a little more difficult to see, because they're not very deep in the snow. I guess they step a little more lightly than the other animals. They are also very small. They're probably only about the size of a quarter.

I wasn't sure what these were until I did a little bit of research. I thought they probably belonged to a squirrel, but I wasn't quite sure. There are very many small animals in places like this, and back here there were a lot of tracks. I picked these particular tracks, because they were really some of the easiest to see of this kind, even with the large abundance of squirrel tracks back here.

I actually saw a few squirrels as I was walking back to the front of the park. They were too quick for me to get any photos of them though, so I decided to settle on just their tracks for now. I'm beginning to realize that I've had trouble getting photos of squirrels. I might have to go on a crazy squirrel hunt, like I did with the birds.

Dog TracksDog Tracks

I had to check these last tracks out before I said what they were. Like the squirrell tracks, I knew that these were made by a dog, but I wasn't 100% sure. This dog had some long claws. I wanted to be sure it wasn't a wild animal.

I really didn't think it could be another kind of animal, but I know there are coyotes and foxes around here. There were other dog tracks out here, so I knew that these were most likely only from a normal everyday pet dog. There is only one problem with that though.

At the entrance of the park there is a sign that says there are no dogs allowed. I've seen people walking their dogs here before. I don't really care if people bring their dogs here if they want to. As long as they keep them from disturbing the wildlife, I think it's okay. I think it's that risk that made them put up the no dogs sign. Dogs should be able to enjoy nature too.

Well, that's the end of my look at animal tracks for now. I took a look at some things from the interesting to maybe the absurd. They were all animal tracks I saw on this trip to my favorite nature trail. I wanted to show some human tracks too, but in the end I decided that it wasn't the right time for that yet. Who knows? Maybe one of these days I'll write a story on the habits of wild people. That's it for today. See you next time.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Cold And Snowy

My latest trip to my favorite hiking trail was fun, but it was also cold and snowy. I could see at the entrance to the trail that this was going to be different. Winter has come early around here this year, but I haven't been out when it was quite this cold yet.

I've been dreading going out here in this cold weather, because I wasn't sure what I could write about. But I remember that it's not so much the writing that matters, it's the discovery of new things. There would definitely be something to discover here today.

I knew the things I would see on these nature trails would be different. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect though. Was I going to see any animals at all? If not, what kinds of things would be interesting to look at and to write about?

The first thing I noticed was, of course, the very cold air. I was bundled up pretty well, so I wasn't going to have to worry too much about the cold, but my face wasn't very well protected. My nose and my cheeks started to become painfully cold after about only a quarter of the way into the park.

I learned very quickly to cover my face with my gloved hands very frequently. That did a good job of warming me up for short periods. I wouldn't have to worry too much about the cold, but I realized that I might have to start looking for some longer term protection for my face before I came back out again.

The other thing I found out was that these trails were now very slippery with all of the snow on the ground. The snow was packed down from others that had been through here, and was now like a sheet of ice. I needed to be very careful in these conditions from now on.

I read about some chains that fit on your boots, that are specifically for hiking on ice and snow. They keep you from slipping and sliding. I'll have to look for them again. I hope they're not very expensive. The whole idea here is to do this on a very small budget. I want everyone to be able to enjoy this.

I hope to learn a lot about winter hiking as I go this year. So far I've learned that I need to be a little bit warmer. I also think I'm going to learn about paying closer attention to the smaller details of my surroundings. I'll have to take a closer look at certain other things, so that I can find some interesting things. I'm sure they're there.

The winter and the snow have changed things in a huge way for me and my everyday adventures. I can't go out if there is a snowstorm or if darkness falls too quickly for me. I have to choose my time a little more wisely. I hope I can do that. Maybe I'll do a little bit of research to find out some interesting solitary outdoor wintertime things to do.

Out here there were some very interesting sights to see, and there are plenty of things to write about. Animal sightings were few and far between. But that makes them more exciting when they happen. It's going to be fun coming up with new adventures for myself as the winter moves along. I can't wait to see what happens next!

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Milkweed Fluff

Today I decided to post these photos of my favorite milkweed plant. I found this milkweed on a hiking trail in Heritage Park last summer, when I was looking for some good nature scenes to photograph. I've been monitoring this one ever since.

These particular photos are of the pods from this time of year. These milkweed pods have now broken open, and the seeds and the attached filaments are pouring out. You can't really see much more than that in the pictures, because there isn't really that much to show.

The plants are all shriveled up and dead looking, because of the time of year it is. The parts that look interesting are the seeds and filaments. These filaments look so fluffy and white. They're one of the main reasons I have always liked milkweed plants.

The first time I ever saw a milkweed plant, I was completely fascinated. Well, it was mainly the pods that fascinated me. Everything about them. A milkweed pod is one of the strangest looking things you'd ever see. It looks almost alien, and I'm not the only one who ever thought so.

There was at least one book and several versions of a movie, that were probably inspired by these strange looking pods. I wrote a little bit about them quite a while back, and I have the links below if you want to know more about these great pod stories.

Oh, as you can see by the photos, the seeds and filaments are the other part of the pods that are interesting. These filaments, when caught by the wind, drift in the air to find new destinations to plant their seeds, and grow a whole new milkweed plant. I used to open pods like these and look at this stuff whenever I got the chance.

They really are interesting. I don't show everything here, because I've shown them at different times in the past. If you want to see more, I show them in the links below. There's also some strange little stories to go along with the posts, as usual. I hope you liked this new look at what a milkweed pod looks like in December.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

The Flow Of The River

Today I decided to show you some close up photos of a place in the river at Heritage Park. This is an area where I had to go pretty far off of the hiking trails to get to. I thought it was an interesting section of the river.

It looks like maybe some natural debris and a few fallen trees created this little natural dam in the river. I'm not sure what it would be called other than that, I just thought it was kind of cool. It's little things like this that are unique parts of nature.

You'll never really see this in the exact same way anywhere else, and that's what makes it important to me. It's the thrill of seeing something that almost nobody else has been this close to. This is the thrill of discovery that most people don't think they have time for.

After I see something like this, it gives me a feeling of peace and relaxation. This quiet sense of discovery helps me forget the burdens of the world for just a little while. Most people don't really understand this kind of thing, but I'm sure all of you reading this know what I'm talking about.

It's good to remember the concerns of our everyday lives, but sometimes we just need to get away so we can take a short break. I can go to places like this and take a deep breath, so that I'm ready to go back out and face the world with a renewed energy. It gives me something extra so that it's just a little easier to deal with things.

Just standing there and watching the rushing water in this quiet place, gives me time to sort out my thoughts. Then I can think through any problems I might have, and conquer them when the time comes. I wish everyone could do something like this.

I really look forward to the times I can go out and see things like this small river. I like seeing the animals when I go out here, because it's always an exciting event. But something like this river is the foundation for why I go hiking.

I've said before that the sound of running water is such a peaceful natural sound. Most of us know that water is at the heart of our existence. It is essential for our lives. Maybe this sound of running water gives us a feeling of peace on an instinctive level. When we hear it, we know we are alive and safe.

I hope these photos of this small section of river can give at least some of you a little of the peaceful feeling that it gave me when I was standing there watching it flow by. My own thoughts are becoming calmer just remembering and thinking about it. I'll leave you today with the wish of peace and well being for you all.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Daylight Moon

Something special happened here a few days ago. The moon was out in the middle of the afternoon. I know most of you have seen this kind of thing before, but I've never seen any other photos like these before.

On my way home from work, just as I was getting close to home, I happened to look up in the sky and saw the moon big in the sky. I knew I wanted to get a few pictures of it as soon as I saw it. This isn't something that happens every day.

I've been trying to get a few photos of the moon for a little while now, but the darkness outside always helps mess up the pictures. I do have a few night photos that aren't too bad, that I might put up here, but this daylight situation was perfect. It helped the features of the moon come out pretty well.

You can see what everyone around here calls "The Man In The Moon". It looks like it has a face, and it's looking down at us. I always watch for that face when I look up in the sky at night, but when I get to see it during the day it's that much more special for me.

I actually have about three dozen photos of this daylight moon, because I wanted to be sure I got at least a few decent shots. I wasn't sure how well any of them would come out, so I took a lot of them. I kept going until I was satisfied that I had a few good ones. I got lucky and they were almost all good, so I have a moon photo for any situation.

This second photo is kind of special. It's not just a normal shot of the moon that is zoomed out. Look in the top right area. Those little black spots in the sky are actually a flock of birds flying towards the center of the photo. If you click on the photo, you can see them more clearly, when the bigger size loads.

When I took these pictures, I never saw these birds at all. I had no idea that they were even there. It was when I was going through all of these photos that I first saw that there were birds in this one. I always say on here that I have trouble getting pictures of flying birds. Now I got one without even trying.

I put this last photo here to give you some perspective on what I was actually seeing when I looked up into the sky. You can see where the moon actually was from where I was standing. You can see the sunshine on the trees in the field, and the moon hanging over the whole scene. It was a wonderful sight.

We just happened to get lucky and have a nice clear day that day. It hasn't been like this most of the time around here lately. We've had winter snowstorms on most days. That day it was clear and bright. The sky was a nice shade of blue that enhanced the whole scene. It made it that much easier to see the moon. It looked look so big up there in the sky, almost as if it was put up there just for me.

I remember seeing on a few movies and TV shows how they would show two people in different locations looking up at the same moon. They both wondered if the other one was looking at the moon too. I guess it was a way to show some sort of connection between the two of them. I wonder who else was looking at this moon when I was?

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