Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Over The Hills And Far Away

I thought today I'd show you what it looks like around here in some places. You might imagine Iowa as all cornfields as far as the eye can see, and yes, we do have that. But here it's not all cornfields. There are lots of hills where I live. And nature. Lots of nature.

The good thing about these hills is that it's kind of hard to plant corn or other things on them. So we have lots of wild areas. Corn is good, but we don't need to cover everything with it. Maybe I'll show it to you in a future post if you'd like though.

There are lots of places where I can go to look out over the hills and see out to forever. Many of these places are reserved just for doing that. Sometimes a stop by the side of the road will get you a good view. And there are nature preserves for this as well.

In the picture above you can see in the far distance one area where the land flattens out for a bit. Beyond that is more hills. That's pretty far away. I'll have to get closer to those hills with my pictures one of these times.

I don't know if you can tell from the pictures but a lot of that green color is the tops of trees. I've said that before in another post. You can stand higher than the treetops in lots of places around here. I keep saying it because the view is just so relaxing.

Enough of looking like a bad advertisement for the hills. There are other things around here. There are lots of animals, but I have to say I've only seen mostly birds and bison in this particular area. There are lots of deer, but they seem to like to gather mostly at the highway, at mostly the time of evening when they're hard to see while they run out in front of your vehicle.

I'm hoping that while being out here as often as I am that I'll begin to see more animals. So far it's beginning to work. They really do come out if they detect that you're at ease with your surroundings and they believe you mean them no harm. I'll show some of that next time. I'll talk to you later.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Bird On A Pole

I had a good day recently after a little rest. I had to rest my leg after injuring it while on a little bit of a shady adventure. I think that's all I'll say about that. Everything is fine now, and my leg is all healed up. Now I'm able to go out and see birds like this little one.

Usually when a bird notices me like this one did the bird immediately flies away. Luckily this one didn't seem to want to leave its pole any time soon. It just defiantly stood there looking at me. And I was able to get plenty of pictures. I'll share the best ones with you here.

I posted this top picture to Twitter the day I saw the bird, with quite a bit of success there. Sometimes I share my pictures on both places, here and there, and sometimes they're exclusive to one. Twitter can be good for quick updates when I'm doing a lot of fun things.

I believe this bird is called a Grasshopper Sparrow. I can't say I'm sure at all, but that was the only bird that seemed to match this one enough. All the rest just didn't look like my little friend here. The stripes on the head were really hard to find. I gave3 up my search a couple of times before I finally found the possible solution.

The Bing pictures search I did was very helpful this time. They are becoming more like a field guide as time goes on. They give you extra options to see more details on your bird, such as range and habitat. Google has done some similar things as well.

This last one was one of the first pictures I took before I zoomed in closer. It gives you a good look at the size of this little bird. I actually took a few dozen pictures of it. I don't think you want to see them all though. Taking so many is how you get one like that first one.

I have lots more pictures from that day of many different things. I was in grand adventure mode that day. I'm going to repeat it in different places in a day or two. Doing this every other day or so is going to give me some small adventures and some big ones. I'll try to share some of each if I can. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Scenes From The Forest

There are so many things you find in a random forest. I've just begun to explore this one. I haven't even left the trails yet, but my camera has. I took a few pictures of some interesting sights I saw while walking through.

This top picture shows a very small, but very noisy little creek that runs right through the nature trail. You've already seen the bridge that crosses this creek. The creek provides a nice relaxing background noise for the walk along the trail.

 The second picture shows the creek from the other side of the bridge. The creek is almost too small to see in the picture, but if you look very closely you might be able to see it. Watch your nose when pressing your face up to the screen.

I didn't expect to find this swampy area near this little trail. It's the kind of thing that proves to me that you never know what you'll find along a nature trail. What I love about nature is that some things can be so unexpected.  I wonder if there are frogs here.

The only thing that could be more unexpected here is a close encounter with some possibly dangerous wild animals. I have done that before. One of the most frightening experiences I've had, and I've never run faster.

This last picture is the kind of place where I've always fantasized about just building a little shack and living there forever. I'd be perfectly happy. I wonder if I could get internet piped in.

One of these times I'm going to have to get a good close up look at some of the forest vegetation. The one thing I never do is get that close to things like that. I think I'm too impatient. I'm always too busy moving on to the next thing to get such a close look at things. One of these times I'll take the time to do it. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bridges Are Cool. I'm On A Bridge Now.

One of the things I really love is walking through a forest and coming upon a hidden foot bridge. Seeing that structure for the first time gives me a joy I have trouble explaining. And walking across the wooden planks is just so wonderful.

I usually get to the middle of a bridge and then I look over the side. I look out across the forest from there and then I look down at what the bridge is crossing over. We'll save those things for another post. For now it's the bridge. It's such a wonderful bridge.

If you come in from this direction you find the bridge peeping out from between the leaves after you round a short corner. It's at that point that I want to run to the bridge to get the experience of walking across it now. But I walk slowly so I can savor the anticipation. Hey, I love bridges.

I always stop at the beginning of a bridge and take at least one picture. That picture never quite seems to capture the feeling that I have when I'm standing at this point. I also wish I could show the surrounding forest at the same time. These wide pictures help a little, but it's still not even close to the actual experience.

It was kind of dark here in the forest, and the phone camera captured exactly the right light. Maybe you have to click on a few of these pictures to see them better if you're interested. The section of forest with this bridge is very thick with foliage. The bridge is kind of lost until you get right upon it.

I wasn't going to add this last picture, but I thought, why not. I used to try to limit my pictures to a certain amount, but not always anymore. I don't have to say lots of stuff for each picture even though I usually do. But after looking at this one, I think it's one of the better pictures.

And I got to cross the bridge twice. I usually do, but not always. Maybe this post helped you appreciate bridges a little more, and maybe it made you begin to hate them a little bit. I like them more every time I find a new one. I'll say it one last time. Bridges are cool. I love bridges.

I'll talk to you later.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Cool Little Trail

I have lots of pictures today, but I'll try not to fill up each one with too many words. I have to share the little trail I found the other day. It's been extra hot around here, but under all of these trees it cools down greatly.

The steps in this first picture don't tell the story about what you'd find once you descended them. The trees cover the twisty trail that lies at the bottom. A trail that takes you away from civilization as soon as you reach the bottom of the steps.

Once I got on the trail I couldn't tell at all by looking that the road at the top of those steps existed at all. I was deep in a huge forest as far as I could tell.

I love walking a nature trail for the first time. It's such a mystery where it might take me and what I might see on my little adventure. I love the anticipation when I first enter. And then I love exploring every inch after I learn where I'm going.

I walked a little farther on and I couldn't even see the steps. The trees seemed to blot out all outside sounds as well. All I could hear was the sound of nature that shared this trail with me.

The trail took many twists and turns so anyone could get turned around in here. I'm glad there weren't any forks in the trail to further confuse me on this first journey through here.

This seemed like old times to me as I walked the trail. This was the setting in most of my old posts, but forests aren't as plentiful around here. And even this trail is not flat ground like my old places. There are plenty of hills that seem to keep going up and down forever.

It seemed that it wasn't very long at all before I came back to the original stairs that brought me to this trail. A first adventure is fun, but I also love to return again and again. The next time is when I can take the time to examine some things a little more closely. And I can share some interesting thisngs I find on the side of the trail.

Maybe I'll even get some of the little forest animals to come out when I feel more at ease here. With the right attitude you can get wild animals to walk right up to you. I won't explain that attitude here, but you get the idea. Let's just leave this story right here for now. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, June 17, 2016

On Top Of The Hills

Here I am standing high atop one of the highest points in Stone Park. All of that green in the picture above is the tops of trees. I've explained this same thing a few times before from this same place. I have also explained my next point.

These hills may not be exactly what you are thinking. When I think of hills most of the time I think of something big but not too big. Then there are mountains, which I think of as huge. These hills I am on are the size of mountains, but they are made from the stuff of hills.

Back before my back started really giving me lots of trouble I walked down the side of one of these huge hills, and after exploring the area at the bottom I walked right back up. I was a little tired but I felt pretty good. Right now I can't even make a quaerter of the journey down. But I'm working my way back.

Maybe by now you've noticed the widescreen look of my pictures in my last couple of posts. That's because I purposely used my phone's camera to take these pictures. This camera takes pictures that rival my big camera. I could set the pictures to look like the 4x3 pictures of the big camera, but I want you to see the difference.

I can't zoom in close to far away objects with this phone, but I didn't expect that to be a problem anyway. I knew exactly what I was going for before I got here. One thing I didn't really expect though was for the tree to have grown so tall. they're blocking the view a little bit this year.

It's actually kind of great up here on the hills. You feel like you're at the top of the world. I can see for miles up here. In the far background of this last picture is the next state over, South Dakota, which is several miles away.

I know I've shown you all this before in years past, but I like this place. I plan on exploring the deep interior of this huge park next. I can't walk far yet, but I'm going to keep pushing myself until I can get deep inside the forest where others never go. That's when the real adventure begins. That's my kind of adventure. And it's coming sooner than you think. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Driving Through The Park

I decided to take an evening drive through Stone State Park the other day. I want to be clear, walking through a good nature trail is my favorite thing in the world, but a nice drive through this park is a nice and relaxing thing too. This place is made for both.

I guess these pictures I'm sharing with you could have been better, but I was really concentrating on driving as well as looking around. I got a few more, but they didn't really come out well through the windshield because of the reflections.

You can see this one above got a little reflection in it, but it's okay anyway. Some I took are much worse. These three pictures actually give a good idea of what the park is all about. There are lots of trees  everywhere you go. I really love that.

More pictures would have been great, but there are lots of twists and turns on these roads, and there were more cars than I normally like this evening. For that reason I couldn't really stop long enough to get lots of pictures this time. That's okay because driving the roads is what the park is for.

Maybe I've been a little deceptive here. There are lots of places in the park to stop and park. And I did that. A few times. I took this last picture from outside of the truck. Maybe that was cheating for this post. I don't care. Maybe that makes me a bad rebel. Maybe not.

My next post will feature some of the more interesting things I did at the park. I could have shown that here but I like to focus on one subject at a time, and it would have made this post kind of huge. I like to keep them a little bit smaller. So I guess this one is to be continued. I'll talk to you later.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Turkey Vultures Are Circling

Let's talk about turkey vultures. If you haven't guessed it already this is the bird I'm sharing with you today. Many of you know this bird well, some even better than I do. Whether you know it or not this bird is a very interesting character.

He's kind of an ugly bugger if you see him up close. He is to me anyway. In a way though he is beautiful. He has a bald red head that looks similar to Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. You can kind of see that in these pictures. He keeps his neck tucked in while he's flying though.

These birds eat dead animals. You can often see them circling over a dead animal. I had one circle over me one time though. I have no idea why. I won't say I wasn't a little worried. I got some good pictures of the bird though.

The bird in my pictures was part of a larger flock. They were circling something too far away for me to see. There were around six of them. This is the only one that came close enough for me to get any pictures.

I wish I could have gotten a few better ones, but I was sitting in my truck at the time. When he got closer he was blocked by the frame of the truck. I would have gotten out, but there just wasn't enough time. just like that he was gone again.

Every one of these pictures was cropped to bring the turkey vulture a little closer. I don't usually do that except in cases like this. I can do all sorts of interesting alterations, but I rarely use them. Why am I mentioning all of this? No real reason except that I wanted to mention why the bird looks so close.

I have something different to say. Do you know of any bloggers who have been around awhile and seem to be fading away into oblivion? Maybe the fun of blogging is fading away for them. It's hard to remember sometimes what gave you the inspiration and love of blogging when it's been so long and things are maybe not going so well.

Maybe a few kind gestures from some of us can help some of them. Maybe not. I've been going around trying to reconnect with some long lost friends in the blogging world, leaving a few comments for them. I can only try. Maybe even something as small as this might rekindle that spark for them. And besides, I miss many of them. Think about this the next time you're leaving a few comments. An extra one or two somewhere you know might be good.

So now I come to the end of this post. I don't usually talk about some of this stuff. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned it. But I write what pops into my head at the time. Some of this stuff has been circling around there for awhile in the same way turkey vultures do. Some bloggers feel like that dead meat on the ground below these birds. Maybe some of them can be revived with a kind gesture here and there. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, June 10, 2016

What Is This Thing?

So you're wondering what it is exactly that I'm showing you. Oh sure, you see lots of grass and some trees in the background. But there is something in the picture above that you may or may not have noticed. Look at that thing in the center of the picture sticking up above the trees.

No, that's not another tree. Of course I know that you can't see it well from here. So what's even the point of this first picture? I included it to give you some perspective of how far that thing is, and to give you a look at the surroundings. I also thought the picture looked a little nicer than the others. And it gives me a little more time to run my mouth.

Here's a little closer look at the thing. You get a much better look now. But you still don't have a clue as to what it might be, do you. Maybe one of you knows. I don't. But I can speculate. So just what is my guess?

Well, I noticed several turkey vultures flying back there beyond the structure. maybe it was something that was built especially for them. Maybe it was made for the turkey vultures to land on. I have no other idea what it could be for. I could be completely wrong.

Here is the best look you're going to get. The question is, if I don't know what it is then why am I showing it to you? Simple. Because it's a mystery. I love a good mystery. Maybe you do too. That's good enough for me. What do you think?

If it's interesting to you then you might want to come back after there are a few comments. Maybe somebody will solve this little mystery for us. Maybe not. That's part of the mystery. We'll never know if we'll find the solution or not. Maybe it'll be fun guessing though. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Rising River

I decided to go to Oak Grove State Park to check on the level of the Big Sioux River there. There has been such a danger of flooding around here that I've been watching the river quite a bit. Some parts of it seem fine, but here at the park it is up quite a bit.

I took the pictures wondering just how I was going to show you that this river is up a little higher than might be good. I could see it right away because I've been here many times before. It was clearly apparent to me that the river is much higher than normal.

Of course my dog wanted to go right down to the river's edge to investigate, but that would have been too dangerous. We can get pretty close but there is a steep slope when you get right up close, and the river flows pretty fast. I would have shown you a picture of the dog, but the one I took wasn't very flattering. I've shared her with you in the past so you can check my archives if you want to see her. She looks properly impressive there.

Here's a picture of the river I took almost exactly two years ago. You can see that the river bottom is showing in some areas. You'll not see that in my new pictures. Not even a little bit. I'm not sure the river is usually that low either, but maybe it is. That's the usual way I always saw it.

One major thing I've noticed as I sit here looking at these contrasting pictures is how the trees differ. In my new pictures everything is so green and beautiful. The old picture looks like spring is maybe just beginning. I didn't expect that. I've been thinking how late spring arrived this year. This changes my feelings a lot.

These next two pictures show the river in both directions. Whenever I'm here I take these same pictures. Sometimes I wonder what is the point since I've done it all before, but this place looks different every time I'm here, as you can see by the older picture. I have to remember that myself because sometimes I forget.

I didn't stay very long at the park this time because I visited on a Sunday. The weather was wonderful that day. You'd think it would be ideal, but it wasn't. The weekend is when everyone else goes to the parks. I shy away from crowds. I like the solitude of the weekdays. So I'll come back again when I can have this place all to myself.

This park is never too crowded, except at the river. I guess I could have walked a few of the trails. But I'm just more comfortable while I'm alone. It will also give me another adventure to share when I visit again. The animals don't like lots of people either, so I didn't see any. Maybe next time I'll see a deer or two while on the trails.

Even with the other people, two groups seemed to be having parties, I did what I came here to do. I wanted to check the level of the river here. I guessed it would be high, and I was right. So I'm satisfied, and that's all that matters. I'll talk to you later.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Just A Little Adventure

I decided to do a little geocaching. You can see by the picture above from my phone that there are plenty of geocaches to hunt for around here. Every one of those little orange circles is a treasure to find. I leave the treasures in their containers, but you can trade with other little treasures. The fun is finding them.

I had one major problem with this while I was out though. I switched the app I use for geocaching and I found that one problem. Where I was looking for these caches there was no internet reception so all of those little orange circles disappeared.

I didn't know that in situations like this I needed to save my potential targets in the phone first. So instead of finding anything I decided to take a few pictures instead. Part of the fun with geocaching is that most of it is done in nature areas. You can even sometimes find hidden nature parks by using a geocaching app.

The first picture I took was the first fun thing I saw. This bird box seemed to be sitting there just waiting for me to get these pictures. Oh sure it may not seem like something special, but just think of how it would look with a bird peeping out of that hole.

I'm going to disappoint you a little and tell you that there is no bird, but that's not the larger point for me. The real reason I took the pictures is just because I wanted to. I missed seeing these boxes. The potential for the bird is always there, and the more boxes I see the more chance I'll see a bird. That's fun for any real nature geek.

And here's a different shot from the exact same position. How's that for variety? This is closer to the true distance of the box. I didn't even get out of my truck for the pictures. The box was sitting at the side of the road. Maybe that's a little bit of a disappointing revelation for you. Sometimes boring things can be found to be even more boring when they are fully explained.

So let's see what my next adventure will be. Will it be something as mundane as this bird box or will I see something remarkably unimaginable? Both have happened often in the past when I've gone out for my Everyday Adventures. It's always a fun surprise when we all find out. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, June 3, 2016

A Nice Little Bird

These are the first decent bird pictures I've taken in a natural setting in quite some time. I'm very out of practice. Hopefully I'll get better as I go out more. It's going to take some time, but I did it before so I think I can get good again.

I believe this bird is an Eastern Phoebe, but I could of course be wrong. Since I haven't been seeing many birds in the past few years I'm out of practice identifying them, so I'm also not as confident in my identification. But I think I still can do okay.

Here's the original picture of the bird, above. It looks far away in the picture, but it was even farther away than that. I couldn't really see the bird with my eyes. I only knew it was there because I saw it land there. I wasn't even sure it was still there when I was taking the pictures.

I thought the bird was maybe a robin when I was taking the pictures, but I kept seeing this flash of what looked like a dull yellowy color. You can see in this picture it almost looks yellow. I did confirm that the bird was still there when it finally flew away.

My old instincts aren't gone all the way because I was able to follow the bird with my eyes to an even farther away place. I saw it land on a branch in the picture above. Again, once it landed I couldn't see it anymore, but I knew it was there.

It took me a few seconds but I finally found the branch in the camera's view screen. I blindly took the shot and figured at the time that I probably got nothing. I even doubted that the bird was still there. But when I got home I saw the bird sitting right there on the very branch I assumed it had landed on. You can see it there in the top left.

I'm starting to have fun now. Posting a little more often and seeing more nature is the best thing for me. Hopefully I can keep it up. We'll see what happens. And who knows what I might come up with next. Big things seem to happen sometimes when I get going. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Finally Some Fun

I was finally able to get back out to a nature park. It was a short visit, but I was at least able to be there. This time I visited Five Ridge Prairie Preserve. This is a huge park that I have visited before. I went here for a few reasons I'll tell you about.

This park is always open, which is the main reason I went here. It's so much easier to go to a park when I have enough time to explore it properly. I love that other one, but it closes in the middle of the afternoon.

If not for the big hills this would be my favorite park by far. It is the most isolated park I have ever been to. There is almost always no one else here. I like that. And it is so big that many people have gotten lost and had to have the authorities come and search for them. I actually consider that to be kind of a plus in a strange way.

This time I only went a little way up the first trail. Right now my back still isn't healthy enough to go very far. Maybe if I keep coming back here I can get back to my old self where I could hike for miles and miles.

I even have a new episode of Rat TV for you this time. It's been a long time since my last one. This is a very short video, under thirty seconds. I kept it short so as not to torture you. I did it so you could hear the same nature sounds I was hearing. It was beautiful.

I can tell you about one major thing I like about being here as opposed to my nature parks back in Michigan. The sound. When I was at my old nature parks I constantly heard the background noise of human vehicle traffic. It kind of ruined the overall experience. Here there is only nature.

Part of the reason my visit here was short though was the bugs. As soon as I got on the trail the bugs swarmed me badly. You can hear them in the video. It was so bad that I couldn't really stop and enjoy the experience of being there. Every time I stopped to take a picture those bugs would land all over me.

I've never liked bugs, but I've been able to deal with them before. I'll deal with them in my future adventures here and elsewhere. At least there weren't many mosquitoes among the swarms. I still had a wonderful time, and I'm excited to go again soon.

I'm going to try something revolutionary here starting with this post. I'm going to try posting every few days again instead of every few weeks. When I started I was posting every day. That old car accident put a stop to all of that. But I'm planning on visiting the nature parks much more now, even if it's only in the evenings.

If I'm going to visit the nature parks so often I'm going to have much more to share. I don't want all of my new stuff to fall by the wayside. So I'll be here every few days or so even if my readers can't keep up. That'll be kind of fun, having more here than you can read. It's been awhile.

With only posting every few weeks I sometimes forget why I started this blog. It was to motivate myself to go hiking. The hiking then made the blog fun. There was a new adventure every day. That was fun. And that's what it's all about. Talk to you later.