Thursday, June 26, 2014

I Can See For Miles

What you see above is a nice looking nature scene from atop the hills of Stone State Park in Sioux City, Iowa. But looks are a little deceiving. Look all the way to the back in the photo. It's kind of hard to see, but there appears to be something other than nature back there.

I did a post just like this one awhile back, but I just like the whole idea, so I'm going to do this again. You may recognize what I'm talking about as you read, but maybe this is all new to you. Either way it's kind of a fun little idea with a zoom camera.

You really have to zoom in a lot, but all the way back in the distance is another city and another state. All the way past the state park, all the way past the cornfields is North Sioux City, South Dakota. This place is across the river from Sioux City, Iowa.

It's kind of fun that I can get such good detail on the buildings from so far away. I can read the writing on the water towers in the original pictures. You can almost make it out in these. They both say the name of the city.

Here above I zoomed back a little bit to show you that it really is the same scene. You can see the two water towers in the same place. They're just a bit farther away. Those fields are a lot bigger than they look in the pictures. I think the Big Sioux River is hidden behind the trees.

I like coming up here on this hill and looking out over everything. That's one of the appeals of this place. The thing most people like to do at Stone Park is drive through the hilly forest roads. But stops along the road like this one makes it even better. Talk to you later.

Monday, June 23, 2014

One Of My Favorite Places

I keep taking this picture above over and over. I take a picture from that spot every time I visit this place. I've posted these similar pictures a few times already. So why do I do it? Why do I keep sharing this so many times?

It's because I think it's such a beautiful scene. It shows me a beautiful scene of what's to come. As I take the picture I'm standing in the middle of the forest looking out into a beautiful valley, and even farther out to the wonderful Loess Hills, that seem to stretch on forever. It seems as if I'm looking at this through a giant picture window.

I'm looking out at the place I call home, the place I come from. I spent most of my life away from this place. I wasn't even born here, and I didn't grow up here. But my entire family is from here. I only got to see this place from all too brief visits to see my family. I always knew I belonged here. Now I get to live here.

The next part of the trail obscures the view from within the trees, but that view is back when you travel around a few more turns in the path. I haven't gone much farther than this place lately because I'm still a little too out of shape to get back up the hill after such a long hike. There are so many birds down in that valley, and I miss seeing them.

I haven't been able to even get to this place for the past several days because of the flood. The waters have receded a bit, revealing all of the ruined crops, but we get thunderstorms every night that refill it all quite a bit. I'll be back on the trails when the weather lets me.

I don't want to end things on a down note so I'll talk about a few other things. I've been seeing a lot of good nature things that I'll be writing about soon. I still haven't visited a few other good places that are close by, like the nature center that is just down the road from me, the whole time I've been here, really. And I also have a visit scheduled to the Sioux City Museum. That's going to be fun. I'll talk to you later.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Great Flood

It has been raining here almost non-stop for the past several days. The thunder and lightning has been scaring the daylights out of my poor dog Isabella. We've been getting thunderstorm warnings, tornado warnings, and flood warnings.

The day before yesterday on a break in the weather I decided to go out for a drive to the grocery store. On my way back home I came over the last hill, which there are many, and the sunlight on the cornfield on the other side of the highway was making a mirage that looked like I was looking out over the ocean.

That was an interesting sight. I've seen strange reflections on the cornfields, but it never looked quite like this before, so I decided to investigate. As I got closer I realized that this was no mirage. It was water!

The cornfield had been replaced by a lake. The pictures you see here in my post is a flooded cornfield. It looks like a lake because it's the size of a vast lake. In one direction it goes as far as the eye can see. The water is from the flooded Big Sioux River that is far in the background behind the trees.

I didn't have my good camera with me because that's not why I was out. I took these pictures with my cellphone. I had to enhance the pictures in a photo editor because I was looking into the Sun. I'd say they came out pretty good.

As of writing this, they now have the highway that runs alongside the river closed. That highway is the main road to get just about anywhere around here. You could still get places, but you'd have to go about twenty miles out of your way to do it. I drove around to find that out.

Since I've been here the weather has been pretty mild up until now. Even the winters have been pretty snow free. That will most likely change one of these next times. It's kind of strange to see all of the rivers pretty much all the way full or overflowing. Usually they're almost empty.

I'm hoping the Big Sioux flood will recede in another day or two so they open up the highway again. Then I can get back to visiting the nature parks. This flood ruins a lot of things for the farmers around here, but I have to say that for me it's mostly just interesting. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Little White Flowers

What do I say about flowers? I'm not good at writing about inanimate objects, I think. They don't move around or do much of anything, like animals might do. They just sit there thinking their little thoughts about me, their little plots. Just kidding, maybe. I still kind of like them.

I found these little white flowers in the forest on the edge of the hiking trail. I haven't really seen many other wildflowers up till now. Maybe it's because of the places I go, and maybe it's because I don't look hard enough. I'll keep watching.

The leaves seem familiar on the flowers for some reason. I must have seen them before. I'll have to remember that. Maybe it'll help me identify them one day. I've seen little white flowers a lot. The good thing about pictures is that I can come back here and look at these plants over and over again to find out what they might be.

I guess that's what I can write about these flowers. I'll talk to you later.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Couple Of Turkey Vultures

On my way to a nature park I spotted a couple of turkey vultures sitting in a cornfield. It was hard for me to see them and I couldn't see why they were there. I only knew that I was seeing a couple of large birds there. I knew that birds that big had to be turkey vultures.

I wish my pictures could be a little better, but the cornfield background kind of makes it hard to see the birds for some reason. It doesn't look like they're eating their usual favorite, a dead animal, or anything else. I guess they were just taking a break.

As I was taking the pictures a motorcycle went by and gave them a scare, so they both flew up into the air. I tried my best to follow them with the camera but I just couldn't catch up. I even tried to pull back on the zoom, but that didn't work either. They were gone too soon.

To change the subject a little, I'm trying to post a little more right now because I have so many pictures and because I've been going out so much. It's still kind of difficult to get going a little faster for some reason, but I'm going to try. I miss the days of posting several times a week.

One of the problems is thinking up stuff to write about. Sometimes I take a few pictures but have absolutely nothing to say about them. Animals aren't as hard as plants or nature scenes. Animals move around and do things. But I can still come up with something when I get used to writing more again.

I guess I'll find out what happens when I try. My next post will be up as soon as I can write it. I have plenty of stuff to write about and I'm gathering more every day. I'll talk to you later.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Damselfly And A Lesson

I haven't taken a picture of a damselfly like this one in a long time until now. I was talking about slowing down and taking a better look at my surroundings in my last post. Even though I'm still feeling a little lost around here, I'll always remember things like damselflies.

I've been out a lot recently so I think I'm getting a good chance to learn about my surroundings pretty fast. One of the still new things for me is hiking with my dog. When I was alone I could focus all of my attention on the nature around me. But with the dog I have to pay attention to her just as much. It's been a little bit of a struggle even when she tries to help me with what I'm supposed to do.

Just yesterday we were out on a nice little nature trail when she began pulling me in a direction I didn't want to go. I had my head down looking at her and becoming a little annoyed. I wanted to continue down the trail, so I tried to pull her with me, but she pulled right back. So I looked up a little bit and told her in a loud voice to come on. It was right then that I saw the deer that she was pulling me towards. It was standing only a little ways away observing us. But when I yelled it ran away. I have to learn to work with the dog a little more.

She was very patient while I was taking the pictures of this damselfly. She stood there waiting and kept some slack on her leash while I got the pictures. She's usually like that. I never believed that a deer would come so close with her there, only things like this damselfly. I still have some things to learn, but at least now I am going out and learning those lessons.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Leaves Are On The Trees

I've been to a lot of nature sites in the past several days. I've visited so many that I'll have to leave my older pictures on my computer and only share them with myself. There are just so many new things to share and talk about. And I want to stay relatively current.

The pictures I have today came from Five Ridge Prairie Preserve. The forest here sure looks a lot different with leaves on the trees. This forest is as thick as any that I visited back in Michigan. The difference is that it eventually opens up into a large prairie, and then lots of hills. This place is so big that there is even more forest beyond that.

I only visited this first forest this time. It's kind of a big hike into the other areas, and I can't seem to get myself into the proper shape I need to go on a long hike yet. I'll get there eventually, but for now I have to stick to this forest. It's easy getting into the next part, but it's all uphill coming back out. Coming back out when you're already tired is not fun at all.

I've been telling people that I need to slow down and take a closer look at things while I'm out at these places. But when I was here and I thought about that, I just wasn't sure what to look at. It's kind of frustrating really, because I could hear birds, but I couldn't see them. And I'm not very good at identifying plants.

I was just getting to where I could identify a good variety of plants at the small nature parks back in Michigan, but none here look very familiar. I felt almost competent within nature back then, but I feel like a complete beginner again here. That again can be kind of frustrating, but it also gives me new adventures that I wouldn't have had back there.

I think maybe if I make it a habit to get out here more often then I'll feel just as good here as I did back in Michigan, but it's going to take time. I always seem to be busier here than I was there, and the parks are a little farther away. The good thing is that the drive here is all country in between.

One thing I've noticed about myself and the nature parks here is that up till now I've been making excuses not to go. It seems that if the weather isn't perfect I decide to stay home. Back in Michigan I would go out in the middle of a rain or snowstorm. Once I realized I was making these excuses I began changing that.

Bad weather can be just as good of a time to take pictures as good weather. Animals like to come out into the open after a good rain. I didn't see many animals on this trip because the weather just happened to be pretty good, but that's also a good time to go out.

And one of these times I'm going to go out here and stop to take a look around me and I'll know exactly what I'm looking at. There will be no frustration. I'll know the important plants, and I'll see animals roaming the forest a little easier. They really are out there. You just have to know where and when to look. I'll talk to you later.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Nice Little Drive In The Country

I took the above picture through the bug filled windshield of my truck. I wasn't really sure if it would turn out any good because of the dirty windshield. But it ended up so much better than I expected. This is the only one like this I took because I had to pay attention to the road, and it was the only scene that really grabbed me.

One of my favorite things to do is to drive through the countryside around here. Much of it is cornfields, but there are very many areas that look just like this. I guess what you might see just depends on what direction you take. One thing I always do on these roads is go up and down endless hills. You can see another small one there in the distance.

I think I drive around here more than I do just about anything else. I get to see so much this way. The only problem is that I can't really take many pictures from a moving truck. I get to see all sorts of animals like cows, sheep, horses, buffalo, deer, wild turkeys, and some others that seem pretty strange to be around here.

That's really all I have this time. I just really liked this picture from the moment I took it. I couldn't believe it came out so well through the dirty windshield. I'll talk to you later.