We just returned from our first real get-away adventure in almost three years. For the better part of the last three years, we had stayed close to home waiting for the pandemic to end. When it was mostly over, and we were ready to travel, our aging dog could no longer go with us or stay in a kennel. She needed a great deal of care. On April 18th of this year, we had to say our final goodbyes. It was a bittersweet moment in time. After a stressful, isolating pandemic and a heart-wrenching year of doggie hospice, we needed to cut loose.
We headed out to the Driftless Area of Wisconsin. My husband, Mel, had registered to attend a Tenkara fishing get-together/campout near Westby, Wisconsin and I tagged along to take pictures. After three years of home-grown subject matter, I was eager to explore a new environment.
The Driftless area is approximately 8500 square miles of land, mostly in Southwest Wisconsin, that was untouched by glaciers during the last ice age. The term “driftless” indicates a lack of glacial drift, the deposits of silt, gravel, and rock that retreating glaciers leave behind. As a result, the landscape is characterized by steep, limestone-based hills, spring fed waterfalls, deeply carved river valleys, and the largest concentration of cold-water trout streams in the world! It was a perfect place for Mel to go Tenkara fishing.
Tenkara is a method of fly fishing that originated in the mountains of Japan. It uses very long rods with fixed lengths of casting line attached to the rod-tip, and simple, wet flies as lures. This method of fishing was developed to catch trout in free-flowing rivers like the ones found in the Driftless Areas of Wisconsin. I don’t fish, but I was happy enough to go wandering down the back roads near where Mel was fishing to look for birds, butterflies, dragonflies, and flowers; but not GNATS!
Those little buggers came at me with a vengeance! They were in my eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. They were on my sweaty skin. They landed wherever they could find moisture! Gnats are drawn to the carbon dioxide we exhale, as well as the sweet, fruity smells of our shampoos and lotions. There’s no way to get away from them! I was just one giant, sweet-smelling moisture buffet!
I hustled back to the car as fast as I could to see if my insect repellent Buff would help. (https://www.buff.com/us/insect-shieldr-neckwear) A Buff is a long tube of thin material that you can pull over your head to cover everything but your eyes. My eyes were protected, at least somewhat, by my glasses. The Buff was a tremendous help; it allowed me take pictures, but it didn’t stop all the gnats who really wanted to get me from crawling into my Buff or going behind my glasses! I did have bug repellent on, but it was no match for these guys! Later, we went to a store and found a repellent that was recommended for gnats and it seemed to work for about an hour before needing to be replenished. It was a welcome relief!
In spite of the gnats, and the unseasonably hot temperatures, it was good to be on the road again; to engage in our favorite hobbies in a new environment, to sleep outside in our tent and hear the barred owls calling, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you?” and to wake up in the morning to the sound of birds filling the air with their joyful noise. It was a welcome respite from the unwelcome ‘noise’ in our everyday lives.
In just a few days, we’ll be on the road again; to the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota for a five-day canoe trip with friends.
On February 12th, I saw my first red-winged blackbird for the season! It seemed too early, I thought. I didn’t expect them to return until March. Within a week, though, I heard a whole chorus of red-winged blackbirds singing in the cattails down by the creek behind our house. It’s the quintessential sound of spring and I love it! I wanted to throw open all our windows and soak up that first glimmer of hope that spring would soon be here in earnest.
But as I write this, I’m snuggled up in front of a fire, with a hot cup of tea close by, hoping we won’t lose power during the upcoming ice storm. All the schools are closed, and so are many businesses, hoping to avoid disaster. The ice storm might materialize, it might not. Such are the vagaries of winter in Michigan: one day it feels like spring, and the next day it feels like we’re living in Antarctica.
I basically have a love/hate relationship with winter. I love the snow, but hate the long overcast days that bring the snow. I love getting pictures of all the winter birds that migrate through Michigan, but hate all the layers and layers of clothing I have to wear to get those pictures. I love a bright, sunny winter day as an antidote to all the gloomy ones, but it’s hard to get a good picture on a brilliant sunny afternoon against a snowy background.
Most of all, I miss the colors and all the warm-weather critters I love to photograph, like the big yellow butterflies, the swampy green frogs, the multitudes of colorful dragonflies, and the iridescent blue swallowtails that nest under the bridge in a nearby park.
Before the pandemic and before we had an aging, incontinent dog to care for, we went to Florida for a few months where I could soak up all the colors and all the interesting critters we never see in Michigan. I have taken pictures of the majestic roseate spoonbills, the brilliant purple gallinules, the pastel pink dragonflies, and a million different Florida flowers! It’s a wonderland of color that I had come to depend on to get me through the drab days of a Michigan winter.
In the meantime, I have been out looking for whatever beauty I can find wherever I can find it, and taking lots of pictures. Whether it’s a chickadee in a snowstorm, a woodpecker on a sunny day, a snow-covered deer in our backyard, or a ubiquitous brown fox squirrel peeking out around a tree in the early morning light, it’s all good, and it’s all fun.
A friend of mine, Jen Herro, recently posted her first blog, A Carpenter’s Garden, and it struck a chord with me. She is a watercolor artist with a passion for the natural world. Our lives first became entwined when Jen asked if she could use one of the photographs I had posted on The Naturalist’s Notebook Facebook page as a reference piece for one of her paintings. We have never met in person, but through our shared passion for nature and art, it feels as if we’ve been friends forever.
In her introductory post, Jen tells about how her love for the outdoors began in childhood while visiting her grandparents’ cabin in the big north woods of Minnesota. Her grandfather, a naturalist, taught her how to “appreciate the wildness of the land,” how to paddle a canoe, start a campfire and make baked beans in a pot buried in the ground. It sounded like an idyllic childhood, and it made me wonder where my own love for the outdoors had come from.
I didn’t have a grandfather who taught me how to canoe or build campfires, but I did have a dad who took me fishing. He was also the person who gently told my mother to “let her be” when I wanted to climb trees, play baseball, and wear blue jeans. Her preference would have been to see me in dresses, playing with dolls, and not running amok through puddles!
My parents did make one grand and loving attempt at giving my brother and I outdoor experiences, though, by taking us camping.
We left home on a hot and humid summer day during the biggest mosquito convention ever, and drove ‘up north’ to find a campsite, pitch a tent, and spend a fun weekend away from home! Mother Nature had other plans. She wanted rain, lots of rain–so much rain that our borrowed tent leaked like a sieve. We were miserable.
I don’t remember going on any nature hikes that weekend, roasting marshmallows, or fishing with my dad, but I do remember slogging through the rain and mud with my nature-weary mother at 2:00 in the morning hoping to find an outhouse! That’s what stayed with me all these years, the rain and the outhouse! It wasn’t the camping experience any of us had hoped for, but it was, nonetheless, memorable!
So, it’s probably safe to say that my love of the outdoors didn’t come from my parents or even my grandparents, at least not in the way that it did for Jen.
What I had was the joy of growing up during the 1950s, when we spent our summer days playing outside with friends, climbing trees, catching bugs, looking for snakes, and exploring the nearby woods. We didn’t have cell phones or iPads to keep us entertained; we barely had a television! What we did have was each other, and the wide-open spaces of our neighborhood, and the nearby parks. The true origins of my interest in Mother Nature remains a mystery, but the freedom I had as a kid to spend all day exploring and interacting with her, kept the love alive.
As an adult, I’ve mostly chosen outdoor adventure vacations, rather than leisurely indoor ones. My husband and I have hiked in Scotland, England and Wales, and have backpacked more than a thousand miles on the Appalachian Trail. We’ve also enjoyed a good deal of biking, canoeing, and kayaking along the way. But it wasn’t until I took up photography a few years ago, that the natural world really opened up for me. I found birds I’d never seen before, took close-ups of butterflies I’d only known from a distance, and examined the details of a thousand little dragonflies that only a good camera and a long lens could afford me.
It doesn’t really matter where my love of nature ultimately came from, whether it was a father who took me fishing, or a mother who just let me be, I have reaped its benefits my entire life. The countless hours I have spent outdoors have always brought me joy; being able to photograph what I love has been an unexpected bonus!
This time of year, when all the beautiful summer flowers have died back, when many of the birds and most of the butterflies have already left for the season, and when my favorite amphibian, the American bullfrog, sits in the muck at the bottom of a pond until spring, I’m often hard-pressed to find things to photograph.
On a recent picture walk, for example, I trudged around for hours with my heavy camera equipment slung across my shoulders hoping for at least one tiny bird or one late-season dragonfly to land nearby. But all I managed to capture that day was a chipmunk, a fungus, and a fern!! The fungus and the fern were mostly desperation shots (for lack of anything better to shoot), and the chipmunk, well, chipmunks are just cute. I had hoped for so much more!
As the world is slowly being drained of color, and the weather vacillates wildly from blissfully pleasant to bitterly disgusting, it takes a lot more motivation, and a whole lot more creative thinking on my part to go for a picture walk. It’s so much harder to find things to photograph! My slow deliberate rambles become even slower as I take more time to investigate whether some nondescript plant has any ‘picture potential’. I ponder the possibilities of a curled-up leaf, or a milkweed pod, as well as a host of other ubiquitous things, like mushrooms, mallards, and geese, to see if something ordinary can look extraordinary—or at least interesting! Usually, if I look hard enough and long enough, I’ll find something!
To keep the boredom from setting in, I rotate through a variety of different nature preserves, both near and far. They may have the same birds, and the same dying plants that I have near to home, but the setting is new! I also go out at different times of the day, in different kinds of weather, with one lens or the other, just to mix things up and to keep myself from losing interest.
Since I started this hobby several years ago, I’ve taken well over 200,000 pictures! I don’t really ‘need’ another mallard, goose, or chipmunk, but I do need all the collateral benefits that come with every walk in the woods, every amble through a field of goldenrod, and every contemplative moment I’ve spent beside a pond watching a bird glide effortlessly along, or a great blue heron stand motionless for hours waiting for lunch to swim by. When I’m out on a picture walk, totally immersed in the task at hand, there’s absolutely no room left in my head for anything else. It’s the perfect antidote to life’s worries.
It’s those collateral benefits that keep me going back for more.
Before I started taking pictures, there was so much I didn’t know about the world outside my own front door. I didn’t know that dragonflies came in a rainbow of colors, that turtles shed parts of their shells, or that we had cuckoos in Michigan! I didn’t know that cedar waxwings could get drunk eating fermented berries, or that great blue herons would stay here throughout our cold Michigan winters. My enlightenment all started with a Christmas wish.
In the Fall of 2013, my husband, Mel, started asking me what I wanted for Christmas. I gave his question a good deal of thought and came up with the idea that I’d like to have a better camera. All I had was a pocket-sized Canon PowerShot– a lightweight and easy to carry camera with very limited capabilities.
Once I told Mel what I wanted, he went to work doing the research and came up with a bigger, better version of the Canon PowerShot that he thought might work. I loved it– and ultimately, dubbed it my “gateway drug”.
I happily used that camera on and off for the next three and a half years; taking the usual family photos and typical vacation shots. It wasn’t until we went to Florida in 2016 for our first extended stay that my addiction to nature photography really kicked in. There were so many rookeries, sanctuaries and preserves with new and unusual birds, mammals, and reptiles that I had absolutely no trouble feeding my ‘habit’!
Eventually though, I started wanting more. I wanted a camera with a faster response time so that the bird on the limb would still be there once I pressed down the shutter button. I wanted to get pictures of the birds and butterflies that were farther and farther away, and I wanted sharper images. Mel went back to work looking for a camera that would do all those things—without causing us to re-finance our home! By July of 2017, I had my new camera, a Nikon D3400 and a detachable 70-300mm zoom lens. I was back in business!
At some point along the way, Mel decided to take up his photography hobby again and assumed ownership of my D3400 after finding me a Nikon D5600 to take its place. We were both hooked!
I loved all the beautiful pictures I could get with my D5600 and the 70-300mm lens, but there were birds and butterflies still out of reach that I wanted to capture! After a bit of research, Mel thought that a Sigma 150-600mm lens might do the trick. I was well aware of the size and weight of this lens based on what I had read, but when it actually arrived, I thought “What on earth have I done??” It looked huge! It felt heavier than I expected and I had serious reservations about my ability to carry it around for hours on end. But, I really, really wanted to take ‘far away pictures’ so off I went, camera and lens in hand.
I used that set up for a year or so before my back started telling me that it might be better to add a monopod to my camera in order to support all that weight when I stood for hours taking pictures. Adding a monopod would mean I’d have a little more weight to carry as I walked along, but I wouldn’t have to hold the camera up to my eye unsupported as I patiently waited for the ‘perfect shot’ or tried to pan the movement of a bird in flight. My back has thanked me many, many times over.
I used the Nikon D5600 for two or three years along with the 150-600mm lens before totally exceeding the picture expectancy of my camera with over 100,000 shots!! I decided to trade it in for a Nikon D500, a camera that was highly rated for nature photography and has totally lived up to that assessment!
Before taking pictures, I had already loved going on nature walks– but there was so much I didn’t see! With my camera in hand the world suddenly opened up!! I paid more attention. I noticed things I had never noticed before– like the subtle movement of a blade of grass that might mean a dragonfly had landed, or the tiny ‘bump’ at the top of a long-dead tree that might mean a hummingbird was resting; or the infinitesimal speck of blue on a shiny green leaf that might mean a damselfly was nearby.
All of those creatures had been there all along, but I never saw them —until I started taking pictures!
I have a mental checklist that I review every time I leave the house for a picture walk: Is my camera battery fully charged? Is my memory card inserted? Do I have an extra card and an extra battery? Do I have my phone and is it fully charged? Do I have my monopod? But, after what happened yesterday, I should probably switch my mental list to an real list!
I was off on another picture adventure and eager to see what surprises awaited me. My destination was a favorite nature center about an hour away from home. Whenever I go on a picture adventure, I feel an immediate sense of calm wash over me once I arrive. Yesterday was no exception. I drove into the parking lot, took a deep, relaxing breath, and prepared for my three-hour escape into nature’s arms– until I realized there was no memory card in my camera!!
I had made this mistake before and had come prepared with an emergency back-up card! Perfect! Once the card was inserted, I happily set off into the ‘wild’ hoping for a day filled with beautiful little creatures and colorful flowers. My joy was short-lived.
Forty-five minutes into my walk, after taking only three measly pictures, my memory card said ‘full’!! What??? How could that be?? I tried every ‘high tech’ solution I could think of to remedy the situation: pull the card out and put it back in; turn off the camera, turn it back on, and re-format the memory card–repeatedly. Nothing worked! It was time for plan B! Look for the nearest store!
I hustled back to my car as fast as a marginally nimble 75 year-old can hustle on an uneven boardwalk with an expensive camera, a 600mm lens, and a 5 foot monopod! Once in my car, I drove as quickly as was legally possible to the nearest store to find another memory card– and hope that it worked. It didn’t. But I had already driven back to the nature center before I found out!
At that point, I could have just thrown in the towel. I could have just gone for a ‘regular’ walk and not taken pictures. But it was completely impossible for me to do that! This particular nature center had a butterfly house. It was the perfect place for close-up shots of stunning and unusual butterflies. I had to stay!
So, I went back into town to a different store and looked for a different memory card. While standing in the aisle reading the descriptions on each of the various cards, I suddenly realized why the first card hadn’t work and dashed out of the store. Back to the nature center for my third and final attempt at trying to salvage what was left of an otherwise lovely day!
I had first arrived at the nature center at 9:00 a.m. It was now noon. The soft morning light was long gone, as was the cool morning air. It had been a frustrating start to what was supposed to have been a calm and relaxing day. I was totally frazzled.
But, keeping things in perspective is everything. The day was still young. The weather was still great and, most of all, I was very much alive and well, doing something I dearly loved— three priceless gifts that not everyone gets to enjoy. It was all I really needed to remember and off I went…
Over the last several years, I’ve gone on hundreds of picture walks and taken thousands of pictures. I often visit the same preserves and nature centers over and over again and take pictures of the very same plants and creatures that I did before. On the surface, this might seem like an extremely boring thing to do; that I would run out of things to photograph that were interesting or novel or fun. The truth is, it never stops being fun. Every day is different and every walk brings new surprises —even if the subject matter is the same.
On rare occasions, the surprise will be a brand-new bird or a brand-new insect! More often than not, I photograph things that I’m already quite familiar with. The surprise comes when that familiar thing is in an unexpected place or shows up at an unexpected time of year. For example, I’ve taken an embarrassingly high number of bullfrog pictures. By any reasonable standard, I don’t need another bullfrog! But a few days ago, on a cool October afternoon, I was surprised to find a big green bullfrog perched comfortably on a log soaking in what little sun he could find. It was barely 50 degrees! I thought all the frogs would be hunkered down staying ‘warm’ under water! So I took his picture– to remind myself that frogs can tolerate much cooler temperatures than I had expected.
Last winter, in late January, I was surprised to find an Oregon Junco sitting in a tree not far from our back deck! Oregon Juncos aren’t usually found this far east, but there he was! After doing a little research, I discovered that on very rare occasions Oregon Juncos will show up in the western lower peninsula of Michigan! I learned something new!
Sometimes, the surprise I find is as simple as getting a picture at all!! Belted Kingfishers, for instance, are notoriously skittish birds. It is impossible to sneak up on one. They always see me coming no matter how carefully I approach. Whenever I’m lucky enough to actually get a picture of one, it’s because I had arrived first and the Belted Kingfisher came by later, totally unaware of my presence!
The secret to finding so many surprises, I think, is to stay curious and to expect the unexpected. Even the most ordinary things can yield extraordinary surprises.
All of the pictures here represent a surprise of one sort or another.
When you maintain a sense of curiosity and wonder about the natural world, there will always be surprises!
When I was a child, the phrase “Stop, look and listen” was the mantra drilled into our heads to keep us safe as we approached a street crossing. That phrase often floats back into my head when I’m out taking pictures—not as a warning to keep me safe, but as a reminder to pay attention to all the beautiful and interesting things around me.
The more I thought about this phrase, though, the more I wondered if I had ever really heard it as a kid or if it was just another one of those jumbled childhood memories that pop into my head periodically! So, I Googled it! What I found surprised me.
The first item to come up was a YouTube video of the Stylistics singing “Stop, look, listen (to your heart)” from 1971. I remember the Stylistics, but I was already twenty-four years old by the time that song was popular! The Stylistics’ video was followed by a Marvin Gaye video, followed by a raft of cartoons and a long Wikipedia summary of all the different ways “Stop, look and listen” had been used across the years including a Broadway musical from 1915! I got totally sidetracked before I finally came across this…
“As a child, you may remember learning to Stop, Look, Listen, and Think before crossing the road. This simple saying has been used across the globe to teach young children the importance of road safety. Before you cross the street, you should Stop a safe distance from the road, Look both ways, Listen for oncoming traffic, and Think through different scenarios. Then and only then should you cross the road.” https://www.terrapinadventures.com/blog/stop-look-listen-communication/
I had not remembered the “Think” part of that phrase, but was happy to learn that, “Stop, look and listen” was not just a figment of my imagination, but a real directive that had been taught to children all over the world! Who knew that seventy years later it would become a helpful photography tip!
When I’m out on a picture walk, the most important part of that phrase is the word ‘stop’; if I just stand still long enough, Mother Nature will get back to whatever it was she doing before I disrupted her. More often than not, there will be an unexpected surprise waiting for me—like an elusive Kingfisher, or a Ruby-throated Hummingbird!
The second part of the mantra, “look” has never been a problem for me. I am always looking — even when I’m driving down the highway at 70 miles an hour, I’m looking. I can spot a red-tailed hawk at the top of a utility pole from more than a hundred yards away –but, in those particular instances, I don’t stop!!
It’s that word “listen” that trips me up! I am often so focused on looking for things, that I forget to listen; to pay attention to the sounds around me. They are, after all, another potential picture source. I’m not very good at identifying birds by their sounds and it doesn’t help my identification skills that most birds are hiding in the trees when they decide to belt out a song!
All I really need to remember, though, is to just ‘stop’! Eventually, that singing bird will emerge and, if I’m lucky, I’ll get a picture! If I’m really, really, lucky, I’ll remember the song!!
I am outdoors almost every day for at least an hour or two taking pictures. I never know what I’ll find, but there’s always something that captures my attention– even a common housefly, in the right light, makes for a beautiful picture!
I’ve taken thousands of pictures over the years, and I sometimes think, “What more can I find?” When I don’t go for a picture walk, though, I also wonder, “What am I missing? It’s that one burning question that drives me out the door every day– except for rainy days. I don’t go out on rainy days– unless there’s an interlude!
During one of those interludes the other day, I satisfied my need for taking pictures by standing under the overhang of our second story deck and capturing all the different birds near our feeders who didn’t seem to mind the rain as much as I did.
Yesterday, the interlude was supposed to last from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. So, I grabbed my camera and headed out the door– but not without a backpack full of rain gear just in case the weather forecast was wrong. It was. By the time the rains came, though, I’d already gotten enough pictures to keep me happy.
When the weather cooperates, the possibilities are endless, but I sometimes have to remind myself of this fact; that no matter how many times I go out or how many pictures I take, there will always be something new or interesting to photograph. It’s mostly a matter of staying curious and being patient.
Even if it’s the same dragonfly I’ve seen a million times, the location and the lighting will always be different. Even if it’s the same preserve I’ve been to every day for a week, a new bird or bug will invariably catch my attention. So, I keep going out every chance I get –but not when it’s raining!!
Mel and I have just returned from a vacation in Colorado
where we both enjoyed pursuing our passions—fly fishing for him, nature
photography for me.
Hitchcock Nature Center, Honey Creek, Iowa
Our four day, twelve hundred mile car journey from Michigan to Colorado took us through the states of Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska. According to Google Maps, it’s only a 16 hour journey— that is if you don’t stop to sleep or eat or go to the bathroom! We did all of the aforementioned, plus took a side trip to Honey Creek Iowa where we spent two days in a cozy little cabin on the grounds of the Hitchcock Nature Center. While at the nature center, we took pictures walks along the Fox Ridge Run Trail and the Boardwalk Trail.
August 30- September 2
Ft. Collins, Colorado
From Honey Creek, Iowa we headed through Nebraska to Fort
Collins, our first Colorado destination.
Fort Collins is well known for its excellent fly fishing opportunities and a multitude of natural areas to explore. Over the course of our stay in Fort Collins, Mel went fishing several places along the Cache La Poudre River, while I took picture walks along the Hewlett Gulch Trail, the Fossil Creek Reservoir (twice) and at the Colorado State University Annual Trial Flower Garden. Mel joined me for picture walks on one of my visits to the reservoir and at the university flower garden.
Beautiful flowers and butterflies from the Colorado State Annual Trial Garden…
Estes Park, Colorado
As soon as we arrived in Estes Park, Mel headed to the fishing shops and I headed out looking for pictures to take. Surprisingly, the Knoll-Willows Nature Preserve is right in town and only a stone’s throw from where we parked! Within a minute or so of commencing my walk, I spotted a huge bull elk lounging in the underbrush along the edge of the preserve! A little farther down the sidewalk, were several of his girlfriends. Apparently, elk are a very common sight right in Estes Park!
In front of the Visitor’s Center at Estes Park, the Hummingbird Moths and the Hummingbirds were a delight to watch…
September 5, 2019
Rocky Mountain National Park
to Steamboat Springs
We spent the day driving through the scenic, breathtaking Rocky Mountain National Park to reach our second Colorado destination, Steamboat Springs. Mel and I stopped several times through the mountain route to take in all the spectacular views– but I never took any scenery pictures (they tend to be disappointing compared to the real thing), preferring instead to look for the smaller things like birds and butterflies and mammals.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
While Mel went fishing in the Yampa River, I went walking along the Yampa River Trail, a 7.5 mile multi-use trail that runs through the heart of Steamboat Springs and along the Yampa River. Along that trail, I found other points of interest like the Rotary Park Boardwalk and the Yampa Botanic Park, both of which were wonderful places for a quiet retreat as well as multiple picture opportunities.
On one of the days that Mel didn’t go fishing,
we took a drive up to Fish Creek Falls
together for a picture walk and later spent hours at the Yampa Botanic Garden taking pictures of all the beautiful flowers,
birds and visiting insects.
Stunning flowers from the Yampa Botanic Garden…
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Springs was our last destination in Colorado and we made the best of the time
we had. As soon as we arrived on the afternoon of the 9th, we went for a
picture walk in Palmer Park on a
trail that turned out to be rockier and slipperier than we expected. Not many
pictures got taken—we were too busy watching our footing!
The following morning we headed out to the Garden of the Gods, which is known for its enormous, awe-inspiring geologic
formations, including tall rock spires or hoodoos, and steep cliffs. It’s a
major tourist attraction and well worth the visit.
After our visit to Garden of the Gods, Mel dropped me off at the Bear CreekNature Center to take pictures all afternoon while he explored the fishing shops, bookstores and coffee shops around Colorado Springs.
On Wednesday, our last full day in Colorado, Mel dropped me off at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo where I spent a delightful five and a half hours taking almost 800 pictures of the zoo animals and of the native birds that were flitting about in the nearby trees!
The meerkats were great fun to watch. They are both curious and comical!
The best part of going on vacation, besides getting away from every day routines, is finding things I’ve never seen before (and taking pictures!), eating things I’ve never tried before and meeting new people I’ve never met before.