The Footprints Of Dinosaurs In Infrared At Dinosaur Valley State Park

Earlier this summer we took a afternoon excursion to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX. Even as an adult seeing the footprints of dinosaurs along the riverbed of the Paluxy River was an exciting experience. Even with recent rain the water was still low enough to allow us to walk along a good section of the riverbed and view many of the footprints. We then took a hike along the Cedar Ridge Trail in the park and enjoyed getting away from the crowds to enjoy the scenery. Though there was a fair amount of hiking on inclines the panoramic views were well worth the walk. For being one of the few state parks near the DFW area this park seemed to offer a  less urban feel for a nice getaway from the city life.

 

The Paluxy River was flowing with all the recent rain in North Texas, yet we were still able to see plenty of dinosaur footprints in the riverbed.
The Paluxy River was flowing with all the recent rain in North Texas, yet we were still able to see plenty of dinosaur footprints in the riverbed.
We took a hike up to the scenic overlook on this loop. The aged trees lined the trail on a beautiful summer day in Texas as white puffs of clouds filled the sky overhead.
We took a hike up to the scenic overlook on this loop. The aged trees lined the trail on a beautiful summer day in Texas as white puffs of clouds filled the sky overhead.
The footprints of dinosaurs line the riverbed on the bed of the Paluxy River leaving a trail for you to walk in their path.
The footprints of dinosaurs line the riverbed on the bed of the Paluxy River leaving a trail for you to walk in their path.
The overlook of the Paluxy River below on the Cedar Ridge Trail in Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, TX. Beautiful clouds wisp across a blue sky on a hot Texas afternoon as my wife and I hiked the trails around this beautiful park.
The overlook of the Paluxy River below on the Cedar Ridge Trail in Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, TX. Beautiful clouds wisp across a blue sky on a hot Texas afternoon as my wife and I hiked the trails around this beautiful park.
A path of rocks makes up a river crossing on the hiking trails in Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, TX.
A path of rocks makes up a river crossing on the hiking trails in Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, TX.

A Brief Hike At Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve In Infrared

Yesterday we went for a brief hike (the sun and 100 degree weather were harsh) at Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve in the southern part of Dallas. The preserve was surprisingly scenic for being in the city of Dallas and offered quite a few different hiking trails. We walked the Cattail Pond Loop and were pleasantly surprised when we saw there was still water in the pond. While I took time to capture some images of the pond I was startled by the sounds of fish jumping from the water. No wonder there was a bird perched on a log fishing for lunch. The trail had a wonderful scent of cedar as we hiked along and took in the overlook of Joe Pool Lake. Was pleasant to find such an oasis near the DFW metro area.

A bridge over a dry creek bed on the Cattail Pond Loop, part of the Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve in southern Dallas.
A bridge over a dry creek bed on the Cattail Pond Loop, part of the Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve in southern Dallas.
The trail winds through the wonderful scent of cedar trees on the Cattail Pond Loop, part of the Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve in southern Dallas.
The trail winds through the wonderful scent of cedar trees on the Cattail Pond Loop, part of the Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve in southern Dallas.
Cattail Pond looks like an oasis on a upper 90's summer day in Texas as the few clouds roll past in the sky on the Cattail Pond Loop, part of the Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve in southern Dallas.
Cattail Pond looks like an oasis on a upper 90’s summer day in Texas as the few clouds roll past in the sky on the Cattail Pond Loop, part of the Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve in southern Dallas.
A platform overlook for Joe Pool Lake on the Cattail Pond Loop, part of the Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve in southern Dallas. Nature seems to stretch forever even though you are still in the city.
A platform overlook for Joe Pool Lake on the Cattail Pond Loop, part of the Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve in southern Dallas. Nature seems to stretch forever even though you are still in the city.

Am I Still in Texas? Scenic Gorman Falls at Colorado Bend State Park in the Heart of Texas Hill Country

A little over a month ago I took a vacation to Texas Hill Country (south and central Texas) with my wife and dog. This was our first venture out of the DFW metroplex, and we were in shock at the beauty of this region of a state we had come to view as a brown scar of cattle land. We drove through winding hills and dense forest vegetation to get to Colorado Bend State Park in Bend, TX. The drive into the park was slow and rugged on a minimum maintenance dirt road (I would call it a car trail) in our Toyota Yaris. After what seemed a long drive, though it was only 6 miles at low speeds, we came to a paved road that rapidly descended into the Colorado River valley. The camping area was itself a wonder of wildlife and beauty. Our tent sat within throwing distance of the Colorado River and we watched deer walk through our site in the evening hours. We took a walk along the river on our first night in the park and were amazed at the abundant wildlife. We saw deer, big horn sheep, cardinals, vultures, and our first armadillo sighting since moving to Texas. During the first full day at the park I took a side hike out to Gorman Falls; the main attraction of the park. I hiked a mile and a half through terrain that would have looked right at home in an old Western movie with horses and cowboys riding across it. As I came to my destination it was a sharp downward hike on limestone to the base of Gorman Falls. Once I reached the bottom of the hill I was taken aback at the beauty that lie in front of me. The array of colors within the moving water were well worth the hike to get there. Calcium deposits built up over thousands of years to create the 60 ft. waterfall that looked like a shimmering rainbow as the water mist over the the deposits. Even though the park was in a six year drought there was still plenty of water flowing along the rock face from Gorman Creek.

Water flowing across the calcium covered rock face to create Gorman Falls in the beautiful spring sunlight at Colorado Bend State Park in Bend, TX
Calcium deposits shimmering in the April sunlight showing violets, reds, greens, and more in Colorado Bend State Park in Bend, TX

Star trails, pine trees, and mountain tops in Breckenridge, Colorado

I recently had the privilege of visiting Summit County in Colorado. During my visit I spent one of the nights outside in the refreshingly chilly mountain air. Even in April there was still several feet of snow on the ground (not a huge surprise when you are over 10,000 ft. above sea level), though the daytime sun was warm enough to be outside in a t-shirt. Being out of the city the stars shone brightly behind the silhouettes of pine trees and mountains. These images reinforce the magic of the camera as the camera captured the stars moving across the night sky.

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Rocky Mountain Silhouette
Pine trees on Mt. Argentine in Blue River, Colorado as the stars streak across the twilight sky deep in the Rocky Mountains.
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Night Life in the Rockies
A backyard view during the twilight hours with Mt. Argentine in the background as time passes during the night.
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Twilight Mountain Road
Cars fly past on Colorado Hwy. 9 in High County during the twilight hours.
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I Threw Stones at the Stars, but the Whole Sky Fell
The night view from my sister’s patio in Blue River, Colorado (near Breckenridge in High County) as the stars move across the night sky behind Mt. Argentine covered with pines and snow.

The Lorax and the Beauty of the Minneapolis Parks in the Lyndale Peace Garden

Way back in the days when the grass was still green

And the pond was still wet

And the clouds were still clean,

And the song of the Swomee-Swans rang out in space…

One morning I came to the glorious place.

And I first saw the trees!

The Truffula Trees!

The bright colored tufts of the Truffula Trees!

Mile after mile in the fresh morning breeze.

The Lorax

Dr. Seuss

Peace Garden Fall Tree 2012
Peace Garden Fall Tree
2012
A fire of fall colors brighten up the grey, misty morning

I recently mailed a copy of The Lorax by Dr. Seuss to my niece in Colorado. Before mailing it I of course took the time to re-read the book myself.

The concept of the book is that change begins with one person and from that the possibilities are endless. In Minneapolis one such man would be the former parks board president and commissioner Charles Loring. Loring helped to make Minneapolis to be known not only as the City of Lakes, but also the City of Parks.

This excerpt made me think of a morning in Minneapolis that I went to the Lyndale Peace Gardens. It was fall, the air was moist, and the trees were like swaying rainbows in the breeze as the birds sang in the morning air. Not to mention the bright colors of the trees was not unlike that of the Truffala Trees.

I was alone in this area of natural wonder. For anybody who has never spent time in Minneapolis the city and its residents have a high regard for their parks and the ability to escape into pristine areas of wilderness without ever escaping the city limits. The Lyndale Peace Garden, which is right along the chain of lakes, is one of these exceptional parks.

Peace Garden Bridge 2012 The zig-zag design is in the Japanese tradition preventing spirits from following you into the garden as the spirits can only move in straight lines
Peace Garden Bridge
2012
The zig-zag design is in the Japanese tradition preventing spirits from following you into the garden as the spirits can only move in straight lines

The Peace Garden was originally called The Rock Garden because of natural ancient rocks. The rocks were perfect housing for alpine plants and dwarf conifers; giving it the feel of a Japanese garden much like that of Como Zoo. It has a small zig-zag bridge over a rock bed that at times is filled with water. The zig-zag design is in Japanese tradition as it is said that evil spirits can only walk in a straight line, thus preventing the spirits from following those who enter the garden.

As you cross the bridge to the sight of a beautiful, low growing conifer greets you. The trail winds around these trees near a small waterfall along with more exceptional landscaping.

Twisty Conifer 2012 The twists and bends of the tree are gentle and flowing like the trails of the Lyndale Peace Garden
Twisty Conifer
2012
The twists and bends of the tree are gentle and flowing like the trails of the Lyndale Peace Garden

One thing that I miss dearly living in Texas is the ease of escape to nature I was able to enjoy in Minneapolis. Within a mere few miles of my apartment was five natural lakes (nearly every lake in Texas is man-made). I could hop on my bicycle at the front step of my apartment and within 20-30 minutes be across town sitting on the edge of Lake Harriet next to the beautiful architecture of its bandshell taking photographs of the reflections in the clean water, the boats moored in the starlight, and more.

The Simplistic Magic & Mysticism of the Northwoods

Ever since I was a child heading up north meant getting away, vacation, reprieve from everyday life. Sitting here on this chilly grey day in Texas brings my mind to the wonder and beauty of the north woods during the spring with it’s cool mornings and evenings and warm, sunny afternoons.

Each and every trip meant escape to the beauteous peace and serenity of the woodlands and lakes that Minnesotans are fortunate enough to call their own. These trips could be with my parents and sister, my grandfather and cousins, boy scouts, or as I grew older with friends or alone but they always held such meaning; a renewed outlook on life and the world.

Any outdoor enthusiast knows the wonder of lying down in your sleeping bag gazing through the porthole screen window at a lakeshore sunset or the blanket of stars in the unpolluted skies of the north. It’s in these moments that you can find peace and solitude as your mind begins to slow down and turn itself off allowing you to live in the moment or simply forget the stress of daily life and allow introspective thoughts of yourself and the world.

The misty fog blows through and over the trees next to Bean Lake as the evening sun attempts to penetrate its thickness
The misty fog blows through and over the trees next to Bean Lake as the evening sun attempts to penetrate its thickness

With the backpacking trips there I always find amazement in the fact that every necessity is carried in one pack light enough to be carried on your back.

It only takes that 30 pounds of gear to live.

Within this 30 pounds you have shelter, clothing, food, a book possibly, some writing materials, for me it always contains a camera, and a few other odds and ends. Enough to survive, yet it all can be carried on your back.

The slow pace of hiking allows you to take in the details of the world around you. Things you simply would not notice in the hustle and bustle of daily life take on great importance. The morning dew on the pine needles, a loon calling to you from across the lake as you sit next to the campfire, the splash of the beaver’s tail on the water as you drift off to sleep. Every bend in the trail presents a place that looks too splendid to not stop and take a break, yet you have to pass some to make camp before the sun falls behind the trees and the trail disappears into the thick and noisy darkness.

The sky begins to turn colors as the sun sets behind the trees in Tettegouche State Park
The sky begins to turn colors as the sun sets behind the trees in Tettegouche State Park as the mist rolls through the valley and the sun lights the treetops

As you stop to make camp you unpack the gear that you so carefully fit into your pack. One person takes the time to set up tents while the other cooks a dinner that only takes one pot. We often decide to reduce dishes to simply eat right out of the pan and sit next to a lake or creek and replenish our energy with a dinner of mashed potatoes and pasta mixed into a trail version of hotdish, or casserole to any non-Minnesotan.

Then there is the magic of the campfire. Within those flames are many a story of wonder and enchantment. Somehow any conversation just seems more interesting as you watch the crackling flame and glow bugs while listening to the noisy silence of the woods.

The clouds reflect off the glasslike surface of the lake as the fog moves through a valley to the south
The clouds reflect off the glasslike surface of the lake as the fog moves through a valley to the south

The morning is almost a ritual for any backpacker. Being awoken by the heat of the rising sun as it fills your tent. You rise from the sleeping bag slowly and put on camp shoes to stretch as you take in the beauty once again renewed from a nights rest in the cool fresh air of the northwoods. You then find solitude and sit on a bench or log and watch the sun finish rising from the East; taking your time to wake up as your mind relaxes. There is simply no rush to get ready as you knowing you have the entire day to make the next campsite.

The morning rays of sun pierce the clouds as the cool air moves across the ground
The morning rays of sun pierce the clouds as the cool air moves across the ground

All of this magic lies just a few hours north of home. Part of its beauty is that it holds a different meaning for each individual who enters the woods. Moments of bliss and reflection await a personal experience that is hidden in the trees that surround.

My 4x5 camera on the lakeside campsite of Bear Lake
My 4×5 camera on the lakeside campsite of Bear Lake

About the photographs:

The Twin Lakes Loop located near Beaver Bay and Silver Bay is a wonderfully scenic section of the Superior Hiking Trail that every backpacker should experience. It’s difficulty level is one that any enthusiast can enjoy. Though having a few challenging ups and downs there are plenty of places to rest and enjoy the scenery to catch your breath and hike the next section. The campsite on the shore of Bear Lake is one that will exceed the expectations of even the most seasoned and traveled hiker.

That was Wisconsin, night photography in the beauty of winter

That was Wisconsin,

that was yesterday,

now I have nothing that I can keep,

cause every place I go I take another place with me

-Justin Vernon

Relaxing on shore in a bed of snow and winter clothes as I watch the colorful winter night in the Wisconsin sky
Relaxing on shore in a bed of snow and winter clothes as I watch the colorful winter night in the Wisconsin sky

The night sky is a view that will just never get old. This was taken at the cabin on a chilly December night. Somehow the cold seems to disappear as you sit on the shoreline and watch the beauty of the sky, even on a cloudy, starless night. The puffy clouds act like a diffuser for the moonlight evenly lighting the world below as the snow brightens the scene. Night photography is a beautiful way to capture not only a space but also a time. Using longer exposures helps to keep a photographic record of a period of time. That period can be anywhere from a few moments to hours. This specific image shows 30 seconds of history. You can see the yellow grasses blowing gently in the wind against the moonlit whites of the snow upon the lake. The fall colors are still showing in a fire of red, orange, and yellow on the ground through the snow providing contrast to the gentle violets and blues of the clouds while the orange gently peek out through a break in the clouds all divided by the bare trees. Night photography requires the patience to sit back and let the camera do its magic and do nothing but wait. The results are always worth that wait!