Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sundays in My City - Morning Shadows

Unknown Mami hosts Sundays in My City where we all give tours of our hometowns. Check it out, better yet, take us on a tour of the place you call home.

This is one of those days where I thought to myself why don't I get up early more often? I happened to glance out our sliding glass door and was greeted with a magical sight. Shadows draped across our back porch giving perfect contrast to the sparkling crystals within the new fallen snow.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Skywatch Friday - Massive Cloud Front

Last week I was out shopping when I happened to look across this field and notice this massive cloud. I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures.

Drop by Skywatch Friday to check out other skies from around the world.

Propmpt Me! Wednesday - My Cup of Tea - Insanity?

Jillsy Girl hosts Prompt Me! Wednesday. Come by and check it out, better yet, play along.

This week's prompt is My cup of tea. My cup of tea involves adventuring out into nature to see what I can find and hopefully getting a few decent photographs while I'm at it. I've never been able to decide whether this makes me brave or crazy. Thus a conversation that I had with a friend was born that helped me to decide just which side I was on. Or so I thought.

I was telling one of my friends about an adventure I planned to go on involving cross-country skiing on the Hyalite Reservoir. She asked if anyone was coming with me. I said no, I'm going out alone. She came to the conclusion that I was brave. I wasn't so sure. Later that day when I put my pole into a puddle of water and it went splash instead of finding ice, I turned around and headed for the safety of the shore. I decided that this was the difference between brave and crazy. I'm willing to go out and experience adventure, but when I come to something that exclaims, "Danger, Will Robinson!", I turn around. If I hear a mountain lion give off a warning growl, I turn around. I don't go looking for it. Therefore, I decided I was brave and not crazy.

Until today. I'm pretty sure I slipped over the edge and can officially declare myself crazy. Oh, it started harmless enough. My son suggested that we go up to Palisade Falls for the family hike. No argument from us. It's quite a beautiful spot. Well, when we got there the road was closed. OK. The gate was swallowed in snow. Yikes! My husband suggested that we head up to the top of Hyalite Canyon and see if we couldn't hike to Grotto. Sounded good to the rest of us.

Well, in winter the lower trail is covered in snow so we went up the middle one. I became suspicious as to our where abouts when we came across some falls so quickly. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to hike to Grotto Falls in the summer. My brave husband and I weren't sure because this spot also had a rock face perpendicular to the trail as does Grotto Falls. My son kept trying to tell us we were at another spot very similar which also has falls. (I'm not complaining. I tried to find those other falls last summer to no avail.) We proceeded to climb up the hill determined to prove our brilliant offspring wrong. Did I mention we were hiking on top of a snowpack. That had me a bit concerned. The brave was kicking in. Time to turn around, for me. My spouse, on the other hand, is crazy. Pretty much everyone knows that, so it's not really a newsflash. Problem is, where he goes, I follow quite foolishly. So I blew off that little voice that said turn back. Once we reconnected with the trail at the top of the mound of snow, we did indeed discover that we were nowhere near Grotto Falls. We were above them somehow. At least, we think so. OK, good to know. We'll just carefully turn around. I will say the next part was my favorite. We manged to slide down the bowl on our boots and not set off a landslide. That was a blast!

That's when I realized I, too, am crazy. On the way down, I found out how deep the snowpack was, not that I needed my suspicion confirmed. I stepped into snow up to my hip. Just one leg, fortunately. The other one was folded next to me on top of the snow. Well, good, nothing broken or injured. My husband was kind enough to lend a hand and pull me out. During this little side adventure, I noticed I had lost one of my yak tracks. I was holding the other one in my hand because my eagle-eyed son spotted it on the trail earlier. I meant to take off the one left stuck to my shoe, but couldn't get a good spot to stand and lift my foot. Great! Bless my dear sweet husband, he went back to get it. I love him, but I really would've been happy to just get going. We were starting to lose the sun. Sign number 2, we're not sane.

That's when we heard it. If I could even accurately describe the sound, I would be Stephen King. To say it sent chills up my spine, doesn't cover it. Sounded half human, half cat. No warning growl this time! My son hugs me and says, "Goodbye, in case we get eaten by the animal." I said, "We're not getting eaten by the animal." He replies, "How do you know?" In my best grown up calm, not scared for my life voice I say, "Because we are going to remain calm."

Meanwhile, the love of my life starts hustling back down the mountain and falls in up to his waist. I keep thinking this is how it all starts. The trip that seemed innocent enough, but somehow ends in unthikable tragedy. I'm expecting this huge cat to pounce on him any moment. I really couldn't tell what it was. I just knew it was out there. This creature sounded like an angry human falling off a cliff. Then I start worrying that maybe someone did. Should I call 911? I look at my phone getting ready only to see: No Service Available. Are you joking?! It begins to run through my mind that this will make a great movie or maybe a Dateline segment. (Is that show still on?) My only hope is that I am correct in believing that the sound I heard sounded like it came from a distance. Maybe. Sound is funny in the forest.

I believe I am holding my breath at this moment. Willing myself to remain calm. At least I was bright enough not to tell my adorable child that we have no cell phone service. I'm praying that the panic does not show on my face. While it should have been a life time waiting for my spouse to return, it went quickly enough. Once reunited, my hero presented my errant yak trak to me, and we headed on down. I must say if I hadn't been jumpy from the whole thing, the evening would nearly have been perfect. The air was crisp, yet surprisingly warm. The sky was a perfect cobalt blue. The snow glittered lighting our way back. When we hit the parking lot, it was late dusk, but still light enough to see. It doesn't get any better than that. OK, not getting eaten by a bobcat definitely completes the evening.

PS - I tried listening to some animal sounds on the net when I got home. The closest thing to our bone chilling serenade was a bobcat yowl. Shiver.

View Upon Arriving at the Parking Area

Road Closed at Palisade Falls

Bit of Snow Covered Moss Near Hyalite Creek

Snow Mounds on Hyalite Creek

Pine Needles Poke through the Snow

Unidentified Falls

Unidentified Falls

Snowy Crags

Me Stuck in Snow Pack
Notice My Right Leg Disappears Completely

What's Your Cup of Tea? Adventurer or Homebody? Why not drop by Jillsy Girl and add your thoughts?!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Winter Remains

I took these shots of the lilac trees covered in snow awhile back. I'm terribly fascinated by ice crystals. Their shape, their shininess mesmerizes me. In this case, the way they seemed to hang off the lilac seed pods like little jewels. A testament to nature's beauty.

Sundays in My City - Frogs at the Museum

Sundays in My City is hosted by Unknown Mami. Each Sunday she gives us a chance to show off where we live. Stop by and show us your city!

This was quite the exciting week here in Bozeman. At least for us it was. The frogs arrived! Museum of the Rockies is currently hosting an exhibit about frogs which means getting to see actual real live frogs. OK, it means being able to see real live frogs that you aren't responsible for feeding.

In fact, we were so excited about this exhibit that we attended a members only preview party for the first time. The down side to that is the exhibit was more crowded than it would be on a normal mid-day visit. The plus side to that is I'm going back after work next week when I get some space and time to take really decent pictures. Not which to mention take some notes on the names of the frogs.

Until then, enjoy the preview of this excellent amphibian exhibit.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Skywatch Friday - Wyoming Moon

For today's Skywatch Friday post, I dug back into my archives and came across some photos I took over Christmas break. We were on our way to Colorado which means a stop in Casper, Wyoming. I would say we were about 50 miles from our destination when we happened to notice this gorgeous full moon. In fact, when we first spotted the moon, it was orange-red. That faded by the time we could safely pull over the car for me to snap a couple of shots. Still, the moon is spectacular in its girth.

PS - I have no idea what the red dot is. Possibly an airplane light? I would say it's a star but it moved substantially over the three or four photos I shot.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Prompt Me! Wednesday - Blossom

Every Wednesday Jillsy Girl puts together Prompt Me! Wednesday inviting us to put on our thinking caps. Stop by and check it out, better yet, play along!

This week's prompt was Blossom - What's blossoming in your life? Well, I pondered that question and realized, that much like the outside, I'm currently in hibernation.  I set about tilling my brain cells hoping to uncover some fertile thoughts. Soon a sprout of an idea began to push above the soil. Sure not much is blooming now, but I do have some photos that hint at what will soon bloom. 

While not much pokes above the soil now,
soon the grass will turn green. 
Quickly afterwards, the tender shoots will be joined by
irises, roses and columbines.

The blanket of snow protects these seedlings which will soon twirl away
to blossom into full grown trees themselves.

Winter Scene Jigsaw

One of my favorite subjects to photograph in the winter is snow covered grass. The dash of color in the middle of all that white is appealing. The promise of life to come is also very appealing.

Another thing that appeals to me is jigsaw puzzles. When I saw that my blog friend, Hilary, at The Smitten Image had found a site to turn one of her photos into a puzzle, I couldn't resist the idea myself. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sundays in My City - Food Glorious Food

Every Sunday Unknown Mami hosts Sundays in My City allowing all of us to show off where we live. Check it out and maybe even submit a post to show off your city.

Here in Bozeman, I've been having a laid back couple of weeks due to this cold I'm trying to catch. Since I haven't had a chance to get out and about, I've been choosing subjects a bit closer to home. This morning I really liked all the red on my plate for breakfast, so I decided to capture it for posterity. Unfortunately, food photography is not my forte. On the plus side, I found a really cool reflection of one of the strawberries in the plate. And I had time to do some photoshop work to jazz up the original photo. All in all a nice relaxing day.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Winter Vegetation

Today I thought I'd take a moment and get caught up on some of the photos I've been meaning to post. I took these shots while I was hiking near Peet's Hill in Burke Park. The guys like to go sledding, but I've avoided it ever since I took a tumble on the hill. However, I still like to tag along and see what there is to photograph. On this day, I found the dead leaves and berries made quite interesting subjects. I'm still anxious for those fresh shoots to show up, though.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Skywatch Friday - It's a Bird, But What Kind?

This week's Skywatch Friday post consists of a couple of shots a took earlier this winter. While my husband and I were out shopping, I had the good luck to spot this bird flying over a field. I had even better luck when it landed in a tree and waited patiently for me to snap a few shots. The best luck came when I got a good shot of it flying off.

The problem is, I've never been able to properly identify what kind of bird it is. At first I thought it was a falcon, but after careful deliberation and consulting my bird book, I have ruled that out. I am now leaning between an immature Red Shouldered Hawk or an immature Red-Tailed Hawk. If anyone can tell me for sure, that'd be great.

For other wild skies drop by Skywatch Friday.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yes, Winter Can Be Beautiful

When winter first arrived here in Montana, I took the oppotunity to freeze these icicles for eternity. (Don't you just love photography?!) I'm afraid to say that my love of such winter decor has once again deserted me as it feels that winter will never end. Stumbling across these photos was a nice reminder that winter has it's own form of beauty.

Prompt Me! Wednesday - A Treasured Gift

A treasured gift is the theme for Prompt Me! Wednesday.

One of the gifts that I treasure most in my life is a talent for photographing insects. I love going for a hike never knowing what kind of creature I'm going to find. Of course, the plant bug below was easy to spot since it's brown and sitting on top of fresh snow.

Small and Close to My Heart

Drop by Jillsy Girl to see what prompted this post.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Revisions of Sorts

A few weeks ago I did a post featuring a snow covered tree. My blog friend, Jillsy Girl, made a suggestion that I try and brighten the tree a little. Well, I thought not only would I give that a try, but I would also mess around a little in photoshop and see what else I could create.

Original Image

Brightened Tree

Abstract Created with Photo Shop

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Fool's Errand

Today was the quintessential snow day. A light and lovely snow had been falling all day making me feel like I was in a Norman Rockwell painting. It didn't even occur to me that running errands might not be such a good idea.

That's when I walked out of Walmart and stepped into New York! What in the World! My hat was iced over in seconds. I could barely open my car doors. I was scraping my windshield while the wind driven ice scraped at my cheeks. This was not looking good. I tried to photograph the joy of driving home in this storm only to discover I had forgotten to remove my lens cap. Le Sigh. However, it was still going good when I got home, so I bring you, miserable winter weather from Montana.

PS - I can't complain too much, it let off later this evening. I'm just hoping the snowdrift in my driveway won't keep me from getting out tomorrow.

Ice Chunks on My Car Door Handle

Ice Spray Near the Gas Tank

Wind Swept Snow

Barrel Planter Buried in Snow (About 2 Ft. High)

The Height of Flurries

The Force of Wind

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fall Remnants

Last October I had the pleasure of finally reaching the top of Drinking Horse Trail out at the Fish Technology Center. When I came back down, I found the flowers buzzing with insects. I thought posting these fall remnants would brighten my winter mood a bit.

Drone Fly - A Bee Mimic

Yellow Jacket

Syrphid Fly or Flower Fly
Wasp Mimic

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Sundays in My City - In Motion

Unknown Mami hosts Sundays in My City giving everyone a chance to tour different cities from around the world. Check it out!

Here in Bozeman, not a lot was going on, not in our corner of it anyway. A quick game of mini golf and a trip to the Barnes and Noble. On the way down to the mall, I was frustrated by my efforts to photograph a couple of local eagles. The second one was flying and that was pretty much the straw that broke the camel's back. So after ranting about how well my seatbelt works, my husband made the comment that usually he just points the 810 at the window and clicks. Laugh all you like. It works. The man is brilliant. I decided that might not be a bad experiment and started shooting his style with my D300. Can't say that I got what one might call brillianty sharp and composed photos, but I did get some pretty nifty motion shots.

PS - Yes, my seatbelt frustrates me. If I didn't have to wear it, I could actually swivel my hips and keep shooting out the back windows by the cargo area. I have yet to loosen it because should I need it, I'd like to live another day to get that next shot. I will with that darn thing on. I swear it has no give.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Prompt Me Wednesday - Ties That Bind

Prompt Me! Wednesday is hosted by Jillsy Girl. Drop on by and check it out or better yet join in the fun!

Today's prompt is the following quote by William Blake:

The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.

My immediate thoughts went to ties that bind. The nest binds a bird family together. The web binds the spider's prey. And man forms bonds of friendship in order to accomplish tasks or simply to get through life. Thinking along these lines led me to think of my own family. What holds us together?

Well, tradition is one of those things. Especially the family road trip to visit Grandpa and Grandma for Christmas. During our visits we usually participate in an even more specific tradition that we have as an extended family - a trip to the Denver Zoo. In past years, we have gone at night to see the Denver Zoo Lights, but this year, we decided to go during the day. We were not disappointed. The weather was so nice, most of the animals were outside. At night, during the light festival, we could see giraffes, elephants, hippos and the animals in the aquarium section. Anything that could be housed in a building for the most part. Sure, we've enjoyed these exhibits, but it just isn't the same as seeing them out and about during the day. For one thing, I was able to get decent shots of the giraffes. To top that off, I was really amazed at how many animals the zoo actually houses. We saw monkeys and cranes and zebras and cats and wolves - tons of animals that I didn't even know were there. That's not taking into account, we didn't get through the whole zoo. This was definitely our best visit yet, and I will cherish the memories forever. I'm sure all of my family will as well. Thus creating yet another bond that ties us together.

Grey Crowned Cranes - Denver Zoo