Spiders, Insects And Other Late Summer Cool Stuff

We have had some remarkably  beautiful late summer weather here in Northeastern Pennsylvania this past week. Sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures are not good for the wild mushrooms but have made for some pleasant hiking conditions. I took advantage of them with a few hikes with my macro lens. 

There are not many flowers in bloom now but the ones that are sure are attracting a lot of insects. yellow wild flowers in bloom

The ragweed, a nuisance to many, is a major sources of late season pollen for many species of bees,

wasps,

yellow jackets and even flies.fly sitting on ragweed

And insects attract spiders. I ran into a few of them on my walks this week, ranging in size from the tiny,gray spider on web

to the large,large spider

and some quite pretty when contrasted with the vivid colors of  the changing leaves,small spiders and shadow on leaf

or on the milkweed pods.long legged spider of milkweed pod

I also saw a lot of species of grasshoppers grasshopper on yellow flower

and ants busy preparing for their long winter sleep. 

There were still a few moth and butterflies fluttering about too, and they also were attracted to the common ragweed.

Most of the photos of the insects shown above where on paths in open woodlands. I also took a few walks in the deeper woods where I found many signs of Fall, including a very good crop of acorns.

I even found an unusual blackish one. 

There were a few mushrooms growing despite the dry weather including this poison pigskin puffball, 

and I believe these  are the beautiful, but deadly destroying angel mushrooms. 

I have come to really enjoy walking with my camera and macro lens. It has allowed me to explore nature from a new perspective. Even a simple leaf has such a complex beauty. close up of leaf

And, with the invention of the internet and social media, I am so glad I can share my discoveries  with so many people here on my blog. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes this week.  Macro photographs. 

close up of spiders eyes

The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible”Oscar Wilde

close up of butterflies eye

 

 

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A Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron And More Late Summer Beauty At the PPL Wetlands

It was another mild late summer morning on Sunday.  I again decided to explore the paths and trails of the PPL Wetlands.  I  walked the Great Warrior Trail  along the banks of the Susquehanna River hoping to a  see a bald eagle or beaver as I have on my last few visits. trees along Susquehanna river

No luck seeing  either this time. It was  very quiet under the ancient trees since the song birds have headed south with the  the shortening day and cooler weather.  There were very few birds fluttering in the trees.  I did see this flicker which, I believe will stay here for the Winter.flicker on branch

Like the song birds the robins and a lot of the waterfowl have also left but I still heard, and saw,  a few catbirds, catfish on branch

and lingering red-winged blackbirds.

 I walked along the trail between the canals and ponds and found more signs of  Fall including the red leaves of the Virginia creepers vines,red vine leaves on tree

and the ferns which have now turned brown.brown ferns along tree lined trail

There were some  mushrooms on the forest floor, including these inky caps.inky cap mushrooms

I was disappointed I didn’t see any bald eagles along the river, or a beaver swimming in the water but, as always, the wetlands did provide me with another surprise.kingfisher on wire eating crayfish

As I walked to the to the riverlands, I saw this female kingfisher sitting on a wire and eating, or,  trying to eat, a crayfish.

The kingfisher was on the other side of a canal so I couldn’t get close enough to watch her struggles with the crayfish but I did take  these photographs with my zoom lens showing her efforts to eat what she caught. Here is a link to some more photographs. Kingfisher photographs. female kingfisher on wire

I also saw another interesting sight. At first the great blue heron I spotted was stalking food in Lake Took-A-While. Nothing unusual about that.great blue heron in reeds

But it spread it’s wings opened it’s mouth and seemed to just enjoy the late summer sunshine like it was relaxing at the beach. great blue heron basking in sun

I wished I had more time to watch the blue heron, and the kingfishers, which were still flying above the lake but it  was Sunday and September and the Philadelphia Eagles were playing at one o’clock so I had to walk back to my car, catching some more of nature’ s beauty on the way, including this late season butterfly, 

these late season flowers, purple wildflower at PPL Wetlands

and  weeds, well we call them weeds, the common ragweed that is such a nuisance to allergy sufferers this time of year, but still having a beauty to them. And food for many wasp, bees and other insects.

I also once  again observed these insects  still attracted to this milkweed pod.

The PPL Wetlands provided me with another large dose of nature’s beauty both large and small. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike on Sunday. PPL Wetlands photographs.  

“The river is such a tranquil place, a place to sit and think of romance and the beauty of nature, to enjoy the elegance of swans and the chance of a glimpse of a kingfisher.” 
― Jane Wilson-Howarth

 

 

 

 

 

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Insects And Some Other Cool September Stuff

I was out searching for wild mushrooms everyday this past week. It has been a cool and rainy Summer which has resulted in an abundance of wild mushrooms. I have found many hen of the woods, or, as they are called in my area, rams head mushrooms. hen of the woods mushroom

I have found many other species too and have been including  them in   some of my favorite dishes, such as shrimp, scallops, wild mushrooms sauteed with onions and garlic served over whole wheat pasta.dinner meal of shrimp, scallops, hen of woods mushrooms over pasta

I took my macro lens on some of my hikes and, in addition to wild mushrooms, uncovered some more of the beauty of nature up close. 

One of the most unique was this creature. I found it sitting on a milkweed pod.  heel bug insect on milkweed pod

It kept facing me, in this defensive pose,  as I approached from all sides. I have learned it is a wheel bug  ,  a member of the assassin bug family, and is know for it’s painful sting. Here is a link to some more photographs of the wheel bug.close up wheel bug on milkweed pod

There were many signs of the coming of  Fall on my walk. Many of the leaves are now changing color, especially members of the heath family, including the blueberry bushes. bright red bluebery leaves

And some of the red maples.bright red maple leaves

The woods are a lot quieter now, many of the song birds have already begun their migration south. And many of the insects, dragonflies and butterflies  are now gone. I still saw a few wasps and bees and this butterfly. moth or butterfly on tree

And some other insects I haven’t seen before.unidentified insect on leaf

I found this caterpillar suspended from a silk thread as it dangled it’s way to the ground in search of food before the cold weather sets in. caterpillar dangling from silk thread

Even though I only had my macro lens I was still able to get a photograph of this deer watch me walk by,deer in woods

and a photograph of this interesting reflection of the sun in the clouds. 

I don’t believe I have ever taken a walk in the forest  and woodlands of Northeastern Pennsylvania without seeing something new, beautiful or interesting.

I enjoy every one of my walks, and even more so during mushroom season, since I can take some of nature home with me and  add it to a delicious  meal. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes. 

All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child. Marie Curielady bug beetle on white flower

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Beaver and Blackbirds: Another Hike In The PPL Wetlands.

Sunday was opening day for my favorite football team, the Philadelphia Eagles. Game time was 1 p.m. so  I decided to take a break from my search for wild mushrooms and take a quick hike through the PPL Wetlands. tree lined canal at PPL Wetlands

As regular readers of my blog would know,  I love these protected wetlands located between the nuclear power plant in Salem Township  and the Susquehanna River, about a half hour drive from my home. There is such a wide variety of flora and fauna in this area, I always seem to find something of interest for a  nature lover  like me. I love to share my experiences down here.  duck weed covered pond

And I wasn’t disappointed on Sunday. As I started  my walk on the trail along the Susquehanna River,  I heard a splashing sound in waters below me.  I first wondered if a bear or other small animal could have jumped in the river.beaver swimming in Susquehanna River

I continued my walk and heard it again. I had to turn back investigate. As I neared the area I heard the splashing and saw water flying into the air. Totally puzzled now I found a clearing to look over the river bank and saw this critter swimming in the water  near the shore. And I am sure it saw me too.

It did  not flee, but continued to swim in a wide circle slamming it’s tail into the water and causing the loud  splashing noise. From the size of it’s tail I think it is a beaver, although some friends suggested it may be a river otter. Here is a link to a video I took on my IPhone. https://youtu.be/GOxkgkHbi9cbeaver splashin tail in river

Whatever it was it knew I was watching and continued it’s behavior. It would seem it was defending this territory for some reason. I was puzzled on seeing a beaver in the river and is why I am not sure if it could be an otter. Any positive identification would be appreciated.  I would have loved to stay and watch it swim in the river  but I knew I didn’t have a lot of time for my hike so I decided to continue my walk. Here are some more photographs I took of what I believe is a beaver. Beaver photographs. beaver swimming in river

I walked  under the shade of ancient trees growing along the river. The trees in the wetlands still had their Summer green but there was  a silence here for the first time since the Spring.large oak tree on trail

Many of the song birds have now left these woods on their journey south for the Winter. And I didn’t hear or see any of the usual resident robins, catbirds or red  winged blackbirds. I did see a few wood ducks take off as I approached a pond or canal and saw this flycatcher perched on a branch. fly catcher on branch

I noticed this spider  web  and saw it’s owner wrapping a web around an unfortunate insect that had been trapped. spider on web with trapped insect

As I walked under the trees I found the husks of some black walnut trees and hazel nuts , which would have been opened by a chipmunk or squirrel.hazel nut hush on ground

 I made my way to the river lands area of the  nature preserve and found this milkweed pod that I had photographed last week.There were some tiny eggs on it and they now hatched, and the pod was covered with these newly hatched insects. insects on milkweed pod

There were not many people at Lake Took-A-While, a few walkers and bikers, but most of the fisherman were gone too. tree lined lake Took-A-While

The crab apple trees had an abundance of fruit and ripe crab apples

There was an abundance of this annoying plant along the trail, ragweed. ragweed along lake

It was getting late so I had to turn back when I started to see flock after flock of red-winged blackbirds crossing the lake and flying from tree to tree in along the trail.red winged blackbird flock

I watched for about 15 minutes as the birds continued to stream across the lake and down the trails. Here is a link to a YouTube video I took of some of the migrating birds. Red-winged blackbird migrating flocks red winged black birds in flight

I could have watched them for hours but I couldn’t miss my football game so I walked back to the wetlands. I didn’t see any bald Eagles in the wetlands but I was happy to get home in time for the game and get to see my Philadelphia Eagles win!  I am still glad I  got to spend the morning outdoors in the wetlands,once again it didn’t disappoint this nature lover. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL Wetland photographs 

Surely no child, and few adults, have ever watched a bird in flight without envy. 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Still Summer, But Fall Is In A Hurry To Get Here This Year.

Today started out  cloudy, breezy and cool, with temperatures in the mid 40’s and, even though we still have some Summer left it felt a lot more like Fall.  I decided to again place my macro lens on my camera and take it along on my search for wild mushrooms. brown maple leaf sitting on ground

As I  walked in the mixed pine, birch and aspen woods in search of aspen scaber bloete or red tops, as my dad called them, I noticed a lot of the leaves are now beginning to show some color. bright red blueberry leaves

Many of the blueberry bushes, both low and high bush species, are turning a brilliant red. red blueberry leaf

And some of the leaves on the birch, yellow white birch leaf

and maple trees are also changing into their fall colors. maple leaf turning red

There were a few wild flowers still in bloom,  I don’t know the names of this one,purple wild flower

nor the name of this beautiful white late blooming orchard, white orchard in bloom

but I do know this is a species of ragweed, not well lied by those of us, me included, who suffer from allergies. insect on ragweed flower

I was disappointed I didn’t find any red top mushrooms but I did find a wild crab apple tree,wild crab apples

and sampled it’s very sour fruit. wild crab apple with a bite

I left the birch/ aspen/ pine woods and decided to search for some  hen of the woods or, as we call them, ramshead mushrooms. I didn’t find this one  in the woods. Some friends found it in growing in their yard and let me harvest it . These mushrooms grow mainly on old oak trees so the woods are very different. hen of the woods or ramshead mushroom

I usually hike second growth forests with a mixture of maple, oak, pine hemlock and the occasional ash and hickory nut tree. The ground is usually covered with many species of ferns, which are also changing color early this year. , close up of fern which has tuned yellow

and my mortal enemies,   brambles and thorn bushes,thorns on a thorn bush

and blackberry brambles which have caused me many scratches on my legs and tumbles to the ground when walking into them in the thick underbrush as I look for the old oak trees which may have a ramshead  mushroom growing on it. blackberry thorns

There were some mushrooms growing along paths, 

including what I think is a cauliflower mushroom and,

some old puffballs,

but, unfortunately I didn’t find what I was looking for, a ramshead mushroom. But there is always tomorrow and it is always good to be outdoors in the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Macro walk 

Summer ends and autumn comes, and he who would have thought it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.”  –  Hal Borland

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Rain, Bald Eagles And A Great Blue Heron At The PPL Wetlands

The forecast called  for rain showers ending early on Sunday morning here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. However,  at 9 a.m. it was still raining pretty steady at my house. I knew it would be too wet to roam the deep  woods searching for wild mushrooms so I decided to head down one of my favorite well maintained hiking trails at the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. tree lined road to PPL Wetlands in Salem Township

Summer is ending here in Pennsylvania but the woods are still green and the rain added to that greenness on Sunday morning.  The leaves glistened from the rain and it looked more like the lush green of May than early September. 

As I was leaving my car, I heard a rustling in the tree branches overhead and watched two bald eagles quickly flying away. To quick for me to grab my camera. I walked down to the banks of the Susquehanna River to try and see them but they were gone.flock of tree swallows on river

I did see large flocks of these birds skimming above the waters of the river and I have since learned, from my birder friends, that were probably tree swallows.  There were hundreds of them in the flock as they made there way down river. wood ducks on pond

I walked back to the trails of the wetlands and these wood ducks enjoying the wet weather. tree lined trail in PPL Wetlands

The rain continued to fall and actually became more intense so I headed under the cover of the bigger trees along the river. As I came to an opening along the river I looked out and saw, on a branch just below my eye level, another bald eagle perched staring at the river. He or she hadn’t heard me approaching and, as I reached for my camera, it turned around. For a brief second we stared at each other but it flew off before I could have taken a spectacular photograph. This is the best I could do as it quickly soared away. I didn’t have a photograph but the experience, to come eye to eye with a bald eagle in the wild was amazing.bald eagle in flight

I continued my walk in the rain, seeing a few more ducks, catbirds and chipmunks. I am guessing these remains of a black walnut were a chipmunk’s or squirrel’s  breakfast. remains of a black walnut eaten by squirrel or chipmunk

I also saw the remains of some of the flowers of Spring and Summer such as this jack-in -the pulpit fruit,jack in the pulpit fruit

and these wild grape, wild grapes

and the fruit of the pokeweed plants. pokeweed berries

I walked over to the river lands and Lake Took-a-While and encountered this great blue heron, once again before he/she noticed me. great blue heron

I again creeped up on it and this time I had my camera ready.  As I approached, it perked up, and became more tense as I  neared. This time I was able to take the photograph above before it flew off behind some shrubs. Here is a link to some more photographs of the heron and some other birds I saw on my walk. Bird photographs. great blue heron in flight

It was now near noon and the rain was not letting up. I was soaked, so I decided to head back, walking past some of the last wild of the season, including these touch-me-nots or jewelweed flowers,touch-me-not or jewelweed with rain drop

and these common flowers which I can’t identify. 

Although the woods were still, for the most part, lush and green, there were some leaves changing color. leaves changing colors {red}

As were many of the species of ferns along the paths.tree lined path with brown ferns

I am enjoying every walk I take this time of year since I know it won’t be long until all of the flora and fauna of the wetlands disappear with the coming colder weather. I hope to get a few more hikes in, and watch the  changing colors and migration of the birds, before it does. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike in the wetlands. PPL wetlands photographs. 

 

“I love the smell of rain and growing things.” 
― Serina Hernandez

 

 

 

 

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September Hikes With My Macro Lens. More Of Nature Up Close

It’s hard to believe it’s September already. It seems we were just anxiously awaiting the return of the song birds and the first flowers of Spring.  Seasons change so quickly it seems. It is almost fall now and here in Northeastern Pennsylvania late summer brings mushrooms. red top or aspen scaber bolete mushroom

I was out looking for red tops. or aspen scaber bolete,  (a nice specimen shown above)  these past few days. Like most mushroom foragers, I don’t  reveal my favorite spots, so rather than give hints to where I was,  I took took my camera with a macro lens to share some more of nature close up. close up of yellow jacket on leaf

The first thing I noticed, due to the cool weather we’ve been having, it was in the low 40’s a couple of mornings,  was the reduced activity of the insects.close up of wasp on leaf

I found many wasps, bees and yellow jackets almost motionless on the leaves and flowers on my walk. And I noticed many ladybug beetles also almost in a dormant state in the early morning cold. close up of lady bug beetle on leaf

But  many, including yellow jackets  are still active as the day warms up, especially when you step on their nest, as I did and got stung on my shin. Ouch!close up of yellow jacket on leaf

 My search for red tops mushrooms brought me to areas of new forest growth with younger, pine, aspen and birch trees. And, what my dad called  ‘mushroom bushes” also know as sweet fern. Here is a close up of a sweet fern leaf already changing colors as the summer ends. . sweet fern leaf

It has been dry and I was disappointed to find only a few mushrooms growing, mainly pigskin puffballs, or what my dad called, “shoe polish”. This one was too old to cut in half and explain the reason for that name, but, stay tuned, I will demonstrate in a future posts. close up of poison pigskin mushroom

I also found some more unusual objects on my walks, including this oak gall, created from hormones injected by a wasp when it lays it’s eggs on a oak leaf. Pretty fascinating. oak gall

And not sure if I should get into this, but it is part of nature, I found, what I think is bear do do on the ground. Not positive but if any one knows please comment.possibly bear droppings

I do know this is deer do do and deer droppings

and this white substance on this leaf was droppings left by an unknown bird.bird dropping on a leaf

Well onto something more appealing, some left over blueberries,close up of blueberries

and some chokeberries. I just learned these berries, which we were taught were poisonous,  were one of the staple foods of Shoshone Native American tribe. chokeberries up close

And the oaks also had plenty of acorns this year. close up of acorn

As I wrote in my post from my hike last week, there were still some flower in bloom or about to bloom.    close up of wild flower bud

I didn’t find a lot of mushroom but it is always nice to roam the woods of Northeastern Pennsylvania with my eyes peeled, you will always uncover some of the beauty of nature.  It is raining as I type, hopefully there will be more mushroom pictures in my next post. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hikes. Macro photographs. 

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einsteingrass up close

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Late Summer At The PPL Wetlands.

Last Sunday I got up early , on a clear and cool late summer  morning,   to try and find some wild mushrooms.  I was unsuccessful so I decided to head to the PPL Wetlands in Salem Township. It has been almost three weeks since I last visited and I miss walking along the Susquehanna River, the canals and ponds. two turtles on a log

Once again I found many turtles sunning on the shores, rocks and logs in and around the waters, a sure sign that the waters are cooling down because of the decreasing sun and lengthening nights. green colored pond covered with duckweed

Another sign of the end of Summer and the approaching Fall was the absence of the chirping of the song birds.  It seems many of warblers and other song birds may have already begun their migration south. I didn’t even see many robins or red winged blackbirds. But there were still a few catbirds fluttering about and making plenty of noise. catbird in leaves on tree branch

The calming sounds of the cicadas could be heard from the tree tops and there were quite a few dragonflies darting about. dragonfly on a twig

At first I thought, being late August,  that there wouldn’t be as many flowers in bloom as Spring. And there weren’t, but, upon closer observation I found quite a variety of flowers still in bloom, including these pretty cardinal flowers. red cardinal flower in bloom

There were also still a full thistles in bloom, although most of these have gone to seed.purple thistle flower in bloom

There were still plenty of jewelweed or touch-me-nots blooming along the trails including many yellow ones  which I hadn’t seen earlier in August. yellow jewelweed or touch-me-not in bloom

There were also many daisy like flowers growing,daisy like flowers in bloom

and these not too popular flowers were now starting to bloom, the allergy aggravating ragweed. yellow ragweed flower in bloom

And, as flowers do, they did attract many insects including bees, wasps and butterflies. butterfly on flower

The milkweed flowers have now turned into pods and even these pods attract certain types of insects.insects on milkweed pod

And  the jack-in-the-pulpit flowers have now produced their unique fruit. Here is a link to some of the other flowers I found on my walk. FLOWERS.

I walked along the trails to the riverlands and always pretty Lake Took-A-While and the many folks still fishing in or walking around it’s waters or picnicking near it’s shores. Lake Took-A-While PPL Riverlands

I walked back through the trails of the river and wetlands, hearing mainly the  serenade of cicadas in the trees but also hearing, and seeing a few birds, including this  large flycatcher, I think it is a kingbird, kingbird on branch

this smaller flycatcher, flycatcher on branch

a juvenile woodpecker, juvenile woodpecker on tree

and some wood ducks, a great blue heron and a few green herons. 

As I left the wetlands I saw this fellow watching me leave. I could roam these trails all day, so much flora and fauna in these wetlands, but I had to head home, knowing that soon Fall will arrive and the wetlands will begin to enter their long winter nap. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. PPL wetlands photographs.

When summer gathers up her robes of glory, And, like a dream, glides away.Sarah Helen Whitman

 

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Idaho Day Four: Idaho Falls To Salt Lake City, On The Road Again

 After experiencing the total solar eclipse on Monday , I slept well in my budget hotel in Idaho Falls, falling asleep thinking of plans to view the next total eclipse which will be closer to my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania in 2024. Econo lodge room Idaho Falls

I awoke early ,  packed, but before heading to Salt Lake City, I decided to drive to downtown Idaho Falls to take a closer look at the famous falls.Water tower near pond downtown Idaho Falls

I parked at the local library and walked to the river walk along the Snake River. waterfalls on Snake River Idaho Falls Idaho

The sun had not yet risen and it was chilly, in the low 50’s  considering it  was close to 90 degrees  the afternoon the day before. The falls were visible from the start of the river walk.LDS Mormon temple in distance along Snake River Idaho Falls

Even though it was early, around 7 a.m the river walk’s paths  were  busy with walkers, bikers and runners enjoying the beautiful view and unique grass sculptures. There were a number of hotels in the area and I hope to return to this city someday and stay at one of them, within sight and sound of the falls. grizzly bear shrub Idaho Falls Idaho

The sun rose as I was walking across the Snake river  from the LDS Mormon Temple.Sunrise LDS Mormon temple Idaho Falls

Again I wish I had more time to explore and enjoy the city but I had to move on, it was a 3 1/2 hour ride to Salt Lake City and I hoped to visit some sights along the way. So I returned to my hotel, checked out and was on the road again. Here is a link to some more photographs from my morning walk. Morning walk photographs.Snake River falls Idaho falls

I was soon heading south on Interstate 15 and found little traffic on the highway. I enjoyed the passing scenery, many buttes, hills and ridges of the high desert.View of high desert Idaho on Interstate 15

I wanted to get to Salt Lake City early so I would have time to explore the city but I soon made my first detour. I came upon the Shoshone Bannock Casino and saw a sign for a museum. I love museums and I am especially interested in all Native American history and culture. Fort Hall Casino Idaho

Unfortunately, Google maps misdirected me and I drove a few miles out of my way but enjoyed a nice conversation with a member of the local tribe and got to see some of the old building associated with the old fort that was located here. old house at Fort Hall Idaho

I eventually found the museum and spent about a half hour learning about these two Native American tribes and their peaceful co-existence and love of  the land they lived on. Native American couple on horse pack in traditional attire

And also about the sad history of how they were mistreated by the new “immigrants” and how many of the  treaties made with them were  broken.  And, as I have said so many times I wish I had more time to spend in this museum. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the museum. Shoshone-Bannock Museum PhotographsShoshone Bannock tribes insignia

I was back on the highway and made good time until I got into Utah. Road construction slowed me down to almost a dead stop and it took me almost an hour to travel 15 miles. traffic on Interstate 15 Utah

But this is what travel is about, unexpected delays, sights and situations.  Once I was out of the construction I again made good time but was I late in arriving at my next planned stop, Antelope Island, in the Great Salt Lake. Antelope Island Utah welcome sign

I had wanted to visit this famous lake since I first saw a photograph of people floating in it’s salty waters in elementary school. I had come close twice before, once on a cross country trip I took after I graduated from law school. I tried to make it to California but I ran out of money in Jackson Hole Wyoming and had to head home. Salt flats near Great Salt lake utah

I also was planning to visit the lake on another trip across country, in 2011, but torrential rains caused me to change my plans. So I was very excited to finally see this beautiful lake surrounded by mountains . view of Great Salt lake

I would have loved to have had the time to take a swim in the lake , but, wanting to get to Salt lake City, I decided to visit the famous Garr Ranch and the bison that roam this section of the island. view of horses, clouds and mountains near Great Salt Lake

The scenery on the island was spectacular. I would love to return and hike some of the many trails that crisscross the island. Here is a link to some more photographs on Antelope Island. Antelope Island PhotographsBuffalo in grass on Antelope Island

I spent about an hour on the island when I realized my gas tank was almost empty. I mean empty.  There are no gas stations on the island.  I just made it to the first gas station after I left the island  before I ran out of gas . I was on the road , finding heavy traffic again, and watched some rain clouds move in from the south as I neared Salt Lake City. Here is a link to some more photographs from my drive to Salt Lake City.  Drive  from Idaho Falls photographs Highway near Salt lake City Utah

It was now late afternoon, later then I wanted to arrive, and I decided to first check into my hotel near the airport.  I was debating with myself whether I wanted to drive into the downtown traffic to do some sightseeing or just call it a day  since I had a very early flight the next morning. While checking in, the girl at the front desk informed me there was a train from the airport to the downtown. After getting settled in my room I drove to the airport, returned my car, and was soon on the green line train to downtown Salt lake City. inside train car on way to Salt Lake City from airport

It was now raining outside, as our train made the 15 minute ride to Temple Square, making about five stops along the way. View from train on way to downtown Salt Lake City

Fortunately, the rain had stopped as I departed the train and I soon found my way to the famous LDS Mormon Temple. Temple downtown Salt lake City

And the even more famous Tabernacle Building. Mormon Tabernacle building Salt Lake City

I have enjoyed so much wonderful music performed by the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir and it was truly a joy to sit in this building. Organ and interior of Mormon Tabernacle Salt Lake City

I walked around the beautiful grounds of Temple Square and was impressed by the many beautiful displays of flowers which were planted everywhere. flowers on Temple Square Salt lake City

The grounds were crowded with visiting Mormons, tourists and even local folks, like this couple who found the lake and surrounding gardens as a good place for wedding photographs.Couple posing for wedding photographs Temple Square

It was getting late, and starting to rain again and I decided to eat in one of the few restaurants on the Temple Square grounds and was pleased to have chosen the Roof  Restaurant and it’s spectacular views of the Temple. 

And the food, served buffet style was very good too. I ate way too much, and I think I am still walking off the many delicious desserts I sampled. Here is a link to some more photographs from my dinner at the Roof Restaurant. Roof Restaurant photographs. desserts at Roof restaurant Salt lake city

After dinner, I made my way back to the train stop in a light rain, and after a short ride to the airport, I was picked up and returned to my hotel. I finished packing and was soon asleep since I had an early flight.

I was up early the next morning, at the airport and soon,  heading home. I  hope  to see, at least one more during ,my lifetime , one of the most amazing natural phenomena that occurs on our planet, a total eclipse of the sun. It is amazing. Here is a link to some more photographs from my brief visit to downtown Salt lake City.  Temple Square photographs.

“Life is not always perfect. Like a road, it has many bends, ups and down, but that’s its beauty.” 
― Amit Ray,

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My First Total Solar Eclipse And AWEsome It Was

I guess the way to begin this post is to say the total solar eclipse I experienced was not what I expected. I had visions of the moon bringing total midnight darkness to the middle of  day. Not how it happened. I t happened very differently  but still so awesome. More on this later but now first on  how and where I got to  observe it. corona of sun during total eclipse

I was up early in my $387 dollar a night Econo Lodge in Idaho Falls. Actually, although overpriced for the eclipse I had a  nice clean room and the staff was very friendly and  welcoming.  I was up early, around 5 a.m. and worked on a blog post until sunrise, around 7 a.m. here in southern Idaho, had a coffee and some oatmeal and was on the road heading north to Rexburg, a town in the path of the longest totality of the eclipse. highway with no traffic Idaho Falls

I was surprised to find so little traffic, with the reports of traffic jams in Oregon and warnings from park rangers to avoid traffic and stay at my hotel and watch it. cars at parking lot southern butte Rexburg Idaho

I, of course, wasn’t taking this advice and, after talking with a few local photographers I met, took their suggestions that anything in the Rexburg area and particularly two buttes west of the city, would be the best place to view the eclipse.  I was told I may not get there with the traffic but I was surprised to find  my way to the town Menan and it’s two buttes with very little traffic.parking lot northern Menan Butte Idaho

There were two buttes the first I reached was private and they were charging $40 dollars to park. I was told the northern Butte was the better location so I drove on and found a large parking lot and no fee to park.parking lot Northern Menan Butte Idaho

There  were a lot of vehicles, buses and campers but no were near what I was expecting. I arrived early, around 8:30 am and decided to hike the northern Menan Butte before the moon arrived to block the sun.trail to Northern Menan butte summit Idaho

The local Idaho officials sure went out of their  way to accommodate the visitors. Police directed and slowed traffic, fire fighters and emergency folks were at the ready and rangers provided water, eclipse glasses and information about the eclipse and the natural environment of the butte. emergency tent at solar eclipse

I began my walk up the butte, were many folks were going to observe the eclipse.  Canadian couple waiting for solar eclipse

I decided, on my way to the summit, that after my climb, I would set up near this group of photographers and astronomers, who had the big cameras and telescopes, and observe the eclipse. photographers at Menan Butte Idaho for total solar eclipse

I walked up the sandy, slippery and rocky path to the summit of the butte, having to admit I took a few breaks along the way. trail sign for Menan Butte at solar eclipse

Aside from a few birds, including a hawk, the only critter I saw on my hike  was this beetle. beetle on ground on trail

There was a steady stream of climbers, of all ages, and from all over the country and world. trail up to Menan Butte summit

I was glad to see the many families struggling up the winding paths with their children, with some dedicated fathers even carrying infants. trail up to Menan Butte summit

The hike took about and 45 minutes to reach the top and I enjoyed the view on some rocks near the summit.View from atop Menan Butte summit Idaho

It was a much easier,  and quicker,  hike back down the butte and I returned to my car around 10:15 am. , 15 minutes before the eclipse was to begin. View from atop Menan Butte Idaho summit

I heard the excited voices of some Asian tourists shouting it had begun and put on my protective glasses to watch the moon begin it’s two hour journey across the face of the sun.  I took this photograph of some of the many folks who climbed the butte to watch the eclipse. People atop Menan Butte Idaho watching total solar eclipse

I walked over to the group of photographers and set up my camera equipment. I am not, by any means, a professional photographer, I let the cameras do the work fir me, and was worried I had purchased an incorrect eclipse lens. I did take a few photos of the start of the eclipse with this being the best result .Moon starting to eclipse sun

I spent the next hour taking peak at the ever diminishing disc of the sun through my protective glasses and watching a slight change in the intensity of the sunlight.moon eclipsing solar disc

It was amazing how, even at 95% of coverage of the solar disc, the intensity of the suns rays were still blinding without the glasses. Folks in the group next to me did  notice a change in the shadows cast by the diminished sunlight,shadow cast during total solar eclipse

and there was a slight noticeable change in the lighting  in the landscape.lanndcape during start of total solar eclipse

However at totality everything changed so quickly. It was wonderful and magical. view of sun during total solar eclipse

The skies rapidly darkened  and the sun became a black hole in the sky surrounded by a halo of bright light. It was amazing..view of total solar eclipse

Mars and Mercury appeared and a red sky, as seen on the eastern horizon at sunrise, and the western horizon at sunset, ringed the entire horizon. I was glad I was on the flat plains of Idaho to  view of horizon during total solar eclipseobserve it. 

There were shouts of joy from the group of people around me, dogs barked and babies cried. The temperature dropped and I reached for my IPhone to take this video, which can be seen on my YouTube channel at this link https://youtu.be/k0M_iZCyGv0I also reached for one of my cameras, my Canon 5D Mark III and took this and a few other photographs. 

The two minutes of totality went so fast,  I didn’t get a chance to take  any landscape photographs of the butte as I planned and I missed seeing some of the stars other folks near me said thy had seen. It never good totally dark, just a late twilight feeling. Still something you could never really exactly describe without experiencing it. 

It was a truly remarkable experience, but if I could do it over, and when I see my next one in 2024, I will  spend more time enjoying it and not try to video or photograph this fantastic cosmic event.  Here is a link to some more photographs of my visit to Menan Butte to watch the eclipse. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Three-Solar-Eclipse-At-Menan-Butte-August-21-2017

As soon as the shadow moon  moved  just past the sun it once again became bright and you now again had to use the eclipse glasses to watch the event. After about ten minutes I decided to leave this area and get to the highway to finish watching the eclipse there, in hopes of avoiding traffic. Unfortunately, the local police directed me, and others with the same idea, in a northerly direction where we ran into a lot of traffic. I decided to try a shortcut from looking at Google maps on my IPhone but soon came to a dead end.

A local resident explained to me that my best bet would to re-trace my path and make my way to the major highway. I did and found the major highway route 20 with traffic at a standstill. All back roads heading south were also congested. 

I decided to head back to the nearest town Rexburg, which to find something to eat and explore the town until the traffic subsided.  I found traffic in the town to be heavy and all of the restaurants with long lines of folks doing the same thing as me. I waited in line at a Thai restaurant where I had a nice lunch. 

After lunch I walked the streets of Rexburg for a bit and got back on Route 20 for my journey back to Idaho Falls. It was congested, but moving traffic for 15 of the 20 mile trip but traffic stalled again 5 miles from my hotel. I once again took to the back roads and this time did find my way to the hotel after driving some rural roads. 

It was late afternoon when I arrived, and after a meal at a nearby Mexican restaurant I was back at my hotel. With a long day planned early in the morning I was soon fell asleep reflecting on the marvelous eclipse I had experienced and thinking about plans to observe the next, visible much closer to my home in Pennsylvania in 7 years. Here is a link to some more photographs from my drive back to the hotel. http://www.keepyoureyespeeled.net/idaho-solar-eclipse-2017/nggallery/idaho-solar-eclipse-20017/Idaho-Day-Three-Drive-to-hotel-August-21-2017 

 

Nothing is there beyond hope
Nothing that can be sworn impossible
Nothing wonderful, since Zeus,
Father of the Olympians
Made night from mid-day
Hiding the bright sunlight
And sore fear came upon men.
[Perhaps written having seen the eclipse of 6 Apr 648 BC.] 

 

 

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