CFFC/CMMC: Oranges & Holes

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week has the topic of hole/whole. And for her newest challenge, Cee’s Midweek Madness Challenge, the topic is orange.

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is a wonder of geological formations called “hoodoos.” These orangish sandstone shapes were carved over millions of years through water and wind erosion. Besides being orange, look carefully to see the holes!


Another beautiful national park in Utah is Arches National Park, named for the many arches carved by nature into the orange rocks. The first picture below is an iconic image, which many people have seen on calendars or posters. I had to use my telephoto lens to get a good shot of this beautiful arch, because without an arduous climb we could not get very close to it! The second photo is another of the park’s arches, which form a type of hole due to erosion, out of the whole rock!

Pumpkins, when they carved, become jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. At night you can see the light of the candle glowing through the holes!

Chihuly piece at Museum of Glass in Tacoma

Orange foliage with “holes” between the leaves!

I keep this (whole) water bottle next to my bed.

It has a hole in the top where the straw goes in!

CFFC: Nature’s Patterns

Patterns are everywhere in nature. Indeed, humans have imitated nature in creating patterns. Patterns in Nature is the wonderful topic for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week.

Flowers make many patterns.

I love photographing mushrooms, which appear in many shapes and sizes.

Tree branches, leaves and trunks make their own complex patterns.

It is always worthwhile to stop and admire small leaves and plants – often they surprise you!

Some animals have patterns on their skin, tail, or feathers.

Layers painted rock formations over millions of years. In Arizona, there are many examples of this, at the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert and in Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona.

Bird Weekly: Black-Feathered Birds

Lisa Coleman’s Bird Weekly Challenge this week is birds with black feathers.

Canada goose (Illinois, USA)
Red-winged blackbird (Illinois, USA)
May also be a red-winged blackbird (Masada, Israel)
Blacksmith plover (Ngorongoro, Tanzania)
Ibis (Arusha NP, Tanzania)
(I’ve forgotten the name of this bird – Tanzania)
Ostriches (Serengeti, Tanzania)
Stork (Serengeti, Tanzania)
Kory bustard (Tarangire NP, Tanzania)

SYW/HP: On Snowballs at National Parks, Gratitude for Summer, Wisdom & Happiness

Share Your World Meets Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  1. One of my favorite gifts that Harry Potter received came from the Weasley Twins; and was “Mrs. Mooney’s Marauder’s Map”. This magical document showed every classroom, hallway and secret corner in all of Hogwarts. It also showed you the location- by name- of every person in Hogwarts.  If you had such a magical map of your town, what would you use it for? If you would not use it, is there another person to whom you would gift it?

I think this makes more sense to have at a school or at a large company, both of which are rife with gossip and in both places, you might like to know where everyone is so you can continue the gossip! As for my town, GPS does well for me.

  1. When was the last time you made a snowball? Were in a snowball fight?

    I don’t like snowball fights – I’ve always been a wimp! The last time I was in a “snowball fight” was at Yosemite (pronounced yo-SEH-mih-tee, in case you, like Trump, have never heard of this place!) National Park in 1998. Our family was on a trip to California for our nephew’s wedding and we did some traveling around in the state. Even though it was early July, we thought it was really cool to find snow in the upper altitudes of Yosemite – so the kids and I got out of the car and started throwing snow at each other – very ad hoc, not really “snowballs.” The last time I made a snowball was probably two years ago at another national park – Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, where again at the higher elevations there was snow. I think I just made a snowball with my bare hands just to prove to myself that it was indeed snow, in spite of hot weather down below! I promptly dropped it because why would I have gloves with me when traveling in June?
  2. Many cultures set great value in each child of the family having godparents. Did you have godparents? Are you a godparent yourself?
    I may have had godparents, I don’t know. I am not a godparent, at least I hope not…I did actually agree to be the godparent for the daughter of a sort-of friend who was very persuasive and I remember attending an informal “ceremony” in her living room. I lost touch with her soon after that (for which I am grateful) and never saw nor heard from her or the little girl again.
  3. You have found a secret tunnel under your house. Where does it go?
    Someplace where it’s warm when it’s winter here, where there is no or minimal Covid-19, that I could crawl to without having to get on an airplane. (New Zealand, here I come!!)

Muggle Questions (of a more philosophical bent this week):

Is intelligence or wisdom more useful?  
Both are useful. Intelligence can lead to wisdom, but intelligence can exist without wisdom, at least early in one’s life. Wisdom requires that you have had experiences in life that you learned lessons from and you can look back on. Intelligence is just having knowledge and knowing how to apply it. So children may have intelligence, but only when they are older will they obtain wisdom.
How important is play in living a healthy and fulfilling life?
Play is as important as work. Play is when you learn things while enjoying yourself, or engaging in a hobby or interest. Breaks from work are necessary to be healthy, physically or mentally. Some workaholics would say they have a fulfilling life, I guess if their work has given them that fulfillment – I think one would have to have a job they really love to feel fulfilled, unless one was lying to oneself. I’m all for play! Take a vay-cay!!

Is happiness just chemicals flowing through your brain or something more?
If you study happiness scientifically as to how it manifests itself in the brain, then the former may be true. But for most people, happiness is an important part of life, without which you would probably be rather unhealthy. Positive emotions are necessary in order to have a satisfying and healthy life. I think everyone seeks happiness. I sometimes ask myself if I am happy – not just that day, but in general. I always want the answer to be yes, but it isn’t always, if I’m honest with myself… I think a lot of people reflect on this because happiness is something we all strive for.


GRATITUDE SECTION (Always optional)
I’m grateful for:
happiness
the ability to play (i.e. find enjoyment in life)
living a fulfilling life
both intelligence and wisdom
it being currently summer with no possibility to be hit with a snowball!

I’m grateful for bright-colored flowers.

LAPC: Long & Winding

Lens-Artists’ 100th(!) photo challenge is long and winding roads.

French countryside, province of Normandy
Not exactly a road, actually it’s a path. But it’s a long way down! Above the town of Arromanches, France and Port Winason. The British created an artificial harbor here using old barges and truck bodies, which was named Port Winston, in preparation for D-Day.
The island of Mont St-Michel is reached by a long causeway at low tide (at high tide, the island is cut off from the shore). Taken from the abbey at the top of Mont St-Michel, France.
Are we looking down at the road just traveled, the road yet to be traveled, or the road not traveled? Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA
The road winds up and down mountains at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.
A long and winding hiking trail (which we did not explore) at Arches National Park, Utah, USA. We were content to photograph the scenery!
A dusty and winding road at the base of Masada plateau, Israel – the workers’ entrance?
A very long and very dusty path for the hardy hikers who take it up to the Masada plateau. Taken from the cable car our group wisely chose!
Another photo of hikers on a very windy path taken from the top, at Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.
Not much of the road is visible here, but the sign tells us about it! Near Oatman, Arizona, USA
Around that 15 mph bend in the road and who do we see? A couple of Oatman residents on the road! Oatman, Arizona, an old mining town today survives because of the tourists on Route 66, (of which this is a part), who come for the burros that hang around town – and hike along the road! Oatman has a couple of Route 66 touristy stores and buildings that are the remnants of its mining heyday.
Leaving Sedona, Arizona, after a weekend celebration of the 70th anniversary of Verde Valley School, where I attended high school (but much less than 70 years ago!).

And to end, I can’t resist – because this is what I was singing in my head while composing this post.

Landscapes Around the World

Nancy’s A Photo A Week challenge this week features landscapes.

These are some landscapes from my travels, and closer to home.

July in Austria – scene looking down from Melk Abbey, where the Inn and Danube Rivers meet.
DSC01870
Austria – cruising the Inn River near Schärding
20190705_142245
June at Kinderdijk, Netherlands
20190626_084816
February in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
SONY DSC
Mount Kilimanjaro – on a flight from the Serengeti to Arusha, Tanzania
SONY DSC
Des Plaines, Illinois on a snowy February day
20180218_214406
June at Devil’s Elbow Bridge, Missouri
SONY DSC
June at the Painted Desert, Arizona
SONY DSC
May at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
20180531_16181420180531_162757
June in Arches National Park, Utah
20180603_131433
December along the Nile River near Luxor, Egypt
20181228_095739

Many Angles of Devil’s Tower

I was looking through my photos of our trip to the Dakotas when we took a side trip to Devil’s Tower, because I had just drawn a picture of it with pastels, and was thinking about Nancy Merrill’s A Photo a Week – her topic this week is taking photos of an object from 3 (or more) different angles. Although I already submitted photos taken today at my daughter’s house, I am cheating a bit by doing another post featuring Devil’s Tower. I did take it from various angles and it can be seen from so far away! It was more spectacular than I expected.

Everyone who likes sci-fi movies – or any kind of movies – has surely heard of Devil’s Tower, which was featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

So when I looked on a map and saw how close it was to South Dakota, where we were headed, I convinced Dale to take a side trip to it. Our first sighting was this:
KODAK Digital Still Camera
That part of the country is pretty flat, so this one geological formation jutting upward is so amazing.  It was threatening rain so I also got this dramatic shot as we got nearer.
20170527_173727
Once inside the national monument, details of the rocky tower appear. The weather cleared up, temporarily, too!
KODAK Digital Still Camera
Devil’s Tower is made up of igneous rock (volcanic rock) which formed below the earth’s surface and pushed its way up. Over millions of years, erosion stripped away the soft outer layers, producing a lot of columns. The sign at the visitors’ center explains it.
KODAK Digital Still Camera
This geological phenomenon was not always known as “Devil’s Tower.” The native tribes of that area called it many different things, and legends were built around it, a lot of them having to do with bears, because the columns almost look like they were made by giant bear claws.KODAK Digital Still Camera

Here is a Kiowa legend about the rock:
Before the Kiowa came south they were camped on a stream in the far north where there were a great many bears, many of them. One day, seven little girls were playing at a distance from the village and were chased by some bears. The girls ran toward the village and the bears were just about to catch them when the girls jumped on a low rock, about three feet high. One of the girls prayed to the rock, “Rock take pity on us, rock save us!” The rock heard them and began to grow upwards, pushing the girls higher and higher. When the bears jumped to reach the girls, they scratched the rock, broke their claws, and fell on the ground.

The rock rose higher and higher, the bears still jumped at the girls until they were pushed up into the sky, where they now are, seven little stars in a group (The Pleiades). In the winter, in the middle of the night, the seven stars are right over this high rock. When the people came to look, they found the bears’ claws, turned to stone, all around the base.

The Arapaho, Crow, Cheyenne and others also had such legends, but I liked the Kiowa story the best. (The link above will take you to a website with all the stories.)

Nowadays, rock climbers climb the tower. I could see them as dots on the surface of the rock, but I was able to zoom in with my camera to get a better view. Some were wedged between the columns as they climbed, others took advantage of a small ledge to take a rest.

The requisite tourist photo opp!20170527_181226_001
From this angle you can see the base of the formation, sort of a wider platform from which rises the columned tower.
KODAK Digital Still Camera
This alien statue is meant to resemble the aliens in the movie.
20170527_181351
Surrounding the rock are forests protected by the National Park Service. Devil’s Tower is part of the national park system, although it is considered a “monument”, not a full-fledged national park.
20170527_181605
As we left, we saw this unusual sculpture, dwarfed by the majesty of the tower.
KODAK Digital Still Camera
We stopped nearby to have a picnic dinner, but had to cut it short when it started to rain. By the time we crossed back into South Dakota, we were treated with a double rainbow and a beautiful sunset!