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.

Tuesday Photo Challenge & CFFC: Eye Candy

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week begins a series exploring the five senses. This week is sight. She says: As the saying goes, a picture worth a thousand words. Think of photos you can take or have already taken that remind you of a fabulous sight. I like to call it “Eye Candy”. Several of the photos I picked out are of animals, which is conveniently the topic of Dutch Goes the Photo’s Tuesday Photo Challenge.

A romantic couple: Swans make a “heart” after mating, in one of our community ponds.
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Cheetah mom and cub frolic in Tanzania:
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After watching these two gamboling for about half an hour, I decided the cheetah is now my favorite wild animal!SONY DSC
In a close second place are these adorable genets, who reside at Ndutu Safari Lodge.  They looked down at us with such curious faces, and sat up there so quietly observing the humans down below.
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My youngest “grandcat” Freddie – how can I help falling in love with this guy??
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Here is my own beautiful cat, Hazel! This is an early photo of her, but it has always been my favorite.
This is a beautiful picture of Hazel!
This is a more recent photo of her, taken in our new house.
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I guess it’s clear that I just love cats in general! (Genets are not cats, but they sort of look like cats.)

More eye candy is to be found in the beauty of nature.

A sunset in Tanzania
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Cathedral Rock as seen from the campus of Verde Valley School, Sedona, Arizona DSCF2997
Flowers: at Chicago Botanic Gardens
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I love to look at beautiful works of humankind as well.

In St. Matthias Church, Budapest
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If I had to lose either my sight or my hearing, I think I would choose being deaf than missing out on the beauties of our world.

Square Tops: Birds on Rocks

We took a boat ride around the islands at Aswan, Egypt, to see wildlife. There were mostly birds. These birds were mostly on top of rocks, so they fit the TOP theme of Becky’s month of squares! I see we have a similar topic today, Becky – except your bird is higher up!

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I decided to include these last two bird pictures, even though they were not on rocks! (And I didn’t square them either!)SONY DSC

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The ibis in ancient Egypt was associated with the god Thoth, god of letters and knowledge. Thoth is often depicted in ancient Egyptian art with an ibis’ head.

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.
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Austria – cruising the Inn River near Schärding
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June at Kinderdijk, Netherlands
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February in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
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Mount Kilimanjaro – on a flight from the Serengeti to Arusha, Tanzania
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Des Plaines, Illinois on a snowy February day
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June at Devil’s Elbow Bridge, Missouri
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June at the Painted Desert, Arizona
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May at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
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June in Arches National Park, Utah
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December along the Nile River near Luxor, Egypt
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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:
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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.
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Once inside the national monument, details of the rocky tower appear. The weather cleared up, temporarily, too!
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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.
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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.

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From this angle you can see the base of the formation, sort of a wider platform from which rises the columned tower.
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This alien statue is meant to resemble the aliens in the movie.
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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.
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As we left, we saw this unusual sculpture, dwarfed by the majesty of the tower.
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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!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge: Steep Drops & Trails

Frank at Dutch Goes the Photo has a Tuesday Photo Challenge and this week’s topic is steep.

Last summer we took a road trip which included a visit to Bryce Canyon National Park. We did want to do a bit of hiking but knew that the steep paths would be too much of a challenge for us due to our age and arthritic knees! So we took the rim trail which afforded many amazing views. And stay away from the edge – it’s a long way down!
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Then in January of this year, during our trip to Israel, we visited the high plateau of Masada, where in pre-Christian times, a group of zealots who were living up there battled with Roman troops, ultimately ending in a mass suicide when it became clear that the Romans would conquer and either massacre or enslave them. The Romans built a huge berm to be able to scale the high plateau and found all the zealots already dead.

It used to be necessary to take a long, steep trail up to the Masada site, but fortunately one can now go up by cable car. From the cable car, I took these photos of the steep switchbacks of the trail with hardy souls hiking up.
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Another cable car about to pass us on its way down the steep cliff.
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Looking down at the last stretch of the trail from the top.
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Here are some people going back down the trail; this photo was taken from the cable car on the way down.
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Lens-Artists: My Favorite Things

My Favorite Things is the subject of Lens-Artists’ photo challenge this week.

I love cats, especially my sweet tortie Hazel.
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I love flowers and enjoy taking good photos of them.  There is plenty of this subject matter at Chicago Botanic Gardens! This is their May foxglove display.
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My favorite thing in the world is traveling, and I always take my camera along! I like to take photos of buildings, especially doors and windows,

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Old Jerusalem church door

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Door at Peter of Gallicantu Church in Jerusalem

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Arched entrance, Eskaleh Ecolodge, Abu Simbel, Egypt

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Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

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Stained glass window, Jerusalem

ruins,

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Archaeological site in the heart of Old Jerusalem

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Jewish graveyard, Jerusalem

everyday objects,
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Tanzanians waiting for a bus in Arusha

landscapes, sunsets,

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Sunset along the Nile, Egypt

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Arches National Park, Utah, USA

wildlife…whatever there is to see!

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Hyena, Tanzania

I also love art, especially folk art. (Below, Nubian folk art objects, Abu Simbel, Egypt)
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Painting by Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral, Art Institute of Chicago

 

 

CEE’s B&WPC: Faces

I thought the topic for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge, looks like a face, would be difficult. But actually I had some fun with it!

Scary face – Masada, IsraelDSC_0189 (2)
Scrunched up faces – Chicago Botanic Gardens
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Astonished face – Dr. Evermore’s Forevertron (Wisconsin)
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“Oops, I need to go to the bathroom” Rorschach face – Capitol building, Salt Lake City, Utah
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Golgotha (place of the skull) – Garden Tomb, Jerusalem, Israel
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Grumpy face – Missouri Botanic Gardens, St. Louis
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Some like-minded person in Jerusalem drew faces on a light switch:
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