2018—Old Window

Peaceful Valley Ranch in Theodore Roosevelt National Park was one of the first dude ranches in the country.  Guided horseback rides were a popular activity there from 1918 to 2014.  Several of the original buildings remain and are on the National Registry of Historic Places.  This is a detail shot of the side of one of the buildings there.

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2018—Small Horns

We came to Theodore Roosevelt National Park to photograph Big-horned Sheep.   We found much more in the park than we ever imagined but, until the last day, we didn’t encounter any Big-horned sheep.  On the last day, we came across a flock of about 28 sheep just outside the entrance to the Northern part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  The flock consisted or young males, females, and young lambs like this one.  No rams with magnificent horns were evident.  I don’t know if this cute lamb is male or female.  If it is a male, it will eventually grow long, curling horns.

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2018—The Badlands

Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota is where the Great Plains meet the rugged Badlands.   There is something mystifying and otherworldly about much of the topography of this area.  I’d never seen anything like the unusual geologic formations that define much of the area.  The textures, shapes, and colors throughout the park create unforgettable vistas.  Theodore Roosevelt, lived in this region for a time and said about it:

The Bad Lands grade all the way from those that are almost rolling
in character to those that are so fantastically broken in form and
so bizarre in color as to seem hardly properly to belong to this earth.

—Theodore Roosevelt

Here is one such formation that caught my attention.

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2018—Prairie Buddha

The Black-tailed Prairie Dogs of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the western part of North Dakota are bulking up as the weather gets colder and fall descends on the park.  The Prairie Dogs in the park waddled instead of walking because they were so chubby. As winter approaches, they turn into fat little creatures and they look especially Buddha-like when setting on their haunches, munching on an early evening snack of leaves and grass.

I shot this from through the vehicle’s window using my Nikon D5 and 300mm f/4 PF lens.

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2018—So What’s the Rush?

It was bound to happen.  I’ve been traveling so much recently, about twelve to fifteen photography trips a year, that the odds were against me—losing my checked luggage at the start of a trip, that is.  Monday morning it happened. I watched the baggage carousel as every bag but mine from the Denver flight to Bismarck, ND, appeared at the top of the conveyor belt and tipped onto the carousel. I flew first class from Sacramento so my bag was clearly marked with an orange priority tag and should have been one of the first bags put onto the carousel.  But, my bag went missing for 36 hours.   The airport is so small that United Airlines doesn’t have a dedicated baggage claim representative.  The ticket agents had to navigate unfamiliar territory as they struggled to figure out the intricacies of locating a missing bag and delivering it to an unhappy passenger as quickly as possible.

It’s been a frustrating couple of days, worrying about my luggage which contained two tripods, a ball head and a gimbal head, binoculars, camera chargers and cords, and my camera cleaning kit as well a five days of clothing for a climate turning cold.  Because of mild temperatures in Sacramento when I left Monday morning,  my warm jacket was packed along with the hats and gloves I needed for our days long adventure in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.   The only saving grace for me was that at the last minute to save space for more camera gear in my checked luggage, I decided to wear my hiking boots on the airplane.

On the way from the airport, Moose picked up the other two photographers joining our group, Emerson and Richard, but before we left for our hour drive to our base of operations in Dickinson, ND, we stopped at Dick’s Sporting Goods so I could shop.  I had to find a new jacket for the evening and the next day.  I also bought warm gloves, a knit cap, boot socks, a top for layering, and a Clearance ticketed T-shirt for sleeping.    I gathered up tooth paste and tooth brush, contact lens solutions, a hair brush, and other items on the way.

The good news is that I had most of my camera gear so I could still take photographs.  Missing a tripod was not the end of the world for a day or so.  But after many telephone conversations with United baggage representatives based outside of the US (!) the outcome did not appear promising.  As the hours dragged on and my luggage didn’t arrive Monday night, I really began to worry.  I was not receiving the promised text updates at prescribed intervals, the “find my suitcase” website which the airlines use to track and coordinate missing bags, almost gleefully announced that the area I was in wasn’t served by them. I listened to the same single message for a 24 hour period on the luggage hot line that always started with “Hello, Carol, It’s nice to have you back again!” then continue with “your luggage has been located and is enroute to the airport.  It will be delivered to the address on file (my hotel) as soon as possible.”  “As soon as possible” never seemed to arrive.  And, each resource to which United pointed me offered conflicting information.

Finally, after a lengthy conversation with a United luggage claim representative midday Tuesday, I learned that my luggage had arrived in Bismarck from Denver on Monday afternoon, had been returned to Denver that evening, then flown to Dickinson on late Tuesday afternoon.  This makes no sense to me.  They could have driven the bag to me but instead, it crisscrossed the country.   My luggage now has more miles accumulated that I have.  Emerson was in the hotel lobby when the United delivery person with my luggage came in with the bag about 10:30 PM Tuesday.  Emerson brought the bag up to my room.  I had to chuckle when I noticed the RUSH tag, now crumpled and worn from so much handling. And, I wondered how a 36 hour multiple cross county trek by my luggage could be construed as rushing to return the luggage to me.  Alls well that ends well, though.  My luggage is here,  nothing was missing or damaged, and tomorrow I can wear clean clothes again.

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2018—Still Mr. Wonderful

Last year when I visited Madera Canyon, seeing and photographing the Magnificent Hummingbird was one of the highlights of my visit there.  We called him Mr. Wonderful because he was so different from the other hummingbirds in size, coloring, and decibel level—the hum of his wings was unmistakable and incredibly loud.   This species is a year-round resident of Mexico and Southern Arizona is its Northernmost breeding ground. This year, I got only a few shots of Mr. Wonderful as he proved very elusive to me.  We also learned that the name of the Magnificent Hummingbird species was changed to Rivoli’s Hummingbird in 2017.  The bird was known as the Magnificent Hummingbird from the 1980’s to 2017.  I can’t find what it was called prior to the 1980s  but according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Rivoli’s Hummingbird was named in honor of the Duke of Rivoli, an early 19th Century amateur ornithologist. Anna’s Hummingbird was named after his wife, Anna, the Duchess of Rivoli.  And, to me, he’s still Mr. Wonderful.

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2018—Photo ID

Photo IDs are nothing new.  During World War I, stevedores on the docks in San Francisco had them.  100 years ago, on February 1, 1918, the US  Customs Service issued my grandfather this photo ID.  The paper is yellowed, creased, and worn but the type remains clear and, remarkably, the small, glossy sepia photograph remains firmly glued and affixed with a metal brad.

My paternal grandfather was a foreman stevedore for the Pacific Mail Steamship Co. in San Francisco.  I love that the permit is still so legible and that the  photograph remains so clear despite the document’s age and its frequent folding and unfolding during the time he used it in WWI.   He was 41 in this photograph.  The photograph makes it obvious to me where my father got his nose!