Positive by Dave Hileman

This plant is found in the White Sands of New Mexico. If you were to reach into the plant, it would be painful as there are many rows of tiny thorns. I think people mistakenly think faith is like that, waiting to trap them. Christian faith is open, positive and enriching. 

"In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 NLT

Thanks, Gregg by Dave Hileman

I am speaking at the funeral of one of my closest and most influential friends today. It is bittersweet, already miss him but grateful he no longer is suffering and in pain. It was from Gregg that I learned about bird watching, a now life-long activity. It was Gregg's skill as a photographer that inspired me to take up shooting photos - a bit later than I would have preferred. He helped me "see" the natural world not just pass through it. Both of these have enriched my life. He was in the hospital parking lot early in the morning when Cindy and I arrived for the birth of our first son, Geof, guarding the closest spot until we got there. He was "uncle" to both our boys and a loyal, endearing friend. 

 

He loved Kansas and especially the tall grass prairie and the Flint Hills. Cindy and I were able to stop and walk the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve in Kansas this Spring. I, too, saw the beauty there. And, I both photographed this bird and added it as a new one to my life-list. It is a Dickcissel but for me it will be Gregg's bird. 

We're One! by Dave Hileman

The revised blog went live one year ago as Two Lane Touring. We have had a few changes in the format and more are coming as we try to always improve the experience here. 

In the year we added 55 new National Park Service galleries (with more than 50 to add this year). We visited over 50 new NPS sites in 27 states and posted more than 400 photographs on this venue. 

As of this month Two Lane Touring averages more than 120 unique visitors each month and about 450 page views. We added Instagram for quick iPhone shots (more food than anything else) and post twice a week on FB under Two Lane Touring. Plans are underway to reach out to some sites that are focused on National Parks and included them in the "Connections." The Oliver Trailer worked well for the most part - still have a furnace issue, but it now is approaching 20,000 miles. I am adding an Oliver Gallery next month. The Fuji Xt-1 and Xt-2 preform better than the user but I am still learning. It is an excellent camera and the lenses are even better. 

The adventure to visit and photograph in all of the National Park Service sites has been exciting. Seeing more of the country and the treasures preserved by the NPS is worth all the time and effort. They collectively are magnificent. And we have learned so much and been inspirited to read even more about the many places and people represented. We are already working on plans for next year's trips. 

Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite Valley

Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite Valley

Tough by Dave Hileman

These are the mountains that make up a portion of the Joshua Tree National Park. They are rugged and you better be as well if you are going to spend much time hiking off the beaten path. 

Hmmm, Great Album Cover? by Dave Hileman

The Joshua tree was named by early Mormon settlers. I did not see what they saw in naming these trees, Joshua, but I could see it from this scripture: "This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8. If any tree had reason to be "discouraged" it would be this rare desert plant that hangs on in the most inhospital areas and endures heat and wind and drought and cold and still thrives. Joshua's Tree!

Saguaro by Dave Hileman

This is an amazing plant that often lives to 150 years and grows more than 40 feet. The record is just over 70 feet. They are found in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. They store lots of water inside the plant between the outer layers and the inside woody center. Lots of birds use they for nesting. 

They do not, however, provide much shade!

Organ Pipe National Monument by Dave Hileman

Here we see a mix of the Saguaro cactus and the Organ Pipe cactus. The OP is the one that looks like lots of spiny fingers verses the larger and much more familiar Saguaro. But this place was very neat. Really liked it. Hot though. We were there past the season, in late April. We did a two or three mile hike and left at 7, should have left at 6! More on that later. 

Cartoon Cactus by Dave Hileman

At least that what I thought. I had never seen these large and often contorted plants simply because I had never been quite far enough south. But near Tucson they are abundant and driving in the mountains and across some high desert we saw even more that the national park held. This is from Saguaro National Park's Rincon Mountain District located to the East of Tucson Arizona 

Blooms by Dave Hileman

This dry, arid land changes occasionally in the spring when the rain or snow is sufficient. This was that kind of spring. Beautiful flowers abound. 

"The grasslands of the wilderness become a lush pasture,
and the hillsides blossom with joy."  Psalm 65:12 NLT

First Glimpse (two photos) by Dave Hileman

You can just see the tops of the protected walls of the "new" fort. The old fort that was actually the second fort is visible on the right. Here the stones are not covered. 

Starting the ascent to the fort

Starting the ascent to the fort

Butterfield Stage Station (two photos) by Dave Hileman

This was where passengers would rest, horses changed, water containers filled and there was some safety from the Apache. This was also the site of several battles. The stage route begin in 1857 and delivered both mail and passengers across a rather hostile environment. 

Wide valley just beyond the stage ruins. We are heading toward the mountain in the center.

Wide valley just beyond the stage ruins. We are heading toward the mountain in the center.

A Most Unique Park: Fort Bowie (two photos) by Dave Hileman

To begin you must walk 1.5 miles (mostly up) to the visitor center (visitors in 2012 numbered only 7700). That is after driving along a remote gravel road for some distance to get to the wide spot on the road where you park. And the first sign you read says to be very careful of rattlesnakes and mountain lions. Oh goody. It was hot, it is very dry and off we set. The coolest thing about the walk is that you are on the old Butterfield Stage route and a portion of the Pony Express Trail. On the walk you pass the stone foundation of the old stage station, Apache Spring (the reason all this was here) both the old fort and the "new" fort and the scene of many battles and attacks with the Apache and their chief, Cochise. Stages, Pony Express riders, miners, soldiers and travelers were often attacked and the fort was built to offer some protection. The cemetery at the fort held many victims and some indians as well. The spring was the only reliable source of water for a great distance and hence was very valuable. 

On the trail. 

On the trail. 

The sign to the park along a remote road. 

The sign to the park along a remote road. 

White Sands Sunset - and trip report. by Dave Hileman

None of the lists of places, no photographs, nothing is better than the memory and the atmosphere of being there. You just need to go where and when you can. 

Here are the details of the Southwestern trip from this spring. 

We traveled 9425 miles across 19 states in six weeks. We visited 34 National Park Sites:

Washita National Battlefield, OK
White Sands National Monument, NM
Fort Bowie National Historic Site, AZ
Coronado National Memorial, AZ
Tumacacori National Historical Park, AZ
Saguaro National Park, AZ
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, AZ
Cabrillo National Monument, CA
Channel Islands National Park, CA
Joshua Tree National Park, CA
César E. Chávez National Monument, CA
Sand to Snow National Monument, CA
Kings Canyon National Park, CA
Sequoia National Park, CA
Yosemite National Park, CA
Pinnacles National Park, CA
Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site, CA
Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
Muir Woods National Monument, CA
John Muir National Historic Site, CA
Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, CA
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, CA
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, CA
Great Basin National Park, NV
Colorado National Monument, CO
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO
Curecanti National Recreation Area, CO
Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site, CO
Fort Larned National Historic, KS
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, KS
Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site, KS
Harry S Truman National Historic Site, MO
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, IN
River Raisin National Battlefield Park, MI

We also visited 5 National Historic Trails:

Pony Express NHT
Santa Fe NHT
El Camino Real De Tierra Adentro NHT
Juan Bautista De Anza NHT
Old Spanish NHT

We managed two days at Disneyland (Cars Land was excellent), Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in Lansing MI, Peterson Automotive Museum in LA, Point Loma, Old Town San Diego, Big Sur, the Monterey Aquarium, missions, some wonderful restaurants, and a couple of state parks. 

We missed three parks that were initially planned. One in S/E New Mexico was difficult to reach because one road was washed out and the distance around was too far for the time we had, Fort Point in San Francisco was closed and road construction meant the walk was way too far and Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial is on an active military base and they required two weeks written notice and then you still may not get on. However we went to three we had not planned so, break even!

We stayed in our trailer except for Disneyland all but one night - 46th Anniversary we were in the lodge at Yosemite. Overnights were a mix, some Walmarts, church parking lot, KOA’s, National Parks, State Parks and one commercial independent campground. We had only a couple of trailer issues - still unresolved but we are working on them. Truck worked very well, with two oil changes en route. I ran out of gas one time just before Yuma, AZ. AAA is nice to have as they delivered 3 gallons of gas in about an hour. 

CJH and I walked 171.6 miles in the six weeks with the most on week four, 44.2 miles

I also added about 35 new birds species - several with nice photos - so there will be a Bird Week III soon. I can sense the excitement. 

Oh, and over 4000 photos. 

June Sixth... by Dave Hileman

...is a critical day in the history of the free world. But there are reminders everywhere that is is one day of many, one sacrifice of many, one "last full measure of devotion" of many, one strong reminder that freedom is not without significant cost. These are flags representing each fallen soldier at this battle that the US lost in the War of 1812. And I suspect very few heard of Raison River in Michigan. History is important.

Sharp by Dave Hileman

Both literally and photographically! One of the reasons at the Saguaro National Monument they have a sign reminding photographers not to back up when taking photos but to turn around first.

The book of Proverbs is a lot like that sort of advice and following them may help keep you un-stuck.     "Wisdom is enshrined in an understanding heart;
wisdom is not. found among fools. Proverbs 14:33 NLT