Overlap by Dave Hileman

This zone at the Organ Pipe National Monument has lots of both Organ Pipe (multi-stemmed) and Saguaro Cacti. In parts of the park there were primarily OP with very few Saguaro but get too far from here are there are hardly any of the OP. 

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Contrast by Dave Hileman

This cactus is one that I do not recall the name but loved the contrast between the harsh and spiny core and the soft, creamy yellow flower. Pluck with caution!

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Yucca by Dave Hileman

When we were at White Sands the desert was blooming. I love these plants as they send shoots into the sky and blossom. The roots in this area may do down under the sand 15 or 20 feet to sustain this small plant. 

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Who, Me? by Dave Hileman

On one of the many sections of the Gulf Islands National Seashore is a stand of trees once used for ship building. And one makes a great home for the Great Horned Owl, guarding the nest like any good mom.

"The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed."  Isaiah 43:20 NLT

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Twins by Dave Hileman

It may have been the break in the constant winds, the moderate temperatures or the fact that we were anxious to see a park after about 2000 miles into the trip but both Cindy and I loved White Sands National Monument. I really want to return and venture well off the road and close-in trails to see some of the sand still pristine. This small view had the prints of some critter but no people. You can see from the shadows that the sun is still up but late in the day. Nice soft colors as well. 

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Off the Mountain by Dave Hileman

Finish off the work week with Cindy again (and our friend Janet) descending from Moro Rock. This was quite a view for just a little effort. The effort is for those today not the people who created the trail, the scores of steps and rock carved walkways. Moro Rock is a neat place in the Southern end of Sequoia National Park. I would put it on the "do not miss" list.

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Lower Yosemite Falls by Dave Hileman

From one year ago all the waterfalls in Yosemite were bursting with a near record snow melt. This is the lower portion of Yosemite Falls and from this distance we were still covered in spray from the falls. And the roar... conversation was difficult. What a wonderful place.

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View by Dave Hileman

Just soak in the peaceful nature of the photo and ignore the scores of cars on the loop road trying to find a place to park. Yosemite is a study in contrasts. A few of the hikes, short walks and the main road will be full of people. Some of the less popular hikes, further into the back country, and just a mile downriver, like here, very few people. But the beauty is overwhelming. 

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Moon Rise Over Half Dome: Anniversary Number 47 (2 photos) by Dave Hileman

So for last year's anniversary, our 46th, we were at Yosemite National Park. This shot of the moon rising over Half Dome was done the evening before and on May 8th we enjoyed a day of hikes, amazing waterfalls, and dinner at a beautiful lodge - just a perfect evening. So, how do I top that this year? Well how about a Waypoint Director's meeting in South Boston, VA. Wow. 

I am blessed to share life with one who can make a nice day out of either. 

 

But.... Yosemite would be better! Or Zion, Bryce, Glacier, White Sands, Great Smoky Mountains, Mt. Rainier, Joshua Tree, Arches, Cape Hatteras, Blue Ridge Parkway, Acadia, etc. 

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Bird Week V: Rocket Birds 7 (two photos) by Dave Hileman

We end Bird Week with my favorite of the Canaveral National Seashore, a Reddish Egret. I have not seen this bird too often and it is a striking color especially the bill and the neck colors in a breeding bird such as this one. They often will spread their wings like a canopy to create shade that attracts prey.

"My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!"   Psalm 57:7 NLT

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Bird Week V: Rocket Birds 6 by Dave Hileman

This bird was once known as a Louisiana Heron is now a Tri-Color Heron. How does that happen? Does a bird just think a name change after doing a stretch in the swamp will erase his record? No, the American Ornithological Society each year adds or substracts species and subspecies as they are constantly being reclassified and they usually change a few names. Like our Tri-Color friend morphed a few years ago. This also adds confusion as you keep a life list of birds because, one year you may add a Western Scrub Jay and then the next year there are two varieties of Western Scrub Jay now the Californian and the Woodhouse. Which did I see or did I see both and my list goes from one to two? I did see both because the Woodhouse is only found in the central Rockies and the Californian Scrub Jay in, well guess. A couple of years ago my list shrank by one as a bird once listed separately was combined with another. This year the Cassia Crossbill was split from the Red Crossbill so if you are in Southern Idaho you can add the Cassia as it is only located there. Whew. And you thought this was only about pictures. 

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Bird Week V: Rocket Birds 5 by Dave Hileman

The American Coot, insert old coot joke here, I'll wait. Felt good to get that off your chest, rigfht? So, the Coot is an interesting bird. First note the purple "bump" on the top of the forehead and the band around the beak near the front. That becomes more red in breeding season. I also watched a flock of coot smim in a line, maybe 40 or 50 of them, out from shore then form a line roughly parallel to the shore and all furiously swim back toward shore pushing their potential meals in front of them. And they sound funny!

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Bird Week V: Rocket Birds 2 by Dave Hileman

I was thrilled to get this shot of a preening Anhinga along a canal in the Canaveral National Seashore. The light was in the right place, he/she seemed unperturbed by my approach. The only issue was I had to hand hold the camera because of the foliage and the angle but it still came out very well. The Anhinga does not have waterproof feathers like a duck so they spread their wings to dry as this one is doing.  A very interesting  bird and I know you want to learn more so click here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anhinga

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Bird Week V: Rocket Birds by Dave Hileman

At long last Bird Week V has arrived. But these are no ordinary birds. Not only do they live in a NPS, but they are of the rare Rocket Birds because they live at Canaveral National Seashore! Yes, you can see the launch pads from their nests. So our first RB is the Great Blue Heron bundled up against the wind. 

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Small Sacred Spot (two photos) by Dave Hileman

To the men who fought here - where they were and what they endured made this a remarkable place. Not sure all the reasons why Gettysburg rose above most of the battles to the place it holds today but a tour of the field where these three days unfolded is moving and meaningful 155 years later. The two monuments here are in a less visited spot, most people drive past, few stop. It is between Little Round Top and the area of Picket's charge, which most people visit. The 93rd Pennsylvania - after an overnight 39 mile march - filled a gap here just as the weary soldiers from the Wheatfield were streaming back closely pursued by the Confederates. The 93rd surprised the CSA and the tired soldiers retreated. They held this ground from the 2nd to the end of the battle. Then in 1884 survivors erected a monument, the state of Pennsylvania added another in 1888 and today we drive past hardly seeing a small marker that meant so much to these men. 

 The 1888 marked from Pennsylvania

The 1888 marked from Pennsylvania

 The identification on the 1884 marker.

The identification on the 1884 marker.