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Lehman Cave in Great Basin NP

I decided sometime during the drive down to Provo that I knew that I had to get into a less driven mode.  Yesterday, I needed to get to Provo because there was a good campground with water, electricity and nearby stores and it positioned me for a short relaxing drive to the Great Basin National Park, where we had never been before.  They do close a gate on the Utah Lake Campground, sometime in the evening. I wasn’t completely concerned about finding a place to stay that night, as I had checked online and there were spots for the evening, but we have been without a place to stay before, and it didn’t turn out well.  As a result there was more of an imperative nature to the ride from Jackson Hole to Provo.  I didn’t like it.  I knew the rest of the drives to places on our list after Great Basin were short, and there will be the opportunity to let serendipity rule the hours on the rest of our travels, but there was a push in that drive to Provo. I’m going to work on a what will be will be attitude, which will be difficult for me. Continue reading

St Louis to Omaha

MississippiIt was a very tiring night at Horseshoe Lake Campground.  Apparently the Illinois side of the river has become the rail center St Louis always hoped that it would be, and the trains on the nearby freight rail line wanted you to know it.  I have always lived in close proximity to trains and am accustomed to train horns, but the engineers hereabouts really like to sound that horn, to the tune of six or eight seconds, which may not sound like too long. Try making your own horn noise for eight seconds repeatedly and you’ll have a hint of what we didn’t sleep through. Continue reading

Ospreys and Life

We spent the better part of the morning watching four ospreys fishing on the pond. They hovered, wheeled, dove and made grand diving attempts to catch fish, successful and unsuccessful. The pond borders a piece of property my grandfather bought on the East end of Long Island in the 40’s. My aunt lives there now.  I grew up there, even though we lived in New York City. Once, on the way home from the beach in the early 60’s an Osprey dropped an alewife on the road in front the car. My dad picked it up from the roadway and I remember thinking that the talon marks in the fish were pretty cool.

By the time I was in my late teens, seeing an Osprey was a pretty rare thing, and I’m not sure that they ever completely disappeared from the East End, but between my 20’s and 30’s I don’t remember seeing one. Rachel Carson is ultimately responsible, with help from her friends, in setting society on a course so that those four Ospreys were out there fishing on the pond now that I’m in my 60’s.

One of the Ospreys appeared to be a juvenile. It was persistent.  The bird hovered in place and appeared as if it was intently surveying brunch.  It swooped around the borders of the pond making the flight look effortless.  It dove and looked ferocious and emerged from the water with empty talons.  Frequently, one of the other Ospreys would soar, hover, dive and emerge with a silvery fish and fly off.  As I watched the juvenile, I tried to compare its actions against the older, more successful birds.  Did it hover too long? Did it start its dive from too high?  Is there an ‘Osprey Fishing Techniques’ book out there somewhere?  Eventually the juvenile caught a fish, and then flew around with it in it’s talons as if it were confused. I know that Ospreys seem to prefer flying with their catch facing forward, firmly grasped with both feet, but our persistent fellow seemed to have it right, but who knew? I’m not as Osprey.

There is a rhythm in nature.  Things change.  My grandfather’s property is the same place, but not, where I lived my youth.  The pond has changed over 60 years, and the crabs and alewife’s have been replaced by Carp and unknown silver fish.  In time, our juvenile Osprey will be the one catching fish in short order.  It will have grown up.  While watching those birds, I realized that I’ve outlived trees that are no longer on the property.  I’ve changed, the pond changed, the property changed, the world changed.  In my youth, I never would have spent a morning watching a bird not catch fish, but today, a beautiful faux spring day; in a beautiful world, it was the best way to spend a morning.

Shenandoah National Park Day 1

Last night was a long night, hot and humid and the trees dripped making it sound like golf balls were hitting the roof.  I woke at about 4:30 AM when it got a little cooler.  The woods around us were filled with fog, and they looked alien, like they make scenes in a southern mystery movie but I was too tired to take a picture.  I’ll remember it for a long time.  Sometimes the mind is a better camera than one from Nikon. Continue reading