For Becky’s Square Lines Challenge here are a few lines along the shoreline in Galveston, Texas.
Cee’s topic for this week’s Fun Foto Challenge is 3 items or the number three. I don’t see too many creatures hanging out in threes. I guess two’s company, three’s a crowd. But here are a few that didn’t seem to mind sharing space.
Pictured above; snakes and elk in Elk Grove Village, African wild dogs at Brookfield Zoo, ducks at the Chicago Botanic Garden and Frederik Meijer Sculpture Garden in Grand Rapids, turtles in Hermann Park in Houston and pelicans on the river in Davenport, Iowa.
This week, the subject for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge is horns and, as I discovered when I went through the photo files, they come in all shapes and sizes.
The only longhorn that we saw in Texas was this one, stuffed and mounted, on display outside a restaurant in San Antonio.
Personally, I’m always happy to have a fence between me and any animal that has horns like either of these two critters.
One close encounter with a bison in South Dakota was more than enough for me. This one was safely lounging in an enclosure at Brookfield Zoo.
These are some of the prettiest horns I’ve seen, belonging to an addax antelope, also at Brookfield Zoo.
And last but not least, some impressive horns on an energetic goat waiting for food to be delivered on a pulley system at a farm in Lowell, Indiana. The grandkids had a great time sending up bucket after bucket.
For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to Horns.
Better late than never! Nancy Merrill had her eye on the vanishing point for her Photo A Week Challenge and, going through the photo files, I came across a few images that I thought might work. The first two were taken at the San Antonio Botanical Garden and the third at a rest area somewhere in Texas. The fourth picture comes from the Dells of Eau Claire in Wisconsin.
For more on Nancy’s Photo A Week Challenge go to Vanishing Point.
Nancy Merrill is looking to the horizon for her Photo Challenge this week. Here are just a few of the horizons we’ve seen on our travels. The first one is in Wyoming.
Then two in Wisconsin, the first at George K. Pinney County Park in Door Country and the second in the Kettle Moraine area.
The next two were in Utah, the first at Antelope Island and the second at Arches National Park.
The horizon from Galveston, Texas and one in Nebraska.
The horizon off Mackinac Island, Michigan and one in southern Illinois.
For more on Nancy’s Photo A Week Challenge go to On the Horizon.
There are a few words that best describe the effect that the San Antonio Botanic Garden had on me and one of those words is dazzled! With the sun beating down and the glowing colors of the flowers that crowded the beds on that June afternoon, I was well and truly dazzled!
I was breathless! I don’t know if it was the 100 degree heat or just the overwhelming splendour of the garden that took my breath away but yes, I was definitely breathless!
I felt giddy, like a kid who’d just been given carte blanche at the local toy store. I felt like laughing and singing and crying just from the joy of being there. Yes, I certainly felt giddy!
And I felt grateful! Grateful to be alive and to have the opportunity to see this beautiful place and rejoice in the wonders of nature.
You somehow get the feeling, as soon as you walk through the entrance to the San Antonio Botanical Garden, that you’re in for a treat. Despite it probably being the hottest day of our trip to Texas, we couldn’t pass up the chance to see this magnificent display of plants and flowers, especially since it was on our Chicago Botanic Garden membership reciprocal list.
Just the sheer novelty of seeing cacti growing outside rather than in a greenhouse was well worth braving the scorching temperatures. The Garden covers some 40 plus acres and was first opened to the public in 1980.
The Garden is a remarkable place to see nature in all its diverse splendor and makes a wonderful living classroom in which to learn about the conservation of these magnificent plants and their natural habitat in what can sometimes be a harsh and unforgiving climate.
Every turn in the path provided a new and awesome landscape, so strange to our eyes, accustomed as we are to our usual bill of fare here in the Midwest. “Look but don’t touch” was definitely the order of the day when it came to many of these prickly characters.
We took in this view overlooking the city of San Antonio on our way down the path to even more garden delights that I look forward to sharing with you in the next post.
I add this interesting little footnote regarding wildlife; I had hoped to see lots of lizards and suchlike running around the Garden, especially in the more natural areas, but surprisingly we didn’t come across anything which was a bit of a disappointment. The only lizard we saw during our trip to Texas was this one, I suppose you could call him a lounge lizard, basking on a chair by the pool back in Houston.
Hermann Park covers some 445 acres and is one of the oldest public parks in Houston. It features an enormous reflecting pool, various gardens including a beautiful Japanese Garden, a recreational lake and a golf course. The park is also home to the Houston Zoo, Miller Outdoor Theater and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
As always seems to be the case when we are on the road, our time in Houston was all too short, so we weren’t able to explore the entire park but we took in as much as we possibly could, given our tight schedule and the extreme heat which made walking any great distance rather a chore. And I have to admit that I was on a mission. I was looking for a duck. And not just any old duck.
When our daughter and her husband first moved to Houston they sent us a blurred picture and a brief description of a rather unusual bird that they’d seen in Hermann Park. After some research we determined that what they’d probably come across was a whistling duck, which actually isn’t a duck at all, although it appears to be part of a subfamily that includes ducks, geese and swans. Not to be outdone and being a bit of a smart-arse, I sent them a picture, telling them that we had our own whistling ducks here in Chicago.
But this exchange of pleasantries got me thinking that if we ever visited Houston I would go in search of their whistling duck and see for myself what this bird was all about. And sure enough there, snoozing by McGovern Lake in Hermann Park, it was. It was apparently too weary to whistle but it afforded me the opportunity to get up fairly close, or as close as I was prepared to get to any bird, and capture some images.
Having seen the whistling ducks we moved on to the Japanese Gardens where we saw some dancing turtles. At least, they appeared to be dancing. With the temperatures at approximately 95 degrees in the shade, I imagine the rocks in the pool were getting pretty darned hot and the turtles, who were loath to give up their place in the sun, had to keep moving their feet or flippers or whatever they’re called, so as not to get scorched. These two seemed to coordinate their movements rather like dancing partners. They were soon joined by a third who wanted to get in on the act, while others watched from the bank, picking up tips on style and presentation, and another, who appeared to be the judge, got a closer view from a nearby vantage point.
Despite the heat, it was quite pleasant walking around the Japanese Gardens since much of it was in the shade. However, time and tide wait for no man and this visit, with its whistling ducks and dancing turtles, signaled our farewell to Houston as we would soon be on our way to San Antonio.
One of the great things about traveling, especially if you go any great distance from home, is that you get to see something different in the way of plants and flowers. Whenever we find ourselves somewhere that is new to us, one of the first things we do is look for any kind of public gardens and, when we visited Houston recently, McGovern Centennial Gardens was one of the places on our itinerary. It was quite a novel experience for us to see plants growing outside that we would normally only see in a greenhouse here in Chicago.
The flowers were just gorgeous despite the lack of any recent rain and the scorching temperatures!
And even the flowers that were familiar to us seemed so much bigger in Texas, naturally!
From the Cherie Flores Garden Pavilion you get a good view of the Centennial Green and, in the distance, the Mount. If you take the path to the top of the Mount you get an even better view of the Gardens.
From this vantage point you can see The Rose Garden, Pergola Walk, The Arid and Celebration Gardens and The Family Garden as well as Hawkins Sculpture Walk and The Tudor Family Pine Hill Walk.
The birds are definitely noisier here! They’re bolder too; landing on parked car roofs and strutting about with a very self-confident air. We saw a lot of these white winged doves in the Gardens.
Speaking of parked cars, even the parking lot looked very decorative with these beautiful trees. I would welcome any input as to what they are called. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like them in this neck of the woods.
This week, Cee is looking for birds for her Black & White Photo Challenge. We saw plenty of birds while we were in Texas! In fact, while we were in San Antonio, one of the biggest challenges for me was visiting the Riverwalk which was lined with birds. If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know about my life-long fear of birds and the problems that I have, dealing with them in everyday situations. After the first few minutes of dodging pigeons along the pathway I was almost tempted to give it up and return to street level but with the help of my husband, who walked ahead of me, as a kind of anti-bird bodyguard, I managed to stay the course for quite a distance and I was glad that I did. There is so much to love about the Riverwalk!
However, it’s not all fun and games on the river. This young bird (heron?) was standing alone on the banks of the Riverwalk. He was quite unconcerned that we were so close. I guess he must have become used to people walking by and the boats packed with tourists going up and down the river. I’m no bird expert so I couldn’t really tell how old he was but I hoped that he was capable of taking care of himself as, when we walked back on the other side of the river, we spotted an adult heron floating dead in the water just opposite to where he was standing.
For more on Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge go to Birds