This has to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The sun and blue sky set the scene perfectly.
We weren’t the only ones who thought so. This group of young people caught our attention and gave us a few chuckles as they posed for their group selfie. Afterward, I showed them my photo. They gave me an email so I could send the photo to them. The white sign to their right is a strict warning about bears nearby.
When this is the first thing you see while waiting in the car at the Yellowstone entrance, you know it’s going to be a good day. We also saw black bears, bison, antelope, coyote, pica, and much more.
The scenery is such a marvel. We walked about 2 miles throughout the Norris Geyser Basin. The brilliant sunshine brought out colors of the algae in the hot waters.
Our most challenging part of the day involved a hike to the rim of the lower falls of the Yellowstone River. It included a 600 ft descent via a trail that switched back and forth more than 10 times. Of course, that meant you had to ascend the same trail. We are in good shape and made it up easily. Others were not looking so good.
Once at the bottom of the trail, we got this view of the rapidly flowing river as it plunged 308 ft to the floor of the canyon. The rainbow was a special treat.
A few miles south of Livingston, Montana, is Paradise Valley. East of route 89 is a National Forest recreation area called Pine Creek. From the east-most parking lot is a trail that follows Pine Creek upstream. There is an elevation gain of about 460 ft up to about 6100 ft. The trail is often rocky with some tree roots. The trail is about 2.5 miles total out and back. The 100 ft falls tumbles down the rocks and under a simple foot bridge.
We decided to hike one of the trails in the park instead of driving from site to site negotiating traffic and crowds. Beaver Ponds Loop was a good choice at 5.4 mile. It started from the terraces at Mammoth Hot Springs and ascended 800 feet through the trees along a creek. Views were offered of the terraces from higher vantage points. The trail emerged into a meadow. We stopped to take it in this broad panorama.
This bear in Yellowstone Park was enjoying some flowers. Telephoto lenses are a great thing to have.
We entered the park from the northeast. What a gorgeous route. The changing sky and some rain added to the views. Looking forward to more in the next three days.
The early morning sunlight shined through grape leaves near our path. Tiny drops of dew still clung to the points on the edge of the leaves. Each one sparkled brightly with a miniature sun inside.
Several weeks ago, fellow blogger shoreacres posted a story about murals she enjoyed while poking around the environs of Arkansas and Missouri. A visit to her post is well worth the time. I found her pictures of them and the background stories very interesting.
Soon after her post, I visit our local shopping mall which opened in 1998. It has 4 large murals on walls of the walkway depicting scenes of Iowa. They add some visual interest to the mall.
This past week two much older murals were put on public display. Originally, eight were commissioned for display by the Hotel Jefferson in downtown Iowa City in 1934. The works were done by Mildred Pelzer but were not part of the Works Progress Administration murals in which started in May 1935. After Pelzer’s murals were finished, the eight were listed as a tourist attraction on display in the hotel.
In 1949, the hotel was remodeled. The murals were taken down for storage and never put back up. In 1970, the two shown here were discovered in the basement of the hotel. Three others were discovered later in the old city hall building. Three others are still missing. These two, Railroad Arrives and Stage Ready, are now on display in the Senior Center and the Public Library in Iowa City.
Railroad Arrives | Click to embiggen
Stage Ready | Click to embiggen
More of the story about the paintings and the artist is available in this sign posted next to the railroad painting.. It needs to be enlarged for readability.
by Melanie and Jim
After our early morning breakfast, we drove across town to Ryerson’s Woods. It was acquired by Iowa City in 1985. The park has about 50 acres and includes less than a mile of trails. Last time we visited was in mosquito season. We got a short distance into the trees and ran back to the car with several bites each. This time there were no mosquitoes.
We met two men and their dogs who were on the way out. The men were chatty. One dog reminded us of the Good Dog, Carl. The children’s book series about Carl is wonderful. We saw only two other people from afar.
There is a bit of up and down in the park, but the trail is well maintained with mulch under foot. Clean-up of fallen trees needs to be done in a few places, but the path was only blocked in one spot, and we climbed over easily.
As the park name implies, it is a wooded site. The ground vegetation struggles in many places to capture sunlight. Even so, it is lush and dense with green, as well as with wildflowers.
We saw a lot of Jack-in-the-pulpit Arisaema triphyllum plants in many different sizes. Most were about a foot tall. There were a few two feet tall and shaded a red color.
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A spirea bush in front of the house had two praying mantis egg cases attached to twigs. We first noticed them last fall. Each warm day this spring we checked to see if the young were hatching. It finally happened. They were about 1 cm (<1/2 in) long. They sat for a while to dry and firm up their exoskeleton.
Soon after that they scurried along the twigs and leaves for cover. This one stopped long enough to look back at us before it disappeared. More about the mantis in an earlier post when one of last year’s brood looked into our front window.
by Jim and Melanie
Our family gathered for a potluck dinner on Easter at a country church in Illinois. On Saturday, we drove down to the area from our home in Iowa. It took a little more than two hours. In the area is a state park called Argyle Lake. It had been many years since either of us visited the park. We decided to spend part of the nice day hiking. We chose a trailhead near the dam.
The 1700 acre park, with a 93 acre lake, was established in 1948 by the state of Illinois. The site was formerly known as Argyle Hollow. It served as a stage coach stop on the line between Galena and Beardstown, IL. The hollow was also home to many drift coal mines dug into the hillsides. The park today suffers from neglect by the state. Their lack of funds is obvious. The trails we hiked really needed attention. Tick spray with DEET was a necessary precaution, given the brush impeding on the trail.
One trail bordered the lake. We encountered this pair of Canada Geese sitting on a branch.
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