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Rocket Recovery Mission

10 May

Late Mother’s Day afternoon, we headed back out on a top-priority recovery mission at the park — operation “find the rocket.”

The kid had sticks for pushing briars out of the way, my husband had scientifically watched the rocket video to pinpoint the most likely location, and I had my camera. Because although I did have serious doubts about finding the wayward rocket, I will go along with anything that gives me an excuse to tromp around the woods and look for pictures.

So, we headed off, into terrain that mostly looked like this.

Wildflowers and Cactus and Mesquite, Oh my!

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Ansel Would Be So Proud

10 Jul

We vacationed last week in the absolutely breathtaking Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, leaving behind the children and bringing along my new camera.

Let me make clear that I am not a photographer. I wish I was one. Or ideally, had a really talented one who could follow me around and take great pictures to document the incredible things I saw but can’t capture on film.

 The texture of moss growing on granite rocks. The contrast of the gnarled branches of burned trees standing sentry in a meadow as a new circle of life begins in the forest. The tacky fat tourist man who was wearing a shirt so small and tight that his stomach hung down 2 feet out from under it.

But I had to try and take pictures on a trip like this. On our rafting trip down the Snake River, the guide pointed out that as we rounded a corner, we would see the same view of the Grand Tetons that Ansel Adams immortalized in one of his most famous photographs.

So, I took a LOT of pictures. Often to the great dismay of my husband who really did not want to hear me scream one more time “Oh, look!!! Stop the car!!!”

I am a *delight* on vacation, I tell you. An absolute delight.

Of the eighty million pictures I took, this best summarizes the trip. In it, you will note there are bison snacking RIGHT OUT THE WINDOW, and he is stubbornly driving forward and laughing. Probably to keep from crying. Or smacking me.

It's just a furry cow. No need to stop.

It's just a furry cow. No need to stop.

However, 20 seconds later, one of the bison totally sided with me and forced a photo op by marching out in front of our car. Not only did I get a picture, I got the answer to the age-old question, “Why did the bison cross the road?” In this case, he was following a very tiny bird.

The bird is the little dot on the yellow line. It was not harmed. They are friends, apparently.

The bird is the little dot on the yellow line. It was not harmed. They are friends, apparently.

Despite my marginal skill and  some resistance to my developing craft, I got a few nice shots. However, in my attempt to be artsy, I also failed miserably more than a few times.

Such as the close-up of the bison hoofprint in the geyser basin at Yellowstone.  Signs everywhere there gravely warn people to stay on the boardwalks lest they fall though the earth’s crust and be boiled alive. It happens. You can even buy a book called Death in Yellowstone, that explains these things.

But the bison do not read, so after the tourists go to sleep, they treat the whole area like a big hot tub party, leaving lots of little hoofprints. I found one of these prints particularly interesting, because the buffalo had cracked the earth’s crust and started its own little natural spring.

So I carefully zoomed in, adjusted the exposure for the bright light, and snapped away. Then, back at home, pulled it up full size on the computer and realized with great joy… I had captured a Yellowstone classic.

Yes, I know what it looks like
Yes, I know what it looks like

The coochie hot springs.

Next year, I am buying postcards.
You can read more about our adventures in Jackson, Wyoming in my blog for the San Antonio Express-News by clicking right here. There are no questionable photos and the word “coochie,” is nowhere to be found. However, somehow it still may manage to be entertaining.
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