Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Cowboying it at the Grand Canyon

Best Lodging at the Grand Canyon

I had planned on doing another 3 hour exposure to capture the star trail, but the wind wreaked havoc on my tripod so it did not go as planned.   I was snugly wrapped in the sleeping bag on the ledge while this long exposure was taken.   No lights, no artificial noise, and perfect temperatures made this one of the better nights I had at the Grand Canyon

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Slot Canyons - Arizona

More slot canyons from Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park

"The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features... The glories and beauties of form, color and sound unite in the Grand Canyon... It has infinite variety and no part is ever duplicated. Its colors, although many and complex at any instant, change with the ascending and declining sun... You cannot see the Grand Canyon in one view...but to see it you have to toil from month to month through this labyrinths...but if strength and courage are sufficient for the task, by a year's toil a concept of sublimity can be obtained never again to be equaled on hither side of Paradise."
Powell, John Wesley  1909
Well after being here for a week I figured it was time to post a photo of the grand canyon.  Pictures really do not do the canyon justice.  I arrived here Monday night and went out about an hour before sunrise on Tuesday.   It was pitch dark but as the sun slowly started to appear over the horizon the canyon started to reveal itself.  First the walls, then the depths of the canyon, then the details in the rock, and finally the contrast of colors as the sun reflected off the rock, shadows appeared, etc.   It was definetely awe inspiring.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Upper Antelope Canyon - Arizona

"True friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island... to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune; to keep him is a blessing." - Baltasar Gracian
Upper Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona.   This was my first attempt in photographing slot canyons, and even though the lighting isn't the best this time of the year, it was still an incredible experience.  

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Horseshoe Bend - Arizona

Horseshoe Bend - Arizona

I have seen this photo countless times and was excited to hear that it was about a three hour drive from the Grand Canyon so I decided to make a trip.  I was on the road around  3am thinking that this view was looking East, but I was mistaken, it faced towards the West so I had to wait in the cold wind for quite some time before the sun was high enough to actually direct light down into the canyon.   If you look close you will see three boats and about 6 tents along the shore in the bend.   That will give you an idea of how deep the canyon is (about 1000 feet).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Busy weekend on the farm

Well busy weekend on the farm.   Friday I saw two rabbits for sale on craigslist so I picked them up after work, took them home and placed them in their pen.   They seemed super nervous so I was a bit worried about them.  I went back Saturday and they were all settled down and seemed to be enjoying there new home.   We had a dozer onsite Saturday to work on our roadways.  There were several areas that had eroded over the years so I was anxious to have them corrected.   I spent this morning putting seed out on the newly disturbed areas and will place hay on the areas this week.   I am putting millet, rye, several varieties of clover, etc on the old roadways.  I also planted onions, snap peas, lettuce, etc.   I think I am going to order a little more winter wheat to put out.    I will try to get some pictures of the rabbits this week.  I also hope to pick up two more female rabbits this week.   

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lovely morning on the Natchez Trace Parkway

I never saw a discontented tree.  They grip the ground as though they liked it, and though fast rooted they travel about as far as we do.  They go wandering forth in all directions with every wind, going and coming like ourselves, traveling with us around the sun two million miles a day, and through space heaven knows how fast and far!  ~John Muir

Monday, September 13, 2010

Wildflowers - Ready for Fall

I am looking forward to the fall colors, but I am definetely going to miss the wildflowers.   I have not been able to spend as much time photographing them this year as I would like, but I plan on hitting it hard next year.  I am also planning on doing alot of fall and winter photography this year.

"When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” John Muir quote

Friday, September 10, 2010

Natchez Trace Parkway - River Bend Overlook

While in Ridgeland I tried to hit the road early and catch a few sunsrises.   It had rained the night before so the morning air was cool, crisp, and rather soothing.  I was surprised that no one else has wondered out to enjoy this beautiful overlook along the Natchez Trace Parkway.  

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul. - John Muir

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chickens in new coop...

Well I placed the chickens in the coop and left them locked in the "house" for two days.  I was told instead of just putting them in the coop, to lock them in the house so they would learn where home was.  If you just let them loose they would stay in the run at night instead of going back to the house where they are more protected from the elements.    So this was right after I removed the plywood over the door.   They would stand in the doorway and look out, but were scared to try walking down the ramp.   After a day they got the hang of it and everything seems to have worked out well.   This photo was taken a few weeks ago and the chicks are a fair bit bigger now.  

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chickens and New Farm

Three Day Old Chicks
It has been a while since I posted on here but I have been working on my next project.   After hiking the Appalachian Trail I really wanted to try and be more self sufficient and continue to live a more simple lifestyle.   I am fortunate in that my family has 40 acres, 7 acres of which is field and the other 33 being wooded with a small pond.    My plan is to start with chickens and rabbits this summer and then plant fruit trees this fall.  I want to bring elec and water to the site over the winter and then next year I will add a few dairy goats and maybe a couple of pigs.   I currently live in an apt but I am anxious to set up a shelter on the site.   I will post more about it later.  In the meantime, I received my chickens and wanted to share a few photos of them.  I have 10 Rhode Island Reds, 10 Plymouth Rocks, and 10 Buff Orpingtons.   I had them in my apt in a brooder and because we have been having such warm weather I was able to move them outside at about 3 1/2 weeks.   

The first say out of the brooder.

It was interesting watching them be outside for the first time.  It took them a few minutes to really start moving around but chickens are very curious animals so it wasn't long till they were moving around pecking at everything.  Flying insects really seemed to get their attention though they are still a bit to clumsy/slow to catch most of them.   

Friday, June 25, 2010

Gregorys Bald - Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame! -William Butler Yeats

Visiting Gregory's Bald in June used to be a tradition of mine and is one I hope to start again.  The Flaming Azalea, a hybrid, blooms on Gregorys Bald in late June.   The valley below in the distance is Cades Cove. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Turkeys in Cades Cove at Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Turkeys in Cades Cove

“I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; like those among men who live by sharking and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. The turkey is a much more respecta”- Benjamin Franklin

Another great trip to the Smoky's.   I wish I could have spent more time,  but I hope to go back soon.   The deer were in velvet, bears were active, large groups of turkeys, and lots of wildflowers.   I only wish I was close enough to visit everyday.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Recent Flower Photos

A couple of new paintings

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sony - Costomer Loyalty - Great Companies

While most of my blogs are about photography and art, I had something rather stunning happen to me this past month that I want to share.   I had bought a Sony TV about 3-4 years ago and had a problem with it 13 months.  I thought the cost to fix it was to much so I, being my stubborn self, decided to just not use it.  Well when I moved this year I went ahead and carried it to the repair shop and had it fixed for about $485.   It worked great that evening but was out again the next morning.   I took it back to the shop and wrote a simple tweet on twitter that went something like this "Picked up tv, worked great, out again this morning so back to the shop, thanks Sony".   When I got home that night I checked my twitter and noticed I had received a message from Sony's Customer Service asking if they could help.    To make a long story short the repair place contacted me and said it was going to be too costly to fix the TV.   I replied to Sony via twitter and they called both me and the repair company.  The following day they called me back and told me they were covering the current repair bill and they were going to shop me a new TV (I just had to send them the serial number of the existing TV).  She said she would call back the next day with the models I could choose from.  I thought all of this was too good to be true.... just figured they would send me an old tv that had been refurbished or something.   The next day they called me giving me the model of the TV I had wanted when I saw it in the store.   The Bravia 52" Flat Screen LCD with built in internet (new, not refurbished).   The TV is absolutely amazing.  I subscribe to Netflix so I can just send a movie to my instant access que and pull it up on my tv and the quality is amazing.   

I have always been loyal to certain companies.   Wachovia, even though the nearest one is 2 hours away - Nissan, after 11 years of owning Nissan products I have yet to have to do anything other than replacing a battery, wipers, etc.    Canon - Always had great results with them and their customer service.  Sony, I have always had Sony televisions and camcorders because I always thought their picture quality was higher.

I read a book recently called Good to Great.  It basically researched 1000's of companies and determined what made a good company great.  There are good companies, but few can push the threshold of  becoming a great company.   I am a firm believer in expectations... both setting expectations and meeting them.  The companies that were great did not meet expectations, they exceeded them.   Well Sony exceeded my expectations.   I did not call them, did not complain to them, etc.   The found me and took care of the issue quickly while exceeding my expectations.   Hopefully I will not need a TV for a while, but I do know the next time I am in the market for a new TV, it will be a Sony.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Barn at Sunset - Oil Painting

Just a painting I have been working on the last couple of days.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Waterfalls - Sipsey Wilderness

Heading back to Sipsey Wilderness next weekend for a kayaking trip.   Hopefully we will get a little rain this week so the river will be up.    Have a good week everyone.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oil Painting, Lakeside Cabin

Another painting... I am heading to Boone NC this weekend to get my kayak, mountain bike, etc.   I cant wait to get back out with nature. 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Mountain Sunset

I will be photographing wildflowers after work today so hope to post pictures soon.  In the meantime I wanted to share another painting I just finished.   Good day everyone.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Shelf Mushrooms - Sipsey Wilderness, Bankhead National Forest

Spent last weekend over at Sipsey Wilderness in the Bankhead National Forest.  The Sipsey Wilderness is known as the land of 1000 waterfalls and I believe it.  They were everywhere.   These shelf mushrooms were growing on a rotten log.   It was a great weekend in the woods with lots of hiking.   I had a great time and plan to visit again very soon.  

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bob Ross Style - Oil Painting

I know I have not been on here in a while and I will try to change that.  I have been playing around with painting a bit and went to an oil painting workshop last week.  This is a picture of my first completed oil painting.  I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Fall Colors with Snow - Grandfather Mountain

“A Picture of many colors proclaims images of many Thoughts.” - Donna A. Favors

Humor for the day - Little Johnny collected lots of money from trick-or-treating and he went to the candy store to buy some chocolate.

"You should give that money to charity," said the sales girl.

Little Johnny thought for a moment and said, "No, I'll buy the chocolate. You give the money to charity."

Friday, February 5, 2010

How strange that Nature does not knock, and yet does not intrude! ~Emily Dickinson, letter to Mrs. J.S. Cooper, 1880

Humor for the day - When I was a young minister, a funeral director asked me to hold a grave side service for a homeless man with no family or friends. The funeral was to be at a cemetery way out in the country. This was a new cemetery and this man was the first to be laid to rest there.


I was not familiar with the area and became lost. Being a typical man, of course, I did not ask for directions. I finally found the cemetery about an hour late. The back hoe was there and the crew was eating their lunch. The hearse was nowhere to be seen.

I apologized to the workers for being late. As I looked into the open grave, I saw the vault lid already in place. I told the workers I would not keep them long, but that this was the proper thing to do. The workers, still eating their lunch, gathered around the opening.

I was young and enthusiastic and poured out my heart and soul as I preached. The workers joined in with, "Praise the Lord," "Amen," and "Glory!" I got so into the service that I preached and preached and preached, from Genesis to The Revelation.

When the service was over, I said a prayer and walked to my car. As I opened the door, I heard one of the workers say, "I never saw anything like that before and I've been putting in septic systems for twenty years."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Flowers in New Hampshire

"The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks." ~Tennessee Williams

Humor for the day - A guy was trying to console a friend who'd just found his wife in bed with another man. "Get over it, buddy," he said. "It's not the end of the world."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Light House Photos

"Who is more foolish, the child afraid of the dark or the man afraid of the light?" ~Maurice Freehill

Todays Humor - An aged farmer and his wife were leaning against the edge of their pig-pen

when the old woman wistfully recalled that the next week would mark their

golden wedding anniversary.
"Let's have a party, Homer," she suggested. "Let's kill a pig."
The farmer scratched his grizzled head. "Gee, Ethel," he finally answered,

"I don't see why the pig should take the blame for something that happened

fifty years ago."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Birding - Red Cardinal

"I know why the caged bird sings. " - Maya Angelou

We have a pair of cardinals that hang around our house.  I love watching them and am amazed at how they are always together.  They are a pretty cute little couple.

Humor for the day - Bill and Bob, two children, were sitting outside a clinic. Bill happened to be crying very loudly.

"Why are you crying?" Bob asked.

"I came here for a blood test," sobbed Bill.

"So? Are you afraid?"

"No. For the blood test, they cut my finger.

As Bob heard this, he immediately began crying profusely.

Astonished, Bill stopped his tears and asked Bob, "Why are you crying now?"

To which Bob replied, "I came for a urine test!"

Sunday, January 10, 2010

More Winter Birding

“Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.” -Victor Hugo

I am starting to see more woodpeckers in the yard the last couple of days but I have not seen some of the species I saw last year.  An Eastern Towhee has been around lately and I hope to have pictures of it soon.

Humor for the day - A young brunette goes into the doctor's office and says that her body hurts wherever she touches it.

"Impossible," says the doctor. "Show me."

She takes her finger and pushes her elbow and screams in agony. She pushes her knee and screams, pushes her ankle and screams and so on it goes.

The doctor says, "You're not really a brunette are you?"

She says, "No, I'm really a blonde."
"I thought so," he says. "Your finger is broken."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Birding - Backyard Birds, Cold Weather

"Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." - Henry Van Dyke

As this cold front passes through keep your local birds in mind.  Most winter birds eat seeds such as black sunflower seeds.  Use this link for more information on winter bird feeding.   Make sure you stock up on bird feed and make sure you keep the feed in the feeders.  I have noticed 3-4 times as many birds using our feeders the last couple of days and have been filling them daily.  Also try to provide a water source.  This can be difficult with freezing temperatures, but is necessary for your birds.