Categories
Photography Places

Blazing sunshine

A two day trip to the Ozarks can seem like a week, and I mean that in a good way.

Sunday I drove down I44 to 63 and then eventually to a series of back country roads where the only company I had was the ubiquitous white pickups and motorcycle riders. The recent rains have saved the Ozarks and by the rich green color, I think we’ll have a good fall, at least in the hills. And I didn’t kill one creature as I covered the windy, hilly roads, which we can count a good thing.

Sunday ended up being hot and like other Missourians impacted by the high gas prices, I kept the windows down the the air conditioner off. I developed a habit of driving one handed, the other resting on my door, which I think makes me look rather wordly, especially when the wind is blowing through my curls and I’m wearing my Big Sunglasses. Of course I ended up with a truck driver tan–one arm burned a deep brick red, while the other is a pale honey color. Or dead fish, if you prefer.

Fish. Fish was the operative word this weekend, as everywhere I went I talked with people who told me stories or who fished. Can you imagine a better weekend?

I stopped first at Rockbridge Mill, arriving in the early afternoon under 90 degree sun. Few of the pictures came out but I got a couple: one of the mill, and one of a very lucky angler.

Rockbridge Mill

Success comes in wet packages

The water was low, which wasn’t surprising for this time of year and the drought we’ve had, but it was high enough for the trout to move, and as I got to the falls, a lady who was fishing had just pulled in what looked to be a monster fish. She was kind enough to pose for the picture, which was one of my favorite from the trip.

She said she’d gone out for a relaxing hour or two of fishing, but no sooner had she put her line in then a fish caught it, and she was finished in 10 minutes. She was pleased at catching the fish, but since the river is ‘catch and keep’, she had to stop at the point. I think she was disappointed at having success come too quickly. There are people who fish to catch fish; then there’s the lucky bastards.

From Rockbridge I followed more windy, hilly back country roads to Hodgson Mill. I had read it was under restoration, and was pleasantly surprised to see it fully restored. The sun, though, was just too bright and I really couldn’t get a good picture, and had to settle for a photo of the watercress growing along the spring.

Watercress and Waterfall

From Hodgson to Dawt, where the place was full of innertubers, but I had a monstrous headache by then, so I didn’t stay long, and headed to 160 to Branson.

I was lucky to have light traffic my entire trip, which was good because 160 is nothing but 35MPH corners, which can be fun to drive, but can also be exhausting at the same time. Happily Branson is odd enough and colorful enough to wake the dead, much less a tired driver.

What can I say about Branson? It is a town that is based on early tourism because of the nearby lakes, such as Table Rock lake. As it grew, though, it morphed into something really different: a town carved into the hillside above the lake, full of hotels and inns all decorated to a theme, full of shows. Each hotel, inn, store, has a videoscreen that displays bits of the shows currently playing. And neon lights, of course. It’s like Vegas, but without gambling.

I got lost twice, because I would be driving along, mouth open as I was blasted by all the videoscreens, and would miss a turn. When I finally got to the hotel where I was staying, Welk Resort, it was late afternoon and just starting to rain.

The hotel clerk was exceptionally nice, and when I told her I was out ‘milling’ she told me about the mill in use at the College of the Ozarks (more on this in a separate post sometime). As we talked, I could hear a tapping against the window and we were both surprised when we found ourselves in a monstrous storm. I quickly unpacked my car and in my room watched as we were hit with hail, and microbursts grabbed the poolside furniture and tossed them about. It was a really nice show.

I walked around downtown Branson for a little while, taking a few pictures. They don’t do the place justice. It is a one of kind place. I wish, though, I had grabbed a picture of the Peace Frogs Cafe. Next trip, it’s on my must see list.

I’ll cover the next day in a separate post.

Categories
Insects Photography

Monarchs

The rains finally came this last weekend. They blew in strongly on Saturday and took out the power for half the city, but I don’t think anyone minded.

I did lose my internet for several hours on Sunday. When I called in, I finally got through to a lovely woman with a charming Kentucky accent who told me that the reason I didn’t have service is that the power box for the cable was hit by lightning; the only reason the cable was still working was that a cable company worker was down at the station with a power generator in the back of his truck, keeping the cable going. The internet, however, required much more power.

With the rains has come cooler weather, and I’ve been able to get out for walks. However, with gas prices being the way they are, the walks are close to town. When did someone find the secret of alchemy and turn gold into gasoline?

I don’t mind walking close to home, though. There’s a gentle feel to the air — a softness we’ve been missing all summer. It’s almost as if we’re having a second Spring. During Monday’s walk at Powder, under a canopy of dripping green leaves, I came upon a half dozen bucks; to see one antlered deer is uncommon, and to see several at once was an unexpected treat.

And today I found the monarch butterflies. After all these years with trips carefully planned to Shaw and other places, without any success, I finally find my monarchs where I least expected them. Purely by accident — I had a couple of hours to kill before picking up my roommate at work and decided to go to Busch Conservation Area to take pictures of geese. When I arrived, the fields around the main lake were full of a delicate, pink flower (milkweed), freshly bloomed from all the rain, and busy among the flowers were hundreds of monarch butterflies.

monarch8

I grabbed my camera and raced from flower to flower taking pictures, sometimes stopping just to let the butterflies and bees fly around me, close enough to almost feel the movement of their wings. No one else was about, though I could hear creatures in the grasses and in the water of the lake next to the field. It was worth the summer, all dead and dry and hot bit of it. All of it was worth those few hours with the butterflies.

Needless to say, I have a lot of photos. Be forewarned.

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What was particularly funny was the interaction between the butterflies and the bees. The butterflies would usually have their wings folded up. As a bee approached, they would suddenly open their wings, *thwack*! And there would go the bee.

monarch21

Came home and watched two wonderful movies: Strictly Ballroom and IQ. Strictly Ballroom is an Australian film about ballroom dancing, and would seem to be the usual boy and girl against all odds movies, but it has some wonderfully campy movements. And I love Spanish guitar, not to mention the dancing.

What I liked in particular with Strictly Ballroom was the ending, which I won’t give away, other than to say that the dancing is all that matters.

And IQ, well, it’s sweet and gentle, and isn’t it a wonderful time to be alive? Wahoo.

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(The above is a swallowtail butterfly — it wouldn’t stop moving, and kept fluttering it’s upper wings. Really graceful and beautiful creature.)

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monarch6

Categories
Connecting

The ABCs of frank online talk

A: “I want to have a frank discussion.”

 

B: “I’m game.”

C: “Me, too.”

D: “That’s what’s great about this environment–the honesty and openness.”

E: “Whatever you want to talk about, I’m cool.”

F: “Yo!”

 

A: “Well, the software I’m using is pretty good, but the license says I can’t help a friend install it.”

B: “Isn’t that just like the Internet? Everyone wants everything for free.”

A: “I didn’t say I wanted the software for free. I said…”

C: “You know, you’ve always been critical of Z. You’re so sad.”

A: “I didn’t say anything about…”

D: “Yeah, let’s see you write this kind of software if you’re so good.”

A: “I just made a….”

E: “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

A: “Well, actually, I…”

F: ” Bitch.”

A: “OK! Never mind! Let me try again.”

 

A: “I’ve noticed that the ORG weblog technology company led by S has 25 engineers, but that none are women.”

B: “You know, I don’t approve of quotas.”

A: “I didn’t say the word quo…”

C: “S does so much for all of us and asks nothing in return.”

A: “I know that S has done m…”

D: “Unsubscribed!”

A; “Wow, that was…”

E: “You know, you don’t have to get all hysterical about this.”

A: “I am NOT hyster…”

E: “Bitch.”

A: “Forget it! Never mind! There has got to be something we can have a frank talk about.”

A: “I know, I’ll talk about technology. No one is going to get emotional about technology.”

 

A: “I’ve decided not to support U and V, and only support P at my site.”

B: “Wow, talk about a political rant.”

A: “Political rant ?!?”

C: “You know, you think you’re so smart. The only reason you’re not using V is because you’re jealous.”

A: “Jealous? Of a technology?”

D: *silence, still unsubscribed*

E: “You’re such a liar, too. I feel sorry for you. Ugh.”

A: “Whaa..”

F; “Bitch.”

 

A: “What is the deal, here? I thought you all agreed we could have a frank, open discussion?”

B: “I’ve known S for years, and there’s not a sweeter person.”

C: “Agreed. And W is a real leader in the industry, as is Z. ”

D: *silence, still unsubscribed*

E: “Yeah, how can you turn on your own like that?”

F: “Yeah, bitch.”

 

A: “What you’re all saying, then, is I can be frank and honest, as long as whatever I say doesn’t directly, or indirectly, reference a friend, or someone sweet, or a leader in the industry, or someone who is a part of our group?”

B: “Not a bit, you can talk about anything you want. Just not Z.”

C: “No way. This is a free country, say anything you want. But you should respect W.”

D: “I’ve decided to re-subscribe to you. I think it’s important that we listen to those who we may not agree with. But what has S ever done to you? Did I happen to mention how sweet S is?”

E: “You know, you’re starting to sound shrill. Have you thought about professional help?”

F: “Yeah, stop being a bitch.”

A: *sigh*

A: *another sigh*

A: “Well, who is somebody who isn’t a friend with any of you?”

B: “You.”

C: “You.”

D: “You.”

E: “You.”

F: “Bill Gates.”

Based on actual, frank discussions…somewhere….