W is for Wildlife – #atozchallenge

There are not many better things on a back road trip than running into unexpected wildlife. There is an abundance of birds and animals to be discovered on the road.  For me, my camera is always at the ready for the chance meeting of some interesting animal or bird.

Sandhill Cranes fly over high plains near Dell, MT

One such incident happened on a gravel road near Dell, Montana.  I was on the lookout for bison as I drive along Ted Turner’s massive bison ranch.  While stopped to look I heard a strange bird call that I had never heard and shortly thereafter a pair of large birds came zipping by.  I got some shots, but wasn’t sure what I had until I got to the hotel later that night and discovered they were a pair of Sandhill Cranes, my first ever sighting of these glorious birds.

Sandhill Cranes near Cecilia, KY
A pair of Sandhill Cranes at sunset near Cecilia, KY

Just a few years later in my own state of Kentucky I was able to track down a migration of 1000s of these magnificent birds.  I actually came close to walking among their huge flock and they were flying all around me.  Words can’t explain the awe I had.

These birds migrate north back to their homes in Michigan and Wisconsin and fly through Kentucky in late January.  They stop in the bounteous cornfields to eat the leftovers that remained after harvest.

1000s of sandhill cranes converse on a field near Cecilia, KY
Sandhill Cranes take flight
Sandhill Cranes fly over Cecilia, KY

Chance encounters are always a thrill.  On a morning drive in Grand Teton National Park on a snowy morning in March 2013, I caught a fox leaping in the snow out of the corner of my eye.  The lovely animal stopped and stared at me as I sought to nab a shot.

Fox on Snow in Grand Teton National Park
Migrating Snow Geese by the hundreds in Arkansas in February 2017

On another trip earlier this year, we were driving on a backroad in Arkansas when we saw a “field of white” ahead of us.  Turned out to be a massive flock of migrating snow geese.

There could have been 1000s of them here, much the same as the Sandhill Cranes I noted above.  But it was such an unplanned surprise.

Once again, camera was always at the ready, so I was able to get a few shots while still sitting in the van (though we had to go about a mile down the road to turn around and accommodate the photo shoot.

Snow Geese everywhere
A flock of Snow Geese darkens the sky
1000s of snow geese in a small field in central Arkansas

Just like the snow geese, I happened upon a large flock of white pelicans at Andes Lake in South Dakota.  I could see them from a distance and thought they were ducks.

Pelicans in Lake Andes, SD
Pelicans taking flight at Andes Lake
Antelope in open range along the side of Wyoming 120

Of course, its not always about birds.  There are plenty of opportunities in the high plains to come across America’s fastest animal, the pronghorn antelope.

On trips through Montana and Wyoming I always saw these lovely sleek animals.  Sometimes I got them right on the side of the road.

I did have one lucky trip in 2013 when I was driving through Colorado and saw a mother and her two calves go jaunting through the tall grass.  I was able to get a nice shot with my telephoto lens.

Antelope Doe and Calves as seen from CO Hwy 13 north of Craig, CO
Antelope just stared back at me…didn’t run
A small family of pronghorn Antelope scamper across a field near Pulis Lane in Wilsall, Montana.
Antelope on the Run in Wyoming
A big bison poses for me in Yellowstone

The National Parks are always a great place to get some nice wildlife shots.  I have been to Yellowstone three times in the past 5 years and have seen a nice variety of wildlife, but mainly its the bison that roam free that are a thrill.  I was amazed at how huge some of these guys get.  One that walked by my car was at least 7 feet tall.

Bison and calves relax by a lake in Yellowstone
Bison roam freely along the Grand Loop road
Bison relax along Lava Creek in Yellowstone while pronghorned antelope look on from the background
Buffalo in southern Montana on Ted Turner’s sprawling ranch near Dell, MT
Another Bison in Yellowstone Park
A solitary elk bull relaxes in the meadow at Yellowstone

Elk are another great large mammal to look for.  I have seen them in Yellowstone and Grand Teton, as well as some of the mountain drives I made.

These are lovely animals.  And, like the bison, are huge.

 

Elk Bull in Sugar City, Idaho
An Elk Bull near Elkton, Oregon
One antlered elk bull on a breeding farm near Archer, ID
An elk was seen roaming the area around Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone
Deer at sunrise in Shenandoah National Park

The great culprit of car accidents and frequent recipient of roadkill awards are deer.  These can be seen along highways everywhere both day and night.

I recently made a trip to Shenandoah National Park and got some very nice shots of deer. I have many more from other places, but these are my best.

Deer jumping away in Shenandoah National Park
Deer looking on
Deer on the road from Paradise in Mt. Rainier National Park
Deer grazing in the snow in Lewistown, Montana
Bald Eagle shot taken in mid April 2017 near Cave Run Lake, KY

Sometimes I make trips to find the wildlife myself.  Such was the case recently on a visit to the fish hatchery near Cave Run Lake in Eastern Kentucky.  I was in search of some of the bald eagles that hang around there.  Found one!

There have been more sightings recently of these lovely and regal birds.  I have seen one or two almost every week at Jacobson Park locally and also have been able to see a nest with three adults and two offspring near Taylorsville Lake west of Lexington.

Love these eagles.

Eagle at Jacobson Lake in Lexington
Eagle at Taylorsville Lake, KY
Great Blue Heron

My most favorite wildlife subject is the Great Blue Heron.  These huge birds hang around lakes and rivers in Kentucky and many other places.  I literally have 1000s of photos of them.  Here are a few recent ones from Lexington.

I have photos of these birds in Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio and other places as well.

Blue herons in Taylorsville Lake
Blue Heron in Flight over Jacobson Lake in Kentucky
Breakfast time

I could post dozens and dozens of other photos, but I will only add a few other wildlife shots to this post from my travels.

Cormorants in flight over Kentucky
Turkey vulture gathering on a road in central Kentucky
Prairie Dog – Cactus Flats, SD
Prairie Dog — standing watch in Cactus Flats
A prairie dog scampers near the Camp Disappointment Monument
Mama Doggie – Cactus Flats, SD
Pelicans in formation over the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston, TX
A pelican starts its dive for a meal into the gulf
Pelicans fly in formation over the beach in Galveston
Christmas morning sunrise in Ocean City , MD and greeted by a dolphin in the foreground.
A closeup shot of a seagull taken on Bremerton Ferry while crossing the Puget Sound in Washington
Seagull in flight with the Gulf of Mexico behind it
A couple of seagulls “converse” as they enjoy the view over Lake Superior in Wisconsin
A pair of seagulls glide by in Galveston
Caught some nice seagull shots in Egg Harbor, WI
An osprey in flight
Mountain Goat in the Badlands of South Dakota
A Great Egret relaxes in the swamp near Uncertain, Texas
A red squirrel with a mouthful in Nebraska City, NE
Cattle Egret seen in Angleton, Texas
I found a gator in Brazos Bend State Park in Texas
Another Gator in Brazos Bend State Park

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V is for Vistas – #atozchallenge

Vistas are the joy of back roads travel. Every corner, every crest of a hill, every mile offers a new vista.  And this country has some spectacular and splendid vistas.

Over the years I have seen some amazing vistas. Whether they be in the deserts of the southwest, the high plains of Montana or on the oceans in the east or the west, the views are endless and inspiring.  Following are some of the vistas I have enjoyed and their locations.  Enjoy the ride and the views.

Sunset at the Badlands in South Dakota
St. Anthony Sand Dunes in Idaho
A view of the Portland Head Light in Maine
Hills of Shenandoah Valley in presunrise hours on Easter 2017
Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean as seen from Old Orchard Beach, ME
Golden Gate Bridge in 2016
Pacific Ocean near Reedsport, Oregon
Caddo Lake near Uncertain, TX
Highway to Cody, Wyoming
A lonely highway in south central Nebraska, near Overland
Horse Country – Lexington, Kentucky
Cincinnati Skyline
Coal Mine Canyon in Arizona, ca. 1983
Delaware Seashore Bridge at sunset
Spacious skies over the Grand Canyon in Arizona
The river into Juneau, Alaska as seen from a mountain top near Juneau
The mountains and the Yellowstone River as seen from US 89
The long straight highway near Cohagen, MT
Beautiful Highway heading into Virginia from Kentucky
Louisville, KY as seen from across the Ohio River in Indiana
The Oyate Trail highway in southern South Dakota
Fall colors from the Virginia Creeper Trail in Virginia
Beach at Clallam Bay, WA adorned with seagulls
New York City at night as seen from Hoboken, NJ
Sawtooths as seen from Lower Stanley, Idaho
Arkansas Hwy 8 near Amity, AR
Scenic cinder Hills and Shadows as seen on Idaho Hwy 33
Bison relax along Lava Creek in Yellowstone while pronghorned antelope look on from the background
Panoramic View of Pittsburgh from atop Mt. Washington
Niagara Falls, Ontario
The Tetons as seen from near Drummond, ID
Sunset in the Sweetgrass, north of Dunkirk, MT
White Sands, NM
A view of the New River Gorge in West Virginia
Sunflowers forever near Lexington, KY
Wind Turbines seem to blossom like flowers out of the corn fields of Iowa
Pennsylvania sunrise as seen from Boyce Mayview Park near Upper St. Clair, PA
Fall Colors from the Eagle’s Nest above Bancroft, Ontario near Algonquin
Texas Hwy 30 between Huntsville and Shiro
Hells Canyon in northeast Oregon is actually wider and deeper than the Grand Canyon
Three Sisters – nicknamed Faith/Hope/Charity near Sisters, Oregon
Somewhere in Kansas
View of the Beartooths near Red Lodge, Montana from the highway was awesome
America the Beautiful – A scene near Glacier National Park

 

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R is for Roadsigns – #atozchallenge

Anyone who drives on a road, whether city street or an interstate highway, always depends on roadsigns and street signs to find their way. In this age of GPS, we sometimes miss the turns because we’re not looking for the roadsigns.

Well, on the back roads of America there are many fun and unique roadsigns. Perhaps they weren’t meant to be that way as places were named certain names sometimes as far back as the 1600s and 1700s. But, sometimes neighborhood designers throw in funny names for streets or neighborhoods.

Charm, Ohio
Corner of This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX

In this post I want to take a look at some of the roadsigns I have come across in my travels. Indeed, that has been one of my fun challenges. As I have noted on one of my pages, I am a “Collector of Places.” I can collect roadsigns, street signs and directional signs with the snap of a camera shutter. And that is what I do.

To start off with, I want to look at a few street signs. Some of these can be pretty unique. Perhaps the most interesting story comes out of Lake Jackson, Texas. The main drag if you will is named “This Way.” And, as a matter of fact, when it gets into downtown Lake Jackson, it intersects with another road called That Way. To be sure, there is a story associated with that and I have included the plaque that sits on the street by that intersection which 16 complete explains why there is a This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson.

This Way U Turn
Plaque describing the naming of the roads This Way and That Way in Lake Jackson, TX

Now, if you prefer, there is The Udder Way in Yellow Springs, OH. It’s just actually a small private drive that goes into a large ice cream shop in the Little Miami River region of Ohio.

Lost? Try going the Udder Way, This is in Yellow Springs, OH

If you were more into a fantasy trip, then how about taking Wonderland Road near Upton, KY or the Yellow Brick Road near Dayton, OH.

Wonderland Road, Upton, KY
There is a Yellow Brick Road in Ohio
The Yellow Brick Road near Dayton, OH

If you don’t care about the name of the street, try No Name Street in Millersburg, OH.

No Name Street in Millersburg, OH

If you happen to be driving in Austin, Texas, you can find an interesting intersection at the corner of Music and Academy. Or, and yet another town in Ohio, there is an intersection of Sugar and Water in Chillicothe, OH.

Corner of Music and Academy in Austin, TX
A Sugar and Water corner in Chillicothe, Ohio

There is a Normal St. in Bowling Green, Kentucky. And there are a couple of Bugtussle street names including Bugtussle Road in Bugtussle, Kentucky and Bugtussle Blvd. in the middle of nowhereville Texas.

Normal St. in Bowling Green, KY
Bugtussle, KY
Road sign in Bugtussle, TX…the only indication you are at the intersection of FM1550 and TX34

I got a chuckle when driving through Cary, NC and came across Ten-Ten Rd.

I also came upon a Bliss Rd. in Columbia, KY, but it did not seem to bring me any bliss, until I discovered Bliss Happens Lane and Easy Street!

Bliss Rd in Columbia KY
And I found where Bliss Happens in Maryland
Easy Street in Port Orchard, WA

Head to DeForest, WI and there is an Elephant Trail. Drive down that road and look carefully and you will find a giant pink elephant!

Elephant Trail in DeForest, WI

If you are not too picky, you can drive down Booger Hollow Rd. in Gray, KY.

Booger Hollow Rd. in Gray, KY

For a drive with a bit of zing, trying to drive down Chile Capital Lane in Hatch, NM.

Chile Capital Lane in Hatch, NM

And for a real Jurassic adventure, how about visiting the corner of Gorgosaurus Ave and T. Rex Trail in Indianapolis.

Gorgosaurus Ave in Indianapolis
T. Rex Trail in Indianapolis

One time I was driving on the back roads of Lexington, where I live, and came upon Real Quiet Lane. But shhhhh… keep it quiet OK?

Shhh…this is a Real Quiet Lane in Lexington, KY

Back in Ohio, in the Little Italy section of Cleveland, there is just a Random Road.

Random Road, Little Italy neighborhood of Cleveland, OH

OK, yes, since you asked, I have been to Bourbon St. in New Orleans!

Bourbon Street in New Orleans in 2011

But, perhaps the best road to take is Only Rd. in Only, TN

The Only Rd. to Only, TN
This way to Only, TN

Perhaps it’s not a road that you’re looking for, but rather a town or community. There are an abundance of fun road signs for these.

If somebody tells you to go to Hell, there is a sign for that in Michigan! If you are seeking Romance or Success, these signs will point the way for you in Missouri. And, you can also get directions to Prosperity in Pennsylvania. And you can find Talent in Oregon or Wisdom in Kentucky.

This way to Hell, MI Indeed, you can get to Hell….
I took the road, but never did find Romance in Missouri in 2011.  Turned out to be a dead end.
Success, Missouri direction
Heading to Prosperity in Pennsylvania
Talent, Oregon
You can find Charm in Ohio
And you can find Wisdom in Kentucky
If you go this route in Montana you will be able to Divide Wisdom, whatever that means

Along the way you may run into Normal, Peculiar, Odd or Oddville. You could even get stuck in Uncertain….it is one way in and one way out. Or maybe Boring.

Normal, IL
This way to Peculiar, Missouri
Odd School Road takes you into the town of Odd, WV
Or you can visit Oddville, Kentucky
Oddville Sunrise Road
Finding Uncertainty in Uncertain, TX
Boring, Oregon

Lonely? Head to Friendship or Friendly.

Friendship, Arkansas
Friendly, West Virginia

And these are cool places to visit…

Cool, Texas
Coolville, Ohio
Santa Claus, IN

Lost? Go this way to Earth.

Muleshoe and Earth, TX

If you prefer to go to Muleshoe, maybe you would like Donkey or some other assortment of critters.

Donkey, VA near Pound, VA
One of my favorite shots…Alligator, MS
Fly, Ohio
Black Gnat, KY

And a few more just for fun:

Home on the Range sign in North Dakota
Sign to Future City, Illinois…I guess it is not there yet??
Feely, Montana
Ponder, Texas
Winner, South Dakota
Truth or Consequences, NM

I guess this post is going down the drain!

Drain, OR

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