"Quit hanging on to the handrails... Let go. Surrender. Go for the ride of your life. Do it everyday"

Thursday, September 26, 2013

South Dakota Ramble Quick Peek

South Dakota was absolutely beautiful!!!  I have been to a lot of places in the USA and SD ranks right up there with some of my most beautiful places I've traveled, at least western SD.  I mean how beautiful is this.....
Custer State Park
 There's those fabulous rolling hills, that are so different from the rolling hills of the southern Missouri Oazrks or Appalachia, yet still fabulous in its own right.

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Homemade Creamy Tomato Soup

creamy tomato soup
I don't normally blog about recipes on here, but for purely selfish reasons I wanted a place where I could have this recipe down somewhere so I could pin it for later.  Especially since this is a concoction of a few different recipes and my own experimentation.  Its best to get those down before one forgets. 

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Friday, August 23, 2013

Photo Friday - Simplicity is Sometimes Best

This was one of those random photos I took just because I wanted to.  I wanted to challenge myself to take a simple picture with a somewhat recognizable background.  Although the blur is a little too much for what I wanted, I still thought it was neat how this sunflower looked against the background of the Badlands. 
We had been walking and hopping around on the rocks in the National Park when I spotted several of these guys growing.  I had to look around for awhile to just find a few grouped together and not a whole bunch. It then took another several tries to get just the one for the picture that I was envisioning in my head.  I did play around with some filters to give it this kind of more earthy feel to it.  Do you ever challenge yourself to take a certain picture?
To see more of my photography you can visit my website here.  This is also part of Outdoor Wednesday.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Blast into the Past at Jewel Cave

I don't necessarily seek out caves when I go to places.  I don't dislike caves, in fact I find them rather fascinating, I just don't search them out.  I do though LOVE and search out National Parks whenever and wherever I am.  We were on our way to Wind Cave National Park when we stumbled upon this jewel(pun totally intended) of the National Parks system.  Jewel Cave National Monument.  I'm not quite sure why it is a National Monument, but it was the surprise delight of our trip to South Dakota.
jewel cave sign

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Friday, August 9, 2013

South Dakota Ramble Overview

I'm sitting here at my laptop in the middle of my kitchen staring at my half packed bags and running through my head all that I still need to do before we leave for our road trip.  And instead of actually getting the stuff done I'm blogging haha.  It's kind of soothing really, writing it all down.  That's part of why I do blog, but I have soooo much to get done.  On top of everything I am photographing a friend's wedding tomorrow morning before we leave and I want to do a great job for her.  So I stress.  Can anybody else relate?

I am soooo looking forward to our trip.  I really do LOVE road tripping with my family and I am so excited to be getting away from everything.  I had our trip mapped out, but already a portion of it has changed.  No matter here is the route pre change.  Most of it is the same, except for M to N on the route and I might be adding a stop in Wyoming onto the route.
South Dakota Ramble route

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Kayaking Anyone.....

I finally did it!!  Yay!  I have only been talking about learning to kayak since before summer began.  Life it seems just kept getting in the way in June and then it was really hot around these parts in July.  I really didn't want to kayak in 90 plus degree heat, call me crazy.  But finally I got a chance to yesterday and I was able to bring my son with me to enjoy it with me down near Troy Missouri.  Guess what?  We both LOVED it!!  My son was quite adept at it.  This was my view most of the afternoon.
cuivre park 2
I was wanting to do leisurely, my son was not so interested in leisure.  He wanted to explore!  I wonder who he takes after haha?

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Butterfly

As part of a summer photo scavenger hunt from Go Explore Nature this is my photo of the week, taken the other day at a local state park.
I found this beauty while hiking a local state park.  I had been looking for something to photograph as I was walking.  This guy was actually in front of the concession stand where they had a small but pretty wildflower garden.  I just thought the blue coloring was beautiful.  He is blue throughout the back of him as well.  There were several of these kinds of butterflies flitting around the flowers.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy 4th of July

I just LOVE 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July
Even though it is usually hot and sticky, my American pride just comes blazing out.  Every year I always try to get some decent fireworks pictures.  It's a challenge of mine. 

fireworks 3
I'm usually not overly impressed by them, but I continue to try.  Sometimes I just play around with other random things that I see during 4th of July celebrations.
flag and toy
Who knew a child's toy could be sooo much fun to play with and photograph!  This was a challenge to try and get the colors that kept changing around on the star stick.
4th of July Fun
4th of July gives me an excuse to do something fun, totally girly, and patriotic. 

We don't usually do anything very exciting over the 4th.  It is not a normal time for us to travel.  Although I would enjoy seeing fireworks in other parts of the country, but for the most part we hang out around home and try to scout out the best fireworks we can find by us.  We have been to several small town fireworks and other slightly larger town fireworks.  This year we are going to check out Hannibal(America's Hometown) Missouri's fireworks and see how they are.  A bonus is they are celebrating a local small town festival called National Tom Sawyer Days.
American flag
God Bless America!
O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
O'er purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
America. America
God shed his grace on thee
And crown they good in brotherhood
From sea to shining sea

Have a happy and safe 4th of July!!

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Monday, July 1, 2013

Field Trip Friday 2 - Keokuk Iowa Lock and Dam Tour

Did you ever wonder where all that electricity that you have in your house ever came from?  I have to admit it has not been one of my personal top questions that I have asked.  This past Saturday though I had the opportunity to take a tour of the lock and dam near my hometown and see exactly how all that power is made and where it goes.  Well not exactly as they keep a lot of that stuff secret or at least don't let any ole person see it, but I did get to see some cool stuff on the tour anyway.


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Friday, June 7, 2013

Field Trip Friday 1 - Battle of Athens Missouri

Boy it has been awhile since I have posted!  It has been a crazy few weeks.  School got out and then I had family over for like 2 weeks straight.  Love them all, BUT glad they have left too.  Finally able to start doing some exploring closer to home, just some fun day trips.  Since it is summer and the kids are out I am going to try and concentrate on fun and educational places we can go.  Whether I call it Field Trip Friday, Trip It Tuesday, Wanderlust Wednesday or whatever I'm going to try and see what is around us that we can investigate together.  Our first stop is in Athens Missouri.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Photo Friday - Light and Fun Apps

#Leaves with #sunlight shining through. #springnaturehunt
Along with my travel blogging, I am always looking for ways to practice my photography.  This past week or so I have been obsessed with light, light rays, sun's rays, etc.  I find it fascinating how the light shines through things and the way it makes things glow and shine.  

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wanderlust Wednesday - Seashelling on Sanibel

sanibel island 2011
Sanibel Island, Florida
One of the things that I absolutely LOVE to do whenever I go to a beach is collect seashells. 

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Tri-State Travel - A Quick Peek at Decorah Iowa

On the last weekend of National Parks Week I took a quick, local road trip to Effigy Mounds National Monument all by myself to do a little hiking.  My husband was out in the fields, well supposed to be, he ended up getting rained out :( and my son was at a Boy Scout thing, so I was on my own.  I had planned on heading south to Missouri but when I saw the weather forecast I made a quick shift in plans and headed north.
Effigy Mounds Park sign
Yeah I know I'm that kind of travel dork haha! This is me AFTER my 3 mile hike

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wanderlust Wednesday - May Day Garden Park

I can't believe that it is May already!  I am so ready for spring to get here.  We have been crazy hot the last few days and now we are going to get cold again for a few days before getting back to where we should be this time of year.  I wanted to bring in some flowers for this first day of May so I went back a couple of years to when my family and I had gone to Cantigny Park.  This is a park that is outside of Chicago in the southwest suburbs in a town called Wheaton.  It has beautiful gardens and flowers and so much more!
This is the tulip garden, but it also has a rose garden, museums, golf, parks,and play areas for kids.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Celebrating National Parks Week

This week is National Parks Week so I am celebrating this week by trying to hit a couple of different National Park sites.  We don't live super close to any "official" National Parks, but there is an awesome National Parks Foundation website that you can go to, to find National Parks, monuments, battlesites, riverways, lakeshores etc., that are close to you.  I happened to find several different sites that are close to me, at least within a few hours drive. Yay!  Last weekend the family and I went to Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site and then this weekend I am going to another site to finish the week off right.  I had hoped to have a more detailed post to put up for everybody but it did not happen this week.  I did still want to give a shout out to the Junior Ranger program though, because I happen to LOVE it and want you to check it out too!

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Celebrating Earth Day Farmer Style

We don't normally do a whole heck of a lot for Earth Day.  Mostly it is because I try to do things for the earth on regular basis so I don't think to do "special" things for Earth Day.  This year though was a beautiful day, so we decided to celebrate Earth Day and get something done that needed to be done.  This year my husband took out the discer(not sure that is spelled correctly) and dug up the ground for our garden.  The fun thing about being a farmers wife is that stuff like that is FUN because of the BIG equipment we have for farming that we get to use.  How about this for a quick way to churn up your garden...

Earth Day discing

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Photo Friday - Toes In the Sand

Springtime in the midwest is hard to come by these days.  It has been so cold and rainy and just plain nasty the last several days that my mind wants to go back to here.
Glen Haven Beach Michigan

Funny thing is summertime isn't even my favorite time of the year, but I'm dying for some sun and warmth.  I don't need shorts weather yet, but tee shirt and jeans sounds just fabulous. 

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Photo Friday-Can't Keep My Head Up

Puppies are just about the absolute most adorable things ever!  Siberian huskies even more so in my humble opinion haha!  This is my Photo Friday picture of "at rest".  Look at this adorable little guy!
photo friday at rest
It had been such a gorgeous day out, that we had the puppies out running around.  They had so much fun, but it just plumb tuckered them out.  This guy couldn't stay awake any longer!  Sure enough, about two minutes after I took this picture his head fell down.  He startled awake for about two seconds and then was out again.  Love it!

Want more cute pictures?  Like my page on Facebook or visit my photography site!

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tri-State Travel Thursday - New Salem

This is the first of a monthly installment of local areas of interest.  I live near the tri-state area, which for me is Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.  Therefore it is very easy for me to pop over into any of these states to hit cool places, local festivals, and family friendly fun.  My first post will be on New Salem, Illinois, which is near Springfield.
Obviously they are big on Abraham Lincoln here. 

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Photo Friday - Springy Things!

It is starting to warm up a little bit around these parts, making me eager to get out of the house!  I have all sorts of "springy" pictures from this past week.  This is Day 2 of Easter break and we are hoping to get outta dodge for the day.  I've been wanting to visit New Salem, outside of Springfield, IL for quite awhile now and decided that today would be the day to walk around this historical site.  I caught this candid shot of my son practicing his harmonica while sitting next to one of the Honest Abe statue.  I thought it would be a good Photo Friday shot.  Only I apparently missed the deadline for this week.  Oops!  Oh well it works for a travel photo too.  New Salem is a fun place to visit and the volunteers there are awesome!  Knowledgable and super friendly!  I will be posting more about it soon :).

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Photo Friday - What a Difference a Year Makes

I find weather patterns interesting.  Maybe it's because my husband is a farmer and the weather patterns can literally make or break us.  We need to pay attention to what is going on more then most others do so we can make the right decisions for our crops.  As a nature photographer I seem to pay attention to it more too, just in what seasonal pictures I end up taking.  The difference between last year and this year is VERY striking.  Take a look....

Both of these pictures were taken within a couple of days of each other, a year apart.  Flowers blooming like crazy last year.  I remember walking around in a short sleeve shirt.  This year, we had snow the first day of Spring AND we are looking to get more snow tomorrow and Sunday.  Crazy!  We also had one of the warmest, if not the warmest summer on record last year as well as a drought.  Our crops were the worst my husband had ever seen since he's been farming.  This year who knows what will happen.  I believe we are having a more "normal" March if you can call it that.  Anybody else have to pay attention to the weather patterns of where they live for one reason or another??

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Dubuque Iowa Skiing-Last of the Winter Fun

Before we usher in spring with our upcoming 50 degree weather, which I am glad to do, I've got one maybe two more winter posts left.  I was so excited to be able to get in at least one day of skiing this year.  I wish we could have gotten in more, but since my child is still learning, anyplace even remotely expensive was not in our travel plans.  Not yet!  Especially since he spent most of the afternoon like this....
Skiing in Dubuque
See him in the far back, on the ground and in the snow.  My husband and I spent the bulk of our time trying not to laugh, so we didn't make him feel bad.  Poor kid, he was trying, but was having a hard time of it. 

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Photo Friday-Catching Snowflakes

We still have some snow on the ground for now.  Give it a few days and I believe it will be all gone and the ground will be mushy and soupy.  I am waiting on spring, but still enjoying the last vestiges of winter as well.  Today's Photo Friday focuses on the fun of catching snowflakes. 
catching snowflakes 2
If you have not done this yet, you must!  It is a simple yet good time.  Bring out your magnifying glass and take a peek at them.  Check out the differences in each little snowflake before they float away.  A few snowflake quotes, just cuz I like them.
1. A snowflake is like a winter's butterfly.
 -Author Unknown- 
2. Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.
-Vista M. Kelly-
3.  Nature is full of the divinity; so not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hands.
 -Henry David Thoreau-
4.  Inside a snowflake, like the one on your sleeve, there happened a story you must see to believe.
 -How the Grinch Stole Christmas-
5. Snowflakes are kisses from heaven.
-Author Unknown-
6.When it snows you have two choices: shovel or make snow angels. 
-Author Unknown-
I choose to make snow angels :).  Enjoy your last few days of winter.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

California Dreaming - Beaches Galore!!

I'm sitting here at my computer, awaiting yet another snowstorm to get started outside and I'm going through my pictures from my California trip from May of last year.  I'm a big scrapbooker and organizing the bijillion pictures that I take is part of what I need to do to get a travel scrapbook going.  You can read my post about travel memories here.  As I'm going through my pictures I realized just how many beaches we went to on our trip out there!  I love beaches and each beach is slightly different no matter how close together they are on the map.  I did some driving up the PCH but I didn't get too far because I kept wanting to stop.  I have written about La Jolla here, but there were so many others that were just as much fun to visit.  First up heading from San Diego north to LA is...
cabrillo shoreline 1

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Friday, March 1, 2013

Photo Friday - Welcome March!

Since this is the first day of March I considered putting up a pretty spring flower or something, just to get me into the springtime mood, but it is still very wintery around the midwest.  Call me crazy, but I actually like snow.  It makes everything so pretty.  Without snow, winter is just yucky, but snow makes it magical and I was so happy to capture it.
Yesterday we had these gentle flakes floating down from the sky and so I wanted to try and see if I could catch them for a picture.  Surprisingly I was able to.  I don't have a macro lens which would have allowed me to get super close to the snowflake and capture more details, but I worked with what I had.  I had to zoom in and sharpen up the image to get this.  I just love looking at the different snowflake designs.  I find it fascinating that all flakes are different.  Hope you enjoy the picture.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Traveling to Lose... or Find... Yourself

I just posted this question on my travel and photography Facebook page late last night and it's been on my mind most of the night, somewhat due to some frustrating extended family issues that had us canceling our March family trip.  I woke up to snow and wind this morning and was even more frustrated that we weren't going to be heading to warmer climates.  Thought that I would pose it on here for all my readers as well.  I am curious about your answers.  Do you travel to lose yourself...
wisconsin backroad
This is somewhere in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin - fall colors trip.
I dislike highways so this is a backroad heading up to Bayfield

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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Photo Friday - Snow Day!!

Yes I know I am a day late.  We have been digging out of the snow the last couple of days.  Yay!  I finally got my winter snow.  Winter just doesn't seem like winter without a winter storm that drops a few inches of the pretty white stuff on us.  Here's to Snow Days everywhere!
Snow Day
It was such a beautiful day outside when we made this guy.  Sunny and the snow was still pretty and white.  The temperatures were in the mid-twenties, which for me in the winter are just about perfect!  The snow packed up super nice because the sun had started a little bit of top melt.  Hope you are enjoying your winter season today! 

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Photo Friday - Blue Heron

Toda's Photo Friday post goes along with my post from yesterday about the Florida Everglades.  On our trip to the everglades I was lucky enough to see all sorts of beautiful birds.  One of the migratory birds that I was surprised to see both on my pond and down in Florida was a blue heron.  At least I hope that is what it is.  I'm not a birder and I was trying to compare pictures.  If I am wrong, I would love for somebody to let me know what type of bird this is.
blue heron 2
He was really big and very pretty.  I had to sneak up on him and I was able to get pretty close to him.  It took me some time to get close to him.  The ground was very muddy that day so I'm wearing my rain boots and just sinking in mud to get to him.  I got a photo though!  Not the greatest but definately not bad.  Below he is taking off.  This one is a little blurry, but I just love how his wings are designed to fly.
blue heron in flight
I took this picture last July, but thought that it went well with my most recent post.  I hope he returns this summer because I would love to capture him catching a fish or something.  One can dream right?

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Florida Everglades Gators and Egrets

The Florida Everglades, called the "river of grass" is a fascinating ecosystem and a very frail one at that.  It is essentially a slow-moving, shallow river that eventually empties out into Florida Bay.  It is a very diverse habitat and the mangroves help to clean pollutants out of the water.  We were lucky enough to be able to drive through the everglades on our way down to the Florida Keys.  As we got further into the everglades I saw multiple signs for airboat tours.  I am a wildlife lover and photographer, so the thought of seeing a wild gator had me very excited.  There was no thought or plan, we just stopped at a random airboat tour place and signed up for a ride. 
Floria Everglades Airboat Tour

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Photo Friday - January Moon

On a semi-regular Friday schedule I am going to try and showcase a fun, neat, travel related or whatever strikes my fancy photo on the blog here.  Just for fun and because I enjoy taking pictures.  So here is my first Photo Friday official picture!
Happy February!!
I took this picture just a night or two ago - one of the last for January of this year.  I took it through one of the windows in my living room because it was too cold and windy for me to go outside.  My moon pictures are not super good, but I was caught by how the moon was just hanging there in between the branches of my maple tree and I wanted to capture it.  Anybody who has any tips on how to take moon shots feel free to leave a comment for me :0).  Happy February 1st!
This is part of Photo Friday at Delicious Baby.  Stop on by for more fun pictures!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wanderlust Wednesday - Cabrillo National Monument

Today's Wanderlust Wednesday brings you back to the Pacific coastline and one of my favorite things to do.  Visit National Parks!!  I love our National Park system which is way more then just the National Parks that you know of.  They also handle our National Monuments, Seashores, and Lakeshores.  Cabrillo is one of those monuments.  Set high on the Pacific coastline at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, it commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo in 1542.  Cabrillo was the first European to set foot on the west coast.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2013 Travel Plans-Well Sort Of...

Part of the fun for me about traveling is the planning.  I LOVE that little zing you get when you pull out a map of the USA and figure out where and when you want to go somewhere.  I also love the, gulp, research about that place you want to go to.  What I don't love haha, is figuring out the expenses of that trip :(.  So as I'm sitting here writing this post, I'm mostly kind of doing this post for me.  I like to have things down on paper(or computer screen) because my travel plans change with the breeze sometimes and I like to have options.  As I list my "planned" trips, I will probably list more then I can do in a year, but at least I have my choices and I can go from there.  Hope you enjoy reading about them.
None of these pictures below are my pictures!!  Below the pictures are the various owners whose copyrights belong to these pictures and the links attached are to their respective websites.  I just know that a post without pictures is a very boring blog indeed and as a fellow photographer myself I would never want to claim pictures that are not mine.
Trip Number 1 - March Family Road Trip 
Shiloh, TN to Gulf Shores, AL to Vicksburg, MS

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Winter Blues Beaten Part 1 - Eagles on the River

I am so very happy to check off  Idea Number 5 on my 10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues post!  Today I picked my son C up from school and we went down the river to go watch for eagles!  It was a lot of fun spending the afternoon with him.  Even though we froze our tushes off in 10 degree weather with some God awful windchill AND I almost got frostbite on my fingertips taking these pictures.  It's all about the moments though isn't it? 
eagles 5
This guy was quite puffed up and proud of his perch let me tell you.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues with Kids

I woke up today and it was -20 windchill and barely a dusting of snow on the ground.  Ahhh winter in west central Illinois.  We don't get the snow like northern Illinois and our winters are slightly warmer, not a lot of chances to play in the snow.  Down here we have to get creative with what we do during the winter.  So I sat down these past couple of days and tried to come up with some stuff we could do that didn't require snow.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Photo Friday - Balboa Park Tree

I love linking up with people so I am going to try and post a Photo Friday picture as often as I can.  These will be just random travel or nature pictures that fit different Photo Friday links and my own interests.  For my first Photo Friday I am posting a picture of a neat looking tree that I spotted in Balboa Park, San Diego, California on my recent trip there from May 2012.

Tree in Balboa Park
Balboa Park tree, San Diego California
I took this picture because I loved all the knobbies that were coming up through the ground and thought they were neat looking.  We had gotten to the park too late to see many of the neat museums that they have there, so we were just walking around the park enjoying all the fun stuff they have outside of the museums when I spotted it.  It was actually on a pretty steep hill, but we were able to walk amongst the trees that were in this little grove I guess.

As I was looking at this picture I realized that I had several pictures like this of just weird, funky, trees that would be fun to show everybody.  So this is picture one and I am going to do a funky tree picture for the next week on my Facebook page.  I would love for you to "like" my Facebook page to follow along.

This picture was posted for Photo Friday on Delicious Baby and Budget Travelers SandboxR We There Yet Mom also does a Photo Friday as well.

Please visit my Flickr page for this picture and other fun photos to look at.

Happy Friday!!!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wanderlust Wednesday - Key West Sunset

Key West Florida

The famous Mallory Square sunset picture and for good reason.  Mallory Square in Key West Florida is one of those must do sunset pictures.  People come from all over the place to enjoy the free entertainment in the square and the beautiful sunset and with good reason.  This is one of the MOST beautiful places to take a sunset picture.  Every direction you turn is another gorgeous sight to take in and attempt to photograph.  I had to have taken a good 50 - 75 sunset shots and got several of them that I absolutely love for different reasons.  The picture above was one of them.  Read on to see others....

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Winter on the Great River Road

great river road winter
This was a picture that I took off of Great River Road in Illinois about a week ago.  It was snowing out that day and I was off to have some fun with snow pictures.  I had featured it on my last post, but thought that I would tell more about it for this post.  I sometimes forget how blessed I am to be living on one of the all time great road trips in the United States.  I've been from my home state north and a little south but not too far south.  It's on my bucket list :).

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Winter Joys

I know a lot of people get to January and February and they get a little depressed because there is a loooong winter ahead of them.  At least those of us around here in the midwest feel that way :).  I happen to like January and February.  It's not October(my absolute fav month) but definately better then March, where it's just wet and dreary, and August, where you're dripping because of how hot it is.  Here are a few reasons why...
The snow makes everything so crisp.
winter tree
 Turns the ordinary into something extraordinary.

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