This colorful bird lives at the World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park, Mo. Bateleur is a French word, which means acrobat. This type of eagle is not native to North America. The Bateleur Eagle is native to Africa. The native name for this eagle is Chapungu, and it is believed to be good luck if the bird flies over your house.
When we drove to Yosemite for our Christmas holidays, it took roughly four hours from San Jose to the Wawona Hotel in Yosemite. On the return trip, we tried another route to try and avoid the Friday afternoon rush hour for New Year’s Eve. The return trip avoided the rush hour by taking a road that doesn’t show up on some maps. I believe it was called Puerto del Canyon Road. It took seven hours for the return trip, but a lot of the scenery was magnificent. On the long stretch through the canyon, we could only drive from 20 – 30 mph. We were so high up that it was like driving through the clouds and sometimes looking down on them. We drove past the Lick Observatory, and the road eventually came into San Jose. It was definitely the road less traveled. Be sure to do the drive in the daytime — if you ever go.
During our Christmas vacation after one of our lunches at the Ahwahnee Hotel, we walked around outside and found an easy trail that was off to the side of the valet parking. We meandered for a while, enjoying the walk and taking photos. As we were returning to the hotel, we saw a small group taking photos. When we turned around, we saw the dramatic sunset light hitting Yosemite Valley.
This photo was taken along the main drive in the southern part of the park between the Ahwahnee Hotel and the Wawona Hotel. Fortunately, there is a pull out to stop and take photographs. This particular scene looked etheral with all of the layered clouds. This is actually how it appeared — no Photoshop enhancements.
As a family, we traveled to Yosemite National Park for our 2011 Christmas holiday. While driving through Yosemite, I saw a coyote for the first time. As it turned out, there were several coyotes along Glacier Point Road in the park. Coyotes can live by catching mice and squirrels. However, coyotes have also learned to beg humans for food. It did seem like the coyote was expecting a treat from us after waiting for me to take its photo. We were not keeping any food in the vehicle due to the warnings about bears going after food. The National Park Service requests that visitors do not feed the coyotes, so they remain wild and self-sufficient. The coyotes we saw looked healthy, and they were enjoying the park as much as we were!
Last year in 2010, our holidays were spent in Wyoming at Togwotee Mountain Lodge. We all agreed that one of our favorite activities was dog sledding. The lodge where we were staying offered the dog sledding right behind the lodge. The dogs are so excited and love to go out on the runs. They all want to be chosen. The dogs pictured here are veterans who are being mushed by Billy Snodgrass who participates in the Iditarod. If you ever go, take a balaclava with you to keep warm and to help with the gaseous odors that the dogs seem to emit. It’s still worth the ride. Each sled seats one to two persons depending on the size. This photograph was taken by a photographer who works at the lodge named Lindsay. Happy holidays to all in 2011 and looking forward to a great 2012.
In February 2010, I visited Lone Elk Park in St. Louis County again. I must admit that I have a greater appreciation for the wildlife after visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. It is much easier to find and photograph the elk in the 546 acres of Lone Elk Park than it is to find wildlife in the huge national parks. The original elk used to populate Lone Elk Park came from Yellowstone, creating a link between St. Louis County and the national park in Wyoming.
So far, the best Christmas we have ever spent was in Wyoming. An unexpected surprise was going to Dornan’s Hootenanny, which is held on Monday evenings. This is in a bar and pizzaria located inside the Grand Teton National Park. Sometimes referred to simply as “The Hoot,” it is like a local American Idol, where people sing and play string instruments. Several of them were excellent. The best part was that there were “no” judges. The crowd of people in attendance were respectful and wanted to hear the performers. If you ever go, arrive early. It is standing room only.
Fall color is over now for 2009. I have to admit that this year was more of a challenge than most because it rained in Missouri more than half of the days in October. However, just because it it “not” sunny, you can still have fun and get a good photo. You just have to be more creative. This was one of my favorites from this year taken at Pere Marquette State Park, north of Grafton, Illinois in the greater St. Louis area.
Within a day’s trip of the St. Louis area, my favorite fall color spots so far have been:
* Pere Marquette State Park, north of Grafton, Illinois
* Cuivre River State Park, northeast of Troy, Missouri
* Powder Valley Nature Center, in St. Louis County, Missouri
The photograph shown here was taken at Pere Marquette State Park. If you go there on a weekend, go early in the morning. In the afternoon, there is often a two-hour wait to dine in the state park restaurant, especially during fall colors. During the week, you can usually be seated with no wait – the fried chicken is excellent! There is no restaurant at Cuivre River or Powder Valley – bring your own food.