Once a month during Heather’s Book Group meetings, Logan and I have “Boys Night Out.” Recently we checked out the Oklahoma Aquarium in the Tulsa suburb of Jenks. They recently opened up the Polynesian Reef Exhibit.
It’s beautiful. The exhibit looks better than I photographed it.
I love this colorful Red Spined Starfish.
And this turtle.
The African Cichlids have been there a while. I love the colors and the random patterns.
If you are an Oklahoma fisherman, these striped bass are the ultimate in Oklahoma. They are huge.
We had a good time. Check the Aquarium’s Website for information to plan your visit. They are open late on Tuesdays which makes it very handy for Boys Night Out!
During my brief stay at Yellowstone, sister Ellen and I went down to the Grand Tetons National Park just south of Yellowstone and looked around. We went on a short, flat hike, of about 2.3 miles on a little Island next to the Colter Bay visitor center and the Jackson Lake marina.
It was a nice mixture of shoreline and woods. I was able to get a few photos of some of the wildflowers in the woods.
I like old dried out tree trunks.
We found some berries including these. Bears eat berries as well so even though we were close to the visitor center we stayed aware of what was going on around us.
The shoreline was beautiful.
And here is my sister, the Park Ranger, Ellen taking a break. I felt guilty taking up all of her three days off. But we had fun. Check out her blog.
And across the lake the Grand Tetons. The most powerful and majestic mountains I have ever seen, even when obscured by forest fire smoke.
We mosied along taking over an hour for the walk. We both take lots of pics, and especially when you are shooting in manual mode, that takes lots of time. At least it does for me. I hope that you are not tired of my adventures with Ellen. I have several more posts coming. We saw a lot during my three days with her.
My last few posts have been about my recent trip to Yellowstone National Park to see my sister Ellen, the Park Ranger (so proud of her, our father was a Forest Ranger so it is great to see her carrying on the tradition). I only spent a few days with her as we went around the Park and the adjoining Grand Teton National Park, but I saw so much.
So one day we went to see the Grand Prismatic Spring at Midway Geyser Basin. I’ve seen lots of photos of it the last few years and maybe, or maybe not, I saw it as a kid during our whirlwind 1960’s style vacations that we took as kids.
This trip I was wondering what the first people who saw the thermal features in the park thought. Steam and boiling hot water coming out of the ground. What a wonderland or what a nightmare. Plus the ground could give way any time sending somebody to their doom or at the very least severe burns. Something that happens to the dummies today who think the rules do not apply to them.
Yellowstone is a wonderland in many senses of the term. Its natural beauty is astounding and its supernatural features such as the geysers and hot springs are bewildering.
When you leave the parking lot of the Grand Prismatic Spring you come upon this scene of boiling hot water entering the aptly named Firehole River. The chemical engineer in me was doing mixing calculations trying to figure out how much the temperature of the hot water raised the river temperature plus wondering how much bad stuff from deep down in the earth is now dissolved in that how water, and how much precipitates out of solution when it mixes with the cold water, and how the remaining dissolved minerals and higher temperature affected the trout fishing. My sister just said she sees lots of fishermen (fisherwomen too!) on the River and so I decided I would worry about something else, especially since I didn’t bring my calculator with me.
But it was like entering a different world with all the steam all around us. I learned that autofocus cameras don’t like swirling clouds of steam so I would focus a on a rock and then pan away. Just in case you are wondering why the steam is out of focus and the rocks are not.
The closer you get to the Spring, the more steam you see, especially on a chilly morning.
They have benches but they are mainly for people getting a better angle on the water.
At first, I could see why you got up on the benches. So much steam swirling around obscuring the view.
I liked this view. You can’t really see the spring, but you can see the colors of the spring reflecting off the steam.
Ah here you go, things kind of cleared up a bit. The different colors are from some of the bacteria that live in the spring that thrive at high temperatures. I find that concept fascinating. How can anything live close to boiling point with all sorts of strange chemicals involved.
The strangeness just extends away from the spring.
There is an overlook trail that Ellen took us to where you can get a better look of the Grand Prismatic Spring. You have some elevation and perspective that you don’t get at a lower level and it is easier to see. It is more than just a little walk but it is worth it if you are up to it. I think the spring is gorgeous. And I love the name Grand Prismatic Spring. I think it lives up to its name.
One thing about Yellowstone that I learned very quickly is that not just Americans love Yellowstone. The world loves Yellowstone Park. A huge percentage of visitors are from outside the USA. Somehow I feel that increases the responsibility of us to take care and preserve the park. The international visitors bring their culture with them and selfie sticks but somehow it all works and everybody gets along. I think that is great.
This is a view at ground level below the overlook. We are pretty far away but one can still see the colors of the spring in the spring.
I have been out of pocket for a few days. My sister Ellen who works as a seasonal Park Ranger in West Yellowstone, Montana for the Yellowstone National Park invited me up for a few days for a chance to see a bit of the park with her. She loves sharing the park.
One of the first things we looked at was Gibbon Falls on the Gibbon River. A beautiful 84 foot drop of the Gibbon River. This is the view from a bit downriver.
The Gibbon River is about 25 miles long and starts near the center of the park at the outlet of Grebe Lake and confluences with the Firehole River to form the Madison River.
This is a view of the river downstream of the falls as it flows toward the Firehole River. I came across a post talking about how the Park Service is starting a process to remove non-native fish like rainbow and brown trout from the river and re-introduce native species such as cutthroat trout. They are starting later this month and is expected to continue to 2020 or 2021. I love these kind of projects.
Ellen tells me that the week I was there the visitor count had dropped off presumably because of schools starting. The park had the fewest people I have ever seen on my visits there. That being said, the parking lots fill up early and so you need to get up get out early to go see what you want to see.
This is just a small bit of all that we saw in my few days at Yellowstone. I am trying to break my visit down into bite sized pieces to make it easier on me, and hopefully you.
This was maybe my fifth time to Yellowstone and the first time I didn’t just do a drive by, and instead got to hike a little and spend some time getting to see things. When I was a kid, we did the standard 1960’s thing and just breezed on by and maybe stopped to see Old Faithful and maybe a few thermal features but then it was back in the car and head out.
On Saturday Logan and I headed up to Oolagah, Oklahoma to check out the annual Will Rogers and Wiley Post Fly-In at the Will Rogers Birthplace Ranch. The event is held every year to commemorate the deaths of Rogers and Post in a plane crash in Alaska on August 15, 1935.
Will Rogers is the favorite son of Oklahoma, a humorist, movie star, newspaper columnist, and movie star. Although later in life he moved to California, Oklahoma regards him as their own.
Wiley Post, from Maysville, Oklahoma is less known but was an aviation pioneer. He was the first person to fly solo around the world, discovered the jet stream, and developed the first pressure suit.
I didn’t know what a fly-in is but through the magic of google I found out that it is a pre-arranged meeting of aircraft. Beyond that anything goes. This one seemed to feature vintage airplanes. They also had a helicopter and some vintage cars. We got there a little late. But there were still several interesting aircraft.
I loved the one above for its batlike paint job and its wooden propeller.
Son Logan perked up at this. It appears to be an ex military observation plane with a cool paint job. It had the biggest crowd of kids. I have found that you need to follow the kids to see the coolest stuff.
One by one they taxied to the fare end of the grass strip and took off.
Even the medevac helicopter.
Logan and I checked everything else out. They had inflatables, food trucks, face painting, lots and lots of stuff. We found this conestoga wagon in the barn.
I love this view of the old ranch house. It may be the prettiest house in Oklahoma.
Recently, I ventured up Route 66 from Tulsa to Foyil and then on Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park. The park was built by a retired shop teacher, Ed Galloway during the period 1937 to 1961. The signature piece is the 90 feet totem above. It is built of sandstone, with a concrete skin, reinforced with steel and wood. And as you can see it is decorated elaborately. After Galloway’s death in 1961 the park went into slow decline until the Rogers County Historical Society and the Kansas Grassroots Arts Association restored it in the 1990’s.
Here is the other side. You can see that Galloway has the totem sitting on the back of a turtle. The turtle is a natural sandstone outcrop on the site that the artist incorporated into the structure. This also shows a little better the decorations.
I am not sure what the symbology of the snake in the mouth is about.
Some examples of the Native American decorations.
The inside of the first floor is open and is also decorated. There seems to be lots of discussion about the difference between biggest totem pole, largest, tallest, etc. I am not worried about it.
Here are a couple more totems. That are yet others. There is also a visitor center/gift store and a short nature trail.
Ed Galloway’s Totem Pole Park is a great Route 66 attraction and is in very good shape. Check out the this National Park Service site for more information.
It has been hot lately but Sunday it cooled down quite a bit and we had overcast skies. Heather went to have some girl time with her friends and Logan went to his job, so I loaded up my camera and an extra lens and went north the Oxley Nature Center on the north side of Tulsa next to the airport. I don’t know what it was but the deer were out big time. I saw scads of them. I am going to spare you photos of all of them but I will show you this guy. He was a little slow on the uptake but once he noticed me he sure gave me the hawkeye.
And he gave a high pitched snort and took off.
He might have lost a little face. The ladies never moved. We had a face off for a while and then I ducked back into the woods so they could resume their salad munching and visiting.
And I came upon this deer. I was walking along the trail one way, a woman with a camera was coming my way, and this jumped out about 15 feet away but didn’t run very far. We had another stare off, until I let him win and walked away.
I eventually made my way to the boardwalk and went across. I bet have a hundred photos of this. I just love boardwalks.
I came across these two. I don’t know a thing about birds but I am going to guess the dark one is a great blue heron, and the white one is a white heron. Please correct the ID if I am wrong. I just want to get it right.
And I resumed my trek on the trails. I walked about four miles according to my step counter. Slow miles but I was on my feet so it counts right?
Just toward the end I came across this fawn. I hung with me for quite a while but then he bolted.
So it was time to get back to the car to make an instagram post (If you don’t instagram an activity then it didn’t happen, right?), and then fetch the kid from work. I was worn out and happy.
Sunday morning the family got up and Logan had breakfast and we dropped him off at his job at the Neighborhood Walmart and Heather and I went to have breakfast. Afterward we headed out to Tulsa’s Philbrook Museum of Art to check out their newest exhibit “Innovative Expressions” which turned out to be very academic but interesting. It showcased the printmaking art of Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro. I learned some things that I didn’t know before. I didn’t take any photos though. Check it out if you are in town. It is open until September 9.
After the exhibit we toured the three levels of galleries. It doesn’t take us long as we have been there many times before so seeing the art is like meeting old friends. Philbrook does a good job of swapping things out and so we always see things we hadn’t seen before. I love Thomas Moran’s “Grand Canyon” (above).
And this one is a favorite of mine. I am from New Mexico and too me nothing beats snow on adobe like this, “Tesuque (Dark Houses)” by Theordore Van Soelen. It is also special because when I was born my family was living the Tesuque Ranger Station.
This is one that I don’t remember seeing but Heather told me that it has been on display before. So meet my new friend, “Bridge over the Stour” by Childe Hassam. I love it.
Next we went to the gardens of the museum. It had been raining earlier but then settled into a very light sprinkle. The tempietto in the background may be the most photographed item in Tulsa. I think it is beautiful. I’m always trying to think of something new so here I focused on the flowers which caused the tempietto to soften. You can tell there is a person on the other side of the pond who is way out of focus.
It is my lovely wife, Heather. The gardens at Philbrook are especially lush this time of year. Their gardening staff really works hard keeping things tidy and green.
I spotted a purple coneflower.
Another area of the gardens that I liked.
We had a great leisurely couple of hours at Philbrook. It is a great place to get away from it all for a short time. If you plan on visiting check their web site for all sorts of information for days and hours of operation, special exhibits, events and all sorts of other information.
The entire property is lush and provides lots of opportunities for photographs. I loved the greenhouse.
On our recent family vacation we decided to make a small detour and visit the Bellingrath Gardens and Home on the Fowl River near Mobile, Alabama. We were glad we did. It is a 65 acre garden and home built by an early Coca-Cola entrepreneur and his wife. When they died without children, the entire estate passed to a foundation entrusted with the 65 acre garden and home.
I love reflections.
This is one of those places that I have heard about for quite a while and I had high expectations and they were surpassed. The grounds are immaculate and the landscaping design is superb, especially for those of us with a camera. The gardens are just packed with great visuals wherever you go.
We stayed several hours and still did not see it all. I took over 130 photographs.s
The place has been maintained well and one can tell from our conversations with the staff and guides that their’s is a labor of love.
What a great courtyard with a the wrought iron fence on the balconty, big huge windows that open, a little fountain, and archways. And I love the brick.
We paid for a tour of the Bellingrath home and it is exquisite. It was built in the 1920’s and had several features that seemed ahead of its time. They didn’t have electricity at first, but the family anticipating it coming had the house prewired and included features you don’t see today such as automatic lights that come on when you open a closet.
A shady area with comfortable chairs.
It really looks like a place where one could relax. Lots of quiet shady spots and courtyards.
I am a sucker for flags and gas lights. REAL gas lights.
And as in the gardens, the house is surrounded by plants.
The guide showed us where the Bellingrath’s cooks kept the cookies.
The kitchen was superb. They have kept it as it was when it was lived in. Two big ovens and ranges, two big dishwashers, a couple of giant refrigerators. We loved the light airy feeling of the place.
This was my favorite room. Not the main dining room but another one. Again, big tall windows with great light.
If you want to visit, check out Bellingrath’s web site. Lots of great info on planning and what to see. Being a garden, they always have something going on.
Tulsa has a big street party every year on a hill near the River Parks called “Crybaby Hill.”
In amongst (amongst is a word in Oklahoma by the way) the party a bike race breaks out. It is Tulsa Tough. A three days series of bike rides and races for everybody from Sunday cruisers like me to top professionals around the world.
They have it in early June every year and it is generally sweltering. Tulsa Tough is sponsored by Saint Francis Hospital, a local Catholic Hospital Medical System.
The last day of the race is the most popular. The races all criterium style which means that they go round and around the same short course multiple times. The last day’s though is brutal. You start by the river and climb up a very steep hill then you come down off the hill and at the bottom you have to make a very sharp 120 degree turn and most of these guys/gals don’t appear to use their brakes at all so there are some spectacular bike crashes.
So down on the river is where the races start, and the top is where the party is. It appears to get a little bigger and a little wilder every year. Couple that with no parking, very few sidewalks and the crowd and the races get very close to each other. They have painted the race lanes in bright colors and there is an army of volunteers who are constantly yelling, “mind the gap.” The race lane area.
So I went out and made a lap of the course with my camera, walking and with the heat it about killed me. I cannot imagine riding the course up to nine times or so.
I love the contrast, the party with people getting drunk, and laughing and having a good time, and a high stakes race in the brutal heat and humidity.