Let’s Take a Trip to Canyonlands National Park

Decisions! Decisions! Where will the road lead next? Should we stay a while longer in Utah? Or should we move along?

The postcard I received just days ago urges us to visit the Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah, so we’ll remain in Utah a little longer.

Canyonlands National Park preserves 337,598 acres of colorful canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires in the heart of southeast Utah’s high desert. Water and gravity have been the prime architects of this land, sculpting layers of rock into the rugged landscape you see today.

Canyonlands preserves the natural beauty and human history throughout its four districts, which are divided by the Green and Colorado rivers. While the districts share a primitive desert atmosphere, each retains its own character and offers different opportunities for exploration and adventure. –from National Park Service

The districts are Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and the rivers themselves.

Canyonlands

Sky District, Canyonland National Parks, Utah Photograph by George H.H. Huey. Designed and distributed by Impact Photo Graphics.

The postcard came from Kelly C, another Wildlfowers friend, who has been traveling all over the country this year. Sadly, a super-busy season of work impeded our meeting up when she was in my “neck of the woods” earlier this year.

From the postcard back:

An afternoon thunderstorm creates a vibrant rainbow above Monument Basin and the surrounding canyons at the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park.

Despite the postal tattoos, this view is gorgeous! As you just read, the postcard features the Island of the Sky district:

The Island in the Sky sits atop a massive 1500 foot mesa, quite literally an Island in the Sky. Twenty miles (32.2 km) of paved roads lead to many of the most spectacular views in Canyon Country. From these lofty viewpoints visitors can often see over 100 miles (161 km) in any given direction, resulting in panoramic views that encompass thousands of square miles of canyon country. –from Discover Moab

Read more about the park by visiting the Canyonlands Natural History Association site. For more breathtaking views of the park, click here >>> Canyonlands National Park Flickr.

Are you ready for another trip? Or should we stay put for a while?

Let’s Take a Trip to Bryce Canyon National Park

This week has left me a bit dispirited and in need of a good road trip, so we’re leaving Virginia and traveling straight across the country to Utah.

Why Utah? Bryce Canyon National Park. Ohhhh, you thought the Grand Canyon was the only canyon worth seeing in the US of A? Well, the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon will make your jaw drop! 

What are hoodoos? Simply put, a type of rock formation, but since I am sure that answer does not suffice:

Hoodoos are tall skinny spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of arid basins and “broken” lands. Hoodoos are most commonly found in the High Plateaus region of the Colorado Plateau and in the Badlands regions of the Northern Great Plains. Hoodoos, which may range from 1.5 to 45 metres (4.9 to 147.6 ft), typically consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements. They generally form within sedimentary rock and volcanic rock formations.  –from Hoodoo: What is a Hoodoo? Read more about how hoodoos are formed by clicking the link.

Bryce Canyon

Right-click to view larger

My Wildflowers friend, Phyllis R, sent the postcard to brighten my day, and she certainly did! As you can see, the multi-view postcard features four different images from Bryce Canyon National Park: the Amphitheater, Thors Hammer (über cool!), Agua Canyon, and Natural Bridge, shot by photographers Chet Waggener, Russ Finley, Josh P. George, and John Wagner. 

From the postcard back:

Bryce Canyon, famous for its unique geology consists of a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau in Southern Utah. The weathering force of frost-wedging and dissolving power of rainwater have shaped the colorful limestone rock of the Claron Formation into bizarre shapes including canyons, windows, fins, and spires called “hoodoos.” 

Here’s a fun fact. Bryce Canyon is not actually a canyon. As mentioned above, it is, rather, “a series of natural amphitheaters or bowls carved into the Paunsaugunt Plateau that extend 20 miles (30 km) north-to-south.” Read more here: The World’s Highest Concentration of Hoodoos.

For a more comprehensive explanation of the formations at the park, see: “The Geology of Bryce Canon.”  Or, if you just want to see spectacular pics, click the link >>> Bryce Canyon on Flickr.

Hmm…I wonder where we will go next?

Let’s Take a Trip to Shenandoah National Park

I recently returned from a not-for-pleasure-but-super-fun trip; it was my first trip away from my usual haunts since the pandemic began. Now, I have the travel bug, but preparation for the new school year (only two weeks away), my son’s involvement in a summer bridge program as an ambassador, and hubby’s impending surgery have ruled out traveling in the immediate future. 

Fortunately, my pen friends keep my wanderlust satiated by sharing postcards from their travels, so this week we’re going to use their tourist postcards to take a few short trips to interesting places in the USA. Maybe, I’ll even find time (read: motivation and energy) to select a few photos, collect my thoughts, and share a bit about my recent trip.

Today, we go to Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah National Park lies astride a beautiful section of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, just 75 miles west of our nation’s capital. The scenic roadway Skyline Drive takes you through the 105 mile long park, providing more than 75 overlooks with spectacular vistas.

Five hundred miles of trails, consisting of 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail, lead visitors to waterfalls, panoramic views, protected wilderness, and preserved human history in the Shenandoah valley. — from Escape to the Blue Ridge, Shenandoah National Park. 

Shenandoah

Photo by Bill Lea. Designed and distributed by Impact Photo Graphics.

The postcard came from my pen friend, Arielle W. It features an American black bear cub [ursus americanus]. From the back of the postcard:

As you walk a trail or drive along Skyline Drive, you might meet a black bear, possibly a mother with her cub or cubs. A bear cub when born in late winter, weighs only about 8 ounnces. It is hard to believe that this cub will grow to 300-500lbs.

I appreciate Arielle’s choice of this “elusive” black bear. He is adorable, and I can look at his sweet face all day. 

She and her older son took a trip to the park, a brief respite from the “overwhelming and uncertain,” a time for them to “find joy together.” I love how nature invites us to connect and breathe and exist in ways our workaday lives does not often allow.

To escape the usual, you can find lots of beautiful pics from Shenandoah National Park by clicking the link: Shenandoah Pics on Flickr. 

Enjoy!

#ThursdayTreeLove (But It’s Friday) | Between Water and Trees

Joe Wheeler State Park-1

For I [fully] satisfy the weary soul, and I replenish every languishing and sorrowful person. —Jeremiah 31:25

I spent four days this week working, resting, and resetting in a tiny bit of heaven—between water and trees—at Joe Wheeler State Park in Rogersville, Alabama.

I resisted this work “retreat” because it was…well…more work, and I already had a long list of tasks that wouldn’t get done if I spent time there. My internal tantrums were driving me nuts, so I took a moment to whisper a prayer and ask God to help me change my attitude.

By the last morning, I had to apologize to God for my earlier grumbling. The mornings were work-intensive, but fun and interactive, which is my preferred method of collaborating. I am not a fan of long, long meetings, but I don’t mind getting down to business and doing the work.

Thanks to careful planning, this was the first time (for me) a “work retreat” actually felt like a retreat. I enjoyed the morning meditations, spiritual gems dropped throughout the sessions, the time spent in work groups, and getting to know my brilliant colleagues in a different way.

Most of our afternoons were spent in leisure and recreation, so I was even able to work some of the “long list” referenced earlier.

It rained most of our time there–offering a soothing, steadying rhythm, perfect for the contemplative soul. However, the weather did not hinder encounters with nature. I was able to participate in a two-mile nature hike, deer watch (deer post coming soon), and enjoy the sweet tweets of baby birds as I walked the breezeway from my room to meeting spaces.

Joe Wheeler State Park-3

I had time to sit, write, and think on a balcony with a gorgeous view of Wheeler Lake and time to spend with Sylvia G, one of my dearest friends who has known me since I was a child!

I did not realize the full impact of limited movement for 15 consecutive months on my mental and emotional state until I was able to spend significant time away from my home and campus. My being positioned between all that luscious nature offered the respite I needed to clear some of the cobwebs and move some thoughts forward.

If you know just a little about me, you know I find in trees my most experienced counselors. You also may know that something stirs excitedly inside this NOLA girl–who grew up down the street from the Mississippi River–whenever I am near any body of water.

Joe Wheeler State Park-2b

I’ve been languishing [see previous post]. Of course, the retreat was not planned for me, but God knew I needed a strong dose of therapy, that I needed to be situated between water and trees to truly rest, reset, and hear His voice clearly.

He always delivers, even when I’m standing in my own way.


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

#ThursdayTreeLove | Something Hopeful…

For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. –Job 14:7

Today was one of those days. I’d been staring at screens all day–reviewing essays, entering grade book items, meeting with students in the virtual classroom, and responding to emails. By 2:00 p.m., my brain screamed, “No more!”  The sun was shining and I was desperate to get outdoors, stretch my limbs, and finally soak in some Vitamin D.

The guys and I jumped in the car, took a short drive, and went for a very short walk at our favorite nature preserve–favorite because it’s the one closest to us; short because suddenly carloads of people and dogs showed up. [We are serious about the social distancing]

As I mentioned more than once, it rained pretty much all winter here in the Tennessee Valley, so in certain areas the preserve looked like a different place: Some of the trails [like the one above] have been taken over by water, and much of the brush has been beaten down by heavy rains.

Newly fallen, dead, and uprooted trees added character to the already beautiful landscape, offering promise of life and renewal.

I absorbed the scene as long as I could. There is something awe-inspiring, powerful, amazing, and hopeful about nature taking (back) its course.


I am joining Parul Thakur for #ThursdayTreeLove every second and fourth Thursday of the month. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

#ThursdayTreeLove | The Oak and a Lesson in Self-Healing

Oak Tree in City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana, January 2017

This was not a good week. I was ready to throw in the towel by Wednesday morning, but I got up, dressed, pushed through the rest of the week, and kept Philippians 4:13 on repeat.

I’m taking a mental health day tomorrow.

In the last couple of days, I was told twice–in so many words–that I was being negative. Me? The person who always finds the rainbow and gives [almost] everyone the benefit of the doubt? The individuals who commented were right. The heaviness of unexpressed grief, of holding it together, and of having to navigate all of life despite my feelings was seeping out in unpleasant ways.

Each time, I went back to my office and asked God for forgiveness and a little more of His grace. He didn’t give the scolding I deserved. Instead, He gave empathy, reminded me of my humanness, and affirmed my decision to take some time away from the usual maddening routine.

Normally, when I’m in an icky place internally, my camera and a slow walk with the trees work together to adjust my mood. Not so this week. I walked almost daily, spent time with the trees, looked for unique perspectives to photograph and…nothing. My mood was unchanged. I realized, sadly, considering the trees isn’t always an effective panacea.

Today is #ThursdayTreeLove and I was so sure I’d write a post about the lovely trees I’d considered all week. I’m not fond of the idea of sharing this week’s photos, so I decided to share some from a happier moment–photos from a walk through City Park in New Orleans with my mom, one of my older brothers, and my baby sister.

We captured loads of photos on that walk, but today, we’ll take a look at one of the gorgeous Oak Trees in the park:

My photos aren’t great, but I’m sharing them anyway because I love the structure of the tree, the network of branches, and the way the tree seems to reach across the park toward the other trees.

You can somewhat see the massive size of the tree if you note my “tiny” brother in the lower right corner of the photo.

Trees and buildings in the background are puny by comparison.

The 1300-acre City Park of New Orleans is home to 30,000 trees, and proudly boasts “the oldest grove of mature live oaks in the world, including the magnificent Anseman Oak and McDonogh Oak, which are between 750 and 900 years old” [See Trees in City Park].

My guys and I spent so much time in the Park when we lived in New Orleans that we captured hundreds of tree photos. We were (and still are) especially fond of the Oak Trees. The trees are simply breathtaking. One day, I’ll go through my collection and select a few to share on the blog. For now, enjoy a little extra #ThursdayTreeLove with a few more City Park Oak photos on my hubby’s blog. I think you’ll enjoy “The Root of It All.”

I read somewhere that trees are self-healing. I don’t remember all the details of the process, and I certainly don’t expect to do the healing work alone, but there’s wisdom in turning inward, taking care, and doing my part. I coped a bit better last week because I was intentional about spending some time daily, allowing myself to feel and write and think. I did none of that this week and it showed.

Moving forward, I’ll put into practice the lesson of the trees.


I am joining Parul Thakur every second and fourth Thursday for #ThursdayTreeLove. If you would like to play along, post a picture of a tree on your blog and link it back to her latest #treelove post.

Bears, Legends, and Foxes! Oh My!

I have a lot of postcard blogging to get caught up on. I have a few moments while waiting in the pickup line for my little one to get out of school, so why not “kill a bird” while I’m at it.  😉

Few things tickle my soul more than finding cuddly bears in my mailbox. Fran and Christine, two of my Love Notes pals, manage to keep my mailbox beary happy.

To add to my vintage bear postcards collection, Fran B. sent a wonderful (8×10) “giant post card” featuring a mother bear and her cub.

“Mother Bear and Cub Hiking, Yellowstone National Park. The fascinating picture of a mother bear and cub was taken near Norris Geyser Basin where the little cub received his first lesson in the art of entertaining visitors in Yellowstone National Park.” Haynes Studio Inc, Bozeman, Montana.

Fran was curious about the condition of the oversized postcard upon arrival, and as you can see, it was in pristine condition.  (The slight bend near the top was unfortunately from my transporting it in my over-packed work tote).

Like the vintage bear postcards featured in a previous post, these bears were shot by Haynes Studio, Inc.

Speaking of mother bears and cubs, Christine sent a postcard featuring “The Legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes.”

Sleeping Bear Dunes, National Lakeshore Park. “The beauty, the lore, the legend, the lakes and rivers, the forest woodlands and the recreational opportunities create an unsurpassed stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline. This view from the top of the dunes shows lovely Glen Lake.”

In case you can’t read the legend:

[Native Americans] tell of a mother bear and her two cubs who long ago tried to swim across Lake Michigan. Nearing this shore, the exhausted cubs lagged behind. Mother bear climbed to the top of a bluff to watch and wait for her offspring. They never reached her and today she can still be seen as the “Sleeping Bear,” a solitary dune covered with dark trees sand shrubs. Her hapless cubs are the Manitou Islands that lie a short distance away.

So sad, but so beautiful.

I received the black bear below just yesterday. Christine was in Colorado, saw the postcard, and thought of me. How sweet!

Colorado Black Bear. “This Colorado native lives throughout the mountainous areas in the ‘Centennial State,’ but is seldom seen, due to its timid nature.”

When Eileen V, another Love Notes pal, posted an adorable fox postcard in the group, I swooned because …well foxes.  A few days later, I found the foxes in my own mailbox–courtesy of Christine B.

Foxes by Amy Hamilton

This is such a fun, educational postcard.  My favorite is the Fennec fox. Do you have a favorite fox?

I’ll get to more postcards soon–when I can squeeze in a moment or two for scanning.

Until next time…Have joy!

 

Vintage Bears Need Love Too!

Do you want to see some vintage bears? Nope, not teddy bears. Regular, real life bears. Because of my ❤ for bears, my postcard pal, Fran B, sent me a nice set of seven vintage bear postcards she found at estate sales and antique shops, and I’ve been looking forward to sharing them.

The first five postcards feature bears from Yellowstone National Park. The postcards are undated, but three of the five were copyrighted by Haynes Picture Shops, Inc., St. Paul, MN and Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Based on the one-cent postage required, they were printed either before World War I or immediately afterwards.

Take a look!

From the postcard back: Twin Cub Bears, Yellowstone Park. The black bear exists in the park in a number of color phases. The commonest type is black with a brown nose.  Others are dark and medium brown, reddish brown and dull buffy brown. Even cub bears resent being teased and are usually treated with the respect they deserve.

From the postcard back: The Woman Bear, Yellowstone Park. “The most remarkable wild animal picture ever taken” (Ernest Thompson Seton), as photographed in the mountain wilds near the Grand Canyon by E. W. Hunter, master wild animal photographer of the Haynes organization.

From the postcard back: The Grizzly Bear, also known as the silver tip, is the most respected of all of the family of bears, not alone by men but by other bears. They are inoffensive if not molested, but when attacked they become extremely dangerous.

I’m not sure if the other two Yellowstone bears (below) were published by the Haynes Picture Shops or if the three bears above were part of the same series. There’s no company name on the back, but there is a symbol or logo and an arrow with letters–company initials, maybe???

Notice the letters in the arrow?  HHT CO or is it T CO?

“Brown Bear Waiting for Garbage, Yellowstone National Park”

From the postcard back: A Yellowstone Park Bear. The bears of the Park are objects of peculiar interest. No sound of gun or bark of dog is ever heard, and the bears, though wild, have become so tame that they give only curious notice to the tourists as they pass. Some of the bears are wrapped in robes that would command a fancy price. They come down in the evening from their home in the hills to feed around the hotels.

From the postcard back: Bears in Yellowstone Park. With each succeeding year the wild animals in the Park become a more interesting feature of it. Here is really the only place where the public in general can freely see the animals of the forest and the wilds in their natural state. The bears are found near the hotesl and it requires no exertion, beyond the walk of a few rods, by tourists to see them.

The postcard below was printed circa 1950 and features a Polar Bear at the Forest Park Zoo in St. Louis, Missouri.

“Polar Bear Pit,” Published by Paul Monroe Company

From the postcard back: Polar Bear Pit, Forest Park Zoo, St. Louis, Missouri. The entire zoo occupies 77 acres in Forest Park. At a cost of $250,000, these famous cageless bear pits were built. The bears are separated from nearby spectators only by a wide moat banked by a concrete shelving which the bears can’t climb.

This final postcard warns us to watch out for (bear) hitchhikers. They’re not as innocent as they appear.

Seney, MI, Published by ColourPicture, Boston, Massachusetts

From the postcard back: Black Bear Hitchhiker. Although sometimes thought of as a big lovable clown, don’t let this panhandling act fool you. Bears are dangerous animals and should be viewed from a distance.

So they’re not fluffy, cuddly bears we can take home with us, but we can still love them–from a safe distance.

Thanks to Fran, the cards are now part of my vintage postcard collection. When time permits, I will work to find out more information about the postcards, but for now, I’ll just enjoy them.

Note: Information from the postcard back was typed as it appears on the back of the postcards. I wouldn’t call a “female bear” a “woman bear.” 😉

Postcards and the Recipe for Summer

I woke up this morning stunned by the reality that there are 25 measly days left of my summer vacation.

Summer is my time to get.things.done. I usually use the time to “repair” and catch up on everything. I read. I write. I play. I watch a whole season of a television series I don’t have time to watch during the academic year. I create. I write letters and send lots of postcards. I purge toys, books, clothing. I catch up on [some of] the “household matters” that pile up from August to May. I plan for fall semester.

This summer is different. I wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night with an unchanged “to do list.”  Sure, I get some things done. But, despite my daily lists, I spend most of my time daydreaming or staring at the computer screen trying to figure out what to do next–or what I have the desire and energy to do next. Then, I take a nap.

As I was organizing the postcards I received over the last few months, I mulled over reasons I’m not as productive and considered strategies to increase my productivity over the next few weeks.  I paused when I ran across two love notes that scream “summer.” They reminded me that summer is not all about work, and what I need is rest not a reset.

“Pool at Luna Park,” Sketch/Watercolor by Andrea F.

Andrea F., an author/artist and Love Notes participant from Vienna, Austria, sent both images.

The first is a sketch Andrea completed while in Australia in February to escape the cold Austrian winter.  It depicts the North Sydney Olympic Pool with a view of Luna Park.  I’m impressed with how accurately Andrea sketched the scene. Check out a photograph here to see what I mean: North Sydney Olympic Pool [fourth image beneath the central image].

“Summer” by Andrea F.

 

With the collage postcard above, Andrea provided the recipe for summer–masterpieces, poetry, fancy, eternity, and pure art [see image for measurements].

Thanks for the reminder, Andrea! Summer is for all of this.

So, bear with me while I check myself: I work hard from August to May. My weekdays begin at 4:00 a.m. (sometimes 3:00), and I regularly put 75-80 hours per week into my work–preparing for classes, meeting with students, grading papers, attending other meetings, and doing my part for the committees on which I serve.  It’s insane to squeeze everything that I didn’t get around to from August to May into a two-month summer. It is absolutely okay to not kill myself working just as hard while I’m on break. Summer is, after all, the best perk of academia.

Thanks to two beautiful postcards, my break has finally begun–vacation from guilt, lists, schedules, and the fierce pressure to get it all done. I need the poetry, art, fancy, and naps (especially) to cope with life after July.

Soaring Like a Mountain Eagle

Eagle’s Wings: Photo captured at Brechtel Park in Algiers (Westbank New Orleans, Louisiana), 2011

…and there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he forever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than the other birds upon the plain, even though they soar. –Herman Melville, Moby Dick