A Disappointing Truth

Egret with a hot dog

Hungry Egret with Hot Dog, Gatorland, Orlando FL

Sometimes the Truth Hurts

When I learned this secret truth I felt so let down! As an amateur photographer my favorite subjects are animals. (They don’t complain about how they look.) I can spend hours pouring over books with animal photos. I love National Geographic shots. Although I know I will never be that good, I still use them for inspiration.

Nat Geo Photography Specials

Red Fox 2016

Red Fox , Audubon Sanctuary

I watch all of the Nat Geo specials especially the ones about how they got the shot. They always show the poor photographer trudging through the rain forest or freezing in the Arctic while they search for another iconic photograph worthy of a National Geographic publication. The photo magazines are full of trips and tours with (drum roll please) National Geographic Photographers! Take our trip and you too will learn to take worthy photographs.



White Tiger

White Tiger , Southwick Zoo

The Sad Truth about many animal photos

So it was a real let down when I spotted in the tiny print at the bottom of the credits a disclaimer. It said photo taken at XYZ Zoo! What!  Sure enough. Credits include zoos, sanctuaries, and preserves. Of course some are legitimate but far more than I expected are in controlled environments.

endangered gray wolfIf They Can so can I

With my new knowledge I looked into wolves. I’d love to get a great photo of a wolf. I’m sure that even if I go to Yellowstone any wolves will be too far away for a great photo. So my search began and I located the Lakota Wolf Preserve in New Jersey. I was so excited. This was a couple of years ago. They recommended a winter shoot when the fur is thick and photogenic. I immediately booked a shoot in February. It was snowed out. Then we got ice. In the end I didn’t get there but it’s on my bucket list.

Think Local

That’s why I was thrilled to hear about a wolf sanctuary right here in my homeWolves in winter state of Massachusetts. Located in Ipswich, MA I can’t wait to check it out. Its called Wolf Hollow and they have photo shoots too. You can be sure you’ll be hearing more about this place as soon as I can get a day to drive up there! Stay tuned.

Here comes the Sun

Here comes the sun

Sunday I woke at 5:30! Something bright was in my eyes. I hadn’t noticed the skylight when I came in last night! I’ll have to remember to close the bedroom door if I don’t want the early morning sun waking me up. I  had some work to wrap up before I’d be truly free to enjoy the week and I wanted to spend some time revisiting what I’d passed on my way here yesterday. I wanted to figure out where I was  and where I’d need to go if I was going to look for moose and other wildlife.  Thankfully they gave me a map when I checked in.

misty mountain morning in Maine

Lets get our bearings, shall we?

By 10 am the clouds had given way and the overcast skies of the morning were a thing of the past. Sun was shining and it was bright and clear. I’d finished my work and felt the tension in my  shoulders melt-away with that task done. Time to grab the camera and explore. I stopped at the overlook to take some pictures of the beautiful lake.

Rangeley Lake in the sun from the Overlook

Now that the sun was behind me I was able to get better exposure.

Return to the Appalachian TrailAppalachia Trail sign

Then it was back to the Appalachian Trail head. When I was younger I wanted to hike the whole trail. I couldn’t afford to take the time off so it never happened. That will be regret for sure. Now with my bum hip it’s definitely out of the question. But I wandered a little way

brook near the Appalachia Traildown the trail and got some pictures of the brook that bubbled nearby. I was surprised that even that little bit gave me a thrill.

The Suds & Sizzle

I found the little laundry where I’d stopped the day before. In the bright daylight it lost some of its charm. This went on my list for an afternoon return for pictures.

Hunter Cove Wildlife Sanctuary

This is high on my to-do list so I wanted to be sure to locate it. Turns out it isn’t too far out on the other side of town. I pulled in briefly to check out the parking and the trails. They look manageable. There’s lots of trees so lots of bugs. Good thing I have extra strength bug spray along.

Afternoon plans get canceled

It was almost lunchtime so I returned to the cabin to make a sandwich and plan the afternoon. Suddenly I was very, very tired. A “power nap” seemed like a great idea. As I don’t usually sleep during the day I didn’t think I needed to set an alarm. Big Mistake! By the time I woke up it was 6:30 pm and the shadows were getting long. I really had no idea I was that tired. But that’s what vacations are for, right? Recharging.

downstairs bedroom with rocking chair


Here Moosey, Moosey, Moose

Here Moosey, Moosey, Moose

Moose warning signMoose are active morning and late afternoon and according to the locals from noon to 2 pm as well. I set my camera ISO to 800, lowered my F stop and reduced my shutter speed to compensate for the low light. With a feeling of expectation I headed out to drive route 17, a so called Moose hot spot.

It should be so easy

The handout about the roads and moose warned that Moose like to use the highway to travel. Moose crossing the roadThey seem to think it’s their own private way. I was surprised that the speed limit most of the way was 50 miles per hour. No wonder this is a “High Hit Area”. Who can stop fast at that speed? I trundled along at about 35-40 miles per hour pulling over to let the locals pass when I saw them barreling down on me. If you come for a visit do not expect the locals to obey the speed limits. They pass on double lines, drive 75-80 in a 50 mph zone and tail gate. Scary stuff.

Trees, woods and overlooks

The drive is a two lane road for the most part. Occasionally it splits to 4 lanes but it also shrinks going over bridges. I saw two beautiful overlooks that I will need to return to for pictures. When I stopped the sun was right in my eyes. When I came back it was just past sunset so I missed that too.

Coos CanyonCoos Canyon waterfall

The trip from Rangeley to Rumford is 36 miles. I didn’t have that much daylight left but I was determined to make the full drive before I turned back. Along the way I spotted a rest area with a picnic table and a chain link fence. Curious I stopped to take a look. A lovely cascade spilled down between high rock walls. The fence was there to keep silly people from getting too close to the edge. Having left my hat in the car I had to beat back the black flies while trying to photograph the gorge.


Mexico Maine

sombrero with mustascheI didn’t get to Rumford. When I reached Mexico, Maine I was two miles away but it was too dark for moose then, at least for my purposes. I thought of my sister as she kept talking about Mexico, Maine while I was planning this visit. Well Sis, found it. Wish you were here.  In the end I made the drive and got nothing for it, not a moose, not a deer, not even a mouse. Tomorrow is another day.

Another Class and Some Photo News

Class number 2

I took my lunch very late today so I could leave work early. I missed some of the traffic and made it to class with time to spare. Class #2 was pretty basic. But I did learn some tips about menus, not the restaurant kind, and had a good review of various hosting companies like, Bluehost, Go Daddy. Word press and others.

This week’s enhancement

The change I made to the site from the class was to add some more Tabs. Right below the heading photo where the Home, About and Contact live I’ve added 2 more choices. One is My Photo Page and the other is Travel. If you right click on My Photo Page it will take you right to my zenfolio web site! No more searching to find my pictures. The Travel Tab will take you to all my previous posts that have to do with Travel. I’m not sure if I’ll keep them all. I may have to “tweak” them a little but time will tell. Comments are welcome!

Some Photo News

I’ve been found again! Yay! This time I was approached by Landesblasorchester Baden-Württemberg, What’s that you ask?  They are an amateur orchestra who compete on the world stage.


This is from their email to me:

After several reflections, we have chosen a serious theme: “Every child has a right to future”, which is accompanied by pictures during the music. We will play at the Wind Band World Championship in Kerkrade/NL,

They found one of my pictures and want to use it. I am honored and of course gave my permission.

The photo they asked to use it the one I called the Longest Dirt Road in the World from our South Dakota adventure. Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Their interpretation is “The Road to Nowhere”. Without knowing the history of the picture I can certainly see why that would come to mind. I don’t know if there will be any photo credits but that’s ok. In this case I am just honored to have my work included. It amazes me that my little picture has come to the attention of someone from Europe! It’s a small, small world.

Time for One More in Jacksonville, Vermont

Jacksonville Vermont Sugar House

After a brief lunch just to prove to my stomach that there are foods other than donuts and sweet maple candy we figured we had time for 1 more stop before the sugar houses began to shut down for the day. Joe pulled up his little map for the next closest Sugar House and found Sprague & Son Sugar House in Jacksonville, Vermont.


I was still looking for the sugar-on-snow, a treat from my childhood. We’d had the snow all day but so far only our first stop had boiling sap and it wasn’t ready to be poured over snow. It had a lot more cooking to do before then.

Sampling more Maple


Our wintry mix had turned more to rain when we spotted Sprague & Son. They had some nice decorative touches with a wood carving out front and a miniature sugar house.



This sugar house was busier than the first two and quite crowded. Their samples were something called maple crunches which looked to me like crumbled maple sugar candy. A great way to recycle broken maple candies. But the big item they were pushing was called Maple Creme. They had a large bowl of it and lots of little wooden spoons. It has a thick, smooth consistency like frosting. Another hit! It wouldn’t take too much of this to overdose on sugar!

The Evaporator

Their evaporator was right there in the main room. Something was steaming but it might just have been water. They said they had run out of sap to boil. They too use the plastic tubing to bring the sap from the trees to the evaporator. I didn’t hear anyone say what they use for fuel but I’m guessing wood if the wood piles outside are any indication. They had some very attractive product displays.


Joe got the picture of the day here when he noticed a window covered in condensation with bottles of syrup balanced on the panes.

Photo by Joe St. Jean, Take Pride Photography https://www.facebook.com/JRStJeanPhotographer/

Maple Walnut

Behind the cash register was a soft serve machine. The only flavor, why Maple of course! Buy a cup of maple soft serve, sprinkle in some maple gazed walnuts, top with a splash of maple syrup and voila! Maple Walnut soft serve. (that’s for my sister, Sandy).

All About Sprague & Son

I couldn’t find a website that worked but I did find them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Sprague-Son-Sugarhouse-290671490950920/

There was also a nice write up on their history at http://www.whitingham-maplefest.us/sprague.html

Locate at 1631 Rt 100 this was the easiest of the 3 sugar houses to find. Open daily during Sugaring season. Weekends and Holidays the remainder of the year. Free samples of all of their products are always available.