The Royal Gorge

Add this to a list of "Things I do not like."  Suspension bridges, that move and shake and you can look through the boards and see a thousand feet down.  This bridge would be on my big "nope" list.   Nope, not going back and I did it once, no need to walk across it again.  Also, how do I begin to catch up on this blog with a move out of state and over two years worth of travel barely touched.  I guess I will begin with whatever I feel like posting.  This bridge spans the Arkansas River which I find fascinating for a few reasons; one being Spiro is near it.  

Royal Gorge Bridge- Colorado -1

What is a gorge?  Why is this one "royal," you might ask.  I do not know why it is the Royal Gorge, but I will soon, because I'm going to search for this information on google.

Royal Gorge Bridge- Colorado -1-2
  A Gorge is a narrow valley between hills or mountains, typically with steep rocky walls and a stream running through it.

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We visited the Gorge on June 7th at the beginning of our annual road trip.   

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I did walk across this.  

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This great American river, which traverses Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.  You can see more posts about it here:

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If you want an extreme view of the Royal Gorge bridge, you can see it from above.   

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Or from below, since you can take the train through the gorge.   

Royal Gorge Bridge- Colorado -1-9

I didn't take a lot of photographs here. I was pretty much ready to be off of the bridge.   I'll drive over mountain passes any day (and I did).  But I'm not a huge fan of bridges like this. 

Royal Gorge Bridge- Colorado -1-11

It is definitely a sight to see. 

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Here is the link for the official information...  Royal Gorge  don't worry - click on a link it takes you to a new window!   



National Radio Astronomy Observatory - A Very Large Array

On the Plains of San Agustin lies the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the home of " Karl G. Jansky A Very Large Array."

Plains of San Agustin  New Mexico -1

This basin in Catron and Socorro counties in New Mexico is around 55 miles in length and 15 miles in width.   The plains are a remnant of a Pleistocene era lake.  After driving from where I'm living in Cibola county to the town of Fence Lake we continued to Quemado and across the mountains to the Plains of Agustin.  

Plains of San Agustin  New Mexico -1-2

I think driving into these vast plains between the mountains is as impressive as the dishes.   I love landscapes like this, these basins that were carved out millions of years ago by natural geologic forces.  

Plains of San Agustin  New Mexico -1-4

We stopped to take some photos before we arrived and read these signs...

Plains of San Agustin  New Mexico -1-6

These signs should be when you enter the Plains of Agustin.  

Plains of San Agustin  New Mexico -1-7

Now for the fun stuff....   

Plains of San Agustin  New Mexico -1-8

My sister said I need to change my blog page name to "Expedition Oklahoman"   -  Not bad.  

Plains of San Agustin  New Mexico -1-9

How they move them further away from each other or closer depending on what part of space they are hearing...

A Very Large Array -1-5

This is how they move them around the rail around the Plains of Agustin 

A Very Large Array -1

This is amazing, the technology of what it can do.  Seeing something that you've only ever seen in the movies.  Amazing.  

A Very Large Array -1-2

Showing us that there is more out there than our little planet...

A Very Large Array -1-3

Plains of San Agustin  New Mexico -1-10
So if you happen to be in New Mexico, I suggest stopping by and visiting A Very Large Array 

Plains of San Agustin  New Mexico -1-11

We think our presidential election is so significant... 

A Very Large Array -1-4
But if you look at the Milky Way we are nothing in comparison to the big picture.  


El Morro

El Morro -New Mexico -1

Just down the road from my new home is El Morro National Monument .  My last visit was in 2010 when I went to a workshop at Crow Canyon sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities. 


El Morro -New Mexico-1-6

This natural pool provided the run off water so people could stop and rest on their travels and have a drink...and autograph the rock.  

El Morro -New Mexico-1-5

So, natural resources are important.  Water is extremely important in the American west, which made this a great place to stop and have a drink before getting back on the trail.  

El Morro -New Mexico Petroglyphs -1-2

Of course it was an inscription rock long before the colonists arrived.   The Ancestral Pueblo people were busy inscribing on this rock. 

El Morro -New Mexico Petroglyphs -1

Telling their stories in stone a thousand years ago.  

El Morro -New Mexico-1-7

I love the petroglyphs.  

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If you take the half mile hike to the top of El Morro you can arrive at the ancient village of the Shiwi people.  Atsinna.  

El Morro -New Mexico-1-4

El Morro -New Mexico-1-2

The Kiva is the church of the pueblo people.  A house of prayer.   

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I've hiked El Morro every week since I've been in New Mexico.  This Saturday was particularly pretty.  

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Of all the things I missed about New Mexico, I missed the sky the most.  I am in love with the sky on these days where the clouds dot the dark azure sky.   

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The passed through here in 1709, the year the little ice age struck Europe.  

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They came in the 19th century and wrote their names besides the ancient ones, beside the Spaniards and marked their journeys west.  

El Morro -New Mexico -1-6

The oldest inscription from Onate, is dated prior to the Mayflower.   This history in North America that we often miss in our history books,   we forget about the Spanish and the French in North America.   We need to remember they were here too.   

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I like the hike up El Morro, the views are spectacular.   

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It was a beautiful day. 

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There is the volcano that I can see from my back yard.  This landscape is amazing.   

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and you can look down on the other side of the mesa.  

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You can look out and see Highway 53 and in an hour you can be in Arizona.   

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These stairs carved in the rock to make your hike easier.   

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Highway 53 and El Morro is kind of out of the way but it is well worth your time if you are in the area.  

New Mexico  El Morro-1-2

Inscription Rock, a little place in western New Mexico that documents centuries of travelers who were seeking a new life, or were just continuing to live their lives out on the Colorado Plateau.    





Hot in Hot Springs

On July 31st my daughter and I went to Hot Springs.  We got to Arkansas a day earlier than we usually do and decided to take a vacation day sight seeing. I hope next summer we can do even more of this.  

Hot Springs National Park  (1 of 1)

What was my prior knowledge of Hot Springs Arkansas before going there?  Not much, I knew there were hot springs, I didn't know why.  I knew that it was a popular tourist spot and I also knew it wasn't too horribly far from the family place but we had never been there.   

Hot Springs National Park  (1 of 1)-2

The water out of Hot Springs average 143 degrees f. and people have been drawn to the springs for hundreds (and likely thousands) of years.  The water that come from the springs are over four thousand years old (well obviously all water is "old" it's just not something we think about).   In 1832 under the Jackson administration the government set aside four sections of land to "reserve" them for the people.  In 1877 the government took control over the springs and approved the private bathhouses which you will see some more photos of.  

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In 1921 Hot Springs National Park was established.  

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Bathhouse Row is an interesting area. I believe one bathhouse is still in operation.  By the 1960s many of the bathouses had closed their doors and fell into disrepair.  By 2004 the park began renovating the buildings to help economically revitalize the area.  

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The water is hot! 

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These photos are more of a documentary style and of a tourist nature.  Not my best shots, but I wasn't trying very hard.

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Some images of Bathhouse Row   

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I hope to add enough historical information to educate you about your visit to Hot Springs or any other unusual places I've been to. I need to start working on educational power points, which was my original plan when I began visiting historical places. 

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I will do another post about the bathhouse museum we toured in Hot Springs. 

Hot Springs National Park -Ozark (1 of 1)-2

This has a beautiful design. 

Hot Springs National Park -Buckstaff (1 of 1)

Now if you actually want a real bath in Hot Springs the Buckstaff is the operational bathhouse there. 

Buckstaff Baths

Hot Springs National Park -Buckstaff (1 of 1)-2

My daughter really wanted to do this. 

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We shopped a little and ate and then drove up the mountain to go up the observation tower.  

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I don't really like observation towers as I learned in Sioux Falls.  I don't like heights that much not in these situations.   

Hot Springs from the Tower (1 of 1)

It's a nice rainy day here in Oklahoma.   I just feel like staying inside.  Next week the job officially begins and I'll be a tired person.  

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You really can't see the forest for the trees out here...

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Mom's Mudflaps at Chimney Rock

So in the 1970s and early 80s my parents had a trailer manufacturing business in Butte Nebraska- S&S Trailers it was called.  They were pretty successful for a while. 

Butte Nebraska-4452

This is where I spent my early childhood.  This is the kind of town where I could ride my bike to the store a few blocks down at age seven and be safe.  This is the kind of childhood our kids deserve but most don't have.  I was fortunate.   

Butte Nebraska-4453

The paint shop, where some of my earliest memories are helping wipe down trailers to clean them before they were painted.  

So not a lot to say about Butte Nebraska but I'm one of the Sharp kids.  Which even decades after moving away people know whose family you belong to.  That's what small Nebraska towns are like. So when I was a kid my parents sold mud flaps that she designed with the outline of the state map around them.  

Butte Nebraska-4454

One of the shop buildings.   

Chimney Rock Joy Franklin -4450

The big green shop.  The old burnt out shop caught on fire before I was born sometime.  The irony of internet addiction when your phone has no coverage is for whatever reason I had 3G coverage if I walked over on the property.  I was staying across the road at my best friend's home.  

Chimney Rock Joy Franklin -5533

But a few days later I was on the way on a spur of the moment last moment change of plans with my Plainsgirl buddy from Omaha...

Chimney Rock Joy Franklin -5536

Way out west - we were taking the Great Nebraskan Pilgrimage to Chimney Rock, a place that was far, far away from our Eastern Nebraska.  Yet, it has always been such a huge part of the state's identity having never been there seemed kind of wrong in our advanced ages of the somewhat early middle.  

Chimney Rock Joy Franklin -5542

So Chimney Rock in the Platte River Valley which was incredible.  This just doesn't seem like the Nebraska I've known.  Yet there it is Chimney Rock.   

Chimney Rock Joy Franklin -5552

And WOW.  We were there.  

Chimney Rock Joy Franklin -5558

So there was a museum, cool, we can go learn about this monument.   

Chimney Rock Joy Franklin -5567

I walk in and see these.  I kind of did a double take.  I told my friend that my Mom designed those and my parents sold them all over Nebraska when I was a kid.   I had to call Mom and make sure I was correct that she did indeed design these mud flaps.  COOL.   My Mom did this and it's in a National Monument Museum that many people walk through and see every day.  

Chimney Rock Joy Franklin -5576

So were it not for flooding in Omaha, and our random decision to travel west I wouldn't have known about this.  But I'm proud of my Mom's creativity in this museum.   Also, yeah how cool is that to go into a museum and see a part of your own family history preserved. Chimney Rock Joy Franklin -5585

I'm trying to work my way through more of my images from The Great Plains tour 2014, because I just confirmed the dates of The Great Plains tour 2015 this evening.  I'm excited!  I love going North in the Summer.  Maybe I just love traveling anywhere, anyways!  Yay for road trips.  I'd be a happy person if I could travel more.  

Chimney Rock Joy Franklin -5587

So it was an interesting day last June when we visited Chimney Rock and Scottsbluff, and I'm even more thankful that we had more time with Grandma that evening.  

The Big Basin Prairie Preserve and St. Jacob's Well

File this post under Kansas.  We were traveling home from a weekend in Nebraska and we made a little detour to check out a spot on the map that said "Big Basin Prairie Preserve and St. Jacob's Well" - geological history is fascinating to me as much as the history of the prairie and the plains.  

Big Basin in SW Kansas -8474

The Big Basin and Little Basin which is nearby are natural sinkholes caused by the salts dissolving underneath the earth.  You drive through the sinkhole to the entrance of the preserve.  

Big Basin Prairie Preserve in SW Kansas -8659

Then you drive up a gravel road into the prairie preserve and look for the other spot on the map. It was a warm September Sunday as we drove out on the prairie in the Big Basin Preserve.  We didn't see any buffalo and made it down some rough gravel roads. Big Basin Prairie Preserve in SW Kansas -8500


The prairie stretches across Kansas like a vast, endless sea,  but it is not "flat as a pancake" or as simple as many people like to imagine Kansas to be.  You go from the Flint Hills to the High Plains and then return to these rolling prairies.  The Plains are not as plain as you think.   


Big Basin Prairie Preserve in SW Kansas -8498

Here you can see the floor of the Big Basin.  

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8507

We finally made it to St. Jacob's Well, but you could only see the tops of the cottonwood trees.  I really didn't know what to expect. I was thinking of places like El Morro in New Mexico, another famous watering hole in the west.  

St. Jacob's Well -8511-3


So we're walking down into the Little Basin and I bet you can't imagine that this is Kansas.  

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8514

It's a steep little hike.  I'm very mindful of the potential for snakes right now since I know someone who was recently bitten by a rattler.  

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8614

Looking up you can see my boy sitting there watching and waiting on me to climb back to the top.  

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8604

I didn't read about this place until we got here.  I was amazed to find out that what appears to be a tiny pond is actually sixty feet deep.   

St. Jacob's Well -8582

Here is a historical image of St. Jacob's Well.  I still can't believe how deep this is.  It was called bottomless in some historical accounts and people told stories of fish without eyes coming from it.  

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The turtles were happy swimming around in their oasis on the plains.  

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8563

Lots of Dragonflies.   

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8531

I wonder how old this Cottonwood is?  

St. Jacob's Well in the Big Basin Prairie Preserve-8529

Another view of the well.  

Western Kansas at St. Jacob's Well-8603

This is worth the time to stop and visit, if you happen to be going to the Oklahoma Panhandle or Dodge City or Liberal.  

Eisenhower and Abilene Kansas

Independence Day 2014 seems like a perfect day to honor former President Dwight Eisenhower with a post about the museum, library and boyhood home that I had the opportunity to visit in early June.  

20140602-IMG_1710Joy FranklinAbilene Kansas-Eisenhower Oklahoma Joy Photography

Although I taught history for quite a few years I didnt' spend a great deal of time reading presidential histories.  Eisenhower was a President whom I respected and didn't hold any great like or dislike for. 

20140602-IMG_1745Joy FranklinEisenhower Presidential Library


There is a lot to see in Abilene, it's a full day trip.  You could probably spend two days visiting Abilene to see all of the historic sites.   

20140602-IMG_1885Joy FranklinEisenhower's Boyhood Home in Abilene Kansas

You can take a few minutes to step inside the boyhood home of Dwight Eisenhower.  

20140602-IMG_1902Joy FranklinFlowers in the window of Eisenhower House Abilene Kansas

Flowers decorate the window of the Eisenhower kitchen. 

20140602-IMG_1883Joy FranklinEisenhower Presidential Library

Eisenhower was our 34th President.   He was our leader from 1953 to 1961.  He launched the interstate highway system and gave America a way of seeing the country quickly without experiencing the country! 

20140602-IMG_1772Joy FranklinEisenhower Presidential Library

There is no way I can post all of the wonderful photos of artifacts and tidbits of history that you will find in the museum.  It is a fascinating place.   

20140602-IMG_1906Joy FranklinEisenhower Presidential Library Abilene Kansas

  The shot above clearly speaks of the small town president with the towering grain elevators that are so iconic on the American Plains.  

20140602-IMG_1790Joy FranklinEisenhower's Honors and medals

A highly decorated general for his success in defeating the Nazis in World War II. 

20140602-IMG_1788Joy Franklinworries of a commander in Eisenhower's Handwriting

The worries of a General... 

20140602-IMG_1785Joy FranklinEisenhower Letter

It is just fascinating to imagine the level of pressure Eisenhower was under as a General- then later as President of the United States.

20140602-IMG_1797Joy FranklinDDay Invasion Newspaper headlines- Eisenhower Army Lands in Northern France

From the days of when he was a general.  

20140602-IMG_1838Joy FranklinEisenhower's Presidential Seal in Abilene Kansas

The Presidential Seal 

20140602-IMG_1852Joy FranklinTelegram from Mayor of Little Rock asking Eisenhower for help

Museums are fascinating, but my patience to stand and read display after display is short lived.  

20140602-IMG_1858Joy FranklinEisenhower Letter

But you find pieces of a person's character within.  

20140602-IMG_1873Joy FranklinEisenhower' quote %22If All Americans Want is Security they can go to prison%22 in Abilene Kansas

On that note I'll end this post. I am still learning on switching formats from a PC to a Mac and I am going to have to work some more on file formats and other small issues.  Have a great Fourth of July Holiday!  Get out and enjoy this day for what it is. 


Neligh Mills-- Adventures in Nebraska

So If I can have Expedition Oklahoma, surely I can have adventures in Nebraska.   Well, here we go...I need to post some of these photos before I go to Nebraska again and come back overwhelmed with photos and never post them.  

Neligh Mills Nebraska Historic Site -2299

The Elkhorn River at Neligh

After a stormy night in Lincoln we woke up early to head north to Ashfall (which was our next tourist stop and our main destination of this trip).   But, I had a map, a paper map, which marked Neligh Mills as a historic site, so we stopped by.  Note above the photo of the river.  Rivers were important for mills as well as important means of transportation.   In the 19th century our rivers weren't covered by systems of dams and were much more navigable.  Also, unlike Oklahoma the rivers of North East Nebraska are quite impressive as you shall see in future posts.  

Neligh Mills Nebraska Historic Site -2374

It is my job as your tour guide to take you to places you may never see otherwise.  Neligh Mills is likely one of those places (unless you're from Nebraska, then really you have no excuse not to go when it's not football season). 

Neligh Mills Nebraska Historic Site -2295

If you click on the link you will see the earliest photograph of the mill

It is interesting to go to these places and think about things that you've never thought about before.  Like where our flour comes from and how difficult it may have been in the past to obtain it.  You think about the geography that allowed these mills and what we've done to the environment to not be able to run mills by the rivers like we did at one time in the past.  You also think about how Nebraska could have had 500 mills in 1890 and wonder how many mills are in the United States in 2014. 

Neligh Mills Nebraska Historic Site -2387

I love looking at old machinery and learning about how it worked to create our modern world. 

Neligh Mills Nebraska Historic Site -2388

I've always had a fascination with history and how people lived in the past.  No matter what reasoning brought people to this country; to these Great Plains,  life was hard. 

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The mill started before the railroad went through town. 

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 Now it's time to go inside and check out this preserved mill.

Neligh Mills Nebraska Historic Site -2319

It is a sensory experience to step back in time.  The scent of the old barns remind me of the old barns we had on our farm when I was a kid. 

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Neligh Mills was built in 1873.  Mr. Neligh settled in Neligh with the intention of opening a mill, after purchasing land from the railroad company. 

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The old equipment filled a boxcar full of flour a day while in operation in the late 19th century.

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More Info about Neligh Mills

Neligh Mills Nebraska Historic Flour Mills in Nebraska-2369

Isn't this fascinating.  To think what an importan industry this was for Nebraska.  I had no idea.  It's amazing what you can learn when you stop by these random sites.  

Neligh Mills Nebraska Historic Site -8900

This mill is operated by the Nebraska State Historical Society.

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Now take a moment to check out the historical society website.  This is why I enjoy building my site.  I am a visual person and enjoy sharing high quality images of places with my viewers.

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I love our history. 

Neligh Mills Nebraska Historic Site Allis Chalmers Mill equipment-2318

I love Allis Chalmers... Tractors. 

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Looking out at the old bridge.

Neligh Mills Nebraska Historic Site -8919

So that was fun.  Our next stop was Ashfall, where 12 million years ago mega-fauna met it's fate at the hands of a super volcano in Idaho (which is currently called the Yellowstone Caldera). 

6-4-2014 Me at Neligh-8873

I let my Sister have the t3i while I was shooting and had her try her hand at shooting with a DSLR. Hopefully soon I'll convince her that she needs a Canon not an iPad for her photography.  Oh yeah and it only costs $3 for admission to the mill. It's a bargain.  

A Castle in Oklahoma

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3920

Yes there is a castle at Turner Falls.  Made of native stone and sitting within the park, you can climb the stairs and wonder around an abandoned home of one of the area's more eccentric citizens. 

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3927

I love the stairs, I imagine this would be an incredible place for a wedding.  

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3914

The location and the greenery captures the romanticism that is the age of Kings.   Castles and pageantry.   

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3908

This castle is great but it's not organizing my laundry room now is it?  I have a shelf to put up for my pantry.  

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3939

Even the grafitti is cool.   Seriously though with what this park charges for entrance, couldn't they renovate these buildings and make an awesome wedding venue?   

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3963

Here are some images of The Castle in the starkness of winter, January 2011.  I definitely edit my images far differently now, these are too sharp/crisp to the point of unnatural.   

Castle at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains Davis Oklahoma -3964

Across from the castle you find yourself facing a wall of rock.  But this is the castle at Turner Falls a very neat piece of architectural history in Oklahoma.  

A Wild Goose Chase...

Actually it wasn't a wild goose I was chasing, it was three Bald Eagles I was thinking I might be lucky enough to photograph, well today was for the birds, because I did not photograph wild geese, ducks, hawks or eagles.  I did see my first bald eagle about a week ago. I am 36 years old and have never laid eyes on our national symbol in the wild.  I had just stopped to pick up my son and we were on the way home and what do I see up in a tree, but the noble, majestic bird perched high in the branches.  I stopped the car, reversed and it was still there.  I was without my trusty Canon 7D and just had my iPhone which I knew wouldn't do the trick so I just watched until it took off.  So when my husband called and told me what he saw I rushed down over an hour away in hopes of them still being there.  I have never been known for my bird photography- I see this trend continuing.  But before I go into the afternoon's photos let me start with my morning. 

Morning Deer-8175

I've been missing a lot of sunrises lately and it's been weighing heavily on my conscience, that I can turn away from the morning's beauty because I don't have a minute or two to take the time to appreciate it.   I have been rushing my son and rushing home or rushing to a job; while wishing that I had the time to capture the sunrise.  So this morning I decided to take my camera and photograph the sunrise, even if it was not spectacular.  

Rig before Sunrise -8185

After I left him with his Grandma I returned home, with intentions of making the day a productive one photographically. 

Oh What A Beautiful Morning-8187

Morning after morning I've ignored these views.  

Sunrise over Sugarloaf-8206

But not today, I made the time.  We make time for things we want in our lives.  We make excuses for things and people that we don't want in our lives.  I enjoy photography but it's appeal is not as strong as it was three years ago when I began this page.  Nature doesn't always impress me anymore and photography isn't as meaningful when it was a new hobby.  I don't have anyone to impress with my photos and that doesn't bother me.  It's so easy to see what I couldn't see a few years ago. I can see that I need it in my life, yet I can see that  it isn't what my life is about.  I don't need approval, it's something I enjoy doing and want to share it with others with no expectations.  Many artists beg for cash to verify their skills or go to art school to get the stamp of approval of their talents, if they love what they do, why is this necessary?  I would rather work for a hobby than grow frustrated that others don't value my art as I do.  

Sunrise and Hat Top-8224

On this beautiful day held in remembrance Martin Luther King Jr , I captured the sunrise and went home to shower and dress to go on an expedition.  But, after I got home I got indecisive and felt that there was nothing to see and began processing these photos.  Until my husband called and informed me of the eagles that he spotted near Waurika.   

The Red River of Oklahoma -8233

No Bald Eagles, I'm past Waurika now and I found the Red River (of the South).  So I decided to drive further west.  I put on quite a few miles for only shooting about 50 frames. It wasn't a inspiring drive. 

Highway 70 to Randlett and Grandfield-8275

I don't like this shot.  I made it to Randlett, it didn't impress me very much.  

Abandoned Farm -8266

I do love how our earth is vibrant in the winter in Oklahoma.  

Old Dr. Pepper advertisement in Comanche Oklahoma. -8288

I can mark photographing the side of this building in Comanche off of my list. I love old advertisements on buildings.  

Both Rigs -8293

So my posting dry spell is over. It's about time to revisit my 2013 photos before I move them to my portable hard drives.   Let's see what kind of sunrise we will find in the morning.   The moral of the story is it's okay to chase after something that you may never find (because there will always be something interesting)  and always make time for what you value.