High Atop Sand Dunes by Dave Hileman

Great view of the pastoral country along Michigan's western shore. This is from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Monument. Many of these dunes are tree covered like this one and those on the left of the photo.

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Its a Stretch but... by Dave Hileman

Sometimes in traveling you have limited time to post (find a good signal, etc) and limited options from the photos because Minion #31 (Recall his recent demotion see last Wednesday) forgot to bring the photo hard drive. He is now Ex-minion. Job opening will be posted soon. 

So, the stretch, this is Valentines Day and my post is the uncommon Reddish Egret seen at Canaveral National Seashore in Florida. Note the color corresponds to the traditional colors of the celebration. Also note that my wife who does not mind seeing birds - as long as they are not too close - spent a day with me watching and photographing birds at CNS. Love is patient says Paul.

Remember the old "Love is ..." series. And love is being with the one you want to spend time with - even if it is watching birds --- or shopping for shoes. 

Happy Valentines Day.

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Crooked by Dave Hileman

Sometimes the right path is not as straight as we expect. This one along the bayou in the Barataria Preserve a part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore that is located in Mississippi. stepping off this crooked walk will land you in thick mud or worse. Not the picture that Isaiah had - but he lived in a very different ecosystem. 

"They don’t know where to find peace or what it means to be just and good.
They have mapped out crooked roads, and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace." Isaiah 59:8 NLT

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Beach Line by Dave Hileman

Just before sunrise on the beach at Gulf Islands National Seashore. While the seashore covers miles of island, this section on is on the western edge just west of Pensacola Beach. The campground is located here as well as an old fort to explore. But the beach is the draw and it is simply gorgeous. And if you are keeping track, NPS number 195. Nearing halfway. 

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Roaring by Dave Hileman

The waterfall in Yosemite Valley last spring were simply breathtaking. The enormous snowpack from the winter fed every stream past the banks and the result was an amazing experience. This falls was on the way to Nevada Falls, an ascent trail from the valley floor. Rusty was here but he did not go to the top:)

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Alice by Dave Hileman

Though not in wonderland, this gator was at the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Mississippi. She was about 9 feet long and seemed to be enjoying a bit of sunshine. 

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Clever by Dave Hileman

Louisiana has several museums in the New Orleans area - this one, in the old mint showcases Jazz and is a shared space with the National effort. I thought the whole place was underwhelming - but I did like this piece of art work made of tambourines.

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Fats Domino by Dave Hileman

At the National Jazz Historical Park - we saw this piano, Louis Armstrong's first horn and precious little else. It was a disappointment. They do offer some brief live "shows' twice or three times a week but they are more on the explanation side of a program. 

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Burp by Dave Hileman

I think (hope) he - he was uncovered on the trail - ate the groundhog so we don't have to put up with this nonsense anymore. At least the movie was very good, very good, very good, very good.... 

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Fort Foote by Dave Hileman

This was one of the string of forts built to protect Washington DC during the Civil War. Fort Foote is on an embankment on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. Unfortunately it is currently a rather sad place. Now, I was not there at a great time, mid-winter and all that grey. But it was trash filled, very poorly maintained and just disappearing into the ground. It is much more of a local dog park than a National Park Service site. Even the view of the Potomac which in the day of the fort was unobstructed - and would be amazing today, has been grown over with scrappy trees. The only redeeming feature, aside from its place in history are the two amazing 15 inch Rodman Smoothbore Cannon. These massive weapons were placed here is 1864 and considered so big they have never been moved. It took 40 pounds of black powder to propel the 434 pound ball. The crew could fire every 4 minutes.  

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Bird Week IV, Cactus Wren by Dave Hileman

This was a new bird for me on our S/W trip but I did see several examples. This one was in the Saguaro National Park's eastern unit on a short hike. We were on the hike not the wren. He seemed to follow us for a while after we passed a picnic area. I think he knew what might happen if we stopped to eat. So he scurried along the ground and bounced from bush to cactus and back for a couple of hundred feet. 

The eyes of all look to you in hope;
you give them their food as they need it.
When you open your hand,
you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
he is filled with kindness. Psalm 146:15-17 NLT

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Bird Week IV Lesser Goldfinch by Dave Hileman

The name is not pejorative from me at least. This little guy was at church, the Tumacacori Mission in Southern Arizona. He was in the walled garden, a really pretty place with small shade trees and stunning flowers. The Lesser was a new bird for me on the trip last spring. 

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Bird Week IV - Curve-billed Thrasher by Dave Hileman

This little guy (juvenile -note yellow eye) was quite chatty. We were on a hike in the Organ Pipe National Monument and he popped up on this cactus and scolded us for a couple of minutes. It was a new bird for me, this area was full of birds I had never seen that are mostly local to southern Arizona.  

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Bird Week IV Cedar Waxwing by Dave Hileman

This shot was taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the southeastern corner where the elk herds are being restored to  the area. We were watching elk that afternoon and then took a short walk along a stream. I saw several of these birds, they usually flock together, eating berries. They would then fly over to this tree and rest and then back to the berry tree. I think this is the best songbird photo I have taken and of one of my favorite birds to watch. Cedar Waxwings have great color.  It is with the Fuji X-T2 and the 100-400 zoom at about 310. 

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Stark by Dave Hileman

These birch trees grew in this area after a devastating fire mid-1900's. The birch were quick to grow and took over several areas. Now, as the taller trees fill the canopy the birch are dying. This area is filled with stark white trunks and tall ferns that turn the color of cinnamon in the fall. 

"Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow." Psalm 51:7 NLT

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Little Hunter Beach by Dave Hileman

Not much of a beach as in lay in the sand and soak up the sun but a really cool little pebble cove that has a stream feeding into the ocean that adds a nice touch to the scene. This is a portion of the beach toward Otter Point. If you are here at low tide you can *barely* make your way beyond the outcrops and find deep cuts where you discover star fish, barnacles, mussels, super colors and much more. 

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Cadillac Mountain Sunset by Dave Hileman

Sunrise is the preferred time for Cadillac Mountain as your view to the east in unobstructed and one of the first places, at least some of the year, for the sun to peak out at the east coast. Sunset is not quite as popular because it is not as easy to get a great view to the west. However, it has the advantage of not happening at 4AM!

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