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We had planned on hiking a couple of days in Zion but my wife didn’t like the motel we were staying at. I thought it was OK. I had planned driving down to Page and then entering the drawing to get into the Wave. However, I discovered that the Wave drawings were now being held in Kanab at the visitors center. Thus we decided to cut our visit to Zion short and drive to Kanab and stay. It was much less expensive and the hotel was excellent. That evening we had a nice meal and during the meal noticed some photos of a slot canyon in the area. We found out the locals called it Peek-a-boo Canyon We talked to the owner about it and he suggested getting a guided trip to the  canyon.

That evening we checked out the canyon on the web. The next morning we headed to the visitors center for the Wave drawing. The last time I was at a drawing it was held at the Paria Contact Station. That time there were about a dozen people at the station for the drawing and it was a simple process of putting your name and the number in your party on a slip of paper which was then drawn out of a hat. When we arrived at the visitors center there were already quite a few people signed up. It was a little more complicated signup process. When the drawing took place there were over a 100 people attending. Needless to say we didn’t get a slot since there are only 10 slots available and those attending the drawing probably represented 300 people. It was a fun experience and the ranger conducting the drawing was quite funny and kept the atmosphere light. My wife took a cell phone photo during the drawing.

While we were at the visitors center we asked about Peek-a-boo Canyon. The gave us a map and suggested that we would walk in to the Canyon. It was about 4 miles on the road. We could not drive because you need an ATV or a serious 4 wheel drive vehicle to make it. We thought about hiking but finally decided to drive out to Dreamland Safari Tours and see if they could take us out. We lucked out. They had a tour booked for noon and had space for us. At this point we had a couple of hours to spare so we decided to drive out to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. I had visited the Sand Dunes about fifteen years ago and thought it was great.

When we arrived at the Sand Dunes we were very disappointed to find that ATV’s and motor cycles were allowed on the dunes. In the old days they were confined to a section away from the main dunes. Now they had the run of most of the park. Nothing like going out to enjoy nature and having to dodge ATV’s and listen to them roar by. Apparently the state doesn’t have the backbone to say no to the nuts that want to race around on their ATV’s.

We noticed these deer at the edge of the dunes. The could hear the ATV’s coming.

We ended up taking photos of small sections on the dunes that had not been destroyed by the ATV’s. I have to say this will not be on our list of places to stop the next time we are in the area.

As we were driving away from the Dunes we found a large flock of American Avocet’s wading in a small wet area along the road.

 

The following morning we drove out to Sunrise Point. It was a beautiful morning. We took a few photos from Sunrise Point and then started walking down the Queen’s Garden Trail. There were already folks out hiking.

More photos from Bryce Canyon can be found on my website.

As we reached the bottom a bathroom emergency arose. The closest bathrooms appeared to be back up at Sunrise Point so we turned around and raced back to the top. Fortunately it was still cool out or we wouldn’t have made it.

After regrouping we decided to drive over to Sunset Point and hike down the Navajo Loop Trail. Unfortunately Wall Street was closed because the constant freezing and thawing was causing rocks to fall. We hit the trail head just ahead of a large group of foreign students who were on spring break.

At the bottom we made a wrong turn and ended up on a horse only trail. I wondered what was going on when everyone else went one direction and we went the other.

We decided to turn around and retraced our way back to the main trail. We hadn’t gone fare when it started to snow rather heavily. It wasn’t sticking to the ground and it made the trail a mess.

Fortunately we had our rain gear with us but I did put away my main camera and brought out my little pocket camera.

As we worked our way back up the Queen’s Garden Trail things started to clear once again.

Generally we visit Perrot State Park in the Spring and in the fall but we had some time and the need to finish a book we were listening to on the car CD so we drove down to  Perrot State Park for a hike to the overlook of the Mississippi River.

 

 

 

 

There were a lot of dragonflies around. I had my macro lens on the camera so it was a challenge to get close enough to them to get a photograph.

Common Whitetail

Common Pondhawk

There were also some butterflies around but I didn’t have much luck photographing them.

Aphrodite Fritillary

There were also a variety of wildflowers blooming.

Goat’s Beard

Butterfly Weed

My wife and I along with some friends drove over to Saint Paul, Minnesota to participate in the March for Science held on earth day. It was a beautiful day for a walk and there were a lot of folks participating.

I’ve heard about people surfing in the winter in Duluth but had never seen it. As we were driving past Brighton Beach as we entered Duluth there was a big crowd along the beach with surfers in the water. There were also a couple of folks with Kayaks in the water. It was really cold with a 25 mph wind blowing and the temperatures hoovering just above freezing. I had a difficult time holding the camera steady because I was shivering so badly. I can just imagine how much fun it was being out in the lake. I only saw a couple of the surfers catch a wave and the ride was really short.

We had a few weeks of cold weather so I decided it was time to take a drive along the Mississippi River and look for Eagles. We headed out early in the morning and had only driven a couple of miles when we drove over a small hill. All of a sudden there was a Bald Eagle right in front of the car. There was a deer carcass right on the edge of the road and the Eagle was trying to get airborne as we approached. I though for sure we were going to hit it because about all we could see out the front windshield was the Eagle. We drove down to the a place where we could turn around and drove back to see if it had returned to the carcass. It was flying around then landed in a tree above the carcass.

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After taking some photos we continued on our way. Along the way we encountered three Bald Eagles out in a field. Of course they were on the wrong side of the road so we drove down to the next cross roads and turned around. When we returned the first Eagle we encountered was immature.

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We drove down a little further and there were two adult Eagles together. I managed to photograph one standing in the field and the other as it flew off.

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We then drove down to Reads Landing just up the Mississippi River from  The National Eagle Center in  Wabasha, Minnesota. Unfortunately we were skunked at Reads Landing. As we drove along the river toward Red Wing, Minnesota we saw a few more eagles but none that we could photograph. We ended up at Colvill Park in Red Wing. In the past we had been able to get some good eagle photos in the park but on this day we only saw one Bald Eagle perched in a tree.

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In the past someone has been feeding ducks but it didn’t look like that was being done any more. I managed a shot of a couple of Mallard Ducks paddling in the bay. There were a couple of Trumpeter Swans in the area but they were too far away.

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While we were in the park a friend called and when he found out where we were he suggested driving up to Lock and Dam Number 3.  We had some trouble finding it but when we did we saw about five Bald Eagles perched in various trees. Most were too far away but I did manage a few photos.

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We realized that we were not all that far from King’s Bar and Grill in Miesville, Minnesota so we decided to stop and have a burger. They have the largest selection of Burgers I’ve ever seen. The biggest problem is trying to decide which one to have.

Several years ago we made a visit to the International Eelpout Festival in Walker, Minnesota. It had been on my bucket list for some time. During the festival I took this photo of one of the Festival royalty kissing an Eelpout. The photo recently appeared on page 57 of the Lake Time Magazine. You can check out the online version here.Eelpout-Festival-15-2-_2740

After spending some time at Au Train Falls we drove down through Au Train to Au Train Beach on Lake Superior. I managed to take a few shots while my wife was trying to find the Packer game on the radio.

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Last weekend was Farm-City Day in our area. It offered non-farmers a chance to get out and see what is happening in farming. Turned out the farm was just down the road from us. We drive past it all the time and didn’t even know it existed. We arrived when the event was scheduled to start and there were already over 50 cars in the parking lot.

After registering we boarded a hay wagon for a trip around the farm. I would have liked to walk around but I suspect the liability would be too great.

We drove past the barn where the new born calves are house. They stay with their mothers for a week and then are moved to this fully automated calf barn. Feeding is automatic and RFD tags allows the farm to monitor each calves food intake. Beading is sawdust made from old buildings torn down in the Twin Cities. As the calves grow they are moved through a succession of barns.

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We passed two large liquid manure holding tanks. The were cement with clay underneath to prevent any leakage into the ground water. Sand is used for bedding for the older cows and 99 percent of it is recovered cleaned and reused.

The silage pile was 36 feet high. An iron pipe is driven into the top of the pile so workers can use a safety harness when working on the pile. The pile is on concrete and any drainage is cleaned or pumped into the Liquid manure pit. It takes two people 8 hours per day to feed the cattle.

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The highligh of the visit was the milking parlor. It was circular and turned. The cows hopped on and when done milking hopped off. It holds 60 cows and takes 8 minutes to rotate. As we watched it look like two people were preparing the cows and attaching the milkers.

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The equipment to cut the silage is designed to scan the wagon and then automatically fill it to capacity before turning off.

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The equipment to spread the liquid manure places it in the ground rather than spreading it on the surface.

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The farm expects to milk 2,000 cows next year. My grandfather had about a dozen.

 

 

We made a late season trip through Crex Meadows the last week of summer. Things were relatively quiet. We did see a number of hawks and eagles, there were quite a few ducks around. Most of the flowers were gone as well as the butterflies.
There were a lot of Wood Ducks around, far more than I’ve seen before. It was a little difficult to photograph birds because the ducks were very skittish and the grass was so high along the road it was difficult to use the car as a blind.

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The Trumpeter Swans are around. This year’s batch of young are almost adults now.

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Grebes can be found on the various flowages.

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Smartweed is blooming.

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There was some color in the trees but it looks like most of the Aspen and Birch trees are turning brown. We noticed this same phenomenon as we drove through Northern Wisconsin.