Sad, But Happy!

Sad, But Happy!

I can’t believe it’s mid-August already. Has your summer flown by as quickly as mine has? I’m feeling a little sad because I can already feel the changing of seasons is near. Here in northern Wisconsin, there’s a crispness in the air letting us know Fall is just around the corner.

I’m not sure I’m quite ready for summer to end and fall to begin … no, I know I’m not ready.

a lone duck swimming on a lake slightly covered in fog

Changing my mindset!

So, as sad as it may be to bid farewell to summer, I have my happy memories; some very fond summer memories. Oh sure, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the elephant in the room … Covid-19 that nasty Coronavirus pandemic thingy that has plagued much of 2020 thus far. That has not been fun and was partly the cause of my summer starting out with me feeling very stressed, overwhelmed, and sad.

I think I was too caught up in the news and world happenings, that quite frankly, I have no control over which is a difficult situation for a control freak for someone who likes to be in control.

Somewhere along the line, I’d had enough … enough negativity … enough bad news. It was time for me to work on my mindset and not be influenced by all the noise. After all, I was sitting in a beautiful, secluded location surrounded by nature and people I love. It was time for me to control me. Ah, an epiphany!

Enlightened by canoeing!

It was a quiet and calm morning in early July when Al and I launched the canoe. Five minutes later, we were paddling through a patch of lily pads. It was so quiet and calm that other than the occasional call of a loon or croak of a frog, the only sounds we heard were the trickling of water dripping from our paddles and the movement of the canoe gliding through the floating flat leaves. It was a magical moment, a picturesque moment, but alas, I consciously left my camera behind. I wanted to live in the moment with no distractions.

As we continued canoeing, Al and I paddled in silence taking in our surroundings. Soon we exited the lily pads and rounded an island. We spotted a bald eagle sitting on a tree limb high above us. Moments later, we spotted another bald eagle on a much lower limb and smaller in stature. (Where’s my camera when I need it? ūü•ī) We determined that this must be a nesting pair of bald eagles as evidenced by the loud squawking sound heard nearby from a hungry eaglet. “Feed me, feed me!”

We sat in the canoe with our paddles idly resting across our legs while floating and being awed by our surroundings. My mind was quiet. I felt more at peace and relaxed than I had felt in months. I was happy! Perhaps, I would’ve been even happier had I brought my camera along to capture the exquisite morning. No, I was definitely happy despite being without a camera or even my iPhone. I was in my element and savoring every moment, sight, and sound.

A great summer!

So, even though my summer didn’t start out the best, it has turned into a very relaxing and enjoyable time filled with plenty of fond memories. Come early October, I’ll be sad to leave our little slice of perfection on family property in northern Wisconsin behind, but I’ll be happy to hit the road bound for Arizona in search of new adventures.

This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.‚ÄĚ ‚Äē¬†Susan Polis Schutz

I leave you with a few more images showcasing my summer sights. To enlarge a photo in a gallery, simply click on any image.

How was your summer? Are you happy or sad to see it come to an end?

I’m not a Photographer

I’m not a Photographer

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of connecting with a blogging pal. He had recently purchased a new Panasonic camera at my recommendation and was interested in a little help navigating the camera’s settings. Since I’ve been shooting regularly with a variety of Panasonic cameras for the past six years, I was more than happy to assist.

Actually, I loved the opportunity, and we had a fantastic outing where I think we both learned a few things. It’s always fun shooting with another photographer considering we all see things differently. We might be photographing the same subject, yet our images won’t look anything alike.

As my new friend and I were discussing this fact, I made the comment, “As photographers, we all see things differently, and therefore, create our own unique image”. My friend was very quick to respond to my comment by saying, “Oh, I’m not a photographer”. I immediately knew why he said that and could totally relate.

For years, I have felt uncomfortable referring to myself as a photographer. I consider myself more of a snapshot taker, picture taker, a novice, newbie, amateur, beginner … photographer wannabe.

what is a photographer? photography 101 #what is a photographer

What is a photographer?

So, after pondering those thoughts, I did a little Googling and this is what I came up with …

  • Photographers create memories and make special moments unforgettable. (check, that’s me)
  • Photographers produce and preserve images that paint a picture, tell a story, or record an event. (again, check)

Okay, well then maybe I am a photographer according to these two sentences. But then I dove a little deeper.

  • A photographer is a person who takes photographs, especially as a job.
  • A photographer is a professional that focuses on the art of taking photographs.
  • Photographers are artists with a camera.
  • Photographers can work as fine artists, wedding/event photography, or¬†sell their photographs to commercial clients.

Hmm, we’ve got some keywords there that definitely don’t apply to me. Therefore, I am not a photographer but merely a snapshot taker … or am I? I’m so confused!

Grand Tetons National Park, #Grand Tetons

Professional vs. Amateur

Have you ever entered a photography contest or read the rules to one of those contests? They seem to always use the terms Professional Photographer and Amateur Photographer making a decided distinction that there’s more than one kind of photographer.

Perfect example; The Washington Post sponsored a photo contest a while back. As I read the rules, this sentence really resonated with me.

Only amateur photographers are eligible. Professional photographers (i.e., anyone who earns more than 50 percent of his or her annual income from photography) are not eligible.

The distinction has nothing to do with the quality of a photographer’s work, but rather with his/her income, and both amateurs and professionals are considered photographers.

Dragonfly #dragonflies


After my research, I think I finally feel comfortable calling myself a photographer … an amateur photographer that is because I am most definitely not a professional photographer.

Whether its a hobby or a profession, we all love this thing called photography. The difference is we either sell our images or give them away. Does it really matter to those admiring a beautiful photograph? So, snap away on that iPhone, point & shoot, or nifty mirrorless camera and embrace calling yourself a photographer. After all, it’s so much easier than referring to yourself as a snapshot taker and a heck of a lot more fun too! ūüď∑

Best Friends, #best friends, #hug it out
I told you, we ARE photographers!

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Professional Cleaning Kit for Cameras
Camera Mug

What is a photographer? Why you should call yourself a photographerWhat is an amatuer photographer? #photography #lovephotography

Marketing and Politics

Do you know when you’re being sold? I’m sure images of a used car salesman come to mind as I ask this question. The moment we set foot on a car lot, we expect to be sold. But we are being marketed to and sold everyday in a way much more subtle than the typical sales scenario. Think about it … we can barely open our computers or phones without being inundated with ads. Gosh, even my simple little blog here has of life via chess

How about that cruise ship brochure depicting images of a Caribbean island with its immaculate white sand beaches? The marketing brochures never share the poverty-stricken areas that the shore excursion bus needs to drive through to get to that beach. And once we get to said beautiful beach, what we envisioned as somewhat secluded, we find ourselves sharing with hoards of other cruise ship tourists. So much for pristine!

Steamboat Lake Colorado

When most of us first start RVing, we have illusions of being camped along some beautiful lake or river in a quiet setting surrounded by nature. After all, isn’t that what we see in all the RV brochures? The brochures never share images of the typical RV park, many of which pack RV’s into sites so tight that you can reach out your window and touch your neighbor. Al and I do our best to stay clear of those sardine kind of RV parks, but sometimes it’s the only option when we have our heart set on visiting some cool city or event.

I know we all believe the ad about buying that macho 4×4 pick-up truck that can drive straight up the side of a mountain, or maybe you should buy that shiny little sports car so gorgeous models will hang all over you.

Those diet pills will guarantee a six-pack stomach in just 30 days without exercising. Add in that wrinkle cream, and you too will look 20 years younger (I want some of that).

These idyllic pictures are marketing fantasy created to sell

Politicians paint those same marketing fantasies in their ads, and I for one can’t wait for Wednesday when the inundation of political ads will come to an end …. temporarily. The pandering for votes seems endless and the promises made aren’t attainable.

Unwritten rules

In the RVing world, there’s an unspoken rule to avoid talking about religion or politics, especially at large social gatherings or when meeting new RVers for the first time. Obviously, these are two subjects which incite strong emotion and opinion. Al and I aren’t good at following unwritten rules and have never shied away from a thought-provoking conversation especially one’s that are enlightening and educational. It’s okay to agree to disagree without slinging expletives or fists.

I remember one in particular social gathering when a few RVers were gathered around a toasty campfire.

No subject was off-limits with this group, or so we thought!

My husband appeared to be having an engaging conversation with the gentleman sitting next to him when all of a sudden, the man covered his ears with both hands and mouthed, “Lalalah, I can’t hear you”. Yep, this grown man was acting like a child.

Once he removed his hands from his ears, he angrily commented “My minister warned me about people like you who would try to make me question my beliefs”. A shocked and apologetic Al responded by saying, “I’m sorry. That was never my intent. I thought we were having an educational conversation about theology”. You see, Al has lived all over the world and spent time in the Middle East and Asia. Therefore, he has been exposed to nearly all faiths and has been educated in religious theology, a subject he finds fascinating. Most historians understand the correlation between religion and war, and since Al is most definitely a history buff, he enjoys talking about the subject.

Was that man insecure about his faith? Did he lack the intellect or desire to understand other faiths? Was he so ingrained in what he had been taught, that he felt his faith was right and others wrong? Or was he merely uncomfortable talking about religion?

Political conversations

I see similar situations in today’s political climate. People’s emotions are running rampant and opinions strong. Logical and intellectual conversation is difficult. The rhetoric and mud-slinging has stooped to new levels on both sides of the fence.

I wonder, do we recognize when our emotions are being manipulated?

Can we tell when we are being sold and marketed to in an effort to inflame emotions? Is one politician better at marketing rhetoric than another? Do we only read articles that reinforce what we already believe, or are we open-minded? Are we able to see and understand both sides of a coin? When we see an advertisement, an article, a newscast, do we take it as truth or do research? After all, we all know the internet never lies and everything on Facebook is real¬†ūüôĄ

Are we all pawns in the political arena as we watch the constant game of power struggle, vendettas, and payback? (Term limits?) And does the media play a role in the game and stir the pot resulting in more emotional outrage?

I recently started watching a PBS series called Jamestown. It takes place in¬†1619, and follows the first English settlers as they¬†establish a community¬†in the New World. I can’t help but see a similarity in the scenarios that took place then that are taking place now.

One would think that after 400 years, American’s would’ve learned from past mistakes.¬†Instead, I see the same things happening today that happened in the 1600’s. Power always corrupts and accusations, whether real or false, are used against people.

Someone accuses someone of being a witch, so it must be true. Guilty! Burn her at the stake. Same thing is happening today. People are being used as pawns and are being deemed guilty until proven innocent causing the loss of jobs and reputations. What about due process … fair treatment through the normal judicial system, especially as a citizen’s entitlement?

I wouldn’t want to be comedian these days and actually feel badly for them. They can’t say half the sh*t that was said in the 70’s and 80’s. I wonder if¬†George Carlin could survive in today’s sensitive climate.

What a great entertainer. Here’s some fun quotes he made –¬† “Find the line, and cross it“. “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.”¬†Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.” “Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.” “Here’s all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid.”

Just a little more and I think I snagged him!

I don’t have the answers

But I do understand marketing and these politicians hire some of the best marketers around. I also feel progress can’t be made until emotions are shelved and logic rules. Emotions are what incites violence. Smart people know this and know exactly how to stir up conflict. It’s important we not be sold, not believe everything we hear or read, and to embrace tolerance. Try and find humor in our current cast of characters and find solace in knowing everything is temporary. This too shall pass!

Diane Feinstein needs to retire
Some politicians won’t be around forever!

Don’t be sold

Did you vote? Is it Wednesday yet? Are those dang political ads over? Did that wrinkle cream make me look 20 years younger? ūü§£ūü§£ūü§£

“While men inhabiting different parts of this vast continent cannot be expected to hold the same opinions, they can unite in a common objective and sustain common principles.” –¬†Franklin Pierce, 14th President of the U.S.


‚ÄúIf you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn‚Äôt sit for a month.‚ÄĚ -Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President

Thanks for listening to my little rant. I’ve never posted about politics before and I doubt I will in the future. Remember, I’m not picking sides. So, if you decide to comment, please be nice!

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Embracing Photography Failure

When I started this¬†blog¬†five years¬†ago, I was sharing photographs that were shot with a $79 Kodak digital point and shoot camera.¬† I didn’t know anything about photo editing or even that the photographs needed to be edited.¬† What came out of the camera got shared on the blog … as is.

great blue heron

Like any newbie blogger, I was excited to get that first follow, that first like, and of course, that first comment.  As the months passed, I eagerly continued writing posts filled with photographs.  The comments and followers increased and I developed friendships, friendships that continue to this day.

sandOne day, I received a message.  An email message from a fellow blogger?  Oh, how exciting, I thought!

That¬†excitement was short-lived as¬†I read … “If you’re going to post pictures on your blog, the least you could do is a little photo editing.¬† There’s no excuse for sharing a photograph with a crooked horizon especially since there’s free editing software like Picasa that’ll fix it in a second.¬†

Oh and quit posting the photos so little.¬† If you’re going to share photos, then share photos so we can see them.¬† Don’t expect readers to click to enlarge because they won’t.¬† Nobody has time for that.¬†

Aside from the poor pictures, nice blog“.

whooping cranesAll righty then …. I was heartbroken, mortified, and embarrassed.¬† How is it I was capable of building award-winning custom homes from conception to completion, and yet I knew nothing¬†about photo editing?

Quite frankly, my computer/technology skills¬†were basic at best, which drove¬†my business accountant crazy ūü§ď

Old school film seemed simple;  snap a bunch of pictures until the roll of film was full then take it to the drugstore to get it developed. Botta bing, botta boom!

poor photograph
FAIL – nice color, relatively sharp, but I didn’t keep panning and thus cut off his head

That message gnawed at me.  Editing?  Hmm!  Google and I became well acquainted.  Picasa was downloaded.  I started following blogs that focused on photography, along with all the RVing blogs I already followed.  As our RV travels increased, so did the photo-taking AND sharing.  A slow and steady photographic evolution morphed.

Great Blue Heron
Better РGreat Blue Heron     ISO 100     F4     1/800       56.9mm  (35mm equivalent 312mm)

I’ve been humbled by many of¬†your¬†complimentary comments¬†lately¬†about my photography.¬† Through A LOT of trial and error, I do feel¬†it has¬†improved as¬†have my editing skills, but the compliments and questions¬†still surprise me.¬† I consider myself a novice, a beginner, a work in progress when it comes to photography.

With that said, I thought I’d share a little behind the scenes, or shall I say, behind the lens with you all, and show you¬†a few¬†of my photo fails and successes…. a¬†post about¬†what works for me, using simple and inexpensive camera gear.

ducks in-flight
Camera set on ‘shutter priority’.¬† ISO 200¬† F4.5¬†¬† 1/1600¬†¬† 54.5mm (35mm equivalent= 305mm)

I’m still a comedy of errors behind the lens, and fully embrace my tried and true method of ‘point and pray’ style of photography.¬† So this isn’t a detailed ‘how-to’ post.¬† And if you consider yourself an accomplished photographer, I always welcome critique cormorantand recommendations.

I’m actually grateful for that critical email message …. well, maybe ūüėČ

I’ve gone through the camera envy stage, and still do.¬†¬†When I see¬†amazing images on a blog post, I’ll ask the¬†blogger about their camera gear thinking if I use what they’re using my photographs will improve.

Or maybe if I spend more money on camera gear, I’ll capture better images.¬†¬†¬†We all know this isn’t necessarily¬†true!¬† We’ve all¬†seen stunning photographs taken with an iPhone and some very poor¬†photos taken with a DSLR.

Therefore, camera choice is personal, and the best camera to have, is the camera that you carry?Pelican

So what camera(s) do I¬†carry?¬† I¬†predominantly¬†use what’s referred to as a “Bridge” camera.¬† A bridge camera is more than a Point and Shoot, but not quite a DSLR.¬† Thus, a bridge between the two.¬†¬† There’s no lens changing with a bridge camera but¬†there are a lot of¬†customizing options.¬† I have a whole¬†page dedicated to cameras¬†if you’d like more detailed information.¬† I realize, whatever¬†camera I use, it’s important to learn how to¬†operate the equipment and know its capabilities and limitations.

shore birds
FAIL – I set camera on ‘program’ mode. Totally wrong setting for moving subject.¬† ¬†ISO 400¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† F4.0
shutter  1/100   causing a blurry mess         55.7mm (35mm equivalent 310mm)     No cropping
shore birds
Moderate FAIL РISO 400   F4.0    shutter 1/250    still too slow for moving subject    30.1mm (35mm = 167mm)shore birds different day   ISO 100   F4.5     shutter 1/1000      70.5mm (35mm equivalent 392mm)        No cropping

The built-in zoom on my Panasonic is marketed as a 25-600mm lens which allows me to shoot a wide-angle landscape image one minute and then zoom in on wildlife within seconds.¬† I love this flexibility, but it does have its drawbacks.¬† The quality of the photograph will never be on par with a DSLR and the crop factor is limiting.¬† It’s all about resolution, pixels, and sensor size.



I’ve¬†used this camera for three years and have learned its strengths AND its weaknesses and I know when I zoom in to that 600mm capability, I will lose image quality.¬† I also know its aperture sweet spot is F4.0 and it’s best not to take the ISO over 400.¬† There are also times it has trouble focusing,

FAIL – even though the heron is in the center of the photo and¬† camera was set to a ‘center’ focal point,¬† camera had trouble focusing on the heron with all the vegetation ¬†ūüėí¬† It’s the camera, not me!¬†¬†Panny and I have been at odds lately!¬†¬†¬† ISO 100¬†¬†¬† F2.8 (even at F4.0 camera had difficulty focusing)¬†¬†¬† ¬†1/800¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 107.8mm (592mm)
ISO 100    F5.0    1/1600       108mm (600mm)    Fail on placement of Watermark. Not thrilled with composition!

How close am I to the birds and what lens am I using?¬† Hmm!¬† I have no clue on actual distance but I can share lens distance.¬†¬† Since I’m using a bridge camera, there’s no¬†specific lens to talk about, but I can share an equivalence to a DSLR.¬† If you note the info on each photo, I’ve shared the mm number.

Since I have a cropped sensor camera, the number in parentheses is the equivalent if using a full-frame camera.¬† If you don’t understand sensor size or why my camera or an iPhone will¬†never capture the image quality of a DSLR, here’s an enlightening article that might clarify.

bird photography

How do I capture birds in motion?¬†¬†For a Point and Shoot, I set the camera to the “sports” setting.¬† My little Sony P&S doesn’t offer¬†a sport setting¬†but it does have a “pet” setting that does ok.¬†Then set the camera on “burst” mode.

Multiple shots taken spoonbillat one time is key, but note,¬†point and shoot cameras can¬†be slow to process multiple shots and take a few seconds to recover and be¬†ready to snap again.¬† I’ll admit, I rarely use¬†the¬†Sony P&S for birds. Too challenging.

For my bridge camera, I prefer to set the camera on “shutter priority”.¬† I’ve tried using the “sports” setting and “aperture priority”, but wasn’t pleased with the results.¬† Every camera and user¬†is different.

Because I’ve photographed so many birds with my Panasonic, I have a pretty good handle on how fast my shutter needs to be for specific birds.¬†¬† For example; cranes and herons in-flight, the shutter¬†can be as low as 1/800 but for ducks, I need at¬†least 1/1600.¬† And I always¬†have the camera set on “burst” mode, taking at least three shots at a time.

whooping crane

Yes, I do delete a lot of photographs, and I’m ok with that.¬† I also set the camera on continuous focus (AFC) and switch back and forth between a center focus point¬†versus multiple focus points.

Cormorant¬† –¬† ISO 200¬†¬†¬† F4¬†¬†¬†¬† 1/800¬†¬†¬†¬† 46.5mm¬† (35 equivalent 290mm)

If my subject is holding still or I’m shooting landscapes, I’ll alternate between the IA (intelligent auto) and P (program) settings.¬† I do acknowledge that the camera can oftentimes be smarter than me.¬† Thus, I never feel badly using the camera in full auto mode.


Whenever I’m photographing wildlife, I take a ton of photographs.¬† Remember, digital photography¬†is free.¬†So why not shoot away! ¬†It’s not uncommon for me to shoot 300 plus photographs¬†in a day,¬†and if the birding is really good, I might shoot as many as 1,000.¬† Out of those images, I¬†expect to¬†like¬†maybe 25.¬† By the way, I only shoot that volume of¬†photographs when it comes to wildlife.

Camera set on Auto – unprocessed, right out of the camera. ¬†I still can’t hold my camera straight!
exact same photo, but OVER processed for fun!

Photo processing РThis past January, I finally graduated in the editing department.  I jumped from Picasa to Photoshop Lightroom.  I know some folks think processing/editing is somehow trickery, but processing is necessary for optimal imagery.

It’s no different from film.¬† The roll of film was processed and pictures were developed from the negatives.¬† You wouldn’t walk around sharing the negatives.¬†¬†It’s the same with Lightroom or any other photo editing program.

Some folks like to over process a photograph for dramatic effect.¬† Most of the time, I try to keep the colors in my¬†photos to as close to what I see, to reality.¬† However, even Ansel Adams¬†played around with developing/processing.¬† It’s just another way to let the creative juices flow.

image¬†right out of camera – no processing.¬† I finally activated the “grid lines” on¬†my camera to assist me¬†in achieving a straight horizon.¬† You’d think by now, I could hold my camera level ūüėí
bird in-flight
Same image processed; a little cropping & color adjusting. Is the horizon now slanting the other way? Geez!

Lately, I’ve been shooting more purposely.¬† You know, thinking about composition, accessing settings, and striving for a¬†compelling image.

All I can say to that is the delete black bellied whistling ducksbutton is working in overdrive and the fails far outweigh the wins more than ever before.¬† Ah, but isn’t that part of the fun and challenge of photography?

Hmm, maybe I’ll return to that ‘point and pray’ method¬† ūüėĄ

But the big question is always, “Are we having fun yet?” You bet I am, and my recommendation is whatever camera you’re using, whether you process or not, keep posting.¬† Don’t let anyone derail your creativity.

Cheers to sharing photographs – the good, the bad, and all the in-betweens!

pair of great blue herons
This is the same image as the first image in this post only cropped differently.

Tony Northrup’s DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ300K

A Mirror of Reflections

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe it’s September already.¬† Our summer flew by, and although our travels didn’t exactly go as planned, we are not complaining.¬† Actually, we couldn’t have planned¬†our summer¬†any better.¬† Sometimes winging it can turn into an amazing adventure.

Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park

The travel God’s smiled on us regularly as we changed directions on a whim. ¬†I mean literally from one second to another we were changing our minds on where we should go and pulling into campgrounds without reservations…. not ideal in the peak of tourist season. ¬†One minute we were in crisis mode pointing the RV in an easterly direction, and the next, with the crisis averted, we found ourselves turning around and¬†heading north; traveling with no¬†real rhyme or reason other than some impending obligations.

Jackson Lake, Wyoming
Jackson Lake, Wyoming

The flexibility and freedom of traveling in a RV can be liberating, exciting, stressful, wonderful, scary, perplexing, and¬†of course,¬†relaxing ……¬†it’s kind of¬†like a rollercoaster of emotions, but¬†minus the word relaxing.¬† As much as I love a good rollercoaster ride, I’ve never found one to be relaxing – exhilarating yes, relaxing no!¬† And RVing can be an exhilarating journey.

Jackson Lake, Wyoming
Jackson Lake, Wyoming

Along with seeing spectacular scenery this summer, we met some wonderful people.¬† More than once we were referred to as “seasoned”.¬† On July 1st, we entered our fourth year of full-time RV living.¬† Our one to two year intention of living in the RV full-time has since turned into year four.¬† I’m not sure when we¬†progressed from “newbie” RV’er to “seasoned” RV’er, but here we are,¬† still enjoying the journey, and¬†willing to share¬†our school of hard knocks knowledge with any “RV newbie” who asks.

Grand Junction, Colorado
Grand Junction, Colorado

I’ll admit, three years ago as a relative ‘newbie’, I would never have handled the winging it style of travel we embarked on this summer.¬† I’ve always been a planner and usually have a game plan laid out weeks in advance,¬†and most times,¬†months in advance.¬† I think, over time,¬†we’ve developed a level of RVing confidence. We¬†have confidence in¬†knowing we’ll always manage to find a place to overnight, even if it’s just a parking lot.

Loved visiting the ducks at Schbacher Landing, Grand Tetons, Wyoming
Loved visiting the ducks at Schwabacher Landing, Grand Tetons, Wyoming

There are days I do miss a home base.¬† A place to go back to and regroup, but I still haven’t found that spot I’d¬†like to call home.¬† So the search shall continue.¬† I do know it won’t be Jackson Hole, Wyoming.¬† Although¬†amazingly beautiful, and I look forward to returning, my blood is too thin to tackle that weather.¬† More than once we awoke to temperatures in the 30 degree Fahrenheit range along with a fresh dusting of snow on the peaks and this was in mid July¬†…. beautiful BUT brrrr!

I don't think I'd ever tire of this view, but I couldn't live here - too cold...brrrr!
I don’t think I’d ever tire of this view, but I couldn’t live here – too cold…brrrr!

The moment I realized this weeks photo challenge was mirror, I knew I had to share some images from¬†our summer excursion¬†….. photographs depicting reflections.¬† I’m still struggling with my computer issues, thus my lack of blogosphere presence may continue, but now that we’ve decided to slow our travels down a tad and spend the next two months hanging in Prescott, Arizona, I’m hoping to finally upgrade this dinosaur of a laptop.

Yellowstone Bear World, Idaho
Yellowstone Bear World, Idaho

Once I bring home¬†that new laptop, I’ll¬†start writing about our interesting travel stops.¬† Not only do these photographs depict reflections, as I review them, I reflect on our memories, on our journey, on the adventure.

Grand Junction, Colorado
Grand Junction, Colorado
Slate River Road, Crested Butte, Colorado
Slate River Road, Crested Butte, Colorado

My biggest dilemma was narrowing down the photographs to just a few, which was not an easy task for me.  We managed to visit some stunningly beautiful places during the past few months.  We started in Arizona last April then ventured into Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and now, five months later, have returned to Arizona.

I was excited to see a Pelican fly by - Pelicans in Wyoming?
I was excited to see a Pelican fly by – Pelicans in Wyoming?
Lots of ducks
Lots of ducks
Mountains and Wildlife - love it!
Mountains and Wildlife – love it!

Yep, we had one heck of a rollercoaster¬†ride this¬†summer¬†….. wouldn’t change a moment….. not the highs, the lows, or the upside downs.¬† Stay tuned for all the stories!

Harmonic enlightenment, and then some

I glanced down at the open book of Hymns on my lap and pondered the fact that I’m clueless when it comes to music.¬† Oh, I¬†quite enjoy¬†listening to it, but I’m oblivious¬†when it comes to¬†the understanding¬†of notes, composition, tune, rhythm, etc.

It wasn’t my intention to¬†attend church services that morning.¬† I’m not normally a church goer, but I do occasionally get drawn in by architecture and every now and then the need for a little spiritual enlightenment.¬† It was a lovely morning, and¬†I was out and about visiting a local historical landmark.¬† The Lamar, Texas, cemetery¬†has gravestones dating back to the Civil War and all the local tourist¬†brochures listed this as a site to¬†visit.

So, there I was on a Sunday morning strolling through a cemetery when I realized the¬†neighboring little Catholic Church’s’ doors were open.¬† My curiosity was such, that I found myself entering the¬†Stella Maris Chapel¬†and taking a seat in the second to the last row of pews.¬† I was a little¬†music_clipart_notesearly and only the fifth person to arrive.¬† I glanced around taking in my surroundings and noting the Hymn numbers posted.¬† I turned to the appropriate page to glance at the first song to be sung.¬† I already knew I wouldn’t be singing out loud…..

My first real exposure to the education of music was somewhere around the seventh grade. It was a¬†semester long, daily one-hour class exposing students to all aspects of music including singing.¬† This sounded like a fun class to me, especially since I could sing really well…. or so I thought.¬† After all, what teenager doesn’t like singing¬†along¬†with¬†their favorite artist?

The first day of this new class, the teacher wanted to get to know¬†the students¬†and¬†their abilities.¬† She had the left half of the class sing the first verse of a song and then she had the right half sing it.¬† She’d¬†select different students to sing a line¬†while the rest of us remained silent.¬†¬† Recommendations were made and it was obvious these first few students that had attracted her attention were talented singers.

this little gal sings beautifully
this little gal sings beautifully

This process continued¬†and when¬†the teacher¬†finally called my name, I proudly stood erect thinking she’d want me to sing by myself.¬† Instead, I was told to sing a little softer, which I did, but apparently not soft enough.¬† She stopped our group two more times to tell me to sing a little softer.¬† Once my volume was down to¬†lip-synching level¬†and not one vocal cord in my throat vibrated, I was given a big thumbs up… “That’s perfect, Ingrid.¬† Keep singing at that volume for the rest of class”.

gumby and poky“Seriously”, I thought?¬† “What did she know?”¬† I couldn’t wait to get home and sing my heart out into my little cassette player-recorder, proving that the music teacher didn’t know what she was talking about.¬† And sing I did, and in my head I sounded fantastic!

With a smile on my face and child-like exuberance, I rewound the cassette and hit play to hear my wonderful rendition of I¬†Think I Love You.¬†¬† Come on, who didn’t want to be Susan Day back then?¬† I even played an air piano while singing and had taken an iron to my unfashionable curly hair an hour earlier.

Alone in my room,¬†I listened to the¬†singer on the cassette player.¬† I didn’t recognize the voice, yet I knew it was mine.¬† I continued listening figuring it had to get better, because it couldn’t possibly get any worse.¬† Or could it?¬† My faced flushed with embarrassment at¬†the realization I couldn’t sing…. or rather I shouldn’t sing.

Oh well, I never had any aspirations to be a musical performer, thus I focused on being the best lip singer in class.¬† Ever since discovering my inability to carry a tune, I rarely sing.¬† Even today when we’ve joined friends for karaoke, I won’t sing, but I will gladly get on stage¬†to be¬†a background dancer for a Robert Palmer song!

Vultures can't sing, but they do hiss
Vultures can’t sing, but they do hiss

Back to church….. After a little fire and brimstone which included why parishioners should sing out loud (egad, did the priest imply me?) services were over and I exited the church.¬† I¬†immediately noticed a turkey vulture in¬†a tree.¬† I first became intrigued¬†with these unique birds a couple of years ago during a visit to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.¬† My fascination lead to a series of Google searches to learn about them.¬† Did you know, vultures lack a syrinx and are nearly silent?¬† Their vocalizations are limited to grunts and hisses; no harmonic singing from these birds.

We glance at each other knowing we share a common bond - we can't sing!
We glanced at each other knowing we share a common bond – we can’t sing!

As I approached the tree located between the church and the cemetery, Vivian Vulture hissed at me.¬† I hissed back, “Come on Viv…. we’re kindred spirits…. neither one of us can sing”.vulture

Vultures serve an important role in the circle of life.¬† Some may say they’re ugly.¬† I find them beautiful.¬† I shared my unusual infatuation with these birds before along with¬†some intriguing facts.¬† If you’re interested in¬†reading a few more tidbits about vultures and seeing¬†more photos,¬†you can read¬†my post here.

I may not have felt any spiritual enlightenment from the church sermon, but I did experience a clarity that morning with my encounter with Vivian.¬† I was reminded that we¬†are all created with a¬†distinct purpose and rare beauty; created with special talents or gifts; created with uniqueness¬†that should¬†be embraced.¬† How boring would it be if we were all able to sing like Adele?¬† Or worse, what if we all sang like Cameron Diaz in “My Best Friends Wedding”?¬† Oh¬†yikes, I do ūüėČ

Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution – Deepak Chopra