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Town and Country Photo Essay
Bumble Bee in Flight
Follow Me for Some Amazing Sights
My profession requires that I travel around the United States, and I take advantage of that opportunity by recording my experiences in photographs. These photos were taken in Montana and Pennsylvania in 2013 and 2014. The title refers to these as my favorite photographs during that time period, yet when I look at all of my photos, I keep wanting to grab more and more to share with you. So let's just say that these are among my favorites. Many of the places here have been featured in my individual articles as well.
Mountain Stream Bed
Mountain Stream Bed, Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park is truly a place like no other. I took the above photo while backpacking in the backcountry of Glacier. As I crossed this stream, the colors of the stones grabbed my attention, so I, in turn, grabbed my camera. The trail to Cosley Lake was covered with wildlife tracks in the muddy places. It was interesting to see the various animals I shared the trail with.
- Mountain lion
- Bighorn sheep
- Mountain goats
- Grizzly bear
Cell Block at Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Eastern State Penitentiary opened for business in the early 1800s, and was in constant use as a prison for nearly 150 years. The above photo is of a two level cell block. The prison is shaped like a wagon wheel, with the guard station in the hub. Cell blocks are straight and fan out from the hub so the guards could see the entire place simply by standing in the center of the room and turning to look down the length of each block. More than three hundred prisons around the world have copied this wagon wheel design.
Mountain Lakes of MontanaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Lakes of the Bitterroot Mountains
The Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana captured my heart during my six months living in the city of Missoula. The lakes in the above photos are at the ends of long, narrow canyons, lined with mountain peaks and forests. Cutthroat trout, the only native trout in Montana, await the backpacker who has the foresight to take his fly rod along. I mostly practiced catch and release, but from time to time, I dined on these fish. One reason I didn't eat more of them is that I didn't like the fact that I would have smelled like freshly killed fish after cleaning them. Some of the wildlife surrounding me already considered me a delicacy, even without the flavor enhancement of trout.
Bridge in the Pocono Mountains
If English is not your first language, I am about to commit a play on words. Bridge reflection could simply refer to the reflection of a bridge in the water beneath it. It could also refer to reflecting on, or thinking about the meaning of bridges. Let's do both.
- “Fear builds walls instead of bridges. I want a life of bridges, not walls.” Lisa Wingate
- “The wisdom of bridges comes from the fact that they know the both sides, they know the both shores!” Mehmet Murat ildan
- “The great systems that inform the world about the truth and life invariably claim to be absolutely truthful and well-balanced. In reality they are quaking bridges built out of yearning.” Peter Høeg, Tales of the Night
- The fate of the bridges is to be lonely; because bridges are to cross not to stay!” Mehmet Murat ildan
- “You can't lose battles you never fought. You can't blaze bridges you never crossed.” Dexsta Ray
Osprey, Coot and SparrowClick thumbnail to view full-size
To Love Wildlife, is to Love Birds, for They Are, by Far, What We See Most
What wildlife do we see on a daily basis? Birds, possibly squirrels for some of us. But birds for nearly all of us. Here are some photos of birds I've seen over the last couple of years. I share these, not because of great photography. It clearly isn't. It's because of the magnificent birds.
Below I am sharing a video of a Bald eagle swimming to shore with a large fish. It's what they do when the fish is too large for them to fly with. I saw an eagle do this on the Clarke Fork River in Missoula, Montana near the confluence with the Bitterroot River. The eagle was swimming about 150 feet from me. I had no camera and my phone was dead.
Soaring Eagle Becomes a Swimming Eagle
Jewel Basin, Flathead National Forest, Montana
My Favorite Photograph
The photo above was taken during a backpacking weekend in the Jewel Basin in Montana. It had rained the afternoon before when I began the hike and all night while I slept in my tent. In the morning, the sun rose into a partly sunny sky. I packed up and moved on up the trail. When I came to the end of a long climb, I was greeted by this amazing scene.
William Penn Statue, City Hall, Philadelphia
William Penn Atop Philadelphia's City Hall
William Penn towers above City Hall in Center City, Philadelphia. The founder of the commonwealth used to tower above everything around. Between 1984 and 1987, One Liberty Place was built to a height of 945 feet. Penn stood, and still stands, at 548 feet. Prior to the building of Liberty Place, there was a gentlemen's agreement in the city, that no structure would be built that exceeded the height of the statue of its founder.
Ganoga Falls, Rickett's Glen State Park, Pennsylvania
Rickett's Glen State Park, Pennsylvania
This large Pennsylvania State Park is comprised of 13,050 acres in Luzerne, Sullivan and Columbia counties. The feature of this park is the 7 1/2 mile loop trail that runs along two creeks. Along the way, hikers are rewarded with view after breathtaking view of 22 waterfalls.
I began my hike around 7:00 am on a Saturday after camping at a nearby campground. The morning was cool, the sky overcast and the trail abandoned except for me. I have shared this entire hike, along with photos, elsewhere, so I won't belabor the experience here. If you are looking for waterfalls in the eastern United States, this is where you need to go.
Animals, Both Wild and CaptiveClick thumbnail to view full-size
The silverback gorilla is in the Philadelphia Zoo. She was lying on the ground gazing into the sky while I watched from the other side of a glass wall. Eventually, she sat up and watched me and the other visitors to the zoo. She is a gorgeous and magnificent animal.
Sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Social Consciousness Sculpture
Sculptor, Jacob Epstein, helped to develop modern sculpture and produced this exhibit which was placed at the western entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The work has been interpreted by many to express sympathy for the afflicted of the world. I've read a little about the artist and believe he had more in mind. The figure to the right, I agree, shows a female figure supporting a stricken man. It expresses care for the afflicted in the world. The figure on the right, though, seems to be holding the man down, not assisting him, even dominating him. The fallen man's feet are still bound, something no one else mentioned that I could find. I believe that in the total work, Epstein was showing the whole range of the human spirit, and it isn't always pretty. The center figure is referred to as the "Eternal Mother."
Sandpipers, The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Philadelphia
The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Philadelphia
Sandpipers on the creek running through the wildlife refuge. The shopping cart, out of place in the setting, emphasizes how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service blends this wetlands in with the surrounding metropolitan population of nearly 7 million.
I paddled this tidal creek for several hours before low tide forced me to leave. During my time there, I photographed species after species of birds, crowded into the refuge.
In 1972 the refuge was established, permanently rescuing it from the constant threat of destruction and development.
The Delaware River at night, Philadelphia
This photo was taken during a nighttime visit to Penn's Landing in Philadelphia. My aim was to photograph the bridges crossing over to Camden, New Jersey, but the moon, the water and the sailboat coaxed my attention away from the mighty spans over the Delaware River.
Morel Mushrooms in Western Montana/Eastern Idaho
Morel Mushrooms in Montana?
Well, it was actually eastern Idaho on Highway 12 in the middle of the Bitterroot Mountains, but close to the Montana border. I was visiting a natural hot springs about three miles from the highway when I noticed people coming out of the forest carrying bags of something. I discovered they had been hunting morel mushrooms, something I had been doing since childhood back in Indiana and later in Michigan. I grabbed my backpack and trekked off into the trees. Soon I had a couple hundred mushrooms and headed back to Missoula to make a morel bisque.
Blodgett Canyon, Bitterroot National Forest, MontanaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Blodgett Canyon Trail may be the most beautiful hike I have ever taken. The twelve miles of mountain peaks and the lake at the back of the canyon were among the most beautiful scenery I have ever experienced. The three peaks challenge rock climbers from the area, but that is an activity I have not yet attempted. I'll leave it to the mountain goats and bighorn sheep.
Footbridge, Glacier National Park, Montana
I crossed this bridge while hiking in the backcountry of Glacier National Park in Montana. The entrance onto the bridge is built so that large animals aren't able to get onto the bridge.
Beargrass in Montana
Mule Deer and Beargrass
I sat at a picnic table in a mountain top campground next to the ghost town of Garnet, Montana. Beargrass plants were blooming all around me as the early morning sun shined through. Mule deer, not afraid of a lone camper, ventured closer, stopping occasionally to munch on the frosty tops of the plants, leaving white "crumbs" around their mouths as though they were eating cake.
Center City, Philadelphia
Kayaking is one of my favorite outdoor activities. When I first went to Philadelphia, I was disappointed that I wouldn't have many opportunities to get out in my boat. I finally gave the schuylkill river a try, I was pleasantly surprised. It is an awesome way to experience the city.
Saw Creek, Delaware National Forest, PennsylvaniaClick thumbnail to view full-size
Saw Creek, in the Delaware National Forest of Pennsylvania, won't find its way into too many travel brochures, but beauty is everywhere if we open our eyes to it. The sky clouded over and a gentle rain fell on the creek, the forest, the frog and me. My thanks to the frog for hanging in there for the portrait.
Bonus Photo. What is it?
What is That Thing in the Dark?
This photo was also taken in the Delaware National Forest of Pennsylvania. Do you see the lights in the background, between the trees, below the illuminated tree branch? What is it? I'll leave the answer in the last comment box at the bottom of the page.