Monday, October 25, 2010

A fall trip to St Louis

So I was reading the magazine, Midwest Living and they had an article about taking a trip down the Illinois river. Beautiful scenery, canyons, waterfalls and when we reached the end of the river we would be so close to St. Louis we just had to go there as well. Sounded like a fantastic plan so my daughter and I packed up Emma(our springer spaniel), my mom and dad, and were off on our way.

Our first stop was to Starved Rock State Park. What a beautiful place to spend the day. I had been practicing taking waterfall pictures so I could capture the water coming over the canyon walls. That didn't quit happen since it was all dryed up by this time of year. But with it all dry, we were able to climb into the back of each canyon and take some wonderful shots that would have been impossible with the water flowing. The place was packed making it hard to get some great shots without people in them. But without the people in them it would be hard to show the vastness of the canyons. My recommendations....go on a weekday, were your hiking boots, bring the dog and be ready to climb hundreds of stairs. It was well worth the stop.
Our next stop was Chautaugua National wildlife refuge. It was a little rainy that day but the forest was still beautiful and the birds where plenty. We went in hopes of seeing the white pelicans that make their home there. Of course that day there were on the other side of the lake.
Dickson mounds museum was next. The story goes....Dr Don F Dickson desided to start excavations on the family farm. Which turned out to be the burial mounds for the american indians who lived there some 12,000 years ago. They have a wonderful museum filled with artifacts and a awe-inspiring journey of their way of life along the Illinois river valley. What I found to be fascinating is that their culture really didn't grow at all until the explorers introduced them to their way of life and all the things they had learned to make and trade for a better way of life. This is diffently a must see place.

We were off to Beardstrom. The only place where President Lincoln ever tried a court case. And of course he got his man off because the farmers almanac said it was cloudy that night so the witness couldn't possible have seen him commit the crime. That courtroom is still in use today and tours are available by this very nice lady. She dissappered before I could get a picture of her and get her name.

We made it to St. Louis that night and stayed at the Drury Hotel right next to Union Station in downtown. I highly recommend this place. Emma was very welcome there, although she really didn't care for the elevators. Very resonable pricing that included the dog, breakfast, drinks at 5, a small evening meal and free parking. The hot tub and pool was very clean and much needed after a long day of exploring.

We visited the zoo and loved it. It is very clean and the animals seem to be happy and moving around so you felt like you were so close. This guy was in with the baby giraffe and seemed to want all the attention on him. He was posing very well so I didn't mind.

Next stop was the art museum and the botanical gardens. Again, very nice and clean. Oh and by the way...the zoo and the art museum has free admittion. The botanical gardens was 12.00 to get in but well worth it. And lunch is exceptional at their cafe.
We made it home the next day tired out and ready for the weekend to relax.

The one thing I do have to say......Although we seen some great places along the way, Michigan has the best fall color you're going to see in the midwest.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Inspiration

I don't know of one gardener who doesn't start looking for even the slightest sign of new growth sneaking up through the last remains of our michigan snow. If there is even a hint of spring in the air we are out there inspecting. I'm so quilty of this myself.
And those first hints of spring are my inspirations to get out my camera. I've always been amazed with leaves. All kinds of leaves. From the new buds on the trees to the unraveling of the first ferns. Their shapes, their textures and even the many, many shades of color. I ask myself every time...."Who designed these anyway? They are fabulous!" Year after year I go through the same rituals, discovering, amazement and then taking even more pictures of them. I may have 20 images of grape leaves but there always seems to be another special leaf or bud.

Here are a few of what I've found in just my own back yard.

Ground covers, boxwoods, grasses,

lavender and grapevines all make wonderful subjects
to study.
To me it's all about color and texture. I try to keep my images to many different shades of the same color. To me, it seems be easier on the eye. A kinda calming effect. But don't overlook the importance of your lighting. Making sure it is playing off your main subject will keep it the center of attention.
There is no need to wait till the plants are in full bloom. Get out there now and discover the first round of amazing beauty all plants have to offer.

Hideaway Hilda

Hideaway Hilda