Tetons Revisited

This was our second trip to the Grand Teton National Park and it was every bit as spectacular as the first time. One main difference was the weather which is obviously still clinging to the last gasps of winter even in late May. It rained, snowed or both every day and the mountains were often not visible at all. This time we had the pleasure of camping close to Jackson Lake which gave us several opportunities to photograph some reflections of the Teton mountains.

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South Dakota Badlands

The park’s brochure makes a statement about this place that we can appreciate but did not experience. They wrote, “For centuries humans have viewed South Dakota’s celebrated Badlands with a mix of dread and fascination.” For us, the place was simply fascinating! We did not sense the dread, but perhaps it is because we came in spring when the temperatures were mild and the grasses lush and green. In this place one can marvel at the eroded peaks and pinnacles, gullies, buttes and wide prairies. The skies were interesting and the light played with colors that seemed to change by the hour. There is a sense of vastness. Best of all, this is a great place to photograph!

In many places one can see layering in the rock formations; the result of broad cycles of climates and geologic processes that have shaped the region over the past 75 million years.

In many places one can see layering in the rock formations; the result of broad cycles of climates and geologic processes that have shaped the region over the past 75 million years.

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We saw plenty of Big Horn sheep. They are very used to tourist traffic and will pass within feet of photographers.

We saw plenty of Big Horn sheep. They are very used to tourist traffic and will pass within feet of photographers.

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Taken during a late afternoon golden hour.

Taken during a late afternoon golden hour.

Taken later in the same place with some late light reflecting on just this one hill.

Taken later in the same place with some late light reflecting on just this one hill.

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When the black hills were formed in South Dakota the ancient sea drained away. Once exposed to air, the black ocean mud was weathered into a yellow soil and this can be seen in mound-like structures in the park.

When the black hills were formed in South Dakota the ancient sea drained away. Once exposed to air, the black ocean mud was weathered into a yellow soil and this can be seen in mound-like structures in the park.

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This is the only standing water we saw in the park. It is a small pond inhabited by vocal frogs. I suspect that by late spring it will have dried up.

This is the only standing water we saw in the park. It is a small pond inhabited by vocal frogs. I suspect that by late spring it will have dried up.

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This spot reminded me of Zabriski Point in Death Valley.

This spot reminded me of Zabriski Point in Death Valley.

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Sunrise gold!!

Sunrise gold!!

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This is a prairie dog. I would have been thrilled to spot a black-footed ferret. The ferrets were once thought to be extinct but were discovered in the wilderness of Wyoming. A program to save them in captivity and then reintroduce them to the prairie in the Badlands National Park seems to have been successful.

This is a prairie dog. I would have been thrilled to spot a black-footed ferret. The ferrets were once thought to be extinct but were discovered in the wilderness of Wyoming. A program to save them in captivity and then reintroduce them to the prairie in the Badlands National Park seems to have been successful.

This is such a typical photograph representing the richness of the prairie grasses in the park. There are 60 species of prairie grass in the park. I imagine these grasses turn yellow and brown in the extreme summer heat, but for now following significant winter and spring rains, the prairie is flourishing.

This is such a typical photograph representing the richness of the prairie grasses in the park. There are 60 species of prairie grass in the park. I imagine these grasses turn yellow and brown in the extreme summer heat, but for now following significant winter and spring rains, the prairie is flourishing.

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Boats, Piers and Sunsets

Rockport got its name from the rock ledge that runs along the shore of bay. Its main economic drivers are tourism, shipping, and fishing. We have been here for three months and spent many hours at various marinas and scouted out interesting piers. Here the marinas are filled primarily with what we call ‘working’ boats. Very few boats are fancy. Boats go out to dredge for oysters and then when the shrimping season opens they trade their dredging buckets for shrimping nets. Both activities are highly regulated and areas where either oysters or shrimp can be harvested are limited and the quantities are also restricted. Both industries have suffered major setbacks in the past few decades from the effects of flooding (too much fresh water dumped in the bay), pollution such as oil spills and then hurricanes! On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall over Rockport. The devastation was horrific! While some areas in Rockport are fully recovered there are many areas where one sees destruction that can only be attributed to a major hurricane.

There were not nearly enough sunsets to suit us. But this one, with the marina as a foreground, was a keeper.

There were not nearly enough sunsets to suit us. But this one, with the marina as a foreground, was a keeper.

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Just about every time we went out to photograph the piers we saw people fishing.

Just about every time we went out to photograph the piers we saw people fishing.

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This old boat is still working. There is not enough money in oysters and shrimp to allow owners to spend money making them ‘pretty’. If it floats, a boat is put to work!

This old boat is still working. There is not enough money in oysters and shrimp to allow owners to spend money making them ‘pretty’. If it floats, a boat is put to work!

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There are a few pleasure boats docked at this marina. Some of them are used as full time homes. No tires, just sails.

There are a few pleasure boats docked at this marina. Some of them are used as full time homes. No tires, just sails.

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This is the USS Enterprise which is now a floating museum just outside of Corpus Christie.

This is the USS Enterprise which is now a floating museum just outside of Corpus Christie.

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Fog is very common along the shore. Sometimes it burns off by noon, but there are days when it lasts all day.

Fog is very common along the shore. Sometimes it burns off by noon, but there are days when it lasts all day.

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Dredged oysters are thrown on tables where they are sorted. Undersized and dead oysters are thrown back into the water. Fishermen are fined if they keep too many undersized oysters.

Dredged oysters are thrown on tables where they are sorted. Undersized and dead oysters are thrown back into the water. Fishermen are fined if they keep too many undersized oysters.

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Bags of oysters are loaded into trucks that take them to distribution centers and a market near you.

Bags of oysters are loaded into trucks that take them to distribution centers and a market near you.

Every spring an Oyster Festival is held with the proceeds to benefit the Rockport Volunteer Fire Department. theses lovely oysters are shucked as you watch and sell for $1 each. They were very popular, with some folks walking off with a tray of 30!

Every spring an Oyster Festival is held with the proceeds to benefit the Rockport Volunteer Fire Department. theses lovely oysters are shucked as you watch and sell for $1 each. They were very popular, with some folks walking off with a tray of 30!

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Hurricane Harvey destroyed every single private pier. You can drive along the coast and see hundreds of piers like this one.

Hurricane Harvey destroyed every single private pier. You can drive along the coast and see hundreds of piers like this one.

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Steve’s take.

Steve’s take.

Carol’s take. I am smiling because one of the real treats in being here for three months is parking next to my brother and having him stand right next to me and click away. Difference? He uses Canon! Hahahahaha!

Carol’s take. I am smiling because one of the real treats in being here for three months is parking next to my brother and having him stand right next to me and click away. Difference? He uses Canon! Hahahahaha!

Tom’s take. Tom’s is a little fishy, don’t you think? Nope, turns out that this is a three photograph pano!

Tom’s take. Tom’s is a little fishy, don’t you think? Nope, turns out that this is a three photograph pano!

A foggy pier offers a different feel on a cold night.

A foggy pier offers a different feel on a cold night.

Rock and cement barriers such as his one offer protection from rough waves, leaving the marinas with smoother water.

Rock and cement barriers such as his one offer protection from rough waves, leaving the marinas with smoother water.

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These are shrimping nets. The shrimp season starts in November.

These are shrimping nets. The shrimp season starts in November.

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We took the ferry across to Padre Island. There, along a deep channel, is a long rock and cement barrier. It is used by fishermen to get out into the gulf and fish.

We took the ferry across to Padre Island. There, along a deep channel, is a long rock and cement barrier. It is used by fishermen to get out into the gulf and fish.

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Oh, look how the sun lights up that bridge!

Oh, look how the sun lights up that bridge!

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Juguete caro translates to “Expensive toy.”

Juguete caro translates to “Expensive toy.”

Beach foam! I know . . . .

Beach foam! I know . . . .

This area is known for its live oak trees. This is a decent representation of the trees here, some even withstood Hurricane Harvey.

This area is known for its live oak trees. This is a decent representation of the trees here, some even withstood Hurricane Harvey.