It seems like when we’re not in the mountains, we’re at the beach. That’s the wonderful thing about California — the variety of places to explore. This time it was the beautiful sands of Pajaro Dunes, where the gently sloping shore allows you to walk far out into the waves and not even get your knees wet.
The grandkids enjoyed the ocean and the bird life, and especially skipping rope with a giant piece of brown kelp.
We took a drive from our campsite in the Ruby Mountain foothills up to Angel Lake about 2000 feet above. The saturated colors of green meadows, bushes, and grass, and deep blue color of the water were stunning.
We’re back at Fort Robinson in northwestern Nebraska, this time with grandkids to enjoy the sights and the wildlife. With three visits in the past two years, I’m beginning to feel like this place is “home”.
Sunset drives are always full of surprises… bison and pronghorn were grazing in the still-green pastures on some of the 22,000 acres of the park.
More wildlife was spotted near the road the next morning on our drive through Smiley Canyon in the park.
The spring wildflowers were abundant in the grassy meadows as well: a purple Penstemon, the white of the Yucca flowers, and small orange Globe Mallow flowers brought a lot of color to the green pastures.
Because the temperature will be 20 degrees above normal today (98 F!!), I’m thinking about places where I could be relaxing in cool water. So, it’s time for a summer quiz on the location of significant waterfalls in the state, the U.S., and the world. If you’re a traveler, you may have been to one or more of these locations — if you haven’t visited them, maybe it will give you some ideas of places to visit in the future.
Give yourself one point for each correct name and then tell me how you did in the comments to this post. You can check your answers by clicking on the image which will open in a new window and then click on or hover your mouse over the URL at the top of the new window.
A highly recognizable waterfall on the north shore of Lake Superior named for its multiple falls. Many Minnesota waterfalls have a coffee color due to the oak tannins in the water.
2. Another easily recognized waterfall located in the Twin Cities, where it’s fun to explore behind the falls in the winter to see the beautiful blue color of the ice.
3. This is one of the large waterfalls (about 50 feet total drop) in the southern part of Minnesota, and if you’re a FB friend, you’ll recognize this from a recent post.
Well-known waterfalls in the U.S.
4. Another easily identified waterfall from the first national park in the U.S. This is just one of the many unique highlights of this national park.
5. One of many waterfalls in this extremely popular western National Park, and a favorite of John Muir. It’s actually a double waterfall, but difficult to capture in one photo. (Hint: it’s named for the park.)
6. This beautiful double waterfall is one of many that can be viewed by car or by train when driving through the Columbia Gorge in Oregon. The scenic beauty in this area makes it the most popular destination in the Pacific Northwest.
Famous waterfalls of the world
7. There are dozens of waterfalls on this island nation, but this is the biggest and most famous one. Approximately 5000 cubic feet per second rush down the falls, draining from a massive glacier. You can get an impression of its size compared to the tiny people standing on the rocky shoreline.
8. Another massive waterfall located on the Zambezi River at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe in southern Africa, first explored by David Livingstone. Nicknamed “the smoke that thunders” for the mist and roar made by the falling water. The photo captures only a portion of the entire falls.
9. This is one of two famous waterfalls in South America, located on the border of Brazil and Argentina. The combined cataracts of the multiple waterfalls here make up the largest waterfall in the world. The river that feeds the falls flows through Brazil, but most of the waterfalls are in Argentina. Although I have visited Brazil twice and Argentina once, I have never been here — so it’s on my bucket list. (Photo from https://www.contiki.com/six-two/iguazu-falls-side-choose/)
I’ve always wanted to visit this 42 square mile Utah state park that is connected to Salt Lake City by a long isthmus. And we hit a magnificent, sunny day with dramatic clouds over the lofty Wasatch mountains to drive around it.
Not the Minnesota lakes, but back to the 2021 cross-country adventure and the beautiful shoreline vistas of Lake Tahoe in the California Sierra Nevada mountains. Noting that this was primarily a birding adventure, nevertheless, this area provides some stunning scenery!
But the real excitement was on the lake itself, where an Osprey circled several times looking down as it flew. We hoped there might be some action if the bird spotted any fish below, and our patience in following its flights was rewarded with the following succession of images of its successful dive and capture — which I put together in a string from right to left.
We didn’t expect to see so many sea otters on our boat tour of the Elkhorn Slough in Monterey Bay. Several were in sight at any one time, almost every one with a youngster riding on top as the adult paddled along on its back.
Sea Otters were once very abundant in the coastal marshes and estuaries of western North America, but extensive hunting up until the early 1900s culled their numbers to just a couple thousand animals. Conservation efforts have increased their numbers somewhat, but they are only found in part of their original range. Sea Otters are an important part of the coastal ecosystem because they prey on the sea urchins that ravage the kelp beds and keep the herbivore numbers in check.
Sea Otters bring their prey to the surface, and consume it while floating on their backs. Naturally, some of the food drops onto their fur as they eat, so they continuously roll over while eating to dislodge food fragments. In addition, they meticulously groom their fur to keep it clean and fluffy (i.e., with lots of air pockets).
Otters breed at all times of the year, and pregnancy usually lasts about 4 months, but females can delay the implantation of the single embryo until conditions are best for the pup’s development. Pups stay with the mother 6-8 months, before venturing out on their own, when they are almost full adult size.
We hiked through the cool, majestic big redwoods of the Forest of Nisene Marks in the Santa Cruz mountains the other day. I’m always impressed with the immense change in microclimate that these big trees produce, growing along the coast and trapping cool, moist air from the ocean each morning. The light filters through dense branches high above the trail, and only a few scattered sunbeams actually make it to the forest floor. So photography is a bit challenging under dim light conditions.
it juts right out of the ocean, a lone, huge boulder of a rock, standing 580 feet high. Morro Rock is one of the “nine sisters of San Luis Obispo County”, a series of volcanic plugs that rose into softer rock about 20 million years ago. The Rock is part of the state park and is closed to hikers and climbers so that Peregrine Falcons, Western Gulls, and Brandt’s Cormorants (among many other bird species) have a protected place to breed and raise their chicks.