Thursday, October 10, 2019

Photographing Reflections

One of my favorite things to photograph is reflections.  They can add beauty and interest to any photograph.
The photograph  above shows reflections in a nearby lake.  It was taken early on a foggy morning.  In this post I will review reflection photography techniques and show you some of my results.


Where Can You Find Reflections

The good news is that reflections are everywhere.  As a photographer you just need to train your eyes and camera to look for them.  You can find reflections in water, metal, glass, ice and many other surfaces.  A rainy day when many people might avoid photography can also be a great time to photograph reflections.  

In researching tips for this article, I found many different ideas of how to shoot reflections.  In fact some were contradictory to each other.  So here is my best advice on taking reflections.

It matters more on how you look at things than the type of camera you use.  I have taken good reflections photos with my DSLR, a point and shoot and even my camera.  Train yourself to look for reflections in everything and Practice, Practice, Practice.  In doing this you will learn what works best for you.

Reflections on Water


Water reflections on a still, foggy morning can really add interest to your photograph.  As you can see in the photo above the air was very still and the water was like glass.

On the other hand a little movement in the water can add an interesting abstract quality to your photo as in the photos below.



Water reflections are also a great way to capture a different view of landmarks as you see in the photos below of the St. Louis Gateway Arch.


Reflections on Buildings

The cities are full of buildings  with lots of windows and other reflective materials.  When you are taking a photo of a scene take the time to look at the nearby buildings and catch the reflections in them.  In this photo, I was shooting the Old Courthouse in St. Louis.  I turned to go and noticed the reflection of the courthouse in the nearby building.  I think it gives an interesting look to the photo.


Glass Reflections

Glass picks up lots of reflections.  As I looked in store windows in historic St. Charles, I noticed the interesting reflections I was getting of the street and historic buildings along with the items in store fronts.  I did have to be careful as I shot so I did not capture unwanted images in the reflections.

Here is another interesting reflection in glass.  I was shooting a glass full of jelly beans.  When I look at the photo, I noticed the reflections of the jelly beans in the top half of the glass.  To enhance this look, I played with the sliders in Photoshop Lightroom to bring out the reflections.


Unwanted Reflections

Did you ever take a photo and capture yourself reflected in the item you were photographing?  Sometimes this is good, but mostly it is unwanted.  To prevent this you need to be aware of items that will cause these images and move so that you will not be in the photo.  Here is a photo I took of some Mardi Gras ornaments and captured myself in one of the ornaments.  It was not the look I was after.

Enjoy Yourself and Experiment

I do think that getting great reflection photos is a matter of taking your time, looking at your surroundings and experimentation.  So relax, enjoy your self and happy shooting!!

Zazzle Products from My Reflection Photos





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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord: A Review

I took the photo of the book cover from my own copy and added the quote.

Released from Ravensbrück with a Message for the World

Corrie ten Boom's family worked for the Dutch Resistance when the Nazis occupied their land of Holland during World War II. Corrie wrote of their activities and their consequences in her first book, The Hiding Place.

Until she was fifty years old, Corrie had lived with her family above the watch shop her father owned. After the Nazis took power, the ten Boom family helped hide persecuted Jews in a specially built hiding place in their home. But an informer betrayed them. The Nazis arrested and imprisoned the entire family.

Corrie's father died after a few days. Some family members were released. But Corrie and her sister Betsie were sent to Germany and imprisoned in the Ravensbrück women's labor camp for several months, where Betsie died. A clerical error caused the Germans to release Corrie a week before all the women her age were sent to the gas chambers.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1985-0417-15, Ravensbrück, Konzentrationslager
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1985-0417-15 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)]

While imprisoned, Corrie and Betsie had tried to encourage those who had lost all hope. The picture above shows the kind of work these women in Ravensbrück did. The photo above was taken at Ravensbrück a year before Corrie was imprisoned there. This link leads to more photos taken of the prisoners in this camp and their life there. You can see why most had little hope. Most did not leave while alive. They saw the smoke from the crematoriums as they worked. Could anything be more depressing?

In The Hiding Place Corrie explains how God was able to work among the women--even in the barracks of the concentration camp. The book was made into a movie. I recommend it. I saw it when it first came out in 1975.




Corrie's Life After Release

After her miraculous release, for I believe God was behind that clerical blunder, Corrie spent some time regaining her health and reconnecting with the remnants of her old life in Holland. Then, for about twenty more years, she traveled the world spreading her message of God's love and forgiveness. She called herself a tramp for the Lord because she circled the world twice, living out of a suitcase, with no real home to call her own. I call her an ambassador for Christ, for she carried his message of reconciliation wherever she went. She chose the title for her book because it reflects her lifestyle during those years. It is the sequel to The Hiding Place.


Corrie's Message Was Consistent


Corrie had suffered hardship and betrayal. She had watched as her sister died due to conditions in the concentration camp, illness, and the cruelty of a particular guard. She had slept with fleas and lice. She had almost starved to death. But still she spoke of God's love and faithfulness to her.

During nightly Bible times  in the barracks, she gave hope to many women without any. She had managed to sneak a Bible in and she used it for spiritual strength for herself, Betsie, and anyone else who wanted to participate. (That story is in this book.)

Corrie's message was one of reconciliation. She told stories as she shared the convicting and healing words of the Bible. One of her most frequent themes dealt with the bitterness that many have when they believe they have suffered injustice or betrayal. She taught that the cure was forgiveness. On p. 59 she says, "If we forgive other people, our hearts are made ready to receive forgiveness."

But God has a way of testing us so that we will know ourselves. Corrie was not exempt from that testing.

One night Corrie spoke about God's forgiveness at a church in Munich. She had told the assembled Germans that when we confess our sins, God casts them into the deep ocean and they are gone forever.

And then she saw a man approaching her in an overcoat and a brown hat. Except she suddenly saw him as she had known him before -- in a blue uniform and a visored cap with a skull and crossbones. The man had been one of the most cruel guards at Ravensbrück. As he thrust his hand out he said it was good to know all his sins were at the bottom of the sea. He seemed not to recognize Corrie. He told her he'd been a guard there, but had become a Christian now.

He said, '...I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips, as well....will you forgive me?' Out came his hand again.

All Corrie's memories of the terrible times and the way her sister died flooded her mind. Corrie wrote: "And I stood there--I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven--and could not forgive."

She wrestled with God internally over the hardest thing He had ever asked of her. She wrote "For I had to do it--I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. 'If you do not forgive men their trespasses,' Jesus says, 'neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses.' I refer you to Chapter 7 in Tramp for the Lord to see what happened next.

I took the photo of the book cover from my own copy and added the quote.
Each chapter of Tramp for the Lord is short, but Corrie doesn't need a lot of words to share what she has learned through her suffering and from the Bible. I was impressed most by the fact that Corrie was an ordinary Christian quietly making watches and doing her best to obey God when she was arrested. She had learned to trust God before prison, and she kept trusting Him during those months at Ravensbrück in spite of the horror of her surroundings and the cruelty she suffered and witnessed.

She continued to trust him on a daily basis as she traveled the world as a tramp for the Lord. He remained faithful in providing her needs until her death on her 91st birthday in 1983. When she said "He made me rich" she didn't mean materially rich. He supplied all her needs so she would not have to ask for money. He gave her peace, forgiveness, and the victory that comes with obedience.





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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Kathi Daley Books Reviewed

Prolific Cozy Mystery Author

I'll be reviewing one of my newly found Cozy Mystery authors today, Kathi Daley. From the list of books she has published, she may be one of the most prolific Cozy authors I have come across. I've read many of them by the way but none who have published as many as Kathi Daley.

kathi daley
Living with views like this seem to inspire Kathi Daley
image courtesy of pixabay.com
According to her bio, Ms. Daley lives near Lake Tahoe. I wasn't too surprised when I read where she lives with her family because as I read Answers In The Attic which is book four in her Inn at Holiday Bay series she describes a few scenes at the shoreline. Her words formed a description in my head that made me think, she has seen that scene. She had lived it. It really isn't even an integral part of the plot but it is descriptions like hers that polish a story. I read that she uses her picturesque surroundings as inspirations for many of her books and the series she has created.


A Little Something For Everyone


After reading one of her books, I decided to check out what else she had written. Currently, I'm reading Romeow and Juliet (book one) in the series Whales and Tales. I'm enjoying it even more than the Answers In The Attic. So, out of curiosity I looked to see what else she has written. Mainly to start a list of other books to possibly read. Let me tell you, there is a series by Kathi Daley for just about anyone's taste. I read that in 2014 she published twelve books in that one year. That is a book a month, people! Being an author myself, that is impressive, very impressive. I thought I was cranking mine out in a fairly rapid pace but it takes me longer than a month to finish a book. I digress.

To date, she has twelve or thirteen cozy mystery series to choose from:
  • Zoe Donovan Mysteries
  • TJ Jensen Mysteries
  • Whales and Tails
  • Sand and Sea
  • Writers Retreat Southern Seashore
  • Tess and Tilly
  • Seacliff High
  • The Inn at Holiday Bay
  • A Hathaway Sister
  • Haunting By The Sea
  • Rescue Alaska
  • A Cat In The Attic
I'm probably going to have to sample at least one in each of her series. She has even written a cookbook featuring recipes from one of her main characters Zoe Donovan. I haven't read any in that series yet but I probably need to. There are something like thirty-two books in that series alone. 

I mentioned that the first book of Kathi Daley that I read was one of the books in the Inn at Holiday Bay. I'm not certain but I think her premise in that series is to be able to feature the holidays celebrated throughout the year. The book I read was number four in the series and featured July 4th with mentions of fun things they planned for Halloween. Personally, as an author, I think that is brilliant! I have be honest, it actually has inspired me. There is a new character in my head who is screaming for me to write her story but I hadn't come up with a solid idea for what the series would revolve around. She seems to want to have a bookstore or at least I think she does but nothing solid has come to the left hemisphere of my brain just yet. It just might be fun to have a sub-theme of holidays in whatever shop my new character decides to do business in. I'll let you know when she and I come up with a plan.

Anyway, I thought I would introduce you to this Cozy Mystery author today. I think you will find at least one of her series to be to your liking. Caitlin Hart, the main character in the Whales and Tails series is pretty funny, I'm really enjoying her a lot. If you are looking for a new book to read, I recommend taking a look at her books. I seriously don't think you will be disappointed in any that you might choose.




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Monday, October 7, 2019

Book Review: The Naturalist's Notebook by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich

The Naturalist's Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World Around You is a beautiful, hardcover book that is an excellent purchase for any person who loves the great outdoors. Whether the reader's interest is plants, climate, gardening, birds or other outdoor pursuits, this is a perfect place to jot a daily note about the experience.


Appreciating and documenting the natural world.

The Naturalist's Notebook: An Observation Guide and 5-Year Calendar-Journal for Tracking Changes in the Natural World Around You by Nathaniel T. Wheelwright and Bernd Heinrich is part how-to write field notes, part inspirational, and part 5-year calendar. This book is a way to document and appreciate your natural surroundings.


"In the words of writer Richard Mabey, natural history is "a meeting place for wild life and human feeling" - Nathaniel T. Wheelwright 

The illustrations are wonderful. If you click the Amazon link, you'll be able to view some of the artwork using the "Look Inside" feature. I love these type of illustrations.




The pages are thick paper rather than thin paper or glossy paper. This paper stock is good for keeping the journal entries from bleeding through the pages as well as compliments the rustic illustrations. 

The written portion of the book is clearly written by people who love our natural world. Their passion translates from the page to the reader - motivating the reader to immediately begin being more aware outdoors.

The written chapters are:
  • Chapter One - Being Attentive
  • Chapter Two - How to Become an Observant Naturalist I
  • Chapter Three - How to Become an Observant Naturalist II
  • Chapter Four - A Naturalist's Toolbox
  • Chapter Five - Simple Experiments as a Way of Learning
  • Chapter Six - Knowing Nature Where You Are
  • Epilogue - Bird by Bird


Followed by a 5-Year Calendar-Journal. The calendar grid is numbered in such a way that you can begin on any date and any year, by adding the year in the blank spot on the left side of the pages and writing under the number that corresponds with the date. 
  • The Naturalist's Notebook ends with:
  • Personal Glossary for Abbreviations and Symbols
  • Useful Books
  • Metric Conversion
  • Timelines for Species and Events You Follow
  • Acknowledgements
  • About the Authors


I am really happy to have this notebook that both validates my love of the natural world that surrounds me as well as helps me to think about my observation skills. This book also helps me to appreciate the efforts of those who came before me. This is not an in-depth study of people such as Lewis and Clark, Henry David Thoreau, and others. But it does remind us of what a great impact their documentation of the natural world had on us. Or a biology text book. 

This book is a timely and important reminder that the natural world is important and lessons come from our own personal awareness and appreciation of the changes and seasons around us. 

Related Link:

I already sometimes document the natural world around me when I'm camping in the mountains. It is easy to notice the wildlife, weather, and plants while I'm at The Shack. I sometimes document through photography but I want to become better at documenting things more specifically. For example: exactly where and when I saw this beautiful newt. I'd like to increase my chances of finding one in the future. As the terrain there changes, I hope newts continue to live there. 

found during my hike in April




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Sunday, October 6, 2019

How to Get Started on that eBook You've Been Meaning to Do for Decades

How to Get Started on that eBook You've Always Wanted to Do

Have You Ever Wanted to Write an eBook But Didn’t Know Where to Start?  

That’s where I was. For decades I kept saying, "I want to do a book of my lifetime poems," and kept putting it off. Finally, I took the plunge and just recently completed the book. The poems were already written, and it took me about a month to learn the ropes and put the book together. It’s a book of personally written poems and lyrics from the age of 8 to 58, entitled "We Will Have Morning Smiles."

As a newbie self-publisher, I’d like to share a few of the tools I researched and used to get this first book on the market. These are just the basics, to learn from the guru’s you’ll have to Google and find the ones you like. I did watch multiple YouTube Videos from various people, and the advice I found most helpful was Self-Publishing with Dale. I tripped on his videos after endless Google research. Compared to some, his video presentations were the easiest to follow. 

My First eBook of Poems
The advice in his videos are helpful, but to be honest, I didn’t follow all of it. One bit of information was that you should use a professional to create the cover of your book (if you can). I didn’t do that; I created my own. However, I do agree that a professional is a better way to go. 

The other is that you should, if you can, hire a professional to ‘Format’ your book. Yep, you guessed it; I didn’t do that. I formatted my own. Formatting isn’t easy, especially with a poetry book, but you can do it if you’re willing to read and learn.

Here are Three Quick Points to Help You Get Started:

1. Create Your KDP Publisher Account on Amazon - This is Where You'll Upload Your Book for Publishing

That part is easy. However, when you start filling all the information in, you'll have a lot of questions. The good thing is, KDP has a terrific help section, and customer service answers questions very quickly.

2. Google Documents or Microsoft Word - Where You'll Write Your Book

I wasn’t sure how to get a book written, formatted, then uploaded to Amazon or any other sellers platform.

After reading multiple articles on how to get started, I was more confused. 

What I found was that most people use Microsoft Word to write their books. Since I don’t have the full paid version of Word on my Laptop, I decided to use Google Documents. However, you do have to save your work in .docx format to upload it to Kindle Create (see more about Kindle Create below). 

To save your google document to a .docx format:

  • Click ‘File’ in the top left
  • Scroll down to ‘Download’
  • Several file saving options will show, choose (.docx)
  • Save the file to your computer. Done.

Oh, and guess how much I knew about Google Documents? Yep. Nada. I never had a reason to use it. However, I should have been! It’s a terrific tool. I’m using it for a ton of things now. So easy. I’m currently helping a family member out with a project and have been sharing work via Google Documents. No wonder people like it!

Here’s another google docs tip for you: 

In google docs, you can auto-generate a Table of Contents. However, on the editing bar, look for the button that says, “Normal Text." There’s a dropdown menu there that lets you choose various Heading options. 

Your Heading choices are essential because they determine what goes in your table of contents, and where:
  • Heading 1 - Puts the title as a Chapter Heading in your Table of Contents
  • Heading 2 - Places it as a Sub-Chapter below a Chapter

With my poetry book, sub-chapters were important. The main chapters are the headings that describe the types of poems, and the sub-chapters are each poem by title below it.
This is the Back Cover
It appears at the end of
the eBook on the inside

3. Download Kindle Create - Kindle Create is Where You'll Format Your Book for Publishing

There are conflicting views on using this. I would guess very experienced self-publishers don't need it.

Since I’m a newbie and Kindle Create was easy to understand, it served my needs. I’ll be using it again, at least until I become some sort of a pro. 

Download Kindle Create to your computer directly from Amazon. Then watch the video tutorials and read the help section. They’re fabulous.

Upload your saved book (either from Word or Google Docs - if that’s what you used), into Kindle Create. 

The file that's created in Kindle Create is the file you'll eventually upload to your KDP Amazon Publisher Account.

A Few Tips to Share: 

  • Kindle create generates a Table of Contents for you
  • However, I still created a detailed Table of Contents in Google Docs
  • I included both Tables of Contents in my book - The detailed Table of Contents with Sub-Chapters is from Google Docs, the other from Kindle Create only features the main chapters (because I designed it that way). You don’t have to do this, but I wanted more of a break-down.
  • It appears you can't directly internally link on your document while inside of Kindle Create. 
  • Do all your internal linking in Word or Google Docs before you upload it to Kindle Create.

Remember, these are the basics for beginner self-publishers like me. I wanted to give you a way to get started on your own ebook because I know how daunting getting started can seem.




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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Reviewing FlexClip, a Free, Online Video Maker

How to make videos for social media sharing for FREE!
When it comes to social media it really seems as though video is king, but how can you create videos to promote yourself without buying expensive video equipment and having to learn new videography skills?   You use an online video maker!   I have tried a few different online video makers and have found they all have pros and cons, today I'm going to talk to you about FlexClip.

FlexClip are a completely free video maker which is awesome, but they also offer 2 other plans - basic and plus which offer better quality videos, longer videos and the ability to do more projects - they also allow you to add a custom watermark.

I love the fact that you can use it for free and see if you like it before committing to buying a plan.   The other thing I love is that when you make a video it doesn't include a watermark as many of the other free online video makers do.

Making a Video from Stills 


Now I am only reviewing using this to make videos from still images, but you can use it with video which I haven't had a chance to do yet.

So the actual making of the video is pretty simple and it tells you exactly how to do it BUT one of the biggest problems I felt with the program was that I could not find out what size images were best to be used.   They have lots of articles for you to read for help, but there doesn't appear to be a search function for you to simply ask the question you have which is a shame.

They list common FAQs for you to search, but when your question doesn't appear in there it is a little disheartening.

My first video was for my Arbonne business and you can see that I should've used different sized images.


What I really liked when I made this video was adding the music, there was a lot of Christmas music available for me to use.

The music that is available is definitely something that I think is good as other online video makers that I have used have not had as many different options as FlexClip.

As I enjoyed making that video I quickly turned around and made one for the offline business I work with, I still hadn't found what size images I should be using so used ones that I thought should be okay - I think they worked.

I used a different text style in this video and there are quite a few different options to use when adding text as well which I think is another positive.


I used both of these videos on Facebook and the quality seemed really good on there.

Adding Backgrounds to Images

I did have a play around and found that where I have images that aren't really the best size for this program I could add a colored background which really seemed to help.

Video Templates


FlexClip also offer a number of video templates which look great and depending on your business you may like to use them.   I have used video templates in the past, but I usually prefer to create my own initially when trying out a platform.

There are definitely a couple of the templates that I could see myself using in the future though.


My Thoughts on FlexClip


I really had my reservations when I first used it because I couldn't get an answer to my image size, but I did like all the other features and I think when I use it more I'll naturally get a feel for the size that works best anyway.

I am keen to try uploading videos and editing them (I only have my phone for taking videos so that could be interesting!) and when I do that I will review that aspect and link to it from here.

I would definitely recommend trying the free version and love, love, love that it doesn't have their logo on your videos as it looks so much better when sharing.   I am also seriously considering purchasing one of the plans as I think it's great for promoting for bloggers, zazzlers, affiliate marketers, social marketers as well as brick and mortar businesses.








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Friday, October 4, 2019

Rubbermaid Mini Cooler (5 quart) Reviewed

Rubbermaid Mini Cooler ReviewThe Rubbermaid Mini Cooler is perfect for the car!

We keep our Rubbermaid mini cooler on the floorboard in our car anytime we are going to be driving for more than a few hours.  

Sometimes, I just like to get out and go for a drive, but I don't wish to go without water.  And, I am no particularly fond of warm bottled water.  I prefer it to be cold, especially during the hot summer months.

Both my husband and I keep a bottled water in the cup holders.  However, if we are driving for a while, we end up drinking all of that one bottle and need another.  That is where the mini cooler becomes a necessity.

Yes, we could stop at a gas station or convenience store for additional water, but there isn't always one around when we need it.  Plus, bottled water or sodas are more expensive when sold individually.

This little cooler has become our regular travel companion in all of our vehicles. 



The Rubbermaid Mini Cooler Features


Rubbermaid Mini Cooler Reviewed
We have had our mini cooler for decades and it has served us well!  We have never felt a need to replace it.  I love things that can be bought once (especially at a reasonably low price) and used forever.  This little cooler has seen more places than I can remember.  Great for picnics, outings, or even pool side for those of us who don't want to track back into the house for a cool drink or snack.

It is perfect for cars, boats, motorcycles (with saddle bags), private airplanes, hot air balloons, or any recreational vehicle that has a small storage area.

It will hold 4 bottled waters (standard size - 16.9 oz) or 6 canned drinks, depending on the size of your blue ice packet.  For the cans, you would need a thin ice pack that can lay on top.  Of course, you could always fit regular ice cubes around the cans.  I started using the blue ice packets because they are less mess than melted ice (water).  Another alternative, there is a threaded hole in the lid for a Rubbermaid screw-in ice pack, but we have never used it.

You could also use it as a lunch box since it would easily hold a drink, sandwich and a few side containers.  In the hot car, I have been known to harbor a candy bar in the mini cooler along with our water or sodas.  

Rubbermaid Mini Cooler Reviewed


The Rubbermaid mini cooler is made of  hard plastic type material, therefore it doesn't get smashed or crashed when packed with luggage.  It has an easy carry rotating handle.  Because it is small, it is extremely easy to wash in the kitchen sink, when needed.  Most of the time though, ours only requires a quick wipe with a damp cloth and we are all set to go for our next long drive. 

We recently made an 11 hr. drive.  When we arrived at our destination hotel, the remaining water was still cool. We carried our little cooler to our hotel room with us. It makes an awesome hotel companion if the room doesn't have a mini-fridge!

I would like to note, my mini cooler in the photos is an older version of the featured cooler below.  I sure would love to have that blue one.  Isn't it pretty?!!



 








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Thursday, October 3, 2019

Bark Ranger Review

Finn Earns His Bark Ranger Badge
If you are blessed enough to have a Border Collie in your life, you already know that he needs a job and a purpose.  My Finn is no exception.  His beautiful mind needs plenty of stimulation every day.  It's my job, privilege, and pleasure to find new ways of providing Finn with daily opportunities to take his immense capabilities to the next level.

Recently, when I was planning our next outdoor adventure, I came across information about the Bark Ranger Program sponsored by the National Park Service.  Why had I never heard about this before?  It seems this program is really starting to take off in parks across the country. 

Arriving at Pecos National Historic Park
Finn and I wasted no time heading for the closest national park with a Bark Ranger Program.  That happened to be Pecos National Historical Park in New Mexico.  They launched their program earlier this summer.  Perfect!  A day trip to the Santa Fe area is always a treat.  

Pecos NHP Visitor Center
So Many Architectural Delights
Such a Welcoming Place
I Could Sit Here Every Day
When we arrived at the visitor's center, it took no time at all to launch Finn's new bark ranger career. The main purpose of the program is to ensure dogs and their humans have a safe and enjoyable time in the park.  Keeping the national parks dog-friendly takes some responsibility on the part of those of us who travel with our pets.

The BARK acronym makes it easy to remember the promises you are held to when becoming a bark ranger team.  First, you promise to bag your dog's waste and to dispose of it appropriately.  Next, you pledge to always leash your pet.  In parks such as Pecos NHP, a leash could save your dog's life.  Rattlesnake sightings are frequent.

Respecting wildlife is another part of the oath taken when you choose to be a bark ranger.  The very presence of a dog in any park changes the dynamic for wildlife.  In order for national parks to remain a refuge for wild creatures, it is critical to avoid any encounters between pets and the animals that call that park home.  

Finn's Access to Pecos NHP Included the Main Trail to the Pueblos
Pecos Mission and Pueblo
And finally, every visit to a national park should start with knowing which areas of the park are accessible to dogs.  At Pecos NHP, Finn was able to accompany me on the main trail to the mission and pueblos.  I chose to keep him leashed in his dog stroller rather than use his K9 Cart (wheelchair) due to the presence of rattlesnakes in the park.  I knew it would be the safer option.

In some parks, you can volunteer as a Bark Ranger Ambassador team.  This is something I want to pursue with Finn.  It is my aspiration for us to serve in this capacity at our closest national park (Great Sand Dunes).  First, I'd like to help get a Bark Rangers Program started locally.  I wasn't able to find any Colorado national parks with an existing program.  The only current bark rangers opportunity I found was at Eldorado Canyon State Park, which is a good distance from where we live.

Having previously worked in a national park (Padre Island National Seashore), I get excited just thinking about the powerful teaching moments that take place in park settings.  Even yesterday, shortly after becoming a Bark Ranger, Finn made an impact while engaging with visitors at Pecos NHP.  One couple in particular told me that Finn had made their day and had made them happy.  It takes a special Bark Ranger to do that and Finn has a gift for elevating the quality of a day. 

If you love to travel with your dog, and enjoy sharing the national parks with your pet, I encourage you to join the Bark Ranger Program (you can search online to find which parks already have the program).  I'm really glad Finn and I took that trek to Pecos NHP.  It is surely the beginning of many beautiful and fulfilling connections for us.  I can't wait to see where this leads.





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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

The Amazing Rocky Mountaineer The Trip of a Lifetime

The Rocky Mountains in all their splendor is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime! A Travel Book Review!


For years my other half and I have dreamed of travelling to far away places that will give us memories that will last for the rest of our lives.  After all that is one of the benefits of living a good long life.  But I digress.  We chose to have our children early in our marriage so that once we were done with raising our children, we'd still have enough energy to go to all those places that we could not afford to see earlier.  And we are doing just that.  We are in the midst of planning a vacation to the West Coast of Canada and on the way, stopping in Alberta to visit family in Jasper!


rocky mountaineer, trip of a lifetime, travelling in Canada
The Rocky Moutaineer Train courtesy of Wikipedia
Jasper has been on our must see list for a while now.  When we see pictures of the mountains and lakes our eyes and jaws just pop open.  It looks so beautiful.  It doesn't help that almost every other day our nephew is posting pictures of all this beauty too!

trip of a lifetime, travelling, viewing gardens
Parts of Jasper National Park 

Can you tell I'm excited!   What prompts this review is the train trip that is contained within this holiday.  We are starting our escapade in Jasper and staying for 6 days to see all the sights (I'm sure we won't see it all).  Then we are hopping on board the ROCKY MOUNTAINEER TRAIN for a two day trip through the mountains on our way to Vancouver.  The train will stop in Kamloops, British Columbia for the night and early the next morning we continue to Vancouver.  All we need to do during this two day mini-trip,  is sit back and relax!  Oh, and take lots of pictures of course.

The Rocky Mountaineer travels between Jasper and Vancouver or you can go the other way too.  You can board the train in Vancouver and end up in Jasper if that fits your travel plans better.  There are different levels of "cars available" to travel in while on the Rocky Mountaineer, so do your homework.  


Travelling by rail has it's limitations, but it also has is "up"side .  You can sit back, relax, and not worry about taking a wrong turn   You are free to look out the windows as much as you like!  No road warrior stresses to manage as someone else is doing the driving.  Meals are prepared and there is always someone new to meet.  I'm sure there will be people from all over the world taking in the sights as the train passes through some of the most beautiful scenery and mountains in this part of the world.

While you are reading about my escapades (and hopefully dreaming of your own), we will still be in Vancouver.  Being a gardener, I am looking forward to seeing the beauty that autumn has to offer in the Beautiful Stanley Park!  I'm glad that my suitcase allowance does not allow for the packing of garden implements.  Just as I'm sure the gardeners who take care of this public park will be happy as well.  No rogue gardeners are welcome to do their "thing" in these Gardens.  Just as well, it is a holiday after all.  If you don't know these gardens here's a sneak peak at what you are missing.  I'm not sure what our timing will be like, but there might be a side trip to the Butchart Gardens as well.  The gardener in me just won't let me say NO!  After all we might as well make that little side trip while we are on the west coast.  It's a long way to go if you miss it the first time.  



stanley park, totem poles, history
Totem Poles in Stanley Park


Be prepared, I'm sure there will be lots of pictures coming that will make any traveler or gardener just a little green with envy.   There will be so much history, geography and photography going on the whole time I'm away!  

butchart gardens, viewing gardens, trip of a lifetime
Water Feature in Butchart Gardens, Victoria













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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Shetland Series Reviewed

Shetland Islands Featured In Mystery Series

I recently began watching the Shetland Series through my Britbox subscription. If you aren't familiar with it; the television series is drama/mystery series of episodes taking place in the picturesque Shetland Islands in Scotland. 

shetland series
Mysteries taking place in the Shetland Islands of Scotland
image courtesy of pixabay.com

I'm coming in sort of late for watching this popular television series which first began filming in 2014. I'm not sure it was available to me until recently; if it was somehow I missed it. I'm enjoying it so much that I don't think it will take me long to catch up to Season 5.


What can you expect in the series?

The episodes revolve around a small police force with DI Jimmy Perez leading his fellow officers in their duties on the islands in Northern Scotland. Detective Inspector Perez is a single dad of a teenage step-daughter. Cassie's mother died several years ago and her step-dad has brought her back to the small village in the Scottish archipelago to expose her to her roots. Another interesting little twist to the overall plot is that Cassie's birth father also lives in the village; the two men have different views on how best to raise a teenage girl. Their attempt at co-parenting adds some depth to each episode in the crime drama.

Being able to solve the mystery of each story line while experiencing what life is like up in the sub-arctic environment of the Shetland Islands is extremely enjoyable. Each mystery spans two episodes. So far, the ones that I have watched are full of twists. About the time that I think I know who is responsible something comes up to dismiss that person as the culprit. 

Living in a land-locked area, I am fascinated with DI Perez having to take the ferry over to an area to investigate. The scenery is beautiful and the local people are interesting. I find myself daydreaming wishing that I could go there someday. Some of my ancestors lived in Scotland, although I don't think any lived quite that far north.


You will have to stream it


If you are in the US, your only option to watch Shetland is to stream it. I signed up for Britbox through my Amazon Prime membership. I used to be able to see a lot of the British television shows through another streaming service but they no longer carry them because the licensing changed. I finally justified signing up for another service because I truly enjoy the programs that are produced. 

Anyway, if you are looking for a good series to watch I highly recommend Shetland. You can get a trial period for the streaming service to try it out. If you don't care for it, you can always cancel.




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