Come To The Island … Antelope Island State Park

We’re getting ready to head back to Utah soon where we will explore Arches NP and Canyonlands NP, as well as Monument Valley, for our fill of landscape images and hopefully, some night photography as well.  To get my wildlife “fix”, we’re also planning on spending some time in Rocky Mountain NP.

But as I was thinking about Utah, I started to think about the time we spent in Utah in February.  For my family, it was a snowboard trip, but for me it was a photography trip, with a side helping of skiing.   🙂

Not far from Salt Lake City is Antelope Island State Park.  We spent several days visiting the island, which is accessed via a causeway into the Great Salt Lake, connecting the island to the Wasatch Front Range.  It comprises 28,000 acres, stretched over a length of 15 mi and 5 mi across.  Interestingly enough, the island is home to over 40 freshwater springs which produce over 30 million gallons of water per year … all while being surrounded by the Great Salt Lake!

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It was first explored in 1845 by John C. Fremont and Kit Carson who also named it Antelope Island, after the population of pronghorn antelope that grazed there.

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It’s quite the fascinating place to visit … each season brings a different perspective to the island.  In the winter, I found it much easier to spot the wildlife, as they made their way across the snowy and icy landscape.

In fact, on this trip, we saw more coyote than I think that I ever have there!  They seemed to be just about everywhere …

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… on the ice …

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… on the road …

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… hiding in the brush of the tundra.

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Of course, there were more wildlife sightings than just the coyotes.  Mule deer were sighted as well.

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The coyotes saw the mule deer as well, which signaled the “dinner time” bell in them, so off they went to try to stalk one down.

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The poor deer, though quick making their way over the brush, were on high alert!

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There were so many deer on the island and apparently the Utah state parks have had issues with the lack of deer in other areas, so were stumbled across the Department of Natural Resources conducting a catch of some of female mule deer, for ultimate re-introduction into another park, which had decreased numbers of deer recently.  It was quite interesting the assembly that they had going on.  I know this is a horrible shot, but check out the multi-level carrier netting system they used to transfer the deer to their station for inspection and then transportation.

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In 1848, the Fielding Garr Ranch was erected, which was the first permanent residence on the island.  In 1981, the island and the ranch were bought by the State of Utah and thus turned into the state park of today.

We also had sightings and interactions with other wildlife, such as the great horned owls, as they tried desperately to camouflage themselves from being spotted.  OK, I’m well aware that this is less than stellar of a shot … LOL

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We also spotted several different porcupines in our travels.  One was feasting high up in a tree.  The other was on the ground munching on leaves, twigs, and downed branches from the nearby trees.  This particular one got out in the open and let me crawl around with them.  Contrary to popular belief, porcupines don’t throw their quills, so I was actually quite safe.

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There’s quite a large bison herd on the island as well.  They’re quite interesting to watch as they move slowly across the landscape and you become slowed down by them as they approach the roadway.  Makes me want to belt out with a round of “Oh give me a home…”.

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As we were leaving, we noticed the skies becoming quite beautiful in the rear view of the car.  I made Tom stop and my intention was to capture the moment.  I never did shoot it, but I think I got something better.

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There was a coyote pair hanging out right where we stopped!  Serendipity, I say!  One of them was actively hunting for food (I presume it was the female), while the other (I presume it was the male) followed along like it was stalking the other and just waiting for the right moment for something …. hmmm …. it was quite interesting.

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Either way, they were in gorgeous light as they made their way, all while the sunset was happening.

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On our drive back to SLC, the alpenglow on the Wasatch Range was amazing … such tones of blue, pink, and purple … gorgeous.  Sorry for ending with the moving shot from the iPhone camera, but it truly was gorgeous, so I had to share.

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Hope that you enjoyed Antelope Island SP!  I highly recommend a side trip to visit, if you’re ever in the SLC area.  Will be back to Florida sights and shots for the next blog post.

 

 

2012 Review: PART 5 – Family Reunion – Yellowstone, Tetons, & Zion NP

Barely unpacked from AK, I had a family reunion to get to out west.  See, we decided to gather up the gang – Kelli & Mitchell, my mom & her husband Murray, and us – to spend some time together out in the great outdoors, appreciating each other’s company, as well as the company of lots of wildlife and beautiful surroundings.  Tom & Kelli took a road trip out west, stopping along the way to get their mountain biking fix, and met us in Salt Lake City.  After a brief stop in SLC, we ventured out to Yellowstone NP & Great Teton NP.  To my surprise, we were a bit late for the explosion of fall colors that we had enjoyed 2 years ago – same time, same place.  Oh well, didn’t matter because the trip more than made up for the lack of fall colors by the abundance of wildlife.  Bears, moose, bison, wolves, coyotes, pronghorn, and elk were plentiful!  The weather was crispy cool, OK maybe even cold at times, but this Florida girl enjoyed it immensely.  Tom & I would get up really early every morning and shoot, while the family took in a bit more sleep.

Family reunion

Family reunion

Bison battling it out for superiority

Bison battling it out for superiority

Bull elk readying for the rut

Bull elk readying for the rut

After spending several days trying to track down the elk in the very early mornings, there’s a few things that I can remember as if it were just a moment ago ….

1.  The sound of the elk when they bugle.  If you haven’t heard that amazing sound, you need to google elk and listen to their call.  It’s one of the most amazing sounds that you will ever hear.  For literally miles and miles you can hear the echo within the vast wilderness of the landscape.  So soothing ….

2.  Another sound ….. see we ran across many sightings of coyotes – hunting in the fields, running to and fro ….. but on 2 occasions, we saw them run back to what I figured out afterwards must have been their den, most likely with a meal, and you could hear the yips of their young.  I’m not talking a yip or 2, I’m talking about 1-3 minutes of continuous calling out.  That is another sound that if you’ve never heard it, you should.  I wanted to tape it on my video in my camera, but I was paralyzed by the beauty of their sound.  Big time smiles after hearing that one!

Three generations

Three generations

Moulton Barn, Grand Tetons NP

Moulton Barn, Grand Tetons NP

Enjoying the view from Signal Mountain, Grand Teton NP

Enjoying the view from Signal Mountain, Grand Teton NP

Yellowstone NP, WY

Yellowstone NP, WY

Several days were also spent in and around Park City also, as Mitchell joined us for an extended weekend or so.  Then off towards AZ and NM we went – taking a few detours along the way – some intended, some not.  What a beautiful country we live in!  One of our unintended detours involved St. George (we won’t go into that one), but things happen for a reason and the detour turned into a visit to Zion NP – so incredibly beautiful and a treat from the summertime visit we did several years ago – much less crowded.

Looking up at the tall stand of aspens kissed by autumn

Looking up at the tall stand of aspens kissed by autumn

Paria, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, UT

Paria, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

While the beauty of the southwest was difficult to leave, we had a more definite destination.

Stay tuned for 2012 Review:  Part 6

Welcome to My Blog

Happy New Year!

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I had a New Year’s Resolution in 2012 … it was to begin my personal blog.  I did create the blog site, however, I never got around to posting any blog entries.  Not that I hadn’t thought about it … for every month it seems, as I saw my “To Do” list … there it was …. “Write a blog entry”.  So, guess what my first 2013 New Year’s Resolution was?  You guessed it, finally the first entry!  This all seems a bit weird for me.  Those of you who know me, know that I’m not short on words, but this is so “out there” for me, so have some patience with me as I undergo my first post.

What to talk about?  Let’s see … overall I want to share random thoughts about life, travel, wildlife, nature, and of course adventures experienced.  I have always loved to LIVE life to the fullest … trying to never have regrets about something I did, but more importantly something that I didn’t do.

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I thought that it would be best if I took the first post opportunity to reflect upon my life in 2012.  It was a very busy one for me!  From wedding planning to a return journey to Alaska to a family reunion (and its extension travel, of course) out west, it was a challenge to say the least.

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PART 1:  See, early in 2012, we were putting the finishing touches to a year’s worth of planning my daughter Kelli’s wedding.  Well, she actually did the vast majority of the work – bless her heart – all while finishing her Master’s in Human Performance at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL  (yes, she’s a Gator – after spending 6 years pursuing her educational goals – but she did me proud by graduating With Honors, with a B.S. and her M.S.), while still holding down a research position and then a FT job as an Exercise Physiologist in Ocala, FL.  All the while her husband-to-be was traveling for his job and spending a full year in Arkansas.  Imagine my surprise when she told me that she wanted to get married in the Georgia mountains!  Now that planning was quite complicated, but it did have benefits – as we needed to travel to Cleveland, GA to visit Neverland Farms (no, not Neverland Ranch). The wedding was the most amazing one – so relaxed, so natural, so beautiful, so “country chic” as my daughter calls it.  (Note:  the wedding images are not mine, simply borrowed for the blog, yet impressed in my memory – thanks to Matthew for capturing through images this spectacular day for us).

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These wonderful candles are available from our friends @ Drunkenbottle  (www.drunkenbottle.com)

These wonderful candles are available from our friends @ Drunkenbottle – the art of recycle  (www.drunkenbottle.com)

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I honestly don’t think that I’ve ever felt so proud … the moment when the ceremony was over and Tom & I were watching everyone have an amazing time at the reception.  How beautiful Kelli was and what a lovely young lady she had become – so caring, yet strong, and how mature she had become over the years when I wasn’t looking.  🙂  I distinctly remember looking at Tom and declaring … “We’ve done good”!

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Immediately after the wedding, they took off on their honeymoon to Costa Rica, where apparently my daughter and Mitchell walked through the croc-infested waters unknowingly, because they didn’t want to be “tourists” and take the boat over to the other side.  Yes, she’s got a bit of me in her – always seeking adventure.  Yikes!  They are now living in Brockport, NY, where Mitchell’s job has taken him.  Of course, this called for a visit where we toured Niagara Falls, Rochester, Hamlin Beach, Braddock Bay and the quite impressive Letchworth State Park.  Destination for 2013?  Who knows, but hopefully somewhere fun!

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Over the next few months, we visited the Everglades quite a bit and had a crocodile experience of our own!  What a thrill!

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Do a Blog : Check!

Stay tuned for Parts 2, 3, & 4 of my 2012 Year in Review.