Rock Surfing

During our recent trip through South Dakota, we passed over Badlands and Black Hills. Mount Rushmore, which is part of the Black Hills, is perhaps the most popular National Park in this region.

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Faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln on Mount Rushmore

Though the Badlands National Park, has its different appeal and beauty as well.

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Badlands

Native to this mountainous terrain is the mountain goat. This creature is agile and sure-footed, and able to climb on steep rocks with grace of a ballerina and steadiness of an experienced rock climber.

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We were fortunate to see one. I mean the mountain goat in above’s photo, not the one below.

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rock surfer dudes

Not to be outdone, and getting inspiration from the mountain goat, my son and I, strutted this “rock-surfing” pose for posterity.

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Sorry, the camera did not capture a photo when we dove off the cliff.

Just kidding. Our photographer did not allow us.

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The Wrong Ranger

One fine day, while we were hiking in this wild, yet picturesque western landscape, we were on the constant lookout for wild creatures. We were very aware that wild buffalos, elks, moose, coyotes, and even bears roam this place.

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But instead, we spotted a solitary figure who emerged from the shadow.

The familiar stance. The hat. Could it really be? Does he truly exist? Was it the legendary Lone Ranger?

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But before we can blink, the shadowy figure was gone.

So we tried to pursue his trail towards the water edge.

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Then we follow the river upstream. And then……

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And there he was again! The Lone Ranger was resting among the fallen logs in the river, gazing at the nearby falls.

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Before we can come near him though, he once again, disappeared.

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We crossed the river and climbed up the rugged mountain searching for him.

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And after some time, when we looked up, there he was!

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Perched high on the rocky cliff was the Lone Ranger. Now you see him…..

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Now you don’t!

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As we tread on higher up the mountain, we heard water gushing. We must be nearing a  spring.

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And sure enough, there was a refreshing rushing spring. And guess who was there? The Lone Ranger, of course!

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And then like a ghost, he vanished from our view.

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All what was left was a glimpse of his shadow.

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As we cannot find him no more, we trekked back down the mountain.

When we navigate our way through the forest, we saw the Lone Ranger’s hat. Was he nearby watching our every move?

IMG_3826But we never saw him, not even his shadow again.

We came back to where we started. We were tired, hungry, and disappointed. We were preparing our picnic table when……

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Out of nowhere he came out into the open again!

But wait a minute……he was with……he was with someone! He was not even a lone figure.

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That’s not the Lone Ranger! He was the Wrong Ranger!

We were following the Wrong Ranger all along. The End.

*******

(* all photos taken at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming)

Life Interrupted

It was a beautiful, clear, crisp November morning. The sun has made its way up in the low horizon. I was scurrying my way to work and just pulled out of my driveway. My car clock said only eight more minutes till eight o’clock, which is the time that my first patient in our clinic was scheduled to be seen that day. But nothing to worry. I would make it on time. Even though my office is 8 miles away from my home, it only take me 10 minutes or less to drive there, as there was no real traffic to talk about.

I was speeding down the lonely but scenic, winding country road from my home to the interstate highway when a deer out of the woods bolted into the road in front of my car to cross to the other side. I had to slam on my brakes hard so not to hit the deer. By the way, this is the stretch of the road that I see a lot of roadkill. Good thing there was no car behind me, nor in-coming vehicle on the other lane, otherwise it could have caused an accident.

But what followed the jumpy deer was six (yes, six!) more anxiously looking deer that dashed across the road a few feet in front of my car. They must be traveling in herds. I had to come to a complete stop to let them all cross to the other side. Now I would be late. Darn deer!

We don’t like being interrupted. Whether it is somebody rudely butting in when we’re speaking, or someone disturbing us when we are quietly meditating, or somebody ruining our set schedule or plans, or deer jumping in front of our way, hindering us.

But was it me that was interrupted by the deer, or was I the one who interrupted the deer’s peaceful existence. By the way, it is mating season for them and they are constantly on the move. (November has the highest incidence for deer-related vehicular accidents, and Iowa is rank #2 among states in the US with the highest car insurance claims relating with deer collisions). Or maybe those deer are running away from someone, as they looked scared, for it is also the peak of hunting season.

As I continued my drive to work, after being unceremoniously stopped by deer, I saw a flock of geese in flight, maybe 10 or more of them, in their beautiful V-formation. Perhaps they were flying south for the winter, as the air had really gone cold here in our area. The harsh winter is coming, so they are fleeing to a much warmer place. But they will be coming back here in spring. That is the cycle of life.

geese in V-formation

As I marvel their majestic flight, the geese suddenly broke out of their orderly V-formation. There was chaotic flapping and confusion that followed. Then I saw one of the geese spiraled downward to the ground.

It took me a moment to realized what I had witnessed. I surmised that a hunter somewhere nearby, perhaps hiding in the fields, had shot the goose and hit it. I am not a hunter, and have no desire to be one, and so my heart goes out to that poor bird who was taken down abruptly out of its flight of passage.

I want to slow down and find out further what happened to the flock of geese, but I was approaching the interstate highway, and besides I was already running late. My view of being interrupted have completely changed in the past few minutes. I cannot shake the sight of that hapless bird plummeting down to its death. Talk about life being interrupted ….. permanently. And I complain just because I was delayed for a few seconds?

I was in deep thought when I was again interrupted when a big semi truck pulled close behind and overtook me on the interstate highway. I then became aware that I was driving slower than the speed limit. That has never happened before.

(*photo from here)

Autumn Camping

Summer is gone and autumn is upon us. Though last weekend our family and our friends still went out for a camping trip. Maybe this will be the last hurrah for this season before our temperature dips down to bitterly cold range.

We drove down to Lacey-Keosauqua State Park which is about 2 hours from Des Moines. This state park is one of the biggest and most picturesque in Iowa. “Keosauqua” is a Native American term meaning “the stream bearing a floating mass of snow, slush or ice.” Though no snow yet when we were there.

Autumn camping has a different appeal due to the awesome color of the surrounding nature.

fall foliage with its peak color

You may argue that it was not a true camping since we did not sleep in tents. Instead we stayed in small rustic cabins. The cabins were complete with a toilet, shower, heater/air conditioner, refrigerator, stove, microwave and sofa beds. What else can you ask for? A jacuzzi maybe?

our comfy cabin

camping is not complete without a campfire

When I went out for my morning jog, I can hear a lot of movement and rustling in the woods. I know I was not alone. But before you think that there were fairies and supernatural creatures in this forest, it was not that. What I mean were forest animals. In this case, there were deers.

can you spot the three deer?

more deer crossing

There was a lot of hiking trails in this park. And I believe the best way to enjoy nature is by hiking through the woods. And that’s what we did.

hiking trail

We encountered these ghostly creatures in this enchanted forest. OK they were just our kids in a “jumping” photo.

stony path

Our hike led us to the lake. The water was so serene. With the fall-colored foliage reflecting on the water, it was really beautiful. There was even a beach. Alright, alright, it’s probably not a beach that you picture in your mind just like in Hawaii. But still, it is a beach with a sandy shore.

lake

downward pathway leading to the lake

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fall colors reflection in the water

my son and his friend in the beach

The following day, we headed down to a nearby bigger lake. This time we did not just stay on the banks of the lake, we went into the waters. No, not swimming. We went canoeing.

my son and I in one canoe

we even did some fishing

flock of geese flying over the lake

our friends in the other canoe

our friends in the other canoe

my daughter and her friends in another canoe

After almost two hours paddling and fishing, how much fish do you think we caught? A big fat zero! And we thought we can have a freshly caught grilled fish for lunch. O well, we settled for egg-salad sandwich instead.

our canoes side by side

It was a great camping trip and it sure was fun. We may have not caught any fish, but we still do have a lot of stories to tell. (And pictures to show too.) Until the next adventure.

(*all photos taken with iPhone)