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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Concan TX, Day 3, Two photos and a video

Our last day on the Frio

We spent the morning on the last day cleaning up the cabin and packing the car. We finished before check-out time, and decided to take a last "tour" of the area around River Bluff Cabins before we handed in the keys.

Frio River from the road
Above is a photo I took the day before, right at the end of the day, after we had returned from Garner State Park. 

The videographer on the river
Next is a photo that Jan took of me as I shot videos of the Frio River. 

Finally one of the videos that I shot of the river. I hope you like it.

Till the next post!
Mike Z

Friday, December 4, 2015

Concan TX, Day 2, Garner State Park

Concan TX, Day 2, Garner State Park

Field and Sky at the Visitors Center
We planned to tour Concan and Leakey TX in the morning and spend most of our day at Garner State Park, near Uvalde, TX. We got to the park a little after lunch and drove through to get the "lay of the land." Check in was easy, and we got a map of the hiking trails and bird watching blind.

Small cabin by Visitors Center, probably used for storage
We got to the bird blind, and sat for a while to see which birds might pass by. We waited what seemed like a long time (20 minutes) and saw one bird -- a sparrow. We decided it was time to hit the trail.

Sign marking the beginning of the Frio Canyon Trail
We got to the beginning of the Frio Canyon Trail, and started on the way. This trail is a hiking/biking trail, and it appeared that trucks used it too. We walked for a while and began to think we were lost.

As we started the 2 1/2 mile walk along the Frio Canyon Trail
About an hour or so into the hike, we saw a small bridge off to the right on what seemed to be a much better trail. All we were seeing on this trail were tire tracks and telephone poles. So we skipped over to this new trail, which we later learned is the Nature Trail, and started back in the direction of the Visitors Center.

Jan on the bridge of the Nature Walk Trail
When we got back to the center, I was sure that we had hiked the full 2 1/2 miles, but we weren't even close. But we did have a great time and there will be more to explore next time. So we got in the car and drove to the Frio River and Old Baldy. Old Baldy is the centerpiece mountain at the park. There are big posters of it in the gift shop, and they have every right to be proud.

Old Baldy and the Frio River, Garner State Park
We got to the park just as the sun was setting behind Old Baldy. I immediately got to work taking photos of the river, the cypress trees, the park itself -- pretty much anything that caught my eye. It was a feast for cameras! 

Frio River looking upstream from the paddle boat docks
The Frio River was true to its name -- very cold, clear and very inviting. I'm told you can make coffee with water right from the river and it tastes like ambrosia. I don't doubt it. The sounds of the water over the dam were so relaxing, I could have stayed a long while just listening.

The Frio River water is very kind to the cypress trees along the shore
I think from the photo above you can tell that the cypress trees are very tall along the banks of the Frio. Jan is standing in front of the rock just to the right of the base of the tree. It is amazing the heights these trees attain! And with the fall foliage they are truly beautiful as well.

Jan and Mike in the Hollow Cypress

While we were walking along the banks of the river, Jan noticed that one of the cypresses was hollow. So we took photos of both of us in the hollow of the tree. There was lots of "we were here" type graffiti inside the tree, but we didn't pay much attention.  

Parking area and playground, Garner State Park
The day got more and more clear as it went by, and by the time we left there was hardly a cloud in the sky. Very beautiful and so worth the trip to see this wonderful State Park. We highly recommend it!

Our last view of the Frio River as we left the park
The photo above was our parting shot of the beautiful Frio River. We would see it again at the cabins, but it was hard not to take just one more, just one more....

Hope you enjoyed the photos. And I hope you get to visit Garner State Park, if you haven't already.

All the best,
Mike Z

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Our visit to the Rio Frio, and Concan TX Part 1

Our Christmas Gift to Each Other

Jan and I have loved going to Big Bend National Park, and always want to go back. But I heard from a friend in Austin about this place called Concan, TX and the Frio River. We decided to take a "mini-vacation" and go see for ourselves.

Frio River, From the Front Porch of our cabin
 We got to the River Bluff Cabins about 4:30pm. It was very rainy and overcast, but I managed to get a shot of the Rio Frio. This is looking upstream from the porch.

Our front door, Cabin 4

We got checked in with no problem, and packed all our vacation stuff into our cabin. The room was very nice. We then struck out to see the grounds.

The Rio Frio, looking downstream from our porch

The River Bluff Cabins are nestled right along the Rio Frio, and there is a large playground for the kids. There are log cabins, lodges for large parties, and "regular" cabins like the one we stayed in.

Cypress tree park, where weddings are held

We walked down the stairs to the riverside, and were enthralled with the tall cypress trees and the sounds of the rapids on the river. So relaxing! 

Rio Frio looking downstream from the park area

We got down close to the water and were amazed at how clear and clean it was. Jan said her dad used to make coffee out of river water when she was a kid. He said it was "ambrosia." I wanted to try it!

Rio Frio looking upstream from the cypress park area

We were also captivated by the size of the cypress trees in the park and along the river bank. They must be very old. The photo below shows Jan standing in front of the tallest of the trees. 

Jan beside the cypress tree

After our walk we went back to the cabin, as it was getting dark pretty fast. We were excited to begin Day 2!

I'll get Day 2 up shortly. Stay tuned.

Mike Z

Monday, August 3, 2015

Writing Spiders in the Garden

 This is the month for spiders in the garden. Sentry found over a half dozen in one area of the garden alone. 

Top view

 We agreed they were beautiful creatures.

Bottom view
I took photos of several different spiders, and I've posted the best of the lot here.

Side view
I hope you like the photos. I sure enjoyed taking them.
Till next time,
Mike Z

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ranch Windmill 2006 Revisited

I was looking at some old photos I had put in Flickr, and ran across this photo of the windmill on the ranch. I had taken it in 2006, and had not done much processing on it before I posted it up. I decided to process it again with all the newer gadgets I've acquired in the 9 years since. Nothing fancy, just enhancing some colors, etc.

This is much more like I remember the scene on the day I took the photo. Maybe the grass was a little less green, but I think it's an improvement over the shot as it came out of the camera. 

With all the rain we're having recently, I took some shots of the windmill as it is today. Maybe I'll make a new photo the topic of the next post. We'll see.

Hoping all your shots come out beautiful,
Mike Z

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Can't get enough of these sunsets!

One of the truly wonderful things about this new home of ours is seeing the beautiful sunsets out in the country, away from all the "city stuff" that blocks the views of nature. I have gone to places like Big Bend National Park and Palo Duro Canyon State Park and dozens of other places, and the sunsets seem to be what I admire most when I'm there.

This photo was taken outside our house just as the sun dipped below the horizon. I had to work on it a little to bring out the grass in the foreground. Hope you like it!

Till next time,
Mike Z

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Spider Web in the Sunset Light

This afternoon I was sitting in the dining room looking out the window, and noticed the sun shining on a spider's web in the side yard. It looked so cool I wanted to see if I could take a photo that did it even a little bit of justice. I grabbed my "lesser camera," the Nikon Coolpix P90, and raced outside. By the time I got there, the sun had moved a little, and the effect was a little different. I snapped a few photos, and these two worked out.

I tried very hard to enhance the fine lines of the web, without getting ridiculous with the sharpening. There was also some chromatic aberration (blue halo's around the web lines) that I had to deal with. All in all, I think the photos came out pretty well. I hope you enjoy them. As always, click on the images to see them larger.

So until next time, I hope all your photos come out beautiful.

Mike Z

Monday, May 25, 2015

New Braunfels Sunset After the Rainstorm

Sunset in New Braunfels TX from our backyard

Well, seems like we have had nothin' but rain since we moved into our new house. It makes it hard to keep the grass mowed, and also to keep the boxes dry as we unpack. One good thing however, is the beautiful sunsets that grace us frequently after the monsoon rains.

We have been very lucky to be spared the devastation that the rains and flooding have caused in the Hill Country. Over 250 houses were swept away in Wimberley, and dozens of lives were lost. Austin has had flooding much worse than the 1984 Memorial Day floods. Tornadoes have struck all around us, causing major damage in some places. We are truly lucky.

I hope you are warm and dry where you are, and that you had a blessed Memorial Day.

Til next time,
Mike Z

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Well, we've moved. How 'bout that??

Jan and I signed the papers on our new home in New Braunfels today. After many months of packing, cleaning, staging, and fretting, our house in Austin sold in 17 days.

The photo above is of our new home on Jan's family ranch. I feel like a gentleman rancher, though I know virtually nothing about ranching. Jan's brother and sister-in-law really loved this place, but they moved to Nashville TN. 

John and Jennifer left us a beautiful yard and garden. I am sure they hated leaving it behind. I also have no doubt that there will be a similarly beautiful yard and garden very soon in their new place in Tennessee.

This morning we had a visitor, a vulture sunned itself on the corner post of our backyard. I was a bit concerned because of what vultures eat. I didn't see any evidence that its' meal was nearby. Maybe it was just enjoying the morning.

Ok, that's it for this one. Till next time, I hope you are doing well.

All the best,
Mike Z

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pace Bend State Park bluebonnets

More bluebonnets, this time the Central Texas variety. I was on a "mission" to Pace Bend State Park (not Big Bend State Park) near Austin to photograph my daughter Amy race a 9 mile course through the hills of West Austin. I had some time before I was to be at the designated spot to do the photo shoot, so I walked out towards the lake and saw fields of bluebonnets along the shore. 

One thing to notice about this variety of bluebonnets is that the stems are much shorter than the Big Bend bluebonnets in my last post. Another thing I didn't notice until I posted this photo is the boat in the lake with the rooster tail shooting out the back. Nice touch....

I'll have some more Big Bend photos to share soon, as well as (I hope) some photos of the Pace Bend Race. I hope you enjoy the photo! 

Till next time,
Mike Z

PS - As always, click on the photo to see it larger.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Abby and the Big Bend Bluebonnets

Well, it's bluebonnet blooming time in Texas, and everyone has pictures of their kids, their pets or themselves in the bluebonnets. This is the second installment of our trip to Ft. Davis/Big Bend, and I thought I would show you some photos of our granddaughter, Abby, in the bluebonnets as we entered Big Bend National Park. 

You'll probably notice that the bluebonnets in Big Bend are not quite like the ones in Central Texas. They are definitely bluebonnets, but they are taller and spindlier than those we have around home. The kindly Park Ranger told me that there are five different subspecies of bluebonnets in Texas. I didn't know that.

Abby seemed to enjoy the bluebonnets, and so did we. There are lots more photos to come, and I hope you enjoy them all. If you'd like to see these or any of the photos on the weblog enlarged, just click and you can see a slideshow. By the way, Happy Easter!

Til next time,
Mike Z

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Our Vacation Trip to Big Bend National and State Parks Part 1


It's hard to believe that it's been two years since I've posted on this weblog. No, it's not that I haven't had anything to post. I guess my only excuse is that I've been busy with other things, and have neglected the blog. 
But enough with the excuses! If you've followed this weblog for any length of time, you'll know what prompted me to post again. For those that are new, Big Bend is the reason. We took a 4-day road trip to Ft. Davis TX, near MacDonald Observatory, and visited Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park also. This time we went with our daughter, son-in-law, and 3 grandchildren in a giant Chevy Suburban. What a trip!
So here's a few of my favorite photos from the trip. The weather was cold and rainy, and it gave me the chance to photograph some familiar sights with a whole new look, as well as some new ones we'd never seen before.

Sunrise Ft. Davis TX Day 1

We drove to Big Bend National Park and walked the 1.9 mile Window Trail. It was cold and drizzly, but not unpleasant. I took several photos of Casa Grande, and this one of the Window. Very different from other shots I've taken but I think it has charm all its' own.

The Window from the Window Trail

While hiking the trail, my grandson and I enjoyed taking photos of the wildlife we saw. Most interesting to me was the Whitetail Deer we spotted nosing around the grounds near the trail. According to the national park website, this subspecies of whitetail deer is found only in the Chisos Mountains and foothills. The race in Big Bend National Park, the Carmen Mountains whitetail, is one of the smallest subspecies of whitetail in North America.

Carmen Mountain Whitetail Buck

The crown of the Chisos Mountains area to me will always be Casa Grande. I try to photograph this rock every time I go to Big Bend. This particular trip was so rainy and overcast that I got a whole new look to the photo. I took it from my favorite photo spot for Casa Grande, right outside the gift shop door. I hope you like it.

Casa Grande 2015

Close by Casa Grande at the top of a rock formation is a dead pinion pine that caught my interest. It was pretty far away, but I chanced a shot with my long lens. I think it came out pretty good. 

Pinion Pine, Big Bend National Park

The next day we went to the Big Bend State Park, which was brand new to me. Amy and Aaron biked the 18 mile West Contrabandos Trail, while Jan and I watched the grandkids, and I took photos. The day started out drizzly, but got clearer as the day went on. 

Mountains of Big Bend State Park

We had such a fantastic time every day of our trip. We ate at the Drugstore restaurant and saw several framed photos by my friend Bob Zeller, and we got to dip our feet in the spring-fed pool at Balmorhea State Park. We drove both main highways south from Ft. Davis, the Alpine route and the Marfa route, both of which were equally beautiful but very different. All in all, I'd say we spent our time there very well. I hope to go back again and again.

Til next time,
Mike Z