Category Archives: USA travel

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Our first visit to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens at Boothbay was most certainly worth the effort.  The location is about an hour north of Portland, ME, and three hours north of Boston, MA.

This isn’t an article/text blog so hopefully I’m just going to let my    photographs speak for themselves:

The 'Bleu Aimable' tulip
The ‘Bleu Aimable’ tulip

 

The 'Angelique' tulip
The ‘Angelique’ tulip
'Rote Glocke' Pasque Flower
‘Rote Glocke’ Pasque Flower
'Rote Glocke' Pasque Flower
‘Rote Glocke’ Pasque Flower
'Pink Chintz' Wild Thyme
‘Pink Chintz’ Wild Thyme
'Pink Chintz' Wild Thyme among 'Angelina' Stonecrop
‘Pink Chintz’ Wild Thyme among ‘Angelina’ Stonecrop
And last but not least some wonderful ferns
And last but not least some wonderful ferns

 

 

Kaaterskill Falls – Early May (Page 2)

Continued from Page 1…/

The walk back down from Kaaterskill Falls to the road was one of those occasions when verse by my favourite Welsh poet sprang readily to mind:

EWr-7D2-150502-011_KaaterskillFallsPath©2015_Eddie-Wren_All-Rights-ReservedEWr-7D2-150502-005_RedTrillium©2015_Eddie-Wren_All-Rights-ReservedEWr-T3i-150502-014_DelightfulCompany©2015_Eddie-Wren_All-Rights-ReservedEWr-T3i-150502-015_MossyBoulder©2015_Eddie-Wren_All-Rights-ReservedEWr-T3i-150502-013_TexturedBuds©2015_Eddie-Wren_All-Rights-ReservedWhat is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

W.H. Davies

As for the “streams full of stars,” I looked and wondered whether this particular one also held any Brook Trout.  I have a delightful little 3-weight, 7’6″ fly rod that I could be easily be tempted to go back with, to that gorge.

And then, of course, there are all the larger creeks and rivers in the Catskill Mountains.  They might need longer 4- or even 5-weight rods.  I wonder how many Americans know that the Catskills were actually the first place fly fishing was ever done in the U.S.A.  These mountains are certainly classed as the home of such in America.

The Red Trilliums (see above) were, of course, a wonderful bonus.  So many spring wildflowers are white or pale-coloured but not these ones!

We also saw a few small birds flitting about on the far bank of the creek and some long-lens photographs showed these to be Louisiana Waterthrush – a little gem in a lovely setting.

So yes, the path up to the Kaaterskill Falls is steep and a bit rough in parts but it is not much more than quarter of a mile so, as long as you take your time, a lot of people could manage it.  And as I hope my words and photos have shown, it is very worthwhile!

Eddie

[Go back to Page 1]

Kaaterskill Falls – Early May (Page 1)

[Go to Page 2]

We had never been to the famous Kaaterskill waterfalls before, but at least we knew three key things about them:

  • The upper part of the Falls is high – 264 feet is the stated drop, and that’s roughly the same height as a 27-storey building;
  • The walk up to the Falls, from Route 23A west of Palenville, was said to be a steep and rather difficult walk;
  • Over the years, quite a few people have been killed by climbing to the very top of the falls then slipping and falling off.
The upper section of Bastion Falls, just yards above Route 23A
The upper section of Bastion Falls, just yards above Route 23A

The actual path leaves the road just below a second, much smaller pair of waterfalls called Bastion Falls, and these are photogenic in their own right.

The sections of steps, on the steepest bits of the path, had been washed out by rain or melt-water and were a bit of a nuisance.
The sections of steps, on the steepest bits of the path, had been washed out by rain or melt-water and were a bit of a nuisance.

Sure enough, parts of the path did prove to be a bit steep, with rough bits that require small-scale ‘boulder hopping’, or stepping over tree roots.  Indeed, two sections had man-made sections of staircase but so soon after the end of winter these were in poor condition and need some repair work to stop them from being more of a hindrance than a help.

One of the nice advantages of being laden down with cameras, lenses and a very large tripod, in circumstances like this, is that it is easy to pretend one is pausing to check-out the view and perhaps line up a photograph. But not me… I wasn’t just taking a breather; honest!  {:-)

From what we saw during our hike to the main Falls, I’m going to guess that early spring or late fall will be equally great times of year to visit Kaaterskill:  Not too much          foliage on the trees, together with nice colours.  Certainly our spring-day walk was beautiful in this respect – the bright greens of tree buds opening and glorious sunshine that wasn’t too hot for comfort.

The two-tier Kaaterskill Falls, in the Catskill Mountains of New York State
The two-tier Kaaterskill Falls, in the Catskill Mountains of New York State

Before our hike, I had recently bought the book ‘Hiking Waterfalls In New York’, by Randi and Nic Minetor, and it warns that a lot of people visit Kaaterskill even on weekdays.  We were there on a Saturday so it could be no surprise that there were indeed quite a lot of people coming and going at the Falls.

I got one of my cameras set up on my tripod at the viewpoint I wanted to use but rather understandably I then had to wait more than an hour and a half before I could get some shots without any people in view.  The wait was no problem:  The sun was just nicely warm and the mosquitos are all apparently still on vacation, snowbirding down in Florida; there certainly weren’t any there to spoil our day, even though they’ll undoubtedly hatch out from last year’s eggs and re-emerge, to bzzzz and be nasty again before too long.

EWr-7D2-150502-001_KaaterskillFallsSign©2015_Eddie-Wren_All-Rights-Reserved

So did anything spoil the day?  Yes, sadly it did.  I had no idea that so many people had difficulty with reading!  The number who ignored the warning signs and climbed up to the top of the falls – despite fair warnings about the number that have been killed doing so – was saddening.

While we were there, one young woman even played hula-hoops near the lip of the falls, with a hoop she had apparently carried all the way up there for that very purpose… Astonishing.

If individuals feel an absolute need to put Darwin’s “survival” theory to the test, perhaps they could at least choose to do so in places  where other people won’t have to risk life and limb to recover what’s left.  (Incidentally, back home in the Lake District National Park, in England, I was a member of two different mountain rescue teams in my younger years, so this is a subject that is dear to my heart.)

A very long lens was used to capture the light and movement in this shot of a tiny section of the upper falls (from the same viewpoint as the distant shot of the Falls, above)
A very long lens was used to capture the light and movement in this shot of a tiny section of the upper falls (from the same viewpoint as the distant shot of the Falls, above)

Right!  Now back to the good things about Kaaterskill Falls, and the main one of these is that it is a very beautiful location.  No wonder that members of the famed Hudson River School of artists made the place famous in the 19th Century.  Thomas Cole allegedly led the way, 190 years ago, in 1825.

Anyway, here’s a tip:  After you have visited the Falls, don’t be in too much of a rush to get back down the hill to your car.  Take time to enjoy the real beauty and wildlife of the little gorge that the creek tumbles through, because it is indeed beautiful.  To read about this aspect of the walk, click on Page Two.

Spring’s Top 10 Wildlife Spectacles in the USA (The Nature Conservancy)

“Looking for an excuse for a road trip, or maybe just an afternoon at a local park? Here are ten top must-see natural spectacles that you can catch each spring….”

Eddie adds:  The good news is that events in at least three of the ten categories (four, if you are a fly fisherman) happen here each year in the North East USA, so check out the suggestions in the above link, from The Nature Conservancy!

Gerard McIntyre’s Photo Mission to Washington DC — Part 1

Editor’s preface:  Before Gerry made his trip to Washington DC, I asked that if he could get any shots of the famous cherry blossom he should post them here in the blog, but we all know what the winter has been like here in the N.E. USA and so, understandably, there wasn’t a single bit of blossom to be seen.  Having seen his excellent photographs, however, I am more than happy to bend out usual “wildlife and nature” rules to show Gerry’s work here.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I have….. Eddie
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I recently was on a mission to get as many stunning architectural photos as possible.  I originally planned to go to New York City but those plans never came together.  As it so happens, I have two brothers and their lovely wives who live in or near Washington, DC.  So I wrote my youngest brother about a month before spring break and asked if I could visit for a few days.  Washington DC is an amazing city full of more museums and historical sites than can hardly be viewed in a month of Sundays let alone in three days.  Yet, I endeavored to get to a few of the more important sites to photograph and capture the essence of the city.  I am going to try to share a few of the special moments in time with you in the following pages.
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I arrived on Sunday evening shortly after six PM and chatted with youngest brother Mathew and his wife, Kerry. They were both full of wonderful ideas and anxious to help me get some of the better shots.  They are both Secret Service Agents and have been in town fourteen years so they know a little bit about the Capital.  Mathew and Kerry convinced me we should go out and about to see some of the city.  They figured an “Awareness Tour” would do me some good.  So, we loaded into their Jeep and headed out on a cool Sunday night.  They both said I need to see the “Mall.”  Not being familiar with the city I thought they were talking about some place to go shopping.  However, that is what they call the center of the city were all the major buildings, National Monuments, and cherry trees are located.
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Jefferson Monument - Copyright Gerard McIntyre 2014. All rights reserved.
Jefferson Monument – Copyright Gerard McIntyre 2014. All rights reserved.
After a quick sightseeing tour, Mathew asked if I would like to see the Jefferson Monument from across the Potomac River.  “Why not”  was all I could muster for a response.  I set up the tripod and camera and shot my first HDR image.
Washington Monument - Copyright Gerard McIntyre, 2014, All rights reserved.
Washington Monument – Copyright Gerard McIntyre, 2014.  All rights reserved.
I had hoped to get Washington DC with the cherry blossoms in bloom but, Ole Man Winter was still nipping at our heels and they just weren’t going to cooperate.  Turning around 180 degrees from the Jefferson Monument is the next piece I had to shoot. The Washington Monument behind the naked cherry trees.  I choose to frame it this way because the monument was still covered with about seven stories of scaffolding.  The last earthquake they had
did some major structural damage and the structural engineers were just finishing up with some serious restorations.
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After that, Mathew said that if I liked the Jefferson Memorial then I would really like the Capital Building in front of the Capital Reflection Pool.  Being an almost 24 hour town, I was amazed to see so many tourists buses dropping off and picking up tourist at 8:30 in the evening.  I really enjoyed the reflection in the pool.
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The Capital at Night - Copyright 2014, Gerard McIntyre. All rights reserved.
The Capital at Night – Copyright 2014, Gerard McIntyre. All rights reserved.
We called it a night after the tour and headed home to get a spot of dinner.  Mathew suggested I go to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the  Immaculate Conception just down the street from their house and Kerry suggested I go back to the mall and get an a panoramic HDR image of the Capital Building.  So, the following morning I endeavored to do both.
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I started at the outside of the Basilica and worked my way inside.  The Security Guard stopped me about halfway through the beautiful church and told me I had to get permission from the office to take pictures.  I was told when I went to the office that I couldn’t take any pictures of people, and none of my interior pictures could be posted on the internet or sold for profit.  Too bad, it is an amazing facility with more artwork than I have ever seen before and wish I could have shared some more of it.
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The Basillica.  Copyright 2014, Gerard McIntyre.  All rights reserved.
The Basillica. Copyright 2014, Gerard McIntyre. All rights reserved.
After I got done with the Basilica I gathered up my camera gear and headed down to my brothers Jeep he lent me.  He said my truck was too big and I would have a hard time finding a parking spot big enough for it.  What I didn’t understand was I’d have a hard time finding any parking spots period.  I headed downtown toward the Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and spent 30 minutes trying to find a parking spot.  I finally gave up on a public parking spot and paid $15.00 to get a private parking place.  My goal was to get to the Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial to see my father’s name on the memorial.  I found it on Block 9 East, line 22.  Gerard Thomas McHugh was born in the Bronx and died in the line of duty as a NY State Trooper on the 27th of May, 1956, five months before I was born.
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National Law Enforcement Officers Academy - Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre.  All rights reserved.
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial – Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre. All rights reserved.
After saying my proper respects and taking this image to remember him for all eternity, I headed back downtown on foot because I didn’t want to try to find another parking spot.  I eventually ended up back in front of the Capital Building and I shot a 27-picture HDR image.
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The Capital by Day - Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre.  All rights reserved.
The Capital by Day – Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre. All rights reserved.
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See more of Gerry’s excellent photography and the read the rest of his story in Part Two

Gerard McIntyre’s Photo Mission to Washington DC — Part 2

If you missed ‘Part One’ of this piece, please click here.

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Continued…/

After toting around my 42 pound equipment backpack and tripod for a few hours, I called it a day and went back to Mathew and Kerry’s place to start processing some of my images.  As you can see, I think I got a few good ones.  A few hours later, Kerry and Mathew got home from work and insisted we go back out to get the White House.  How could I say no to capturing the iconic building that so many of our forefathers spent years in leading our wonderful nation.  Off we went.  Most people have to go find parking or take a tour bus to get so close but Mathew drove right to the White House front lawn parking place, flashed his badge and the uniformed Secret Service Police let us park in the employees’ parking place.  It still was a little walk but Mathew, Kerry, their two Westie’s and I walked unmolested to the center of Washington DC.
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Gerry McIntyre at the White House - Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre.  All rights reserved.
Gerry McIntyre at the White House – Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre. All rights reserved.
I’ll never forget what happened next.  I started by setting up my tripod and getting it fully extended so I could shoot over the front fence that prevents people from getting direct access to the White House.  As I started trying different lenses, Mathew said he better go let the uniformed Secret Service Police Officer know who he was.  He went to the barrier and called the Police Officer over, I heard Mathew say who he was and tell him I was his brother.  The Police Officer saw his credentials and said, “Yes Sir, No Problem Sir.”
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What was so funny was that I couldn’t see the top of my tripod to ensure the bubble float said it was level.  Mathew, at 6’ 5”, said “No problem Bro.  Jump on my back and get it set up.” So, with the greatest of joy, I felt like a kid playing with his little brother again, in front of the White House, a memory I’ll never forget.  Here’e the 27-picture HDR image:
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The Whitehouse at Night (HDR) - Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre.  All rights reserved.
The Whitehouse at Night (HDR) – Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre. All rights reserved.
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We called it a successful day after that bit of fun and headed back to the house.  It was projected to snow the next day and I wasn’t sure where I might go.  Again, like the good friends they are, Mathew and Kerry said I had to go see Arlington National Cemetery and Mt Vernon.  So, the next morning I jumped in my 4×4 pick-up and headed off, undaunted by the snow. Arlington was the closest place so I went there first. My truck is a little big so the parking attendant directed me to the tour bus and oversized vehicle parking.  It was nice having almost the entire parking lot to myself.  As I walked toward the JFK Memorial, I was taken by the number of national Hero’s that were resting in peace in Arlington.  I was on a mission and was amazed by what I saw in the next few shots.
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Arlington - Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre.  All rights reserved.
Arlington – Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre. All rights reserved.
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The JFK Eternal Flame - Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre.  All rights reserved.
The JFK Eternal Flame – Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre. All rights reserved.
I was seven years old the day JFK was assassinated. I was honored and in awe to have the privilege to be standing in front of his national memorial.  My next destination was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  As a retired USAF Senior NCO, I had to go see this memorial.
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My first goal was to get an HDR image of the tomb.  The soldiers are hand picked for this special assignment and are very professional in their demeanor and performance.  I was lucky enough to capture the changing of the guards.
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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre.  All rights reserved.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier – Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre. All rights reserved.
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The Changing of the Guard - Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre.  All righte reserved.
The Changing of the Guard – Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre. All righte reserved.
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Although I have hundreds more pictures, I have to get some homework done so I need to close this article with a shot I took at Mt. Vernon.  I was surprised this is not a national monument and is standing today as a testament to a few good women that felt it was important to keep George Washington’s home in good condition.  Although I could not take any pictures inside, I did capture this shot of the front.  It is a beautiful mansion initially built by George’s great-grandfather and then added onto by George after he inherited it from his father.
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Mount Vernon - Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre.  All rights reserved.
Mount Vernon – Copyright, 2014, Gerard McIntyre. All rights reserved.
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I look forward to my next adventure.  I only hope to capture more stunning images to share with my family and friends.  I must close this by saying “Thank You” to Mathew and Kerry for their graciously putting me up and showing me the town on relatively short notice.
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