On the night of September 5, 2016, I tried to capture the construction of a web by Madame Arachne, an Neoscona crucifera spider. If you have never watched an orb-web spider build its web, you have missed an absolutely amazing event. The precision and speed with which they construct their web is unbelievable, and the technical data would require an engineer to explain as far as strength, angles of tension, and so on. Absolutely amazing. There are a total of 13 photos in this gallery, showing the beginning to end construction. I hope you enjoy.
May 20, Day 20: You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks! We got up and had breakfast at the hotel, then go onto the Interstate (I-70) and headed towards St. Louis. After we got through St. Louis, we got off the Interstate and drove backroads. Ended up on the Great River Road that paralleled the Mississippi River and took us through some beautiful farmlands. Found an old prairie church, some old houses, some huge tractors and some beautiful little towns that time seemed to have passed by. Stopped in Paducah, KY for the night. 295 miles, 22 MPG
May 21, Day 21: This would be our last day of sightseeing, so we had breakfast at the hotel, checked out, and immediately go onto the backroads headed towards Chattanooga, TN. We passed hundreds of beautiful places; however, there were very few places to pull off the road and take photos. We were able to find one place to pull off and photograph an old barn that was being taken over by honeysuckle vines, and some wildflowers. Coming through Nashville, we passed some gorgeous houses. They were more like estates really. These were huge, modern houses set on several acres of land; and if you enjoy photographing those type things, then this is the route (Highway 41 and Alt 41) you want to drive. We stopped in Chattanooga for the night so that we could get up and get through Atlanta on Sunday morning and be home by 10:00 or 11:00 AM. 330 miles 21 MPG
May 22, Day 22: We had breakfast and checked out of the hotel, and headed for home. It was an uneventful drive, which is what we had hoped for. Arrived home by 10:30, unpacked the truck, fed and petted the cats, and just enjoyed being home. 140 miles, 18 MPG
Total cost of the trip, including lodging, meals, and fuel was about $4,700.00. You could probably get a nice cruise package for that; but you would not get the photo opportunities. You could fly and then rent an automobile after shipping some gear ahead for about the same; but you would not see as much. You may be able to drive a RV or pull a camper for a little less, IF and only if, you do not account for the cost of the RV/Camper and extra insurance. The choice, of course, is yours. My goal has been to convince you to get out and see and photograph the USA. As Roy Rogers used to say: Happy Tails to you!
May 18, Day 18 You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks! We checked out and left Sidney at 6:45 AM and drove backroads. We drove east on Route 30, then south on Route 64, and east again on Route 6/34. We found and California Hill, another Oregon Trail landmark. We also found some markers where Pony Express stations had once stood. Saw lots of old barns, abandoned houses and windmills, and even an old car sitting atop some old oil tanks . Stopped briefly at the Prairie Pioneer Museum near Holdrege, NE and discovered that there had been a German POW camp in the little town of Atlanta which we had just passed through. We headed back up to the Interstate on Highway 183, and then drove east, stopping in York, NE for the night. 368 miles 23 MPG
May 19, Day 19: WE had breakfast at the hotel, checked out, and departed at 8:00 AM. Drove to an old 1920’s restored farm, but it was not open. Took a few photos from the road, drove back to the Interstate and headed to Columbia, Missouri. Stopped at the visitors center near St. Joseph, MO and asked about scenic routes. The friendly little old lady told us to take Route 36. She talked about birthplace sites of famous people and quilting museums, and that should have been my warning; but I missed it. We drove route 36, and it was not much different from the Interstate, as it is a four-lane divided highway. We did find an old barn and farm house. We tried to find a covered bridge, and ended up finding the boyhood home of General J.J. (Blackjack) Pershing. A disappointment as far a scenic routes when you are looking for old abandoned barns and homesteads. Finally arrived at Columbia, Mo, found our hotel and stopped for the night. 350 miles, 20 MPG
May 17, Day 17: You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks! We checked out and left Jackson at 7:00 AM, driving back to Moran Junction in order to pick up highway 26 south. WE drove through beautiful farmland and ranch country as we wound our way up through Togwotee Pass in the Absaroaka Mountains, and the Shoshone National Forest. (Absaroka is a Native American word, pronounced ab-SOR-ka, meaning "Children of the big-beaked bird," or the Crow Indians.) The highway paralleled the Wind River, and offered some beautiful scenery. Encountered light snow and ice fog in a few different places but the road surface was clear and had been recently sanded in some spots. We dropped down out of the mountains near Dubois and saw many little farms and ranches along the river. We stopped in Fort Washakie to look for the monument to Sacajawea, and found it without too much trouble. While we were there, a gentleman came up in his pickup truck and told us with a smile that he had defaced the monument. He then explained that whoever had put up the monument had gotten something wrong. The monument states that Sacajawea’s tombstone is to the west of the monument. He had scratched out the word “west” and written in “east” which is correct. He then pointed it out to us, wished us a good day, and left.
I may have been my imagination; but as I stood on that windy hill overlooking Fort Washakie and watched a raven flying overhead looking down, it sounded like the wind was carrying whispers of the spirits, and I could not make out what they were saying. After taking photos, we left and continued south and east through Lander, Rawlins, where we got onto I-80, then on Cheyenne, and Pine Bluff, Nebraska. We got off the Interstate near Kimball, NE to visit Scotts Bluff. However, while there was a large sign indicating the direction to Scotts Bluff, we failed to find one directing us to the actual bluffs. We finally gave up and drove east on Highway 92 along the North Platte River. We found several old farmsteads, passed through Ogallala, and found Chimney Rock, Courthouse Rock, and Jailhouse Rock, all landmarks used by the pioneers traversing the Oregon Trail. We stopped in Sidney, Nebraska for the night and went to a nearby I-Hop that looked like it was just opening. As it turned out, they were holding their first run through after training the staff, and the manager invited us to become the first customers, even though it was supposed to only be friends and family of the new staff. 632 miles 18 MPG
May 15, Day 15: You can read the entire blog and view photos on our website. If you enjoy the account, Please . . . share it with your friends. Photos from the trip can be viewed at: http://astilesphotography.com/f390536220 Thanks! We left the motel at 5:00 AM and drove to Oxbow Bend for sunrise. Too cloudy for any sunrise shots; but while there we heard a wolf pack howling in the hills just southeast of where we were. We drove slowly back to Pacific Creek Road and then on Pilgrim Creek Road with no luck for wolves, bears, or moose. I have to make a comment here on another experience in this area. My method of looking for wildlife is to drive these roads very slowly, stopping often to use telephotos or binoculars to scan the surrounding areas. However, one idiot with Colorado plates had a different method. He roared up and down these dirt and gravel roads at about 40 mph, looking for groups of photographers. He flew around me about four different times, and was too fast for me to get a license number to report him. Someone like him is probably responsible for the death of the little cub a few weeks later in this area. Anyway, we checked the area around Colter Bay, ate lunch from the cooler, and then returned to Pacific Creek Road and drove all the way to Two Ocean Lake. No wildlife at all. On our return, we found some old dead trees and discovered a Marmot who decided he would show off for us. Got some good shots of him. Headed back to the motel. 198 miles 24 MPG
May 16, Day 16: I went out alone at 5:00 AM to try and find the grizzly sow and cubs. Spotted a young grizzly, maybe 2 years old; but it was walking away from where I was. I couldn’t get any decent shots. Returned to the motel at 8:15 to pick up everyone else and get breakfast at The Bunnery. We drove down Gros Ventre Road looking for moose without luck, then over to Mormon Row for a few more shots around there. We then drove through Moose Junction and cruised along Teton Park Road to Jenny Lake with the intentions of photographing some wildflowers along one of the trails. Found the trail closed for maintenance, so we drove along the shores of the lake without finding anything interesting. On the way back, we finally found one old mangy looking moose and got some photos of it. WE started to go out to the Chapel of the Transfiguration; but a bus load of selfie sticks pulled in ahead of us. We decided to head back to the motel and pack up for our trip home tomorrow morning.