04/06/08 to 06/30/08

Burl on tree

I was checking out Brushy Creek State Park in eastern Oklahoma this past week. I was looking for a place to camp. It´s a nice little park with a campground located on a small lake. I found this tree with a massive burl growing all the way around it. I took one look at it and noticed a lot of faces. I´ve looked at this picture about a half dozen times and each time I come up with a different number of faces. I´ve seen as few as 6 and I counted 10 just before I posted this. How many do you see?

Apple Blossoms

Well, spring is here in all her glory, this is one of my favorite times of the year. The Daffodil´s, Peach and Bradford Pears are done; the Lilac´s, Wisteria and Apple trees are in full bloom. The Redbud, Dogwood and some Azalea´s are at their peak now and the rest of the Azalea´s should be reaching their peak this week, provided we don´t get a freeze. We´ll know in the morning, there is suppose to be a freeze tonight, the latest spring freeze in over 10 years. I was hopping to get some peaches and apples off of my trees this year, provided the deer didn´t get them. I´m hoping it is a light freeze, I guess I´ll find out in the morning.

Blue Flowers

Wildflowers, another sign of spring, we went on a Sunday drive and found this flower blooming along the side of the road. I just had time to do a quick check of the pictures I took and it looks like I may have gotten some other good ones. We went by a prairie dog town today and for the first time, babies in the wild. There were a lot of babies, two or more per prairie dog. We also saw deer, turkey and a coyote. Oh, in case you´re interested, it looks like my peaches and apples may have survived the frost.

Prairie Dog Pups

Last week I told you about our trip to the Wichita Mtn. NWR, located in Southwestern Oklahoma. This refuge sits up against the north side of Ft. Sill, an Army training facility. As you approach the area going south out of Oklahoma City on I-44, you pass through beautiful low rolling hills. Then you will top one and see Mt. Scott, at 2464 ft. it is the tallest peak within the Wichita Mountain range. The Mountains start next to I-44 and continue west over the horizon. Although not very tall they are very beautiful granite mountains.

The park has Elk, Deer, Turkey and Prairie Dogs with a good size Prairie Dog town straddling one of the park roads, which is where this picture of 5 Prairie Dog pups was taken. You can get out and walk around and as long as you´re quiet you can get close to some of them. There are numerous lakes within the refuge and a couple of camping areas. Lake Latonka, not a huge lake by Oklahoma standards, but still good size, sits up against the eastern edge of the refuge.

You can´t talk about Wichita Mountain NWR without talking about Meers and the world famous Meers burger. This thing is huge and well worth the stop, they have to cut it in quarters just so you can eat it and it is good. Meers is located on OK Rt. 115 about two miles north of the refuge. If you´re in the area you´ve got to stop and get a Meers burger, it´s worth the trip alone. Just get there early, the lines are long in the summer.

koi pond

It still amazes me how a person can be in an area for years thinking he knows it pretty well only to discover he doesn´t. I use to live in the Chicago land area, I lived there for over 12 years, thought I knew the area pretty well. Also thought I knew the local sites pretty well. I stopped in to visit my daughter and granddaughter this past weekend and we went looking for something knew. We found it at Garfield Park, located on the west side of Chicago in an area I didn´t think was too safe, at least when I was living in Chicago land 12 years ago. But things change.

The area has improved a great deal since I was there last and it has a very large and beautiful park. Located on the north end of the park is the Garfield Park Conservatory, a very large conservatory. The conservatory was built in the late 1950´s and by the 70´s was in serious decline. But then a group of people got together and started raising private funds to bring the conservatory back. I would have to say that it looks like they did a pretty good job.

The outside gardens were not blooming yet, it´s only May in Chicago land, but the inside of the conservatory was very nice. I took this picture of the Koi pond located in one of the back atriums. The lily pads are made of glass and cost about $500,000 to make. I was told that the best time to see the conservatory was in June, July and August.


I´ve been on a business trip for the last couple of weeks and had the opportunity to go up through Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois. I was in Wisconsin for most of the time, didn´t have a lot of time to go site seeing though. However, I did manage to get some in, a small part of NE Iowa, North Central Illinois and SE Wisconsin. Most of my spare time was spent in SE Wisconsin during the evenings taking pictures of old barns and turkeys. I saw a lot of turkeys; it´s their mating season up in Wisconsin.

All of the streams were either bank full or flooding, the area had received record amounts of snow this past winter and quite a bit of rain in recent weeks. My last day there was beautiful so I took one last ride through the country after work snapping pictures of old barns and happened upon this lake. It is a natural lake in the town of Oconemewoc, WI. The lake is big enough to show up on a map, due east of Milwaukee on Hwy 16. I thought this sunset was a fitting end to a good trip, even though it was a business trip.

barn and silo

I took this barn and silo picture just before sunset one evening during my recent Wisconsin trip. I´ve heard that Kentucky has a lot of neat barns but personally I think Wisconsin has more and older ones. Being the dairy state most of the barns are on dairy farms or what use to be, I found one old barn in the middle of the city. Although this one doesn´t, a lot of the barns have very old rock foundations. Most of the barns in Wisconsin are probably red, but not all. During my side trips I saw yellow, gray, blue, brown and white ones. They come in all shapes and sizes, but most were built for dairy farming.


This week I´ve added 9 more galleries of butterflies to the insect pages and I thought I would highlight one of them here. When I think of colorful butterflies I usually think of the tropics. Sure, I knew we had a few colorful one´s but I had no idea how many. All of the butterflies in the butterfly galleries are found right here in North America with many of them in our own backyards. It wasn´t until I started slowing down and taking pictures that I started to notice all of the colorful varieties we are blessed with here in North America.

This beautiful specimen is a Great Spangled Fritillary and belongs to a group of Orange colored butterflies that have beautifully patterned wings on both the top and bottom. I took this picture last summer on one of out road trips over to southern Missouri.

Fire Pink Flower

I choose this Fire Pink wildflower for this weeks Pic of the Week. I usually see one or two of these flowers every year, if I´m lucky enough that is to get out in the woods sometime during the spring. They usually bloom in May or June and you see them in shaded glades or in open woods. We found this Fire Pink growing in the middle of the trail we were on.

My son and I were on a short scouting trip for places to hike Memorial Day weekend in the Spavinaw Wildlife Management Area. This WMA is located on the south shores of Lakes Spavinaw and Eucha in NE Oklahoma. The WMA is managed for elk and deer with special deer seasons in the fall, the elk are not hunted. It has a few trails that are old roads closed to traffic.

Although the roads to Spavinaw WMA are good, once you get in the WMA the roads are pretty ruff, it is recommended that you have a truck. If you want to go over all the roads within the WMA you will need a 4 wheel drive. It has some very beautiful and rough country.

Baby Buffalo

The wife and I took a trip up to the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve last weekend. The day started out pretty bad with the weather, but after the storm front moved through it turned into a gorgeous day. It is late spring here and the wild flowers were blooming. There were young buffalo calf´s everywhere, some of them looking like they may have only been days old. We´ve visited the preserve frequently over the years but this is the most new calf´s we´ve every seen in the preserve.

The preserve is about 38,000 acres, about 5 or 6 miles due north of Pawhuska, OK. I think spring is one of the best times of the year to visit the preserve, the grass is green, the flowers are blooming and the vistas are beautiful. The buffalo are free roaming so you may have to do some driving to see them. We have been to the park once or twice and didn´t see any, but that´s pretty rare.

The preserve has two loops, the Bison loop in the southwestern corner and then you can take the north loop which is out the north end of the park. On the north loop you exit out the north end of the preserve and loop back on a county road, reentering the preserve from the west on the northern portion of the Bison loop. The preserve has a visitor center and they do offer a short tour of the main ranch house, giving you a history of the area and how the preserve was created.

White Insect

I first encountered these little bugs about two years ago in southern Missouri. I thought they were seeds from cottonwood trees at first, until I noticed some of them gaining altitude.

My first attempts at a picture didn´t turn out at all, this one isn´t too bad. These things are only about a quarter of an inch in length and they look like small feathers, any puff of wind changes the direction they´re flying.

Meramec Spring

I took this picture several years ago while visiting Meramec Spring Park, not to be confused with Meramec State Park. Located in the Ozarks, Meramec Spring Park is a beautiful park located east of St. James Missouri on Hwy 8 between St. James and Steelville Missouri just a short distance off of Interstate 44.

This picture is of the main pool, the spring is located up against a bluff just around the corner to the left. It runs clear all year; the only exception to this is when there has been a lot of rain. The water comes out so fast that the center of the pool is slightly higher than the edges.

The park has an outdoor museum of the old iron works with the old blast furnaces and some of the equipment used to make the iron. The state runs a trout hatchery you can visit and there is a very large spring, the output is measured in millions of gallons. There is camping, trout fishing and a few trails within the park. This park is well worth seeing if you´re in the area.

Koi Pool

This picture was taken at Linnaeus Teaching Gardens Saturday after the storms went through the Tulsa area. Linnaeus Teaching Gardens is a small group of gardens located in the Southeast corner of Woodward Park behind the arboretums. This picture is of the Koi in the main pool. The pool has two water falls feeding it with flowers blooming all around. I believe the Koi have been donated; there were more in the pool than the last time I was there. They even have a golden one, his picture didn´t turn out. If you´re in the Woodward Park area in Tulsa you need to stop by and take a walk through this group of gardens, it´s very peaceful.

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