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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

iGene Awards, 114th Carnival Of Genealogy, Reflection's Awards Go To

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

Jasia at Creative Gene is hosting this years iGene Awards.  As always, mega thanks to Jasia.

The parameters of the iGene COG:

"We'll announce our best blog posts from the previous year (in this case, 2011) in the following 5 categories: Best Picture (that would be a photograph), Best Screen Play (story you would make into a movie including the cast), Best Documentary (investigative research), Best Biography, Best Comedy."

With the first category I am in a huge bit of trouble.  Best Picture, aka, photo.  Snicker, snicker, snicker.  I don't know how many photos I posted in 2011, but, it was the year of THE Trip, so there were hundreds of photos.  Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Zion, Capital Reef, Bryce, Grand Canyon, Canyonlands, Arches, Monument Valley, Sedona, and that is just some of what I photographed and shared here.  So, here is the deal, I have chosen some of my favorites.  They will appear in this post.

Above:  Monument Valley, Utah

Above:  Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park

Best Screen Play, a story of drama, which required an adult beverage and darkness to falsely proclaim victory over fear.  I nominate and the winner is: my experience on the Palm Springs Tram, which left me changed forever, and not necessarily in the best way, eh??  THE Trip, Tramming WAYYYYY Out of My Comfort Zone, followed by two additional posts on the experience, THE Trip, Palm Springs Tram Ride, Palm Springs, California, Up, Up And Away and THE Trip, Palm Springs Tram Ride, Palm Springs, California, At the Top, And Back Down Again.  (I am so disconnected with the current crop of actors that I think I'll skip by this part of the challenge, but, if someone could figure out how to get Johnny Depp in here, preferably in that d*a*r*l*i*n*g  pirate costume, and eye makeup, well, that would work for me!  Ehh??)

Apache Lake, near Roosevelt, Arizona as the sun begins to set.
Sunset at Gila Bend, Arizona
Best Documentary, I am stepping away from the definition that Jasia gave us, that this should be about investigative research.  Instead I am substituting a series of posts that impacted me tremendously, and that is what I feel a good documentary should do, impact you and your way of thinking.  It should stop you in your tracks and make you go, WHOAAAA.  That is exactly what happened when Man and I visited Salvation Mountain.  THE Trip, Salvation Mountain, The Tools of Love, introduces you to the tools used in the creation.  THE Trip, Salvation Mountain, near Niland California, shows you the folk art based on love.  The third post from March 1, 2011 was THE Trip, Leonard Knight, Salvation Mountain, A Photo Tribute.  I have been extremely honored, as one of those photos has been chosen to further Leonard's cause.

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky District
Above:  Sedona, Arizona

Best Biography, the story of Alfred Darden, Civil War era, which was my contribution to  "THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR GENEALOGY BLOG CHALLENGE"  hosted by Bill West of West In New England.  My contribution became a 4 part series and eventually resulted in several more posts and a lot of learning too.  Part 1 is, Alfred Darden, Civil War Solider Mystery, His Family.  This was followed by, Alfred Darden, Civil War Solider Mystery, His War Record and Alfred Darden, Civil War Solider Mystery, As Best I Can Figure, The Last Chapter. My fourth post about Alfred was Alfred Darden, Civil War Solider Mystery, Sometimes Ya Just Cannot Let it Go, New Discoveries.

This post was eventually "found" by some Civil War buffs and a fabulous amount of conversation and information was posted to the blog post and to me privately in email.  Yes, indeedy, this series was a total WIN.  This series also receives an honorable mention in the Best Screen Play category.

Above: Man experiences carrying a World War II pack, as his father did.  The experience was very moving and left a lasting impression. Photo taken at Camp Verde Arizona.

Monument Valley, Utah
Best Comedy, my sick, dark humor at it's best, err, worst, A Different Kind of Holiday Story, Having to do With Peppermints, a Horny Mouse, and a VERY Tiny Reindeer.  I do so love peppermint, but, not mice or rodents, except for that photo way up there ^ .

Above:  Wolfe Ranch, Arches National Park, Moab, Arizona. Photo artistically enhanced.

Technically, I suppose the following photo should not be nominated as it actually appeared on my other blog, Reflection's Flora and Fauna, but, since I felt it was so special, I am bending the rules once more.

Above:  Signal Mountain Road, Grand Tetons, National Park.

Ten nominations for Best Picture, I cannot pick just one.  Maybe you can, if so, please leave a comment.

And, thus ends the 2012 iGene Awards, brought to you by Reflections, Sony, THE Trip, and a bit of family research.  The awards will come to you live from lovely Gulf Shores Alabama, where we wear shorts and jeans, not formal attire.

At the after party Man and I will feast on seafood, deep fried chicken, gumbo, cheesy grits, home made biscuits and sausage gravy, baked sweet potatoes, deep fried okra,  macaroni and cheese (thick and guaranteed gooey!), banana pudding with sliced bananas and vanilla wafers, apple or peach cobbler, all washed down with some sweet tea (not sweetened tea, real sweet tea).

The red carpet will be a bit gritty, as our presentation and the after party will be taking place down at the world famous Gulf Shore beaches of soft white sand.  The evening will conclude with a beautiful sunset and a LONG LONG walk down the beach (will have to be long to walk off all that great food we pigged out on, eh?)

Congratulations to the winners, now, party down!  Bring on the grits (both the sandy ones and the cheesy ones)!

* Even though I have not shown links to the photos, all have appeared on Reflections during the calendar year of 2011, with the one noted exception.

Monday, January 30, 2012

THE Trip, Badlands National Park, South Dakota, Part 2

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

July 7, 2011

We are struck by the relative lack of color of the formations here in Badlands National Park, some faint streaks of brownish red, a bit of yellow, but mostly the stone is white and beige.  There is however lots of green grass to give some relief to our eyes and to contrast the huge formations of beige.

In reviewing photos for inclusion in the posts on the Badlands, I was struck how many panoramic photos I took, and how I felt they best represented the area.  It is a large area, the panoramic photo does a great job when presented with huge large open areas such as this.  Sadly, they don't present well on a blog, but, I am going include them anyway!  LOL

Below:  this photo shows off the brownish red stripes of color quite well.

Below:  This formation reminds me of a castle for some reason.

And, just when we think we will won't see anything more than green and beige, and I find:

We stopped at the walkway above, there was a sign that said to beware of rattlesnakes.  Mmm, no one told this rabbit who was sitting about 2 foot from the walkway.  He sat and sat and sat.  I took several photos, and he sat all the time, poser!  LOL

Below, a window.  I think they are "fun" and intriguing.

We would drive 44 west towards Rapid City, passing through the Buffalo Gap National Grassland.  We were in the Badlands National Park for about 2 hours.  Not since Salton Sea California has an area affected me like this.  The size of the park as well as being able to see for miles and miles and the barren beige formations left an impression.  I find myself hard put to describe the feeling, lets leave it at "other-world".

To those people who told us "there is nothing out there", we respectfully disagree, there is a lot out there, an eerie kind of beauty and bad combined, and occasional flower, bison (we saw none, but, visit Becky Wiseman's blog post from last September), prairie dogs (which Becky also got great photos of) and, more bison (yep, Becky had a real interesting visit, see her dust rolling bison here).  We missed seeing rattlesnake (no loss there, believe me) porcupine, bighorn sheep, bobcat, swift fox and black-footed ferret (think you have to be there at night to see them, as if, yea, right, mmmmm, NOT).

It was 91 degrees the day we visited, it was so dry it was as if it sucked the moisture right out of you.  We were very thankful for a functioning air conditioner in Big Butt.  I don't think I would want to visit if it were say, 100 to 120 degrees.

All in all, the Badlands was an interesting place to visit, with lots out there to experience, eerie strange beauty, a land that is so bad it is good.  Just don't forget your bottled water!

*  Not far from the Badlands National Park is the Minuteman Missile National Historical Site.  We were unaware of it, have added to the bucket list.

**  In late December 1890 Minneconjou Chief Big Foot, ill and tired, passed through the Badlands area, by the end of the month he and many others would die at Wounded Knee about 65 miles south of here.  Lisa Wallen Logsdon of Old Stones Deciphered and I were chatting about the area and the history.  She mentioned the book "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee", by Dee Alexander Brown, to quote Lisa: "...this book was historically correct and an exciting read. I couldn't put it down. If you ever have a chance to read it you will thank me for recommending it, I guarantee!"   Thanks Lisa!  For a brief summary, there is a Wikipedia page on Wounded Knee.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

THE Trip, Badlands National Park, South Dakota, Part 1

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

July 7, 2011.  After our short but oh so interesting visit to Wall Drugs, we headed south into the Badlands National Park.  I don't know about you, but even the name sounds a bit ominous to me.  We found it to be fascinating, extreme, and, we could see where the name came from. What a wild bad place this is.  Just how bad it can be is easy to understand if you read the following paragraph that is on the home page of the park's web presence.

The Badlands climate is variable and unpredictable with temperatures ranging from -40 F to 116 F. The summers are hot and dry with occasional violent thunderstorms. Winters are typically cold with 12 to 24 inches of total snowfall. Extremely high winds are common year-round. Sudden and dramatic weather changes are common. Dress in layers. Hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and adequate water are recommended for hiking.

Read that paragraph carefully, the descriptive terms are clear as to the type of place this is, variable, unpredictable, hot, violent, cold, extremely high winds, sudden, dramatic.

Once in the park we took the Badlands Loop Road southeasterly.  We stopped at most if not all the overlooks.  I did a poor job of recording where we were stopping on our visit.  We drove until the road dead ended at 377/44 which we took back west.  44 takes you through large expanses of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands.  We would eventually end up in Rapid City.

We had people tell us "there is nothing out there", and gave us the impression that it was rather a forsaken hunk of our country.  They were right, there is not much out there.  But, we were awestruck at the "forsaken" lands.  Does not take much imagination to see how overwhelming and possibly unforgiving Mother Nature could be around here.  It is a beautiful place, but could be dangerous, and BAD.

Below:   this is the area known as the yellow mounds:

Below, somewhere in the top one-third of this photo you can see a ribbon of the road:

I will have one more post of photos of the Badlands National Park, coming soon.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

THE Trip, Wall Drugs, Wall, South Dakota, Ya Gotta Stop

Copyright 2012, CABS for Reflections From the Fence

July 7, 2011

THE Trip was surely assisted by all of our friends, who passed on suggestions via email, Facebook and sitting round the campfire or round a good meal.  Many said, you have to stop at Wall Drug.  Really, you just gotta.

On this day, we left Custer, drove through Rapid City and east on on I 90 to Wall.  The drive was enhanced by signs, similar to the Burma Shave signs of my childhood, only for Wall Drugs.  I loved them. I did not get a photo of all of  them, but, here are a few, collage style:

There is a history of Wall Drugs online at their web site.  The town of Wall welcomes visitors:

Describe Wall Drugs??  Well, there are all the regular drug store items, shampoo, over the counter meds, greeting cards.  Now toss in tourist trap goodies, t-shirts, cowboy hats, boots, food, eclectic western art pieces, and lots, lots more.  There is even a small chapel.  Oh, and it is BIG, really big.

It was HOT when we finally arrived in Wall, sizzling HOT. There was no way we could leave Mr. G and Captain Hook in Big Butt in that heat.  So, Man grabbed CH and I grabbed Mr. G and we marched right into Wall Drug.  At first we did not linger long, charging from room to room to room.  A few people looked at us and the dogs, even an employee or two, but no one said a word.  In fact, I saw at least one other dog enjoying the cool air conditioning of Wall Drug.  After seeing the other dog, I figured, they could ask me to leave, and I would, but, in the meantime, I was going to slow down a bit and take it all in.  So, I did!

Below:  some of the western gear, belts with holsters and boots.  If you look a little harder at this photo you will see me, on the right, toting Mr. G and Sony and working the room!  LOL  You will also see the bottom of my legs in the middle of the photo in another mirror.  Will admit that I had a bit of a giggle fest when I previewed this photo.

Outside we discovered a Jackalope, made just for riding, and no, neither Man nor I climbed up there.

Below:  back inside we find this whiskey drinking cowboy guarding this corner of the store:

Man and both fur kids had a chat with this hombre (or is he the sherriff?):

We have more miles to drive today, so we head back to Big Butt.  Next, Badlands National Park.