Monday, December 31, 2007

Trumpet Swans

It is rare to find Trumpet Swans very far south in the US in winter. They mostly migrate to Wyoming and Minnesota. In 1992 a flock of them migrated to a small lake in Heber Springs, Arkansas. It is believed they were blown off course in a winter storm. They have returned each year since then, and the flock grows in number each year. My mom told me about them after she recently heard about them and drove to Heber Springs to check them out. They can be found on Magnes Lake, which is on personal property and has since become a wildlife refuge to protect the swans.

The first time Mom went to photograph them it was a very cold, windy, miserable day. She listened to weather reports all week in hopes of finding a day nice enough to enjoy the trip to Arkansas to attempt to photograph the swans again. We decided the best day would be the day we were heading back to Texas so we just made a detour on our trip and she followed us. I'm glad we took the time to stop. The day was fairly warm (for the Ozarks in December especially!) and there were 87 swans present according to Marty. There have been as many as 120-130 found there this winter and they usually arrive around Thanksgiving and stay through Valentine's Day.

All of us in front of the lake:
(left to right) Marty, Me, Jerry, Mom, JoAn, Heather (with Missy)

Marty, Me, Heather (and Missy)

Greers Ferry Dam

Sunday morning we all got up and began the final task of putting everything back in suitcases and making sure we weren't leaving anything behind at Mom's. (Despite double checking everything, we always leave something!)

Mom and Jerry decided to follow us as far as Heber Springs, Arkansas on our trip back to Texas so they could show us the Trumpet Swans that migrate there each year.

As we left Mom's; Marty, Heather and I made a quick stop 1/2 mile up the road to say goodbye to Grandpa. Not knowing if I'll ever see him again made this a hard stop. The last trip we made to Missouri back in the spring, Grandpa told me then it would probably be the last time I saw him. He was wrong. This time he was much more optimistic, telling me, "next time you see me, I'll be another year older." I didn't stay long because I knew I was about to cry and didn't want Grandpa to see me cry. As I closed his front door and stepped onto his sidewalk the tears fell and the memories came rushing back: memories of all the cousins chasing each other round and round the yard; the time one Easter Sunday when Grandma found a rotten egg and tossed it out the door, only to have it land on me! Who knew a front yard could hold so many memories for so many people! I will save most of these memories for another post. There are plenty as I spent almost as much time with Grandma and Grandpa as I did at home.

While I stopped at Grandpa's, Mom and Jerry stopped to pick up Mom's cousin JoAn to take to Arkansas too. We're all photography buffs and Mom knew she'd love another opportunity to photograph the swans. For Christmas, JoAn has given me a subscription to a photography magazine!

When we were almost to Heber Springs the road ran along the top of a dam and I wanted to stop! There was nowhere to pull over on the dam so I quickly called Mom on her cell phone and said, "We're pulling over. I want to walk back across the dam for pictures." She told me if we drove all the way back to the other side we could pull into the John F. Kennedy memorial park and there is a lookout point over the dam there. So we did, and there's a view of the dam, but not of the water and valley below the dam, which is what I wanted to photograph. So, back across the dam we drove to park at the end and Mom, JoAn and I walked back to take pictures leaving the rest to wait in the car (they chose not to go with us for some reason). JoAn tired of the long trek back so Mom and I continued on alone. It was worth it. The view was breathtaking!

The view of the dam from the lookout.

A glimpse of the river from the lookout.

Views from the top of the dam:

How awesome to watch the birds flying below me!

I zoomed in close on the churning waters far below.

Mom as she photographs the view.

When we got back to the car and the rest of our family, we found a rock perfect for posed pictures! This is my mom.

Next up: the Trumpet Swans!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hodgson Water Mill

To check out the beginning of this day of our vacation go here, then here.

The last stop of the day was Hodgson Water Mill. The ownership of this mill seems to change hands frequently and it has been years since I've been there and the store was open at all. The biggest change here was the large tree in front of the spring that has fallen over. It sure changes the look I remember! At the back of the mill is a door that leads to a cave into the rocky bluff behind the mill. No one I know has ever been in the cave.

Just downstream from the mill.

I tried to capture another funny shot of Regina trying to get a shot of the waterfall and mill. She got up before I could get it, but Mom got a good one!

As I soon found out the above pose is almost required to get this shot!

I just like the way this tree reflects in the spring.

Marty and me in front of the mill.

Regina, Kristy, me, Dillon and Mom.

me, Mom, and Regina

the water wheel under the mill.

I thought the sprays of waters and gears under the water wheel looked pretty cool.

Dawt Mill

To begin reading about this day of our vacation, start here.

Dawt Mill has always been one of my favorite mills to visit. I think every time I've visited the mill before, it's been summertime and the general store has been open. We always buy ice cream cones or candy sticks (root beer for me!) when we go here. But, they are closed in December. Bummer! Not that I'd order ice cream in December anyway!

My cousin Kristy and her son Dillon.

Marty and me in front of the water wheel.

The view of the falls from the mill. The water was so blue that day!

Marty and me sitting on the waterfall edge.

Marty's been grabbing my camera more and more lately! Guess what his favorite photo subject seems to be!

Mom and I got a kick out of taking pictures of my sister Regina in interesting poses trying to caputre just the right shot!

Marty helped Dillon stand next to the waterfall too.

Me, Mom and Regina in front of the water wheel. I told them we have "halos"!

Kristy and Dillon.

Marty and me.

Continue reading here for our last stop of the day: Hodgson Mill.


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