Slow Motion Life

Well, I kinda lied in my last post.  Ron and I had planned to do a little birding in Allerton Park yesterday, but Ron ran into a bit of bad luck that knocked him out of the event.  Probably not a bad thing in the end due to the stifling heat that we are currently experiencing out her in Flyover Country.  To put it in perspective, I had Linda drive me to the Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve.  I noticed a nice trail in the back of that park while getting in a 6 mile run there Friday evening.  We had a couple of hours after the dog show, so took some time to see if it was worth us hitting it on our next trip over there.  It is actually a pretty nice trail that runs along the Sangamon River – bad thing is after 2 miles I was soaking wet from the heat.  The feels like temperature at home when we got back was 112!

Fortunately, the heat isn’t a problem for today’s featured creature.
Tortoise in Red Rock Canyon - Nevada August 2013

That there is what they call a Tortoise.  Guessing you were thinking Turtle.  They are both reptiles and that is the common name associated with the hard shells, but there is actually a definite distinction between the two.  For starters, Tortoises are land dwellers, where Turtles spend most of their time in water habitats.  Clearly this was the case with these specimens seeing as how we took them outside the headquarters of Red Rock Canyon in Nevada.  This dwelling distinction also leads to another difference – Turtles have webbed feet and very sharp claws to navigate the water and pull themselves up on logs etc. to sun.

Tortoise in Red Rock Canyon - Nevada August 2013

Hit the jump to see a few more pictures and learn a few more facts picked up from some quick research.

Continue reading Slow Motion Life

Carolina In My Mind

Well, if all goes as planned, Ron and I should be filling up the tin with more blog fodder about the time this post is released.  We are headed to Allerton Park near Monticello IL. to do some mid-summer birding.  Unlike last time we were there, the woods are going to be a lot more dense making it a bit more difficult to locate, much less photograph our feathered friends.  No worries, it is all about the hunt anyway.  Let’s see, today’s posts are coming to you from my lot back in July 2013.  That means I’ll likely be getting to processing any birds we do find… ohhhhh around 2019 hehehe.

But why waste time thinking about the future, when we can live in the present and enjoy the fruits of the past.  Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the latest check in my North American Bird List.

Carolina Wren - Brimfield Lot 07/2013

See that smallish tail angled high on the body frame?  How about those tiny organized speckles adoring the wings and the sides of the tail?  Unfortunately, you cannot experience from a photograph just how chatty this bird was.  All of those elements are excellent characteristics that put this bird squarely in the Wren group.  Main question is … which Wren is it?  Actually, that is a pretty easy determination for this specimen.  Notice that well defined and long white eyebrow?  That is a defining trait that puts this feathered find in the Carolina Wren category.

Carolina Wren - Brimfield Lot 07/2013

This is another classic example of why you shouldn’t let a backlog of birding shots get too big.  For most of this year I’ve been trying to get a Carolina Wren in the tin.  Every time I heard a Wren singing I’d get excited that it might be the day to finally get that check mark.  All but one time, it has eventually turned out to be the more common House Wren (link here).  The remaining one is still up for question – Ron and I might have tinned another Wren in a recent trip to Weldon Springs.  I am still trying to get those shots processed to verify it – stay tuned!).  While processing my 2013 pictures in the digital darkroom that impressive white eyebrow came to light.

Carolina Wren - Brimfield Lot 07/2013

Apparently, I’ve had this bird for over three years and completely forgot about it.  The best part of this .. it was taken in my own backyard.  Whoa, all out of pictures!  Don’t worry, I’ll leave you with a few facts – let me jump over to Cornell and see what they have to say.  First of all, they pretty much call the entire Eastern part of the US as their home.  Ironically, they are very sensitive to cold weather and Cornell actually states that globull warming has been increasing their population – funny, you never hear about this little fact.  Bonds form between male and females that last a lifetime.  They will forage together in the same territory year around.  That means I get to enjoy their racket err. sorry.. song all year long as well.  Every once in a while I’ll hear the Wrens out by my feeder, but most of the time they stay out in the back acres which are much more secluded.  Up to this point I’ve pretty much ignored them thinking they were just House Wrens.  The good news is Ron might be able to add this check the next time he visits our house — if he doesn’t get one sooner – we will definitely be looking for one today.

That’s all I have for you today.  “Can’t you see the sunshine, can’t you just feel the moonshine?”



They Can Hear for Miles and Miles and Miles

Greetings everyone from the blistering hot Midwest.  It’s been a tad on the bake side as of late – not so much the actual temps since those have been ranging in the high 80’s to low 90’s, but the feels like temperature has been a test for the internal thermostat.  Ever since my heat stroke episode (link here), my body has had the nasty habit of panicking whenever it thinks it is going to overheat.  It is kind of intriguing in the sense I’ll be running along in one of my training runs and all of a sudden I’ll go from expected levels of sweat to totally soaked.  The doctors warned me about this happening and I’ve been trying hard to get it reset.  The only way to do that is to keep at it – it is definitely better in the sense it is taking longer at higher temps now before the panic sets in (for the last couple of runs the feels like temp has been tipping the hundred mark).  The Bix 7 race is always a good test of your cooling mechanics since that is traditionally as hot as it gets for the running circuit.  A week to go before that race so fingers are crossed.  In the meantime, I’m sitting here in the air conditioning at a dog show getting a few posts out of the way.

Today’s featured critter falls under the category of “Cute as hell!”
Henderson Nevada - Cute Bunnies August 2013

This ball of fur was just hanging out under some trees enjoying a hot Nevada day at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve.  Taking it all in, clearly too young and carefree to realize the dangers it will face in the coming years from all the predators that lurk about the area.  In case you do not know your bunnies (and not talking about the ones on the top shelf of your local magazine store), this is a young Jackrabbit.  They have actually been featured previously on the blog because… say it with me – they are just too damn cute to ignore (link here).  Pretty sure it is the long ears, or fluffy tail or maybe the large round eyes or that button nose … or more likely the fact that all those characteristics reside on a single creature that make them irresistible.  Unlike most animals, these Jackrabbits are not just adorable when they are babies – they still tug at the hearts as the years add up.

Henderson Nevada - Cute Bunnies August 2013

Hit the jump to see a couple more shots of the adorable Hare

Continue reading They Can Hear for Miles and Miles and Miles

Beach Life

Been a while since my last post – my fault – sorry about that.  I thought things would calm down this month, but once again, victim of over optimism.  There are so many things in mid progress around the house that it is a labor just to decide what to work on.  Just like running, one foot in front of the other and eventually there might be light at the end of the tunnel.  Every once in awhile there’s time for relaxation – what better way could there possibly be to spend those special times other than thinking about kicking back on a beach.

Ft Myers 2013

A Florida beach to be exact!  The pictures for this post have been processed for some time now.  The reason for the delay is I wasn’t entirely confident on what it was.  These shorebirds are a major pain in the ass unless they have some easily identifiable characteristic.  Medium build, brown and white with a relatively normal bill is about as average as you are going to get for peeps.  Page after page brought up more and more options.  The region where this was taken, Ft Myers, narrowed it a bit but still too little confidence to present it to my readers.

Ft Myers 2013

Hit he jump to see a couple more pictures and find out what this beach comber is.

Continue reading Beach Life

Feeling the Steam

Welcome back everyone!  Due to the busy schedule last month, I didn’t get around to posting my annual run in the Summer heat!  June means the mercury is rising here in the Midwest.  That is exactly when the masochists that put on the Peoria Steamboat Classic race get to test the mettle of the area runners.  Once again, I was signed up for the Toughest 15K in Illinois.
Steamboat Classic 15K 2016

I was running it with Ryan and we had a secret advantage – this was our home course.  Remember all that training we did for the Marathon.. all those weekends  taking on the hills of Springdale and Glen Oak?  Well, the parts that gives this race the “Toughest” classification are those exact same hills.  This gave us a boost of confidence at the start of the race – well, as you know, I am pretty loose at the start of races – Hi Linda! (you can see Ryan just a bit behind me)

Steamboat Classic 15K 2016

Note, the lady in front has the 15K bib on (there is a 4 mile race that starts with us) – and so does the lady behind but she already looks terrified (not good seeing as there was 9.29 miles to go).

Hit the jump to read more about how the race went!

Continue reading Feeling the Steam

Book Recollection: American Gun

Chris Kyle: American Gun

Welcome to July everyone and while we are at it, Happy Birthday to our great country (preserving another year from the onslaught of socialists trying to destroy it). Just got back from spending some time down in Southern Illinois at Rend Lake. This is just south of Mt. Vernon and for you Chicagolites it is basically in South America. It ended up raining buckets but I managed to pull off a +1 which we will definitely get to this month. However, we are here today to discuss the latest cross off the reading list. Truthfully, this book really wasn’t on the list per-se, a friend of mine from work lent me this book thinking I might like it – and like it I did! This book was mostly written by Chris Kyle of American Sniper fame (link here).  Unfortunately he and his friend were gunned down by a sickness they were trying to cure.  Thanks to his wife and friends they were able to put the finishing touches on the book and publish it for all of us to enjoy.  It is a bit macabre to be reading the thoughts of a recently deceased individual, but if you can get past that you will definitely find this an interesting read if you are into the history of rifles and pistols – gun control advocates can pass right by this work and go straight for the government aisle and learn what unalienable rights are.

The premise of this book is Kyle took a look back in history and identified 10 firearms that had a significant impact on the shaping of the United States (I can imagine the deafening Liberal gasp).  Those 10 weapons of protection and war are: Kentucky Rifle, Spencer Repeater, Colt 45, Winchester 1873, 1903 Springfield, M1911, Thompson Machine Gun, M1 Garand, .38 Special and the M16.  All of these were very recognizable by me and I’ve even had the pleasure of firing the Colt, the 1911, the M1 Grand, .38 Specials and the M16 based AR15.  My favorite was the  Garand by far – fire it, and you will never ever forget it.  The power that rifle brought to the battlefield was incredible.  This is one of those books that falls in the category of a quick read. Chris’ style is very conversational and clear.  The entire book was read cover to cover on our trip back from Denver back in May (when I wasn’t driving ha).  Don’t let how quick the read was give the wrong impression it wasn’t entertaining.  On the contrary, I loved this book.  It isn’t often I get to learn so much history in such a short time.  It became pretty apparent that my early education was significantly lacking when it comes to American history.  Woefully insufficient to the point it was news to me that Truman was even involved in an assassination attempt – successfully defended by individuals who willingly put themselves in harm’s way including Coffelt who gave the ultimate price.  Another surprise was that the Americans lost 200 at the battle of Kettle Hill and San Juan Heights charges – always thought this was a complete slaughter rained down from the superior positions of the Spanish.  Don’t get me wrong, 200 is an absolute tragedy, but given the situation I thought the numbers were in the thousands (there were 1200 wounded).  There are way to many other gaps in my education that were filled to go into in this summary, so jumping to the recommendation –  Get this book!

Check out the jump to see my many takeaways.

Continue reading Book Recollection: American Gun