Haunted Trail of Tears 2018 – Tear Down

Well, it has finally come, the grains of sands are just about finished falling for this year and the giant blog clock is just about to turn to year … wait for it .. wait for it .. TWELVE.  So many years, so many words, so many photographs and still enjoying every minute of it.  Well, maybe not those times when I am up against the wall trying to get the blog quota in before the turn of the month.  I haven’t finalize plans for the New Year yet (do not like to rush into that due to my absolute commitment to fulfilling whatever resolutions I come up with), but it feels at this point the blogs will be once again a mainstay in 2019.  As likely the last post of 2018, decided to close out the Halloween posts.  So far I covered the prep and two posts on the trail itself.  Only thing left is to talk about the tear down.  The way this usually works, is it takes a couple of weeks to get it all prepped, another 3 or 4 days to get it set up and then excruciatingly tiring hours to get it all hauled back up the hill once all the guests have left for the night. This year it went a little different thanks to the rain that started falling as the party was winding down.  We had to take the final pictures during the rain (thankfully the tree canopy kept us fairly dry).  By the time everyone left, the rain was coming down too hard to get the vehicles down and up the now very muddy hill.  Only thing I could do was put on the rain coat, turn off all the props, remove the sensor batteries and haul up a few of the smaller electronic decorations I didn’t want expose to the night of rain.  That took over an hour to do that resulting in one rain soaked Bri.

Haunted Trail of Tears 2018 - Tear Down

Hit the jump to see a few more shots from the tear down.

Continue reading Haunted Trail of Tears 2018 – Tear Down

A Race for the Birds

The end of the year is approaching fast and I need to get some things wrapped up so I can start the new year with a clean slate.  One of those loose ends is the recollection on the last run of the 2018 race season.  This race season was a new record for me as I completed 7 1/2 marathons this year thanks in part to adding 3 very tough trail runs into my schedule.  The first ever was the Blue Chevy Classic where I took 2nd in my age group (link here), then the Cry Me a River race where I placed in my age group (although they only rewarded the first 3 males and females overall – link here) and then the Sandhill Crane Half Linda found for me while we were looking for another 13.1 Wine race.

Sandhill Crane 1/2 Marathon Trail Race Vandalia Michigan, October 13, 2018

This one ended up being in Vandalia, Michigan back on the 13th of October.  The element that caught Linda’s eye was the fact it was named for birds that were commonly seen at the park they were holding the race.  That was pretty much a no-brainer in itself, but the fact this race only cost $27 was another.  That was such a good price ended up giving them a $5  donation.  Figured at that price, there wouldn’t be that much in the way of shirts or medals.  Wrong on both counts.  They recognized individual male and female divisions and the shirt ended up being a very nice long sleeve tech shirt.  More on the awards later.

Sandhill Crane 1/2 Marathon Trail Race Vandalia Michigan, October 13, 2018

Hit the jump to see how the trail race turned out!

Continue reading A Race for the Birds

Nightmare After Christmas – Pt 2 of 2

We are on our way back from a short trip to Tunica Mississippi for some birding and gambling.  Birding absolutely sucked and gambling wasn’t that much better.  Tunica has gone way down since our last visit there over a decade ago.  There were at least 3 or 4 casinos completely closed down and the ones remaining are definitely on the decline.  We won’t be planning a return visit.  We hit the Wapanocca National Wildlife Refuge in hopes of getting another Bobcat or finding that Cougar we located last time, but missed getting a picture of – struck out on both counts and a lot of the refuge was closed for migration or hunting.  Luckily we had a fun time at the Memphis Zoo so it wasn’t a total waste.  The good news is I can finish the Halloween post I started from the casino a few nights back,.  Yep, gonna take you on the rest of the trail so turn off all the lights and lock the doors – it’s the spooking hour.

Let’s start where we left off last time which brings us to the smoldering groundbreaker.  Ron gave me this item as a gift last year.  It jerks randomly while emitting wailing sounds and lights up.  It is set up for a fogger to enhance the effects, but we didn’t have one to spare this year – picked up a couple more at end of season sales this year, so look for that addition next year.

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2018

Think I bought  this hanging lady at last year’s clearance sale,.  She lights up and has eerie sayings implying it was your fault she was left hanging on that tree.  A lot of people missed this particular decoration this year due to it being somewhat hidden on a side of the tree.,

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2018

Hit the jump to see more sights from this year’s Haunted Trail of Tears.

Continue reading Nightmare After Christmas – Pt 2 of 2

Nightmare After Christmas – Pt 1 of 2

Hope everyone had a safe and merry Christmas or related celebration!  Thought I would continue my end of year stat pad .,..err, I mean Haunted Trail of Tears recollection posts.  If you recall on Christmas Eve I pulled a Tim Burton and provided insights into what it takes to bring our annual Halloween event to life,  All that hard labor is for a relatively few hours of entertainment for our friends and family.  That and Linda says it satisfies my Halloween obsession for a couple of months, well at least weeks.  This lights out tour ended up being a large post.  To keep your browser’s image cache from burning up, I’ve decided to break this into two parts.  Probably will keep the dialog to a minimum and focus on the images we took after the guests had left and just before that damn rain let loose.  Flip the switch off on the moon and queue the scary music, it’s time for a haunting!

Our trail started with Paul’s new blow-up dragon.  As mentioned previously, it was too big and too new to subject it to the woods.  A perfect way to start, tame enough for the children yet still impressive to see in the blackness

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2018

Mr, Spider once again greets our guests as they begin the journey down to the bottoms

Halloween Haunted Trail of Tears 2018

Hit the jump to see the rest of the pictures from the first part of the trail.

Continue reading Nightmare After Christmas – Pt 1 of 2

Merry Christmas!

Extending some holiday cheer from myself, Linda and our furry boys (Rizzi, Raven and Benji) . This year has been full of many ups and a few downs, but one thing for sure, it has gone by way too quick.  Looking forward to seeing and sharing what the New Year will bring.  A big thank you to all of you that have supported my blogging efforts this year and grateful to have made some good friends as a result.

Christmas 2018

Best wishes for a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! – stay safe in your travels.

A Nightmare Before Christmas

We are fast approaching the end of the year and starting to panic that I am not going to get to all the posts I need to – well, for clarity, that I need to in order to come out with decent end of year stats.  One of the big image count generators for the season is the annual Halloween Haunted Trail event.  By now it seems like the cookout was way more than 3 months ago, but when you take into account the planning, building and execution of that night takes its course over the entire year it seems a lot longer.  As tradition goes around here at Life Intrigued, I plan on giving you some background on the prep, walk you through the key elements of the trail and then a quick post on the tiring tear down.  Being that we are only a few hours away from the fat guy invading our homes, figured it was fitting to channel Tim Burton and his Nightmare Before Christmas. – Hey, where is all the woke body shaming outrage with this guy over the years?

Haunted Trail of Tears 2018 - The Prep

Thankfully we now have a large out building to stage all the decorations. Granted the basement still has its share of the decoration build spillage, but at least we have a place to temporarily store the assembled decorations before we haul them down to the trail.  As you can tell, there are a lot of elements required to get the decorations in a state where they are ready for the trek down – and yes, alcohol is essential.  At first it doesn’t seem that bad…

Haunted Trail of Tears 2018 - The Prep

Hit the jump to read about all the work that goes into setting up the Haunted Trail of Tears!

Continue reading A Nightmare Before Christmas

Somewhat Red for Xmas

I can tell Christmas is almost here by the signs of growing stress while out and about.  It all really starts on Black Friday … let me take that back, thanks to greedy merchants and blunt force trauma of Christmas advertising campaigns it really starts in mid-October.  This premature blitz causes some serious angst with me as it is a clear war on my favorite holiday Halloween.  Pretty sure the Kringle capitalists want to dispense with the orange and black and force a solid 3 month barrage of sleigh bells and, god forbid, horrible version after horrible version of Santa Baby. It may just be me, but by the time this traditionally festive time comes to a head I am worn out.  Sure, I like to entertain myself by spending time at popular merchants observing frantic people desperate to fill the void under the tree or get that hot item that sold out … in October, but you have to feel a bit saddened to see the impact a once joy-centric event now has on society.  Linda gives me a hard time about my tradition of going to the stores on Christmas Eve to experience this devolution – this is what psychology enthusiasts do for fun.  I cannot speak for other countries and cultures, but if you happen to live in the US, take a look around and start assessing the happiness of those around you, especially on the road, in the parking lots and especially in the cashier lines – what percentage give the impression they are glad to be there?  If they do look happy, they are probably psychology majors ha!  Feel bad about the downer opening, but really just hoping you can take a breath and remember the holiday should really be about family, relaxation and well, blogging!

Finally worked up a long series for my other blog (ironically focused on Halloween), but before investing in that effort, thought I’d get another bird post out for my wildlife readers.  Going with one of the big boys today.

Reddish Egret discovered at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge January 2017

The Reddish Egret is not the largest of the shorebirds, but still tower over the standard peeps and plovers whose shorter legs force them to forage closer to the shore.  In fact, just the three toed foot of the Egrets are larger than some of those birds.  Those other shorebirds don’t seem to be stressed by the size different, since I have never seen a Reddish, or for that matter any Egret, waste their time harassing the smaller birds – probably worried some stressed out piper trying to get a last minute Xmas gift will go medieval on them.  Nope these Egrets are calm, cool and collected as they keep an eye out for an unfortunate frog (now, frogs do have a legitimate reason to be stressed).

Reddish Egret discovered at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge January 2017

Hit the jump to see a few more shots of the two-toned Egret!

Continue reading Somewhat Red for Xmas

Another Trya for the Altamira

Well, I had my annual wellness exam with my doctor today.  Another year with “impeccable” (doctor’s word, not mine) health stats.  A constant diet of running and lifting may take its toll on your time over the year, but it definitely pays off in the numbers.  My employer also provides me annual comprehensive lab screenings so I knew the numbers going into today.  Ironically, I came out of the office with a hole in my arm and an hour or two later I wasn’t able to lift my arm above my waist.  Extremely healthy going in…damaged coming out thanks to my doctor convincing me I should get a tetanus shot with all the trail running.  Probably a good plan – I do shed my fair share of blood during the course of the year with the Halloween props, work on the lot and ideas that do not go as planned  – but damn this hurts.  Making the most out of my gimpy fin, figure it never hurts to stay on top of the blog quota.

Altamira Oriole shot at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park January 2018

Keeping with the theme from the last post, tonight’s offering focuses on a bird that has previously debuted on the blog while trying to get as many Texas birds added prior to the Audubon speech (link here).  Like the Woodpecker, it was also found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (along the Rio Grande River) while on a birding trip to South Texas at the beginning of the year.  Similar to the situation with the last post, the previous series was taken in rather harsh light.

Altamira Oriole shot at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park

Hit the jump to see and read a bit more about this Central America bird.

Continue reading Another Trya for the Altamira

A Better Golden Pecker

Hoped you enjoy the previous relief from the bird posts.  I like to mix it up a bit from time to time, but the bird shots clearly dominate my photography queue – at least at the moment.  Working on a few more non-feather series and hoping to get them finished up before too long.  Until then, you are once again subjected to our winged friends.

Golden-Fronted Woodpecker found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, January 2018

This series features the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker found on our trip to Texas back in the beginning of the year.  This isn’t the first time this bird has been featured here at Intrigued.  Back in February, this brightly colored species was honored from our trip to Texas in 2017 (link here).  I personally think this is a better executed set of pictures – that first set suffered a bit from being in direct sunlight.

Golden-Fronted Woodpecker found at Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, January 2018

Hit the jump to see more shots of the Golden-Fronted Woodpecker.

Continue reading A Better Golden Pecker

Dangerous Waters

Hello everyone!  We are quickly approaching the end of another year of blogging – my 11th year to be specific – and hoping to get a few more posts out before Father Time turns over the hourglass.  The good news is other than a few cleanups here and there I am officially on vacation until the New Year giving me plenty of time to get that done. Of course, there are Halloween props to build (yes, that is a year long activity), books to read, house projects to finally wrap up and fingers crossed, some birding to get to.  Fortunately, I was able to get a lot of the images for upcoming musings done while traveling Sunday removing the most difficult part of the blog process.  The birds have been dominating the slots as of late and therefore switching it up a bait .. err … bit.
Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

Nothing says Christmas like Alligators.  Okay, maybe not, but I needed an excuse to feature this series of shots taken at the beginning of the year (note, that might seem a long time ago, but my back queue of shots has officially crested over 4 years – an embarrassing amount, but relieved to know my brother Ron having once chastised me for my inefficiencies is now experiencing a similar queue buildup ha!).  Our menacing looking specimen comes to us courtesy of South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center.

Alligator shot at Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, December 2017

Hit the jump to read a bit more about this menacing creature.

Continue reading Dangerous Waters