Debbi's Crop'nPunch PhotogBlog

PhotoFrenzies

MOVING TIME – New Blog Site

Moved to…PhotosAndFacets.com

Well, I DID IT!

I’ve had the quandary of my different blog sites that were spread all over – wordpress, blogger, mobileme – and finally made the decision to make my life just a little easier by combining them all into one site. This decision came after my PhotoFrenzyFriend, Lisa, turned me on to a wonderful and fun site The Pioneer Woman. Once I saw that it could be done (and in fact SHOULD BE), I made the decision to take the plunge. After a few days, it’s done (minus some tweaking over the  next few weeks).

The compilation of all…

  • No More Weighting – my scripture-based motivational weight loss blog site
  • Crop’nPunch  – my photography blog site
  • NMW ministries – my general inspirational blog site

into Photos and Facets. The birth of the new site will also include some more personal sides to me and should be…well…just a little fun! Time will tell!

At the new site, you will find all of the above…

  • No More Weighting  – will be under No More Weighting (imagine that!)
  • Crop’nPunch  – under Debbi Robertson Photography Blog
  • NMW Ministries – under Proverbs 3:5

plus some new categories to follow shortly.

Please, check out the new site, bookmark, subscribe and all those fun things and if you are already a subscriber here, PLEASE make sure to change your subscription.

Thanks for your support and spread the word!

Have fun, stay young and…

Let Your Light Shine,
Debbi

A Little Less Frenzyish

Frenzyish! Is that a real word? Nope, not unless you look in the Debbi Dictionary. I’m known for making up words or changing words a little to accommodate…me! So frenzyish is a word that means, slacking in attending or initializing a PhotoFrenzy.

Now that you know what it means, let me explain why I’ve been a little less frenzyish. Truth is, I don’t know! Just have not been anywhere the last few weeks besides perhaps a quick ride or two up the road to satisfy a need to snap the shutter a few times on my camera. But other than that, I have not been on any real PhotoFrenzies in a while.

However, that is about to change! My dear, sweet hubby and I are celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this month and had originally planned to take a driving trip to one of my favorite places in the US, outside of Texas…Colorado. But a few weeks ago, one fine Friday night, he unknowingly asked me, “So, what do you want to do tomorrow?” Before my head could figure out what my mouth was saying, I blurted out an answer in a jokingly manner, “Go get a new Macbook Pro at the Apple Store.” (The new and improved MacBook Pros had just been released a short time before.) His response shocked me. He said, “Well, if we don’t go to Colorado, we could do that.”

What? Are you serious? Hmm, a week-long vacation or a brand new, fast processing, MacBook Pro that will last me years and thousands of hours? One that will have a larger hard drive, faster processor and will speed up my photo processing time? It didn’t take me long to decide. So the next morning, off to the Apple Store we go.

But because he knows the main reason I desired to take a trip for our anniversary to begin with was to exercise my shutter finger, he suggested that perhaps we take a couple of short trips that would not cost nearly as much as a week-long trip 14 hours away. Who am I to argue with the man? So, sure! Sounds great to me!

And now the time has come! We will be driving about 4 hours north to visit the southwestern rugged terrain of sandy soil and mountains of the Quartz Mountain, Lake Altus area of Oklahoma. Then head down about 4 hours south of where we live to the southern tip of another favorite area, the Texas Hill Country. We’ve been all through the northern and central areas of the Hill Country on prior trips, but the area south of Kerrville to Boerne, we’ve not explored – but will very soon.

So, although I’ve been a little less frenzyish lately, be watching as I am about to make up for lost time. And fully expect to have thousands of photos to prove it!

Until then…

Let Your Light Shine,
Debbi

Bluebonnet Trails

The last couple of PhotoFrenzies were to yet another treasure that has been sitting “right in my own backyard”, but didn’t know it. It still amazes me that I’ve lived in north Texas almost my entire life and there are so many treasures within an arm’s reach that I’ve been completely unaware of until picking up my DSLR for the first time last fall. This week’s discovery was of an annual event that takes place in Ennis, just a short hour’s drive from my home. It is the annual Ennis Bluebonnet Trail which runs April 1-30 each year. There is also an Ennis Bluebonnet Festival that takes place each spring in mid April. According to their website, in 1997 Ennis was designated the Official Bluebonnet City of Texas.


While searching for the best places to spot Texas Wildflowers recently, I stumbled across the information of the Bluebonnet Trails. I was looking for areas down in the Hill Country of our great Lone Star State, as that is where you hear about the wildflowers blooming the best. Little did I know that the Official Bluebonnet City was so close to me. Like I said…I have treasures all around me and ones that I would not have known about if it weren’t for this wonderful hobby I’ve picked up!

When my BFF and I were deciding where to go for our last PhotoFrenzy, we decided to check out the Trails. So off we went! It was a beautiful day and a nice drive that landed us in downtown Ennis late morning. We decided to stop by the Visitors Center and pick up a map of the trails, since I carelessly did not print one off the computer like I had planned. The very sweet lady who assisted us, marked the very best trail for us to take to see the flowers in their prime. Following the trail meant weaving our way down small country roads that were not heavy in traffic. Good thing because after all, we are Photogs…we brake for anything. I can’t tell how many times I’ve asked, “Uh, can you back up, please?”

It didn’t take long and the beauties were showing themselves. Everywhere you would look there would be fields and rolling hills of nothing but beautiful color made up by different types of flowers. Bluebonnets galore as well as Indian Paintbrushes and Yellow Dandelions. Buttercups would pop up every now and then as well as Winecups. Along the drive were other picture worthy subjects. Such as Longhorn steer and…oh…the chair!


The sights were so beautiful that over the weekend, I had to take my sweet husband to experience the trails as well. After all, you can’t do it just any time of the year. And as usual, a weekend drive with David means a weekend drive with our little girl. Lucy loves Bluebonnets!


Until next time…

Let Your Light Shine,
Debbi

Hill Country Adventure

Just a couple of days ago, in my PhotoFrenzy Catch-up post, I mentioned finding a new discovery in the Texas Hill Country. Due to the post being a “catch-up” and ending up being quite long, I decided to save this PhotoFrenzy for another day. Well, that day is today!

Ever since last fall when I was blessed to receive my first DSLR from my WONDERFUL PARENTS, I’ve had a deep desire to visit the Hill Country region of our Lone Star State. You see, the Hill Country is my favorite place in all of Texas and a place that David and I have visited for years. My son spent many hours in the backseat of our car, as a young child, as we traveled all through the Hill Country and made wonderful memories while visiting and discovering all types of fun places. So, naturally, when I developed an intense interest in photography, the first place I wanted to go was none other than the Hill Country in the Spring. There is no other place in Texas quite as beautiful with the blankets of wildflowers covering every open space – even the highways are decorated with these beautiful flowers on all sides.

This past weekend, being Resurrection Sunday, David had Good Friday off of work. We had planned to take that day and head south as far as we could toward the region knowing that it would be just a one day trip. We have never made the trip down, explored and returned home in the same day. But that is exactly what we intended to do in order to save money for our Colorado trip coming up next month. In making plans, I stayed constantly aware of the weather forecast. And guess what the forecast said? Rain and thunderstorms on Friday, some potentially severe! Now, I don’t mind rain and thunderstorms, but I had an experience last year where I was literally racing a tornado in my car (yes, I know you aren’t supposed to do that, but there was absolutely no place to pull over and get low) and that was something I just did not want to take a chance on again.

Yes, I was extremely disappointed but…oh well. There are other weekends to make a one day trip. And then my wonderful husband surprised me by taking off Thursday, which held a forecast of perfect, beautiful weather. And perfect, beautiful weather it was.

So we packed up, left before the sun came up and headed south. I had an idea of the route I wanted to take, so as David drove, I navigated. The first stop was the Zephyr Cemetery. David’s maternal grandmother is from this very small town just outside of Brownwood. After doing some research on Ancestory.com, he discovered that his great-grandparents, as well as several other relatives are buried there. After searching and searching, we found quite a few. Being some of the first buried in the old, historic cemetery, they were not all in one area.

After a few photos, we headed towards San Saba. As we  drove past the town square, David suggested that we start taking pictures of all the old Courthouses that we come across. Who knows, perhaps I’ll create a gallery of old, historic courthouses.

Leaving San Saba and going towards Llano, we began to notice pecan groves everywhere! Acres and acres and acres of pecan groves. They were on both sides of the road and stayed with us for miles! Very soon, while driving through Goldthwaite, we passed a large metal building with these letters on the sign in front, Pecans.com. So, if you need pecans, visit their website and you can have your own taste of Texas.

Next stop…lunch. We drove around the square in Llano and I realized, this is a place I would like to come back and not only visit but stay in! What a quaint little town and such history. If I hadn’t already had a plan in my head of my main destination, I would have really enjoyed staying there a little longer. But, I was a woman on a mission (although David didn’t know. He was just along for the ride. Well, Ok, he was driving but remember, I was navigating.) Quite a few very interesting places to stop for lunch, however due to being on a time crunch, we had a delicious, tasty, nutritious lunch at…Sonic – woohoo!

Now to my destination! Just a week before I found a talented photographer’s website and of all places, he lives in Austin. Yes, that is in the Hill Country. He had posted on his site about a place that in all of my years of visiting the region, had never even heard of. It is called Hamilton Pool and is a Nature Preserve with a beautiful rock grotto and waterfall. After discovering this natural wonder, I knew I had to visit it for myself. And so we did! Oh, is it beautiful! I really hope my photos, processed in HDR (which I recently shared stands for How Do you Really see things), give you a sense of the beauty. This grotto is huge and if you look closely in the photos, you will see a few with small people on the rocks. Well, the people aren’t really small but it gives you a true reality of just how big the grotto is.

After the short walk back to the entry area, we decided to go ahead and take the little more than half mile walk to the Pedernales River. And although it was not that far a walk, it was definitely a hike. But worth it! Such a beautiful area.

Once we huffed and puffed back up to the car, we saw there was another Travis County park just down the road and even though it was getting a little late, we were there, right? So, why not! So another short drive and stopped long enough to get a couple more shots of the river.

Goats are big business in this area of the state and as we pulled out of the park and onto the main road, we were greeted by this:

Did this short drive through the Hill Country quench my thirst for a Texas Hill Country Adventure? Absolutely not! Instead, it just whetted my appetite. Hmm, now when can I get back down there? I’m not sure but I will before the summer is up, that’s a fact.

The next morning, the day of the predicted severe storms, we woke up to find that it was cloudy but no rain. Oh, it did drizzle a little bit and then the sun began to peek out. And when it did, we loaded up the car and headed west. This trip, our little Lucy begged to go and David could not resist.

Although I had recently discovered the LBJ-Caddo Grasslands and spent an afternoon there, he had never been so off we go! Another beautiful day together exploring, snapping shots and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. We are truly blessed.


Until next time…

Let Your Light Shine,
Debbi

PhotoFrenzy Catch-Up!

It may seem by my posts (or lack of) that I haven’t done much lately in the area of PhotoFrenzies, but just the opposite is true. I wasn’t 100% myself for about three weeks after being hit with something that appeared to be the flu. Even with not feeling my best, there were days that I just had to get out, and in doing so would drive not far from my home looking for anything to shoot. In between then and now, I’ve had the opportunity to discover a few local places that I had not been aware of. I will warn you…this post is probably going to be a long one!

There are two things that I have just recently come to realize, that puts a smile on my face even this moment as I type this: The first is, I have a hobby! I know that may sound silly but for YEARS I was so consumed with my business that I never had time for a hobby. I remember attending a Leader Workshop once and having the Leader who was conducting the meeting ask us to go around the room and share our name, some other personal information and what our hobbies are. When it got to me, I drew a blank. I realized I did not have a hobby. No, my business was my hobby! It consumed me! That was many years ago and even after that business came to a close, I honestly could not say that I’ve ever had a hobby. But I do now! And I am so enjoying it!

The second realization is this, there are many interesting, beautiful, wondrous places to be discovered in my own backyard. No, I do not mean literally in my backyard but in my surroundings not too far away. I’ve discovered remains of a German Prisoner of War Camp just 45 miles north of me that I never even knew existed. A National Grasslands area 30 miles from me in another direction, that I had never known of. My most recent discovery is of a beautiful grotto area just a few short hours south of my home in what is known as The Texas Hill Country. Although I’ve visited the area many times in my lifetime, I had never heard of this natural wonder until just the past week, thanks to a post by Michael Tuuk. There are others and I will share those with you as I get into this week’s PhotoFrenzy Catch-up. If it wasn’t for taking up the hobby of photography, I may have not ever known of these places and missed out on some interesting and beautiful experiences.

Let’s begin back in March, around the  5th (Wow, ok, so it was a month ago!! My, my how time has flown!) It was the day after my PhotoFrenzy with my dear FrenzyFriends that I posted about in What a Grand View. (That post wasn’t published until the 13th of the month even though it actually took place on March 4th, due to the above mentioned physical attack on my body.) I had to run a few errands and after doing so, looked over to see my camera sitting next to me in it’s normal place. I have pretty much developed the habit of carrying it with me everywhere.

I had read about an area just a short distance away that held some history. And according to my recent discovery of a website for historic places in Texas, there was a mention having historic markers located in the area. I set out to find those markers. After missing the turn onto County Rd 4227, not once, but twice, I found myself driving down a lonely road with fields all around, and occasionally crossing a small creek that would wind it’s way back and forth, under and beside my drive. The area is called, Deep Creek. According to the website I had found, the very first settler in Wise County, Sam Woody, had built a cabin in the area. The Deep Creek Cemetery, located just a short drive off the main road, is where the grave of Miss Sally Bowman lies. Her tragic end came as a young lady when she was shot after being chased by Indians while attending to her father’s fine horses. The cemetery was established in 1860, however the first burial did not take place until two years later. Due to vandals, the cemetery remains locked and I did not have time to run to the history museum to pick up the keys. So no pictures of the cemetery today.

According to the history on the site, there was a church/schoolhouse built in the community and I have heard that it’s ruins are still in the area, although I have yet to find it. There are several ranches that reside in the area now, and as in so many other areas of north Texas, so do the gas wells. I find myself drawn to this area and have been back a couple more times since early March just to take photographs such as the ones shown here.

During the past four weeks, I’ve taken a number of small drives on the days that I felt better and needed to get outdoors. My camera felt fine and was calling for me to take it out :).  I am so amazingly blessed by my Lord for my good health and although those few weeks I just felt yuk, it made me appreciate so much more how truly blessed I am. During those short drives I took a few pictures such as the one below, but one you have already seen is in my FotoFriday52 post, when I was on the hunt for some signs of spring.

Another time when once again, “just needing to get out of the house”, I decided to drive up just past Decatur where I had noticed a large green area on my map. The green area is the marking of the LBJ-Caddo National Grasslands. (I just have to mention again, how thankful I am for my newfound interest in photography as it leads me to places I may never have visited otherwise.) This large area is just as it sounds…grass lands. There are private properties in the area where ranches, homes and yes, gas wells reside, however a large majority of it is a part of the park system and is available for all types of recreation. There are quite a number of small ponds dotted around the area and even a few that are termed as lakes, although I would consider them large ponds. It was still rather brown on this outing, meaning that the green of spring had not quite arrived. But it was a beautiful place, just the same.

One day we had a few storms roll through and this is a shot I took out my back patio:

The last outing for March was when David and I went out the last Saturday of the month. I was feeling much better and felt I was up for a several hour drive, and so that is what we did. We headed southwest and drove out towards Ranger, Texas just off Interstate 20. We took a little detour off the interstate and headed up towards Mineral Wells where we stopped for a few more shots of one of my favorite old places to photograph, The Baker Hotel. The old hotel has been lying abandoned for more than 30 years and is in a state of ruins. There is so much history in this old building and I’ve heard rumors that someone is investing in it to restore it. I sure hope so and when that happens, I will be one of the first guests!

Continuing along Highway 180, there were quite a few interesting things to shoot, such as this old bridge. We took some offshoot roads just to see what we would find. Of course, we are in Texas and there is always cattle!

It was quite a good day – just getting out and driving in the fresh, spring air and sunshine. And in addition, got quite a number of good shots along the way.

Although I’m thankful that the month is over due to illness, I’m grateful for the ability to get out and make some new discoveries. Oh, speaking of new discoveries, I haven’t mentioned any more about the Texas Hill Country Adventure and the discovery of that beautiful grotto. Well, since that actually occurred in the current month of April PLUS the fact that this post is extremely long, I think I’ll start a new post for that PhotoFrenzy in a bit. It will be a long one too as it was such a perfect day and many photo opportunities. So stay tuned! I’ll be back a little later.

Until then…

Let Your Light Shine,

Debbi


What a Grand View!

This post is actually a little late in getting out into the world-wide web but only because the past week was a little rough for me. I’ve not had a fever that kept me in bed in many years and yet, this past week, that is exactly what happened and it has taken me several days to recover from it. So, this PhotoFrenzy took place a little over a week ago with my two trusty FrenzyFriends, Lisa and Karlie.

It started out like any other Frenzy…in the car, on the road, headed towards a location but no real destination in mind. All we knew is that we were headed for the Grandview area of Texas which is about an hour south of where we live. The other things we did know…we had our assignments for the day which were: livestock (boring!) and numbers, and that we were on a hunt for a particular order of people.

After visiting the Pennsylvania Amish last fall, we’ve been searching online to find any Amish in our great Lone Star State only to find a couple of links that would give information on a few small Mennonite communities in the area. Well, if that is as close to Amish as we can get, we will take it. So after reading about a small church that had a congregation of Mennonite families, we headed that way.

We found the above mentioned church, but with no signs of Mennonites (truth is, there were no signs of any life at this particular time and on this particular day even though we were under the impression it also housed a small school.) We decided to do what we do best…just drive!

It wasn’t too far down the road that we made our first discovery of the day. It was a sign of things to come! It was glimmer of hope! It was worth pulling over on the side of the road to traipse through the grasses to get to. It was even worth laying on the ground to get just the right photo. What was it? Wildflowers! The first of the season and a welcomed sight to sore eyes.

At this stop we also met our first assignment for the day. There under the big ole tree was…yes, you guessed it…livestock! It was at this point that I voiced, “if we have to shoot livestock again, then I want to find something more than cows and horses!” Was I whining? Well, maybe just a little! 🙂

We also met a friend. I’ll call him Rover. Rover looked happy to see us and even let me take his mug shot as he smiled.

Back on the road and headed towards Wherever, we came across another Livestock shot. The Lord heard my prayers as this was not your standard livestock. I’m still not completely sure what they were, but appeared to be some form of elk. Regardless, it wasn’t cows and it wasn’t horses so I was happy. No more whining!

With no Mennonites in sight, we decided to drive to Italy. Italy, Texas that is. And do you know what they serve in Italy? Chinese Food!

On the way to Italy, we decide to take a side road that had the appearance of quite possibly an interesting find at the end of the path. For my two FrenzyFriends, who happen to also be horse lovers, the find was a pot of gold. Seems like there is never a trip that doesn’t include at some point, stopping to take photos of, love on and feed horses.

Just a short distance from Italy we passed a very interesting sight. It was so interesting that after we passed it, we turned around and drove back just to get these shots. For some reason we began singing, “Flintstones, meet the Flintstones. They’re a prehistoric fam-i-ly…”

In addition to getting these interesting shots, we also were able to accomplish our other assignment for the day…numbers, with these mailboxes.

Oh, and speaking of assignments, we were able to get one more shot of livestock. Nope, not a cow or a horse but this time…goats!

Time to head home. As I’m navigating I notice a small town on the map that Lisa had mentioned earlier that had a residence of a small Mennonite community. I figured we’ve come this far, so, why not!

As we are heading to the small town of Osceola, we pass a small bakery on the side of road in a small manufactured house. By this time we are all very hungry so decide to stop to see what we can find. And what a find we had. The bakery, Seven Sisters Bake Shoppe, is owned and operated by none other than seven Mennonite sisters! Out of respect for the sisters, we did not take their photo (although Lisa REALLY REALLY wanted to!)

After filling up on the delicious, fresh-baked goods, we loaded back in the car and headed home. We were full and satisfied and left feeling very accomplished!


Lake Murray, Oklahoma with FrenzyFriends

It happened! It finally happened! Yes, a PhotoFrenzy finally happened with my FrenzyFriends, Lisa and Karlie, in this new year. OK, so it is almost the end of the second month of the new year but due to weather, commitments, etc. we have not been able to schedule or fulfill a PhotoFrenzy together this year. That is until this past Friday.

We weren’t exactly sure where we were going on this outing until that morning. We selected our assignments and were ready to go. We had created a list of about 50 different options of assignments to help us with inspiration of what to shoot on our Frenzies. The items are numbered and we randomly select two numbers each outing. Whatever numbers are selected, determines our assignments. Our two assignments for this PhotoFrenzy were Lake Pictures and Clashing Colors. So with our assignments, cameras and excitement, we were on our way.

The night before, while looking to gather ideas for our destination, I came across an interesting place that I had never known was located just about 45 miles north of where we live. It is known as Camp Howze and consists of 59,000 acres of remains of an old World War II Training Camp and then later a Prisoner of War Camp for German Soldiers. It is an amazing sight to see all of the foundation posts sticking up from the grass for as far as the eye can see. I am still amazed that after living here almost all of my life, I’ve never known of this place.

After shooting a few shots of the remains, which were NOT part of our assignment, we headed on towards the north – our destination…Lake Murray, Oklahoma. Lake Pictures should be pretty easy to find at, well, the lake! But, Clashing Colors? Hmm, it is still pretty brown with not much color to be found. Oh, how I long for spring colors and temperatures! But where there is a will, there is a way! So Clashing Colors we will find! (At this point, I will confess: for 3/4 of our trip, I was looking for Contrasting Colors, as I thought that was our assignment. Lisa kept saying Clashing Colors, Karlie and I said Contrasting Colors. Finally pulling out our assignment sheet, discovered  – as usual – Lisa was right.)

Once arriving in the vicinity of the lake, we decided to drive around the entire circumference, so we took a country road off of the interstate which dropped us at the southwest side of the lake. We immediately began looking for a place to stop and have our lunch. Lisa had packed a picnic lunch for us to have and her lunches are always such a treat. And it was a good thing she had, as there was no place around to even pick up a bag of chips!

We found a location near the water and parked at the edge of a boat ramp. As we enjoyed our lunch, we watched diving ducks. That was quite a sight! I’ve seen ducks dive down under water before but nothing like this. Those ducks would dive and stay underwater for such a long time that in some cases we never did see them pop back up!

After devouring our lunch (we were quite hungry by this time), we drove up to an area to photograph an interesting rock tower. I’m still not sure what it was, but it was worthy of the stop.

Continuing on, we stopped at another park area and were greeted by a couple of hungry geese. These silly geese came to us looking for food, and food is what they got. Lisa always seems to have some kind of extra food tucked away in the case we come across hungry animals. This trip, our geese friends received pieces of an extra Luna granola bar. One of our little feathered friends greeted us with a hiss, would take his bite and hiss again. Quite funny!

Another stop a little further down the road landed us at the north side of the lake and at a trailhead. Still having not found my Clashing Color photo, I began scouring the area for a possible shot. And lo and behold, I found it. Not exactly what I was expecting to use but the colors are clashing, just the same.

As we are walking down the trail, Karlie or Lisa one, discovered tracks. And they were not mine. No, these were tracks of a rather large animal. Not knowing exactly what kind of animal it was, we did however know that it had claws and sharp ones at that. We could also tell these tracks were rather fresh. Let’s just say, we continued down the trail with awareness of our surroundings and with a little quicker snap to our step and made a return perhaps a little sooner than we would have otherwise. Later on, at another stop, we saw examples of animal prints and discovered our find was tracks of some type of wolf. So glad we weren’t wearing our red riding hoods!

After a couple more stops, we wrapped up the final stop of our day as we made a trip up a short distance to Tucker Tower. The views from the top, after climbing several flights of narrow stairs including a spiral staircase, were breathtaking! What a perfect ending to a perfect day. A wonderful frenzy with wonderful friends!


East Texas Drive

After two days of record-breaking snow in the DFW area of Texas, I was ready for the sun. The snow was beautiful and I enjoyed it immensely, however, was beginning to experience a slight case of the Gotta-Get-Outs! So Saturday morning, in the thick of fog, my dear sweet hubby agreed to satisfy my hunger for another PhotoFrenzy and we hit to road to drive to East Texas.

In the case you didn’t know :), Texas is large, and we live in the absolute best location of the Lone Star State. Drive three hours in any direction and you will be transported to a different terrain. Head north and you find small mountains with rivers and falls (such as in last week’s PhotoFrenzy, On to the Arbuckles). Go west and desert awaits. Drive south and find yourself in the beauty of the Hill Country with rolling hills and beautiful wild flowers in the spring (oh yes, spring..there WILL be a PhotoFrenzy there in a couple of short months!)

Today’s venture is to head east to the Piney Woods region. I was on a hunt for color! The winter browns had been covered with a blanket of white but now I want, need, color! And since spring is still a little time away, green will do. Pine trees are green and that will satisfy my desire for now. So to the Lake O’ the Pines we destined.

As we drove, the fog began to give way and we could get a better view of the snow that lay on the ground. Yes, our immediate area in fact did have the most accumulation. The further east we drove, the less and less of the white stuff did we see. About two hours into our drive, the sun began to break through the clouds. By the time we reached our destination, the sky was nothing but blue with only patches of remaining snow scattered here and there among the shaded spots of the large, green pine trees.

The photos below are a few of the shots of this day’s PhotoFrenzy at the Lake O’ the Pines. I hope you enjoy the color!


On to the Arbuckles

Saturday morning, after waking up casually with no plans for the day, my hubby and I spontaneously decided to grab our cameras and head north. Just the day before, I made an unplanned trip to over the border of Texas into Oklahoma (read Wildlife Conservation with No Life!) and it was enough to stir the desire to head that direction once again.

We packed up, gathered our little Lucy (our Yorkie who just thoroughly enjoys taking road trips and was very excited to take this adventure with us), grabbed some breakfast, filled up the car with gas and drove. We have a list of a few places to visit but due to getting a late start and not wanting to be gone all day and night, we decided to head toward’s the Arbuckle Mountains in Oklahoma – a short two hour drive from our home.

While on our way, I noticed on the map a placed called Price’s Falls just outside of Davis in the Arbuckles. Turner Falls is the

well known park that is also outside of Davis, but that is a trip I’d planned to take with my FrenzyFriends. Not wanting to spoil that trip, my hubby and I decided to see what Price’s Falls would be like. So we plugged it into our gps and away we went.

Falls Valley is only a few miles off the interstate and we almost drove right through it without realizing. It’s housing is gated and appears as if it was a military base. The main drive through a park area where the falls are located, had signs posted Private Property. Why on earth would it be showing on the map as a park if it is private property? Once we stopped and looked around, noticed that it is a Baptist Youth Camp area and this historic marker explained it’s history and why it’s considered private.

The falls are small, yet beautiful. There is an old water wheel sitting near the falls that adds to the uniqueness of the place and makes for interesting photos.


After leaving the falls area, we decided to continue east and take a look at what the Lake of the Arbuckles were like. On the map we saw that the Chickasaw National Recreation Area resides on this lake and since we enjoy camping, knew we would just have to check it out and see if has potential to house our tent in the coming months. What we found is that it meets all of our criteria for a perfect camping ground. We will be back when warmer temperatures make their appearance.

This day ended up staying cold and cloudy despite the forecast of partly sunny. We thought for sure the sun would make an appearance by the time we arrived in the Arbuckles, however it never happened. It didn’t matter though. The area is so beautiful and it was such a peaceful day that we didn’t mind having to wear our jackets the entire time.


We met a park ranger who stopped by to see what I was finding to capture. He had noticed my long lens and thought I was spotting something very interesting across the lake and proceded to tell me that Bald Eagles reside in the area from early January to late February or early March. This, of course, excited us and we immediately began to eagle hunt. Oh, how I wanted to get at least one shot of our national bird. But all I saw were a few ducks, buzzards, an occasional hawk and gulls.

This ranger was very informative and provided us with maps of the lake and sharing the best places to visit. Although we had planned to leave the area by this time, we just couldn’t resist the drive to visit these additional places we had just learned about. Once again, we got in the car and drove. We would tell each other that we’d go visit one more area and then head home. And with each stop this same conversation took place.

One of the stops was at Veterans Park and Lake. This is a small lake (I’d call it a large pond) that was merged several years ago with the much larger Lake of the Arbuckles to form one complete National Recreational Area. This area is the oldest part of the park system and had some interesting sites of it’s own. A beautiful park with flowing streams and small falls and a very old, rock bridge named Lincoln’s Bridge that dates back to the early 1900’s.

As we were completing our tour of the lake and traveling to the last recommended stop by the ranger, we encountered a very interesting sight on the side of the country road. It was such an interesting sight that my sweet hubby willingly pulled the car over, made a u-turn and drove back to this sight as it was something that just had to be photographed. It was definitely something you don’t see every day!

This photo really doesn’t do the Shoe Tree justice. I took several shots but this one I think gives the best impression, although not the best photograph. There were shoes everywhere and it was impossible to get one photo that would shoe – I mean, show them all! This is just one of those places where “you just had to be there!”

With the last recommendation from the ranger, we knew we had made it 3/4 of the way around the entire lake and could not leave without making it the full circumference. On our last leg, we saw a dirt road with a sign that read Catfish Bottoms. Oh why not! Let’s go!

We drove down the dirt road and could tell we were getting close to the lake and in a wooded area that was somewhat hidden from the main public. As we neared the end of the road, we were quite surprised to see what lay ahead. It was the lake, of course, and an area of the lake that was obviously a great place to find catfish. But the surprise came in the trees that surrounded the area. This would be better named Beavers’ Diner.  OH MY! I have never in my life seen such a site. Nearly every tree was either on the ground or close to falling to the ground. It made us just a little nervous driving through the area. We just prayed for no great gusts of wind! It was quite frankly a very interesting site and one I’d enjoy going back to just to see the progress these tree teethers make!


We then headed towards the interstate to make our treck back home. What a fun and wonderful day we had. I’m so thankful that I have a husband who supports my desire for spontaneous Photo Frenzies and one who doesn’t mind getting in the car and going to wherever. I have a hunch this trip has stirred up the interest to do this more often for quick weekend trips. As a matter of fact, we are already planning the next – and you know just where to come to find out all about it. So, until next time…

Let Your Light Shine,

Debbi


Wildlife Conservation with No Life!


I want to start this post in regards to today’s Photo Frenzy with a statement of fact – I was very glad to get out in the sunshine and blue skies after days (seems like weeks) of cloudy, cold, rainy weather – and for that, I am thankful! As soon as the sun slipped its first ray out this morning, I was grabbing my camera and in my car. I had wanted to go out today with my Frenzy Friends, but that didn’t work out so I headed north alone.

I drove up the interstate for about an hour and crossed over the Red River into Oklahoma. I really didn’t have a destination in mind, I just wanted to get out and shoot! So once I realized just how far I had driven, I decided to get off the interstate and start looking for those magnificent photo-ops that I just knew were going to jump out at me. With my trusty iPhone in my possession and Maps opened up, I headed in a direction that I just knew would get me to the river. The river would make for some great (and different) photos. I’ve grown quite bored with my countryside over the last few winter months. Everything is brown. Brown grass, brown trees, brown this, brown, that. Brown, brown, brown. At least the Red River is…well…red! And after all, I’m not in Texas anymore, Toto! Surely I will find some lush green hill tops to photograph, right?

So I head towards the river. I realize very quickly that it appears I’ve gone to the Country of Junk. Beat up and uncared for homes, trailers, junk everywhere. The kind of place that you can just see being raded for drugs…and then…dead end. (My Maps program isn’t showing me these details!). I turn around, go back the way I came and take another turn. This one leads me to a narrow road with more gravel and pot holes than pavement. but at least it is in the right direction. I make a sharp right and see a pond in the distance. I think to myself, “At least if nothing else I can snap a shot of that when I return.” Then a hard left and there are a few cows and bales of hay. “Hey,” (no pun intended) “those will make nice shots if I don’t find anything else. I can get them on my way back if needed.”

I continue on and notice a very gravel road to my right and a large green sign on my left. I pass it slowly but then stop and back up. It reads, Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation with an arrow pointing down the gravel road.  Oh why not! There’s nothing else and there is not a soul around so I can freely stop in the middle of the road if I need to and feel quite comfortable that I will not block traffic. And so I did!

After driving just a little ways, I realize that there is absolutely no life in this wildlife conservation. I also noticed the further I traveled, the very tall, large trees that were lining the road had the look of being blown over by very gusty winds or very high, rushing water. High, rushing water? Duh! I was near the river! Could it be these acres and acres can be covered in rushing water so high that 30 or 40ft trees can be mulled and broken like small twigs? What am I doing here? Did I turn around and hightail it to higher ground? Of course not! I’m headed to the river! After all, I must get some interesting and different shots.

I continued down the road as it got narrower and narrower and became a little sluggish from the recent rains. I could tell I was getting closer as I sensed I was heading down and the road was appearing to hold more water. But I couldn’t stop. I have come this far, I must keep going. I pulled over a few times to shoot the trees that appeared to have been stepped on by giants. The saddest part of this adventure was…everything was the same color! Can can you guess what color? You got it…brown! Every now and then I’d come across a cedar tree and that beautiful evergreen was such a sight for sore eyes that I just had to take it’s picture. And so I did!

After driving a bit further, the gravel ended. And as I looked ahead I saw nothing but wet, red, rutty dirt. Was it the river? Nope, but I knew it wasn’t far. Was I going to continue in my little Honda Civic on a wet, red, rutty dirt path just a day after heavy rains in an area that showed no signs of life and no one, not a single living person knew where I was? And so…

I headed back past the brown grass, brown weeds, brown and broken trees, back to that green sign and back to snap a shot or two of a bale of hay and a pond in the distance. After all, I knew I had these to fall back on if I couldn’t find anything else. And so I did!

On the Road Again

Yesterday I had one of those doctor’s appointments that you don’t wanna go to but you know you should (or as in my case, you have a friend that practically drags you there.) You know the one, the only checkup that men can’t get? Well, afterwards, I decided to spread my wings and fly south. And I did! Through the countrysides and backroads of as much country as you can get in my area of Texas.
I drove and drove. Turned here and turned there. Did not look at a map – just drove. After a while of not finding anything that I felt was worthy of pulling over on the side of the road to capture, I did what I should have done to begin with…pray. It went like this:
“Father, I want to find something interesting to shoot and I thank you for leading me to it, in Jesus’ name, amen!”
A little further down the road, I saw something interesting.

It was an old, falling down shack of a building in the middle of an old grave yard.
What made it so interesting is that it
was there in the midst of tombstones and had flowers, floral holders and more piled inside the door.
Is it a memorial or a storage building? I do not know!
As I was pulling out of the gravel and sand drive, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye just on the ground in front of me. I am not sure what it was (emphasis on “was”) but it still had a little fur on it’s carcus. (This photo is the mild one of the bunch.) I guess this was the appropriate place to discover something dead!

I drove back onto the road and immediately rephrased my prayer! “Uh, Lord, could you make it not quite so interesting, please?” So with a few more turns and a few more miles, I came across a pond on the side of the road. And trust me, when I say “side of the road”, I mean it. One look down and veer off slightly and you’d find yourself IN the pond!

As I was walking back towards my car, satisfied that I had at least a few photos to process when I returned home, I saw a clump of mistletoe on the tree next to me. Why not take a few more? And so I did!

It felt so good to be on the road again and I look forward to being on it again soon. Next time I’ll be a little more specific in my prayer!
Bit by the Shutter Bug,
Debbi

A Fort Worth Tradition

Every year the Fort Worth Stock Show arrives late January/early February…it’s a tradition. A tradition that I have not followed. As a matter of fact, we went this year and it was the first time for me in probably 20 years.
The day we went, there was a sign posted at the ticket booth saying “Please notice – not all livestock on display today.” What? What a bummer! Or was it? It actually turned out in our favor. We had a sampling of the animals without the overwhelming stench that would have been there had all the stalls been filled with cows, steers, horses, goats, lamas, pigs, etc.
Just a few of our new friends from our Photo Frenzy for the week…





Time to Pick Up Steam

For the last few weeks, my camera has felt neglected. Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s by my side always. It’s just that I’ve had a hard time finding things that I feel are worthy of shooting. Perhaps it is the fact that I live in Texas and the scenery is a little hum-drum during the winter months. Maybe I’ve already worn out the welcome of my backyard. It could even have to do with the fact that Lisa and I took a trip to Amish Country late last fall and since then, things seem boring. No beautiful country hills, Amish farms, horse and buggies. And yes, it could have something to do with the fact that I’m a wimp when it comes to blistery cold temperatures. It’s been much cooler the last month compared to what we normally have in Texas winters.

Whatever the excuse is, it’s time for things to change! I just finished reading someone else’s blog on how to exercise your sights by looking at every thing in front of you as if you are taking a photo. Look at lighting, check composition, what different angles can you take, etc. With this exercise, I’m beginning to see that many of the hum-drums can actually be beautiful works of art.
So now what? It’s time to pick up the camera and pick up steam in my shots. It’s time to put practice to the exercises I’ve been working. As a result, I hope to have some fun new shots to share with you soon. I’m going to pick up steam in my photography and hopefully warm up some of the goosebumps as well!
Bit by the Shutter Bug,
Debbi