April-May 2014

I got up in the middle of the night to see and photograph the total eclipse of the moon.  I’ve seen them and even shot them before, but these opportunities don’t come along often.  I got up an hour too early, as I had not taken into account the correction for our time zone.  So I got to see the beginning of it.  I laid down for awhile and got up at 2 a.m. for the peak.  I thought I would get better results this time, but it’s just plain tough to photograph a dim, moving object.

We went camping over the long Easter weekend.  We didn’t get into the better campground at our local state park, but there was hardly anyone in the one we got.  It was a good thing we didn’t get a spot down by the lake, as there were many rotting fish on the shore.  It did have some nice waterfowl feeding in it, and the reflections in the evening made for lovely photos. I didn’t fish this time; didn’t even take a kayak.  I took my bicycle and longboard.  This park is ideal for longboarding, and our campground had a long, gentle slope and smooth asphalt curves.  I gave Savannah a lesson, as she never took up skateboarding when she was a child.  She came out to visit us twice.  We opened Easter baskets and had a good time eating and hiking.  I took a bike ride one day and wore my helmet cam the entire way.  I narrated all the birds I saw and some other interesting things, but I’d had the camera aimed too low, so hardly any of the animals are visible in the video.  We were a little too close to the playground, and all the screaming children.  At least there were a lot of Least Bluets in bloom, but I wonder how many of the parents noticed the huge wolf spider burrow in the sand.  There was a nice pair of brown thrashers frequenting our campground, and I managed to get some shots of one of them.  Wakonda State Park used to be a gravel mine, and some old concrete structures still remain.  On one hike I spotted a goose nesting on top of one of these concrete chutes.  It’s a perfect spot, safe from predators. One night a friend of ours came out with her mandolin.  I had the charango in the RV, and we jammed on some 80s tunes and tried to figure out the strumming for La Cucaracha.  
Wildflowers have finally come into bloom, and my class got a good look at some at Fall Creek.  The most interesting thing we saw, however, was a pair of toads mating in the shallows of the stream, complete with a string of eggs.  
The developmental biology class produced some more preserved and stained mouse embryos, and I promptly photographed them.  While I had the camera set up on the copy stand, I shot a dissected violet and a milkweed seed.  The macro lens does great things with them.
We have endured a generous amount of spring rains.  One day I looked out in the back yard and saw it was raining, and yet the sun was shining.  I guessed there must be a rainbow. I looked out the front yard and there it was in the East.  I grabbed a camera and drove down to the river to find a good setting.  The rainbow seemed to fade as I traveled, though it’s less than a mile.  I got a decent shot before it was gone.  
The rains seemed to target my Plant Field Biology lab.  On a Tuesday we went to a friend’s place where I normally see quite a few wildflowers.  It rained on us the entire time.  On our last day, we went to Lowell’s.  It rained on us a little in the beginning, but we saw some new flowers and enjoyed a long hike.  Unfortunately, I woke up with four ticks the next morning.  The next weekend I went back to Lowell’s for some mushroom hunting.  I only found three.  We fished for awhile and we each caught one fish.  On the up side, I found a false morel, which is a new record for Lowell’s.  I also found a small shed antler and a box turtle shell.  A few years ago I found a box turtle crossing the road, and released it out at Lowell’s.  I hope that wasn’t it.  I got an excellent photo of a tiger swallowtail.  I also got a shot of a whip-poor-will for the second time ever.  Again, I did not have the right lens.  I got a photo of a sassy turtle and a cottontail rabbit on shore that apparently didn’t know what we were.  My anti-tick measures (white clothes, DEET) were unsuccessful (I woke up the next morning with three more ticks).  We had a great lunch in Durham too.
Final exam week was a whirlwind.  It was a struggle to keep up with the grading, and I went right down to the wire to get the senior grades in under deadline.  Of course, I was at the same time preparing for Savannah’s graduation and family visiting from out of state.  We had a lovely visit from them and a nice party for Savannah at the Lewis Street Playhouse.  Tomorrow will be the actual graduation ceremony, and tomorrow night Savannah and I leave for Costa Rica.  Adios!
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