It was chilly, overcast and drizzling but Zion National Park was still breathtaking. I always seem to have the luck of rain when I travel, it never fails where ever I go! In this occasion, I honestly didn’t mind at all because it contributed to us having beautiful waterfalls. The area was also in a one hundred plus day dry spell so it was very much needed.
These are some images from the first part of our tour at The Hoover Dam, and the Western Rim of the Grand Canyon. The images of the Dam are from a newly constructed bypass. you can still drive directly on the dam but because of tourist traffic causing a major backup directly on the dam, they created the bypass. As part of the bypass construction, they created a parking area where you need to walk up several flights of steps or use the handicap ramp to get to this viewpoint.
At the Western rim of the grand canyon, you can circle around to various vantage points on the Reservation via a shuttle system. One of those points aside from the Skywalk is Eagle Rock which also has the stone structure known as the sleeping dog.
Deep Cut Gardens is a fun little-hidden gem. They have a beautiful gated garden teeming with butterflies. All of the plants are labeled for easy identification, that is if you appreciate knowing what you are looking at. what I thought was a great idea was the scavenger hunt they created to help engage kids into enjoying the garden. They have small garden figurines of gnomes and fairies hidden for children to find. It is a great place to take family photos which were happening quite a bit on the day that I walked around.
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Duke Farms is an Estate that was home to James Buchanan Duke who was an entrepreneur and American Tobacco Company owner. The place was awesome but it is a lot of walking! They provide a trolley for anyone who has handicap needs and they also provide bike rentals. The orchid house, I would say is the main attraction it is beautifully maintained. As far as the main house itself the only thing that is left of it is the foundation, which would have been the basement. It is unfortunate that the upkeep was too costly it would have been a wonderful attraction to the property.
Rutgers Gardens is part of the New Jersey State University’s School of Environmental and Biological Sciences. The grounds themselves make for a beautiful walk. Full of blooming flowers, insects and birds. As I walked around I was also shooting film I am still working on some of the rolls. I hope to get them developed soon.
Leonard J. Buck Garden is a nice little oasis hidden deep in the woods, just like most of the gem spots I have been finding throughout New Jersey. This small very well maintained garden is sculpted around huge natural rock formations which were deposited by glaciers. It has a large pond full of fish, tadpoles, and home to a couple of snapping turtles that are right in the center of the garden which is broken up into three sections but they all feed into each other by a creek.
South Mountain Reservation is a large area of preserved land, one small area of it is home to a sculpture garden, dog park, and a wildflower garden. The Wildflower area is a fenced in section of the preserve that is taken care of by volunteers. One side of it was quite overgrown so I tried the other entrance which brought me directly to the wildflowers, they weren’t fully in bloom yet which just means I will have to go back. As I ventured deeper back I encountered a more swamp-like area with more sculptures aside from the ones at the front gate. The area was rich with Multiflora Roses, Ferns, and Skunk Cabbage. I had to look up the Eastern Columbine and the purple flower I still am unsure of it looks to me to be in the rose family?
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Lenape Park is a small stretch of a paved pathway in the middle of a swamp or marsh area. It follows along the Rahway River and it actually is in the middle of a path that connects four parks total. Black Brook Park, Nomahegan Park, and Echo Lake Park are the other three that you can access from it. Lenape Park had a lot of activity from pedestrians. In fact, the other parks do as well. This was somewhat disappointing for me because it made it difficult for me to try to stop to look and watch for wildlife. At one point I spotted a cottontail rabbit, I stopped to try and take some photos but if I stopped dead I would be a hazard to the cyclists whizzing past or the power walkers. Before I could even get my camera up to snap away someone on a very noisy bike scared it off. They do have protected area for migrating birds so next time I go I will try and get there early enough to do some bird watching. The Stretch of the park that I did walk was utterly taken over by the multi-floral rose which is an invasive species.
Muttontown Preserve is a combination of three land plots in Muttontown, N.Y. The land itself is the combination of the former estates and farmland. Some of the images are of all that is left of King Zog the last monarch of Alabania. The other images are from what was left of the Duryea Farm as well as outer buildings and playhouses in the wooded areas close to the Chelsea Mansion. I grew up near this part of Long Island and there is so much history in your backyard that is taken for granted. I do miss hiking the forgotten about wonders of the past.
This image is from my 2nd and most recent trip to Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is in Morris County. This refuse has a lot to offer on its 7800 acres. The Friends of Great Swamp NWR has an amazing visitors center as well as easy access trails. This particular spot was from the overlook parking lot half way between the nature center and the bluebird field. We started our hike at the wildlife observation center parking area which has a boardwalk guiding you though the wooded part of the swamps to blinds overlooking an open field. On the particular morning we ventured out there were a few reported sightings of Bald Eagles. Maybe we will get to see some next time when we hike a different trail.