Wild Horses of the Outer Banks

Wild horses, mustangs that have been residents of North Carolina’s (USA) Outer Banks for hundreds of years, are a feature of the area bringing countless tourists to the area hoping for a sighting. We booked a trip with Wild Horse Adventure Tours in Corolla, NC, and had a terrific two hours (website: http://wildhorsetour.com/).

We visited the 12-mile section that is the horses’ home after three days (24-26 July) of intense rain and wind. A huge nor’easter had come through, making our chances of seeing the animals that much less. They typically move away from the ocean side, the route of sand-road NC Highway 12, during the worst of it, seeking refuge on the sound-side of their terrain. Because of this, the company was offering refunds as they were not hopeful. We took a chance and it paid off.

The horses have adapted to their environment. They eat the sea oats and grasses, and can even drink the brackish water from the Currituck Sound when pooled rain water is not available. Their adaptation has been so complete that if they eat anything else it can be fatal. Our tour guide shared a story of a woman who gave a horse a taste of watermelon; the horse died.

While not federally protected, these animals are special. Their population is down to about 100 from thousands when they ran the whole length of the Outer Banks. We enjoyed the visit, and I think you will too. Enjoy.

Happy Landings Farm

I have driven past this field and eye-catching windmills many times over years, and always thought, “One day, I going to grab the camera and see what I can get.” After visiting on Saturday, October 28, 2017 close to sunset, I regret not doing it sooner.

Happy Landings is an 84-acre open space that was purchased by the Town of Brookfield, Connecticut. It is now maintained as a park with trails carved into the grass and a functioning haying operation. You’ll see the bales. If you visit, you’ll find a free parking lot at 55 Whisconier Road, Brookfield.

I anticipated an interested sky as we were expecting a full day of rain on Sunday. We are getting it as I type this. I was hoping for a dramatic sunset sky and got it. Enjoy!

A Little Fall Foliage (And a Lot of Sky)

They say that the best camera is the one you have with you. Here is what I got with my Samsung Galaxy 6S on October 19, 2016. This is the North Farms Reservoir in Wallingford, Connecticut. It was a beautiful morning when I took this picture at about 8:30.

I gave the shot two different treatments. The cropping, color and contrast settings make the two pictures unique, though they are from the same original. Enjoy.

reservoir-taken-10-19-2016-landscape

reservoir-taken-10-19-2016

Aquarium Butterflies

Today is Labor Day in the US, a final summer holiday to relax and have some fun. Today’s adventure bought us to The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut. For the second summer (at least), the aquarium has hosted an outdoor butterfly exhibit known as the Flutter Zone. Step inside and spend some time with our fluttery friends. Here is a handful that gave me a chance to work with the fine manual focus control on my Lumix DMC-FZ1000. I’m starting to get the hang of it.

I hope you enjoy looking at these pictures. My kids and I had a great time and will look forward to the exhibit returning next summer.

A Friday Evening at Sea

Sometimes you have a gem sitting in plain sight and you don’t realize it. This was the case with setting sail for an afternoon of assisted fishing on the Long Island Sound from Captain’s Cove in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

For those unfamiliar with the area, the Sound is the body of water between Connecticut and the north shore of Long Island, New York. It is such a popular recreational boating and fishing area that Bass Pro Shop opened a store in Bridgeport that allows access from the rear of the store to the water. Buy your new boat and pilot it home, I guess.

We didn’t do that. Instead, we paid our way onto the Middlebank II, a private fishing boat that leaves from Captain’s Cove. With the crew’s help, we were pulling in fish all afternoon.

I’m not a fisherman, but my wife and kids like it, so I went along and, of course, bought my camera. We were treated to perfect weather and a spectacular sunset on the way back to port. If you want to try your hand at salt water fishing, give it a try. I’m sure we will be back.

 

Connecticut Shore Bird

I’m keeping it simple for Saturday. Behold the Least Sandpiper. Has there ever been a less inspiring name? Where is the Most Sandpiper? The Biggest Baddest Sandpiper. I captured this little bird hanging out in Stratford, Connecticut this morning. Identifying it took a bit because there are many species of Sandpipers. Enjoy!

Lions and Bears, Though No Tigers. CT’s AT

The Appalachian Trail zigs and zags its way from Georgia to Maine (for the north-bounders), or from Maine to Georgia for the rare  SOBOs, and a little piece makes it through Connecticut. Cutting a path through the northwest corner of the state, it includes the two high points Рliterally, the highest points in the state Рjust south of the Massachusetts border.

If you want to see both, and it is well worth the trip, try this path. Park on Bunker Hill Road in Salisbury, CT. There is a small parking lot just past a large house on the right side of the road. The trail head is in the parking lot. Take the blue blaze route up the hill until you catch the iconic white-blazed AT. From there it is a short walk to the first overlook: Lion’s Head. It is a wonderful place to take a break and survey the landscape below.

Lions Head
The view from Lion’s Head. Late August 2016. (Samsung Galaxy 6S)

This cell-phone snap does not do the view justice. Still, you might get the hint of what you will experience for yourself.

Lion's Head View - Salisbury CT 11132014
The same spot. Panorama. Mid-November 2014.

After some time enjoying that view, head north to Bear Mountain. It’s a bit more than two miles away, but well worth the effort. I am not going to spoil the moment by sharing too much, but here is another cell phone snap shot.

Bear Mtn
Bear Mountain. Late August 2016.

As you can see, it was a bit more gray as the day got later. That’s why the real camera stayed home and we have to settle for phone pics. The rain came, and in a big way.

Here is something else you should know. Should you decide to cross into Massachusetts as we did, you will be facing a treacherous descent down the north side of Bear Mountain. It requires careful maneuvering on the way down and some hands-and-feet scramble on the way back up. If you see the below sign, you made it down alive. Now you just have to climb back up and walk the 5+ miles back to your car.

BEar Mtn Sign

All told, our walk from the car, about 1/2 mile into Massachusetts, and back was about 10.5 miles. Turn around at the Bear Mountain summit and you will be at about 9.

PS: Happy trails to Music Box and Snorlax, a NOBO couple on their way to Maine. Maybe we will see you at Katahdin in October.

Plymouth (Plimoth), MA

Plymouth, Massachusetts offers more than enough to keep one busy for a week or more. We visited Plimouth Plantation,¬† the Mayflower II, and, of course, Plymouth Rock. The highlight of our week was the four-hour Captain John’s Whale Watch. If you even thinking about it, go! We saw so many whales exhibiting every feeding behavior of the humpback species. Everywhere we looked off of Provincetown, there where whales feeding and sleeping and, it appeared, showing off for their visitors. Pictures don’t suffice; you must see it for yourself.

Plimouth Plantation is also worth at least two hours. The Wampanoag Native Americans where so knowledgeable and eager to share their culture. Engage in conversation to learn how they lived in harmony with the land and in sync with the seasons over the past 10,000+ years. The English village actors are equally engaging, though in a different way. I won’t spoil it for you. Explore and discover it for yourself.

Manomet Beach, Plymouth, MA

Manomet Beach is on Cape Cod Bay, located just above Cape Cod in Massachusetts. We started off with a windy night on Saturday (24 July 2016). The storms ripped through to the north, but we got in on the action with intense winds and a near 30 degree drop in temperature. It went from hot and humid to, “Where is the blanket?” Sunday morning was gorgeous.