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Archive for the ‘rain forest’ Category

It is with heavy heart that I write this post. Not because of the election results. I’m not overjoyed (I remain hopeful), but neither do I feel the need to slit my wrists. I am saddened because of the ugliness that followed the results. Come on, America – knock it off already. (more…)

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Another day, another port. Today we explore the northern most port on our cruise – Skagway, Alaska.

The long walk into Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

The long walk into Skagway, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Today our luck was fading. While it never rained, we did experience the Alaska drizzle, fog and dampness. Despite the gray skies, our spirits soared as we traveled through the metropolis (I say that with tongue-in-cheek) of Skagway and into the wilds of Dyea, a former mining mecca of the northern frontier.

The road to Dyea. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014

The road to Dyea. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014

Me and my sweetie pie. Dyea, Alaska 2014.

Me and my sweetie pie. Dyea, Alaska 2014.

After a half hour van ride across a bumpy gravel, oft-times, one-lane road, our Chilkoot horseback adventure began.

The ranch - Chilkoot Horseback Adventures. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

The ranch – Chilkoot Horseback Adventures. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

The trusty steeds - Chilkoot Horseback Adventures - Dyea, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

The trusty steeds – Chilkoot Horseback Adventures – Dyea, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

We saddled up and headed into lush, dense woodlands, heading for the boggy marshes and estuaries of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.

Me and my better half aboard our beasts of burden Sage and . . . I can't remember the other horse's name.  Dyea Valley, Alaska 2014.

Me and my better half aboard our beasts of burden Sage and . . . I can’t remember the other horse’s name. Dyea Valley, Alaska 2014.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park - Dyea, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park – Dyea, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

My hopes remained high that I would yet see a bear, although I was not overjoyed that, if it was going to happen, it would be from the back of a four-legged creature known for fleeing at the slightest threat. So much for my chances of capturing a photo.

Dyea         - Dyea Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Dyea Flats – Dyea Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Dyea, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Dyea, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

After a morning slogging through abandoned logging roads and fog, and not seeing bears or any other wildlife for that matter, we arrived back in town for some on-foot exploration. We discovered a quaint little theater known for it’s Days of ’98 Show With Soapy Smith, which has played continuously in Skagway since 1923. That’s a true story – same show for 91 years. (No – not the same actors. I know some of you are going to ask that question.)

This melodrama-esque show is based on a real life person – Soapy Smith – and the actors do an admirable job of relaying history in a funny, yet poignant way. Towards the end of the show, the ladies in the cast performed a little dance number that required the assistance of two audience members, one of whom you may recognize.

P. Rickrode and the cast of the "Days of '98" show (Gold Rush Productions) - Skagway, Alaska. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014

P. Rickrode and the cast of the “Days of ’98” show (Gold Rush Productions) – Skagway, Alaska. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014

That’s right, I made my Skagway debut on the stage that day, although I was apparently the only one who did not stop dancing when the music stopped. Seems my exuberance was more than this little acting troupe could handle, thus making this my debut and farewell performance all at the same time.

So, there you have it, my adventures in Skagway. Have you ever, as an unsuspecting audience member, been called upon to use your hidden acting/dancing/speaking/juggling/whatever skills in a totally impromptu manner? What hidden skills do you possess? Come on. Spill the beans. I know you have that one thing.

Word of the day: Jalousie (No that wasn’t my stage name)

Fun fact about me: My very first live stage performance was at a melodrama theater much like this one in Skagway. Ah, the memories.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, September 2014. Original photos by P. and C. Rickrode.

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Next stop, Juneau, the capital city of Alaska.

Welcome to Juneau. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

Welcome to Juneau. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

We wandered leisurely along the water’s edge into town, again marveling at the magnificent warm weather and brilliant sunshine. We’d been warned that the weather in Alaska in September can be really wet. As we’d lucked out with amazing weather in Ketchikan, we’d lucked out again in Juneau.

 Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Historic Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Historic Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

After a couple hours of exploring, we ventured back into the rain forest for a morning zipping through the trees and walking across swinging suspension bridges high over narrow, deep canyons. It was thrilling if not a wee bit scary.

C. Rickrode ready to zipline. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

C. Rickrode ready to zipline. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

C. Rickrode. Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition. Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

C. Rickrode. Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition. Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Here is a very short, and I mean very short, video of my husband taking his practice run.

Later we boarded the tram and ascended 1,800 feet up the steep slope of Mount Roberts for an afternoon hiking in the fresh air.

Mount Roberts Tram - Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Mount Roberts Tram – Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

P. Rickrode at the top of the Mount Roberts Tramway. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

P. Rickrode at the top of the Mount Roberts Tramway. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

The Star Princess from atop Mount Roberts - Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

The Star Princess from atop Mount Roberts – Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Gastineau Channel - Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Gastineau Channel – Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

View of Inside Passage from atop Mount Roberts. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

View of Inside Passage from atop Mount Roberts. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

P. Rickrode on the nature trail on Mount Roberts. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

P. Rickrode on the nature trail on Mount Roberts. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

Late blooming flowers on Mount Roberts. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Late blooming flowers on Mount Roberts. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

With so much yet to do and see, we were dismayed that the time had come for us to return to ship. On our return walk along the wharf, we spotted several eagles, but I was not able to get a good picture. Still no bears. Maybe tomorrow in Skagway.

The Star Princess docked at Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014

The Star Princess docked at Juneau, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014

Have you seen our majestic national bird in the wild? Have you come across some late-blooming wild flowers? What surprises have delighted you this early part of autumn?

Word of the day: Isallobar

Fun fact about me: I love tomato soup, ketchup, tomato sauce, and tomatoes but I hate tomato juice.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, September 2014. Original photos and video by P. Rickrode and C. Rickrode.

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Our first day in Alaska did not disappoint. Ketchikan, the southernmost city in Alaska and the salmon capital of the world, is, in a word, be-you-ti-ful. (You have to say it like that, 4 syllables.) Don’t believe me? Here’s the what we saw from the Lido deck of the Star Princess:

Alaska cruise 2014 025 (1024x768)

Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

 

Lutheran Church - Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Lutheran Church – Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

P. Rickrode and the Star Princess at Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

P. Rickrode and the Star Princess at Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

Our land portion of our Ketchikan experience took us into the Tongass National Forest where we hiked deep into the rain forest and the very heart of bear country. I hoped for an up close encounter.

Tongass National Forest - Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Tongass National Forest – Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Tongass National Forest - Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode

Tongass National Forest – Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode

Maybe if I ventured into a bear cave . . . I might just get lucky . . . .

Bear cave. Tongass National Forest - Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Bear cave. Tongass National Forest – Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

No luck, although there was a lot of bear poop. I was surprised to see Spanish moss and even more surprised to see the wicked undersides of these massive leaves. Yes, those are thorns and when they prick skin they immediately form a barbed hook and become impossible to extract. Yikes!!

Tongass National Forest - Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Tongass National Forest – Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Tongass National Forest - Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Tongass National Forest – Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

We journeyed past a fishery with a waterway well-stocked with fish, mostly salmon. But still – no bears despite the never-ending fish buffet. The birds were enjoying the spoils that the bears had left behind. Seems bears only eat the heads and skin of the fish, leaving the birds to scavange the red fleshy parts many humans so love.

Tongass National Forest - Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Tongass National Forest – Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Spawning salmon. Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Spawning salmon. Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Next we met a Native totem pole carver, who enlightened us about the dying art of carving totem poles. Then we saw the end results of many fine woodsmiths. I felt compelled to pose amidst the standing art. You can get a sense of the size of some of these works of art which all tell a story.

Totem pole carver at work. Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Totem pole carver at work. Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

P. Rickrode and totems. Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

P. Rickrode and totem poles. Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

Still no bears. But I did feed a reindeer, which is weird because there are no reindeer in Alaska, except these few in captivity. (My husband was not as quick at snapping the picture as the reindeer was of eating the lettuce.)

P. Rickrode feeding a eindeer at Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

P. Rickrode feeding a reindeer at Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

Then we headed to lunch, where I finally got my Alaskan bear experience with, not one, but four bears, at a little slice of celestial awesomeness known as the George Inlet Lodge,

P. Rickrode at the George Inlet Lodge. Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

P. Rickrode at the George Inlet Lodge. Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by C. Rickrode 2014.

George Inlet Lodge - Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

George Inlet Lodge – Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

Here, we dined on Alaskan Amber beer and Dungeness crab – all you can eat – from a room with this amazing view:

George Inlet Lodge - Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

George Inlet Lodge – Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

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Talk about an amazing day. We were well-fed and well-educated by the time we climbed the 85 steps back up to the bus.

George Inlet Lodge - Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

George Inlet Lodge – Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. Rickrode 2014.

So there you have it. Our first official day in Alaska, albeit just barely inside the boundary. Ketchikan, Alaska earns a two thumbs up and a high-ranking number on my list of “places I have to go back to.”

Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. RIckrode 2014.

Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo by P. RIckrode 2014.

Have you ever been to Ketchikan? Do you enjoy salmon? Do you have any nasty, wound-inducing plants in your neck of the woods? Inquiring minds want to know.

Oh – and there’s a special prize for the first person who finds the hidden Mickey.

Word of the Day:  Hedgehop

Fun fact about me: I’m allergic to salmon, which sucks when you’re in the salmon capital of the world.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, October 2014. Original photos by P. Rickrode and C. Rickrode.

 

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It’s time to blog again and I’ve got to say, I’m a little uninspired. It’s not that I’m in a slump or anything, because my creative juicies have been overflowing. Unfortunately, not with blog ideas.

How we balanced our budget. Makes perfect sense. Photo courtesy Google Images

How we balanced our budget. Makes perfect sense.
Photo courtesy Google Images

I have a good excuse. Really, I do. I’ve spent countless hours this weekend reading and revising my recently completed fourth manuscript. I’ve been to my monthly writer’s group meeting and conducted a very productive board meeting where we discussed next year’s writing programs, our annual Christmas party and our 3-day writing retreat in 2015. Oh sure, that budget part was a little yucky, but it comes with the territory.

As far as blogging, I got nothing. I think it’s time for a vacation. I know, I know, I just got back from a vacation only a few short weeks ago, but I think people should get vacations every other month. Don’t you?

I found this article, while I was busy doing nothing on the internet. And by nothing I mean something creative like looking at You Tube videos about making homemade Christmas decorations and scanning through hundreds of Pinterest photos for inspiration. That’s something. Right?

Anyway, that article, here’s the link: (Link was removed 11/4/13 by author)

Let me know if you’d rather be in any of these places right now instead of wherever you’re at. I know which one I’d pick.

What do you do when you lose your inspiration?

Word of the Day:

Fun fact about me: I can sing about 50 commercial jingles from the 80’s and 90’s. Something else cluttering up my brain.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, October 2013. Photo courtesy Google Images.

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Well, it’s that time of the month again – time to play What Haven’t I!

Question mark

This month, in honor of my birthday on the 24th, I’m asking for your guesses regarding my previous birthday activities.

Before we jump into any situations to ponder, let me say congratulations to Tameri Etherton, our February winner! Congratulations, Tameri!

If this is your first visit, the rules for participating are simple – write your guesses in the comments section below, check back on the 2oth to see if you’re a winner. Every month I will award two prizes; one to the person who gets the most guesses correct, and the other for the first person who left a comment and checked back regardless of how many guesses they got correct. You can’t win if you don’t play.

corvette stingrayAnd now, without further ado, here are the questions:

1 – What haven’t I received as a birthday gift?

a) – Really Expensive Jewelry; b) – A car; c) – Flowers; or d) An ugly sweater

2 – What haven’t I attended for my birthday?

a) – The ballet; b) – A bull riding event; c) – The circus; or d) – A Nascar race

3 – What haven’t I eaten for my birthday?

a) – Steak and lobster; b) – Chinese food; c) – Reuben sandwich; or d) Turkey

Lake Tahoe sunset

Twilight on Lake Tahoe

4 – What haven’t I enjoyed on my birthday but I really want to?

a) – Bunging Jumping; b) – Scuba diving; c) – Swimming with dolphins; or d) – Zip-lining through a jungle

5 – Where haven’t I been in honor of my birthday?

a) – San Diego; b) San Francisco; c) Los Angeles; or d) Lake Tahoe

So? How well do you think you know me? I’d love to read your guesses in the comments below. What have you experienced, or not experienced for you birthday, but you hope to enjoy some day soon?

Word of the Day: Squarrose

Fun Fact about me: I love to color. (I even have color books and crayons, but don’t tell anyone.)

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So it seems as though the end of the world year is upon us. There being only a very short amount of time left upon this earth calendar year, I feel as though I should openly express my gratitude for the wonderful things I have enjoyed since January 1st of this year.

But, before I get started, I must congratulate Pat O’Dea. She is the lucky winner of my sweet surprise from last month’s blog! Congratulations, Pat!

Now, let the gratitude begin:

First, I am grateful for my family and friends who have circled the wagons when I needed protection, smiled when I needed encouragement, scolded when I’d strayed off course, and just plain been available when necessary.

Second, I’d like to thank my cyber friends, new and not-so-new. I’ve managed to get through an entire year of blogging, albeit only once a month, but, since that was my goal, I can proudly say that I accomplished it. Next year, should there be one, my goal is to increase my blogging presence with twice-montly posts! I know you’re all dancing with glee!

2012 was a year of great expeditions, great acquisitions and great accomplishments! In March I was able to visit with treasured friends at our annual Nascar weekend in Vegas.

Nascar & Yosemite 038

In June my wonderful husband and I were able to enjoy seven amazing days in the Western Caribbean!

Western Caribbean cruise 2012 091

We climbed ancient Mayan ruins, went cave-tubing in Belize, boarded a pirate ship and swam in the warm clear waters of Grand Cayman and zipped through the jungle in Roartan on 4-wheel quads!

Western Caribbean cruise 2012 163

In July we moved into our new home, in September I traded in my old Subaru with 214,000+ miles on it for a brand new 2012 Nissan AWD Rogue and in October we visited one of our favorite places, Disney World!

WDW 2012 036

While there, I thoroughly enjoyed my very first trick-or-treating experience! Having been denied such “normal” childhood activities, I was overjoyed when I learned that Disney encouraged kids of ALL ages to trick-or-treat. Here’s my husband and I getting ready to embark on our redneck tourist trick-or-treating journey:

WDW 2012 071

WDW 2012 072

Aren’t we OMG hideous! We looked ridiculous, but we had a lot of fun.

All in all it’s been a pretty awesome year. When it’s all said and done, I have no regrets, lasting memories, more friends than I started the year with, and positive goals for the new life year ahead.

Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart for your support throughout this year. I hope to see you all again in the upcoming months should we all survive the prophesied apocolypse! Have happy and safe holidays and feel free to share your accomplishments and gratitude in the comments below! I’d love to celebrate with you!

Word of the day:  Moppet

Fun fact about me: I totaled my very first brand new car before I even got my license plates! (That’s not really such a FUN fact is it?)

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It’s May first and spring is in full bloom in my neck of the woods! There was much complaining from the natives about all of the rain in March and April. But, let me say, there are no complaints now! May is shaping up to be one of the most beautiful months ever. So, in honor of Earth Day, I’m blogging this month about all of the beautiful things surrounding us in nature. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, take a look around you. You might be surprised.

Everywhere I’ve gone these past couple of weeks there are wild flowers and luscious green grass and shiny new leaves on the trees. I notice these gifts. I notice because – like sparkly things – I love flowers. I love to look at them, smell them, touch them and . . .  apparently, from pursuing my travel photos for last month’s blog, photographing them. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve taken pictures of flowers.

I didn’t really notice that I do this until last month when I was drafting my April blog. But it makes sense because I am always drawn to a vibrant display of color. And a perfect bud or bloom has on occasion actually taken my breath away.

Susie Lindau (http://susielindau.com/2012/04/25/a-heatwave-cometh-early-a-photo-essay/) and Serena Dracis (http://serenadracis.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/welcome-to-wild-wednesday/) both recently posted pictures on their blogs of their back yards and gardening attempts, among other things. Karen McFarland has also posted awesome flower pictures on her blog recently. (http://www.karenmcfarland.com/perform-in-a-springtime-melody) All three of these blogs have amped up my spring fever. If you want some instant spring time, I highly recommend checking out these fabulous blogs.

Those were memorable blogs for me because I’m a flower-holic. I love them, plain and simple. I can’t resist snapping a photo every time I am awestruck by a beautiful bloom.

You’ll have to bear with me again this month as we take a little walk down memory lane and enjoy some of my flower-taking exerpiences.

Rain forest - Hilo, Hawaii

And it’s not just flowers that call me like a siren from the sea. Oh no, it’s unique plants and trees as well. A serene meadow or fern-blanketed forest have also been worthy of my photo snapping skills. I especially like finding a growing green plant in an most unexpected place.

Like this hearty little plant pushing up through a bed of hardened lava.

Lava beds - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Or these interesting specimens.

Annaberg Sugar Mill - Virgin Islands National Park - St. John, US Virgin Islands

Interesting beauty in the desert - Cabo San Lucas

Or this Banyan Tree. If you don’t know about Banyan Trees, I suggest you do some research, they’re fascinating things. They remind of of things you’d read about in Gene Lempp’s blogs. (www.genelempp.wordpress.com)

Banyon Tree - Oahu Hawaii

And here’s a very unique and beautiful tree.

Paradise Point - St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

But mostly, it’s the flowers that captivate me. Here are some of my flower photos with a brief description of where I took them. Enjoy!

The Big Island of Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Cinnamon Bay - St. John, US Virgin Islands

Annaberg Sugar Mill - St. John, US Virgin Islands

Playa Mazatlan - Mazatlan, Mexico

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

St. Thomas - US Virgin Islands

Lahaina, Maui

Maui, Hawaii

Downtown Honolulu, Hawaii

Downtown Honolulu, Hawaii

And what blog post about my travels would be complete without some photos of my favorite places – Disneyland and Disney World!

Epcot - Walt Disney World

Magic Kingdom - Walt Disney World

I don’t have to be stationary to photograph these colorful living organisms either. Nope, I can shoot right through the glass window of my transport vehicle. Like these three I couldn’t resist while on my bus ride through Honolulu.

The hillsides along the freeways were bursting with color. I know now what Rachel Funk Heller experiences every day where she lives in paradise! You’re a lucky girl, Rachel! I hope you appreciate this living landscape beauty.

Here’s one I took from a moving boat.

St. John - US Virgin Islands

I captured some shoreline treasures . . .

Asilomar - Pacific Grove, California

And these mountain beauties.

Yosemite - May 2011

And as much as I love finding the natural beauty in plants and flowers, don’t even get me started on the the man-made topiaries. I can photograph these things all day. And apparently I have, judging by my vacation albums. Who came up this this idea anyway? It’s genius!

Sorcerer Mickey - Back Stage Tour - Walt Disney World 2009

It's A Small World - Disneyland

It's A Small World - Disneyland

 And I don’t just capture these amazing gems during the day time. No sirree, I photograph at night too.

It's A Small World - Disneyland - Christmas 2010

 Here’s a unique palm tree that captured my attention in Honolulu, whist on my ghost hunting expedition one night last year. That’s right, I went in search of ghosts.

Date palms - Honolulu, Hawaii

I not only shoot day or night, I shoot outside or in. Makes no difference to me and my snap happy finger.

St. Andrew's Cathedral

And a little rain won’t impede my desire to capture that perfect work of beauty.

My affinity for photographing flowers evidently also extends beyond the realm of the living. Here are some floral arrangements that, while natural, would not appear in this form in the wild.

Grand food creations buffet - Carnival Victory - 2006

Grand food creations buffet - Carnival Victory - 2006

Not only are flowers lovely to look at and delightful to smell, flowers can be functional as well. For instance did you know that rose bushes are often planted on the perimeters of vineyards?

They not only attract bees and other pollinators, but they help predict sudden changes in the weather. Roses are very susceptible to mold and are hyper-sensitive to temperature changes. Vintners can watch their roses to know whether or not they need to take action to protect their grape crop. You see, it’s an educational blog too.

So there you have it. My crazy flower obsession.

What’s your passion, or perhaps what thing do you find yourself photographing over and over again, besides your kids and pets?

Word of the day: Fuliginous

Fun fact about me: I once used cocoa powder as stage make-up.

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