Common Buckeye Butterfly on Ironweed


It is hard to look manly prancing through a meadow, net in hand, chasing a butterfly as I did as a student at Morehead State University.   Don’t think this was a daily occurrence, as it only happened once when we were trying to collect specimens for our insect collections in Invertebrate Zoology class.

I was reminded of this two summers ago when I was chasing this common buckeye butterfly through a field of ironweed in a beautiful area of Morgan County, Kentucky called Woodsbend.   Except it was less prancing and more hobbling.   Carrying a camera instead of a net was probably not any more manly looking either.

The order of butterflies and moths is called lepidoptera.   This is the only order I remember from that class and only because our professor told us that butterflies burst out of their cocoons and “lepid” up off the ground.   Apparently there is an advantage to having a PhD.

This particular butterfly must have sucked down the nectar from a flower that was doused with the fifth can of Red Bull some teen-ager could not finish due to his sudden tachycardia.   I chased it for thirty minutes before it lit on this ironweed plant.

In this part of eastern Kentucky, fields of ironweed indicate that summer is about over and fall is coming.   Ironweed plants are difficult to photograph.   The true color is hard to capture.   It takes a dimmer overcast day to capture the true deep purple of the blooms.

Photographing butterflies, on the other hand, just takes someone who is in denial about their ability to maneuver strappingly through a meadow.

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Hatteras Island Sunrise


I learned a valuable lesson from an eleven year old orphan girl many years ago…the sun will come out tomorrow.

I took this photo of a beautiful sunrise on Hatteras Island in the town of Avon, NC, in the Outer Banks.   It was two years ago and this was the last morning of our vacation.   We were getting ready to leave to drive back to Kentucky.

As with all vacations, on the last morning I go into a state of depression that can not be lifted by even the most Herculean pharmaceutical efforts.  However, this sunrise, though it beckoned me to stay longer,  seemed to validate the choice of our recent vacation destination.   It also reminded me to look forward to future sunrises, especially at my next beach vacation.

No matter how bad my day has been in the past or present, it has never failed to be followed by a risen sun the next day.

God gives me a beautiful sunrise every morning.  Most of the time I sleep through them.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.

Rocky Mountains in Black and White

image_1-1Rocky Mountain high….in Colorado.  

Big Surf Daddy had to transition from the salt water curls to the fresh water staircases of the Arkansas River outside of Buena Vista, Colorado.   He made the transition so well my alter ego has an alter ego.   Big Surf became Big Drop Daddy.

My wife and I ventured out to Colorado a few weeks ago.   I needed some continuing education to stay legal and relevant.  There was also a reunion of classmates from my days at the University of Houston.   I will leave off the amount of years from ‘twixt the last time I saw some of these lads and lasses till the present age.   I am secure in the wisdom and wrinkles I have accumulated over the years, but I don’t know if they are as mature as I.

During our last day in Estes Park after the classes and reunion, my wife developed her own “Rocky Mountain High”, a bad case of altitude sickness.    So… I figured the best cure would be to go another three thousand feet higher to Breckenridge.

As we arrived at our small hotel in Breckenridge, Mr. Karma came a visitin’.

While carrying our luggage up to our second floor room, I suddenly became sympathetic to the sufferings of a three-pack a day smoker who decided to start a fitness routine.   I was reminded of John Candy playing racquetball with Tom Hanks in “Splash”.

My wife would have appreciated the irony if she hadn’t been so dizzy.

We had a good-night sleep and felt better the next day.   It helped that we went down about three thousand feet  to Buena Vista for our white water rafting excursion, our first time, by the way.

Our trip down the Arkansas River was booked through River Runners.   I must say it was a tremendously good time.   Our guide was both entertaining and very experienced on the river.   He gave us a great ride.  I would recommend them to anyone.   One piece of info for you first-timers…don’t drink too much coffee before the trip.    Big Drop Daddy found it a little more challenging on the river to rid himself of the coffee’s effect on his bladder than Big Surf Daddy does in the ocean.

I took this picture on a dark and rainy day in  Rocky Mountain National Park.   The black and white worked better for the mood of the day and provided more drama.

My wife and I were with some former classmates, driving through the park.   I must say they were as nice and pleasant as I remembered them.   They were very good to my wife, whom they had just met.    One poignant moment, a midst a beautiful backdrop of mountains, they were all three in a small huddle looking at their phones comparing pictures of sons and daughters.  I guess mothers are all the same when it comes to their children, no matter if they are from Wales, South Africa, or Grants Lick, Kentucky.    In a way, it was more beautiful and natural than the mountainscape they were presently ignoring.

This was a good reunion with old friends.   These friends helped me get through some challenging times many years ago.   It was good to see where they ended up and how we have handled parenthood and our profession.   But most of all it was good to reconnect with those souls that I cared about long ago and to realize we could get back together after all these years as if nothing ever changed.

By the way, my wife and I felt a little better on the drive back to Denver.   I thought a window seat would make us  feel better on the plane ride back home.    The plane was full.    To guarantee a window seat while boarding, I called “SHOTGUN!”  Evidently that has a different meaning at Denver International Airport.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.