Thunderbirds

We were treated to a free air show from our front yard in Cheyenne, WY while the USAF Thunderbirds performed their annual air acrobatics as part of the 2019 Cheyenne Frontier Days celebrations.

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My sister-in-law and her husband were in town to see the bull riding competition and stayed with us during their trip. As they prepared to leave, we heard the tell-tale sound of loud aircraft overhead and went outside.

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These photos were taken as we sat in the grass and watched the show. They flew northward towards our home over and over as they used the area to prepare their formations and fly over the airshow viewing area (this year at F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

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The precision flying on display was nothing short of amazing and was a treat to get to enjoy unexpectedly from the comfort of our own home. The skies were blue with just the faintest clouds here and there; a perfect day for an air show.

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My husband and I traded off the mobile and SLR cameras as I bounced back and forth between taking photos and taking videos. Ultimately my husband snagged most of these photos (because he’s pretty handy with photography). We both loved the opportunity to get shots of the jets flying in front of and around the moon still visible in the late morning sky.

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This shot was similar to the jets in formation above, but the contrast was terrific against the clouds and if you zoom in, you can almost make out the pilots in each cockpit.

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I can’t fathom the knowledge and training that goes into making performances like these look so smooth. Undoubtedly, it’s a lot of skill and trust amongst teammates.

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Even with a strong telephoto lens, this guy was wayyyyy up there.

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By the time this formation finished, it looked almost like the outline of a morning glory in bloom. The timing was exact and each jet was in identical position from each of the four points while a fifth jet flew straight up from the middle.

All in all, a really fantastic opportunity to get to see the USAF Thunderbirds in action and be in awe of a tremendous team of airmen. We look forward to seeing them again next year hopefully!

Yard Critter

A few days ago I saw what I though was a chipmunk flitting through the grass under our bird feeder. On closer inspection, I wasn’t quite sure what I was seeing when I noticed the striping down this little guy’s back. But sure enough, on searching the internet, I had a thirteen striped ground squirrel! Who knew such a little critter existed. Now to hold out hope he or she doesn’t have friends or family currently tunneling into our yard.

A Palmetto State Vacation (Day 3)

Magnolia Plantation & Gardens: On our last day of vacation after the previous day, we started off at what was my top pick of places I wanted to see (based on the brochures).

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As someone who is happiest slowly exploring all that nature’s flora and fauna have to offer, Magnolia Gardens was at the top of my list. We elected not to tour the actual house as we were trying to fit in both the gardens here as well as another plantation later in the day.

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The gardens were expansive, including swamps, waterways, gravel pathways lined by specimen trees and flower beds and a variety of other unique elements. I could have likely posted a gallery of 30-40 floral shots; there were flower beds and gardens galore.

When walking the many trails through the gardens, the trees were the epitome of Southern beauty. You can’t help but just look up and enjoy the visual feast.

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A memory that brings a chuckle is the several alligators we encountered while walking. There are swamps here: Where there are swamps, there are gators.

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They kept to themselves mainly, only venturing near if an edible target was close by in the way of frogs, turtles or such tasty morsels. Most of them were small.

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I can just imagine if I lived here I’d be seated on the banks of the small lakes and water features every day just taking it all in (being mindful of the alligators of course).

Being the epic Southern plantation gardens it is, beauty and flowers abounded (magnolias included).

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Everywhere we walked, there was a small scene happening in every corner or outcropping.

 

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The sense of tranquility here translated to the tourists. Despite having a large number of visitors strolling about, it was still very quiet.

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Who doesn’t want a red bridge flanked on both sides by planers of overflowing flowers in their own back yard?

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Walking pathways went on and on in a chain of discovered serendipities!

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Ok, really, I could just build a little cottage for us right here on the water.

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It also just so happens that Magnolia Gardens has a petting zoo of a myriad of local animals, including several peacocks!

 

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The stillness was a welcome respite.

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My favorite part of the entire day at Magnolia Gardens was the Audubon Swamp Garden (of all things, a swamp!?).

We tackled this last and I had small hopes. It was the high point in the afternoon. It was hot. I was tired. I had sweat through my shirt and hat. And we still had another place to go after Magnolia this day. And it said “Swamp” on the sign.

But truthfully, though, this was the best part.

 

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The turtles were equally entertaining as they were brave, given that they sunned themselves with the constant threat of nearby alligators.

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This one kept floating lazily in circles around the bases of trees in the water, waiting for any fledgling birds to topple out (none did while we were there, thank goodness).

The birds though! One section of the swamp was just teeming with rooks, herons and a myriad of other local birds. The constant calls of mates to one another and chatter of juveniles hungry for the next arriving parent to the nest were a continual musical of swamp banter. Trees jutting out of the water contained no less than 5-6 large nests each. It was a wonder to watch.

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Most of the trails through the swamp were heavily shaded and simple to follow. We found a perfectly-placed bench right by the water and settled in to watch and listen.

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The swamp garden was a bird watcher’s delight!

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And speaking of all things related to birds, who knew Audubon himself frequented the plantation so often?

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As we exited the property to the parking lot, we passed by this petite little house surrounded by a small but thriving garden center. On pausing to read the sign by the path, reading this endearing story was our last piece of the plantation. Somehow the story of Grandma Tena was just right, even to a stranger.

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It’s nice to think that everyone who passes by sees her picture and can read this story.

Boone Plantation: We ended up our day, and our vacation, at Boone Plantation on the last of our tour days before we flew out the next morning. On arriving onto the property, imagine having this for your driveway! It took over 200 yrs for the oak trees to manage to arch over to one another.

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We had just finished a full day at Magnolia Plantation and were pretty worn out and had reached our maximum sun exposure for the most part. We elected to tour what I was mostly interested in: The gardens of course!

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When the husband asked what I wanted to see here, I asked just to see the gardens and grounds. We had been running full tilt at this point for three days and were also nearing the max point of comfort for how much we had been in the sun this day.

Our first point of exploration was a butterfly garden held within a small, netted structure. It contained a plethora of tropical plants and local flowers complete with fountains (but the fountains were unfortunately being maintained and had been drained while we were there).

The gardens, while much smaller vs. Magnolia Plantation, were worth the drive over.

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My lens might have been overused a bit, snapping pictures of nearly everything in bloom. It’s a bad habit I have when around growing things. But how beautiful the colors are!

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We rounded up the day by taking a tractor-pulled wagon narrated by tour guides of the entire plantation. The wagon was covered by a tarp, and was very much the shade we needed at this point. Unfortunately, the ride was a bit bumpy so I elected to simply sit back and listen to the history. But I did walk over and snap a picture of these older tractors on display near the area where we waited for our tour.

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The plantation still serves as an events center and houses polo horses.

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It was a FULL three days with a day before to fly in and a day after to fly out. But it just goes to show how much you can fit in when on vacation. And even better, I got to see all these places with my favorite guy. ‘Til next time, South Carolina!