Joseph Stewart State Park, Set 1: Lost Creek Lake Pano and...Our First Outing with our New RV was a SMASHING SUCCESS!! (+10 insets!)

Lost Creek Lake, Trip 2!

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Joseph Stewart State Park, Set 1: Lost Creek Lake Pano and...Our First Outing with our New RV was a SMASHING SUCCESS!! (+10 insets!)

(+10 insets!) Please view large, you'll love it!! (for photo info, please scroll down to "Today's Pictures") Steve and I arrived home yesterday afternoon from our 4-night stay at Joseph Stewart State Park and it went PERFECTLY!! Everything went as we'd hoped! We got everything packed, the trailer attached to the truck hitch, and away we went! The roads were clear, the weather was perfect and we encountered no problems whatsoever on the 45-minute drive to the park. The exhaust brakes are AWESOME! There is a fairly long hill up and then down the other side on the way and we were delighted that our truck purred the whole time. Everyone knows that feeling safe is priceless and it was just wonderful to experience how smoothly and easily the truck slowed the trailer down. Also, the brakes are quiet! What a great system and a perfect decision to add them to the truck. By the time we got home, both of us felt completely confident that we would be able to take our new trailer wherever we wanted to go! Hooray! Getting into our campsite was a dream--backing up and maneuvering into position is so much easier! And when it came time to level the trailer…all he has to do is press a button! Our Avalanche has its own automatic system so we don't have to do anything but watch! No more ramps! No more leveling apps that never work! No more stress! YESSSS! Our stay was fabulous! Surrounded by lovely parkland on all sides, we enjoyed marvelous weather every day. The mornings started out cold and cloudy and became warm and sunny in the afternoons. And my…what posh accommodations we have now! The Avalanche is a huge step up from our comparatively junky Grey Wolf. Granted, the Grey Wolf wasn't horrible but it was well-used and left us increasingly unhappy with its multitude of problems and shortfalls. Highlights of our New Coach: Living Room and Kitchen: The living room, with its 10' ceiling, is very inviting and has a cozy (electric) fireplace, a large sofa and extremely comfortable lounge chairs (our last coach had a tiny couch but no living room at all!) The dining area has actual chairs at the table instead of needing to slide into a dinette booth. The kitchen has an ISLAND, lots of counterspace and a deep, 2-part sink with a very nice multi-function faucet. There's a super stove and oven and a huge microwave! The refrigerator and freezer are twice as large as the unit in the Grey Wolf--nearly as large as the one in our home! Windows: This coach is absolutely filled with windows! The Grey Wolf was like a cave with its few small windows. The Avalanche has windows everywhere, and most of them are very big! They're tinted so we can look out and nobody can see in until it gets dark, at which point we pull down the blinds! :) The height of our coach allows us to have wonderful views and we enjoy just looking outside with happy smiles on our faces! Bathroom: The bathroom is small but includes a very spacious shower with sliding glass doors instead of a flimsy shower curtain. The mirror is well-lit! This might seem like a small thing but a badly lit mirror will drive you crazy! The Grey Wolf's bathroom mirror had such horrible illumination that our additional lighting couldn't correct the situation…it was so annoying! Bedrooms: We both have proper bedrooms, each with doors!! (Steve snores so we sleep separately, thus getting a good night's sleep and Steve isn't pummeled all night! :D) For this trip, my bed was the couch which folds out into a bed, topped with a memory foam mattress. The situation isn't ideal because the bed fills the room entirely. Eventually we'll have a twin-size bed to replace the couch and it will be exactly right! Our Visit: We had a very relaxing stay and just enjoyed being there. We had bacon and eggs or steak omelets for breakfast and for dinner we ate steaks, roasted chicken, and even cooked hotdogs over our propane fire pit! And of course, we enjoyed our lovely espressos with cream! Pumpkin had a fabulous time too. She really loves the coach and RV life in general because she gets so much attention and one day we took her on a very nice walk that had her full of song! Joseph Stewart State Park really is a marvelous place! Steve and I would happily move there forever except for one thing: ZERO internet. Steve gets the tiniest blip of data so he can read the news but that's about it. However, we knew this from our first trip so we were prepared for being cut off while we were away. I spent my time relaxing, wandering around taking pictures, processing my images, writing, treasure hunting with my metal detector and doing crosswords. Steve relaxed, added mud flaps to the truck, fiddled around with a few things in the coach, and played video games. Both of us played with Pumpkin too, which is always fun. In other words, our trip was pure bliss! Today's Pictures: During our walk with Pumpkin, we ended up looking out over Lost Creek Lake and of course, I just had to take a panorama! I hope that you look at it full-size as it's quite a sight! :D You can see that the water level is quite low right now but will fill up again with the upcoming storms. My insets: I had a lovely time strolling around and just "being in the moment" with my camera. The set today includes bunches of wonderful things I found as I nosed around, including a picture of an oak tree I featured from our last trip (I've included an inset to show the original), a picture of our truck and trailer, mushrooms, leaves, a pretty little foot bridge in the forest, and an oak tree with the biggest burl I've ever seen! Pam, I hope you are doing well…I wish you could have looked out on the water at Lost Creek Lake and toddled around with me on my strolls. It was such a treat to be there. Neither of us felt hurried or obligated to fill our days with a million things. It was wonderful. I hope that you're feeling well! SENDING HUGS!!! Explored on 11/16/19; highest placement #1.

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Joseph Stewart State Park, Set 2: Beauty Near and Far! (+10 insets!)

(+10 insets!) For photo info, please scroll down to "Today's Pictures". Trip Talk: State Parks RULE! Until Steve and I got our first trailer, neither of us had ever stayed at a state park before. Honestly, we didn't think they would be anything special. Knowing that state parks often don't get proper funding, I imagined that the campgrounds would be plain, simple and boring--just a place to stay which was close to park trails but otherwise forgettable. How much more wrong could I be? Joseph Stewart State Park was the second place we went camping at with our first rig (the first spot was a private campground at Upper Klamath Lake) and I'll never forget our reaction when we pulled in to the campground. The park is very wide-open and carpeted with literally miles of mowed meadows dotted with oaks and conifers. The view as we drove into the area literally took our breaths away--it seemed like a rich country club, not a state park! How could such a gorgeous place be a mere 45 minutes from our home? Where were the run-down campsites and over-capacity outhouses? Not here, that's for sure! We would come to learn that RV-friendly state park campgrounds are extremely well-designed with campsites which can often accommodate even the largest rigs. They arrange the sites around one or more very large, one-way loops with lots of space between spots and angles which are easy to back a rig into. In fact, some camping spots are known as "pull-throughs," which means you just drive into the space and park! When you're ready to leave, you just drive out and off you go! How's that for easy?! Our first visit with the Grey Wolf was so much fun that we knew we'd be back many times. What's not to love about the place? Right on Lost Creek Lake, one can go boating, fishing or swimming. Photography opportunities are everywhere! There are miles of biking and hiking trails which showcase the gorgeous local. Just riding our bikes around the three loops was great fun and a really super way to see all of the different RVs staying there. We wondered if all state parks were this spectacular. We would learn that more times than not they are just fantastic. Another fabulous thing about state park campgrounds is how INEXPENSIVE they are! Nightly fees range between $26 and $34, which is a lot less than the average private campground fee of about $45. Think about the price of staying at a motel or hotel--good luck finding a decent room for less than $75/night! (The maximum number of nights you can stay at a campground is 14 in any 17-day period. So you could leave for three days and then return for another 14 days!) State campground staff are also amazing! They are super friendly and helpful and whenever there's a question or problem, it's easy to find someone for assistance. We also learned that state campgrounds are run by hosts who are RV campers too. They aren't paid but instead get to camp for free during their stay in exchange for a part-time work schedule. What an incredible way to save money while enjoying a park! Steve and I will definitely be signing up to be campsite hosts down the road and look forward to being part of the park system. Are there any downsides to state park campgrounds? Ok, yeah…that. As amazing as they are, almost every campground we've stayed at has no internet or phone coverage whatsoever. Our first stay was pretty annoying because it didn't occur to us but we got comfortable with the idea once we realized that state parks are black holes for data. Other than that, it seems that state parks are the absolute perfect place to stay! Our second stay at Joseph Stewart State Park was every bit as wonderful as our first visit. In some ways it was even better because we'd been there before and knew what to expect. It's such a pleasant place to be and I hope that we will be back many times in the future! Today's Pictures My main picture today shows one of the breathtaking, expansive meadows found everywhere at Joseph Stewart State Park. The autumn show was mostly over but I still managed to get plenty of seasonal images and you'll notice that many of my insets feature a favorite subject: LEAVES! :) You'll also see one of the many mushrooms I found, a pretty park bench scene, the husk of a cicada (I think), another scenic view, madrone bark, another maple "bat", and a "flower" on a pine tree where the cone had broken off, leaving wooden "petals" behind to enjoy! Pam, I wonder what your favorite season is? It's so hard for me to say…I'm crazy about whatever is current--well, maybe with the exception of the end of summer when everything is dry, grey-brown and listless. But then the leaves begin to turn and suddenly everything is glorious again! :) BTW, thanks for your lovely remarks on my latest series, it makes me so happy that you enjoy my pictures so much! :) *BIG HUGS from southern Oregon* Explored on 11/19/19; highest placement #2.

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Joseph Stewart State Park, Set 3: The Beauty Never Ends! (+10 insets!)

Trip Talk: History is the missing puzzle piece to "KNOWING" a place! I must admit that I haven't made much time in my life for history since I graduated high school. I enjoy the subject but it's so…yesterday! Present day and future events have always grabbed my attention and left me saying to myself, "I'll look into the history of this later." Except that I never get around to it…and now I'm 55 years old and most of the history I learned as a student has drifted away over the years. Lately I've come to realize how much I've neglected the past. More importantly though, I've been presented with compelling reasons to add history back into my life. Here's a question for you: how do you get to know a place you've visited? In other words, what do you do when you traveled somewhere, in order to walk away feeling totally satisfied that you got a true feeling of a place? This is something I've pondered since I began travelling as a 21-year-old and in the end, my answers never quite sit right. The first idea I came up with was, "Take pictures!" Well, that's certainly a really big step but it's not the whole answer, is it? "What about making videos?" Heck, I've never even tried that but I can tell that it's also just a facet and wouldn't be the whole answer. "Get to know the locals!" That's a good one! Still, you'd have to talk to a lot of people to get a true feeling of a place. "Write about your experiences there!" Definitely a strong choice and this really gives an immersive quality to the place you visited. One of my favorites is, "Hike, cycle, walk all over the area…see as much of the area as possible!" Now that's a really awesome thought! And yet…it's still not quite enough, is it? Maybe it could be, "Visit and experience all of the local attractions!" Well, we all know about the value of tourist traps and the need to carefully prise the promised quality of the experience from the money-grubbing garbage. The fact is, to truly "KNOW" a place, one must employ many of these ideas to get the whole picture. And yet…even though I did this, I couldn't stop the annoying voice in my head which kept telling me I was missing an important angle. When Steve and I began travelling in our first RV, we learned about state parks and I kept wondering about the names. Why weren't the names all about the location? Reading the origin suddenly added an element which hit home for me: HISTORY! Gaining a true understanding of the background of a place--or even the reason behind a name--adds a crucial depth that can't be skipped. However, it's not enough to scan the information--something I've always been guilty of. By reading about, understanding, and then reflecting on that information as I'm appreciating a place has given me that complete sense of "knowing" it. Joseph H. Stewart State Park's History in a few words: Named for the leader of the pear industry in southern Oregon, this 910-acre park opened in 1978 after the Lost Creek Dam and Lake was built on the Rogue River. The land is leased from the Army Corps of Engineers and the campground has four loops which contain 151 campsites and 50 tent sites. The park also has a boat marina, store and boat moorage facilities. Annual overnight attendance is 64,787 and annual day-use attendance is 301,816. Joseph H. Stewart moved to the Rogue Valley from Illinois in 1885 and began planting apples, prunes and almonds on his 160-acre farm. Within 5 years he was shipping his harvests all over the nation. In 1898 he and his son-in-law bought the land where the park sits and planted pear, apple and walnut trees there as well. Most of the trees are still alive--and now I want to visit the park again just so I can visit this man's heritage. (Here's their brochure with map if you're interested) Today's Pictures: My main picture today is another incredibly beautiful view of one of the park's stunning meadows. Really, all you can do is just stand there and sigh, it's so pretty! Insets today include a trio of white mushrooms, festively colored blackberry leaves, another pretty view of the park, a pair of "yin-yang"-leaves with clover leaves, a pair of maple "shoes", an elegant stem of dried grass, a fanciful leaf caught on a pine branch, leaves on a stump, a mushroom I found at the base of the tree with the huge burl, and finally, an ancient mushroom family growing out of a stump (that picture wasn't as crisp as I wanted so I turned it into a creative image!). Pam, wouldn't it be fun to wander around this park and visit some of the trees planted here by Mr. Stewart? I would love listening to your stories of some of your camping adventures and also…did you ever spend time on a farm? That would be fun to hear about too! Today it's very cold but sunny--how about you? I hope all is well in your world my dear! *BIG HUGS*!!!! Explored on 11/22/19; highest placement #10.

Joseph Stewart State Park, Set 5: Resin Droplets! (+6 insets!)

(+6 insets!) (please view large!) For info about the pictures today, please scroll down, down, down to "Today's Pictures". Trip Talk: Taking Time to Relax on a Trip Steve and I know all about the problems of trying to pack too much into a trip. Even when we specifically built in extra time for a destination or made sure to do less, we still felt stressed out over the desire to see more. It's made us realize that when we travel, we need to spend a lot more time at each place so we can relax and enjoy ourselves. This tradeoff means we won't see as many places but we'll feel much more satisfied and happy with each destination. It's important to have the freedom to say, "Today we're just going to hang out and do nothing." So, when we went to Joseph Stewart State Park, we made no plans except to relax and enjoy ourselves however that meant. It helped that we'd been there before and knew what to expect. Neither of us felt compelled to visit all that the park had to offer. We just did whatever we felt like with no agenda. The Joy of Being In the Moment with my Macro Lens... It was GREAT! I got to spend all the time I wanted to creep around with my macro lens and just "be." I took my camera out on several outings that were just for me--my very favorite situation! When I can just do whatever I want and have no constraints on my time, I open up and just drift around, exploring without any worries. Sometimes I just stand still, listening and looking around to see what captures my attention. It's one of the ways I find special subjects, but the only way I can do this is if I'm free to let time pass without worry. Scoping Out Subjects! One day Steve, Pumpkin, and I went on a wonderful walk (we have a "front-pack" carrier for her that allows her to be outside but still be protected ) and as we strolled along, Pumpkin whistled and carried on happily as she looked around and munched on her food. I kept my eyes open for macro subjects because I planned to return with my camera. I got more and more excited as we found countless mushrooms, interesting leaves, and plenty of other things. After we returned to the trailer I bounced out the door with my camera to retrace our steps. I made sure to take my walkie-talkie with me so Steve and I could stay in contact. Out there our phones had no signal so having those walkies was a great alternative. The range is also very impressive--seems like I can be nearly a mile away and we can still reach each other. Is She Dead? I spent about an hour wandering back to all of the things we'd seen, blissfully taking pictures as I went. At one point I was splayed out on the ground in the middle of the path--a common position for me, lol! I was focusing on a group of darling mushrooms when I heard the campground hosts approaching in their atv. The second they saw me I heard the atv slow down as they tried to figure out if the person laying there was alive or not, heh. I knew what they were thinking so I immediately sat up and moved around so they didn't worry. Reassured, I heard the atv speed up again and I crawled over to the side of the path, grinning to myself. We all waved and said hi as they drove by and I couldn't help noticing the look of relief on their faces. About ten minutes later I heard them returning from their little trip and moved off the path again so they could drive by. I wonder how many crazy macro photographers they've encountered as camp hosts? Probably just me I'm guessing, judging by their reaction! Magic Happens When You're Not Rushed I continued my macro walk for a while longer until I felt creatively "full". I was about to turn around when I noticed glinting from a large conifer in the distance. It appeared to have many sawed-off lower branches and though I couldn't see from where I was, I wondered if it would be worth taking a closer look. My curiosity about the glimmers I saw got the better of me and I strolled over to investigate. What was that I was seeing?! Why, there was sap oozing out from every sawed-off branch! All around the tree, the resin formed countless beautiful golden droplets that seemed frozen in place. They were actually dripping very, very slowly , but even warm weather wouldn't make the sap drip fast enough to watch. At least that's my experience. I've seen resin droplets on trees when it's hot and though the sap is more liquid in appearance, it drips too slowly to see. Taking a closer look, I was totally blown away by the beautiful globules. Though the sun was just about to drop behind the trees, I'd caught the light at exactly the right moment and some of the droplets were glowing in the last beams hitting them. Working quickly, I evaluated the best droplets to photograph before I lost the sun. Around the tree I creeped, clicking away and hoping that I'd be successful getting at least one crisp picture in each set. As I composed my pictures, I couldn't keep myself from exclaiming, "WOW!!" I've seen plenty of resin droplets over the years but I cannot recall every seeing so much on one tree. The poor tree was probably suffering, with so much of its "blood" flowing out through the cuts all over it. Hopefully the pine beetles don't get to it before it can recover from the damage. In any event, the sap did allow me to take dozens of pictures that show how incredibly lovely the droplets can be. Today's Pictures I'm sharing a total of seven resin pictures from my visit to this wonderful tree. It was tough to decide which one to lead with…let me know if you have a favorite! Pam, I thought I remembered a picture you took of pine sap so I looked it up… wow! Three awesome posts, two of which are super cool collages! I love that you appreciate these natural jewels as I do. This tree would have you yelling and screaming when it got too dark to take pictures! :D I really would have loved to go back the next day to take more pictures but it wasn't in the cards. However, I'm mightily pleased with my results of about 10 minutes of frantically getting pictures before the light left! Been thinking about you all day…so happy about the news and so is Steve. I have my fingers crossed for improvements in the future! So glad for this win! *BIG HUGS* Explored on 11/26/19; highest placement #4.

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Joseph Stewart State Park, Set 5: Morning Light and Fall Magic (+11 insets!)

(+11 insets!) (Please scroll down to "Today's Pictures for inset information) Trip Talk: Little Upgrades and the First Two Projects: Our Bedrooms! Our new trailer is going to be a perfect way to travel around the country! That being said, we need to upgrade some things before we are satisfied with its current state. Steve's done lots of little additions around the place, such as adding felt dots and rubber bumpers to doors so they close quietly and don't bang into walls. We noticed they neglected to put caps on the recessed screw holes here and there so we got those. Lots of things like that. But also, there are four projects that we planned on right away: our beds, the coffee bar/charging center, and our computer/gaming stations. Today I'll cover the beds! The Beds: Steve's (You can see the location on Inset 1 and look at "A") First off, we needed to upgrade the sleeping situation. The first and easiest fix was the master bedroom. It came with a king-sized mattress stuffed into a queen-sized space, ugh! How ridiculous to stand in there trying to find room next to that silly bed! Steve quickly fixed this by sawing down the bed's platform to a proper size. When we put a queen-sized mattress in place of the ginormous king-sized bed, suddenly it was like a breath of fresh air! For the first time since we've owned the coach, the master bedroom FEELS like a master bedroom! Sheesh. We are astonished by the propensity of people who want everything to be LARGER. What type of person would WANT a king-sized bed? They are entirely too HUGE! The Beds: Janet's (See Inset 1: "B") The second part of this equation was my bed. The Avalanche has a new and rare layout called a "mid-house bunk room." Ordinarily this is a double-decker platform ("bunk house") located in the back of the coach, which is what our Grey Wolf had. I used the bottom bunk as my private little nest and I loved it in the beginning. However, by the time we got back from our six-week Vancouver Island trip, I was DONE. All of the sideways wriggling in and out of the foot-accessible-only bed got to be intolerable, especially at three in the morning when I needed to make a bathroom run. I couldn't even sit up completely unless I wanted to bang my head. No amount of coziness could make up for that cramped and totally annoying sleeping situation. This became a defining criteria for choosing our full-timing rig. The perfectly tiny bunk room in the Avalanche is located half-way between the back and front of the coach and is even has *gasp* actual doors (as opposed to curtains)! It came with an attractive couch which folded out to entirely fill the room with a classic, uncomfortable, temporary bed. No thanks. I did sleep on it when we stayed at Joseph Stewart State Park but we also put a gel-foam topper on it to make it reasonably comfortable. No worries...we had a plan! We took out the couch and in its place, Steve built a platform to fit the 38" x 72" space. When completed, there will be three spacious drawers underneath, but for now the frame is in place and it's absolutely perfect! What about the Mattress? At first we were at a loss. Custom-made anything almost always means sky-high prices and that's all we could find as we combed the search results. Finally I found pay-dirt! The Military Supply House makes mattresses of any size with a zillion options, all at a totally affordable price. We paid about $230 to get mine made and when it arrived, we were both totally blown away. It's gorgeous, soft but supportive, impeccably made and sewn, and best of all, it is EXACTLY the right size! We were so impressed that we're ordering another one in queen size for Steve's mattress! (The temporary mattress in place right now was borrowed from our guest bedroom so we could go to Joseph Stewart.) A Perfect Room for Janet The difference in that petite room is amazing. It's no longer an awkward nook with a little sofa in it that folds out. Now it's got an exactly-sized bed with lots of room to move around. There's a spacious countertop on the opposite side and I'll be able to add a chair to sit and use my laptop. With this arrangement I'll be able to write and work on my photography without distraction. What an upgrade!! The situation I had in the Grey Wolf quickly began to drive me crazy. I'd wriggle into my lower bunk bed, crawl into place, turn over to sit down, drag my computer onto my lap, position my mouse next to me and finally I'd open the laptop. It was such an ordeal to get everything properly set up that getting back out again was really annoying. Granted, it was a wonderful, cozy place to hang out but once I was there, I didn't want to move...it was too much effort! So you can see why I'm so over-the-moon with my wonderful little bedroom in the Avalanche! (Note: you may wonder why I'm in the little room and Steve is in the master bedroom. This is because Steve is 6'2 and I am 5'4. He cannot fit into that little bed but it's the perfect length for me. I also wanted to have my own space for writing and creating without being disturbed. The master bedroom doesn't have a desk area. The situation is absolutely ideal for us! Oh, and in case you didn't know this yet, we sleep apart because Steve snores and we prefer restful nights!) Today's Pictures It's another installment from Joseph Stewart State Park! The main picture was the view we saw from our coach every morning, can you believe it?! Stepping just outside, I took this picture of gorgeous light and shadows streaming through the trees that surrounded our trailer. How amazing it was to be here, and yet the park is a mere 45 minutes away!! The first inset today is a graphic to show the layout of our Avalanche 365MB with areas noted for the projects we're working on. (I'll talk about the other projects in a later blog.) The rest of the insets are more subjects that I found while I was blissfully wandering around with my camera. You will notice lots of lovely fall leaves, but also mushrooms and even a ridiculous sign on a path sprayed on by someone who has dyslexia! ENJOY! Pam, today it's such a bright and beautiful day, I can't stop smiling when thinking about the hopeful situation for you that's coming up. There is nothing like hope. Now there is a large sprig to grasp onto and I'm so glad!! Have you recovered from your procedure and feeling better? I'm wishing the best for you and sending lots of *HUGS* your way! Explored on 12/02/19; highest placement #7.

Joseph Stewart State Park, Set 6: Brave Mushroom and Visions of Fall (+10 insets!)

(+10 insets!) (Please scroll down to Today's Insets and Final Thoughts about Photography at Joseph Stewart for added picture information) This will be my last set of nature pictures from our trip to Joseph Stewart State Park (I have another set of metal detector finds to finish off my trip pictures). My main image is one of my very favorite macro subjects! For the Love of Mushrooms Have you ever gone out with the specific intention to find mushrooms? They aren't always easy to locate! On my first outing with my macro lens, I kept my eyes open for mushrooms while I took pictures of leaves and other things but I didn't see any. I wasn't really focused on them at the time though and I figured there were plenty of them in deeper forest locations. The next day, Steve and I went on a favorite walk which took us past the edge of a thick stand of trees. Ah-hah! That's where they were hiding! There were bunches of them just off the side of the path and a little while later I came back with my camera to take pictures. One of the things that made it hard to find them were all of the leaves covering them up. I kept my eyes open for curious lumps in the piles of leaves I saw and often revealed a wonderful prize underneath with a careful brushing. When I take pictures of mushrooms, I do a lot of preparation beforehand. I remove anything I can that obscures or detracts, especially from the background. All it takes is one stem behind a subject to totally ruin an otherwise lovely bokeh, so I'm fastidious about making the scene as tidy as possible. I've learned though that taking time beforehand will make it much easier when I'm processing the image later. The mushrooms I found at John Stewart were almost all hiding under leaves and I wanted to share that experience if I could. As I uncovered them and cleaned up each scene, I tried to keep a leaf or two exactly where it was if it enhanced the image. As I revealed this mushroom, I got a huge smile on my face. Cuddled against it was a partially disintegrated black oak leaf. Wearing this leafy cloak of courage, the brave little mushroom turned to peer up at me and my huge, imposing camera. It watched curiously as I cleared the area, carefully pulling bits of grass and twigs out of the way. I cooed gently to soothe its trembling when I reached down to remove a bit of dirt from its head. The warm sound of my voice must have been strange but it relaxed and appeared to be happy now. There! Everything was just perfect and I crawled backwards to compose and capture a set of images. While I clicked my way through apertures, I thought about the nice time I had taking these pictures of mushrooms. So many different kinds, sizes and neat groupings. As I gazed back at the darling mushroom and its little leaf, I knew this was my favorite one of all. Today's Insets and Final Thoughts about Photography at Joseph Stewart The fun subjects never ended as I wandered around…the first inset looks a lot like a cluster of grapes but it's actually a dried bunch of flowers on a bush, magnificently lit up in the autumn sunshine. I was so happy to get the chance to get some fall pictures because I didn't go out on any seasonal photo shoots. I had hoped there would be some nice pictures to find at Joseph Stewart and I sure did hit pay dirt! You will see lots of leaves that I liked (including one sitting next to the water hookup valve at our site), another colorful meadow scene, a pine cone, and even a stump that was totally covered with lovely bracket fungus! I didn't spend too much time with my camera while we were at the park--perhaps an hour at most?--and yet, look at all of the wonderful things I found. What fun it was to relax and melt into my passion. :) Pam, I'm hoping that you're feeling better today…I know you said it's been very painful after your procedure. Wishing for a day of comfort and anticipation for the next steps in your recovery! *BIG HUGS* :) Explored on 12/04/19; highest placement #2.