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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Wild By Nature: Guest Blog by my daughter, Chelsea Sorenson, with her photographs

A guest blog by my daughter, photographer Chelsea Sorenson, Wild By Nature Photography, including a small selection of the thousands of photographs she took on our visit to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks last week.

Chelsea at the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River (photo by WildDakotaWoman)
Last Christmas, I asked my mom to take me to Yellowstone National Park for my upcoming vacation, because when you're a kid, being 'dragged around' Yellowstone National Park multiple times, you don't appreciate it, and you have to go back as an adult. Especially when you enjoy photography as much as me. Thus it was that we spent the past week there.

I'm normally a night-owl, but it was worth going to bed early and getting up early to beat the crowds. I was rewarded with multiple grizzly bear sightings, lots of yellow-bellied marmots, Trumpeter Swans (new bird for me), an American Three-toed Woodpecker (another new bird for me), and lots of other wildlife, including wolves, elk, Canada Geese, pikas, mountain goats, and more. Another highlight was the busy Great Blue Heron rookery we located on the banks of the Yellowstone River in the Hayden Valley.

Although I wasn't much interested in seeing the thermal features on this trip, a special treat was getting to see Steamboat Geyser spouting (it erupted at 2 a.m. the day we were in the area of the Norris Geyser Basin so we stopped). Steamboat is the largest geyser in the park and "when it erupts, it can rocket a column of scalding water 90-120 meters in the air--two to three times the average height of Old Faithful. Odds are against witnessing this drama, however, since Steamboat's major eruptions occur 4 days to 50 years apart," according to the NPS signage at the geyser. We made the obligatory stop at Old Faithful on the day someone was thrown by a bison and were not the least bit surprised at this news given the amount of stupid behavior we witnessed especially around the wildlife.

We also made a day trip to Grand Teton National Park, where I spent a week years ago when I was in grade school attending Teton Science School. Although both parks are crowded this time of year, we found many places of relative solitude for picnics and hikes.

The long drive was well worth it and I already miss the cool temperatures of the mountains.

High-res versions of my photographs are available for purchase. You can also follow my work on Facebook at Wild By Nature Photography.

My first mountain goat sighting, on the Beartooth Pass

Yellow-bellied marmot


Trumpeter Swans, Hayden Valley

Hayden Valley at dawn

Lower Yellowstone Falls

Three sleepy bachelor elk

Grizzly at Dawn near Fishing Bridge

Canada Goslings, Yellowstone Lake

Saturday, July 20, 2019


I was in grade school, living in El Paso, where my father was a drill sergeant at Fort Bliss, the summer of the moon landing and walk, fifty years ago. Fifty years!

Like most everyone else, we avidly watched the TV coverage, on a little black & white TV in our living room. Life Magazine was always on our coffee table, with its extensive coverage of the Apollo and other missions. We drank Tang and watched "I Dream of Jennie." We listened to AM radio and my father's reel-to-reel player. 

My family frequently visited nearby White Sands Missile Range (as well as White Sands National Monument), and when I see film clips of Wernher van Brauhn there with the missiles, it takes me back to those days. I remember being a tad bored with the missile displays, and eager to get to the sand dunes.

My paternal grandparents visit us from Mississippi. I'm in blue. Don't I look bored?

Me, second from left, with my siblings, at White Sands National Monument, 1960s

My science teacher in 1969 had a brother working in Houston in the space program so I've always felt that as her student I had a special window into that world. Certainly, Texans were especially proud of Houston at that moment in history.

As the 50th-anniversary approached, there have been many excellent documentaries on the topic. I would highly recommend the three-parter on PBS' "American Experience" -- Chasing the Moon -- the best of the bunch.

Tonight, I'm going to gather with friends for a party to celebrate the moon landing, an idea I cooked up. Phase One of the fĂȘte will be a garden party with 60s appetizers at Red Oak House, and for Phase Two, the potluck, we will all move to another house where they have a more clear view of the sky.

What are your Apollo memories?

Friday, July 5, 2019

I Painted the House, Past Tense

Well, I did it. I painted Red Oak House, including two doors and some trim. It is the first (and I'll bet last) house I've painted. It is a very big house, with two extremely tall sides. We should have rented scaffolding, but Jim held the tall ladder when I reached to the very tops and there were no major falls. All along I listened to the wise counsel of my good friend, Linda Suchy, who told me "move the ladder, don't reach too far." I have a great sense of accomplishment and my body is tired. We are thrilled with the results.

I'm ready to enjoy the rest of the summer now and watch my daylilies bloom!

This was the shorter of the two ladders