Did It Ever Happen to You?

Remember I mentioned my scouting trip to Allegheny State Park. Well, Allegheny State Park is two hours away from Niagara Falls, and not the most fun car ride either.

But let’s back up a bit to before I left the house.

I was all excited because it is almost on the Pennsylvania border and I was expecting mountains, lakes, forests, vast meadows, big boulders, beaches and views. Kinda like the promo info shows.

I love nature, but am not quite so interested in the ‘camping in a tent’ aspect. I guess most visitors come with campers, but I still like a warm, soft, safe bed. But this is a day trip, so no buggy fears of an overnight stay on cold, damp ground.

Big Bear at the Buffalo Zoo, does it not look like a friendly bear?

Any wildlife that wants to stop for a photo is very welcome to make my day. Maybe not a bear or cougar, but wildlife a bit more weary of me.

Little Chipmunk at the Niagara Gorge.

Any wonder why no bears and cougars? I was almost face to face with both Pennsylvania inhabitants when younger. Pretty scary and I almost was a cougar’s dinner, but thanks to my trusty, very fast horse, we got to see another bright sunny day. Barely though, as I was riding a trail… we came upon said cougar perched in a tree.

My horse sensed it rather than saw it and was so incredibly scared. He snorted, spun and ran like I never felt him run before. When we got back to the ranch, he broke through the wooden gate with all his might. He could jump, but didn’t for some reason. He did not stop running until he hit his barn. I was hanging on for dear life since I was riding him bareback.

He was half Arab and half Thoroughbred, a very fast steed. We lost the cougar as soon as it jumped down from the tree, but the horse never knew this. It was not like he would have listened to me either. He was determined to get away at all cost.

Big bear at the zoo.

The bear, well, that was all my fault. I was out flushing pheasants for a friend hunting on his private property when I heard rustling in a bush. I run over to the bush thinking pheasants were going to take flight. What pops out of the brush, but a baby black bear. Lucky me, mom was nowhere around. Neither was my friend with the shotgun either, so that could have ended badly too.

So I am envisioning pretty scenery as I think about a trip to the State Park without those large meat hungry mammals.

Ducks swimming on the water, raptors flying in the air, nothing earth shattering or very eventful. What do you do when planning a nice day of shooting iconic scenery and interesting wildlife?

You plan, right? So I rushed around the house gathering up things for a long drive. I grabbed some Snapple Diet Tea, a tasty sandwich, a few snacks, got out my hiking boots, bug spray, map, directions, camera bag with camera, a couple of useful lenses, plus some camera paraphernalia, and double checked the Jeep for gas and tire pressure (they were low too).

Madagascar Cockroach in Delevan, NY

Set up the GPS driving directions so my favorite lady can direct my Jeep on the shortest route. Of course she saved a whopping five minutes over my Map Quest route. Yup, ready to roll.

See the fence?  This is a beautiful pet deer at the farm. This link has other animals that you might find at the farm also.

Two hours later I am at my destination. I get the camera out of the bag, affix the 400mm lens and start my hike. After a short walk, what comes in my view finder, but a nice sized, many point  buck. Hooray, for once I have on the 400mm, the right lens for the long shot. I even had the camera set for the bright golden, grassed field I was shooting the day before. The camera is on continuous mode in case the buck darts. That’s right, ready as new bride to walk down the aisle.

See the ear tag? Pet deer.

There my buck stood frozen, bathed in the golden afternoon light, beautifully backlit in the frame of my view finder. A nice profile view, just like in the nature magazines.

Snap. Snap, snap, snap, snap. What the???… nothing is happening. I stop for a second to quickly and stupidly remember that I left the three memory cards at home, one still in the card reader. My camera holds two cards, so couldn’t I have left just one in the camera, seriously? Noooo such luck.

Fall is coming!

Yes folks, this is not even the first time I did this stupid thing. And before, it was a similar circumstance, with a hawk as my prized capture.

Red Tailed Hawk

With the hawk, at least I was not two hours from home though. So I guess the importance of checking everything did not sink in from that previous misfortune. I am lucky I don’t photograph for my work. Can you imagine if I was doing it for scientific reasons and forgot the cards?  A missed opportunity would be critical.

I learned a valuable lesson, of course the hard way. But out of adversity comes some benefit. It gave me a chance to put the camera away and just enjoy. To see without expectation. To relax without necessity. To find peace without hurried anxiety.

Often, we think too much about what is going through the lens and not through the rest of our senses. Not everybody gets to see a big buck grazing or another hiding in the brush. Not many stop to smell the country fresh air or hear the rustle of the fallen leaves.

There you are big boy, hiding in the brush. I do see them on occasion running free as the wind or hiding inconspicuously.

Some of the images seen in this post could have been in Allegheny, but I had no opportunity to photograph. It is also not like these images would be much different anywhere else or at any other location. Unfortunately, it was different to me and a hugely missed opportunity for fresh new photos.

Stampeding Cows in Delevan, NY.

Luckily this was my reconnaissance mission and I will return for the Fall leaves. This is one mistake that I WILL NOT MAKE AGAIN. Trust me, the new cards are bought and in the bag ready to roll. You can’t have too many camera cards.

Don’t run off like my bovine stampede above. Coming up is the photos from my photographer’s shoot in Delevan, NY, an hour and fifteen minutes away from the Falls.

The Red Tailed Hawk in this post is one of the images from the shoot with my Photography club. You have to see the scenery at this place too. It is a gorgeous property.

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About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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44 Responses to Did It Ever Happen to You?

  1. I’ll do you one better. Judy and I once made a day trip to a state park with our first kid, then a toddler. When we strapped him in, we left Judy’s camera on the care roof. We left it there as we drove off. A guy was following us in his care honking his horn. We would look at each other and roll our eyes: jeez, what a jerk. We let him pull up, and he told us that Judy’s camera had flown off the roof of our car. It was never to be seen again.

  2. Deborah - d.mooncrab says:

    Nevertheless, you tell a good adventure. I can’t wait for your next one.

  3. Love this post, animal photo’s are lovely.

  4. Donna – You are going to go into shock. I have only one card and it doesn’t even have much memory. I’ve pulled it out of the camera so many times that the back side of it is kinda squashed. Have a feeling it’s going to bite the dust before long because of the squishing.

  5. Indie says:

    Oh, no! I have forgotten the memory card a couple times, but never for the loss of such grand shots! That is crazy that you saw a cougar. We had bears around sometimes growing up in Alaska, but the only cougar story I’ve heard before is the one in one of the Little House on the Prairie books. Ever since reading that one, I am now permanently terrified of them!

    • I actually did not see the cougar but heard it in the tree. The story is really long, but here is a piece more of it.

      When we got back to the ranch and told the ranch hand, he immediately set up a search party for it, and also called the PA wildlife agency who came right away. The animal was routinely killing foals at night and had to be removed or relocated. They went to where we (I was with another girl on her horse) said we heard the tree limb fall, and took casts of the tracks. It was a huge animal and I did see it eventually after capture. They killed it rather than tranquilized it. Knowing it was too comfortable around people and had no compunction to make one of us dinner, they had to kill it.

      It was waiting for us to ride under the tree so it could pounce. But since we never got that far because the horses sensed it, the cougar hurriedly jumped down from the tree to commence chase. It knocked down the huge branch below – what we heard. I am sure they are fast, but there was too great a distance between us and it that the horses easily out ran it. I think maybe that it was counting on the horse dropping one of us.

  6. That photo of the hidden deer is really pretty, melts my heart. =>

  7. Oh no! I have never forgotten the memory card but I have forgotten my battery which at the end of the day is the same result…no photos! I agree that sometime we are so focused on capturing photos that we don’t enjoy with our other senses. I have a really hard time putting my camera away so it is only situations like these that I can enjoy the scenery away from the lens. Your wildlife shots are fantastic! And, your encounter with the cougar and bear are heart pounding!

    • I can remember both wildlife encounters so fresh in my mind. I am like a magnet for critters for some reason. I have more close encounters to tell too. One was with a very long boa in the mountains of Costa Rica. That was another lucky save by a fast moving truck too.

  8. I have not forgotten the card and gone far…just in the back yard. But I regularly run out of battery life when I am just ready to grab a pic of an opportunity. Of course my card fills and I have no back up…you would think I would learn to buy a backup card or one with more memory. Amazing but very scary encounter with wildlife. I love the hawk photo!

  9. Oh, Donna, I feel your pain. I now have a very detailed list of everything I need to take on a photo shoot, which starts out, “camera, card, battery, battery charger.”

    • I had a list too!. But I almost always put the cards back in the camera immediately, so did not think I would leave them. Since I did it twice now, I need to ADD them to my list. I never forget the battery because the camera weighs so much less without it.

      You should have come to Delevan. Only eight came. The property was gorgeous with wildflowers. Goldenrod, asters… and the owls were incredible creatures.

  10. Donna, I have my own horror story from pre-digital-camera days. When I was in the Navy my “ship came in” (literally) to New York Harbor for 2 days of R & R. I had a new 35 mm camera; spent several hours shooting a whole roll of film; and then went to put in a new roll. The first roll had never advanced out of the spool! I was sick! I learned (the hard way) that I had to turn the lever several times after I fed the roll onto the take-up spool to make sure it was secure. i still ended up with a whole slide show from the NYC stop, but I hate to think of “the ones that got away.”

    • I have done that too by accident! Like you, I only recovered a portion of the roll. But at least they were not once in a lifetime images. Did you get to take the camera on the Navy boat, or did they not allow that? With cell phones with cameras now a days, I bet they are not allowed for security reasons.

      • I WAS allowed to have the camera on ship and took about 500 slides during our trip to Vietnam and back. I can’t imagine that servicemen would not be allowed to have cell phones, unless they are at a super-secret installation, and there they would be screened for Top-Secret clearance, so it might not even be an issue there. (The ease of SENDING digital photos from a phone might be a problem, though.)

        • That is interesting on letting cell phones on Navy boats. I figured they would be a security risk. I bet your images of Vietnam are really amazing. I had a pen pal from Thailand who sent me photos of the architecture and landscape. It is so different in culture in these places around the world. Not many that blog show much from their country. I guess it would be more so on the travel blogs.

          • All I saw of Vietnam was its shoreline as a distant horizon. All of my slides (from the trip over and back) are from the Panama Canal, Hawaii, Midway, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan. In Navy terms it was a WestPac (Western Pacific) cruise. As you say, though, so many different cultures!

  11. Barbie says:

    Best thing sometimes is just to sit back and enjoy! The camera can distract us sometimes – but thanks for the visuals. I LOVE them always!!

    • The camera limits what we see to a small frame of the total image. It pays to look in all directions because the action is not always right in front of the camera. Sometimes turning around there is something much more interesting.

  12. Emily Heath says:

    Thanks for the fab photos! Loved the stories too!

  13. To make such a trip without a memory card in your camera…oh no!! It is nice to just take in life around you without trying to capture it ‘on film’. With our daughter’s wedding I took some pictures that afternoon, and then enjoyed the ceremony and reception…participated in the event instead of behind the camera. Sometimes you just have to put the camera down.
    Your cougar/horse story is scary…poor horse to be so frightened. And the baby bear??? Geez!! My heart would still be pounding.

  14. Grace says:

    I’m sorry you didn’t have your memory cards but now you know. Your earlier photos are amazing.

  15. Yes, it’s happened to me, too, Donna. So I always carry a spare card in my camera case. Problem is I sometimes forget the camera case! Just wait until you are my age. Fabulous pics as always. P. x

  16. HolleyGarden says:

    I seem to run out of camera battery at the most inopportune times. I really should get an extra battery, but then I would have to remember to charge it, too!

  17. Marisa says:

    I had a similar experience the weekend before last. I was presenting at a conference in exotic Lombok (Indonesia) and decided to recharge my battery at work before I left, but I left the battery in the recharger on my desk. I was so desperate to take photos, I ducked out of the conference while they were doing team building activities, caught a cab to the nearest big town, and bought a new point and shoot camera.

  18. Your time as a youth sounds fascinating. I am finding it hard to remember everything I need for a trip. I do bring batteries for my camera and I download all photos onto my computer then delete the photos from my camera. On long trips, I bring an extra memory card. With all this technology there seems a lot more to remember. Maybe that is helping us keep our brains healthy. – http://mary-goingnative.blogspot.com/

  19. Ha-ha. Once we made the same. We set out for the photo session and when start make a photos found out that one of the cameras has no memory card at all but only internal memory – for two shots. Ha- ha-ha 🙂
    Lucky we always have at least two cameras with us.

    • I often bring two cameras too so I don’t have to change lenses in the field. But I was going to a place I did not know, and was not taking the chance on getting my cameras stolen. I was not with my husband on this trip.

  20. Well, life sometimes has a way of making us choose the better stuff even when we’re prepared to do something we’re convinced is so worthwhile. Good to know you had a good day even without those camera cards.

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