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.
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).
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.
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.
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.