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Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower
Missouri Buttes + Devil's Tower

Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

The Exposed Volcanic Necks in this image are all related in space and time. Once deeply buried volcanic conduits to the surface. Each of the 4 peaks stands eroded at the surface. These pipes carried magma to the surface as lava/ash in four volcanos popping off at the surface . The rock we see here froze solid in that neck and cooled. We know this was deep as the column of rock in the Devils Tower cooled very slowly allowing the columns of rock the National Monument is famous for. Being our nations first national Monument is the moniker that Devil’s Tower and surround area carry. Wyoming and all that

Being 40 miles away from the tow and the buttes somewhat closer, this becomes a terribly long shot to actually be able to resolve the columns on the tower. There is SOME columnar jointing in the Missouri Buttes. Emplaced closely in time and space does not say they were coterminous in their eruptions. . We don’t know their exact schedule.

Phenolitic Porphyry is the name of the rock. It cooled into big 6 foot in diameter crystals up the length of the tower. I used one of several possibilities all related to volcanic activity to describe the tower as volcanic necks. There are multiple configurations and possible variations in this discussion I won’t get into here but feel free to google devils tower origin to discover more.

Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, NE Campbell Country

Title: Missouri Buttes + Devil’s Tower

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Sunrise Side Show Borderland

Sunrise Side Show Borderland
Sunrise Side Show Borderland

Sunrise Side Show Borderland

Geologic Musings.

Here I stand in Wyoming and am imaging across the Montana/Wyoming Border looking at the “Mud Hills” about 10 miles distant in Montana. The intervening valley shows the erosive power of little “Ranch Creek”. Ranch creek is about 10 feet wide when its flowing. This drainage removed all that sediment covering the horizon OFF where I’m currently standing exposing the dinosaur fossils in the older rocks. This is the country I call “Wyotana”.

Our Ranch, totally covered by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Formation differs from the distant hills. . I stand on the famous that dinosaur fossil bearing Cretaceous sandstone. . The distant “Mud Hills” are younger rocks. The sediments composing them were deposited AFTER the dinosaur died. All deposited in the Tertiary after the Big Horn Mountain Uplift to the west.. The Big Horns provided the sediments composing those hills. T All the way from the Big Horn Mountains over 140 miles distant to our west. Those alluvial fans totally covered this ranch . During some years past, they have been totally eroded from my place and are gone. Carried down the drainage one grain at a time. . ‘

Residual Wood. We do find occasional chunks of a particular type of petrified wood that is “residual” from rock layers above that have been removed. This wood is not native to the Hell Creek/Lance formation. We find random chunks laying here and there… isolated. This wood is VERY hard like quartz and survives when everything else breaks down into sand grains. That wood falls as the rocks below turn to sand and wash away from below them. Thus “Residual” wood, left over from formations no longer above us but we find it here and there.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Sunrise Side Show Borderland

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Icy Wolf Moon Set

Icy Wolf Moon Set
Icy Wolf Moon Set

Icy Wolf Moon Set (Super Blood Wolf Moon for 2020)

Native Americans called the January Moon, the “Wolf Moon” primarily because this full moon occurs in the dead of winter. It’s cold, the ground is frozen, and the prey pickings are slim. Wolves were hungry during this time thus plaintively howled at the moon, their calls frighteningly echoing in villages.

A few definitions that apply to this moon….

A Supermoon is one when the moon is at perigee (closest to the earth on it’s elliptical orbit). The moon looks particularly large because it is lol.

Blood Moon, Blood moons historically have actually had blood shed under them unfortunately. This has indeed influenced the course of history. The Blood red this month described from the Lunar Eclipse coincident this Super moon. I did not have a photographic window to the eclipse.😔

Syzyge (SiZ-i jee) … what a wonderful scrabble word. It’s a nifty occurrence though. Conjunctions of 3 celestial objects (sun, earth moon) is an alignment in a straight line). A solar or lunar eclipse when all three are aligned is Syzyge

Perigee syzgy… the moon is at perigee AND there is syzygy happening, aligning with the Earth and Sun, It’s termed perigee syzygy, AKA Supermoon.

Now you know as much as I do about the Wolf Moon this year. All my images are posted about a week after they are taken so this posts the 18th, taken the morning of the 10th. It’s as fast as I can get to new images posted these days as I write these narratives right at a week ahead of their posting. (currently). Keeping up producing 6 finished fine art images a day is a bit of a chore but I am keeping up lolol. 📷📷🤘

Title: Icy Wolf Moon Set

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Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise
Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

Ranchers work hard in the summer often cutting several square mile fields of grass. The result is to gather hundreds of these 1200 pound Bales into piles. “Hay stacks” literally or more precisely, Stacked Round Bales. . I’ve seen some fairy prodigious heaps of grass before. Large Tractors with grapple buckets pile these three high. There is a LOT of hay in this “stack”. Several local ranchers (you know who you are) just raise grass, some just cattle and most raise both. There are not a lot of sheep herders up here in the high country that I’ve noticed. I know there are sheep operations around the area but most of the ones I know are down in the river valleys.

This was late in the year and the sun was far right of this almost perfect east/west trending Hay Stack. As the winter fades, the sun will slowly rise further and further to the left. Each day it moves a little more to the north as we orbit around the sun.

The green biodegradable netting around the hay is cut away before feeding the bale. We currently have our Herd of 34 corriente corralled and I’m feeding bales. Feeding a bale every 2-3 days, the Corriente Longhorns patiently wait for me to pull it off the bale. I always have to turn my back on them to do it so some day I may get got. 👀😵 Once I’m gone, all heck breaks loose and the pecking order slowly takes over. Everybody eventually gets their fill lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Perspective Hay Bale Sunrise

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Hoar Frost Red Light

Hoar Frost Red Light
Hoar Frost Red Light

Hoar Frost Red Light (Full Screen is really a nice way to view with this image).

RIght at sunrise when the light from the sun is colorcast markedly red, any scene with hoar frost reacts vividly. Here on this high ridge with an infinite view to the horizon 100 miles away. This, the same light that makes the Pink “Belt of Venus”. Also responsible for the Red lIghting on distant hills these long traveled rays. Ultimately reflected to my lens. All pink is sky images are reflecting this very light. Those long red rays are going through the most atmosphere. The really bound off the bright white frost flowers and crystals. Catching it digitally is another thing 📷🤔

This scene is produced here to the same colors I experienced that morning. It’s as close as I can do it. Note how the snow in the shadows is grey/white .(natural) While the sunlit pure white frost turns into a nearly fiber optic pink projector screen.

Exposed surfaces to the wind were coated here by 3/4 of an inch of hoar frost. The north side of trees, grass interrupted the air flow of moisture laden air. This changed the “Triple Point” (good google word along water vapor). The Hoar frost growth is ice forming simply by moist air flowing over objects where a SLIGHT pressure change from the turbulence causes deposition of the ice. It’s crystal growth live real time that I’ve watched happening real time during several trips up on the ridges. I have gone up in terrible foggy cold weather to work the flat light before a time or two lol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Hoar Frost Red Light

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Winter Grass and Shadows

Winter Grass and Shadows
Winter Grass and Shadows

Winter Grass and Shadows

So the question arises is this beach sand or snow. It’s not hard to tell with out the low winter sun casting long shadows across the snow surface.

I love divergent shadows on snow. High contrast environments paired with really wide lenses show the divergence much better than lenses less so. I really like to think like a mouse when I set these shots up. Literally I imagine what it looks like down there and realize there is a possibility for divergent shadows. I will chase those and work with the sunset to compose the image. Stark was my point here.

Winter’s grip is firm here currently with a good amount of snow concentrated off the sides of the ridges. Where clumps of grass, sage or Yucca plants rise above ground level, snow accumulates in 3 foot high drifts. Our driveway has inches of glaze ice on it currently. I resort to walking around with ice cleats on my boots in the backcountry. They keep me off my A** walking as much as I do along the ridges. There are a lot of spots with very tricky footing.

Some deer obviously came by and took off all the seed heads of this grass patch. Cattle never made it to this spot this year so it was wildlife doing the grazing. I’m already having deer start to eat the hay bales we have piled up to feed the Corriente Herd. Ranchers feed a LOT of wildlife in our activities.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Winter Grass and Shadows

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Drifts Through the Discs

Drifts Through the Discs
Drifts Through the Discs

Drifts Through the Discs

I’m pretty sure that light can not get “flatter” than this but I could be wrong. What I love about this image is the huge number of grey’s there are resultant from that matte screen. This was pretty far away from the gravel / county road out to the ranch bone yard. The drifts between the plowed road and this old plow are numerous and sometimes high and wide. Short Drifts you can punch through, Wide drifts you go around or you get stuck lol

The Ranches “Bone Yard” is a small patch of ground populated with disused antique farm equipment, good scrap metals and old stuff generally. Some of it is serviceable, some of it is not. A little welding here/there, then a tractor and your discing with anything that will pull the thing. There are many spare parts out in the boneyard.

I spent a month one year cleaning it up of mostly wood and old tires which are now buried in a building materials only landfill. It’s taken full trailers of steel from long times past from that boneyard when steel scrap was worth something. I’d get 400 – 500 dollars a load or scrap steel back in the day. There are still a LOT of equipment there that no doubt traces it’s history back to the beginning of the ranch. 100 years of accumulation leaves some interesting stuff lol. I’m thinking that every ranch of any size and length of ownership has a similar “Bone Yard”.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Drifts Through the Discs

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Perspective Warm Deer Bed

Perspective Warm Deer Bed
Perspective Warm Deer Bed

Perspective Warm Deer Bed

A Close/Far perspective from the viewpoint of a deer bedded on the forest floor. Under the shelter of the old growth pines, the deer would be safe from any snow that would be falling short of blowing snow. . The forest litter was varied and haphazardly dispersed around the bottom of the old growth. All under control of wind/water and gravity. Other Deer beds were nearby where the pine needles gathered in quantity. Evidence of cattle is present and causes one to be careful where you lay down to take such a capture.

There are thousands of little areas of “zen” around. It’s a matter of seeing/finding them. Capturing them is a little harder but this kind of perspective is actually kind of rare from me. I usually wait until it’s snowy to do images as this. I might go find this very spot again under white conditions with a sunset. Many of the great masters would paint the same scene over and over again under different conditions. I’ll never be a great master but I’m willing to travel in their paths.

We call these high ridges that I work photographically, “Little Siberia” which is appropriate as we usually have snow when others around us living lower don’t. We get some good winds up this high. I’ve had a recorded 78mph gust here back in 2012 I think. We get 60mph winds several times a summer. It’s natures way of tree trimming in the backcountry. Now it’s just plain cold lolol.

2×3 Aspect Ratio to 3 feet.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Perspective Warm Deer Bed

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Long Wheel Shadows Sunset

Long Wheel Shadows Sunset
Long Wheel Shadows Sunset

Long Wheel Shadows Sunset

With the weather getting a little colder here mid-winter, I love crunching out through crusted snow. Crusted snow is a hard surface on top of softer snow underneath. I typically fall through somewhere 

This is dry high ridge country here in the borderlands of Wyoming / Montana . The location several miles into the backcountry of this 4000 foot in elevation ridge. In this area, occurred a fire that burned all summer during the 1930’s. That fire didn’t go out until the snows fell in the fall. This obviously changed the landscape from a heavily forested pine grove into a more open landscape. Prior to human habitation, wildfires were always burning unchecked across North America. Then it got worse because native Americans did a LOT of burning to open up the deep woodlands. A grassland/forest mix is good for the wildlife. And they knew it. Pretty much right up until maybe 100 years ago.🤔

Random backcountry captures happen because of paying dues and paying homage to that which is in control of the backcountry. Rinse and repeat many times so you will increase the opportunity for photographically interesting encounters. You have to be there with a camera in your hand to get some of those moments in space and time. They are fleeting, you often only have moments to capture them before the light changes. The more you carry a camera (s) around, the more cool captures your going to get. 📷 I do actual photography every day if I have ANY light worthy of chasing. I knew this antique seeder was on the prairie, I never knew it would throw shadows like this in December / January. 

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Long Wheel Shadows Sunset

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Crescent Moon Over Deer

Crescent Moon Over Deer
Crescent Moon Over Deer

Crescent Moon Over Deer

Scenery such as this under the crescent moon takes my breath away. Surrounded by the quickening of the sunrise projecting it’s pink light. The ice so suspended in the atmosphere reflects those long traveled photons back to my light traps. This is termed Alpenglow. “Belt of Venus” variety. Cameras do no justice to the cool air on your face, the quiet of the remoteness, the sense of being the only human for miles in all directions. This photo location is about as close to the middle of nowhere as you can get. It’s 50 miles to anywhere with a population over 10. There are WAY more deer per square mile up here than people.

On a road trip up here in the winter high country consists of slick roads followed by short jaunts off the gravel. Two tracks roads are unpredictable as to snow depth so I tread carefully getting off road. Stuck in the snow is not something I’ve ever been. It’s not my plan to ever do so. I carry a LOT of survival gear, a good radio, folks generally know where I’m going ahead of time.

With the Ford F-150 Raptor I’m driving now, I’m feel much more secure but that is probably a trap eh? … It’s got at least 6 inches more ground clearance than my old jeep. (famous last words) So I’ll keep being choosy upon my trails and stick to the smart choices depending on the weather I guess…

Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)

Title: Crescent Moon Over Deer

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Twilight Crimson Drive Home

Twilight Crimson Drive Home
Twilight Crimson Drive Home

Twilight Crimson Drive Home

Some of the Post-sunrise evening drives to return home I take to get set up in beautiful locations I have photographed earlier. . This ColorCast evening was colorful icing on the surface of the ice and snow reflecting it’s qualities to my lens. This is a twilight sky after sunrise.

Civil Twilight begins about 28 minutes before sunrise or ends 28 minutes after sunset. It is that period from when the sun is about 6 degrees below the horizon. On clear days you can do normal outside activities that require light. That solar elevation angle below the horizon defines each twilight phase. CIvil Twilight is by far the brightest of the three twilights.

Nautical Twilight starts when the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon technically. Both the Horizon AND brighter stars/planets are visible in this twilight. It is the “middle” of the three twilights. At the beginning of Nautical twilight, it’s about one hour to sunrise. Rule of thumb which varies with your position on the globe, is 28 minutes each twilight.

In Astronomical Twilight, If you live in the city, you have probably never noticed astronomic twilight. The are NO shimmers of daylight at the beginning of Astronomic Twilight a full hour and a half before sunrise. . Away from the lights of population centers, we see Astronomic Twilight regularly where there is just a slight greying of the black totally dark sky mid night. It gets as dark here on our ranch in remote northeastern Wyoming as the North Atlantic Ocean according to NASA.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Twilight Crimson Drive Home

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BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait
BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

View from up on Ridge one here on ranch. The window to the Big Horns is IFFY this time of year from this far away. My truck/tripod is 130 miles out for this capture off the highest point around the place. The timing on this was mid-Civil Twilight

Full Screen is a good choice for this. Twilight over the BigHorns this night was so obviously gorgeous. I had to resort to a short time exposure to catch it. The timing on this sunset is very late in Civil Twilight.

Civil Twilight after sunset ends about 28 minutes after the sun goes down 8 degrees under the horizon. It’s usually the best time to get those crimson and yellow skies. The yellow is Alpenglow. Atmospheric Ice causes this phenomena caused by refracted light passing through. Only the red wavelengths which have survived through hundreds of miles of atmosphere light the cloud deck.

The long lenses I use crush the perspective of distance. I’m almost always using telephotos to bring in just the BigHorn Mountains filing the whole frame. It takes about a 800 mm long focal length to fill the camera frame side to side with the tallest part of the range. The black ridge at the bottom is 40 miles out. The clouds behind the range are around 200 miles out I would suspect. The distance is hard to put into proper frame. Those 13000 feet high mountains appear smaller than the thumb on my outstretched arm from here.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

BigHorn Mountains Twilight Portrait

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Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive
Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

When I try to read the morning as to whether or not to go out, I get about 70 percent good choices. This was a good morning. Once I decide to go out 30 minutes or so before sunrise, I have to decide where to go. I usually try to follow the light so I chose to take a road trip. There are few places up high that are accessible in the winter (sometimes more accessible than others).

Hoar frost covered this ridge that morning. Covering the left side of all the pines. Covered were any objects that disrupted air flow. The down wind side of the trees had little to no Hoar frost. Taken 5 minutes Pre-sunrise, this Alpenglow Back Show was a sight to behold for me. I don’t see many “Belt of Venus” this intense. Ice as a projector screen becomes efficient with so much of it in the atmosphere. The colorcast in the snow testifies to the reflected lights intensity. I don’t post much colorcast snow if it didn’t actually exist at the time. I mostly produce images in a “Blue Snow Free Zone”.

If you haven’t already, look up the term “Belt of Venus” as it is a fixture up here in the Winter. In season, almost every visible sun/horizon crossing up here has some pink alpenglow in the backshow. I’ve even seen it during the summer as well but for some reason, there seems to be less ice in the air during the summer.🤔😜 When there is ice, it usually falls as hail lolol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Alpenglow Frosty Backcountry Drive

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Embracing the Sun

Embracing the Sun
Embracing the Sun

Embracing the Sun

This is a wonderful place in the world. I’m standing there on this toe of a long ridge with 130 mile long views across all those other ridges and ranges of Mountains. The air is crisp, a good breeze cutting into the chinks in my weather armor. Your fingers get cold working metal cameras and lenses. 

These pines were enjoying the last of their bath in the late day mid-winter sunlight. One even hugged the celestial object with affection but you have to keep a little distance from that hot old thing… 

This high backcountry ridge shows you clearly the parallel ridges I work photographically every day. Working the shadow line gives you amazing opportunities for photographic compositional creativity. Little areas of Zen are everywhere. I walk long distances up in the trees as it keeps me healthy. All I have to do is avoid falling on my A**. Now that has happened more than a few times. Usually when I’m looking through a camera and moving at the same time. A piece of sage brush is usually the culprit. An occasional stray piece of barbed wire mixed in brush can also mess up your day lolol. 

Ridge tops exposed to wind become scoured of snow. All the while, surrounding hill slopes become buried by wind driven powder.. At these low temperatures snow in the deep gullies under trees is still fresh. The snow on the ridge tops exposed to bright sun becomes crusty/icy. Traveling in the backcountry during mid winter is wrought with pitfalls. Low areas drift over concealing the threat to stick the rig your riding on. My old Jeep avoided snow deep enough to stick it over it’s 15 year tenure . 

Location: Bliss Dinoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Embracing the Sun

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Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders

Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders
Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders

Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders

Trees growing out of large boulders are always a photographic target . Particularly with a LOT trees growing out of boulders. On the crest of this backcountry ridge, this is a sand tube area where sand was compressed into an elongated sphere early on when it was first buried but still soft and wet. This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone which routinely flows around internally a bit like soft putty. Sort of like squeezing a tooth paste tube. . This leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy as they resist weathering better than the material around them.

Deposited in the Cretaceous era about 66 million years old as an age. That lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it. This boulder is way out there remote. Not a lot of people have been to this spot. I see wonderful sunsets from here.

Big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.) exists here. Called pincushion lichen by some. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming and differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Academia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀.

Perspective Snowy Backcountry Boulders

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Coyote About to Pounce

Coyote About to Pounce
Coyote About to Pounce

Coyote About to Pounce

The metadata attached to the image showed 45 degrees F. . The ice was not thick to begin with. You can see the tracks behind the canid as he trots along the shoreline. He’s right on a razors edge here…. I’m thinking that this is not a good habit for a coyote to have. Hard to argue with the image though lol. He’s just a few pounds from breaking right through to the lake below. It’s not really deep where he is but there are deeper spots around the edge of this lake.

It’s got to be easier walking than on the shore but that ice was NOT that thick. I have several captures of this fellow over several days doing this same thing. Each is unique in it’s perspective as I have several cameras covering this area. Each camera has it’s own characteristics of color and exposure based on light conditions. They are after all…automatic cameras.

I’m currently running 29 game trail cameras. It takes several trips to check them all. I usually do it while I’m actually at a location. I’ll be picking some cameras up for the winter. While others I’ll refresh the batteries and let them run all winter. I’ll check them in the spring, swap out SD cards (modern digital image storage chip). Then freshen the batteries is the final task. A good game trail camera will use 16 – 24 AA batteries a year.

18 x 18 inches square aspect.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Coyote About to Pounce

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Perspective Snow on a Deck

Perspective Snow on a Deck
Perspective Snow on a Deck

Perspective Snow on a Deck

I’m always trying to imagine things as a mouse would in my travels. My cameras don’t care if I’m taking a mouses viewpoint or mine at 6 foot. I put the camera on a plate to protect it. It was warm from being inside.

I actually don’t do a lot of architectural images, maybe 10 a year 🤔📸 Rare of the rare, I even have electric lines in this images which is certainly less probable. I never have them if I can avoid it. But I like to think I have an eye for patterns and a tendency for walking around with cameras. I’ll give in occasionally to my habits…. The two characteristics are synergistic if you have OCD as badly as I do 😜 I try to take advantage of this partnership when ever the two meet in the middle.

This phenomena was the result of a very gentle, very dry powder snow. It was like sand sifting through your fingers on that deck surface. One poof of wind and it all would have taken to drifts. AND this was about 4 inches deep for an idea of scale. The entire deck surface had this appearance. I thought I had seen most odd ball phenomena in the snows during my 3 decades living in Wyoming. I’ve never seen this phenomena before though I’d seen other photos of it. I didn’t have a deck in Jackson Hole as we had concrete there. I missed all that dry powder then where this is probably common. We are 2000 feet lower and warmer here. Snow sticks all the time to itself and covers this surface solidly.

Just not from that little mouses viewpoint.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Perspective Snow on a Deck

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Shetland Pony Full Moon

Shetland Pony Full Moon
Shetland Pony Full Moon

Shetland Pony Full Moon

There is nothing like being a short pony in a deep drift. I’ve done some ‘post holing’ in my travels lol.

It was nice of this Shetland (a local by the road fixture) to pose for me in front of the setting moon one chilly morning. Getting terrestrial objects in the same focus field as the moon is a sub-discipline of mine within the large range of photographic activities I pursue. This was of course very early after sunrise. There was some red colorcast from the atmospheric filter over my shoulder at the time. Red Light is over abundant as the air and suspended ice block out most of the shorter wavelengths.

The Celts brought the breed into the English Isles where they were bred to adapt to the harsh climate. They were first domesticated around 500BC and centered around the isolated Shetland Islands north of the Scottish Mainland. This isolation protected their genetics from more “modern” hybrid animals elsewhere. Those early horses carried a lot of coal and peat for the locals. Tough little wagon pullers they are.

Stubborn, Smart, more power to weight than a full sized horse and low to the ground too. It’s hard to argue with the design but the attitude is they aren’t sure they are small. They will train beautifully but like any horse, you have to work like heck with them and train them to accept our strange requests of them.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Shetland Pony Full Moon

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Belt of Venus Framed

Belt of Venus Framed
Belt of Venus Framed

Belt of Venus Framed

It was an Icy Alpenglow Morning right at sunrise up yonder on the ridgetops. The main show over my shoulder is usually yellow (ish) but this backshow is Pink. This pink back show is called the “Belt of Venus” which is often on going while your watching the sunrise, you miss this show. Several image from this particular morning made it through the “sieve” I use to determine which photo to work on.

Alpenglow is the result ice in the air lighting up with the bright first pink starting about 40 minutes before sunrise… and then gradients to other nearly pure primary colors to Lavender at times up high. The Blue Line UNDER the Pink is the Shadow of the earths horizon. As the sun rises that blue band shrinks eventually disappearing just as the sun rises. The red/pink will often work down on the “Red Hills in the distance enhancing their already red rocks (Clinker) with the extra colorcast.

The hoar frost covering any exposed surface made for a winter wonderlands for a photographer with time before sunrise. Hoar Frost usually forms on objects disrupting air flow. The air full of moisture under freezing conditions. DIrect condensation of that vapor from supersaturated air is greater then 100%. The formation of hoar frost is similar to the formation of regular dew with the difference that the temperature of the object on which the hoar frost forms is well below 32 degree F., whereas this is not the case with dew. Hoar frost crystals often form initially on the tips of plants and or other objects. I’ve seen vehicles, fences, tires, plants and even other icicles with Hoar Frost on them. The largest I’ve seen had frost feathers/needles almost 2 inches long.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Belt of Venus Framed

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Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset

Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset
Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset

Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset

I introduce: my new backcountry photo studio “Trail Worthy” workhorse. You locals will see me in this from now on. Please don’t shoot me…..All Black Ford with a camera or two sticking out the window…..Hopefully the animals will accept it….

I have been telling you all that I traded my 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee. That jeep earned it’s “Trail Rated” badge. I’ve been driving it around the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch and surrounding backcountry for 15 years with it. It is now out of my hands. I will miss the old truck. I will not miss the ride quality of a Jeep though. This thing rides like a dream. 35 inch studded Goodrich snow tires for the winter up here. Lots of ice around.

Having said that, that bumpy ride of my youth has mutated to this purpose built specialty truck. This is a 2020 Ford F-150 Raptor. My old jeep had a 320 Horse Power Hemi motor in it and was “quick/agile. This new truck is heavier but has over 450 Horse Power so the power to weight is familiar to me. It is WAY more agile than that jeep however. It might have some potential high center issues due to it’s length but it has full length skid plate underneath. This reduces the possibility of catching grass on fire on the catalytic converter which hangs out over 1000 degrees. Lots of fires under trucks. I’m thinking not so much here. So many crawling features, so little space here.

The only thing the new rig can’t do is squeeze between one gate on my place that the old jeep cleared by inches on either side. This truck is 8 inches wider than a standard F-150. This makes it much harder to tip over. The 360 degree camera system is novel to me. Backing up is MUCH easier. Computer controlled 14 inch travel suspension….Versus maybe 8 inch with the jeep. WOW.

The biggest upgrade here besides the amazing technology incorporated into the system, is the ability for me to actually carry a passenger. I could never do this in my Jeep as it was always full of gear. Not so much as with the securable dry storage is huge with how I configured the bed. “decked”.

I’ve been peripherally involved with 4 wheel drive. I live off road and drive trails daily. I still own 3 Jeeps after selling off my 2005 Grand Cherokee so I wont be without a smaller ride….. The local 4 wheel Drive Club makes the drive up here every few years lol. If you wish, youtube up the 2008 Peterson’s 4 Wheel Drive and Off Road “Ultimate Adventure” video. (an annual video production with 17 professional/semi-pro rig touring one day and 4 wheeling the next for a week). We were stop number 3 I believe with still images from the event here making several Front covers of that magazine’s/media company’s main publication.

Stock Vehicles usually don’t impress me. I am impressed officially to date. It is my new best friend. I have many good memories with my old friend. The king is dead long live the new king! I hope this one lasts as well as the jeep did.

Location: Remote NorthEastern Wyoming/South Eastern Montana borderlands. near the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch.

Ford Raptor Backcountry Sunset

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Wyoming Windmill Winter Wonderland

Wyoming Windmill Winter Wonderland
Wyoming Windmill Winter Wonderland

Wyoming Windmill Winter Wonderland : Last post for Windmill Wednesday Theme Day, number 6 of 6 Windmills posted around social media, Facebook and the internet. Hope you Enjoyed my theme day 🙂 Windmill Junkies are all not overdosed for a while …..

When the winter really moves in, the game changes. The familiar ground becomes blanketed with the diffuse white. It’s MUCH harder to get around. When the drifts get much over 2 foot tall, , it get’s interesting. When they get 20 foot across, that’s a problem. A big issue are low areas that collect deep snow. You can loose a pickup in those areas till spring lolol.

January is a month that has a tendency to have long periods of cold weather. A front moves down from Alaska through Montana and we are frozen like Siberia . We do see -30 some winters and -20 virtually every winter. I clean about 1 mile of driveway. Fortunately we haven’t had any snows that exceed my skid steers ability to push through. Historically they have had some big storms up here. I was told of a 15 foot drift in our current front yard. Hopefully those storms will avoid us for decades.

I am currently testing the abilities of my new ford f-150 pickup (Raptor). It doesn’t seem to care about snow yet but there is only about 6 inches of snow at the moment after the melt off a few weeks ago. I can drive anywhere at the moment except I won’t go to stupid spots where snow gets deep very quickly and is in shade so it doesn’t melt. Snow can get VERY deep there. At any rate, I’m getting around better now.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch,Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Wyoming Windmill Winter Wonderland

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Solstice Evening Geometric Sky

Solstice Evening Geometric Sky
Solstice Evening Geometric Sky

Solstice Evening Geometric Sky

Of course I immediately saw the triangle in this veiled sky taken on solstice eve. Such forms in the sky are fleeting. I levitate toward and will image natural geometry in the world as I see it. The lens turns towards the light. The veiled sky imparted an orange color cast to the alpenglow that was rife at this moment in space and time.

I managed to get up on the local roof of the world. It’s a little slippy on the slopes. I actually own a new vehicle (F-150 Raptor) with studded snow tires . I’m thinking it’s an ideal expedition/backcountry vehicle. I got up on this hill with a 4000 pound Jeep Grand Cherokee. We’ll see if the heavier Raptor will make the pilgrimage to this high point.

Slightly right center on the horizon you can see the Big Horn Mountains at 130 miles. Snow covers the ground. We definitely had a white Christmas up here in Wyotana. Actively snowing during Christmas day. This is a 50mm capture which is equivalent to the way your eyes see the world.

No telephoto effects here. When you see me post images of the Big Horns Taken from here, consider the actual size of those 13,000 foot high range. Holding your thumb out at arms length would cover the range as you see it from this viewpoint. This is reality to our eyes but telescopic lenses literally crush perspective making the very far larger but things that are closer much larger proportionally. 🤔👀

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Solstice Evening Geometric Sky

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Perspective Sunrise Ridge

Perspective Sunrise Ridge
Perspective Sunrise Ridge

Perspective Sunrise Ridge This was a lovely morning to say the least..

Wide angle perspectives (Close / Far) are fun to find. When I finally locate the visual tunnel of the sun through the tree, I’m looking to compose something very close and still focus on the very far. Acquiring this kind of image is an exercise in high f-stop numbers. Boy are those f-stops exhausted from the exercise 📷😜

Photographic Musings: More Manual Camera Strategy…

The only way to capture this is with a camera set to widen it’s depth of focus field. To be able to resolve the wonderful lichen on that boulder AND still have the clouds and the sunrise in the same field is the ballgame. Shadows are long the first 5 minutes of a sunrise so time is of the essence. I get out and walk along the spines of high ridges. I find /walking looking on the back side of a ridge from the sunset exposing these little areas of zen just as I walk along.

Here I spied a “visual tunnel” worth of my limited time. The number of textures and different objects in this image is just an example of the intensity of some of these scenes. Winter adds yet another dimension to this capture. I work this spot when ever I’m on that part of the ranch at sunrise (in this case). I call this ridge “Sunrise Ridge”.

F-stop is one of three things you adjust in Manual mode. You know, the M on the big dial dominating the top of that Removable Lens Camera. The one that you run on automatic mode most of the time if not all the time…. Turn it to M.

You need to adjust each in accordance to your priorities. In this case I needed a deep field of focus. Remember if you need to focus BOT the lichen up close AND the horizon at infinity, you need high fstop. Priority ONE.

Priority two is Speed of your shutter. Notihng in the frame. was moving very fast here. . Minimum handheld shutter speed with a wide angle lens is maybe 1/80th of a second. faster takes away light from your camera.

The last adjustment is ISO (Camera sensitivity). Left over to adjust for your first and second priority. Use it to add or subtract light/ overall exposure live in your view screen (on a mirrorless camera), or afterwards with a DSLR. Spin ISO around to finalize the exposure/balance the light equation. Each setting has it’s own spinny wheel on the camera. Learn what does what on your controls.

More later…

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Perspective Sunrise Ridge

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BigHorns from Bowman Hill

BigHorns from Bowman Hill
BigHorns from Bowman Hill

BigHorns from Bowman Hill

Taken off the road on the way to Gillette Wyoming. I’m Traveling the “back way”. All gravel, no AAA, no cell phone service, but the radio works lol. I pass one or two trucks on this road (30 miles long) each time I take it. Unless the weather is screwy or it’s really early, this road I’m on is a relatively busy place.

I stand on ground at the same elevation as the Intervening ridge. . Right at 4000 feet above mean sea level. Now those peaks off in the distance, that’s the BigHorn Mountains. The tall peaks in that little eroded wrinkle in the earth’s crust are just now 13000 feet high. The billions of year old granite core of the continent exposed in the center of the range. All of the sediments that used to be up much higher than the core. All those eroded and filled up the big bathtub between my camera and those peaks. The Powder River Basin between has 6000 plus feet of JUST Tullock formation. The Tullock, an alluvial fan deposit, stretches from the Mtn’s to the camera.

The Coal Swamps that allowed the Powder River Basin (bath tub at the foot of the Big Horn Mtn uplift). Think of it like a sine wave with mountains on the high side of the wave and the Powder River Basin is the trough. The top of the wave erodes and fills up the trough. Those sediments from the peaks flowed toward me and reached the hill I’m standing on. It’s all Tertiary Tullock Formation. All that big bathtub filled up with sediment laid down AFTER the dinosaurs died. It was a low area adjacent to highlands thus the swamps and all the coal the Powder River Basin produces.

Location: 13 miles south of Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana)

Title: BigHorns from Bowman Hill

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Moon Balancing Act Rising

Moon Balancing Act Rising
Moon Balancing Act Rising

Moon Balancing Act Rising

I find the moon to be a big show off when ever it can be. Here it is balancing on a rock like a precocious 10 year old. It’s probably trying to impress the sun which is still up over my shoulder lighting up the scene I often find it resting on the horizon or caught by some rouge “Ent” Tree. Way out in the remote back country many magical and mystical things occur when I pursue light. I’m just the stenographer here with the limitations of the technology I deal with daily.

There are only a few days a month where the relatively full moon is close to the still sunlit horizon. I get perhaps 3 or 4 sunrise/sunsets a month with the moon involved. Some months I don’t get the opportunity due to cloud cover . I’m usually game to be in the backcountry for this kind of activity. Deep snow sort of slows me down but NOW I have a taller truck with 35 inch studded snow tires to help a bit. You might notice the sideways snow drifts on that 20 story high hill telling a story of high wind here in the borderlands of WY/MT.

On the moon you can clearly see the smaller top crater at 12 oclock. (It’s actually a small “Mare”). It is always at 12 oclock on a rising moon but at 3 oclock as the moon sets here at 45 degrees north latitude. That little Crater is Mare “Crisium”. (Sea of Crisis from the latin).

Have you noticed the moon’s face appears to rotate clockwise as the night progresses? This is an illusion as you are the one that is rotating, not the moon🤔. Your looking at the moon rising looking east. Then you spin and look at the moon set to the west. In other words your point of view has changed. The amount of change depends on how far north or south of the equator. Illusionary. It’s very complex from here and another whole narrative. 🤔📸 It will make you crazy trying to figure this one out lololol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Moon Balancing Act Rising

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The Orchestra Starts Playing

The Orchestra Starts Playing
The Orchestra Starts Playing

The Orchestra Starts Playing

I watch this melodrama many times a week. This was a mere opening act in a performance governed by the laws of physics and whims of mother nature that morning.

The Conductor Raises His Wand……. Tap Tap Tap

Photography is indeed a form of art. To learn to draw the eye and mind into an image without the ability of a painter to “make stuff up” takes a while. Composition is all about bringing a story to the observer (you) while engaging / pulling you to look deeper into the image. To bring out memories in you mind, by placing the image into proper perspective. This is my simple goal in each composition. Doing what I do is easy as I’m just following the light trying to encompass it’s meaning.

Location: The Pass at Rockypoint Wyoming, Trail Creek Road, northern Campbell County Wyoming about 70 miles from the nearest 3 color traffic light. There are a few red flashers at 50 miles away. No AAA… I live on the same ridge but 4 miles further north of this spot. I can’t see this much of northern Crook County anywhere else I know of or have been to. This ridge blocks my view to the south east direction. I love the sunrises from on top of this ridge. An equally as big a view exists on the west side of this ridge. It’s looking across to the Big Horn Mountains 130 miles away. I can see about 80 miles in this direction to the horizon. It is a 210 mile horizon to horizon sky from up there. Public Road 📸

Title: The Orchestra Starts Playing

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Angus Under Setting Sun

Angus Under Setting Sun
Angus Under Setting Sun

Angus Under Setting Sun

LOL, filed under things I see here on the ranch. As I drive around the ranch, most cattle this time of year are VERY tolerant of ranch vehicles. They learn to associate the running engine and the rig with feed or hay. When they get fed, it’s a noisy, smelly scary looking contraption unrolling a bale or two. There is a lot of grass in this field that is still accessible to them though. Keeping herds of cattle in the backcountry is hard work.

There are still bales to pick up this year. Cowboys are still in the process of being gathered even now in Early January where a tractor can reach them. Hay Tractors don’t care too much about snow until it gets several feet deep. We have to keep the cattle out of the pastures the bales are still in. Our small herd of 34 Corriente Longhorn is corralled right now with me feeding them a 1200 pound bale of hay every three days. This keeps them away from the hundreds of bales in their normal winter pasture. We’ll have this snafu fixed shortly. Tough to get it all the hay gathered before the snows.

This beautiful night was calm for the beasties on the plain. Both wild and domestic critters were enjoying the lack of wind that evening. Mid Winter up here in the Wyoming/Montana backcountry is harsh, long, not much sun. It’s COOOOLD when the wind blows. With no wind, I walk outside for quite a while in a t-shirt at zero. It’s so dry and if it’s still, you can’t feel the cold. I’ve heard it does get still up here occasionally. Just a rumor though…😜

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Angus Under Setting Sun

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Red Light Crack of Dawn

Red Light Crack of Dawn
Red Light Crack of Dawn

Red Light Crack of Dawn

I’ve been on this spot many times. It is not easy to gain access to Midwinter. I have discovered that gaining elevation is a necessity required to acquire views such as this. 400 feet higher up here than where I live on the lower lip of this ridge. This rare back-lighting effect (colorcast) is accurately produced here exactly as I experienced it. The Red “Belt of Venus” in the sky background is from the same color light reflected in the atmospheric ice. The White Snow acting like a projector screen. I see a few of these a year historically. The snow and the hoar frost created “Pine Noodles” out of the needles. Witnessing and understanding what is happening below the surface are two different things however 🤔📷.

The snowstorm began at nightfall but ceased at mid-night. Bedded down were all the animals. The crisp wet morning accented the twilight. It might take half an hour of pre-sun travel to gain access this high remote ridge. There are no maintained roads up here off the county road. Busting drifts you can’t see is always a challenge…. Stuck describes a situation my 15 year partner Jeep Grand Cherokee I just traded in has never been. They ride like a board sadly under these backcountry two track roads. New ride 🙂

The Lone Tree and a few of it’s children surrounding the old soldier. These trees live in some very harsh conditions. They are almost all twisted grain under that bark from the high winds at the ridge.

This 40 mile landscape overlooks the Trail Creek Drainage. Off in the distance to the Little Powder River Drainage. The Mountain Ridge on the horizon is a reference point here. The camera is at the same elevation as the saddles between the peaks in the distance. This is a BIG valley / river drainage. The Big Horn Mountains had filled that big valley between the far hills with where I stand here.. The “Little Powder River, a 20 foot wide river most of the time removed all that sediment here to there….. Humm.. The “Alluvial Fans” (google this) from the Big Horn Mountains washed up to our doorsteps from 130 miles distant. Those have been bisected and removed by that little river. It’s drainage fingers cover a large area too. This is just a dry environment. This geomorphological process has taken a while.

Our ranch literally sits on the geologic inflection point between the Black Hills Uplift to our east and the Powder River Basin west (this view) The range distant to the horizon earned it name, the “Red Hills”. (I wonder why?)😜 Morning Red LIght is always illuminating those peaks for me.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Red Light Crack of Dawn

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Snaggy Sunset Over Snow

Snaggy Sunset Over Snow
Snaggy Sunset Over Snow

Snaggy Sunset Over Snow

This overlook is WAY out there but still on my ranch. It’s about 3 miles to this spot over two track road from my homestead. A 1930’s homestead long abandoned with the father dying of an appendix attack. There are old truck pieces and parts, metal stoves all messed up and a variety of timbers with nails in them. Driving an ATV over that ground is wrought with tire terrors. I prefer to walk.

But this ridge is above the old homesite. This tree was alive when the young family lived here. This remote isolated world provided little but beef. They coped best they could with being literally off grid. I’ve done a recreation image of the old homestead. Ownership of the original photo the recreation is not mine.. I won’t/don’t have permission post it.

Some people have been confused by the sun “Star” here. These are unavoidable lens effects due to this bright light requiring me to turn UP the f-stop numbers. I like them but they are indeed an artifact. They are caused by diffraction off the edges of the “iris”. The small aperture in the lens is the culprit. A very small iris (high f-stop number) will give you edge reflections/diffractions of the surface causing the star. If I used a neutral density glass filter in front of my lens, I could probably eliminate it by being able to open up that iris. Lower f-stop numbers will smooth out that star but take in a lot of light. The filter in front is a dark filter to reduce light. Pointing a camera into a bright sun is a tough one. ggy

Disclaimer. Don’t point your camera at the sun.

Location: Bliss DInsoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Snaggy Sunset Over Snow

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Pillars of the Sunset

Pillars of the Sunset
Pillars of the Sunset

Pillars of the Sunset Over the Grass Sea:

Here Lies within the ends of the great grass sea,

There seems no end to it’s lore and legend,

Forever an observer of history,

It witnessed things that will happen no more.

The snow covering the grass will disguise

those leaving tracks from the past

but is unable to eulogize when asked.

You leave and become part of days bygone

but the conclusion is foregone,

that your passing through these pillars

ending up as all of our past

Back but buried under the grass. (Frank Bliss 2019)

This is the time of year I get romantic with the past and all those that have come before us. This is the end of a decade yet again. This last decade saw numerous wondrous family and friends pass into that great grass sea. Each and every one of us has an unbroken connection to the very beginning of time on this planet.

However you construe the beginning, we all have that common connection. All of our ancestors threads connect to a common rope of a few individuals. Since that humble beginning, every one of our parents survived to reproduce successfully, culminating with us. Those “hardy” folks survived wars, famine, disease/ drought and they didn’t even have a 7/11 to pick up coffee at. They never had to look for their keys or cellphone….

I see clearly previous lives in the old homestead sites spread all around us. Vague names, a little speck of memory from an elderly one but the rest is lost to all but the grass sea. All of us end up spread upon or buried under the ground which gave us life to begin with. It’s the circle of life and it’s a real thing. It’s the end of the journey that only that ground has a memory in conclusion.

Our immortality is only guaranteed by what we do for others, not by who we actually are. This is a season of giving. Please do for others so as to live on past the time we have been given in this miraculous place.

Happy New Years Evening, God Bless from all of us at:

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (My last post of this decade )

Title: Pillars of the Sunset