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Spelunking for Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls is a 145 foot waterfall about 1,120 feet underground inside the caverns of Lookout Mountain. To see it, you need to spelunk deep into the Ruby Falls Cave in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

I really love looking at stalactites and stalagmites are pretty amazing to think about. How incredibly gradual the process is for these formations to occur. The drip drop of limestone deposits built up over millions of years and now here I am with a camera to witness it. Pretty cool to stop and think about it.

Exploring a cave is pretty eerie. Cold and wet, the terrain is completely unnatural from what we’ve evolved to navigate. It’s a thrilling and rewarding experience.

Finally, at the end of our journey through Ruby Falls Cave we finally found the 145 foot underground waterfall — Ruby Falls. It’s lit up by multi-color lights fading into arrays of colors like red, blue, pink and green.

Comite Park Trail in Baton Rouge

Located on the outskirts of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Comite Park Trail is a great place for intermediate mountain biking. Hiking is fun, but you may be stepping out of the way of bikers and swatting at horse flies. Definitely bring bug spray!

Overall this was a very fun trail, but I would have preferred to bring a mountain bike than to go hiking here. If you’re looking for hiking, I suggest driving 30 minutes further to Clark Creek in Tunica Hills.

Pros

  • Great for mountain biking
  • Well-maintained trails
  • Mostly in the shade of thick tree canopies

Cons

  • Expect horse flies to nip at your heels
  • Must hike a good ways before finding sand bars
  • Overgrown woods leave little room for off-trail exploration

Tree Snake

Mushrooms

 

 

Adopting Skye

Recently I decided I wanted to adopt a shelter dog and become a dog guardian and companion. I met Skye on a Saturday at the Lafayette Animal Shelter and I wanted to take her home that day. But she was on stray hold so I had to wait 4 days before I could pick her up. I thought about her every day.

Here’s our first photo, the day we met in the yard at the shelter.

I first saw her when I walked by her kennel, and we couldn’t get close enough to each other through the cage. I asked volunteer Mrs. Mary Beth if I could meet Skye out in the yard. We spent about 40 minutes in the yard playing fetch, cuddling, and playing. I fell in love, and knew that I wanted to adopt her and take care of her.

The day I picked her up from the shelter she was malnourish, scared, and still coming out of her sleep from her surgery. I took her to PetSmart where she was finally able to relax in her new bed while I shopped for her dog things. She’s since gained weight and is happy and healthy 🙂 

She loves water. I’ll take her for a swim when it warms up!

She has her own bed but she chooses to sleep with me. Fine with me!

She loves the outdoors

She has plenty of toys and chew things

She gets a lot of attention

She’s already done a lot of exploring. In addition to our daily walks, we hike trails and explore.

I’ve started training her to sit, come, and fetch, as well as dog manners. She’s very smart and well behaved for a pup!

She’s enjoying all the treats that come with training.

She gets lots of outdoors time and already has a few dog friends


For the first 16 years of my life my older brother was a golden retriever named Jacques. As with many of us, dogs have a special place in my heart. Now I have another companion in Skye and she’s a great family member.

First Spring camping trip with friends at Indian Creek, Louisiana

 

As the Earth rotates along her axis, the stars appear to move across the sky. After capturing over an hour of light, that movement appears as the star trails you see here.


My friend asked me to write about my experience out there to make the photo more magical. So I wrote a surreal one and another version that is far more accurate about my time out there.

Laying under a young spring sky with a cool northern blanket. Nothing between us and the great primal spirits of the cosmos. Their teach us ancient wisdom in silent languages.. We lay under a young spring sky with a cool northern blanket.
until wakened by the new dawn

Honest Version:
The campfire warms my face. Until the wind is scorn and burns my face with ash. I move my chair, but I cannot escape it. The smoke chokes me, and burns my eyes. Somewhere in the distance a child screams. A car passes by and I’m blinded by headlights. I rub my eyes and I see light spots. Dizzy, I stand. I need to lay down. Flailing, I fall from my hammock and plop onto the ground. It is dirty. Something is piercing my arm but I cannot see it.

I lay down to sleep beneath the infinite stars. A root of a tree feeds on water and nutrients in the soil as it pushes into my diaphragm. The night is perfect. I jump up in a panic when i realize I’ve lost my keys. I search for them frantically through the unkept grass and pine cones. Oh here they are they slipped out when I fell from the hammock. I forget that my camera is still on. I go and turn it off. I swat a bug. Fin.

Photography of Louisiana

Louisiana Wildlife and Natural World

Macro photography is a great way to marvel at the smaller parts of creation.

thistles

Each year Louisiana Spring fills our fields with thousands of tall-standing thistle flowers, each with their own blend of purple and violet, attracting dozens of insect species.

thistle flowers louisiana wildlife

These vibrant pink and purple thistle flowers attract bees, ladybugs, and other insects every springtime.

thistle flower and lady bug

A lady bug exploring a thistle.

wisteria vine
Blooming

A blooming Wisteria vine is a favorite of the honey bee.

spring plants in louisiana

Spring flora prepare to seed and germinate as the first warmth arrives in South Louisiana.

wild rabbits in louisiana

An infant wild rabbit hiding in the underbrush.

Photographer Comment: I found this baby rabbit on a nature hike while looking to photograph wild rabbits running off as I walked through their territory. This was the only goober I found and I held him for a little bit before putting him safely back in his nest in the underbrush.

A hawk roams the skies over a cow pasture in Maurice, Louisiana.

Haunted & Abandoned Buildings in Louisiana


Nature adopts what we abandon – as is her sacred right. Eventually pulling it back into her Earth as dust through ancient alchemy.

The 20+ year abandoned school was quiet, but didn’t feel empty. Filled with the Ghosts of the old souls who once  walked the halls, eager/bent on being remembered

Louisiana Culture

Zachary Richard is a pinnacle of Louisiana music culture.

Zachary Richard photos. Old house photos. Festivals. etc

The Engineering group at ULL built a Formula SAE racecar with a 650cc motorcycle engine and other donated parts.

The Cajun Heartland State Fair is a long tradition in Lafayette, Louisiana in the Cajun Dome parking lot known as Cajun Field. These photos were taken in a long exposure, capturing the moving light of the attractions and creating a ghostly, empty feeling for the participants.

cajun heartland state fair
cajun heartland state fair
cajun heartland state fair

Cajun Heartland State Fair long exposure photos

Photos of Louisiana’s Night Sky & Nightscapes

breaux bridge sky photography

Wispy evening clouds over the sunset paint a skyscape over the Cargill Salt Mine in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.

louisiana long exposure star trails kisatchie national forest kincaid

Wise old pine trees contemplate a starry night over Louisiana’s Kisatchie National Forest at the Indian Creek campground. As the Earth rotates along her axis, the stars appear to move across the sky. After capturing over an hour of light, that movement appears as the star trails you see here.

Ever notice how trees never feel like strangers?

louisiana pecan island milky way photos astrophotography

The winter milky way over a family camp in Pecan Island, bordering the swamp lands leading to the Gulf of Mexico. Pecan Island ranks very well on dark sky maps offering some of the best stargazing in the South. While the exposure time was increased to bring out more of the sky, what you see is more aligned with how God intended Creation to be admired without light pollution.

  • NOTES:
  • cargill landscape / skyscape
  • ULL formula 1 car with sunset
  • close up thistles
  • alligator in pecan island / zoo
  • BEST star trail photos
  • milky way photos
  • abandoned photos (gas station, catholic school, eunice factory, homes, etc)
  • hawk and wildlife photos

Summer Stargazing & Astrophotography in Pecan Island, LA

It was clear skies, relatively cool outside for Louisiana, and the moon was at 3% with an early setting time. A great night for stargazing. So we head out to Pecan Island, Louisiana for some night hammocking and astrophotography.

Saw a few shooting stars but failed to capture any on camera. 

This 40 minute exposure was between some giant oak trees I found in a very dark part of the road along the marshy coast. One shot is closer to the true colors, and the other is edited to bring focus on the oak tree.

 

Took some shorter exposure shots of the stars behind these giant trees. Facing the coastal marshes.

A friendly moth came to hang out.

 

A week in the Smoky Mountains

Clingman’s Dome

The trek up to Clingman’s dome was some of the most pleasant hiking I’ve ever experienced. It was about 68 degrees, overcast, and every now and then a very slight mist would past through. The scenery and hiking trails were beautiful and had new sites at every bend.

When we reached the summit, we were higher than every mountain around us. Nothing in any direction could limit our site.

A storm rolled in, and we began to head back down. But not before I took one of my favorite photos from the trip.

This photo captures the namesake of the Smoky Mountains.

Grotto Falls

We decided we wanted to see some waterfalls. As Louisianians, any waterfall is impressive, and Grotto Falls did not disappoint. The clear pools of water and boulders to climb were plenty to keep our minds impressed.

This abandoned water mill was a nice treat on our way out. I snapped this shot of the tread.


Midnight Waterhole

We were lucky to stumbled across what is locally called the Midnight Waterhole.

After a day of ziplining, we made friends with the zipline workers who later showed us this hidden gem off the beaten trail. A cozy little tourist-free waterfall with a pool deep enough to jump off into.

Ahead of the falls I found some nicely flowing water over some rockbeds and snapped a few photos.

I also spotted a timber rattlesnake hiding in the brush.

Lorel Falls

We’d already seen a few waterfalls but we still wanted to hike. So we took the time to check out Lorel Falls. Along the way I came across a few noteworthy sites.

But my favorite part of this hike by far was seeing a mother bear and her cubs. They were so high up in the tree it was hard to snap a photo, but I managed a few just to prove the story.

Cade’s Cove

Horseback Riding

Our horseback riding was a fun and unique experience. There’s not much else to say, so here’s some photos.

Miscellaneous

Bone Collecting on Thanksgiving

After some failed discipline at Thanksgiving dinner, we went out for some casual bone collecting to see what we might find. Our haul was pretty good for less than a day’s walk!

I found several cow spines, some ram skulls & spines, a coyote, a deer carcass, and lot’s of other bones. The coyote was still relatively fresh and so I only took the fangs.

I’m currently cleaning many of these bones to be displayed and others I gave or traded away. I’m really excited to see the ram skull on my wall. I may mount it on an old piece of cypress!

Natural Culture: February finds

Had a good amount of finds in February, and also started cleaning and organizing old finds. Here’s some things about halfway through the cleaning process.

Cat vertebrae

 

 

Coyote teeth, cow teeth, & hawk talons
Coyote teeth, cow teeth, & hawk talons

Cow teeth
Cow teeth

Coyote jaws, coyote teeth, hawk talons, hawk beak shed
Coyote jaws, coyote teeth, hawk talons, hawk beak shed

hawk skull
hawk skull

hawk skull
hawk skull

Sold one of these ram sheds at the February Artwalk.

ram shed
ram shed

This one will be a nice smaller skull once it’s cleaned.

 

 

 

Raccoon(?) skull with a .22 hole in the forehead. Found it like this
Raccoon(?) skull with a .22 hole in the forehead. Found it like this

 

New find thanks to Carli who pointed it out to me. Full deer carcass.

deer carcass
deer carcass

Deer carcass. Find thanks to Carli! Had to look around to find the skull
Deer carcass. Find thanks to Carli! Had to look around to find the skull

Sold most of this at Artwalk this month.

cow jaw, coyote jaw, bones
cow jaw, coyote jaw, bones

 

 

 

me at artwalk
me at artwalk

 

Found a dog wandering on the Youngsville highway, so she joined me at the pasture until I could find someone to take care of her.

wasps nest
wasps nest

 

Happy to acquire this acrylic pour from Art by MIchelle at Artwalk.

 

art by michelle
art by michelle

 

Always running into Carli and Devon.

 

carli and devon
carli and devon

japanese magnolia in bloom
japanese magnolia in bloom

japanese magnolia in bloom
japanese magnolia in bloom

Weekend Hike: Wild Baby Rabbits, Bugs, and Mysterious Mushrooms

I took a VERY humid day hike on the third weekend of June and there was a lot of cool stuff in the forest this day.

I was walking through some brush where there’s usually rabbits dashing out, and I noticed a little tiny rabbit face. I could tell it was a baby and couldn’t really run away. I decided to ease up to him and pet him a bit before picking him up. Can you spot the little hopper?

When I was done with my rabbit photoshoot, I put him back in his nest and let him relax. Godspeed to you little buddy!

Next I found a few more colonies of Chanterelle mushrooms. Delicious! Here’s my yield for the day from about 5 separate Chanterelle colonies:

Next, I found some scary looking mushrooms. I took photos so I could post them to mushroom ID forums.

Then I found another colony of choice edibles, this time Meadow Mushrooms.

Then I got bored and kicked a tree and some bugs fell out. I think they were stick insects. Lost the photo tho.

Also here’s a some banana spiders I ran into. I think these are photos from the same day…

orb weaver spider