Our day of touring Galveston, Texas took us to a couple of venues that featured an unusually high number of birds.
With winter hopefully coming to an end soon it was a good day to check out Hocking Hills State Park, and the numerous waterfalls throughout the park.
For this hike we started at the top of the gorge, where the aptly named Upper Falls is located.
As we made our way downstream we passed numerous ice formations on the gorge walls.
While the icicles are all bumpy, the icy spots on the trail were perfectly smooth, and very slick.
The day was mostly cloudy but we did have a peak of the sun highlight the lower falls and rock formation near one of the trails exiting the gorge.
Much like snowflakes, it seems no two icicles are the same.
The stream continues down the gorge with numerous small waterfalls.
We reached the lower falls before heading off for other trails.
Broken Rock Falls is at the end of a short side trail. Despite the narrow path for the water to travel over the wall, it came down with significant noise.
We moved on to Cedar Falls where the path to the falls took us past more interesting formations on the gorge wall. It seems the ice here was ‘stuck’ to the wall, as opposed to the numerous icicles elsewhere, although there were some here too.
The light mist that comes over the edge causes the light coating.
Cedar Falls is one of the nicer ones in the park.
Another waterfalls was hidden around the corner from the main falls, and all of the people. Note the two logs framing the sides covered in ice as well.
Our final stop was Ash Cave. We saved this for our ‘grand finale’, however the cone at the bottom wasn’t nearly as tall as in previous years.
Still it is an impressive falls.
A close up of the ice ‘cone’ at the bottom with the mist of water barely visible in the center.
All in all it was a great day in the park, and my phone says I climbed the equivalent of 54 stories of a building! Exercise and photography, what could be better.
It turns out that our membership to Columbus’s Franklin Park Conservatory has reciprocal agreements with many other botanical gardens throughout America, including Cleveland’s, so we were able to visit at no cost!
While in town we stopped by for their Orchid Show – it was fantastic!
Each summer one of the rooms at the Franklin Park Conservatory has butterflies that fly freely. This mid September day was the last day of this season for them (not sure where they go for winter – maybe Florida?)
Butterflies are fast – but when you do catch them in a photo they are beautiful.
The city of Fort Wayne, Indiana is the 2nd largest in Indiana, behind Indianapolis. While not huge, it was large enough to have a few interesting things to see and do.
Easily the most architecturally interesting building is the Allen County Courthouse.
The building had numerous carvings and reliefs.
The carved tablet emphasizes the idea of justice for all.
While Lady Justice looks over the setting.
The Lincoln Tower was for 50 years the tallest building in town. There are a couple of ones taller now, but none more stylish.
Directly across the street from the classic architecture of the courthouse and the Lincoln Tower is this modern mid rise.
The main branch of the library.
Fort Wayne was surprisingly (to me) nice. There is some recent development downtown, the neighborhoods were pleasant and overall it didn’t feel like an old industrial city.
One of the more unusual local tourist attractions is the Hanson Quarry on the southeast side of town. Where else in the flat lands of Indiana can you find a giant 1000′ deep hole in the ground.
They have an observation deck built that is open during daylight hours where you can come check out the giant hole in the ground.
The next morning we made our way to Lakeside Park and Rose Gardens.
The gardens feature some sculptures.
But their 2000 rose plants are the highlight.
Late August heat has put stress on the roses.
Lakeside Park in Fort Wayne is worth a visit.
In looking for something today I thought I saw a listing for a Fern Walk at the Wahkeena Nature Preserve near Lancaster, Ohio.
When we arrived and asked about it we were told that they were having a nature walk/hike but it was not specifically for ferns. Initially disappointed it turned out to be much better.
Nora was the naturalist who lead our tour. She was amazingly knowledgeable in all aspects of what we found on our hike. If you stop to really look you will find some great shapes and colors in the woods.
UPDATES – Tom from the nature preserve was kind enough to provide updates as to what each photo was. The Featured Image above is a Downy Rattlesnake Plantain (an orchid)
Before we started the actual hike we spent some time near a pond.
While few, the flowers that were present near the pond were very vivid. The flower is a Swamp Rose Mallow – a wild hibiscus (update from Tom)
Something that looked like straw grew across some of the other growth in the pond. The “straw” is Dodder – a parasitic wildflower.
The water lily (?) stood out against the sea of green. Confirmed by Tom to be a water lily 🙂
Once we started our educational hike we spent time examining all of sorts of things in the woods – like this decaying tree. The shapes resulting from the decay make for an interesting subject.
The primary purpose of the walk was to identify orchids. Yes, there are orchids in Ohio – just not like the giant ones you see in places like Hawaii.
Unfortunately I spent more time taking pictures and less time listening to Nora so I missed the name of this one – Sorry Nora.
Thanks to Tom’s update I can state this is a Cranefly orchid.
Another Downy Rattlesnake Plantain orchid.
Another orchid? I should really pay better attention.
Tom’s update – Green Adder’s Mouth orchid.
A different looking caterpillar.
A type of an apple that grows along the ground – a favorite of turtles. This is known as a Mayapple.
As we progressed we began to see a number of fungi, more impressive ones than our fungi hike we had a few weeks ago.
There was a large collection of shapes and colors of fungi.
Some on the dead trees.
Some residual Virginia Creeper vines.
A ghost orchid this is not! Tom has identified this as an Indian Pipe or Ghost Pipe – a saprophytic wildflower.
We came across this massive fungi, which looked very cool from the side
As well as the overhead view.
Some amazing coloring of shelf mushrooms on a tree.
More growing up a tree.
More on a bed of moss.
Some very large shelf fungi.
A close up.
We also came across a small ‘Ring Neck’ snake, which Nora was kind enough to pick up and show us.
After we completed our hike, we went to a second nature preserve just down the road – Rhododendron Cove.
The sandstone cliffs here are amazing.
How the preserve gets it’s name – rhododendrons everywhere, up against the 50′ cliff.
The sandstone always has great erosion patterns.
A hole eroded from the face of the cliff.
Amazing ‘honeycomb’ erosion.
Motivated by Nora’s teachings, we paid attention on our walk back to the car – finding even more along the path through a meadow.
Go find a local park – there are lots of people like Nora anxious to share their knowledge of the world around us all.
One thing is certain, there is competition for everything. On this hot Saturday we found ourselves at the Krohn Conservatory in Cincinnati for the annual Daylily competition.
But first we checked out the rest of the historic conservatory.
The building is fairly small for a conservatory, however when it was opened in 1933 it was one of the best in the country. They do make great use of the space they have.
As with most conservatories, it was very colorful.
Normally when you go to a conservatory and go into the tropics areas you feel the heat and humidity, although on this day it was nearly 100 F in Cincinnati so it was actually cooler inside than out.
They had a great variety of plants.
The Daylily competition was held in the Bonsai room. Normally the bonsai trees are the center of attention, but not this day!
There was a separate competition for the centerpieces.
The colors were very vivid, with many reds and oranges not normally seen on daylillies.
While a competition, everyone there were very friendly and anxious to talk to you about growing the flowers, and encouraging you to join their club.
A beautiful start to our afternoon in Cincinnati.