Take A Deep Breath

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Zion Canyon at sunset in Zion National Park as seen from Angels Landing looking south. from Wikipedia, photo by Diliff

Not The Tragedy That I First Thought It Was

Yesterday, I had a moment of sad regrets that left my mind racing and me pounding the table with my fist. No…… noboby died, I didn’t lose my job nor did I get evicted and be forced to move into a homeless shelter. The cold hard truth is that my laptop computer died.

Immediately, I started thinking how I could replace the invaluable electronic device with a new updated model complete with all the latest bells and whistles. In fact, this has been a move that I have been contemplating for quite some time. Only lack of funds and an old outdated Gateway that refused to die kept me using by old faithful friend.

Rider by H. Koppdelaney
Rider by H. Koppdelaney

Things Look Different This Morning

Today, the urge to buy a new internet device is not so much an overwhelming event, as it was yesterday. I had originally planned to make the purchase next month after I move. This morning that  still seems like a good idea. The damage to the computer is not fatal and my hard drive is probably OK. I have power to the laptop, but  the screen is black. Other more impressing problems like doing my laundry and going grocery shopping have arisen and taken the place of the computer with the black screen.

Chance Upon A Good Read

After my computer went down, I was lost as what to do, especially since there is limited TV reception out here in the wilds of Northern New Mexico. By chance I came upon a good read, titled The Snow Lion’s Turquoise Mane. The collection of very short stories is subtitled, Wisdom Tales from Tibet, and the text is written by Surya Das, a well known Buddhist teacher, who is referred to by the Dalai Lama, as the “American Lama” . So I guess I can say, all is not lost.

Buffalo Symbol in Manitoba

Manitoba Buffalo Road Sign
Manitoba Buffalo Road Sign

Buffaloes Are Everywhere

The Canadian province of Manitoba has adopted the animal silhouette of the American bison as its official symbol. All across the prairie province, visitors and travelers will find signs like this. If perhaps you are wondering why the use of this symbol came about, then perhaps a short look into the survival and near-extinction of this large grazing animal is in order.

Electrical towers now cover parts of the Manitoba prairie.
Electrical towers now cover parts of the Manitoba prairie.

Prairie History

While its true that the Southern Canadian prairie was once covered with large herds of Buffalo, today the large herbivores are also gone and in their place visitors will find large areas of agricultural growth or sometimes, just a long stretching network of metal towers. However, since the Winnipeg area did once support one of the few surviving herds of bison, the symbol of the animal on the highway signs are definitely apropos. During the 1870’s large hunts nearly wiped out the prairie bison. According to General Sheridan, the attrition was a premeditated effort to bring the Plains Indian onto reservations and civilize him.  So successful were the buffalo hunters that by 1870s only a few score of the once populous animal remained. One of these places was Winnipeg, where two ranchers, James McKay and Charles Alloway maintained a small heard. As it turned out this group of rescued calves turned out to be one of the major surviving gene pools.

Manitoba Today

Today agriculture is more important than ranching in Manitoba. Traditionally, wheat and other grains have been grown here, but a new product, canola beans has come into its own. All across the southern end of the province,the yellow flower comes out during the summer months and turns the fields to a brilliant hue of yellow. At first glance, the plants appear to be mustard, but it is the legume from which a cheap oil is made that provides the bright hue.

Canola fields in Manitoba
Canola fields in Manitoba

A National Park In South Carolina

Large Cypress With Knees, photo by Henri Bauholz
Large Cypress With Knees, Congaree Swamp photo by Henri Bauholz

This winter I have had the privilege of spending the winter season in the warm environs of the Pee Dee region of South Carolina. This part of the Palmetto State is distinguished by the presence of the Pee Dee River. Not too far away wedged between two man-made lakes, is another picturesque waterway called the Congaree River. First established in 1976 as a national monument, this swampy old growth forest is now one the nation’s newest national parks. Officially designated in 2003, the Congaree NP constitutes a vast tract of cypress, Tupelo and pine forest can be found just 30 miles from the state capitol in Columbia.

Cypress Tree In Congaree Swamp, photo by Henri Bauholz
Cypress Tree In Congaree Swamp, photo by Henri Bauholz

The Congaree is a botanists and bird watcher’s paradise. The biggest attractions are the countless number of tall trees that tower nearly 200 feet above the forest floor. This canopy provides a diverse habitat, where almost 200 species of birds can be seen. This includes many species of warblers, herons, owls and woodpeckers. While I walked around the boardwalk trail, the distinct cry and pecking of the large pileated woopecker could be heard in the distance, but not once did this red-crested bird allow himself to be revealed. Same goes for the screech owl, who remained out of sight, despite the repeating sounds of his hoots.

The Congaree is a not a great driving park, for there is only one road and it leads directly to the visitor center. However, from the park center many trails fan out across the preserve including a very popular boardwalk, where strollers can walk safely through the swamp. Other trails lead further into the swamp which ends seven miles away on the banks of the Congaree River. Several campgrounds are available for car campers, along with some primitive campgrounds scattered across the park land.

Boaters can travel along Cedar Creek or venture out on the slow-flowing Congaree, as long as the boats are non-motorized. The park is open all-year long, but attendance is highest during the cooler winter months, when insects are absent. Overall, the Congaree National Park is a much overlooked open space, located in a state known for picturesque waterways and wide sandy beaches.

Walking On The Boardwalk at Congaree, photo by Henri Bauholz
Walking On The Boardwalk at Congaree, photo by Henri Bauholz