One Step at a time 2

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

This is part two of my blog “One Step at a Time.” Part one detailed my prep for a section hike on the Appalachian Trail with my daughter so she could cross something off her bucket list. Then I covered the beginning of our journey. This blog covers the final leg of our trip. Hiking Trail

We had arrived at our planned stop for the night much too early. Feeling confident and energized we decided to keep hiking. We proceeded to our next planned stop the Gathland State Park to refill our water bottles. We rested there for a while as local emergency workers tended to a fellow hiker. Once he was safely on his way to the hospital we refilled our water bottles and found the now familiar white hash mark that told us we were still on the trail.

Hiking 3

Over the next four miles we found very few landmarks or scenic views to enjoy. This made that leg of our journey seem very long and tedious. By the time we reached the shelter we were both tired and ready to shed our backpacks for the night. We explored the shelter and decided the loft would be the perfect place to spend the night.

Shelter

Although neither of us was hungry we decided to have some dinner and hopefully lighten our packs a little. So far the hardest part of the hike was those backpacks. We were surprised when another hiker arrived since we had been alone in the woods most of the day. We chatted with this experienced hiker until nearly dark when we retired to the loft. An hour or so later another hiker wandered in. The two men chatted about hiking in the lower section of the shelter while we lay in our sleeping bags watching the lightning accent the sky.

Our morning started in the Ed Garvey shelter at sunrise. Neither of us slept well yet we were up, had breakfast and on the trail at 7 am. Our new plan was to complete our journey before dark. Thankfully as we left the shelter there was a sign pointing us in the right direction. It would really suck if we retraced our steps from the day before. As we proceeded along the trail we were alone once again with nature.
The heavy fog that engulfed the area prevented us from enjoying the scenic view from the Weverton Cliff. Since we were still miles from our destination we took a break before descending the switchbacks that awaited us. We were grateful to be going downhill, but the thin rock ledge that led us in one direction, then another was a bit nerve racking for us unseasoned hikers.

Our arrival at the section of the trail that joined the C & O canal was a relief. We would be on level ground for a while. But we were confused about which way to proceed. Thanks to a helpful day hiker we headed down the path hopeful that we were going in the right direction.

Hiking 4Once we began encountering more hikers we knew we weren’t far from Harpers Ferry. With a leisurely walk across G Byron Memorial Bridge we were across the Potomac River. Once we crossed into West Virginia we took a break and placed a call to our ride home. Two states down one to go.
By now we were both tired and ready to be done with our hike and those backpacks. The last leg of our journey took us into Virginia via a heavily traveled road. It took us nearly an hour to reach the parking lot where our ride waited. She greeted us with cheers and cold drinks. We had done it, 20 miles 3 states and we did it in a day and a half.

Hiking 5Back at home we were both sore and tired. We enjoyed hot showers and some pizza before spending the rest of the day as couch potatoes. This was a journey I had never considered. We laughed, we complained, we chatted for miles. This was a unique experience I am glad I tackled. Would I do it again? Nope. I look forward to the numerous day hikes that are in my future but I won’t be carrying a tent or sleeping bag for miles again.

Have you ever challenged yourself to do something a little out of your comfort zone?

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my experience.

Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.
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My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Step at a Time

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

This Blog began in May with a phone call from my daughter. She was looking to cross something off her bucket list and wanted me to accompany her. By the end of the call we had a plan to hike a section of the Appalachian Trail complete with tents, sleeping bags, food and water. Since my daughter like me is directionally challenged this is quite an undertaking for both of us.

Hiking TrailI originally planned to write a single blog detailing my prep for this trip and the hike itself. However I doubt anyone would sit and read a blog that long. So I am splitting this into 2 blogs. This one will cover my prep for the trip and the beginning of our journey. My next blog will cover the final leg of our trip.

The first thing I needed to do was get in shape. Yes I hike to capture critters on film. But this was a longer distance and I would be carrying everything I needed with me.

Deer I began by walking ½ a mile to the end of our street. I should mention that the hill just up from the house kicked my butt everyday for the first 2 weeks. Once I had concord that hill I began adding distance. Eventually I was up to 5 miles. Those five miles included 4 hills.

The next phase of my self imposed training was to add a backpack. I had never worn one before so I needed to get use to it. I began with my tent and sleeping bag attached. Then I added weight to the backpack each week.

At the suggestion of a friend I searched on line for hikers who had completed our route. Some made me a bit skeptical about attempting this, while others encouraged me and helped with some valuable information.

Meanwhile my daughter was training for a half marathon. I was sure she was much more prepared than me and continued to push myself daily hoping not to slow her down on our hike. By the end of August I was as ready as I was going to be.

I packed my backpack and put it on, and my heart sank. Then I remembered I still had the weights in there from my training. After removing the weights and repacking the backpack I knew this would be a challenge, but I could do this.

On the eve of our excursion my backpack was down to less than 20 pounds. We had a map of our route complete with landmarks and an elevation chart. Thanks to some fellow hikers we knew where we could refill our water bottles and where we were going to camp for the night. We allowed ourselves 3 days to complete our hike.

Hiking Start When our hiking day finally arrived our planned starting point wasn’t accessible so our first challenge was getting onto the trail. However we had my hubby dropping us off and he is really good at this sort of thing. So within minutes we were at the South Mountain Inn parking area. We strapped on our backpacks as a gentle rain fell. Just after 8 am we said our goodbyes and my daughter and I made our way onto the Appalachian Trail.

Guided by a series of white hash marks we wandered into the woods and left civilization behind and began to enjoy the tranquility of the trail. This leg of our journey had the most elevation and would be the most challenging for both of us. As the rain subsided we longed to reach our first peak and the well deserved rest we had promised ourselves. We had heard stories of snakes and bears along the trail but encountered neither. We did get a glimpse of a coyote and maybe a fox.
SJ Brown coyote

The Appalachian Trail is well marked most of the way. At the first road we encountered we experienced a few minutes of concern. We weren’t quite halfway to the shelter where we planned to spend the night; it was much too early in our journey to be lost. Finally we spotted that prized hash mark that told us we were still on the trail.

Hiking 2The next few miles were a mix of elevations speckled with occasional breaks and lighthearted chatter. We arrived at the Crampton Gap shelter at 1 o clock and decided it was way too early to stop for the night.
This seems like a good place to stop, for now. Come back next month and find out how our journey turned out.

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my thoughts.

Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.
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My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

 

 

 

Sharing

S J Brown Photo verticalBy S. J. Brown

I am stealing this title from a previous post I wrote in 2015. Sharing is something I was taught to do as a young child and still do today. As a child on a daily basis I shared with my big sister, even when she didn’t want to share with me. In more recent years my sister and I have shared our memories and put them into a manuscript that we hope to publish.
S J Brown SistersAs an author I share my thoughts and experiences. As a wildlife photographer I share my images and my love of the natural world. For this blog I thought I would share some of both. I think it is more important than ever for all of us to be mindful of our wild places and the critters that live there.

S J Brown Mule DeerI think living with nature can be challenging, but so well worth it. Even when the birds get to our strawberries and raspberries before we do.
S J Brown Blue JayI think we can all do our part to help out the natural world. I do what I can be sharing my images, recycling, reusing, and reducing when I can. I flip horseshoe crabs, tag monarch butterflies, and plant trees.

S J Brown Horseshoe Crab

Each week I share a wildlife image with my social media community.

https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367

https://plus.google.com/107089848958196015385

https://www.linkedin.com/in/s-j-brown-40667b47/

2 KodiakIs there something your parents taught you as a child that you still do today? Have you shard that lesson with your children?

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my thoughts.

My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

 

What’s In a Name?

By S. J. Brown

On the day each of us was born our parents gave us a special name they pondered over for weeks or even months. Parents have been known to name their children after friends or relatives, places, objects, and myths. Many people who aren’t fond of their given name will use their middle name or a nick name. But does it really matter?
Let’s think about this, would Hulk Hogan have been taken seriously if he used his given name Terry Jean Bollette? How popular would dear Abby’s column be if it was called Dear Pauline?

How would using the scientific name for animals change your perception of them? Isa Eutamias as cute as a chipmunk?

SJBrown Chipmunk

Could you image calling our national symbol, Haliaeetus leucocephalus ?

SJBrown Bald Eagle

How about having Meleagris gallopavo for Thanksgiving dinner?

SJBrown Turkey

Do you think you would watch a Geococcyx californianus cartoon?

SJBrown Road Runner

I am often asked about my name. Once you say it a few times it doesn’t sound odd. It is a form of my given name. Why not just use my name? It’s not a bad name, just very popular among my generation. Early in my wildlife photography career I switched to using my initials in an attempt to get my work looked at and considered for publication.

S J Brown Photo vertical

Most publishers then and several now believe a woman couldn’t get the kinds of wildlife they were looking for. The train of thought here is that only a man would get close enough to capture the a bear, or alligator photograph that would captivate their audience.

Most photo submissions are done over the internet and don’t require any real interaction between me and the publishers that purchase my work. That means the majority of publishers assume I am a man when they review my work. Yes the check is made out to MR. S. J. Brown, but the bank will cash it for me.

Have you ever considered changing your name? Has someone’s name caused you to make assumptions about them?

Thanks for stopping by

Find me on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

 

 

The West Virginia 6 Pack

IMGP6507.JPG

Let me tell you about the West Virginia 6 Pack. No, I am not talking about a beverage or food of any kind. The WV 6 pack is what I am calling 6 people from WV who traveled to Delaware to visit the beaches along the bay and rescue some wild critters.
Our little group consisted of me, my hubby Jay, our Granddaughter, two former neighbors and their grandson. This was the first year we were able to include our granddaughter in this annual rescue mission. She is 13 and lives in the Parkersburg WV area so just getting her to our home was a 5 hour drive.
The following morning we were up before the sun for the 3 hour drive to Delaware. There we met up with the rest of our group. We were all anxious to get started despite the nasty weather that greeted us. We donned our rain gear and proceed to the beach to brave the wind and rain.

SJBrown BeachOne by one we approached the horseshoe crabs that were in distress. The motion of the waves they rode to shore on forced some of the horseshoe crabs onto their backs. Like turtles horseshoe crabs cannot always turn themselves over when they land on their backs. Some beckoned to us by waving their claws, while others chose to save their strength and remain motionless.

SJBrown Crab ClawThis annual journey to lay their eggs could leave numerous horseshoe crabs baking in the sun if people didn’t come to their rescue. Migrating shore birds also come to witness this yearly occurrence. They come to gorge themselves on horseshoe crab eggs before continuing on their journey to their summer homes.

SJBrown BirdsOur strategy is really quite simple we walk along the top of the waterline flipping horseshoe crabs as we go. On our return trip we venture along the water’s edge. Our little group saved dozens of Horseshoe crabs, a turtle and a blue crab, all before lunch.

SJBrown Horseshoe Crabs

SJBrown Crab 1On the long ride home we discussed our plans for next year. Yes my granddaughter wants to do this again, despite the hours of driving required. She does think we should pack our lunch next time.

As a wildlife photographer and author I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States for over 15 years. I am always accompanied by my husband and spotter in my pursuit of the next critter encounter.
My work has been published internationally in books, calendars, greeting cards, magazines and newspapers. Sharing my photographs and written words are a way to share my wildlife encounters with others and possibly inspire them to explore their creative side.

https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

 

 

10 Days on the Road

IMGP6487By S. J. Brown

On the eve of my latest photo trip the living room was filled with duffle bags, camera equipment and anticipation. Jay and I were hoping for sunny skies, warmer weather and co operative critters. Our plan was to take the scenic route to Texas with stops in several states along the way.
Mother Nature decided she didn’t like our planned route and was not very nice to us the first 2 days. There was a major storm heading East across the country while we headed West. When we learned this storm was spewing out tornados Jay and I decided to take a more southern route.

Jay’s job while we are on the road is to drive, spot critters, and watch my back. More than once a critter has approached me from behind while I was photographing. On this trip Jay did an excellent job of protecting me from a bear.

sjbrown1 JAy with BearIn Alabama we discovered that Alabama isn’t very good at posting signs for most of our destinations. Mississippi was a bit better at this and I was able to capture a number of critters during our short stay. Louisiana is where we spent a chunk of time. However we did have to change our plans again. Most of the locations we planned to visit were flooded from that nasty storm. Still I captured over 2 dozen species of birds, mammals and reptiles. The flooding at one refuge worked in my favor. The high waters forced the migrating birds closer to the road and within the view of my lens.

sjbrown 3 Stilt

I was able to photograph more than one alligator on this trip. One was quite intrigued by the camera, while another was more interested in bathing in the sun; a third was a bit camera shy.

sjbrown 5 alligatorWe continued our travels and ventured into Texas, our furthest most west point for this trip. After a few days we proceeded toward home. We had just 2 days to get back to the real world.

These trips are about more than capturing critters on film. They are a chance to escape from everyday responsibilities and rejuvenate. What do you do to escape? Is there something special you do just for you, for an hour or an entire day?

sjbrown 2 EgretAs a wildlife photographer and author I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States for over 15 years. I am always accompanied by my husband and spotter in my pursuit of the next critter encounter.
My work has been published internationally in books, calendars, greeting cards, magazines and newspapers. Sharing my photographs and written words are a way to share my wildlife encounters with others and possibly inspire them to explore their creative side.
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the birds I see, Clancy’s Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

Making it better

SJBROWN author picBy S J Brown

Each of us in our own way tries to make the world a little better. Writer’s help people escape their daily woes and immerse themselves in another place and time, making the world a little better.

SJBrown1I know a number of teachers that don’t end their connection with their students when the bell rings. They run after school programs, and tutor students. They go to work early and stay late with each student they guide they are making the world a better place.

Anyone who has met me, read one of my blogs or checked out my website site knows, like most wildlife photographers I feel a connection with nature. I try to do my part of make the world a little better. At home I grow my own veggies, compost, buy reusable products, and recycle.

SJBrown3 All of my paper and cardboard waste goes to a local nonprofit that recycles it and uses the money in local schools. I buy potted Christmas trees instead of a cut one and gladly share information on being more environmental friendly with friends and neighbors.

When I clean out my linen closet the sheets, towels, and blankets go to the local humane society. Once we were settled in our home Jay and I realized we had too much furniture. Instead of taking these items to the dump or selling them at a yard sale I listed them for free on a local website. When I remodeled my office I had several sliding glass doors that a gentleman from the area was thrilled to get. I am constantly finding ways to keep things out of the landfill.

SJBrown4Away from home I work with a number of other volunteers planting trees along stream beds. I do presentations for children and adults about wildlife, sharing my love of nature. I am a member of a local gardeners exchange group. There we exchange ideas, information and plants making our little corner of the world a better place.

Occasionally I will take friends or family members out into the field with me giving them a little different perspective on the natural world. I tag monarch Butterflies and take part in citizen science projects.

SJBrown2I buy books from fellow West Virginia writers whenever I can. My little purchase wouldn’t make a difference to Stephen King, but certainly counts to them. I have begun writing book reviews as a way of helping my fellow authors get a little more exposure.
There are so many ways each of us can make things a little better for another person, a critter, or even the world we all share. Take a minute or two and share with me how you accomplish this I am always open to new ideas.

Thanks for stopping by.

As a wildlife photographer and author I have been traveling extensively throughout the United States for over 15 years. I am always accompanied by my husband and spotter in my pursuit of the next critter encounter.
My work has been published internationally in books, calendars, greeting cards, magazines and newspapers. Sharing my photographs and written words are a way to share my wildlife encounters with others and possibly inspire them to explore their creative side.
My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the birds I see, Clancys Cat Nap and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367

Join my E mail list and be the first to hear about my latest adventure. sjbrown.pictures@gmail.com

Visit my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com to view more of my images

The Best Books You Never Read

IMGP6507By S J Brown

The world is filled with unfinished manuscripts. They are stuffed in drawers, stored in a computer file, or sitting on a desktop waiting to be completed. Many years ago I joined a writers group. I admit some members were working on works that apparently weren’t that memorable since I don’t remember all of them.

SJ BRown 2

Then there are those few that stuck with me. One I know was a very well written manuscript. The text introduced me to another way of life among the pine trees of New Jersey. The author did a fabulous job setting the scene with few words.

Every word had a purpose and as a reader I felt I had been there with the little girls as they ran through the trees giggling. I could feel the fabric of their worn homemade cotton dresses. Their fear of the booming voice of their mother brought back memories from my childhood.
The author wasn’t sure she would ever publish it, but she was enjoying working on it. Sadly, “Ode to a Pine Tree” was never published, the author passed away before completing it.

SJ Brown 1Another member of our little group was working on a murder mystery set in 1965. As a retired lawyer he wanted input on the legal aspects of the manuscript. His attention to detail was astounding. Nothing and I mean nothing was included in book unless it was around in 1965. He researched everything from food, to cars, to hairstyles, to furniture and more.

SJ Brown 3One of the main characters was Native American and his beliefs played into the story. His lawyer was a down on his luck lawyer that believed his client was innocent. Proving that would be one of the biggest challenges of his career.
Within the story the author scattered tiny details. These details would come together in a surprise ending. Since the author moved out of the area before this book was published. I may never know if it was published. I do know it isn’t available on Amazon under the working title “The Crooked Knife”.

SJ Brown 4Unless you are a member of my family I am sure you have never read “Alice.” This is a book my mother worked on for years. Her chapters were hand written on a series of yellow legal pads. Mom passed away before her book was completed.
She wanted her manuscript to be a trip down memory lane for family. Although I did take on the task of placing Moms works on a typewritten page, and getting it printed, it has never been made public. My sisters and I decided to honor Moms wishes and print a limited number of copies for each of Moms siblings and of course a copy for each of her girls.

SJ Brown 5

Like many authors I have more than one manuscript in the works. Hopefully I will be releasing one of them in the near future. Meanwhile I am putting the finishing touches on another.

Do you have a project or two that has been percolating for a while? Maybe it is time to pull those pages out of the drawer, or open the file and make sure your book isn’t one that no one will ever read.

Thanks for stopping by.
Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.
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Join my E mail list and be the first to hear about my latest adventure. sjbrown.pictures@gmail.com
Visit my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com to view more of my images or purchase one of my books.

Cover 3-26-23

 

BRRRRRR

IMGP6507 By S. J. Brown

I hope everyone has been keeping warm in these frigid temperatures. Freezing temperatures add a whole new set of challenges for a wildlife photographer. It is a bit harder to sneak up on my subjects in layers of clothes and warm boots. Warm thick gloves make it a little harder to focus the camera and hit the shutter button.

1SJ Brown Waterfall

The cold can kill camera batteries quickly. Even keeping the camera tucked into my coat doesn’t work well for long. Any pictures I take in the extreme cold tend to be close to the shelter of a car or building. So in colder temperatures I rely on luck a bit more. Most critters only venture out into the cold to eat, so they are harder to spot.

So I try to concentrate on other things while I wait for the temperature to rise. This is the perfect time of year to work on those unfinished projects. Personally I have finished 2 articles I had outlined, scanned a bunch of images, and completed a few more chapters on a manuscript. Then I laid out a print Ad What do you think? Is it too crowded? Does it make you want to check out my website?

2 Book Maniacs ADThe local critters interrupt me a lot when I am working in my office. I have 6 windows and a set of glass sliding glass doors. So every bird that flies to the feeders catches my attention. Each squirrel that wanders past the doors distracts me. Before I know it I am behind the lens and my writing comes to a halt.

4SJ Brown DoveWhen I am writing I need quiet with no distractions, no television, no radio, no family members asking questions. I tend to be more productive in the evenings when the house is quiet, its dark outside and the woodstove has the house nice and warm.

What challenges do you face in the winter? How do you tackle those challenges?

3SJ Brown Rabbit  Thanks for stopping by and stay warm.

Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.

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Join my E mail list and be the first to hear about my latest adventure.

 

One Page

IMGP6507By S. J. Brown

Recently I was reviewing some guidelines from a publisher. They wanted the usual information like my name, contact information, the name of the book I was proposing and the word count. Then I saw it the next requirement was an impossible task, a one page synopsis. I needed to share all the important parts of a 44,000 word book all on one page, all text.

SJBrown1 Goose

To give the publisher a true feel for the book I needed to relay the personalities of the two main characters and a sense of their lives. But there was so much to tell. There are roller skates, a sewing machine, costumes, telephone poles, oh and Betty stepped on a needle that was scary. I couldn’t add photos of the main characters when they were young and innocent, well kind of innocent.

SJBrown2 SistersLittle girls like ice cream, maybe if I took an ice cream break this would flow a little better. I had to remember to mention within the pages there is a race riot, a car crash, a séance, boyfriends, and the police, . Dribbled throughout the book were paper bags filled with mystery. This book is about life, there are airplanes, a hitchhiker, tumbling beer cans, and a circus.

SJBrown3 ElephantAt this point I was half way down the page and there was so much more to tell. This was a bit too long already. How was I ever going to get it all on one page? Maybe if I had a brownie I could figure out how to make this work. Nope, no treats until I am done.
I should have started with the title ”Suburban Sisters.” Did I mention this is a heartwarming tale about two sisters? The girls are good Catholics that attend church. There is a bit of a glitch in their perfect world when stolen money in the collection plate. However I need to let the publisher know that along with the jobs, men in diapers and guns there are touching family moments like Christmas morning, family outings and cute little babies.

SJBrown4 TreesOh crap, I am at the bottom of the page and I’m not done yet, DDELETE, DELETE, DELETE. Maybe a peanut butter cup would help.

The publisher’s guidelines state they respond to submissions in 4-6 months, it may take me that long to get this down to one page. I still need to add details like an ice storm complete with dancing power lines, a truck spewing a chemical fog throughout the neighborhood, fire, oh and a dog that shows up for Thanksgiving dinner. Now this blog is getting to long.

SJBrown5 TurkeyI haven’t even mentioned the girl’s parents yet. So much happens in the 12 years the book covers. Now I needed to DELETE, DELETE, DELETE and DELETE some more. I shortened a sentence here and omitted an event there but I need to add in details about when the girl’s world shatters. So I deleted some more. Two days later it was finished and I celebrated with some chocolate chip cookies.
In closing I will ask how do you tackle a seemingly impossible task. How do you reward yourself when you accomplished your goal?
Thanks for stopping by.

Connect with me on Facebook and be one of the first to see what I have been up and view my Sunday Shares.

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Visit my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com to view more of my images or purchase one of my books.