Get in the car with Russ -- who had maybe three hours sleep -- and off we went, heading south.
Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge has just changed names to Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge (though the signs aren't replaced yet). It's over the border in Missouri, which means we start in Nebraska, cross into Iowa and follow I29 south. Omaha is about the halfway point. It's a bit over a three hour trip on a good day, and having started too early we didn't see much in traffic until about 8 AM.
I talked a bit about my science fiction universe and a couple things I still wanted to do. Russ made some suggestions for the stories I told him about. It was great fun.
The day grew gradually lighter with a beautiful stretch of orange and pink cloud across the sky. We were about half an hour from our destination when we started seeing more geese flying north than I believe I've ever seen at one time. We realized we'd missed them by about half an hour at the refuge -- or somewhere close to it, at least. They came in wave after wave -- really gorgeous, but hard to get pictures even if you aren't the one driving. We also saw hawks now that it was light out. Lots of hawks.
Loess Bluffs did not disappoint us, though. There were hawks here, too. Also a lovely belted kingfisher, bald eagles (including immatures), ducks of many types, muskrats, and magnificent swans.
And the snow geese.
Russ napped while I spent over an hour taking snow geese pictures. There were several thousand geese, and when they'd suddenly lift into the air and start circling -- you can't imagine what that is like. It looks like chaos as they leap out of the water, and yet they don't hit each other -- no one plummets back into the water. They either lift off in large groups or if you're really lucky all of them will lift up at once. Some circle to the right and others in the opposite, so that there are layers moving in different directions. If they are not ready to return to their migration journey yet, they'll settle back down. Sometimes they'll move from one side the pond to the other. I got lucky because the vast mass of them moved from one spot and settled within a few yards of where I sat in the car.
I wish I could have caught it well on video. Though both of my cameras do video, I've never had a lot of luck with it. My interest is almost always in photography -- but this was something I did hope to capture. I ended up sticking my Samsung Nook Tablet out the window of the car and doing a quick video with it and the result looks better than I had hoped since it was hard to see the screen.
Eventually, we headed back home, making a short trip through DeSoto Wildlife Refuge, just north of Omaha, but we didn't see more than a single eagle and a handful of Canada Geese.
And then the next step starts. I began downloading pictures with Adobe Lightroom so I can tag and sort them. The main camera had 781 pictures. The other had 104 more. 885 pictures to sort through, which isn't so bad except that I'll need to find one to choose as the Picture of the Day on my photography blog. (I decided on 4. It was too good of a day for just one).
Sorting through all the rest, I think, is going to take a while.
Sleep? I napped for about an hour and a half spread out over two different stretches on the way home.
This was fun. Long ride, wildlife, a whole day with Russ -- and something like 800 pictures taken in 4 hours at the refuge. Okay, I've already (a couple hours after downloading them) cut the number down to about 900 plus photos down to 690 by deleting the obviously bad ones and the duplicates. I set my camera on a burst mode for shooting when it comes to wildlife, so I often have two or more pictures that are virtually identical. Still weeding a lot of them out, too. This is fun!
Tomorrow things will be back to normal for me. I'll be moving ahead on Journey of a Thousand Truths, which has crossed the 80k mark. I thought the entire novel would be about 70k, but I still have a lot of the story left to tell. I am at the death of a character who has been with them since the start. I am not having trouble with the actual idea of killing the character off, but writing the scene properly slowed me down. I'll get it today.
The talk with Russ about the science fiction stuff has started a new Devlin novel running through my brain. I need to get the edits on Devlin 4 & 5 done. The new one will be #10, and I had a faint basic idea of it but Russ suggested some details that make it far more interesting to write.
So there were are. The only problem I'm having today is that my hands hurt from all the camera work. I'm clearly out of practice.
Had a beautiful day, though -- and now it's back to writing!
And playing with a lot of fun photos.