Tuesday, August 24, 2010

August Adventures

August... Oh, August.  August can be a bit of a painful time for a landscaper, or more especially, a landscape designer hoping for the phone to ring.  While it can be a time of relative piece and quiet from the phone ringing as much as it had during other times of the summer, it is a bit stressful feeling like there is still much more to do, or needs to be done, and plenty of time to do it in yet this year.  Much of this, of course, can be attributed to the month of August being the prime time for that last family vacation before summer is over and the kids are whisked away back to school.

Well, I am happy to say that for the very first time in the history of my profession, and in my time since becoming a father, we took a bona fide summer family vacation this year.  Not a three day weekend, or three-and-a-half day trip over a holiday weekend (which are hard to come come by).  No.  This was the family road trip to see some extended family and see lots of countryside on a bit of a shoestring budget.  It was awesome!

The one thing I have always loved going back my days of being a kid crammed into a little blue station wagon, is looking out and panning over the landscape along the way.  Now, as a dad and being almost a full-time driver, I thoroughly enjoy stretching out on the highway and seeing what's over every hill and around every bend.  I love seeing the landscape change.

As we drive west from Minnesota and into the less-glaciated regions beyond the South Dakota plains, it is so nice to see the scenery change with the spaces becoming much more vast, the horizon extending so much further into the distance, and the landscape growing increasingly more dramatic.  (A large glacier called the Laurentide Ice Sheet had extended down the central plains from Canada and then receded about 20 times throughout the earth's history, the last time receding from 12-18,000 years ago and creating the Missouri River out of the Dakotas, sculpting the terrain and eroding the sharp watersheds and landforms that you see today.)  Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin is beautiful country, but my eyes have seen it so much.  It is refreshing to have a new setting and feel like you are really "going somewhere", even if just though South Dakota and north central Wyoming.

Sometimes, as the landscape becomes more of a wide-open and gentle rolling monoculture grassland (like in the Buffalo Gap Grassland) it seems that the sky becomes more dramatic and takes over the role of the painter's canvas in the landscape.  Other times, when the landscape gets more dramatic with hills, valleys, mountains, and rock, the sky falls off into the backdrop just like the curtain in a portrait studio.  

Here are some photos of the landscapes along the ride, which can really be an inspiration to a guy like me. (Please note:  Many of these photos were taken "on the fly" while driving somewhere between 5 and 70 mph.  I had my little "point and shoot" camera, and took a lot of photos as we drove.  Who has time to stop and perfectly set up every photo, anyway?  That would be like getting your fast food at the drive-through, and then parking your car and eating it all slowly and carefully in the parking lot.... who does that???  Plus, I had 2 kids me.)

Family vacations are important!  Our children will only be young and impressionable once, and our elder relatives won't be around forever.  It is amazing to see the joy that young, familiar faces can bring to the elder members of the family.

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