The Lope: September 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Soledad O'Brien

CNN reporter Soledad O'Brien spoke yesterday in Hutchinson, Kansas, as part of the Dillon Lecture Series.

Soledad (don't you love that name?) blended talk of news coverage with her own history of dealing with racial issues. Her mother is Cuban and her father is Australian; when they married in 1958, they had to do so in DC because inter-racial marriage was illegal in Maryland where they lived. She also spoke of the best advice her mother ever gave her. "Most people are idiots", her mom said.

I shot photos for Patsy's blog. See her story, here.

I really should have planned to take O'Brien's picture with Ace, considering his history with CNN. Yeah, I'm slipping.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Impressionist Clouds

7:08 AM, September 5, Hutchinson, Kansas. I think these are called altocumulus clouds. Perhaps one of you meteorological types can chime in. That's accurate color, by the way; it was just after dawn.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Autumnal Equinox

Although we saw red-tinged leaves a month ago, Autumn doesn't technically sweep in until 10:44:18 AM central time. I look for alignments on the solstices and equinoxes. I don't know why; I'm just supposed to. I scoped this one out last week. It's ten minutes after sunrise - the moment the sun is visible over the grandstands, under the information arch and beside the missile at the Kansas State Fairgrounds.

It isn't Stonehenge, but you make due with what's around.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Last Bits of the 2008 Kansas State Fair

I shot pictures right up through the last day of the 2008 Kansas State Fair. I chose to be on site with friends instead of working with the pictures last weekend - always a good choice, I think. Anyway, here they are; many of them will be pertinent next year.

More Free Stuff

I showed some of the fair's best freebies in a previous post, but here are some final additions.

These rubber ducks were given by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Water Safety Program as prizes for answering safety quiz questions. I made the duckie part of my catch and release program: I caught it at the fair, and released it to a Goodwill Store.

The same booth had a free squished penny machine. I understand that some people collect these smashed and imprinted pennies. For their enjoyment I offer the information that the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson also has such a machine, though it is not free.

Candies wait for last-minute takers at a booth in the Meadowlark Building.

The Kansas Heifer Committee offered buttons - six different ones - on literature in the Kansas State University birthing center.

Antiques in the Oz Building

The Oz building, an unremarkable but utilitarian metal building, is used for the display of art, photography and antiques. I was drawn to these plastic Viking ship salt cellars.

This is one of several model Missouri Pacific Alco diesel locomotives.

A toy Marx steam engine, a robot and cement mixer wait in a display case. The antiques displayed in the Oz building are often quite interesting, but generally lack explanatory statements as to age, manufacture, etc., that would give them context. If even brief explanations were displayed with each object, the objects would be elevated from a curious collection to an informative and interesting exhibit.

Carnival Fun

The Kansas State Fair contracts with North American Midway Entertainment to provide a carnival. The tower at left is the Mega Drop, a ride that offers the fair-goer a chance to be lifted to a great height and dropped...funny, when you think about it.

Twelve people at a time ascend and descend the Mega Drop. I've read figures on its height ranging from 115 to 135 ft tall, it is made by Fabbri of Italy.

I'm a bit apprehensive about heights, but decided to try this one anyway. Here's the view from my perspective of the ascent and descent. The trip down is very fast. In a cursory glance through Internet groups devoted to carnival rides, I noticed a debate as to whether the ride actually gives the customer free fall, or if it isn't just a smidgen too slow. I'm betting on the later. In either case, it was fun.

My friend Mark and I rode the Pharaoh's Fury, a ride that rocks back and forth. We still call it the Viking ship because that's what it was for a long time. These enthusiastic folks were seated opposite us.

The Pharaoh's Fury is made by Chance Morgan Rides of Wichita, Kansas.

A pendulum-like carnival ride conveniently swings into the dead space of this photo.

Mark (right) and Ava (next to Mark) are exuberant on the Crazy Mouse ride, a small roller coaster with cars that can spin.

As the 2008 Kansas State Fair fades into memory, the most prominent recorded fact about it will probably be the low attendance, which was largely attributed to persistent heavy rains. Although this was a problem in the muddy parking lots, most of the areas within the grounds drained rather well. This puddle furnished a nice reflection of the big Ferris wheel, without really impeding anyone's movement.

Tall rides afford neat views. Helicopters looked like toys from the top of the Ferris wheel. This was the first time I remember there being helicopter rides. They were $40.00 and I would have bought one if the doors had been off, as they were the day before (better for photos), and if I could have been guaranteed a seat on the side that would have afforded good shots of the fair from the southwest. The rides were offered by Kansas Copters Inc. of Augusta.

There's a wonderfully retro quality about some carnival rides. This is one of the top decorations of a kiddie ride that holds children in a laying-down posture similar to how they'd be situated in a hang glider. But in an earlier incarnation of this ride, I suspect the children sat in small airplane cars, of which this decoration is an echo. The type style used in "FLY" is very similar to that used for TWA, a defunct airline.

Who should we run into at the carnival but Rayne the Pirate Girl, co-star of our Talk Like a Pirate Day and Mardi Gras posts.

Riding Ye Old Mill

She joined Mark, Ava and I for a ride through Ye Old Mill, during which we all got sprayed with water. The girls got it across the chest; Mark got it in the crotch. He was a little less happy than they were.

I actually recorded this trip through Ye Old Mill in 2007, but the ride wasn't revamped for 2008, so I'm tossing it in now.

Sky Ride

Rayne had extra tickets for the sky tram, so she, Ava and I rode it.

Three average people can barely fit in one of the cars.

Rides were $3 one-way and $5 round trip. We added enough money to have three tickets for the later.

Our shadow crosses the top of the Hendrick's petting zoo tent.

This was Sunday - the last day of the fair - and only the second sunny day. The crowd was pretty good.

I had a nice juxtaposed view of parts of two of my favorite fair buildings, Ye Old Mill and Domestic Arts.

Elsewhere on the fairgrounds, the peddle boats on Talbot Lake were not active. An operator told me that the heavy rains and subsequent high water had forced their closure since Friday.


The fairs miniature train, the State Fair Railroad Company, was doing just fine. Rides on this were $2.50 for an adult.

Saturday, we'd seen this frustrated train crew as a people-mover had stopped across the tracks in front of them.

Here is a complete circuit of the train ride...sorry about the occasional wind noise.


Concerts at the fair are almost always a bargain; just compare the fair ticket price for any given act to what the same artist would cost to see in other venues of a tour.

Kansas (the band) members Richard Williams (Left), David Ragsdale and Steve Walsh opened the Friday, September 5, concert. The concert of the first Friday of the fair is often a rock group of similar vintage. Like most long-lived bands, Kansas has a convoluted history. Walsh and Williams have been with the band most of the time since about 1974. Ragsdale is a more recent addition.

A bit of Kansas (the state and the band) Trivia: the cover art of Kansas' 1974 self-titled first album used a cropped version of "Tragic Prelude" (above), a mural of abolitionist John Brown, painted by John Steuart Curry and on display in the Kansas Statehouse.

Styx followed Kansas; they also has a complicated history. They seemed more energetic than Kansas, but I still like the depth of Kansas' music better.

I've already run pictures from Alice Cooper's September 12 concert at the Kansas State Fair, and I have a huge honkin' Alice post in preparation for those of you who've asked, but here's a shot of him doing "Dead Babies" to tide you over.

Blogger Patsy Terrell (left) and Hutchinson Mayor Trish Rose pose with Ace Jackalope after the show. I had tried to no avail to get a photo of Ace with Alice, but the company of two lovely ladies is not a bad fall-back position at all. For Patsy's take on the concert, and more of my pictures, check her blog.

Here; have a dose of "Billion Dollar Babies."


This may be as close as Ace gets to Barack Obama for awhile. We at Ace's Campaign headquarters figure that both Obama and McCain are afraid of Ace's debating skills as neither have contacted him about a debate.

Parasols replaced umbrellas for the last two days of the fair. These orange ones were sold by a vendor near the Domestic Arts building.

Colorful flags wave atop one of the food stands.

I'll have to find out what function this vane served on top of the retired "sergeant" surface-to-surface ballistic missile that now serves as a time capsule.

Time capsule material was placed in the missile in 1973; it is to be opened in 2013.

I love the fair; for ten days a bustling little village is grafted onto my town. With it come very real educational things - the agriculture base we too often forger our state is built upon. And if you're very lucky, around the edges and in the shadows creep dark and wondrous flights of fantasy...macabre automations and the early arrival of Bradbury's October People.

We hope to see you next year with pictures of interesting things at the 2009 Kansas State Fair.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Arrr...It Be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, 2008

Pirate Ace finds a place better than the usual crow's nest from which to observe last year's Fall Great Plains Renaissance Festival. His kindly provider is a woman who calls herself Vixen Sparrow.

Because it's obviously such an important holiday, we at thelope have been celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day every September 19 for three years by gathering pirate pictures for just this date.

Check out last year's post, in which I went off on a tangent about Sir Francis Drake and his Golden Hind ('s his ship).

Also see 2006's Avast Me Beauties in which we touch on Treasure Island, Peter Pan, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the origin of "arrr!" We also show a picture from inside Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean ride before they added Pirates of the Caribbean movie animatronics to it.

Rayne the pirate girl has been a popular regular presence on this site, so here's a previously unpublished shot of her.

Of course, I keep my spyglass out for pirates all year, and a few have come over my horizon since last September 19.

The aforementioned renaissance festival always offers pirate imagery.

There is usually a pirate ship/stage. This group was doing a rather ribald pirate dating game.

At least two of these belly dancers were exhibiting piratical dress. I do believe a home should be established for women who think they're pirate wenches. I volunteer to monitor their progress.

Variations of the Jolly Roger were common. Pirates, you know, have an excellent sense of decor.

Among performers and patrons, pirate dress is popular:

A pirate guards the West McCracken county, Kentucky, water tower.

For the last few years, the Kansas State Fair has featured pirate scarecrows in its contest entries. This year, perhaps due to the waning of the Disney pirates movies, no pirates appeared. However, Brandi Bonilla of Reno County sailed to the rescue with her pirate ship/child's bed themed cake. I only noticed when I prepared the photo that the bed's inhabitant's head has come off. In an odd way, that kind of fits.

Alice Cooper offers a treasure of dirty diamonds to the state fair crowd while wearing what looks suspiciously like a pirate belt buckle.

He also likes to play with a sword and wears a torn frilly shirt. Yep. Pirate.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More from the 2008 Kansas State Fair

Free Stuff!

Are you a conspicuous consumer of stuff you'll take home and never use? I am, though I am trying to stop. I'm Greg, and I'm a stuff-a-holic. The Kansas State Fair is a great enabler. The first step in recovery is to only photograph the stuff and not take it. I must confess, though, I slipped off the wagon a few times and took some stuff home.

A fold-together cardboard van urges us to use our seat belts. The Kansas Department of Transportation was doling these out in the Eisenhower Building.

KDOT also had the single most durable - and probably most useful - freebie, a sturdy ice scraper.

They also had maps, and these folders which will also hold the registration cops never seem to ask for when I...uh, they also hold insurance and such.

Moving on to the Meadowlark Building, the Kansas Farm Services Agency had these little plastic pig banks. they have a slot, but no way to retrieve your money without breaking them (or blowing them up). The Kansas Securities Commissioner booth was giving out blue pigs and I saw one sitting on a table at the K-State booth, which made me wonder if K-State was trying to cross-breed the red and blue pigs to make a purple K-State one.

The booth just to the right of Farm Services Agency gave out these miniature salt blocks. I have no idea why I needed one, but I have it.

Forgot your toothbrush and just ate some roasted corn? The Kansas Department of Health and Environment can help you out with these free toothbrushes.

If a toothbrush won't get it, the Propane booth has toothpicks, so you're all set.

Many booths had plastic sacks, but the Kansas National Guard Drug Demand Reduction booth trumped them all with these very utilitarian nylon backpacks. All you had to do to get one was answer an easy question about alcohol or drugs. I hear the U.S. Cellular Booth has similar ones, but I didn't see them.

As if the backpacks weren't cool enough, the Kansas National Guard Drug Demand Reduction booth also has balsa wood gliders. They come unassembled so they don't get broken.

Also in the Meadowlark Building were these battery operated fans from the Yellow Pages booth. Of course, several booths had cardboard fans, pens, sunscreen wipes, candies, small throwing discs, potato chip bag clips, visors, pill cases and other standard items.

This young fair-goer accessorizes her National Guard backpack with a feathered headdress from Kansas Water.

On Sunday, the Democrat booth had Obama buttons - briefly. The Republicans never had any buttons that I saw. I am told that no booth may distribute stickers - a Kansas State Fair rule, I hear. I suppose they don't want to have to be scraping stickers off things around the grounds for a month.

Of course, booths run out of things, and replace them with different stuff. Your freebie mileage may vary.

Giant Vegies, Etc.

The longest gourd is 81 and 1/8 inches; the tags on the huge vegies were folded so you could not see the winners' names. I'll try to plug those in later.

The largest pumpkin weighs 652.7 pounds.

The largest watermelon is 80.9 pounds.

First Place in Largest Tame Sunflower went to Cody Redenbough of South Hutchinson. Look at the size of that thing, compared to the dollar I tossed down.

Michael Phelps is immortalized in this caricature gourd by Leann Woleslagel of Hutchinson. She took home her own gold (actually, blue) as she won first in her class.

Mary Jo Cole of Kirkland displayed this pink flamingo in the decorated pumpkin class. She won first place.

Homage to Fair Food

Three bucks will get you a peanut-covered caramel apple at Zag's Popcorn's circa 1952 trailer.

I don't know where they come from, and I don't want to know. But I got's ta have me my Pronto Pups.

Things I Saw

I hope she doesn't have a compact car.

A worker performs maintenance on the Ferris wheel at the north end of the carnival.

I like wandering the carnival after everything else closes; for the most part, it's filled with nice people having fun. I do this until I hear or see a few incidents of the human condition not at its best - like someone yelling at their kid or a ticked-off pregnant girlfriend storming away from her obnoxious baby-daddy; then I know it's time to go home.

The fair is using both little train engines this year, the more realistic one, and this Thomas-esque version.

The Kansas Department of Corrections building displays this painting, "Reflected Image" by Elliott Martinez

The Domestic Arts Building is a beauty any time of day or night.

I seldom shoot anything in Domestic Arts, but I liked the subtleties of color in these preserves.

Alas, these model windmills in the Pride of Kansas Building were not freebies. On a good day, I bet I could power a battery charger with one this size. Well, maybe not.

I miss Bob Dole. Time was, he'd stand in what was then the Industrial Building (now the Meadowlark) and say "Would you like a free rectal exam, sir?"

My inner dialog response (I never would have said it to him) was "No thanks, your party already does it to me without the KY."

All kidding aside, Bob Dole had a reason for the rather forward offer to middle-aged men, as he was promoting the Red Cross prostate cancer screening booth. It was noble of him, but he stopped doing this the year he ran for president. I would surmise that one of his handlers told him it was a bit too ready-made for comedians, but that's just a guess.

This prostate cancer screening booth is in one of the Sunflower buildings. That's free and potentially life and trouble-saving medical testing, guys. How often can you get that?

More Fossils

I can't seem to stay out of the 4-H geology displays. You shouldn't, either.

Annie Phillips of Potawatomie has this gastropod, worthinia, from Greenwood County in her fossil display.

Stephanie Waln of Miami County displays this amazing specimen of an ammonite from the Plattsburg limestone formation in Anderson County.

See how this broken section displays how the animal grew by adding chambers like today's chambered nautilus. And a bonus - the interior has crystals like a geode. Remarkable.

Waln also has this trilobite (ameura) tail from Greenwood County.

A Fun and Free Idea for Amusement

Oh, just a suggestion for creative fun at the fair. Do a scavenger hunt with your digital or phone cameras. I accidentally hit on this when I shot my 2005 Halloween post at the fair using found places and things to illustrate a passage from Dracula. Here it is.

You could do this with your friends or kids with any subject - the alphabet, types of animals, ironies or juxtapositions...your imagination is the limit.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Stuff at the 2008 Kansas State Fair

Crowds ring the booth of Enrique Morales to the degree that the first few times I walked by, I couldn't see what was going on. Morales, who says he is originally from Mexico City but now resides in Dallas, speed-paints with spray paint in what can only be described as a frenetic performance.

Morales can be found on the west side of the lane that runs alongside the KWCH studio. Just look for a bunch of people.

Moving on, At first I thought the Procrastinators (below) might be a group of industrious young men who formed a band and had successfully marketed themselves to the fair.

Nope. They are fielded by LA-based PCI Productions, which furnishes such bands to fairs, corporate meetings and seminars.

Still, they're fun to watch. Funny, too. Those are five-gallon water jugs they're playing.

New to the fair this year is this 3,200 gallon aquarium of Kansas fish displayed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, south of the grandstand, near the gate.

I'd noticed the same sort of tank at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia a few weeks ago (above). When I mentioned this, I was told it was the same unit - that Kansas had purchased it from Missouri.

The aquarium is lit at night.

I had fun backing up and listening to people's fish stories.

Ice is dumped into the aquarium everyday to lower the water temperature.

The fish are not fed. An operator told me they don't need food at the lowered temperature and that the waste products they'd produce would be problematic.

Still, a few of the smaller fish had been eaten by larger ones.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks still has its indoor display in the Eisenhower Building. I know they're not considered good game fish, but I like gar; they're so primitive looking.

A Prairie Kingsnake looks for a way out.

Back to new stuff, a representative for Dazzling Smiles Inc demonstrates their ultraviolet teeth-whitening technology.

The state of Texas is smartly marketing itself just north of the carnival. They've got a virtual reality presentation of the state's attractions, followed by a green screen photo room in which you can choose from several Texas backgrounds. The photo is emailed to you free within a couple days. Yeah; it's marketing and a way to get valid email addresses, but it's free and it's kinda fun.

They did have a cowboy talking to people in a separate inflatable room, but the operators told me they stopped because he could not be heard over adjacent helicopter rides run by another vendor.

I'm sure there are other new things this year at the fair; these are just a few that jumped out at me. I hope to have more fair stuff up Thursday night.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ace Jackalope's Fair Picks

Our recommendations of what not to miss at the 2008 Kansas State Fair

(slightly amended Monday night)

Alice Cooper will perform Friday, September 12 at the fair.

You're crazy if you don't see Alice for a mere twenty-five bucks. I caught up to him in Oklahoma a week ago tonight and let me tell ya, he's got a great show - blood, violence, staked babies, execution - all the mayhem you'd expect. See ya there, Friday. (Special thanks to Buffalo Run Casino for being camera-friendly.)

There's even a willowy dancing woman. Cooper's daughter, Calico Cooper (right), dances and acts in the show. She even does some of the choreography. Her moves remind me of a macabre version of Kate Bush's 1981 performance at London's Hammersmith Odeon.

On to other stuff - The first weekend of the fair is over, and I had time to check on some of my perennial favorite attractions. Here they are, with updated information.

Creepiest Thing on the Fairgrounds

If you think Alice Cooper is evil, your suspicions are misplaced. The most delightfully demented looking thing is under the grandstands, not facing them. The Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) has two of these automated page-turners, and this year they brought the one in the red suit. Its cracked and ancient latex face looks none the worse for wear than when it was last here, two years ago.

These jittery automations were made by the Character Display Company of Chicago; the WCTU says they date from about 1935 and that one has been at the fair every year since. Read all about these twilight zonish beauties, in Twilight Zones of the State Fair and Something Sober This Way Comes.

Here's a movie of it from two years ago. It's been worked on since, and its motor is slower.

And here's a video from yesterday. You can see the obviously slower speed. By the way, I mean no slight by calling him evil; even the folks working the booth often acknowledge that passers-by say just that. Of course, while commenting they're looking at his book about alcohol and drug abuse, so his creepy charm works and the automated messenger is successful.

Best Ride

Ye Old Mill is thriving this year.

Sadly, the huge and horrific automated barker that's been outside these last few years is gone, a victim of persistent technical failure (2005 photo).

The mill is still a great value at $3. Where else can you float through a 1915 vintage ride that's had minimal alterations? Nowhere; that's where. It has no updates since last year and is still formatted as an ironic Tunnel of Love with a sideshow/horror atmosphere inside.

We were given a tour of the inner working of the Ye Old Mill in 2005, see it in Ye Old Mill. And see more of the place in Bride of Ye Old Mill.

Free Entertainment

There are lots of free shows at the fair, but my favorite from the last few years is Ron Diamond the hypnotist, who is back this year for three shows most days. Here he is yesterday, warming up the audience.

In this photo from last year, he has convinced several young men that they are the Village People. Diamond told us he is contracted to do the fair through next year.

Often, someone in the audience is accidentally hypnotized. This young lady is coming out of it. See more of Ron Diamond in Pigs and Tigers and Hypno-Monkeys.

Coolest Building

I always stop to admire the art deco 4-H Encampment Building, of which these are details.

Most Under-Rated Thing at the Fair

The 4-H entomology and geology displays are a mini-museum of what can be found in Kansas. I'm continually amazed at what these young people's hard work turns up. The building is tucked away in the northwest corner of the fairgrounds and doesn't get near a much traffic as I think displays of this calibre should bring. This cephalopod fossil (collignonaceras) from Russell County is displayed by Katherine Vesper of McPherson County.

This entomology entry is by Lisa Sholz of Denton. 'll try to publish more pictures from this exhibit later in the week, but for now, see more such stuff from 2007 in Bugs and Rocks and Fun with Animals at the Fair.

Governor's Day

Wednesday is Governor's Day at the fair, so you might get to meet Kathleen Sebelius, as Ace did in 2006 (above). Check the fair schedule for where she'll be. We included this picture with a bunch of others in The Governor, the Jackalope and More Fair Stuff.

Vintage Taffy Puller

Norman the Taffy Puller works where has the last few years, across from the front of the Meadowlark Building. Read of his history in Norman the Taffy Puller.

Here's a clip of Norman at work:

We'll post more fair stuff later this week.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Fiberglass Harbingers

I've seen their huge fiberglass butts many a time on the open road. Sometimes they face backward, which makes following them more fun.

Like scouts, the kiddie ride bears advanced down Yoder Road toward Hutchinson, Kansas.

Passing our city's name...

Passing the monoliths of our economy...

Accompanied by dragons...

Playing patty-cake through our intersections...

...and looking pleasantly goofy as they finally find their way to the fairgrounds for the start of the Kansas State Fair, tomorrow.

There should be a defensive driving level color code for fair-time. I'd say we're at level: orange. Personally, I avoid 4th and Plum because even we locals sometimes don't know what to do with it, so you can imagine what it's like with a bunch of out-of-towners trying to figure out if they should go through the intersection or not.

We'll have more on the fair by tomorrow. Peace, and have fun.

Prairie Rain

This past Sunday I headed out to Dillon Nature Center in Hutchinson, Kansas, to take photos of cicadas for a big honkin' post on the little guys. I didn't find any, but I did run across a lot of other nifty plants, insects and other critters, like this Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) dragonfly.

A common thistle (Cirsium vulgare) decorates the path south of the large pond. The thistle is purported to have medicinal qualities.

This long narrow worm hung from a thread attached to a tree branch that was at least ten feet above. I presume it's the larval stage of something.

There is a sliver of restored prairie at the northern tip of the triangular nature center grounds. I headed there to seek grassland cicadas. Again, I had no luck in that respect, but the prairie has a seductive charm.

Most of the purple comes from tick clover (Desmodium sessilifolium).

Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) wheeled and soared overhead. According to Cornell University, the turkey vulture has a larger part of its brain dedicated to the sense of smell than most birds and has a habit of defecating on its own legs in order to cool them by evaporation. Please don't try that at home.

Nearer the ground, I found the red spotted purple swallowtail butterfly (Limenitis arthemis astyanax).

And here's another view.

I don't know what this is, but there is a lot of it. I hope to add identification soon.

While I didn't find cicadas, their nemesis was apparent. This is a cicada killer wasp. Harmless to humans unless you pretty much stick yourselves with their sting, they attack cicadas in order to lay eggs in their paralyzed bodies. You can pretty well imagine what happens to the cicada when the eggs hatch. Yeah - eaten alive.

I don't know what this is.

It began to rain - a slow, gentle rain of the type that caresses plants rather than attacks them. I stood under the canopy of a tree and had a singularly beautiful moment. The dragonfly at top flittered just over the top of my head and then it was utterly quiet except for the rain on the prairie - no cars, no trains - nothing but rain, distant thunder, rustling plants and the flitting of wings. For that moment, I felt sorry for anyone who wasn't me.

I experimented with seeing how much of the mood I could capture with low-res movies uploaded to YouTube:

I called my friend Patsy and told her about the rain. True to her nature, she knew something cool when she heard about it and rushed out to stand there with me. See her story about the day, here.

It's been a good summer for rainbows, and this was no exception.

The rain was over, but I could get in a few more shots before the place closed. I spotted what looked like a hummingbird.

Often mistaken for a hummingbird, the hummingbird moth has similar habits due to convergent evolution. Above and below, it feeds on a thistle's nectar with its long proboscis.

It was time to go (gates closed at 8PM) but on the way to the parking lot I shot these ever-present ducks.

See more of Dillon Nature Center in three of our previous posts:
Welcome October, Sharp and Fall Cleaning 2007. My thanks go to Mary Clark and Brian Stucky for helping with identifications.