Denise Goldberg's blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Tall and skinny, dressed in thorns and bright green leaves...

a cactus wearing leaves and thorns

This interesting plant was found in the conservatory at Longwood Gardens, living in the room that houses cactus and other desert plants. It is commonly known as ocotillo with a proper name of Fouquieria splendens.

Monday, December 29, 2014

hummingbird in glass

There were some branches in a quiet spot at Longwood Gardens that were wearing color in the form of small glass hummingbirds. This exquisite creature in green and orange was my favorite.

a hummingbird in glass

Sunday, December 28, 2014

a walk at Longwood Gardens

Last Thursday was a good day for a winter visit to Longwood Gardens. We arrived in late morning, a good time to walk in the conservatory, to absorb the colors.

a spray of orchid

More photos from Thursday's visit can be seen in the gallery Longwood Gardens starting with this photo and ending here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Here's a pop of red for this early winter day...

The current weather conditions are fog and mist with the temperature hovering around 40 and predicted to rise. When I look at this photo I can imagine snow; there was none on the ground but the bright red berries against gray tell me that winter is here.

no snow, but somehow these bright red berries feel like winter to me!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

top 13 images, 2014

It's an interesting exercise looking through all of the photos that I published during the year with the goal of selecting what I considered to be my top 10 images of the year. I didn't manage to select only 10; like last year, 13 photos jumped at me.

I'm happy with a "top 13". In date sequence, here are my favorites from 2014.

subtle reflections

subtle reflections

orchids in bright pink and yellow

orchids in bright pink and yellow

a sunlit rose

a sunlit rose

looking north, from the bridge to Plum Island

looking north, from the bridge to Plum Island

rocks, green, trees, ocean... at the tip of the Eastport Peninsula

rocks, green, trees, ocean, at the tip of the Eastport Peninsula

water, clouds, landforms... at the tip of the Eastport Peninsula

water, clouds, landforms... at the tip of the Eastport Peninsula

sunlit sunflower

sunlit sunflower

dahlia delight

dahlia delight

inland waters, at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

inland waters

a pop of pink

a pop of pink

edging into color

edging into color

red rock perched, Valley of Fire State Park

red rock perched, Valley of Fire State Park

looking across Crystal Reservoir, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

looking across Crystal Reservoir, Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge

These photos are collected into the gallery Top 13 images, 2014. If you'd like to see larger versions of the photos or you would like to view them as a full screen slideshow, click here to jump to the gallery.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Snow flurries decorated the air in celebration of the winter solstice. The temperature hovered near the freezing mark with little wind, allowing me to have a very comfortable walk on this first day of winter.

a bit of color remains in the woods

Saturday, December 20, 2014

photos! parks wearing color

Photos from last weekend's trip to Nevada and California are ready for viewing in this gallery.

Four days on the ground gave me time to wander in five parks. Most of the images are from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Valley of Fire State Park, and Death Valley National Park, with a few more from Spring Mountain Ranch State Park and Ash Meadows National Conservation Area.

parks wearing color:

the color red, in Valley of Fire State Park

Interested in words too? You can find my ramblings in the blog entries tagged Nevada 2014-12.

upgrade complete

Phew! My phone is upgraded and working...

When I saw the announcement for Windows Phone 8.1 many months ago I went to my phone and looked for updates. Nothing... At some point I figured that Verizon wasn't going to push the update for older phones and Windows Phone 8 continued to work. I was just curious about the new features announced for 8.1.

Imagine my surprise when I checked for updates on my phone yesterday and found that there were updates available. It seems a bit odd that the first update was an upgrade to Windows Phone 8 with the statement that the update would make it easier to apply the Windows Phone 8.1 update. It feels like the full update process took hours. First there was the initial update to Windows 8, then the download of the 8.1 update. That took forever! It stuck at 96% for a very long time, then finally jumped to the page where I had to agree to the terms to continue the upgrade. Interestingly enough there were pages of text - and the install button wasn't enabled until I scrolled to the bottom of the page. I clicked install, the phone restarted (slowly), the install started. I walked away from the phone during this process so I'm not sure how long the install and subsequent phone configuration took. I have to admit I had visions of the upgrade failing, leaving me with a non-working phone, yikes!

Finally, the install and configuration completed. It's time to explore the new features.

Friday, December 19, 2014


The road heads deeper into the red rocks of the Valley of Fire, a perfect entry point.

Valley of Fire State Park

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

clouds in a puddle

Finding water in unexpected places is wonderful. I was delighted with the clouds reflecting in a puddle in Valley of Fire State Park.


Monday, December 15, 2014

last light

This afternoon's setting sun highlighted the clouds, painting pictures in the sky.

It was a good end to a very quick wander in Death Valley, a sign that it was time to head to the airport.

sunset, Death Valley

to California!

I was right when I said today was going to be a long day... our destination for the day was Death Valley National Park.

The drive is just under 2 hours so even though we traversed the route twice it still gave us a good number of hours to wander in the park. Denise said it was a day of ever-changing light. Sometimes it was mostly cloudy and boring, sometimes the light was pure magic.

My favorite walking spot today was the Salt Creek Trail. It's a boardwalk trail and you're supposed to stay on the boardwalk - but at the furthest point there is a big block of wood that serves as a step down and a trail that continues beyond the boardwalk. I don't know if people are supposed to walk there but there was a narrow worn trail and I decided it was a good spot for bouncing. Denise followed me (and there were clearly people there before us) so I suppose it must have been OK. We walked and walked on the flat surface and eventually came to more water. I really like seeing the water in the desert. It feels like it shouldn't be there at all, and that makes it seem special.

--- Rover
beyond Salt Creek, Death Valley

Sunday, December 14, 2014

around and around

I hope you don't mind that I'm writing again today; I thought Denise needed a longer writing break!

Today was a day for staying close to our home away from home, a wander without driving too far. Our play spots for the day were Red Rock Canyon and Spring Mountain Ranch, a state park that is just a few miles down the road from the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop road. Spring Mountain Ranch has a separate entrance fee since it's part of the state park system but it turns out that the park is located inside of the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. I think that's interesting, don't you?

We started in Red Rock Canyon with some morning walks and a loop around the Scenic Drive. Our first walking stop was the Calico Tanks trail. That's the trail that we started on Friday but turned back when it started raining. Our turnaround point was a bit further down the trail but not quite to the end. We turned around at a point where there are lots of tumbled down rocks since Denise tends not to climb over anything that she thinks might cause difficulty on the way back. The light was very different today, sunshine and blue skies instead of Friday's gray and rain.

Before we finished the loop road (the first time!) we stopped to hike a trail starting at Willow Springs. It started up an unmaintained dirt road and then moved to a loose rock-covered wide trail. We walked and walked, heading uphill a bit, then reversed direction to return to the start.

Next stop, Spring Mountain Ranch... there's a lake in the park that sometimes has interesting reflections in it - and Denise always likes reflections! I knew we had to stop at Lake Harriet sometime during this trip. It didn't disappoint; the water very picked up the color of the sky and there were trees reflecting in the water too.

We headed back into Red Rock Canyon to do some more walking. We drove partway around the loop road, leaving the car in the Sandstone Quarry parking lot. Part of our time was spent walking, part was spent watching people climbing up the very red rocks. Did you know that Red Rock Canyon is one of the top climbing destinations in the country? There were people climbing straight up the rock faces, wow!

I'm glad we didn't drive too far today because tomorrow is going to be a very long traveling day. We'll be driving to our hiking spot for the day, wandering, driving back, and then flying home overnight. Hmm... with a flight time of 11:55 PM we have more than a full day to play here. Maybe Denise will be so tired she will be able to sleep on the plane.

--- Rover
Red Rock Canyon
looking across Red Rock Canyon

trees reflecting, at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
reflections in Lake Harriet, at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park

Saturday, December 13, 2014

fire and water

Oh! I thought it was going to be dry all day today but there was an early afternoon surprise from the weather wizard.

Our wandering spot for today was Valley of Fire State Park. It's a very reasonable drive, a bit over an hour each way. We headed out early in the morning under a sky colored (mostly) blue and white. When we arrived at the park there the sun was hiding behind some clouds. It popped in and out, sometimes lighting the beautiful red rocks, sometimes leaving a somewhat muted landscape.

After a quick stop at the Visitor Center we headed up and up, following the out-and-back road through red rocks as it followed a curving path through the landscape, rolling up and down and side to side. We stopped at most of the little parking lots along the way, popping out of the car to absorb the beauty.

At the end of (the short) Fire Canyon Road there was a path that wore a sign "This is not a trail". Hmm... Denise looked a little further and found a blocked off dirt road that we could walk down for some new views. From the road we saw a trail coming back but since Denise was pretty sure it was going to end at the sign saying it wasn't a trail we stuck to the dirt road. While it's OK to walk on rocks, on established trails, or on the roads (dirt or paved), the park service is trying to prevent erosion wherever possible.

Our next stop was the Fire Wave trail. That's a very cool hike, and one where you need to pay attention to the trail markers. The beginning of the trail is easy to find since it traverses sand, but once you step onto the rock it's important to know how to find your way (both out and back again). The trail is marked with plastic (rectangular) wands that are sometimes stuck in the ground and sometimes surrounded by piled up rocks. The top of the dark brown wand wears a square of yellow. It's usually pretty easy to see the next trail marker. I helped Denise keep track of them since I know she likes to know how to get back at the end of our walks. I'm very glad that Denise likes walking the Fire Wave trail as much as I do!

We continued to the end of the road where we stared walking the White Domes trail. The start of the trail is a sandy steep downhill with some rock slabs serving as steps. The steps were pretty big so I decided to jump into the Denise's camera pack and take a ride down. Once we reached the low point of the trail I jumped out so I could bounce through the slot canyon through which the trail wanders. Then... oops! I started feeling rain drops. It started as sprinkles but it quickly turned into a downpour. I jumped back into the pack, and so did the camera, yikes! Denise covered the bag with a rain cover and started walking quickly. We were about half of the way around the 1.25 mile trail so there was nothing to be done except keep moving forward. Of course since we didn't think it was going to rain Denise's rain jacket stayed in the car. She had a light jacket with her but it was a jacket without a hood. By the time we got back to the car the water was rolling off of her head. I tried not to laugh, but it was really pretty funny! Soon after we jumped into the car the rain changed to sprinkles.

Turning back, we again stopped whenever the light and scenery pulled Denise's eyes.

Before we left Valley of Fire we saw an announcement for a special New Year's Eve moonlight hike in the park. I wish we could be there but it's really too far to fly here for a day.

Even though Denise got a bit wet we had a really good day today.

--- Rover
heading back from The Wave (trail), Valley of Fire State Park
on the way back from The Wave, at Valley of Fire State Park

Friday, December 12, 2014

under a changing sky

Today started under skies wearing gray and interesting clouds.

It was dry when we headed out, starting our wandering along the Calico Hills trail that is below some very interesting painted rocks in Red Rock Canyon. Oh, no one really painted the rocks... there are sections that are bright red and other sections that show swirls of red and white. I think they are very pretty!

After climbing the hill from the trail back up to the road we realized that the weather was moving in. There were clouds hanging on the mountains, coming lower and lower. We jumped back into the car to drive to our next walking spot and the rain started. It was pretty light at first so we headed out on the Calico Tanks trail. The rain got heavier. After a bit Denise decided it would be smarter to turn back, so we did.

The road through Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a one-way loop. We drove and drove, stopping occasionally at view points, sitting a bit to watch the rain. I even asked Denise if I could take a photo to show you the rain!

raindrops on windshield

When we started out this morning the temperature was in the high 50s. When I took the photo looking through the car window the thermometer said that it had dropped to 42 degrees. The thing that I think is a bit odd is that when we headed back to our hotel it seemed to get warmer. Hmm... I wonder if we were just in a place where there was a cold wind blowing.

We stopped at Red Spring after finishing the loop road. That put us on the other side of the Calico Hills. I think it's interesting to see the other side! A lighter rain was falling by then, still wet enough to convince us to take a short(er) walk.

Having a shorter walking day as our first day out might be a good thing. After all, yesterday was a really long day if you factor in a longer day since we jumped back three time zones!

--- Rover

at Red Rock Canyon

Thursday, December 11, 2014


It's a little after 7 PM and we're sitting at Logan Airport waiting to board our plane. It's at the gate now and people are streaming out. Soon the people flow will change directions and we'll be boarding and then flying. It's a long flight, scheduled for over 6 hours. I told Denise it might be good if she takes a nap; I'm not sure that she is listening though.

Our trip to the airport took a little longer than expected. There is a lift bridge near the place where we park and the bridge was UP. Oh yikes! We sat waiting and waiting, then Denise figured out how to jump up a little further and then turn into the parking lot. Phew! I think we could easily have been there for a quite a while.

Before we left the house we had a late afternoon snack of yogurt and fruit. I didn't think that was enough food... I guess Denise thought the same because we stopped at Legal Seafood (in the airport terminal) for some clam chowder. That was a treat!

Airplane time soon... we'll board, sit down, take off, fly for hours, then land in Las Vegas. Tomorrow we'll start our wanders in beautiful parks. I'm happy!

--- Rover

patterns in green

Indoor conservatories feed my need for color during the cold months. Patterns of (green) leaves across leaves grabbed my eyes as I wandered at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens last weekend.

patterns in green

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

autumn color

Most of the trees are wearing bare branches now in anticipation of winter. In the sea of "no color" a few bright leaves still pop from the quiet background.

a splash of orange

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

black ice

My phone rang at just after six this morning. No one calls at that time of day!

The call was a robocall from the town where I live warning that the town roads are currently sheathed in black ice. That made for a very quick decision; my work day today will start by remote connection, from home. As the temperature warms up I'll head in to the office.

Sometimes robocalls are good.

heading west

Oh! Our trip west is coming up; soon I'll be able to bounce on some red rocks! I still don't understand why people call the color of the rocks red though; my coat is bright red but I don't match the rocks. They are more of a rusty color. Hmm... I suppose rusty is a shade of red. I'll let you decide - here's a photo of me at Red Rock Canyon from a few years ago.

at Red Rock Canyon

We'll be heading to Nevada on an evening flight (in a couple of days) and when we come home we'll be flying over (and all) night. That means we'll have 4 full days on the ground for our wandering. I know we're planning to visit Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Valley of Fire State Park. It's been a while since we last visited these places.

I'm not sure what we'll be doing on our last day on the ground. Our plane isn't until 11:55 PM and the parks we'll be visiting close at sunset. That's really early this time of year. Denise told me I shouldn't worry so I guess I won't. Maybe I'll do some looking to find some evening activities for us for the last night, or maybe I'll wait and see what Denise figures out.

I know I'm ready to wander. I told Denise I want to do some writing while we travel and I'd like it if you'd read along. Will you be looking over our shoulders?

--- Rover
Valley of Fire
a winding road, at Valley of Fire State Park

Monday, December 08, 2014

warmth in layers

The calendar says that the winter solstice is two weeks away but the temperature says it must be here already. I guess the weather wizard decided to give us the gift of an early (winter) season. When I headed out to walk this evening it was 23 degrees with a bit of a wind creating a wind chill equivalent temperature of 13 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brr... chilly!

Exercising outside in cold air begins as a mental exercise, convincing myself that dressing in (the right) layers will create a comfortable temperature. Warmth in layers works; a good brisk walk left me happy and warm.


I love this flower's pop of red. It's a very small blossom that makes a strong statement.

a pop of red

Sunday, December 07, 2014

along the coast

Yesterday's rain moved away overnight leaving a chill and windy dry day. I headed to the coast hoping for some interesting light. The sky didn't really cooperate but I always enjoy walking along the coast. Today I heard the song of rounded rocks rolling as the waves hit the shore.

sparkling waters

Saturday, December 06, 2014

color for a gray day

The color of the day was gray. I knew I needed something brighter so I headed to Tower Hill Botanic Garden hoping the indoor conservatories would satisfy that need. A sea of green greeted me and there were tiny pops of color too.

flowers hide under leaves

Friday, December 05, 2014


another day, another cup of tea, another tea tag caught my eye...

May you fall asleep in a dream and awake with a purpose.

--- Unknown
This one makes me think and wonder.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

inspired by...

I am intrigued by the different creations of Seward Johnson. Much of the work scattered through Grounds for Sculpture was of people in familiar activities. Other pieces were inspired by the work of artists from the past. The sculpture shown below, titled "The Nature of Obsession", was inspired by a painting, Vermeer's "Girl with the Pearl Earrings".

The frame hanging in front of the sculpture makes the piece more interesting (to me).

sculpture by Seward Johnson

Monday, December 01, 2014

photos! Grounds for Sculpture

Click to the gallery at Grounds for Sculpture for photos from last Friday's visit to the wonderful sculpture garden of the same name in Hamilton, NJ.

Confrontational Vulnerability, a sculpture by Seward Johnson

Many of the photos are of sculptures by Seward Johnson, on exhibit at Grounds for Sculpture through July 2015. I highly recommend a visit!

For more information on the artist, click to visit his web site, The Work of Seward Johnson.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

words from a tea tag

Most of the tea I drink is packaged in bags without a string and tag. Today only one of the varieties in my closet wears a tag, sometimes presenting words that strike my fancy.

You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.

quote by Marianne Williamson

Friday, November 28, 2014

a first visit

The sun was shining, the air was cold and dry. It was a good day for a first visit to Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ.

I was fascinated by the sculptures (by Seward Johnson) that were scattered through the sculpture park. Some were human-sized; it was sometimes difficult to tell if the figures I was seeing were sculptures or people. Some were many times human-sized; a statue of Marilyn Monroe is 26 feet tall, just amazing.

sculpture by Seward Johnson at Grounds for Sculpture
sculpture by Seward Johnson

The Seward Johnson: The Retrospective exhibition at Grounds for Sculpture has been extended through July of 2015.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

bare branches

Yesterday's snow has moved on leaving a dusting of white on the ground and a sky filled with gray clouds.

at Valley Forge National Historical Park
in Valley Forge National Historical Park
photo by phone

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

a pop of pink

It's late autumn; the trees are wearing bare branches and the sky is cloudy gray. I feel the need for a pop of color so I've pulled a flower (photo) from late September.

a pop of pink


The cooler air of autumn changed the grasses of the salt marsh in the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge from green to gold. There were many water-loving birds decorating the waters, happy to visit the marsh in any season.

golden grass, in a salt marsh

Monday, November 24, 2014

standing tall

Two trees, a rocky coastline, gathering clouds, an impending storm...

before the storm
Schooner Head, Acadia National Park

Sunday, November 23, 2014

clouds to blue

With the temperature forecast to be touching 60 degrees I knew I needed some outside wandering. I headed to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge for walks on both the inland and the ocean sides of Plum Island. When I arrived clouds were decorating the sky, sometimes blocking the late autumn low-in-the-sky sun. By the time I moved to the ocean side the sky was mainly clear (although I suppose the inland side might still have worn cloud decorations).

As always, the refuge was beautiful. I arrived just before high tide so walking on the beach was a bit slow, each step sinking into the sand. I much prefer brisk walking as the tide is going out since the newly exposed sand is smooth and hard. The tide schedule didn't cooperate today so it was a soft sand walk.

On the inland side of the refuge, sky wearing cloud decorations:

on the inland side of the Parker River National Wildlife refuge, sky decorated by clouds

On the ocean side, shades of blue:

looking north, on the ocean side of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge

More photos from today's wander can be seen in the gallery Parker River and... 2014 starting with this photo and ending here.

hawk posing

This beautiful bird was perched on a tree on the inland side of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. It was clearly keeping an eye out for interesting food. Not too long after I stood by the side of the road to watch he dove for the ground, returning to a higher (and further away) perch with his prize.

hawk posing

Thursday, November 20, 2014

photos! Colorado Springs

Photos from last weekend's visit with friends in Colorado are ready for viewing in this gallery. There are images from Garden of the Gods, Ute Valley Park, and forest service land behind the house.

a smattering of Colorado images:

emerging rocks in different shapes and colors, in Garden of the Gods

Interested in words? You can find my ramblings in the blog entries tagged Colorado 2014-11.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


This iconic rock in Garden of the Gods is balanced on what appears to be a very small surface.

With an estimated weight of 700 tons, this sandstone beauty will likely fall at some point. Apparently it is protected from erosion (just a bit) by a layer of concrete surrounding its pedestal, applied by Grace Goerke Boughner's father in 1910. I was fascinated to read that. I was actually driven to look for information when I spotted what appeared to be man-made clumps of square red rocks supported some outcroppings a bit further back from Balanced Rock.

Are you interested in reading a sandstone story? Take a look at the article Balancing act: Iconic rock destined to fall, but when and how? in The Gazette, published on January 6, 2012.

balanced rock, garden of the gods


We had a delightful work break this afternoon. One of my colleagues told us about an owl sleeping in a tree just outside the building. I found it amazing to see how camouflaged he was, standing on a branch of an evergreen taking a nap.

an owl, an afternoon nap, hiding in plain sight

Yes, I know, it is quite difficult to see him. My camera doesn't usually accompany me to the office so this photo is courtesy of my phone.

Monday, November 17, 2014

jagged rock

Garden of the Gods wears many colors of rock. This jagged outcrop in a sandy color provides a sharp contrast to the red rocks scattered through the park.

jagged rocks, at Garden of the Gods

Sunday, November 16, 2014

a journey home

It was a day of sitting, a day of flying east, heading home.

I'll leave you with an image from Garden of the Gods, evergreens perched on red rocks decorated by snow.

trees on red rocks decorated by snow