I take trail walks because…

Sheila and John, November 10, 2016
Part three of my three part series from the Holden Arboretum

My top five reasons for trail walking

  • I love to be outdoors, yes, even when it is cold and snowy (Although not so much when the weather turns hot and humid).
  • There are amazing sights to be seen along the trail…and  with so many parks and trails, there are countless places to go and things to see. Every day is different and every trail has unique features waiting to be discovered!
  • Walking the trails and taking pictures are complementary activities that can be done simultaneously, and learning to take better pictures challenges me.
  • We all need exercise, and walking is a great way to get it.

There is one other reason I love trail walking and that is because I meet many interesting people along the trail that I would never get to know otherwise. Sheila and John are a good example. I met Sheila when I walked up the trail into the Rhododendron Garden and found her sitting on a bench, waiting for John to return from his walk around the garden. According to Sheila, he walks too fast for her to keep up, so she finds a good bench and sits down to relax until John finishes his walk. (Obviously John believes in the value of daily exercise). When he returned from his walk,  John found Sheila and me sitting side by side on the bench, having what some of my photography friends from the the British Isles call a good, old chin wag. I was blessed to meet them, and as we all enjoy walking the trails in Holden Arboretum, maybe I will have the good fortune to encounter them again.

I love to take pictures of people I see along the trail. Although I haven’t posted any Fabulous Friday Faces in recent months, I have accumulated a collection of portraits I post here.

Sheila and John’s portrait was not the only picture I took on Thursday. You’ve already seen others in the first and second post of this series from Holden Arboretum, and here are the last pictures from that Thursday trail walk. The trees have lost a lot of their luster, but they are still beautiful. We have enjoyed a fabulous Fall, or to put it another way, an awesome Autumn.

Thanks for joining me in this lengthy trail walk.
That’s it for today. See you soon!
Trail Walker

Making connections and fulfilling a quest

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Two years ago when the Tall Ships visited Ohio, Bob and I and our granddaughter, Carrie, drove into Cleveland to see them. That was my first time to get  close up to the tall ships, and I tried to capture as many different pictures as I could. This week they returned to the Great Lakes to participate in the Tall Ships Challenge, a race through the Great Lakes, the world’s largest body of fresh surface water. This would be my second opportunity to photograph these beautiful ships, but this year, instead of trying to capture as many pictures as possible,  I was on a single-minded quest to tour a Viking ship from Norway, the Draken Harald Härfagre, and, if possible, to connect with Kalle, a member of their Expedition America 2016 team.

What was my quest?

In the spring of 2016, one of the photographers I follow on my photo-a-day site (Blipfoto.com) wrote several posts in her photo journal about her “nephew” Kalle and the Viking tall ship from Norway, which was preparing to set off on a voyage across the North Atlantic, and into the Great Lakes. I googled Draken and discovered that they would be visiting Fairport Harbor, Ohio, on July 8-10, only 15 minutes away from my home! I immediately began to think about what fun it would be to meet Kalle, take his picture, and post it on Blipfoto for my friend Betsey. That was my quest, and on Friday I set out to fulfill it.

Finding the Draken

There were about eight Tall Ships with homeports as close as Erie, Pennsylvania, and as far away as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Baltimore, Maryland, New York, New York, and Haugesund, Norway, tied up along the Grand River, just inside the breakwater from Lake Erie. What a sight they made!

As soon as we paid our admission and passed the security checkpoint, I headed down the line of ships. They were all beautiful and, as we had purchased tickets to tour the ships, we could have boarded any one of them, but I was on a quest, so I continued my walk  down the quay, searching for the Draken, until I reached the sign below. There we joined a line of people waiting to board the ship.

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Thankfully it was only about 15 minutes before we stepped onto the deck of the Draken and joined the small group pictured below for a guided tour of the ship, narrated by crew members. An unbelievable 4000 people had applied to join the 32 member crew of the Draken, the largest Viking ship to sail in modern days. The men and women we saw today were the lucky ones. After standing on the deck, looking around, and imagining what a challenge it would be to weather the rough seas of the North Atlantic on this small vessel, I have the greatest respect for each one of them. May God go with them and the winds be favorable as they continue their voyage through the Great Lakes and eventually back across the North Atlantic to Norway.

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Below is a gallery of pictures I shot during our tour. If you want to know more about the construction of the modern day Viking ship and its launching, click the links and view the videos.


Completing my quest

There was something very special about standing on the deck of the Draken and meeting some of the crew, but I still had to complete the second part of my quest…to meet Kalle and take his picture. So I asked one of the crew where I might find him and was directed to the Draken’s merchandise tent just down the quay from the ship. A few minutes later I was face-to-face with the very tall, red-bearded man I had first seen in Betsey’s journal on Blipfoto. Although I already knew the answer, I said, “Are you Kalle?” His puzzled look turned to amazement, and then, I think, to joy, when I mentioned Blipfoto and Betsey, and he realized why I was there. My quest was complete.

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Thank you, Kalle, for posing for the camera so graciously; thank you, Marti, my friend, for taking the picture of me with Kalle; thank you Blipfoto, a fantastic community of photographers and friends, where amazing connections are made, and, if you have taken the time to read this extra long blog entry, thank you for joining me on today’s trail walk. If you have time, you can click here to see the journal entry I posted for my friend Betsey on Blipfoto.

My next trail walk will be on Tuesday (tomorrow).
See you then.
Trail Walker


I never know…

Fabulous Friday Faces

You can find other F.F.F. blog posts here and my original gallery here.

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Bill, Ken, and Tom

I never know what I’ll see or who I’ll meet when I set out on a trail walk with my camera. I don’t actually plan these blog posts, they’re usually just centered around the things I see and the people I meet along the trail. While most of the posts in my blog are nature-related (you’ll see a lot of birds), I also like to post other subjects. If you have been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably noticed that one of my favorite subjects is taking informal portraits of people I meet in the park. When I first started trail walking (after I retired from teaching writing to middle school students), my main goal was to improve my photography by taking pictures of birds, deer, and landscapes. Simple things like that. I rarely engaged in conversation with strangers along the trail. Then, about three years ago, I had an epiphany. Chagrin River Park, the most popular park in Lake County, is filled with people (and their dogs), and because I was blindly walking past those people, never thinking to lift my camera to ask if I could take their pictures,  I was missing out on some wonderful photo opps.

That was the beginning of a project I call Fabulous Friday Faces. The picture at the top of this post is the most recent addition to my F.F.F. gallery. When I stopped to say hello, the three fishermen pictured, Bill, Ken, and Tom, told me that they are from the Cincinnati area and had spent the last three days fishing different rivers in northeast Ohio. I’m not sure how many fish they caught in those three days, but I’m pretty sure they had a great time. Their question to me was, “Where is a good place to get lunch (and a beer) in Willoughby?” Later in the day, when I was walking in the park with my husband and springer spaniel Gulliver, they were just packing up for the day and planning to head back to Cincinnati on Saturday morning.

A few minutes later, as I followed another man along the narrow trail, a young (and reckless) bike rider flew past. If either of us had stepped an inch or two to the left, things might have gotten messy. I think I am an easy-going person, but one of my pet peeves is bike riders and runners who come up from behind without giving any warning of their approach.  I don’t appreciate being surprised like that. The bike rider flew on down the trail, while the other walker and I paused to reflect on our close call. I learned that his name is Dan Just, and he was out for the exercise.

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Dan Just

We agreed that a pleasant walk in the park shouldn’t include the prospect of broken limbs or bloody bodies. Nevertheless, today’s encounter turned out to be a blessing for me. Not being one to pass up an opportunity to add another face to my Fabulous Friday Faces gallery I also asked this stranger if I could take his picture. Two pictures, four new faces for my gallery. I was having a good day!

As I have written on previous blog posts, creating the F.F.F. gallery was a turning point in my hobby as a photographer. Since then I have met many interesting people along the trail. I am no longer driven to “find a new face” every week, but when I meet someone new along the trail, I take that as an opportunity to say hello and ask them for a photo opp. I never know who I might encounter along the trail, but I’ve met many interesting people and have even made new friends that I see time and again along the trail. Asking strangers for a photo opp has definitely enriched my trail walks. Thanks to Dan, Bill, Ken, and Tom for enriching my trail walk today.

(Note: If you have been featured as a F.F.F. and would like a copy of your picture to print, you can contact me at cgl220@gmail.com.)

See you soon for more tales from the trail.
Trail Walker



How photography changed me

On a recent walk along the trail, I captured two new faces for my Fabulous Friday Faces gallery (Click the link to learn more about my F.F.F. Gallery).

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I ran into both Ron, and later Lynn, while I was standing near the split rail fence where I had stopped to photograph some birds on that snowy morning. It’s always a pleasure to encounter new people on the trail, and it’s even better if they are willing to pose for my Fabulous Friday Faces. When I first started taking pictures in the park, I rarely took pictures of people and definitely not pictures of people I had never met. I wouldn’t say I was shy,  but I wasn’t confident about my portrait-taking skills, and the idea of being rejected when I asked someone to pose made me reluctant to approach a stranger and ask for a photo opp. Each time I decided to try, I had to take a deep breath and give myself a pep talk (along the line of “Carolyn, you are able to do this,”) as I headed in their direction, camera in hand.

My attitude about photographing strangers changed a few years ago when I discovered another photographer, living in Scotland, who had started to photograph one stranger every day on the streets of his city. To this day, he is still posting them, and his gallery of photos is beyond amazing (See them here). At that point, I decided if he could post a stranger’s face every single day, I could  post at least one a week, so I started. To be honest, I haven’t been faithful about getting one every single week, and some weeks I post two, but every Fabulous Friday Face I have added to my gallery has help me advance as a photographer. Granted, I am only an enthusiastic, amateur photographer, not a well-trained professional toting a serious looking full-frame  camera and a tripod, but  I get out with my camera in all seasons; I constantly try to learn new photography and photo processing skills; and I challenge myself to improve, instead of settling for the status quo. I’m happy with that, and I think it’s a good (and healthy) place to be.

As I have written elsewhere in my blog, taking that first step, asking a stranger to pose for my camera, was both scary and life changing.  It was a giant step, but one that has challenged me to become a different person, and, I think, a better photographer.  When I first started, I was galaxies away from my comfort zone every time I approached a stranger to ask them to pose for my Fabulous Friday Faces Gallery. I am no longer reluctant to ask. What can they say other than “yes” or “no”?  In all this time I have only had one or two who refused to pose, and I have met many delightful people. My Friday Faces Gallery is a simple concept, but it has turned each walk along the trail into an adventure; taught me new skills; helped me become more outgoing; and proved that you can “teach an old dog new tricks.” I encourage other photographers to give it a go.

Thanks for visiting my blog today. I hope you will return for more photo walks along the trail and more Fabulous Friday Faces.

Trail Walker

A Fabulous Friday

Consider yourself warned: Today’s post is a long one because this has been a very full week with an amazing number of photo opps. Before I could say “Jack Robinson,” the week has flown by, and my camera card is filled with memories. However,  it’s Friday again and time for an end of the week post, and the blog won’t be complete unless I at least try to give the flavor of this fabulous week that flew by so fast, so hang on, here goes!

Note: I have no recollection of the origin of that phrase “Before I could say Jack Robinson.” It just popped into my head as something my mother used to say. I can’t tell you if it is an accurate memory (and there is no one to ask), but it was a fleeting memory, appropriate for this fleeting week, so I’m using it!

So…What makes THIS a fabulous Friday?

First: I captured Two Fabulous Friday Faces to add to my F.F.F. gallery.

As you know, if you follow my posts, I like to take pictures of people I meet on my trail walks. I don’t snap a picture of every person I pass, but sometimes I enjoy a brief conversation with someone I’ve met for the first time, and I just want to have a record of that encounter. Over the past few years, that record has grown into a gallery of Fabulous Friday Faces that you can see HERE, and this week I added two “Faces” to the gallery: Bob and Morgan.

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Bob in Chagrin River Park, February 16, 2016

Bob and I were both enjoying the fresh snowfall when we met along the trail. He noticed my camera and remarked that he expected to see some photographers taking advantage of the photo opportunities in the park. In the few minutes we chatted, I learned that his wife died some years ago and he really misses her, but he has lots of kids and grandkids in the area that he is thankful for. He was in the park that morning because one of his daughters had called to tell him how beautiful it is with a fresh blanket of snow, which motivated him to go out and enjoy the snow. He and I were in complete agreement that it is much better to get out and take advantage of what the park has to offer, including the beautiful landscape, the river, the wildlife, kids having fun on the sledding hill, and the people you meet along the trail. I’m glad I met Bob that snowy morning. Hopefully I will see him again.

A little farther along the trail I met Morgan and her son on their way back from the sledding hill. I commented on her great hat and asked if I could take her picture.

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Morgan in Chagrin River Park, February 16, 2016

While we talked and I snapped her picture, the little guy was having fun in the snow. There were lots of families in the park because the surprise snow had created a “snow day” for all the area schools, and it was fun to see all the activity on the sledding hill. Take a look:

Now you’ve seen what makes this a Fabulous Friday and part of a truly fabulous week of photography. I’ve taken so many pictures, I can’t keep up with the processing and posting, and there’s still…

One more thing to include in the blog today!

The weather today is warmer (above 50 degrees) and very windy, so I have been wondering where I could go for some good photo opps after my hair cut appointment, and then an idea struck. My hairdresser is located near Lake Front Park,  a small, “pocket park,” that I hadn’t visited for many months, so that’s where I headed when I left the hair salon. The wind at the lake front totally messed up my hair, so it’s a good thing we don’t have any plans to go out this evening, but I got some beautiful photos at the park, and that is what helped to make this a truly fabulous Friday.

At the park

When I started down the trail, I was surprised to discover a wonderful new deck overlooking the lake.

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Here’s the deck.

I have no idea when it was constructed, but I am thankful for the foresight of Lake Metroparks in providing a such a great place for us to enjoy the beauty of Lake Erie. Here are a few photos I snapped on and around the deck:

That’s all from today’s trail walk and the end of this very long post. While I have been sitting at my computer, the wind and warmer temperatures have been at work, and when I finally looked outside, I was shocked to discover that in the past two hours most of the snow has vanished. I wonder where I will find the fuel for my blog next week?

If you’ve read this far, thanks for sticking with me.
I’ll try to make my next post a short one!
Trail Walker

Photo Almanac: January 1-8, 2016

A new feature on my blog, the Photo Almanac (originally titled The Week in Review), will appear every week to highlight some of my favorite photos from the previous seven days. While many of them will have already been included in other posts throughout the week, some will make their first appearance in the weekly Almanac. This week I have categorized the selected photos and  posted them in three separate galleries. You can click on any picture to open and scroll through the gallery.

Gallery one: Wildlife

As you know if you have been following my blog, I love being outdoors, and trail walking is one of my favorite activities. It is on the trails in local park that I usually take most of my photos. This week, after experiencing Northeast Ohio’s warmest December on record, things began to cool down. In midweek we had a few very pleasant days with temperatures in the forties and low fifties, but by the end of the week, they continued to drop. Happily (from my point of view) there was little snow or rain and not a lot of windy days either, so I  headed out on the trails almost every day.  My most exciting day on the trails this week involved a confrontation between a red-shouldered hawk and a hapless field mouse, but other critters made an appearance too. All the photos in this gallery were taken on trail walks in Chagrin River Park.


Gallery two: Landscapes

Although Chagrin River Park is my most frequently visited place for trail walking, Holden Arboretum is another favorite. At Chagrin River opportunities to observe and interact with birds and other wildlife are plentiful, while at the Arboretum there are seemingly endless trails and gardens, each with its own special beauty. I try to visit Holden at least once a week, and this week I was lucky to be able to enjoy it with my grandson Michael. Here are a few pictures from our visit on Thursday.


Gallery Three: Fabulous Friday Faces

In December 2013, I screwed up my courage and began asking  many of the strangers I encounter on the trails if I could take their picture for a special feature on my blog called Fabulous Friday Faces. Prior to that time, when I saw people I didn’t know, I would pass by with little more than a smile and a nod or brief “hello.” I was essentially a solitary walker and happy to be that way. I’m not sure what triggered my decision to change, but, however it happened, I began to pause, engage strangers in conversation, and ask them to pose for photo opps. It was difficult at first, but has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made as a photographer. I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but I have come to enjoy these brief encounters immensely. Of all the new people I have encountered, only one has refused the request to pose for my camera. Over time, I have learned a lot, met many fantastic people, and become much more connected with the world around me when I am on the trail. I keep an ongoing gallery of Fabulous Friday Faces and an explanation of the process here on my Smugmug site if you want to know more. Here are two new FF Faces that I added during my trail walks this week followed by  a new photo of one of my earlier Fabulous Faces. One of the benefits of the FFF is the number of friends I’ve made. I repeatedly meet some of them in the park, and it’s always a great feeling to see them.

Bill Arotin, Chagrin River Park
Tom Dodge, Chagrin River Park
Joe Morandini, Chagrin River Park

That’s it for this week’s edition of the Photo Almanac. If you have enjoyed this new feature, I would love to hear your comments.

Thanks for visiting!
Trail Walker

Fabulous Friday Faces: Tom

2016_01_08_Trailwalks_CRP_0015Regular followers of my blog will know about the feature I call Fabulous Friday Faces. On my trail walks in the park, one of the things I enjoy is meeting new people and taking their picture to add to my gallery of Fabulous Friday Faces. I haven’t been very regular about it lately, so I am trying to get back on track in the new year.

This week, I was walking past the fire pit in Chagrin River Park  where four people were warming themselves around a blazing fire. Two of the people, Joe and Jessie, are old acquaintances who are already members of my FFF gallery, so I stopped to say hello, and that’s when I met Tom. Like Joe, Jessie, and many others, Tom is a regular visitor to CRP. As he told me, it is a great little park, a peaceful place where you can appreciate nature and also enjoy conversations with lots of interesting people that you might not get to know otherwise. Thanks for giving me permission to add your portrait to my FFF gallery. You can see it HERE, along with Jessie and Joe,and the other Fabulous Friday Faces I have been thankful to meet in the past two years.

Hope to see you again soon!
Trail Walker aka Carolyn

Another Fabulous Friday Face

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Kym with Piper

Last week I ran into Kym and Piper along the trail in Chagrin River Park. We chatted a little bit, that is Kym and I chatted while Piper kept an eye out for other dogs and observed the activity around us. After a few minutes, Kym and I realized that we had met before. I had taken her picture at the Arts Festival in our community way back in July when she was modeling the hats she creates and sells. (You can see the picture here). Most of the FFF (Fabulous Friday Faces) I post are people I have never met before, but occasionally there is an exception. Kym and Piper were both so photogenic, I decided that they should be added to my FFF gallery together (See the gallery here).

I love dogs and often take pictures of people and their dogs in the park, so here are two more pictures of Piper. He wasn’t enthusiastic about posing for his portrait, but I’m happy with the results. Maybe I should start carrying treats to reward my canine models. 😉

Thank you, Kym and Piper for posing, and thanks to everyone else for joining us along the trail today.

See you soon!
Trail Walker

Fabulous Friday Face: Bob

Bob: A fabulous Friday Face
Bob: October 22, 2015

I encountered this week’s Fabulous Friday Face when I made my fourth climb to the top of the Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum on Thursday. I should have posted it on Friday, so I am a day late. Where does the time go anyway? There’s always a volunteer on duty at the top of the Tower, and that’s where Bob was stationed this week. In our very short conversation, he listed four or five states where he has lived. Didn’t like Florida, not at all, but apparently would move back to Colorado at the drop of a pin. He would move there, if he only could, with his deceased wife. Then he would be living in his favorite place with the love of his life. Meanwhile, he is living in Ohio and  doing a terrific job of volunteering at the Arboretum, chatting up the visitors and taking photos of people who hand over their cameras to record the memorable moment. Well done, Bob. And thanks for being my Fabulous Friday Face.

Fabulous Friday Faces: October 15, 2015


Today’s Fabulous Friday Face is Dorothy, a delightful woman I ran into at Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve yesterday, which makes this post a companion piece to yesterday’s trail walk in Headlands Dunes. It is also the newest addition to my feature known as Fabulous Friday Faces. There weren’t many people in the Dunes area yesterday, but as I was walking back from the beach, I saw Dorothy, who, I learned, lives in a condo not too far from my home. Thanks, Dorothy, for saying “yes” to my request. By pausing for the photo opp and a little conversation, you added an unexpected and delightful dimension to my day.

For people who are new to my blog, Fabulous Friday Faces (FFF) may need a little explanation. I started this feature in December 2013 as a way to connect with the people I encounter along the trail. Since then, it has been more fun than I ever would have expected, and it has also been a valuable learning experience. By stepping way out of my comfort zone and initiating interactions with strangers, I have experienced the joy of interesting conversations with people I would have once simply passed by with little more than a word of “hello” or a friendly smile. It is a project that greatly enriches my life and one that I would encourage other trail walking photographers to consider doing.

You can see photos of more Fabulous Friday Faces, as well as a more detailed explanation of the project and a few rules for anyone who might want to start a similar FFF project, HERE, in my SmugMug gallery.  Unfortunately, I have not been completely consistent about posting the F.F. Faces. Some are posted here on my blog. You can find them by clicking on the link in my menu. Others are posted in my SmugMug gallery. That is one lesson I learned that I want to pass on to anyone who might be interested in the project: Decide where you are going to post your collection of faces because you will want an easy way to keep track of it as it grows.

‘Nuff said for today, I think.  As I’ve said before… At its best, blogging is interactive. Most bloggers post photos and commentary to share with the blogging community with the hope of initiating a little dialogue with other people. Blogging is not meant to be a monologue. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. Feel free to share your opinions in the comments.

Thanks for joining me on the trail today. I hope you enjoyed our time together.

Trail Walker

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