Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Maquoketa State Park

   Last week in Iowa, I visited a Maquoketa Caves State Park to explore and photograph the fall leaves.  Being used to the wide open, flat landscape of Illinois, the hills, valleys, and rocky cliffs were a great change of scenery and subject.  Maquoketa features a number of huge caves, a natural land bridge, flowing springs, and beautiful rock formations. 
   For a while I was the only visitor in the park, wandering along trails, photographing the light through the trees.  I was half-way up a staircase along a cliff when I heard a crunching and rustling in the woods.  Soon three beautiful horses came down the trail past me.  I took the lucky opportunity to photograph them in the woods, without signs of human existence as a distraction in the frame.  The horses were alone, living off the woods just long enough to have manes filled with cockle burrs.  They seemed used to humans and came to me when I whistled.  I spent about half an hour with them, walking the trail, taking pictures, and petting them while they peacefully dined on acorns from the forest floor.  Eventually a couple of hikers came along the trail and found me with the horses.  "Are these your horses?", one of them asked.  As a city girl, who is often intimidated by the largeness of horses without a fence between us, I couldn't help but smile that someone could mistake these horses as my own.  "No, I found them here and we've just been hanging out," I replied.  Shortly after that the horses wandered back along the way they had come, to find more acorns deeper in the woods.    

 As always, thanks for visiting!  Check back for the many more photos and journeys to come!

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