When I went to Antelope Island last October, I knew I had to go there again. I wanted to bring my daughters, who I knew would love the place as much as I did. The park is open year round and the brochures list things to look for by month. Today we packed ourselves into the car along with lots of warm clothes to go see how the animals fared in winter.
Kiki drove. She is trying to get the last few hours of driving practice which are required before she can test for her license. She loved driving across the causeway and around the island. She could drive at a leisurely pace which she found relaxing. There were some people on the island, but not many. Most people seek out indoor recreation midwinter. I was fascinated to see that the water on one side of the causeway was frozen in a solid sheet. The other side was liquid.
We began our visit by driving down to the south end of the island to the Fielding Garr Ranch. We were greeted there by a volunteer who gave us a quick orientation to the ranch buildings. They ranged from over 150 years old to a mere 30 years old. All the eras in between were represented in various machines, tools, and implements. These things were arrayed for us to look at and to touch. The whole place was completely hands-on. Gleek was in heaven. She particularly loved the blacksmithy.
Kiki got cold after awhile and returned to the car, but Gleek wanted to look at every inch of the small homestead and barn. My favorite place was the spring house. It was this little rock building half buried in the ground right over a spring. Food that needed to be kept cold would be wrapped and placed in the icy spring water. We were able to walk inside and look around. I particularly liked the view toward the door.
The one thing about Garr Ranch we all loved were the owls
One of the volunteers led us into a copse of trees and showed us where to look. There they were, glaring down at us for waking them up. Unfortunately my camera wanted to focus on the branches in front of the owls instead of them. The same guide pointed to some distant trees where Bald Eagles hang out, but we opted to take our frozen fingers back to the van.
We did some sight seeing from the van and saw lots of buffalo. We even sighted a coyote out wandering by himself across the ice of a bay. Our next stop was the same beach that I photographed last fall.
In October silence was the first thing I noticed about the island. This time I had chatty company, but on the beach silence returned. We walked across frozen sheets of ice, noticing that salt water ice is springy-er than normal ice. It clumped in unexpected ways. Gleek liked to walk on sheets and use her toes to chase the air bubbles under the surface.
Once again the beach encouraged photography.
We spent a lot of time admiring the glass-smooth surface of the water, or looking out to the sand bar filled with seagulls.
On our way back to the van we took a side trip through the tall reeds. We were obviously not the first to do so. A trail of sorts wove through the clump. When I exited the beauty of the sun touched reeds against the blue sky caught my attention.
It is an interesting exercise in photographic lighting. I was able to completely change the effect of the reeds and sky by facing the setting sun instead of shooting away from it. This shot was taken simply by rotating from the one above.
When we left the island, it was understood that we need to come back. In the spring. When we can go on some of those hikes that we drove past because our fingers were still numb from the two trips out of the car that we’d already taken. I tucked some of the silence of the island into my heart. It’ll have to last until I can go back again.