The GoPro explores the Denver Botanic Gardens

The Denver Botanic Gardens are awesome and I highly recommend visiting them if you’re in the area. That said, this post isn’t really about the Gardens. I gained a new appreciation for my GoPro while I was there and want to share what I learned.

I wasn’t expecting much from the GoPro. I had spent some time going through its settings to maximize image quality, and I wanted to see what it could do under various conditions. But I brought my “real camera,” my old Sony RX100, to make sure I got some decent shots.

The Sony is 2.5 years old now, and that’s about the age where my cameras usually need replacing. By then they’re full of dust and moisture and they’ve been dropped and banged into rocks and saddles to the point where the lenses struggle to focus properly. My Sony took glorious photos when it was new. Now they’re just okay. But I still had more faith in it than the GoPro.

Luckily, one of our first stops was the Tropical Conservatory. I hadn’t even taken the GoPro out of my purse yet at that point. I wish I had, because I think it would have taken a better pic of these poison dart frogs than the Sony did.

The Tropical Conservatory is pretty great. Winding ramps and staircases take you up through a lush jungle atrium. I brought the GoPro out for the first time when I wasn’t able to get all of a giant plant-tree-thing into the Sony’s frame. This is where the GoPro’s wide-angle lens really shines:

For those who can’t climb stairs, there’s an elevator disguised as a tree and overgrown with live plants. In the constrained space of the walkway, this is the pic the Sony took of the top of the elevator:

And the GoPro took this pic from the exact same spot:

The Sony did a marginally better job at shots like this, where the subject fit nicely into the frame:

Both cameras took lovely shots of the Monet Pool in their different ways.



…and GoPro:

Japanese Garden, GoPro:

The Sony took this pic. I like it because it looks like alien space koi coming to visit a desert landscape.

Here are two shots of the same waterfall from the same vantage point, both cropped down to show roughly the same image. Top Sony, bottom GoPro. I think I like the top one better, but I could improve the bottom one in a photo processing app.

The Sony took the better pic of this tree’s unusual bark, but only because the GoPro’s fisheye lens warped the trunks into weird shapes.

Two pics of the same greenhouse from the same spot. Sony top, GoPro bottom. The GoPro image is actually cropped a bit.

Obligatory nude statue, Sony.

If you visit the Denver Botanic Gardens with kids, be sure not to miss the Children’s Garden, accessed via the roof of the parking garage. It’s got a great Old West theme with mountains to climb, bridges to cross, a stream to splash around in, and woodsy trails to explore. All pics taken with the Sony:

Conclusion: the GoPro is exceptionally useful in small spaces with large subjects. It actually can take decent-quality photos, but it’s crucial to go through the settings and personalize them for what you need. Also, the Denver Botanic Gardens are very cool.

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, environment, Family, Gardening, Life, trees | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Chandor Gardens

I’m still shopping for an English saddle that will fit Mahogany’s very broad, very short back. I’ve noticed lately that even her Western saddle, which is plenty wide, has begun to bridge on her withers and loins. It’s a self-perpetuating problem, since the too-long saddle creates pressure points that cause her to raise her head and hollow her back, which over time changes her back muscles and makes the bridging worse.

So I drove to Weatherford to look at a promising-looking used English saddle. Since Luke and Elizabeth both had the day free, we decided to check out Chandor Gardens while we were in the neighborhood.




The gardens were a labor of love by the English artist Douglas Chandor, who came to the U.S. in 1926 and moved to Weatherford in 1934.



I love all the fun details, like this brick-and-gravel “labyrinth…”


…the moon gate…


…and this, whatever it is.


The estate is smallish, but charming.




We loved Chandor Gardens, but sadly, the saddle didn’t work out. I’ve decided to get an english-style treeless saddle, since at this point I’m out of other ideas within my price range. I like the idea of a treeless saddle anyway, even though most of them are kind of hideous. They do allow much closer contact between horse and rider. Got my fingers crossed that this is the solution I’ve been looking for.


Categories: A Plethora of Parks, Animals, environment, Family, Gardening, Horses, kids, Life | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Churrasco and Trinity Park

Over the past three or four months I’ve been easing back into the dating pool. Nothing serious yet, just kind of testing the waters with a few different guys. Today I had a really nice first date with a fellow who wanted to introduce me to the hedonistic pleasures of the churrascaria. We went to Rafain Brazilian Steakhouse, where I enjoyed one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten, and afterward he asked if I’d like to go for a walk. Of course the answer to that question is always yes, so he drove us to Trinity Park, which was another first for me.

So then I had to tell him about my park collection and take pictures of everything while we walked. I am nothing if not committed to my pointless hobbies.

So…Trinity Park.


I got pics of all three signs, just to make it extra official.




As the name suggests, this urban park lies along a very tame and manicured section of the Trinity River.









It has a decent-sized playground…


…one of those nifty bike-rental stations that are all over Fort Worth…


…and apparently there is a miniature railroad that transports passengers between Trinity Park and nearby Forest Park.



Also, the Fort Worth Botanic Gardens are right across the street! I have posted before about how awesome those are.


Trinity Park has all of the usual park amenities, like benches and picnic tables and gazebos and a duck pond next to the miniature train station. All in all, I would describe this park as delightful.

The company was very enjoyable too. My weakness is good conversation, and it’s rare to find someone who likes to talk as much as I do. He pleasantly blew my mind at one point when he described vegetable seeds as “data packets.” We were discussing the logistics of illegally downloading an organic pizza.

Today was a good day.

Categories: A Plethora of Parks, food, Gardening, Life, trees | Tags: , | 3 Comments


Fall is in full swing now.


The resident stable dog has started accompanying Mahogany and me on our rides, at least when we stick to the river trail instead of exploring the paved roads.


When the kids and I were first planning our move to DFW I had a vague idea, based mostly on Google maps of the area and my own SoCal experiences, that Bedford was a sea of cookie cutter housing tracts, apartment buildings and shopping centers. I knew there were lots of good things here too, parks and libraries and museums and great schools, that’s why we chose DFW. But I would study the satellite images and trace the greenbelt along the Trinity River and think to myself, “At least we can go for hikes along the Trinity whenever suburban life feels too crowded.”

Yeah, it’s not like that at all. We’ve come to enjoy exploring the suburbs more than the river trails. There’s nothing cookie cutter about the neighborhoods here. I feel weird about taking pictures of peoples’ houses and putting them on the Internet, but even the streets and sidewalks themselves have character.






The city (suburb, whatever) is crisscrossed with canals and runoff creeks that you can follow sometimes for miles.



Sometimes, in the spaces between one neighborhood and the next, I find wooded trails that feel like wilderness.


I have discovered three community gardens so far within walking distance of where we’re living, plus a handful of “guerrilla garden” patches tucked alongside creeks and canals. And parks. Holy crap, so many parks. According to Google Maps there are 58 public parks within a 10-mile radius of our house. Can confirm, they are everywhere. We have even found a stretch of walking and bike paths that includes a series of six “workout stations,” spaced a few minutes apart, with gym-quality equipment for strength and flexibilty training. I’ve been giving those a lot of use on my afternoon walks.

I’ve also started taking picures of the water tower that looms into view at odd moments on my walks.


But I think that’s a subject for another post.

Categories: Animals, Dogs, environment, Family, Gardening, Horses, kids, Life, trail rides, Weather | 1 Comment

Fall Stuff

Anza sits at 4,000 feet above sea level, so temperatures go up and down with the sun. In the summer it’s not uncommon to get into the triple digits during the days and down into the 50 or 60s at night. Winter nights there are always cold, but winter days might feel like January or July.

DFW isn’t like that, at least from what I’ve seen so far. Summer felt like summer, whether the sun was up or not. And now that the weather has turned to fall, it has stayed there instead of getting all fickle and whimsical. Now the colors are creeping in, and squirrels are gathering acorns everywhere I look.




Signs of fall are all around.



On weekday afternoons I like to go for walks. I take a slightly different route each time and explore new streets. I enjoy looking at the houses and businesses; I just really like the way things are built here. Someone told me that the reason most of the buildings have so many different angles on their roofs is to deflect high winds and make it harder for tornadoes to get a grip on them. Someone else told me that that’s not the case, that people here just like funky roofs. Whatever, I like them too.




On yesterday’s walk I stumbled onto a dedicated system of walking and bike paths. I started out walking next to roads, but ended up on a trail that followed a line of massive power poles.



At first all I could see was those enormous poles, but by the end of the walk I barely noticed them. They’re almost kind of pretty, if you squint and tilt your head just right.




I’m looking forward to showing the kids those paths, it’ll be nice to have a trafficless place to walk that doesn’t involve driving first.

Tomorrow we set back the clocks. The spring time change feels like years ago on a different planet. So much change crammed into eight months.

I’ve begun to really miss my garden and orchard. Today I bought a young sage plant so I can have fresh sage for cooking; hopefully it will have time to get established before winter sets in. I think I’ll get some lettuce and kale seeds next, if the weather stays mild. It’s funny the things I miss and the things I don’t miss at all. If I could just find a local, organic pomegranate orchard my autumn would be complete.

Categories: Animals, environment, Family, food, Gardening, kids, Life, trees, Weather, Wildlife | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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