The Hidden Worlds in our Own Backyards

So recently I took a little photowalk along the river behind my condo complex. As I was setting out, I noticed a path heading in a direction I’d never seen before, and I decided to take it.

deer print

Right away I was rewarded with seeing some deer prints in the sand beside the river, which is not very unusual because deer are very common in New Jersey.

water's edge

Still, it was very nice beside the water’s edge, with the sound of the river flowing and the crickets chirping in the early Summer evening.

the river is ... low

The river was rather low though, because it’s been such a dry summer, which meant I could get to some places I normally wouldn’t be able to.

a way across

I eventually found a way across a little side stream, which led me further upstream…

a steep slope

…and then I found the path took a sharp turn up a steep slope, which – strangely enough! – had a rope tied off to help you climb up it. Very strange, considering you normally can’t get over here…

looking down the slope

Once I was up, the path wound on a bit further, which led me to a bit of a… smelly… surprise.

the bog of eternal stench

Although all it had in common was the bad smell, I’m still calling this place the “bog of eternal stench.”

By this point, things were starting to feel a little weird – this was a strange new place, and it’d gone very quiet – you couldn’t hear the sounds of cars on the road where I’d parked, and the air had taken on that strange still feeling that you get in the deep countryside in late summer.

tiny fairy forest on a log in the bog

Looking a bit closer, I saw that the log that was lying in the bog (heh) had a lot of growth on it, which looked really neat, so I (very carefully) climbed out there to take a closer look. I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised to see faeries or smurfs or something like that crawling around.

someone marked out a path

Still, despite all of this, the path was clearly marked, although I don’t know who had done this.

everything is overgrown with green

As I moved further, you could just see that everything was absolutely covered with green, like an overgrown ruin of some sort…

overgrown structure

Eventually I stumbled across this strange structure, although I think you can guess what it is.

secret entrance

The trail briefly exited onto a road at this point, and I turned around and almost couldn’t find the path I’d just come out of!

another hidden entrance

It really was a very well hidden entrance.

drain pool

Heading back (somewhat) the way I came, I found myself next to this surprisingly pleasant pool (aside from the inevitable bugs).

At this point I had to retrace my steps somewhat, and returned to the path beside the river.

lone bench

That’s when I stumbled across this – a lone bench, sitting beside the river, on a section of riverbank that normally would be submerged. Suffice to say, I was rather surprised to see it there.

bench and river

That said, it was a lovely place to sit and admire the river.

summer river

The water was really calm at this point, and the reflections of the trees in the late afternoon sun was really just beautiful.

strange fire marking stone

But then I noticed this weird stone next to the bench, with this odd symbol carved onto it.

I began to wonder if I had wandered into some strange world.

more rope guides

The path continued on, with more rope guides…

overgrown remains of a ladder

Then, things became overgrown again – this time, the overgrown remains of a ladder.

the path keeps going on

And yet, the path continued on…

under the log

At one point, the path went under this giant fallen tree, but as soon as I stepped under it, things didn’t feel quite the same anymore, and I heard the sounds of people again, so I decided this was the end of this path, and turned back and took a different branch.

washed out bridge

This time, I followed a ravine, where I saw a washed out bridge – no doubt this was why everything felt so isolated.

deer

another deer

Unsurprisingly, I ran into some more deer. Although I was actually quite close to them, I did not have a zoom lens on (it’s too dark for my zoom lenses) so I had to crop a bit to get these pictures.

little bridge and on to the other side

The ravine eventually narrowed and another, smaller bridge crossed it.

the path back to civilization

This brought me out briefly to a path where the grass had been recently mowed. If you look closely, you can even see a groundhog I ran into – he waddled off back into the undergrowth after a brief staring contest with me.

overgrown stone path

The path then branched back into the woods, and once again things became green and overgrown.

stones overgrown on the path

At times the path was so overgrown that the occasional stone popping up was my only guide to keep me on the almost-vanished path.

path through the green

It was a very inspiring journey, but eventually I found myself heading back the way I came.

back to the human world

And then, at last, I was back where I started, at the bridge crossing the river, and the sounds of the ordinary world returned, and everything seemed just a little bit duller.

Still, it was an interesting adventure, and a reminder of the hidden worlds we can all find in our own backyards, if we’re just willing to look.

 

Desktop Madness Vol. 99

This installment of Desktop Madness features a nature photograph which was good enough to fool me into thinking someone else had taken it!

Geez, have I really done 99 of these things? Wow.

Today’s wallpaper has a slightly amusing story to it. As you might know, I use John’s Background Switcher to cycle randomly through my entire wallpaper collection.

Well, the other day a picture came up in the rotation, I thought to myself, “gee that’s a nice picture, I should post it as a desktop madness entry.”

It took a few minutes for me to remember that actually, that was a picture I’d taken!

So anyway, here’s the photo that inspired this post. Enjoy!

tiny red leaves closeup

(Remember: you can download the full-size version from this picture’s Flickr page.)

Around the Next Bend

Recently, I was out for a walk at a place where I’ve gone for walks dozens of times in the past. But this time, I noticed a trail off to my right that I’d never seen before… and so, with no real destination in mind, and some free time on my hands, I turned off the main path and down this new one, just to see what was there.

Turns out, there is a whole other system of trails, and some beautiful big fields (where you can find wild bunnies frolicking, no less!) which I never knew about. I can’t even begin to tell you how happy (and surprised) I was to find this, just a little ways away from where I’d been so many times before.

Is this an analogy for life? You bet.

The thing is, you really do never know what is coming around the next bend, and life being as unpredictable as it is, you never know when you’re going to see that turn coming that leads you to someplace really special.

what lies around the bend

Having personally been in some dark places over the years, I can tell you, it’s hard to believe that these turns or special places even exist – but they do, and eventually, one way or another, you always seem to find them when you least expect it.

Desktop Madness Vol. 98

Roses are #F0000, Violets are #0000F … you know the rest. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Can’t believe I’d never posted this one before.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Internet… may your memes never fade!

Desktop Madness Vol. 97

I always go a little crazy on Valentine’s Day… no special reason.

Oh, it’s that time of year again – Valentine’s day. So I guess I should put up some Valentine related wallpapers, eh?

What? Oh, by Valentine’s Day you didn’t mean Faye Valentine. Sorry, my bad.

Ok, ok, I’ll stop now.

…Enjoy your Valentine’s Day.