Saturday, March 7, 2009

French Creek State Park (Hot Winter Day!)

The mini-heat wave (Fri & Sat) had everyone in a good mood and ready to break out of their winter hibernation.

My new camera arrived Friday afternoon, so I was excited to put it through it's paces. The Panasonic Lumix FZ-28 is regarded as one of the better ultra zooms introduced in 2008. French Creek State Park was the obvious choice for the I know the subject and lighting conditions well.

The Hopewell Lake parking area was nearly full with all outdoor recreations represented. The 70 degree afternoon brought out fishermen, kayakers, bikers, hikers, dog walkers, Frisbee gamers, birders, horse riders, picnickers and little playgrouders.

In spite of the temps, it was yet another Pennsylvania gray winter day so great photo ops were a challenge. I haven't yet read the camera manual so I was literally experimenting to find and adjust the settings for best shots.

We lapped Hopewell Lake on the muddy trail and I mean muddy! The wet lands east of where Scotts Run creek feeds Hopewell are like mud fields. On a good day, you can rock and log hop to keep the feet dry, but in early spring and after rainy weather water and mud are inches deep.

Max and I drove to Scotts Run Lake just as the sun came out for some "magic hour" photography. It was unprecedentedly uncrowded then I saw the signs, "No Fishing". The lake was recently stocked with trout, but the season doesn't start until April 4, 2009.

Beware of the Ticks!
Ever present once the temps warm up over 40 are the ticks. I cannot emphasize enough to take precautions for people and pets against these potential disease carrying insects. Lyme disease is a devastating and disabling bacterial infection which is hard to diagnose. Rashes occur only 5o% and the "common" blood tests are only about 50% accurate.

Max is treated with Frontline every 3-4 weeks, which deters and/or kills the ticks once they bite into the skin. I spray head-to-toe with "Buzz Away" which is an organic, pleasant smelling and effective repellent. A couple other equally good "DEET free" brands are "Bite Blocker" and Mercola's "Bug Off".

Bug spray alone is not a sure thing though, so a thorough clothes and body search is prudent post-hike behavior. I literally dump my clothes in the washing machine and shower within minutes after coming home. Max is flipped and rubbed down carefully too in search of ticks.

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