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Town and Country Photo Essay

Chris enjoys photographing the places he visits. He shares these photos as travel articles and also mixes them with creative writing.

Bumble Bee in Flight

Bumble Bee, covered with pollen from what I am guessing is some kind of Hibiscus.

Bumble Bee, covered with pollen from what I am guessing is some kind of Hibiscus.

Follow Me for Some Amazing Sights

My profession requires that I travel around the United States, and I take advantage of that opportunity by recording my experiences in photographs. These photos were taken in Montana and Pennsylvania in 2013 and 2014. The title refers to these as my favorite photographs during that time period, yet when I look at all of my photos, I keep wanting to grab more and more to share with you. So let's just say that these are among my favorites. Many of the places here have been featured in my individual articles as well.

Mountain Stream Bed


Mountain Stream Bed, Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park is truly a place like no other. I took the above photo while backpacking in the backcountry of Glacier. As I crossed this stream, the colors of the stones grabbed my attention, so I, in turn, grabbed my camera. The trail to Cosley Lake was covered with wildlife tracks in the muddy places. It was interesting to see the various animals I shared the trail with.

  • Mountain lion
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Mountain goats
  • Grizzly bear
  • Moose
  • Elk
  • Wolf

Cell Block at Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia


Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Eastern State Penitentiary opened for business in the early 1800s, and was in constant use as a prison for nearly 150 years. The above photo is of a two level cell block. The prison is shaped like a wagon wheel, with the guard station in the hub. Cell blocks are straight and fan out from the hub so the guards could see the entire place simply by standing in the center of the room and turning to look down the length of each block. More than three hundred prisons around the world have copied this wagon wheel design.

Lakes of the Bitterroot Mountains

The Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana captured my heart during my six months living in the city of Missoula. The lakes in the above photos are at the ends of long, narrow canyons, lined with mountain peaks and forests. Cutthroat trout, the only native trout in Montana, await the backpacker who has the foresight to take his fly rod along. I mostly practiced catch and release, but from time to time, I dined on these fish. One reason I didn't eat more of them is that I didn't like the fact that I would have smelled like freshly killed fish after cleaning them. Some of the wildlife surrounding me already considered me a delicacy, even without the flavor enhancement of trout.

Bridge in the Pocono Mountains


Bridge Reflection

If English is not your first language, I am about to commit a play on words. Bridge reflection could simply refer to the reflection of a bridge in the water beneath it. It could also refer to reflecting on, or thinking about the meaning of bridges. Let's do both.

  • “Fear builds walls instead of bridges. I want a life of bridges, not walls.” Lisa Wingate
  • “The wisdom of bridges comes from the fact that they know the both sides, they know the both shores!” Mehmet Murat ildan
  • “The great systems that inform the world about the truth and life invariably claim to be absolutely truthful and well-balanced. In reality they are quaking bridges built out of yearning.” Peter Høeg, Tales of the Night
  • The fate of the bridges is to be lonely; because bridges are to cross not to stay!” Mehmet Murat ildan
  • “You can't lose battles you never fought. You can't blaze bridges you never crossed.” Dexsta Ray

To Love Wildlife, is to Love Birds, for They Are, by Far, What We See Most

What wildlife do we see on a daily basis? Birds, possibly squirrels for some of us. But birds for nearly all of us. Here are some photos of birds I've seen over the last couple of years. I share these, not because of great photography. It clearly isn't. It's because of the magnificent birds.

Below I am sharing a video of a Bald eagle swimming to shore with a large fish. It's what they do when the fish is too large for them to fly with. I saw an eagle do this on the Clarke Fork River in Missoula, Montana near the confluence with the Bitterroot River. The eagle was swimming about 150 feet from me. I had no camera and my phone was dead.

Soaring Eagle Becomes a Swimming Eagle

Jewel Basin, Flathead National Forest, Montana


My Favorite Photograph

The photo above was taken during a backpacking weekend in the Jewel Basin in Montana. It had rained the afternoon before when I began the hike and all night while I slept in my tent. In the morning, the sun rose into a partly sunny sky. I packed up and moved on up the trail. When I came to the end of a long climb, I was greeted by this amazing scene.

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William Penn Statue, City Hall, Philadelphia


William Penn Atop Philadelphia's City Hall

William Penn towers above City Hall in Center City, Philadelphia. The founder of the commonwealth used to tower above everything around. Between 1984 and 1987, One Liberty Place was built to a height of 945 feet. Penn stood, and still stands, at 548 feet. Prior to the building of Liberty Place, there was a gentlemen's agreement in the city, that no structure would be built that exceeded the height of the statue of its founder.

Ganoga Falls, Rickett's Glen State Park, Pennsylvania

The 94-foot Ganoga Falls is the highest of 22 named waterfalls.

The 94-foot Ganoga Falls is the highest of 22 named waterfalls.

Rickett's Glen State Park, Pennsylvania

This large Pennsylvania State Park is comprised of 13,050 acres in Luzerne, Sullivan and Columbia counties. The feature of this park is the 7 1/2 mile loop trail that runs along two creeks. Along the way, hikers are rewarded with view after breathtaking view of 22 waterfalls.

I began my hike around 7:00 am on a Saturday after camping at a nearby campground. The morning was cool, the sky overcast and the trail abandoned except for me. I have shared this entire hike, along with photos, elsewhere, so I won't belabor the experience here. If you are looking for waterfalls in the eastern United States, this is where you need to go.

The silverback gorilla is in the Philadelphia Zoo. She was lying on the ground gazing into the sky while I watched from the other side of a glass wall. Eventually, she sat up and watched me and the other visitors to the zoo. She is a gorgeous and magnificent animal.

Sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art


Social Consciousness Sculpture

Sculptor, Jacob Epstein, helped to develop modern sculpture and produced this exhibit which was placed at the western entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The work has been interpreted by many to express sympathy for the afflicted of the world. I've read a little about the artist and believe he had more in mind. The figure to the right, I agree, shows a female figure supporting a stricken man. It expresses care for the afflicted in the world. The figure on the right, though, seems to be holding the man down, not assisting him, even dominating him. The fallen man's feet are still bound, something no one else mentioned that I could find. I believe that in the total work, Epstein was showing the whole range of the human spirit, and it isn't always pretty. The center figure is referred to as the "Eternal Mother."

Sandpipers, The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Philadelphia

Sandpipers on grocery cart

Sandpipers on grocery cart

The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, Philadelphia

Sandpipers on the creek running through the wildlife refuge. The shopping cart, out of place in the setting, emphasizes how the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service blends this wetlands in with the surrounding metropolitan population of nearly 7 million.

I paddled this tidal creek for several hours before low tide forced me to leave. During my time there, I photographed species after species of birds, crowded into the refuge.

In 1972 the refuge was established, permanently rescuing it from the constant threat of destruction and development.

The Delaware River at night, Philadelphia

Sailing under a full moon past Penn's Landing in Philadelphia.

Sailing under a full moon past Penn's Landing in Philadelphia.

This photo was taken during a nighttime visit to Penn's Landing in Philadelphia. My aim was to photograph the bridges crossing over to Camden, New Jersey, but the moon, the water and the sailboat coaxed my attention away from the mighty spans over the Delaware River.

Morel Mushrooms in Western Montana/Eastern Idaho

Drying my morels on a string in a greenhouse.

Drying my morels on a string in a greenhouse.

Morel Mushrooms in Montana?

Well, it was actually eastern Idaho on Highway 12 in the middle of the Bitterroot Mountains, but close to the Montana border. I was visiting a natural hot springs about three miles from the highway when I noticed people coming out of the forest carrying bags of something. I discovered they had been hunting morel mushrooms, something I had been doing since childhood back in Indiana and later in Michigan. I grabbed my backpack and trekked off into the trees. Soon I had a couple hundred mushrooms and headed back to Missoula to make a morel bisque.

Blodgett Canyon Trail may be the most beautiful hike I have ever taken. The twelve miles of mountain peaks and the lake at the back of the canyon were among the most beautiful scenery I have ever experienced. The three peaks challenge rock climbers from the area, but that is an activity I have not yet attempted. I'll leave it to the mountain goats and bighorn sheep.

Footbridge, Glacier National Park, Montana


I crossed this bridge while hiking in the backcountry of Glacier National Park in Montana. The entrance onto the bridge is built so that large animals aren't able to get onto the bridge.

Beargrass in Montana


Mule Deer and Beargrass

I sat at a picnic table in a mountain top campground next to the ghost town of Garnet, Montana. Beargrass plants were blooming all around me as the early morning sun shined through. Mule deer, not afraid of a lone camper, ventured closer, stopping occasionally to munch on the frosty tops of the plants, leaving white "crumbs" around their mouths as though they were eating cake.

Center City, Philadelphia


Kayaking is one of my favorite outdoor activities. When I first went to Philadelphia, I was disappointed that I wouldn't have many opportunities to get out in my boat. I finally gave the schuylkill river a try, I was pleasantly surprised. It is an awesome way to experience the city.

Saw Creek, in the Delaware National Forest of Pennsylvania, won't find its way into too many travel brochures, but beauty is everywhere if we open our eyes to it. The sky clouded over and a gentle rain fell on the creek, the forest, the frog and me. My thanks to the frog for hanging in there for the portrait.

Bonus Photo. What is it?

Mystery photo

Mystery photo

What is That Thing in the Dark?

This photo was also taken in the Delaware National Forest of Pennsylvania. Do you see the lights in the background, between the trees, below the illuminated tree branch? What is it? I'll leave the answer in the last comment box at the bottom of the page.


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 05, 2015:

Rolly, Thanks for taking a look at my photos. Give me a backpack and I'm a happy camper. Happy trails.

Rolly A Chabot from Alberta Canada on April 05, 2015:

Hi Cam8510

Loved the journey and looks as though we would be a good pair on some hikes... great pictures...


Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 05, 2015:

Alun, thanks for spending some time here on my hub and for mentioning your favorites. These photos hold a lot of memories for me, and I enjoy sharing them with you and others.

Greensleeves Hubs from Essex, UK on April 05, 2015:

A very good varied photo selection Chris, and a nice illustration of the opportunities which exist if one only carries a camera wherever one goes, and keeps the eyes open. I particularly appreciate the opening photograph because I know from my own experiences how difficult it is to get an insect perfectly sharp, let alone a bulky insect like a bumble bee in flight. Having said that, I do have a love of 'pretty landscapes' and perhaps my favourites are the three peaks in Blodgett Canyon, and the river bridge in Glacier National Park. Cheers, Alun

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on April 04, 2015:

Deb, I really enjoyed paddling the Heinz refuge. I'll go back again before I leave here. I can see how it could get contaminated with all the industry in the area. But it is a good place to visit. Is that farm market in Philly? I'd like to visit there as well.

Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on April 04, 2015:

Lots of nice pics, and great memories. I recall many of these, and I worked the Athos I oil spill of 204, where part of the Delaware River was slicked for a good 10 miles. Part of the Heinz Refuge was oiled, too, and we washed animals and turtles from there, as well as birds. Having lived in Wilmington, DE, I'd go periodically to the Saturday Market for sausage, fish and DiBruno's Cheese Shop.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on April 03, 2015:

Amazing photos. I loved the focus and the subject matter. The mushrooms are fascinating. Never saw anything quite like that before. And you captured an Osprey in flight... I don't think my camera is fast enough for that. Nice. Loved the journey. Thanks.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on March 24, 2015:

Wonderful photos---each one is beautiful!

The accompanying information about the pictures makes them all the more interesting.

Thanks for sharing, voted up as beautiful and awesome!

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on March 23, 2015:

Sage, Thanks for visiting my hub. The gorilla was at the Philadelphia Zoo. At first he was curled up with his back to me, but finally rolled over on his back and just looked at the sky. I'm glad you enjoyed the shot.

Mackenzie Sage Wright on March 23, 2015:

Beautiful shots, wow. Love that candid gorilla capture.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on March 22, 2015:

Randy, The mountain lion tracks were everyplace. After a while, I got the message. They were all around me, but wanted nothing to do with me. I have a photo of a track next to my hiking boot.

Yes, I believe you hit the nail on the head about the sculpture at the MOA in Philly. Thanks for stopping by.

Randy Horizon from Philadelphia on March 22, 2015:

Love you photos Chris. Always wanted to go to Glacier park, but never have yet. You found Mountain Lion tracks, wow that's pretty cool. You've been around to some very nice places. The sculpture at the art gallery is almost like the Eternal Mother is saying "look at the duality of man's nature", holding her hands up to each side statue. Great hub. Thanks for sharing it.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on March 22, 2015:

Frank, The bee shot is special to me because of how many shots it took to get it right. That bumble bee was not happy when I ended up asking him to fly by about 50 times for retakes. Seriously, thanks for your comments.

Chris Mills (author) from Traverse City, MI on March 22, 2015:

Christine, Nice to see you. The photo you chose as you favorite is one of mine as well. The reflections of trees and the raindrops on the water were fun to try to capture. Thanks for stopping by.

Frank Atanacio from Shelton on March 22, 2015:

Cam this is a fantastic hub.. as simple as the bee in flight appeared for me I found it the most amazing... I don't know why when your other shots seem justified.. the thumbnails of the water's view breath-taking the videos and still shots.. brilliant.. but I still go back to the bee in flight...

christinemariezzz on March 21, 2015:


The light rain on the creek is my favorite. Your photographic tendency, in my opinion in this one captures the intellect as Patchouli does queasiness.

Having said that, my interpretation of your abstract: (if I may call it so) ☺️ ( The things poets can use to antagonize photographers,,, all in fun):

I'm attracted to the color ways, how the natural world can swirl the unadorned luxury of a branch bending its browns into such beautiful images, taking our mind gently to other places we might have been.

My applaud to you for assembling this fine collective ~Christine