Willow Lakes, Eagles Nest Wilderness, Colorado // "Here, this, is It. The world as it is, is Heaven, I'm looking for a Heaven outside what there is, it's only this poor pitiful world that's Heaven. Ah, if I could realize, if I could forget myself and devote my meditations to the freeing, the awakening, and the blessedness of all living creatures everywhere I'd realize what there is, is ecstasy." From Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums.
Flat Tops Wilderness, Colorado // Here's one from our rainy hike up to the Devil's Causeway, back in the Flat Tops. The Alpine Sunflowers were going crazy up there, making for a bright contrast to the moody clouds that filled the sky and even surrounded us a few times. On this trip we were bringing along a close friend who'd never been up into the flat tops, and even with the weather her reaction was pretty appropriate: "This is probably the most beautiful place I've ever been."
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana // Violence and valor are not the sole ingredients to lionhood. Our third day in Moremi treated us to an intimate (if public) interaction between two male lions, probably brothers, who had formed a coalition. Due to offroading laws in Moremi we weren't able to follow them long enough to find out whether they had a pride or were just drifters. But we were able to spend about an hour with the duo, following them from when they reunited, across to a watering hole, and finally to a sunny hill where they laid out together for a mid-morning nap, briefly more-or-less cuddling.
My friend made the astute observation-- it was most surprising how little violence we witnessed out on Safari. We seemingly saw a lot more friendly and affectionate interactions than angry, murderous ones. That could easily simply be a sample bias, but I don't know. I think nature might be a little less cruel than many give it credit for.