Bucket lists are only as good as one's efforts to check things off. I'm happy to say that I can now report one of the items highest on my list now has a line through it.
I suspected that traveling to India to join a Piper Mackay Tiger Safari might mean stepping out of my physical comfort zone, but the chance to get up-close-and-personal with the most impressive cat in the world made me forget about bone-on-bone knees and my last several months of physical therapy. I knew that diving headlong into the native habitat of India’s unique wildlife in the country's spectacular wildlife parks would be a chance to capture those "nailed it" shots that continue to compel my globe-trotting.
I also knew that joining a search for Bengal Tigers might be an exercise in futility. These big cats are the living embodiment of "wild" and remain elusive to all but the most savvy trackers and guides. There was a serious chance that I'd come up empty-handed and never even spot one of these massive, magnificent creatures. Miles of bone-jarring Jeep rides along dirt roads at sunset did little to preserve my deteriorating spinal discs, but with rumors of leopards leading us on, I ignored the route's twists, turns, and billowing dust.
My pulse rate increased as we stealthily approached a watering hole just as a pair of tigers came out from under an overhang where they had been sheltered from the hot sun. They quietly walked to the water just at sunset (adding a warm hue to the image) while another surveyed the scene with a suspicious glare.
When you see them, you just might get the same tingling feeling I got when I pressed my shutter release.
You'll also see my new monkey friends as well as some spectacular colors on the birds we encountered.
One of them, the Indian Roller (they mate while rolling in mid-air), related to the African Lilac Roller, is so elusive it has taken me five years to capture this image.
I'm back home now and processing these safari photos. As I do, I'm reliving the sights, sounds, and aromas of India, and realizing that my new neoprene back brace and some nagging shoulder pain are well worth the joy of sharing my images with everyone.
I hope to see many friends and followers at my annual show at Black Market Gourmet in Coos Bay, Oregon. The food is amazing, the people are great fun, and I'll have more than 100 images from my Australia-New Zealand trip on display, with my new 18-month calendars available at a "show discount."