Dinosaur National Monument

January 22, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

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Back in July, I wrote about the varied landscapes of Colorado.  In that blog entry, I featured one picture of the Colorado side of Dinosaur National Monument.  Here, I will feature my favorite pictures from the Utah side of the park. Most people come to Dinosaur to see the visitor center exhibits of dinosaur bones.  However, there is also some pleasing landscapes.  One scenic hike is the trail at Harpers Corner with views down onto the Green River. 

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There are not really any iconic scenes in Dinosaur. However, with some good light and some scouting, you can come up with some nice scenes with colorful sandstone hills, grasses and cottonwood trees. 

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Besides seeking out landscapes and viewing dinosaur bone exhibits, there are also several nice petroglyph panels in the area. 

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In May, I will be returning to Utah.  Next time, I will be seeing Capitol Reef National Park.  Come back for that!


A brief trip to Big Bend National Park

December 22, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

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Last week, I made a brief trip to Lajitas, Texas.  Lajitas is a border town in far southwest Texas and next to Big Bend National Park. Big Bend is one of my favorite parks, especially in the winter. Because it is far away from any major population centers, it is lightly visited compared to many national parks.  It has an unrefined, spacious and often quiet nature.  There aren't a lot of iconic shots here, but you can come across some nice surprise scenes, such as the prickly pear cactus clinging to the side of rock wall pictured above. 

I took a hike in the Texas sun from the Lajitas Golf Resort into Big Bend on the Mesa de Anguila Trail.  It was a hazy late afternoon with temperatures in the 70s.  Once you climb the mesa, you can look down on the Rio Grande River.  

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In this picture, Mexico is left of the Rio Grande with Texas off to the right.  I was looking into the sun with some backlit golden grass in the lower right. I believe the plant off to the left is an ocotillo. I love the atmospherics in the picture with the hazy ridges in the distance. 

I also had an encounter with a couple of horses.  

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These horses were on national park land, so I wondered if they were wild or they escaped from a nearby ranch.  This was about 3 miles from any kind of civilization. I have heard of wild horses roaming in some western states, such as Nevada, but didn't know if they were here.  After doing a quick Google search, it turns out that they are domesticated and likely came from Mexico. You can read more here about the not so wild horses of Big Bend.

 

It has been awhile since I last wrote in this blog. In my last post, my daughter was undergoing the first round of chemotherapy.  After 4 rounds of chemo between July and September, I am pleased to announce that her tumor has shrunk to the point that it is now hard to measure and Helicity's chemo treatments have been discontinued. After losing her hair, it is starting to grow back again.

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Her immune system is still not fully recovered so she is still not back in daycare yet.  However, we hope to get her back in daycare early next year and I can get back to producing more blog entries again soon. 


The varied landscapes of Colorado

July 18, 2022  •  1 Comment

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Back in June, I drove out to Colorado.  From chasing storms in the eastern plains to hiking above the treeline in the Rockies and the sandstone canyons of western Colorado, here is a short sample of some of my favorite pictures from that trip. 

On June 7th, I targeted southeast Colorado in anticipation of seeing some storms.  Here I was able to view severe thunderstorms that prompted a few Tornado Warnings in the vicinity of Lamar.  I was a little late to this particular storm that produced a few brief tornado touchdowns, but I was still able to see the rotation in this storm near Two Buttes, Colorado. 

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You can see the rotation in this 3 minute 45 second time-lapse sped up 8x into 28 seconds here: 

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Next, it was time drive across the Rockies to the western side of the state. My destination was to Dinosaur National Monument along the Utah/Colorado border.  For now, I will just show my favorite location on the Colorado side of park. 

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This is Steamboat Rock in far western Colorado. It is located in an area called Echo Park, where the Green and Yampa Rivers meet.  I will highlight the pictures for the Utah side of the park for a future blog post.  

After seeing the landscapes of Dinosaur National Monument, is was time to head a little east to the high country toward Central Colorado. The Flat Tops Wilderness has become one of my favorite places to visit in the last few summers.  I have now been there 3 of the last 4 years. You can see a previous blog post of my previous visit to Flat Tops here. Here I climbed to this viewpoint of the late afternoon light hitting the rock formation known as The Chinese Wall. 

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The picture above was from 11,200 feet.  I would soon climb even higher on my next hike at Rocky Mountain National Park. It is one thing to hike above the treeline with a daypack.  It is another to haul a backpack with some camera and camping gear. This was the highest I have climbed while backpacking.

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The Boulderfield is a camping area at 12,700 feet inside Rocky Mountain National Park. I have never camped that high before. Hauling your gear to that elevation is quite a challenge in itself. Then you have to have to hope for good weather.  I had to wait about 2 hours for a thunderstorm to pass before I decided to proceed to climbing above the treeline. Being above treeline with lightning popping nearby can be a jarring experience that I now prefer to avoid.  Above is the rock formation called The Keyhole, just below 14,259 foot Longs Peak, which gives you an idea of what it looks like at about 13,000 feet. After all that effort, the perk is to experience sunset and sunrise at such high elevations. 

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This picture above is looking down on the appropriately named Chasm Lake, still partially frozen in June. The picture below is looking up at the summit of Longs Peak. 

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Over the week of the 4th of July, my wife and I went to Colorado for some leisure time in the Colorado Springs and Buena Vista area. We took the cogway up to the top of Pikes Peak and stayed at a fishing resort called Rainbow Lake, seen at sunset on the picture below. 

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We also drove up to the Continental Divide at Cottonwood Pass, just over 12,000 feet. Here we were able to catch some beautiful clouds reflections at this tarn in the late afternoon light. 

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We took my 10-month daughter, Helicity, on this trip as well. It was her first time to Colorado. 

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Unfortunately, we recently learned that her tumor that was removed back in February has returned.  She is currently in the first round of chemotherapy with a second round on the way in August.  This will probably be last blog post for the rest of the summer and I will be devoting a lot of my time the next couple of months taking care of her.  If you are the praying type, please say a prayer for her in hopes that she will finally beat cancer the second time around!    

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An architectural journey from Santa Fe to Taos

May 25, 2022  •  2 Comments

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I have been going back into the photo archives the last couple of weeks and I thought I would put together a project from a photo tour in 2019.  This project focuses on the adobe structures from Santa Fe to Taos in New Mexico. The picture above with a cumulonimbus cloud is from downtown Santa Fe. 

The "High Road to Taos" is a scenic highway that goes through old Spanish influenced villages in the foothills of the Sangre de Christo mountains between Santa Fe to Taos. Below are pictures along that highway from the villages of Nambe and Picuris. 

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For the color image above in Picuris, I was fortunate to be there at the right time when the shadow from the ladder creates a triangle around the window. To me, this picture is like having two great images in one.  One could also crop the image down as a vertical centered around the ladder, the window and the shadow.  

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The High Road to Taos ends near the town of Rancho de Taos, a few blocks from the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church. 

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This is probably one of the most painted and photographed churches in the nation, especially from the buttresses in the back. It has been famously painted by Georgia O'Keeffe and photographed by Ansel Adams. I have been here several times myself, and you can see a blog entry from my previous trip to this mission church. 

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Completion of its construction took from 1772 to 1815 and it looks much the same to this day. 

The final picture below is from Taos Pueblo. It is an ancient pueblo belonging to the Taos speaking tribe of the Native American tribe of Puebloan people. The Pueblos are considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States and is now designated to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 
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On my last blog entry, I mentioned that my daughter was about to undergo major surgery to remove a tumor in her chest.  I am pleased to report that the tumor has been removed.  We will still get checkups every 3 months to make sure that the neuroblastoma doesn't reappear. However, for now, we are optimistic that we will be able to avoid any chemotherapy. Now at 8 months of age, she appears to be healthy.  Thanks to those of you who reached out to me with your support and prayers!

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The Garden Island of Kauai

February 13, 2022  •  2 Comments

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Over the start of the new year, I spent a week of vacation with my family on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. We stayed at the town of Princeville, on the north shore of the island.  Kauai is often nicknamed the "Garden Island" because of its lush vegetation created by the abundant rainfall.  It rained at least part of each day I was there.  Sometimes, the rain was soft and light. Other times, the rain was heavy enough to produce flooding.  The proximity of the sharp cliffs next to the warm ocean encourages humid air to rise quickly into a repeating cycle of condensation and rain. The interior portion of Kauai is considered to be the one of the wettest places in the United States, and among the top 10 in the world. In case you were wondering, the highest mountains in Kauai see an average of 384 inches of rain a year. The top 10 wettest places in the world can be found here

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If you look closely in the photo above, you can see waterfalls pouring off the steep cliffs. 

We had a beautiful view from our rental overlooking Hanalei Bay that included rainbows and sunsets.

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With its unique landscapes, many films and TV shows have been filmed here. Among some of the most famous movies are Jurassic Park, King Kong, Avatar and Lord of the Flies

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This beach (pictured above) was part of the film South Pacific. A couple of the more famous TV shows filmed on Kauai were Fantasy Island and Gilligan's Island

My favorite part of island is the Napoli Coast.  Here, you will see a rugged coastline that is only accessible by either boat, plane or foot.  I hiked a section of the famous Kalalau Trail that starts at Haena State Park. 

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I also recommend taking the drive along the top of Waimea Canyon that leads to the overlook pictured above, known as the Pu’u O Kila Lookout. This lookout gives a higher perspective of the Napoli Coast.

 

On a personal note, I thought I would take a little time to announce that my 5-month-old daughter has recently been diagnosed with neuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer.  She will soon be undergoing surgery to have much of the malignant tumor removed from her chest. If you are the praying type, please pray for her to have a safe surgery and for a quick recovery.

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