We spent some time exploring Big Pine – Death Valley Road. Along the way, we found some interesting things: A beautiful forest of Joshua Trees, and a wonderful White-tailed Antelope Squirrel. All of this set against the scenery of desert mountains. It was beautiful trip.
Be aware though, if you decide to explore this road, we have read that is one of the most dangerous roads in the country. We found the route to be in good shape but there are some things to consider. We found a lot of tire shredding rocks. There are numerous washes that cross the route so it could be flooded, or the road surface washed out. With photography stops, it took us 7 hours to get from Big Pine to Stovepipe Wells.
This post shares some images from the section between Big Pine, CA and the entrance to Death Valley National Park. I’ll share images from Eureka Valley and Death Valley in a future post.
Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.
Last week we took a day trip into the mountains. We travelled along RT 88 from Jackson, CA to Rt 89 and followed it over Monitor Pass and down to Topaz then returned. It is a beautiful trip through the Sierra Nevada. While we enjoyed clear skies, at places we could see smoke hanging over distant mountain valleys.
Please click on caption to see images at higher resolution.
We recently spent a few days on the beach at Waldport, OR.
It is located in Oregon Dunes area of the coast. Just outside of town sets a
beach amongst a craggy, old volcanic lava flow. It is a beautiful beach with
many tidal pools left teeming with wildlife as the tide recedes.
On this visit, the birds really took center stage. We saw
some seals, but they were offshore and all I could see were heads bobbing. So,
they weren’t photo worthy. But we found some Pelagic Cormorants (Phalacrocorax
pelagicus); one with a chick on the nest. We found Western Gulls (Larus
occidentalis), many of which were recently fledged juveniles.
The Pelagic Cormorant is found along coastal waters and eats
fish and marine invertebrates. It roosts and nests on steep, inaccessible rocky
cliffs. It swims and dives for food.
The Western Gull is the common gull that you find on US West
Coast beaches. They like fish, marine invertebrates, bird eggs and jelly fish. They
will also scavenge on carrion and human refuse.
Our experience with the Western Gull brought some amusement. The juveniles were in the water and along the shore. When they wandered too far inland, an adult would chase after and send it back to the shoreline with the others. In the early morning, we even saw adults force the young into the tidal pools to splash and bathe. It was great fun.
Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution
I recently had the privilege to photograph the Grand Canyon
during the monsoon season of Southwestern North America. It was a marvelous
time to visit this national wonder. We were treated to dark and stormy skies, lightning,
rainbows and vivid sunrises and sunsets.
I generally don’t think of the southwestern US as having a
monsoon season, after all, it is largely desert. I think of torrential rains in
places like India and the eastern coast of Africa. But, the monsoon season in southwestern
North America is very real. The term monsoon refers to the seasonal wind shift
that brings in warm, humid air. Those winds cause most of the rainfall received
by the desert southwest each year – all 1” to 8” of it; sometimes more and
sometimes less. It can be responsible for torrential downbursts that cause
flash flooding and lightning induced wildfires.
The southwestern North American monsoon season generally
starts in early July and runs through September.
In this post, I am sharing a few of the images I took while at the Grand Canyon. I’ll share a few more later this week.
Note: Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.
This past week, we had a morning where the rain clouds were
breaking up in the early morning. I chose that day to explore Doton’s Point trail
at Folsom Lake Recreation Area; a trail that was new to me. The grasses and
other plants were displaying their spring green. The early morning sun helped
saturate the colors. Spring was at its finest. I went with the expectation that
I might see some different birds. Instead, I discovered that it was time for some
The beautiful rocks in this image are granite. The area around this portion of Folsom Lake is called Granite Bay because of the abundance of granite in the area. Like the Sierra Nevada mountains, this area sets on a pluton, a large blob of magma that cooled slowly underground to form granite then was uplifted and exposed.
Please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.
Bryce Canyon, in Utah, is stunningly beautiful; especially at sunrise and sunset. It should be on your bucket list. You can enjoy it any time of day but, I recommend being there in the morning, before the sun creeps over the distant mountains and as the sun sets in the evening. The colors saturate, the whites appear almost translucent at hose times and it will take your breath away. If you can, walk the trails that take you below the base and look at the hoodoos face on.
As I looked over the landscape, my thoughts turned to the ancient cities from fantasy and action adventures. Perhaps drawing from Petra in southern Jordan. I can imagine temples and palaces constructed from the hoodoos. I see “impregnable” walls being breached by the barbarians outside. It’s a fun connection.
For me, the process of how the land became to look as it does, enhances its beauty. In this case, water channels away the softer soil, forming the hoodoos. The freeze-thaw cycle sculpts the hoodoos by breaking off chunks. The wind helps sculpt too, but, to a lesser degree. What is left are acres of an orange and cream landscape filled with spectacular hoodoos and the erosional hills and valleys at their base.
I can’t wait to go back. Only this time, I am going to allow a day to hike and see what other treasures I uncover. I wonder what it would like in snow.
Note: Please click on caption to see higher resolution images.