Month: August 2015

Bryce Canyon National Park- the home of the Hoodoos

Bryce Canyon

If you visit Utah National Parks, Bryce Canyon should not be missed. It is (surprisingly) not as popular as Zion and Moab. It is not, technically, a canyon, but rather a giant natural amphitheater created by erosion, yet there is no other place in the world that features as fine and abundant collection of hoodoos as Bryce. The park is family and wheelchair friendly, and has an ample parking. There are drinking water fountains around the parking lots, and all the necessary facilities. You can hike a whole day or only an hour, you can just walk along the rim, or just stand and look around – you will still enjoy yourself.

However, you should know that it is a high altitude location (above 8000 ft – up to 9000 ft). The trails vary from easy to moderate and strenuous; the descents and ascents are very steep though, and it could be very hot down there at the foot of the hoodoos. Do a good research before you pick up a trail. Thankfully, because of the high altitude it is always a bit cooler on the rim, and also thunderstorms are quite common in the area.

We paid $30 for a vehicle which gave us a 7 day access to the park.

What is “hoodoos“? Read this link, you will love it (all the links open in separate windows). In Bryce, most erosion occurs from “frost wedging” – rain water freezes and expands in the cracks of the rocks. You can find all the stages of erosion during your hike, from plateaus to fins and finally hoodoos. The process never stops, and when you come again, it will be a different Bryce.

Hoodoo has nothing to do with Woodoo, yet  in Blackfoot mythology, the oddly shaped rock columns were some malignant giants whom the Great Spirit had turned to stone because of their evil deeds. Deep in the night, the petrified giants would wake up and throw boulders down upon any human who dared to hang around. I wouldn’t be surprised, since some rocks do look like they are barely balancing.

Geology of the hoodoos is fascinating, but the look of them is something you will never forget. The colors vary from brown to red, orange, pink and ivory, and change during the day and the weather. A few steps to the left or right – and you enjoy a different angle, different shapes and hues. You cannot get bored in Bryce.

Click on the photographs to enlarge. They are all resized to resolution of only 72px.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

This huge natural bridge is spectacular. We have seen a smaller one too.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Our youngest team member is two, and we considered the shortest trail, the Navajo Loop that took us some 2 hours. Yet, you should be aware that more rocks fall on this trail than any other trail in the park. The last major rock slide occurred in 2011 though.

The trail begins to descend very steeply – don’t make it back to the rim this way! The series of switchbacks are very short, thankfully, but extremely steep anyway.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

The trail passes through Wall Street, a narrow slot between the cliffs, and takes you to the canyon floor. In the image below – entering the Wall Street.

Bryce Canyon

bryce canyon

A look back.

Bryce Canyon

Surprise greeting from a local resident. The little guy was very fat and had no fear of children. We took some hundred photographs of him and the kids.

Great views from the bottom of the canyon.

Bryce Canyon

The Inspiration Point – the highest point in the Park. We stood there a day before. Under our feet there is a river bed.

Bryce Canyon

The little legs are tired. It is time for a break and some snack.

We settled for a break, and there was another beautiful opportunity to take a photo. This Jay loved our company.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Full of energy, we proceed.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Some great views on the ascent.

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

Bryce Canyon

The ascent was not that steep, or perhaps I just lied to myself… Still I felt dizzy two times and had to stop for a minute. Didn’t take many pictures, was focused on surviving 🙂

In the image below – the ascent trail, a view from the rim.

Bryce Canyon

We had a lovely drive and stopped at almost each point on our map. The rain was coming and going. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any rainbow, and only a few distant lightning strikes.  In addition to that friendly Chipmunk and the curious Jay, we saw some Mule deer.  No Rattlesnakes again, darn it!

Bryce canyon

We loved our hotel, it was outside the Park. We loved the Rock shop, and all the funny props for children photographs, like Jail, Wooden Horse and Wooden Bears. We loved the stunning little Red Canyon where we made a stop and a short hike.

red canyon

red canyon

Thank you for taking this trip with me. If you ever have a chance, visit scenic Utah and enjoy a real adventure.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Roly Poly

baloon_festival

I wonder, what do you think looking at this picture?  Probably “Sweet little girl is watching a hot air balloon fly by”? Wrong.  The sweet little girl is actually screening the ground for roly polies. She is very good on that.

When we are young, we want to know more about the world. We look in the heart of things and people seeking to recognize what they actually are; we thirst for detail. Eventually, we learn that things and people are seldom what they seem – still, we wonder.

Rob ThomasLittle Wonder

 

We notice and acknowledge big things, but it is the little things that hold our attention and feed our curiosity. Cognition and learning depend on our perception of little things.

Everybody has their own roly polies. Hope they are not worthless, mundane and selfish. Hope they are striking and very alive.

PS:  Roly Poly Armadillidium vulgare

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

I want to see a Gruffalo!

antelope 185res

I am on holidays, and all I do is taking family pictures of no public interest. Yet, there is a place I really want to tell you about, so that if you travel through the area, you spare some couple of hours to visit, or even camp there over night. Antelope Island, Utah, a home to the Antelope Island State Park.

Great Salt Lake’s largest island looks like another world.

antelope island

It is my third visit, and I have a couple of photographs to share.

In the image below you can see a 7-mile  causeway to Antelope Island the way it looks from the top of the Buffalo Point. The causeway was submerged for most of the 1980’s, because of high lake levels.

antelope island

The island hosts countless nesting and migratory birds of about 250 species, including various species of waterfowl and  birds of prey.

antelope island

More than forty freshwater springs produce 36 million gallons of water each year supporting wildlife and vegetation. Pronghorn antelopes are native to Utah, and there is a big herd of them on the island.

antelope island

Bison, or American buffaloes, are the most famous residents. There are about 600 animals in different parts of the island.

antelope island

I have also seen hawks, lizards, mull deer, coyotes, and a porcupine in the tree.

porcupine

The picture of the porcupine is not great, but I think I was very lucky to take it.

Another attraction is the historical Fielding Garr Ranch, and I advise you to visit it. A tip: it closes early, so you better go there first thing in the morning.

antelope island

I could not resist to take a picture of this old Dodge pick up truck.

antelope island

Here is an awesome map of the Antelope Island I borrowed from Wikimedia.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AAntelope_Island_State_Park_Map.jpg

The most spectacular is the road that runs along the eastern coast. I have never been there in summer, but even in the winter haze it looks like a different planet.

antelope island

antelope island

antelope island

Buffalo Point hike is very steep and rough, but it offers you some truly breathtaking views over the White Rock Bay.

antelope island

antelope island

antelope island

This time we didn’t do any hiking. We were looking for buffaloes.

antelope island

There were many of them, all far away from the road. It is very difficult to explain to a toddler that a black dot barely visible in the tall dry grass is a promised huge buffalo. ” I wanna see a Gruffalo!”

But it was our lucky day indeed – we met one at the side of the road.

antelope island

After that we went off to the shore.

antelope island

antelope island

antelope island

Great Salt Lake is a remnant of prehistoric Lake Bonneville which covered more than 20 000 square miles during the Ice Age.

Water flows into the lake from four rivers, but Great Salt Lake has no outlet: water leaves only through evaporation. Concentration of minerals is very high and no fish or any other creature can live in this water except for brine shrimp and brine flies, and some algae.

Oolitic sand is a unique feature of Great Salt Lake. Round grains of sand are formed  similar to how pearls are formed, with the pellets of brine shrimp faces in the middle.

antelope island

A 15 minute walk to the shore in some 100F was a mistake: the lake smells 😦  The sand was crawling with the tiny flies, and I suspect, their larvae… Probably it is a seasonal thing.

antelope island

Nevertheless, it is a place I highly recommend to visit, especially during the Annual events like Moonlight Bike Ride, and celestial events  – for night photography. I am in love with the island and hope to come here again in Spring.

Thank you for taking this short tour with me! 🙂

IneseMjPhotographyHave a great weekend!

 

All creatures

pat_gibbons

For those who are reading the fox story for the first time – here are two links to my previous posts – Kindness and Fox News.

This spring, I got a word that Minnie, the six-years old vixen,  was pregnant. The only “suspect” was a two-year old male fox Henry, badly mauled by dogs in his yearly days and restored to health in Pat’s care. Being very busy at that time, I didn’t come over to greet the cub and take pictures. I feel sad about that – I don’t think I will have another chance.  Now the cub is gone. Pat has too much on his hands  to accommodate one more fox, and a lady from Kilkenny was happy to give the little foxy a family and a little kit for a sibling to  grow together. I only hope for an interview in near future.

I didn’t take pictures of Henry. He was in a bad mood, and we left him in his pen. I only can tell that he looks very grown up, and his injured eye is not as teary as it was last year.

I have got a new “fox picture”, this time with Minnie.

fox

Grainne and Minnie are full of character, and are visually different.

pat_gibbons

pat_gibbons

fox1 170

fox1 189

Minnie is not angry in these photographs, or upset in any way.  She is just being herself, playing and watching if your attention is still on her 🙂  As you know from my previous post, Minnie doesn’t like walking and prefers being carried and cuddled, and talked to all the time. I think I performed all these tasks very well, and she expected me to carry on, but Patsy thought different and Minnie had to walk to the den on her own feet.

pat_gibbons

pat_gibbons

 

fox1 291gauss

After the photo session, we all went to the garden. The weather improved, a lovely change.  All the creatures of the house joined us, and I was amazed with their friendliness and good humor: even a huge rooster didn’t mind to be photographed. Cats, chickens, dog Blackie  –  all of them relaxed and at ease with the strangers.

chicken

rooster

chicken

grumpy_chicken

dog

pat_gibbons

And of course we talked about foxes, how important they are to the environment. Their diet consists mostly of rats and mice; if they steal a chicken it only means that the chickens were not locked properly. Wild fox killed his ducks yet Pat doesn’t blame the fox but the hole in the fencing. While opposing the fox hunting, Pat doesn’t encourage people to take a fox cub home if it has been found alone. The cub is not abandoned. Foxes belong to the wild and they will survive in the wild. Pat wishes people would just leave them alone.

We were invited for a cup of tea. Pat’s brother showed us a photograph of their parents. Calm, intelligent, beautiful faces. They have raised their eleven children well.

As I have learned, Pat is famous not only because of his foxes. While attending a hurling game, he was spotted and taken a picture of for Kilkenny People newspaper. What has drawn the photographer’s attention? A hat. Pat’s sister is knitting these hats for the match goers, in county colors. Amber and black – Kilkenny colors. I asked Pat if he had another hat for a photograph, and he brought me a Red and White, a Cork one… Didn’t feel comfortable in it… 😉  I should have replaced the colors in Photoshop… 😉

pat_gibbons

On our way back home we took a few pictures in Thomastown.

thomastown

thomastown

A French tourism-oriented website recently posted a story about Pat and his foxes, and asked if they could use my photographs. I am delighted that more people will learn about this wonderful man and his beloved pets. They are already known in England, Scotland, and New Zealand, thanks to Grainne who is kind of a movie star, since she has several film and tourism commercial credits.

I hope you enjoyed the day with Pat Gibbons, and will visit with him in person on your next trip to Ireland.

Have a great week!