travel photography

Traveling American Southwest, Part I

three gossips

I have this image of Three Gossips taken in color at the sunset, but I added  gradient and changed color balance to make it look like a distant memory, because I will share some almost forgotten, and for most of you, unknown memories… in my next blog, Part II 🙂 But first, let’s go back to the story about our Southwest travels.

We have made two trips to Southern Utah and Northern Arizona, in 2007 and 2008. Our first trip included:  Arches National Park, Four Corners, Little Colorado River Gorge, Marble Canyon, Grand Canyon, St George, Cove Fort – a round trip  we had made in five days.

There is no photograph that could adequately depict the stunning beauty of Arches National Park. You come there in awe, and you leave in awe. If you are short of time and cannot stay longer than one day,  I would suggest something like that:

Morning – Devil’s Garden Trail and Landscape Arch ( 2 hours) and probably another 2-3 hours if you want to walk to the end of the trail ( we didn’t);  Double Arch ( 30 min); The  Windows ( 1 hour). It is just how long it takes to walk. You will need more time – driving, taking photographs, sitting and admiring the scenery.

Afternoon – Delicate Arch ( at least 3 hours; parking is limited!); Balanced Rock before the sun goes down ( 30 min). Check the map to calculate how long it takes to drive from place to place.

Check out the links to the long and short trails, but regardless of the distance you have to take a lot of water with you.

There are 2000 arches in Arches Nation Park. Well, perhaps 1999, since the Wall Arch collapsed in August 2008.

The best photographs of Delicate Arch come out in the afternoon. We went there first thing in the morning. It made sense because we had no idea how long it takes to hike, and we really wanted to stay there a little longer. Photography wasn’t our priority.

In the first photograph, Delicate Arch is just around the corner. The weather is changing to overcast, and the arch looks differently every half and hour. Sitting there and staring at the arch was one of my favorite activities in the Park. If you have been there you know what I am talking about.

arches

May 24-25 2007 145res

arches

This is the Landscape Arch, or what is left of it after the first slab of sandstone fell off in 1991. Still, it is the longest natural arch in the world with the span of 290 feet.

Arches

It is the Devil’s Garden trail, the most spectacular of all the trails in the park. The weather was changing, and by the time we reached the Landscape Arch, it was raining and we turned back.

Arches

These formations are called “fins”. I mentioned them in my previous blog.

Arches

The rain stopped and we actually visited more arches than expected. We took beautiful photographs of the Balanced Rock half an hour before the sunset, and the Three Gossips a minute before the sun went down.

This is the Window Arch. For the scale, see a tiny human sitting in the left corner.

arches

The following day we started our unhurried trip to the Grand Canyon, a ” hole in Arizona”. It is hard to put the Grand Canyon in words and pictures, and yes, “not all holes are created equal” 🙂 I was standing there speechless and almost breathless.

South Rim, Colorado River. Here we spent a day, hiking around and down in the canyon.

Grand Canyon

North Rim, the following day. There, we took a short  but breathtaking  Bright Angel Point trail.

GC

We walk along the narrow ‘peninsula’, surrounded with the stone ‘waves’. At the end of the trail, The Bright Angel Point, most of people just stand and stare across the vast expanse. It is difficult to believe that this  is all real. I think you will love reading this very informative and very poetic article about the area down there.

angel fault

Reading displayed information I had to smile. What is the Bright Angel Fault?  As I learned, faults are fractures in the Earth crust that occur under the pressure – compression, extension or side-by-side movement. The Bright Angel Fault is such a fracture that stretches almost straight across the Grand Canyon from the South to the North through the Bright Angel Canyon, which was formed through erosion along the fault.  Yes, the view that we see at the view point is not technically the Grand Canyon, but a side canyon,  the jagged border ridge of the Bright Angel Canyon!

The Bright Angel Fault is still active and has produced small earthquakes that visitors sometimes feel. The fault is visible as  a 186 foot displacement: you can see it in the image of the distant South Rim, where the left side of the horizon line is visibly higher than the right one (sorry it is heavily zoomed and taken with a 3 mp camera)

angel fault

I have read a lot about the side canyons, and I still have more questions than answers. I know that I will never hike the Grand Canyon and see everything by myself. I can only pray that the people who go there in the future are considerate and respectful to the Nature.

Little Colorado River Gorge, and Marble Canyon and Navajo Bridge are worth to mention not only because they are located on the way to Grand Canyon National Park and to stop there seems like a natural thing to do. These places are beautiful.  Cross both  – New and Historical Navajo bridges, and enjoy the emerald color of Colorado river if you travel early in summer. Little Colorado river is a bright  blue color, but later when the rains start, they both become chocolate milk  brown, and as the saying goes ‘ too thick to drink, too thin to plow’. Marble Canyon and  the Grand Canyon join where the Little Colorado River enters the Colorado River.

In the image below, a view from the Old Navajo bridge.

colorado river

On the way back, we had a stop in St. George, UT,  and visited their Pioneer Park.  We climbed up the Dixie Rock for the downtown panorama, and I can tell you that the place is certainly worth to stop by.

Our last stop was the Cove Fort, with their curious exposition of the 19th century artifacts, workshops and the Big Barn. Lots of history, with no admission fee ( the place belongs to the LDS Church).  We even learned how to play the long forgotten game! 🙂

cove fort

There is a wonderful book  – Travelers’ Tales, American Southwest: Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah… A great read when you feel nostalgic.

The other trip was also a five days long trip : Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Lake Powell and Rainbow Bridge, Horseshoe Bend, Upper Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Mexican Hat, Utah State Route 261 and Moki Dugway, Natural Bridges National Monument,  Utah State Route 95 across the end of Glen Canyon, and a long drive through the breathtaking canyon country up to Salt Lake Valley.

As I said, we travel with no hurry. We stop to admire buttes and mesas; we  even climb them sometimes. We buy Native American jewelry made from  seeds,  beads and semiprecious stones; we watch the wildlife and marvel at the flowers bravely standing out against the barren rocks. One cannot plan discoveries and surprises.

desert

desert

On our way to Page, AZ we turned into the side road to check out a  unique place, a part of Zion National Park – Pink Sand Dunes.

Pink sand Dunes

It was fun to run down the dunes, and it is where I lost my wide angle lens…

We stayed in Page three nights exploring the area. Horseshoe Bend was one of the places on our list. I failed to take a good picture, but my daughter had a good fun taking pictures of me wriggling on my belly towards the rim with my camera holding hand outstretched, and with the mortified face. Due to the embarrassing nature, these pictures may not be published.

horseshoe

We went there again after dark. The full moon lit up the waters of Colorado River; wildlife enjoyed the coolness of the night, and we enjoyed watching the cottontails happily run around. I didn’t get any braver, and this sorry picture is the best  I have got.

Horseshoe bend

Another place on our list was  Antelope Slot Canyon. Probably many of you have heard about the tragedy that happened there in August 1997. We went to the safer and easier of the slots, the Upper Antelope Canyon ( the Upper and the Lower slots are a few miles apart) . All the land around Page, including Antelope Canyon,  belongs to the Navajo Nation. It is a family business, and we got a handsome young man for a guide, a University student who was on holidays at that time, and not only gave us photography tips, but also played the flute for us.

Antelope Canyon is one of the most mesmerizing places on Earth, where the light is everything. The corkscrew walls polished by flash floods change their color every second as the light bounces between the twisted columns. In the image below – Slot entrance.

slot canyon

Images taken inside the canyon, available light.

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

In my next blog, I will cover the rest of our Lake Powell trip, and reveal my first (and last) celebrity crush from the 1960s 🙂

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

Waterford Walls

murals 199res

Waterford Walls is a visual Street Art project in Waterford City, Ireland. Irish and International street artists and talented school students transformed old spaces into extended art gallery. The first image is the work of Joe Caslin, a street artist and art teacher from Roscommon who is known for his project “Our Nation’s Sons” – large scale portraits of young men from disadvantaged social backgrounds.

In the image below, a man stopped to touch the surface of the portrait. I will tell you why.  Joe Caslin paintings are done on biodegradable paper,  and will come down within a few weeks.  We are lucky with the weather, and I hope the paintings will last another month.

murals

Another work of the same artist in Olaf Street. It is sad they won’t stay here too long.

murals

murals

I went around the city center to look for the other murals. First of all, I visited one of my favorite places in O’Connell Street and was pleased to find an interesting work.

murals

murals

After that I walked to Stephen Street. This is unused De La Salle Hall built in 1915. I love the new look of it’s facade. As it often happens in life, the facade is the only attractive part…

murals

murals

More murals in Stephen Street.

murals

murals

murals

murals

I like this mural  because the girl is holding a camera in her hands.

murals

It is where the rain started, and I rushed under the roof of a garage. From there I took a picture of a mural and a family with the matching umbrella.

murals

The rain didn’t last long and I walked to New Street to see the gardens and more murals.

murals

It was my last destination. There are about twenty murals, very colorful.

murals

This one is dedicated to Waterford Hospice.

murals

I stood there waiting for someone to come over and do something amazing, or at least something worth a picture, but there was no one in the gardens, so I just took a snap of the girl and her bees.

murals

Thank you for walking the streets with me. I know, it is not a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but think about the murals that won’t last longer that a couple of weeks. You have seen them!

This is sort of a similar exposition in 2008.

IneseMjPhotographyHave a wonderful weekend!

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!