Nothing Like An Off-Road Adventure

When one lives in the Grand Valley area of western Colorado, it’s only natural to seek an all-out off-road adventure … especially  when you know exactly the person that can make it happen for you.  So, Tom & I met up with our good friend Rick Louie and made plans to do just that.  Off we went towards Moab for some sunset and/or night photography in Arches National Park in Utah.  So that was the plan anyways.  We soon found out that the park was having night closures due to road improvement construction.  So much for that so off we went to dinner to plan our days and routes.

Rick was anxious to share a super cool location with us, so we met up early in the morning so that we could arrive at our destination for the sunrise.  The road to the lookout spot definitely need an off-road high clearance vehicle … OK by me, as we had the place to ourselves.IMG_5498Yep, we arrived just in time for the sunrise and what a sunrise it was.  The rays of the sun were shining from a break in the clouds and casting beautiful light on Rick as he grabbed  was checking out the landscape for the best angle and composition.  OK, so truth be told, this and several other images in this blog were actually taken with my iPhone!  Yes, though I had my camera gear with me, sometimes the moment called for an impromptu quick shot.  Like this one … sometimes these moments only last for a brief time.IMG_E5506Rick was explaining the location and sights for orientation purposes to Tom, but all I saw was beauty ahead of me.IMG_5493-Edit-EditThis place was so incredibly immense and beautiful.  Tom, always one to venture off on his own for his own views, gave this shot great perspective of the red rock formations._DSC3385-EditOf course, no day’s adventure would ever be complete without Tom giving me heart failure as he sits precariously on the edge!  There is NO WAY that I could have sat there.  LOL_DSC3445-EditIt was hard enough for me to sit down with Tom on the edge together.  What appears to be a casual moment with Tom’s arm lovingly around me, he probably actually had a tight grip on me, as I have a tremdous fear of heights.  Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t challenge that fear, I do, but it definitely doesn’t come easy for me.  Thanks so much to Rick for taking this amazing shot!IMG_0378Outside of Moab, we chose another off-road trail for a mid-day adventure.  This was a gorgeous drive up a canyon, with sheer red rock formations on either or both sides, as it meandered for miles and miles._DSC3587A small creek ran alongside it and it reminded me of a miniature “braided river”.  Being in the high desert, not much water was present, but I’m sure the channels formed allow for the flow of volumes of water when it rains._DSC3616-Edit-EditIMG_5561-EditBefore reaching an open space full of farmland, we stopped and grabbed a few images of the beauty of this wilderness.IMG_5589_DSC3660For another experience, we ventured out again for more off-road fun.  Rick was a fabulous and skilled driver and on occasion I would get out to try to get some shots of the action.  Bonus … look at those amazing clouds that also came out to play.  IMG_E5531_DSC3512On the last day, we met up with some incredible winds.  So they said that it would be windy, but I didn’t expect the winds that we had … out on the unprotected open slick rock of Hell’s Revenge … the winds were ripping at over 40mph!  This experience was so much fun … even if we didn’t venture into the “hot tubs”.  These were craters that crazy 4WD jeeps, etc, would enter and then drive out of, often flipping over and needing assistance to exit them.  Pictures just do it justice … if you can imagine, that hole is about 15-20 feet deep and pretty much just wide enough to get a vehicle in with very little room to spare.  Crazy, crazy, crazy!IMG_5678Thank you Rick for getting us over to the edge for some awesome Colorado River viewing below … even if I though I was going to blow off of it!  LOL.  It really was quite windy up there, but you couldn’t help but be exhilarated by the view.IMG_5642The wetting of the sun in the canyons provided for some beautiful views as well.DSC_7006-EditOn the tamer side of the trip was the Fisher Tower and Valley area and Parriott Mesa.IMG_5606Once again, the clouds came out to play in an incredibly beautiful way.  I can’t wait to get back out there again.  Thanks so much Rick for meeting up with us and sharing your off-road skills (and I do mean skills) with us.  Your driving was impeccable and the experience was top notch.  If anyone out there is interested in doing something like this, either here or many other areas in Colorado as well, I highly recommend Rick Louie for a great adventure experience._DSC3683-Edit-Edit-EditYes, Tom and I had a great time out there!  I really appreciate how close we are to this red rock wilderness area and beauty.  Until we return again … thanks Tom!IMG_5504Hope that everyone enjoyed the visit with us.  🙂

Next Up:  More local Colorado sights … and wildlife.

© 2018  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

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Wildlife Photography “From My Kayak”

So, I’ve watched the photography of Jay Stotts, for quite some time.  Some know him on flickr as “Walk in the Woods Photography” … others simply know him as the “from my kayak” guy.  See, he photographs a lot of his wildlife from … you guessed it … his kayak.  Yep, he gets a wide variety of birds (eagles, herons, grebes & loons – with babies on their backs) and also moose feeding on the vegetation, etc.  Well Tom & I love to kayak and have often photographed while kayaking in Alaska and Florida, so when we were visiting up in his neck of the woods, we knew what we would be doing at least one of the days.  Jay was gracious enough to meet up with us to show us his “playground”.

fullsizerender-11On this particular day, it was a bit cold and overcast, but that didn’t matter to us.  We paddled out through the vegetation in hopes of some moose in the water action shots as well as grebes.  It was so fabulous to be back in a kayak where we didn’t have to worry about alligators or venomous snakes.  😉fullsizerender-10Tom was in his element for sure and ready for the adventure.DSC_5187We all followed Jay’s lead, as he skillfully paddled out to his secret spots.  That’s when it hit me … oh no, usually Tom is paddling while I photograph, but this time I have to do double duty.DSC_5213Before long, we paddled past some beautiful yellow-headed blackbird, a species I had become familiar with earlier this year.  In south Florida, we mainly have red-winged black birds.  Their behaviors, at least to my unscientific eye, was quite similiar between the two species.  Their song was equally distinctive and beautiful.DSC_5159DSC_5162As fascinated as i was to see them, I had my sights on a moose!  The image below was unknowingly taken by Jay.  I think that I was trying to figure out where the moose were and where they might emerge into the water from.  LOL13323212_10208407841527207_2413208333219283595_oAs the day progressed, it became windier, though we had no idea of just how windy it would get.  I found it nice to hang out in the vegetation, which provided a bit more stability._DSC5039So we waited … and waited, while having lots of fun and laughs about being out there.fullsizerender-9OK, the red-necked grebe was spotted on the horizon and off we went to photograph it and those babies that would of course be on their backs just waiting for me to shoot.DSC_5069But unfortunately nature has its own timetable and we found ourselves a bit too early in the season.  We did get to see the nest, but no babies yet.  Not wanting to disturb or distress the couple, we decided to leave the area.  Next time.DSC_5080A great blue heron was visiting the lake as well.  Patience in stalking their prey is their middle name.  DSC_5237Seemed that we watched this one forever while it pursued its hunt.  Before long, we noticed Jay scoping in on something.DSC_5208On an higher ground island in the middle of the lake, he found a bunch of gulls congregating about.  One looked quite different of course, a caspian tern.  Known for being quite aggressive when defending its colony and nest, this one was quite docile to us.DSC_5259DSC_5309Before long, we noticed a few more were flying overhead.  I just love terns … whether it be these caspian or others such as forster’s, arctic, common, or least terns.  They are so acrobatic in their flight and angelic as they hover overhead preparing for a dive._DSC5053Guess this guy has hung out on this log before by the look of things.  LOLDSC_5365fullsizerender-8After some more paddling about, we came across the delightful, though quite loud, killdeer.  We didn’t see any nests, though mating season was clearly upon them.DSC_5373DSC_5376Paddling through the thick vegetation became a challenge at times (at least for Rebecca and I), but we all managed just fine overall.  A storm started brewing off in the distance and was clearly targeting us, so we had to call our time a bit short.fullsizerender-7One more look at that magnificent great blue heron.  Not sure if it finally got some dinner or not.DSC_5380Yes, we had some fun times out on the water.  As my friend Michael Libbe can attest to, sometimes I get a bit preoccupied on the water when there’s a lull in the action.  This time though it was apparently only Tom’s ears that I was caught checking out.  LOL.  Thanks to Jay for capturing this moment on the water of me actually using my lens as my impromptu binoculars.
13329431_10208407844367278_2416008689066263302_oSafely back on the dock, we took one last shot (iphone of course) of the fun times of the day.  We couldn’t thank Jay enough or Rebecca’s friend Donnette who loaned us her kayaks for the adventure.  Next time, we’ll bring ours with us Jay!  Check out his incredible wildlife photography on flickr (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jays_wildlife).  We’ll be back next year!fullsizerender-6

Next Up:  More from Steptoe Butte in the Palouse

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Park City & the Relentless Rain

After visiting my daughter, Kelli, and attending her “White Coat” Ceremony, it was time to return back to the cycling road trip.  It was my turn to support Tom wholeheartedly in his cycling endeavors, but in reality it wasn’t too hard of a task.  We were off to Park City, Moab, Grand Junction/Fruita, Mt. Evans, Colorado Springs, Denver, and wherever else Tom’s spirit felt like taking him.  🙂

Up at a horrendous time in the morning to catch a flight to Salt Lake City, I was rewarded by on-time flights.  Didn’t travel with much more than a small carry-on backpack, since I had left all of my camera gear with Tom when I left Baltimore (actually left Washington, DC, but Baltimore had direct flights).  When I arrived in Park City, Tom picked me up and before long we met up with some long time mountain biking friends, Dawn & Daryll.  Tom and Kelli used to race for years with them in Florida when Kelli grew up.  It was amazing to see them again and I know that Tom certainly enjoyed his riding time with them.
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Our condo faced the Park City ski area, which was very convenient for them.  The resort offered downhill mountain bike/chair lift tickets and they all took advantage of it.  I, on the other hand, stayed away from the biking, since I tend to be “accident-prone” when cycling.  🙂

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However, most of the afternoons looked like this out of our condo…. that’s right, pouring down rain, complete with very close vicinity electrical storms as well.  Ugh!  Of course, the guys and Dawn would set out in the sunshine in the morning with the best of intentions.  They would come back and tell me about the moose and her calf that they saw on the trails … the “lemur”, which was actually a weasel (don’t ask – LOL) … and the golden eagles they encountered.  Me, I was inside watching the Tour de France.  Ugh!

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We spent 5 days there with the same routine each day.  I outsmarted my bad luck by dragging Tom out really early one morning, before his cycling.  We drove up Guardsmen Pass and were treated to wonderful views.

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The wildflowers were also in bloom and quite beautiful.

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Just before leaving the Park City / Deer Valley area, of course, the sun emerged and blue skies broke through the clouds.  Oh well, it probably didn’t rain for the next week!  LOL

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It was nice for Tom and Todd too, as they got to reunite with one of their dear friends, Ed, who spends part of his time out in that area.  They used to work at the Dania Beach Fire & Rescue together and reminisced over the good days.

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Of course, I would not be skunked on the wildlife front … unfortunately, this was the best I got during those rainy 5 days.  🙂

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Totally not what I expected in terms of the lack of wildlife, but the trip was young still.

Next up:  Onward to Moab, UT … the mountain biker’s mecca.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Back In The USA

Finally, our time spent in Canada was coming to a close.  We woke up on this, another gorgeous day, and began our drive back into the U.S.A.  We were headed to Glacier NP in Montana … the other half (and bigger half) of the Wateron-Glacier International Peace Park,  shared between Canada and the US.

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Once we successfully crossed the border back in to the US, of course, the gorgeous landscapes just kept coming.  Northern Montana is such an amazing place to visit.

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We had a special day of fun planned for today, for we were meeting up with some long-time friends that we hadn’t seen in well … too long!  More on that in just a few.  🙂

We were a bit nervous about how the weekend would turn out, since we still didn’t have a place to stay and the rooms around Glacier NP had been booked for quite some time.  The road itself – The Going To The Sun Road – hadn’t even opened up for travel due to the heavy recent snowfalls and local avalanches, until the day before we arrived.  But as they say, things have a way of working themselves out.

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We drove on up to the summit of Logan Pass (on the Going to the Sun Road) and it was quite apparent why the road had just opened up … there was quite a bit of snow up there.

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You know … you think that you’re prepared for anything, then nature throws this at you.  Haha.  Where did you pack the snowshoes, snowboards, and skis Tom?  What?  You didn’t think that we would need them?  Think again baby!

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It was such a glorious day to spend in the great outdoors.  Views of mountains, blue skies, wispy clouds, and green forested landscapes were pretty much everywhere!  We even saw some bighorn sheep walking the mountain ledges and some mountain goats on the landscape covered with snow – all TOO far away for a quality shot.  I’m talking “micro dots” even through the binoculars!

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It’s OK about the distant wildlife sightings.  We were enjoying another sighting, which we appreciated even more!  Our friends, Buck and Donna Shreck drove on up from Great Falls, MT to spend some time with us.  As many of you might know, we’ve known them for many years and photographed with them in Alaska, Montana, Wyoming … it was wonderful to catch up with Buck (he’s looking great and feeling awesome) and Donna (just as sweet as always), as well as finally meet their dog, Abby, who was a bundle of energy and fun!  What a fun day reminiscing about the past and a bit of planning for the future.  Let’s not take so long next time.  🙂

DSC_6918We even got to photograph a moose together as we spotted it making its way through the brush.  Of course, there was that magnificent looking bald eagle too that decided a fly-by was all that we were going to get.  🙂
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Tom and I stayed at Glacier for another day and just focused on having fun and exploring the area.  Found these circa 1930’s Glacier NP Red Bus collection, which features a canvas roll-down top that can be pulled back to allow visitors to see the beauty of Glacier, from just about every angle!  Didn’t venture into one, but I thought it was fun looking.

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Our second day in the park was beautiful as well.  Whether it be the mountain peaks against the landscape, sky, and clouds or one of the many waterfalls who call Glacier NP home, it was all so magnificent.

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At Glacier NP, they have strict guidelines as to who can safely travel on the park roads … and as you can see below, it’s for good reason.  The roads are quite narrow, have no excess shoulder in areas, and have a low clearance as well.  We made it through safely in Tom’s truck.

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Once again, at the summit of Logan Pass, I was a bit drooling about not having our snowshoes with us.  Yes, we’re from Florida but have snowshoes … actually an anniversary gift to each other one year, if I recall correctly!  🙂

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We did venture up the Hidden Lake Trail, which on this day, had a “hidden trail” as well.  Eventually, we turned around when we realized that though it was cool enough temperature outside, we failed to bring any food or water with us, nor sunscreen.  Mental note to self … don’t do that again!

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Gorgeous views continued on the eastern side of Logan Pass as well.

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We also spotted some interesting landscape features along the way.  It always amazes me what you find when you just take a few moments to relax and take it all in.

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We settled in for a quick and delicious bite at the restaurant at the Lake McDonald Lodge, which had some amazing views as well, like the one shown above.  The area itself was a bit crowded for my taste, but who could blame it … look at this amazing day!

More to come on the next blog … more Glacier NP and also the Hungry Horse recreation area and dam!  Check it out!

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© 2014  Debbie Tubridy / http://www.tnwaphotography.com