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


Reflecting 2017

Oh no … say it isn’t so … how in the world can it be 2018 already?DSC_59992017 was a year that just flew by in my opinion.  It was a year of life-changing events, full of excitement and uncertainty … but being the adventurous souls that we are, both Tom & I were up for the challenge.  Allow me to take a few moments to look back at some of our memories of 2017.IMG_3589The birds in Florida start the new year off already “in the mood” … with lots of nest building, courtship, and mating going on early on.  There’s something so very beautiful and endearing about the great blue herons at this time._DSC8566Before long, no matter the species, the new years hatchlings begin to emerge.  Nothing to me is cuter that the sandhill crane colts when only days old, especially when they climb aboard the backs of their parents for the ultimate featherbed slumber.  🙂_DSC9356-EditBlack-necked stilt babies are amost equally adorable and ready to forage on their own within hours of hatching.  That doesn’t mean that the parents can rest … far from it … their job is endless in keeping predators away from these little cuties as the begin to roam within the sandy shores and reeds of the wetlands.DSC_1923However, for me, the real stars for months of entertainment pleasure are the burrowing owls, especially when they first emerge from their burrows … all bright eyed, innocent, and exceptionally curious … they just don’t come any cuter.DSC_6282Though I tend to photograph them almost daily, they still grow up quite quickly and begin to fly about to nearby trees.DSC_0449Of course, no burrowing owl season is complete without captures of the “head tilt” that they are famous for.  LOL.DSC_6413During our time in Florida, we were fortunate to have our daughter and son-in-law, as well as our two granddoggies come visit us.  IMG_4224During 2016 and early 2017, Tom and I traveled out west to Colorado often looking for a home … perhaps a second home or not … where we could relocate to.  While south Florida is a fabulous place to be and affords much like the beaches and warm weather, Tom and I have always enjoyed the mountains, colder weather, and we were looking for less crowds and a sense of community._DSC2044-EditSo, at the end of July, Tom and several of his friends (thanks guys) loaded up the truck and off they went … go west, young man, as they say … all of the way to Colorado.IMG_4281On July 31st, my mom, her husband, my cat Buffy, and I all boarded our flight to Grand Junction airport and let’s just say that I was a ton nervous.  Safely arriving in GJT, we were picked up by Tom and driven to our new home in Fruita, CO.  IMG_4863In between unpacking what seemed like endless boxes (and truth be told they’re not all unloaded yet – yikes), I found the time to photograph different bird species in my own backyard.DSC_9576DSC_9590My mom was totally infatuated with the hummingbirds … OK, so was I … as they provided endless hours of entertainment as they flew in, and fought occasionally, at our feeders.DSC_9846Tom and I would also spend hours up on the Colorado National Monument looking for birds and wildlife, but also enjoying the spectacular views.  Being that the Monument is only 4 miles from our home, we still venture over there regularly._DSC2201-EditNow, I had always wanted to visit Mt. Evans for the mountain goats and in 2017, I finally got to realize my dream to visit there, actually get up to the top, and see them frolicking around.  See, on two previous trips, I was unable to even try due to road closures.  They are simply amazing to photograph there … in that thin, cold air too I might add._DSC2541In late September/early October, we met up with some friends and visited Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.  This year, the leaves didn’t follow the calendar precisely, but when the views are this spectacular … who cares!  The Tetons are one of those places that you could just sit and get lost in your senses, sights, thoughts, you name it.  _DSC0006-Edit-Edit-EditOf course, the Tetons are also synonymous with wildlife sightings … sometimes your sightings capture the essence of the environment and habitat as well.DSC_5086-Edit-Edit-EditThe fall colors did finally arrive in mid-October, so off we went to one of my favorite places so far, the San Juan Mountains.  The colors and views, as seen from Owl Creek Ridge, were simply breathtaking.  _DSC0217-Edit-EditNearby to Fruita is Highline Lake State Park, which also cooperated nicely with the fall transitional colors._DSC3321-EditHighline Lake SP also offers mountain biking trails, so when my daughter and her hubby came out to see us, they were shown the ropes on the trails by Tom, who totally enjoys the cycling (mountain and road) out here.IMG_5167Kelli has quite the adventurous spirit, so she took off on random dirt trails and enjoyed the view with her dog, Ridley, looking down upon the Colorado River.IMG_5371They came back and spent Thanksgiving holidays with us and knew exactly where they wanted to visit.  Yep, you guessed it, the San Juan Mountains and the town of Ouray.  We took the 4-wheel drive trails and found vast wilderness areas where the dogs could run free and play in snow patches._DSC3358It really is so beautiful out in these mountains.IMG_6689During late November through February or so, the nearby town of Delta hosts thousands of sandhill cranes.  It reminded me our days in Fairbanks watching them in huge flocks by Creamers Field.  When they fly in, overhead, or when they take off, there’s no mistaking the calls of the sandhill cranes.  It’s an instantaneous smile generator for me.  🙂DSC_7074Of course, that’s not all that congregates in the masses near Delta.  Snow geese also arrive, as well as more Canadian geese than you can imagine!DSC_8500-Edit-EditDriving around in the backcountry, you can also find many species of wildlife, such as the mule deer, elk, moose, desert bighorn sheep, black bear, coyote, bobcat, and if you’re really lucky, the elusive mountain lion.  Can’t wait to see what’s in store for us in 2018.DSC_7979In December, we met up with our good friend and headed to Moab, UT, which is just less than 90 minutes away.  He showed us phenomenal landscapes, accessed by high clearance 4WD vehicles.  The beauty of this area just simply can’t be ignored … and the view go on and on.  I know that we will be seeing a lot of Moab, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, and the La Sal Mountains.  🙂_DSC3385-Edit_DSC3445-EditGo about 75 miles in the other direction and you land in Rifle, CO, which is where this triple waterfall can be found.
_DSC3732-EditThen one day, it finally happened, we got SNOW.  OK, so it wasn’t the 3-6 inches that we were expecting, but it was SNOW.  Later we found out that just a mile or so to the west of us, they got much more than we did.  Hopefully, we’ll get it next time.  Remember, I’m a Florida girl that loves the snow and cold.  I know, let’s see what I think next year.  LOLIMG_5837The winter views at Highline Lake SP were simply breathtaking to me._DSC3934-Edit-EditFinally Christmas arrived … and I was a bit sad … for it was my first Christmas ever without spending it with my daughter.  She was tied up being short staffed at work and couldn’t break away.  That’s OK, we’re planning on a Tahoe break with her and her hubby in January.IMG_5716On a side note, I was quite thrilled when one of my images won 2nd Place in the Defenders of Wildlife Photo Contest (Wild Lands Division) …IMG_4239… and I found out that one of my other images was honored with being the cover image for the 2017-2018 16-month calendar for Defenders of Wildlife also.  They do some amazing work, so I was quite pleased.IMG_4241Well, that pretty much does it for 2017.  That being said, I bid adieu to 2017.  It was a rollercoaster year for sure, but one that blazes the trail for an exciting ride ahead.  Remember, with each new year, is a new chapter to be written by you … make it a good one!  From all of us to you, HAPPY NEW YEAR!IMG_5455Next Up:  Close to home

© 2018  TNWA Photography

Living An Earlier Dream

In 2014, we visited Moab, UT and visited Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, and Dead Horse State Park, as well as Potash Road.  When in Canyonlands, we sat on the edge of Shafer Canyon Overlook and looked at the dirt ribbon winding roads beneath us.  Tom had said at that time that he would be back and would ride down into the canyon and out onto Potash Road next time, but on his mountain bike.  Well, on this day, he and his friends decided to do just that.

They arrived at the head of the trail – Shafer-Potash Trail – and prepared for their adventure.  Rachel and I planned to take the same route in the truck, staying behind them a bit, playing “sweep” for them, should any need arise.
20150712-DSC_440520150712-DSC_4429From the top, looking down at the road below, we knew that this would be the road that they would begin on during their journey.

20150712-DSC_5094But first, they had to get through the various tight switchbacks, with sheer drop-offs along the way.  I remember last year getting tense and a bit queasy just sitting up there and looking down.  It’s hard to get perspective on the enormity of the area and depth of the drops, but I’ll do my best to convey it to you.DSC_4339Before long, we got our first sighting of the trio as they began their initial descent.  I was nervous already … for them, but also for me, having to follow them.  LOL20150712-DSC_5049Zooming in on Tom, he didn’t seem to have a care in the world.20150712-DSC_5056As they made their way to the first switchback, I found myself mentally telling them to go slow and ride cautiously.20150712-DSC_5059OK, first perspective shot … in the image below you can see a white vehicle making the left bend in the road trail.20150712-IMG_2719In this shot, you can see the same area with the guys hanging out on that corner cliff.  Yikes!20150712-DSC_5070Then the carry on along the red dirt road, which was surprisingly smooth when we drove down.20150712-DSC_5074Once at the bottom of the canyon, they rode on the canyon’s floor along that Shafer-Potash Road.  At this point, we decided it was time to follow them.20150712-DSC_5107So off we went … thank goodness Rachel was driving, as I was a bit scared at the thought of it.  But Rachel was a real trooper about it.  20150712-IMG_2727Once we got to the bottom of the canyon, after numerous OMG moments and stops, we realized that in hindsight, it really wasn’t that bad and we both had a great sense of accomplishment.  Smooth sailing from here, we both thought.20150712-DSC_510520150712-IMG_272320150712-IMG_2736Most of the time, the road trail was clear and simply graveled.20150712-IMG_2739But sometimes, the road trail was difficult to navigate or even know which direction to take.  That’s the point I questioned our sanity in following down after them into the canyon.  But there was no turning backing now….20150712-IMG_273720150712-DSC_511020150712-IMG_2731

The scenery was quite beautiful down there … so iconic of the area as well … and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day…. thankfully!20150712-DSC_5120We arrived at the potash plant evaporation ponds, which were absolutely the most amazing color blue (though I doubt it was natural) I’ve ever seen.  Even more striking than the glacier fed lake color, but a bit eery knowing that the entire area had fencing around it and signs for “No Trespassing”.20150712-IMG_2742Eventually we caught up with the guys, who had actually been stopping along the way waiting for us.  Guess that they might have been concerned with us getting down as well.20150712-DSC_512320150712-IMG_2748After I realized that I think that we had a rougher ride getting down there than they did.  So Glad that Rachel powered through it.  There’s no way that I would have done it alone.  20150712-DSC_4449When the road turned from red dirt to asphalt, we decided that we would pick them up, since we were then on our way to our next stop … Grand Junction, CO.  While the guys were loading up their bikes and gear, I took the opportunity to get some more wildflower images.  Yes, it was a nice sunny day.
20150712-DSC_5124While I’m sure that the guys had wonderful memories from Moab, my favorite memory (one that I still drool over) was from my amazing lunch at the Peace Tree Restaurant … YUMMY!
20150712-IMG_2755Next on our journey is more mountain biking (and more) in Grand Junction and Fruita, CO.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography


The Whole Enchilada Experience

While in Moab, one MUST get out for some mountain biking (of course, if you’re not getting out to do some photography) and that’s what was on the agenda for the guys this morning.  We all traveled up to the Geyser Pass Trailhead, which is also the start of the “Whole Enchilada”.  The WE is not a single mountain bike trail, but rather a collection of 6 individual mountain bike trails of varying difficulty, all rolled up into the “whole enchilada” … get it? That’s right … 25+ miles!20150711-IMG_2714

They guys began to prep themselves for their upcoming ride … plenty of fluids, nutrition, cell phones, spare tubes, etc.  At the start of the trailhead, there were lots of wildflowers around, so I warmed up my camera as well.  🙂  I’ve always been fascinated by columbines … so pretty.

20150711-DSC_497520150711-DSC_4379Of course, I wanted to be sure that those torrential downpours from last night were not anywhere in sight.  Yes, it looked like a wonderful day for a mountain bike adventure.20150711-DSC_4978

We said our goodbyes, and good lucks, to the guys and they were off.  Rachel & I began to make our way off the mountain as well.  The scenery was spectacular from the La Sal Mountains.  As I looked out at the landscape, I couldn’t help but remember when we stayed up there years ago at Lake Warner.  Wonderful memories.


As we were headed down towards the highway, we noticed a man-made reservoir nearby and decided to check it out.  Being that Moab is pretty much dessert-like, the water contrasting with the mountains was a welcome sight.  This “lake” was called Ken’s Lake and there were some families and SUP’ers enjoying the water … and those gorgeous views.


As I was starved for wildlife, I couldn’t help but notice this yellowlegs nearby.  🙂

We also found this dirt road where there were some interesting photographic subjects for us to shoot.


More wildflowers were found along the way and I just couldn’t resist.  So bright and cheery.20150710-IMG_2704But alas, the day that started out so beautiful, turned very, very nasty once more.  As Rachel and I toured Arches NP again and got poured on, so did the guys.  At a 11,000 foot elevation, they were caught in that same downpour and in the midst of lightning bolts striking all around them.  Not a good thing.  We figured that they must have been getting rain, but we didn’t realize how cold they got at that elevation in the rain and wind.  OK, picture this … 4 guys (as they gained another rider along the way) all huddled up in an outhouse trying to stay warm and not struck by lightning!  You heard me right … an outhouse!  That was about 2 trails into their 6 trails planned for the day.

Now mountain bike trails, especially those not accustomed to the downpours, become dangerous places to ride.  The clay terrain can make it difficult for the wheels to even turn, for they get so caked with hard, sticky mud.  In addition, the trails deteriorate when ridden in those conditions.  Knowing that Tom and Todd abandoned their adventure … totally not having much fun as of that point.  Our traveling partner John and the additional rider (yes, the one from the outhouse) decided to continue on.  A “4-hr” adventure turned into a 9-10 hr journey.

As we waited for them to return, we hung out a bit at the local bike shop who had been dealing with rental bikes needing huge repairs as a result of the trail conditions.  Indeed, Tom & Todd spent the good part of 30 minutes at the car wash cleaning the mud out of every component of their bikes.  Then on to a warm shower and fresh, dry clothes.  :-).

Funny because when we visited Moab last it was in April and we never had a drop of rain.  Murphy’s Law, I presume.  Thank you Tom for listening to your head and not your heart and abandoning your ride and keeping me from the associated worry.
20150711-IMG_2718With another ride planned for tomorrow, they all lived for another day.  🙂  Stay tuned for the next blog post.

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography



High Hopes For Arches NP

So the cross country cycling road trip begins … at least for me, since the guys had already driven from Fairfax, VA to Park City, UT, including a stop for some mountain biking near Laramie, WY.  As was mentioned in the last blog post, the skies had cleared up upon our leaving Park City and remained that way during the 4 hour drive into Moab.

While Moab is a mountain biker’s dream location, for me, there was also Arches National Park just down the street from our lodging.  My new friend, Rachel (also a photographer) and I gladly allowed the guys to head up to the Slickrock Trail for some evening warmup riding.  We, on the other hand, headed up to Arches NP to catch the last bit of light and the accompanying sunset.  She had never been there and I had such amazing memories from the last time Tom & I met up with another good friend, Rodney, and got some wonderful shots, including some night photography as well.20150710-DSC_4874

The clouds were wonderful in creating a nice texture to the sky backdrop.  While there were some visitors milling around, we did our best to try to eliminate from our images.


A quick check on the setting sun and those wonderful clouds made us excited for the eventual sunset.


When the sun eventually set on the horizon, there was still a wonderful bask of warm gorgeous light on the red rock formations, so iconic of Arches NP.

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At one point I noticed that there was a rain storm brewing, but it was off in the distance.  We did wonder how the guys were fairing with the storm, but for us, we remained dry and determined.

20150710-DSC_4916 20150710-DSC_4914

Then the colors started to emerge ….

20150710-DSC_4924…. and it was gorgeous!  Just about that same time, we could hear thunder and see lighting bolts coming down around us, though still off in the distance.  We also noticed that there were now 3 different rain downpours off in varying directions from us.

The sky turned very dark quickly and we began to try to capture the lightning strikes around us.  OK, maybe not too successfully, but we gave it a good effort.  Then we decided that there would be no light painting on the arches for us tonight and departed.  In case you’re wondering, yes, the guys got some of the rain as well.  Tomorrow’s a new day.


After dropping the guys off at the trailhead for the “Whole Enchillada” the next morning, we headed off back to Arches NP for some hiking and photography.


But as you can see, the skies were once again not cooperating.  About 30 minutes into shooting, we got poured on, as we ran through the rain, thunder, and lightning, trying to keep our gear safe and dry.  Before we did, we were able to grab a few shots.

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There’s something not compatible with lightning and barren exposures like the terrain at Arches NP.  While I had hoped to get some rest and venture out again in the middle of the night for night photography, the clouds made that an aborted effort.  I guess the rain had followed us and that I wasn’t meant to get much out of this side trip to Arches.  I wondered why … and hoped that I would find an answer somewhere along this road trip.  🙂

More to come from Moab, UT … stay tuned!

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography



Cruising Potash Road

Whenever Tom travels in the country, he always holds a fascination of learning the history of an area.  So when we were staying in Moab, he decided that one afternoon, in lieu of getting some afternoon rest, we would head out on Potash Road, just outside of Moab.

The road itself is in a gorge which follows the Colorado River.  It is a mecca for rock climbers and at any given time, they can be found in their helmets and harnesses along the shoulders of the road.



Also along the way, the area is known for the ancient rock art and petroglyph panels which can be seen roadside.  I found them quite fascinating.  When you would stop to observe the obvious ones, after some time, your eye would find more details, more panels, more pictures.  One could say even more stories from an era gone by.



Of course, there was one that was supposed to be a bear, so I couldn’t rest until I found that one … LOL.  Thanks to the guide on the roadside that gave me more direction as to where it could be found.


Though we didn’t investigate this fully, there are also dinosaur tracks found along the way, for those so inclined to locate them.

Wildflowers were plentiful along the way, which complicated the red rock formations present, which contrasted so beautifully with the flowing waters of the Colorado River and the lush green landscape on its shores.





We even came across some type of lizard which scrambled near my feet and all but gave me a heart attack … wasn’t expecting that.  🙂


Arches aren’t confined to Arches NP and one can access several different arches off of Potash Road.  One of the more accessible ones, visible from the road, is Jug Handle Arch.  Gee, I wonder where it got its name from?

DSC_4056 If one continued to take the more primitive road past the potash fertilizer plant, it would lead into Canyonlands National Park and all of its beauty that the area offers.  Yes, it was truly a wonderful and relaxed drive.  Though my body was craving my pillow, blanket, and mattress … I was glad that Tom shamed me into the afternoon exploration.


On to Canyonlands NP and Dead Horse Point SP next … be sure to stay tuned.