Grand Junction Hospitality

When in Colorado, Grand Junction specifically, one of the first places I want to go is to visit the Colorado National Monument.  A unit within the National Park Service, the “Monument” consists of sharp canyons of sandstone and various types of rock formations high on the desert land of the Colorado Plateau.  Tom loves it for the exceptional cycling that it offers … I love it for its amazing photographic value and it being a place to get away from the city of Grand Junction which resides at its base.

Usually, we start off with a sunrise from the top, though on this day it was lacking cloud formations which always enhance a sunrise.  Still it’s a great way to spend a morning, as seen from this view of Independence Rock._dsc1334-hdr_dsc1298Similar to that which can be said of the lighting on the Palouse farmland of eastern Washington state, the scenery is fascinating from every viewpoint and angle and the views are ever-changing with the light and shadows._dsc1370-hdrThe breadth of the views are amazing … as seen from this vista overlooking Monument Canyon and looking a bit north._dsc1427_dsc1449It’s not all about landscapes though.  There is a considerable amount of wildlife to be found up there, but I’ll save that for another post.  After enjoying the sunrise and a delicious brunch, we decided to head to Vega Lake, a Colorado State Park in the town of Collbran._dsc1453There, we made our way to Vega Lake, which is a high mountain lake surrounded by lush meadows, which were colored beautifully for the fall.  Sitting at an elevation of ~8,000 feet, it was so incredibly beautiful.  We walked the beaches for quite a bit and then I saw it … lots of flat rocks laying on the sandy beach, just waiting for someone to come play.  See, every year Tom and I make a cairn on our wedding anniversary, which is at the end of August and usually celebrated in Alaska, but in 2016 we were unable to get away, therefore we never got to celebrate sufficiently.  So it was like 2 lightbulbs that went off simultaneously … let’s build one here … and so we did.  A 19 + 1 for good luck rock cairn signifying one rock for each year we’ve been together and then one more to seal the deal for the next.  ❤_dsc1483While there we saw deer and the fattest red fox I think I’ve ever seen, but he wouldn’t stick around for images … guess he didn’t want to be famous.  😉

It was such a fabulous day so far, but no day would be complete without a return to the “Monument” for afternoon light and ultimately the sunset.img_2553

Tom and I took our also obligatory shot of us and our feet overlooking the scene.  Having a fear of heights, you can’t tell but I’m grabbing on to his pants for dear life!fullsizerenderSunset finally arrived … it was fabulous, though it also lacked the clouds.  I guess I have to bring them with me next time.  LOLimg_2590Then it was on for some fabulous – yummy, yummy, sushi and some wine/beer.  Such a wonderful day, beautiful sights, fun celebrations, and most of all, the best of company.  It doesn’t get any better than that!img_2023Next Up:  A bit of touring … and 4-wheeling  🙂

© 2017  TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

The Palouse of Southeastern Washington State

I’m sure that you’ve all heard about the Seven Wonders of the World, right?  Well, how many of you also know that there’s a Seven Wonders of Washington State designated as well?  Yep, that’s right and our next stop in the blog (or two posts) is probably the most beautiful of all.  I’m talking about the southeastern rolling hills and farmlands of southeastern Washington State known as the Palouse region.  This is not our first time out there … not even our second … but I believe our third.  We love it so much that we travel out there, from SE Florida, as often as we can.  Come along with us throughout some of the area and up to Steptoe Butte for a sunset shoot.

_DSC0622As you can see, simply the drive out through the farmlands is awe-inspiring.  Mind you, we haven’t even been in Washington state for more than a few hours at this point and we’re already in hurry up and get there mode.  LOL.  Luckily, on our way we cross paths with a beautiful great horned owl which unfortunately left its lush tree setting and opted for the power line instead.  I’ll have to have a talk with that owl about preferred photo op locations.
_DSC7517Steptoe Butte has an elevation of 3,618 feet and offers a 360 degree view of the Palouse area.  As you drive up to the summit, it’s difficult not to stop on every corner, for there’s so much “eye candy” out here for landscape photography._DSC0331As the sun began to drop closer to the horizon we were gathered in silence and full anticipation mode of what was to come._DSC0342Right about then I heard another photographer softly call out that we weren’t alone to come out to watch the sunset.  It was then I saw 2 deer venturing out onto the butte hillside to join us.  In addition, you could hear the yelps of distant coyotes and the calls of ring-necked pheasants.  I was so thrilled about having a few wildlife moments, that I almost forgot why I was there._DSC0400The skies were changing with every minute that passed … perhaps every second.  The colors and tones in the sky were gorgeous._DSC0413Eventually, the sun dipped below the horizon and the colors soon retreated nearer to the horizon as well.  It was quite unexpectantly cold up on the butte, but when you’re shooting beauty such as this, you don’t feel a thing, except the fresh air hitting your face and your heart racing for more._DSC0513-HDROf course, there’s more to the Palouse than rolling hills and farmlands.  We were also treated to several photo ops including old trucks, rusty cars, and of course, the famous barns that call the area home._DSC0572_DSC0609_DSC0634Such history abounds out there at almost every turn in the meandering road._DSC0648Some areas are still being used … some preserved … some dismantled, such as this old stripped down silo.  I found it quite interesting to photograph and Tom toured around it a bit.  I can’t tell you how hard it is to get that guy away from places with history.  🙂_DSC0653The vast picturesque landscapes that abound are primarily agricultural in nature and their appearance is dictated by the seasons.  In the late spring and summer, the landscape resembles that of a green carpet with some light brown or other color fields running through it.  By the fall, when the fields are ready to harvest, they turn browner.  No matter the color, the light plays a big role in producing the shadows which make the area comes alive in ever-changing views._DSC0621_DSC7519It’s so very beautiful to see and I find myself lost in the lines within the scene._DSC7531Lone trees, or patches of trees, add interest to the landscape as well._DSC0625_DSC0660In Uniontown, along the 208-mile Palouse Scenic Highway, we always make sure to visit the Dahmen Barn and the infamous wheel fence.  I was a bit sad this year when the barn happened to be closed and I couldn’t check out the gorgeous works of the local artisans._DSC0679The barn complex has been expanded since we last visited it._DSC0680By the end of day 2, we were treated to another beautiful sunset … this time photographed from the roads._DSC0686Next Up:  How about some kayaking?

© 2016  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

http://www.tnwaphotography.com

Sunrise … Sunset … At “The Garden”

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Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is always a favorite destination of ours when we visit Colorado.  There’s something beautiful about how the light plays on the red rock formations, especially when surrounded also by the green vegetation.

So, come with us as we explore the area … starting of course with an early morning sunrise.  Rather than viewing the sunrise from the park itself, we choose a higher elevation, so that we can look down upon the magic as it happens.  🙂  Looking down at Gray Rock, South Gateway Rock, and North Gateway Rock, as the sun lights them up.

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The same for the Glen Eyrie formations to the north.DSC_5517 Always a favorite is the Kissing Camel formation within North Gateway Rock.  See it?  It’s on the top, about 1/3 of the way from the left.  🙂DSC_5520

As the sun begins to rise, as you can see we’re in an overlook parking area, but there is a community of homes hehind us.  How wonderful would it be to be able to peer over your fence and witness this sunrise every day!DSC_5556 DSC_5574

The best way to see the park is VERY EARLY in the morning.  You can almost have it to yourself … before the herds of tourists arrive and climb all over Balanced Rock here doing silly stuff like Tom is illustrating here.  LOL.  OK, it was difficult to get Tom to pose like this for me, not to mention to hold up that big old boulder, so don’t tell him that I put this shot in this post …  😉

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The park was donated to the city of Colorado Springs with the condition that it always remain free of charge for all to enjoy.  DSC_5596 One of our favorite views in the park is this one, which frames perfectly the image of Pikes Peak in the distance … yes, the same 14,000+ feet mountain from my most recent post.  Of course, it’s still a distance away.DSC_5605 They call this formation the Siamese Twins, which is obviously how it got its name, and you can see that window I used for framing.  Again, if you don’t get there early, you will never get an image without lots of people in it.DSC_5607

This place is full of textures to highlight in an image … the rough surface of the rocks, the trees, the puffy white clouds … so beautiful!DSC_5610

Midday is difficult to shoot the area, so we left but returned later in the day.  This image is of the Garden area and it’s a favorite of mine.  I just love the colors and the way that the light casts shadows on the landscape.

DSC_5351 We decided to hike around a bit and found it to be a bit crowded, but as you can see, you could easily find areas where you could compose and find that you’re alone in that process.

DSC_5388 I always find paths and stairs to be so inviting … makes you wonder where it goes … what’s around the corner.DSC_5397DSC_5398 Though the area is famous for the red rock formations, there are also several white rocks which intrigue the visitor as well and the light dances and shines nicely upon them.DSC_5417 Probably my favorite image from this years visit is the one below.   I mean, look at those clouds in the backdrop of the rising red rock formation.  This perspective, believe it or not, was courtesy of several visitors who were in the area, so I got low to block them from my shot.  Love the way it turned out.  DSC_5437 Being that it was summer, the wildflowers were out as well.DSC_5445 Though we wanted to stay for full on sunset, an intense storm decided it would come join the party, so we left and went back into town.  Good thing too, as it was a big one.DSC_5480

Next up:  More from Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods

© 2015  Debbie Tubridy / TNWA Photography

Friends In High Places

Photography offers so much … from beautiful scenery to wonderful wildlife interaction to travel opportunities to understanding and appreciating one’s surroundings.  The sharing of those images offers those who can’t be there to experience just a slice of the adventure at hand.  It may also provide the viewer an opportunity to “check a place out” to visit or plan for a future visit.  However, there’s a huge opportunity that many seize, though still some overlook … that is, the friendships that are made along the photo-sharing path.

Enter Grand Junction, CO….

Of course, this was Tom’s cycling road trip and I was along for the ride, trying to experience it fully for myself through the photographic sights along the way.  Another mecca for both mountain and road cycling is the Grand Junction & Fruita area, so I knew that it would be on our agenda.  Of course, now when I think of Grand Junction, I think also of the amazing photography work of Amy Hudechek and her mom Bev Zuerlein, friends I have made over the years while sharing images on Flickr.

Amy & I made plans to meet up and she graciously agreed to show me some of what Grand Junction had to offer.  So off we went to Grand Mesa for some prime time lighting landscape shots.
20150713-DSC_5128 Yes, the wildflowers were out in force, with these yellow blooms being one of my favorites. Reminded me a bit of the yellow blanket of canola fields in the Palouse of Washington state from 2014.20150713-DSC_5136

Situated at 10,000 ft elevation, when you arrive at the “end of the road”, it’s an amazing view – both for landscapes and the various critters and birds milling around.  Seeming like they wanted their photo taken, I was only too happy to oblige.  🙂20150713-DSC_4692 20150713-DSC_4703 Several large ravens were nearby, as well as this beautiful Clark’s Nutcracker.20150713-DSC_4646 As we were making our way back down, we came  across some wonderful columbines, one of my favorite flowers.20150713-DSC_4715 Making a quick stop at Island Lake, which was so very beautiful as well.20150713-DSC_5153

Amy suggested that we stop and have lunch at the True Grit Cafe in Ridgeway, CO.  What a great place, though it was a bit crowded on our visit, due to an event in nearby Telluride. However, you absolutely couldn’t beat the views of the San Juan Mountains from the outside deck.  So very charming.20150713-IMG_2762Just about when we finished eating, I got a text from Tom saying how he wished he was touring the area with us.  So while walking back to the car, I spotted this Fire Dept building and captured this iPhone image and sent it to him.  Yes, see, I was thinking about him.  🙂
20150713-IMG_2763 Amy took me to so many fabulous places along the way.  A favorite of mine was this old IH (International Harvester) truck.  Set in the middle of a field of yellow bloom, it was perfect with its rusty surface.  Love it!20150713-DSC_5173 Amy knew of a horse corral with amazing backdrop views as well and we spent some time there as well.  Though the corral was empty when we were there, how could any horse mind calling that place home!20150713-DSC_5184 While we didn’t see the horses, we did see some cattle, who were hanging out close by to where Amy parked the car for our visit.  Loved the way this one gave us the total stink eye as we loaded up in the car again.  LOL20150713-DSC_5197 Yes, the area surrounding Grand Junction has everything and then some for the outdoor nature photographer.  I was very happy to have been able to get out and see some of it.  Thanks Amy!20150713-DSC_5195 When I got back to our rental condo, I told Tom that I wanted to try to photograph the sunset from the nearby Colorado National Monument.  It was my first visit there, though Tom had been cycling up there earlier, and I think that the bighorn sheep “got the memo” and came to check me out as well.  🙂20150713-DSC_4748Looking west from the monument, the sunset proved to be quite beautiful, as expected.
20150713-DSC_5210-HDR It never ceases to amaze me how the light changes so quickly and the colors get so varied, even when the sun had set.20150713-DSC_5244-HDRIt was the perfect ending, to the perfect day.  But there’s more …

Next up:  After the sunset, there’s always another sunrise the next day.  Stay tuned!

© 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.

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

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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