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.

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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.

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As I was starved for wildlife, I couldn’t help but notice this yellowlegs nearby.  🙂
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We also found this dirt road where there were some interesting photographic subjects for us to shoot.

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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.

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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

 

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

Canyonlands NP & Dead Horse Point SP

One can’t visit Moab, UT and Arches National Park, without at least a quick visit to the nearby Canyonlands National Park & Dead Horse Point State Park.  So before we left the area to head back into Colorado (on our way to Rocky Mountain NP), we did just that.  Of course, we  got up super early and planned to get to Mesa Arch in Canyonlands for the early morning light … the sunrise … the start of another new day.  Yes, that was our plan…. ours and that of many other photographers as well.  So, what else is new?

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So though we were the first at the location, before the “golden moment” arrived, we were one of many – all jockeying for perfect spot.  LOL.

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When we were done shooting Mesa Arch, we headed back to our vehicles.  I found it amazing how so much of the landscape I had earlier walked through I never saw … perhaps due to the headlamps and darkness on our way out.

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After Canyonlands, I wanted to be sure to visit Dead Horse Point State Park.  So off we ventured.  I sure was glad that we did!

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Wow!  What an amazing place it was!  There were many viewpoints and vistas, but at Dead Horse Point, it’s actually one of the most photographed vistas in the world … and with good reason.  Situated about 2,000 feet above the Colorado River, as it meanders through the landscape of vertical cliffs and canyons.

DSC_4430 I found it to be as impressive as the Grand Canyon as far as the view went … on and on for miles with such varied terrain and colors running throughout it.

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Everywhere you looked the view just got better.

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One of my favorite views was that of Shafer Canyon Overlook.  I mean, look at this drop off!  Thankfully we were running short of time or else I feared that Tom would want to drive down into the canyon on all of those switchbacks.  The only thing that seemed more frightening to me was when Tom said that he wanted to come back and descend into the canyon on his mountain bike.  Better him than me.

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Having an extreme fear of heights, I was able to shuffle myself to the edge so that we could take a shot … you know, with our feet in the view.

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Friends asked me if I was afraid to sit on the edge … what do you think?  Truth be told I was foolishly hanging on, with my fingers mind you, to Tom’s pants.  Right?  As if that was going to save me if I slipped or toppled over.  LOL

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Yes, it was a fascinating place and certainly deserved much more time than the few hours we had available to spend.  When I posted this image below on photography sites, someone described it as apocalyptic … I think that pretty much sums it up.  Though in truth, it was undeniably beautiful and quite unique.

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If you haven’t made it to Dead Horse Point SP, be sure that you do.  You won’t regret it!

From here, we ventured on to Rocky Mountain NP, which has already been covered in 2 previous blog posts.  If you missed them, they can be found at:

https://tnwaphotography.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/rocky-mountain-high-in-colorado/ https://tnwaphotography.wordpress.com/2014/05/29/owls-here-there/

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  🙂

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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.

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

 

The “Red Rocks Wonderland” of Arches NP

After spending a few days in the vicinity of Monument Valley, we made our way towards Moab, UT.  It would be our home for the next 3-4 days, as we explored the “Red Rocks Wonderland” of Arches National Park.

On our way into Moab, we first got a chance to stop and photograph Wilson’s Arch … you know … to get our photography started.  🙂  Well, that and give Tom a chance to run around the arch landscape and provide us with some perspective as to the size of Wilson Arch, which is approximately 91 feet in width and 46 feet in height.

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Arches NP contains more than 2,000 natural stone arches, pinnacles, fins, and balanced rocks.  It’s also a landscape photographer’s dream … sunrise, early morning, early evening, and of course, late night … it really doesn’t matter, it’s always more than willing to please the viewer.  Upon arrival into the park boundaries, we immediately reached the iconic Balanced Rock landscape.

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It was amazing to see how it transformed as the evening prompted the disappearing light. Along with the loss of light, we were also met with a drop in temperature as well.

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Another area where we spent substantial time was at the Windows section … which provides views of the North Window and the South Window.

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Nearby the Windows, one can climb the sandstone stairs to nearby Turret Arch.  I found it to be quite beautiful in the daytime, but also beautiful in the evening.

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If you climbed up onto the North Window arch, and positioned yourself just right, you could frame Turret Arch through the North Window arch.  Pretty cool … thanks to Tom for testing out the waters of safety for us.  🙂

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On tap for photography in Arches, was the inclusion of some night photography, preferably with the Milky Way looming in the distant night skies.

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What we didn’t plan for was the rise of a substantial moon come around 1AM in the morning!  Once the moon made its appearance, the stars faded into the night’s sky.

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What fun we had photographing at night … between setting up the angle of the shots, coordinating everyone’s remotes and exposure needs, and executing the “props”, it was a blast!  I was even impressed that we didn’t get hurt running here and there in the darkness … LOL.

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Of course, there were opportunities for some wildlife shooting as well.  By this time, I was a bit “wildlife-deprived” and I believe that I was shooting just about everything that ran or flew by us.  Out came the long lens for some captures of this wonderful mountain bluebird … absolutely gorgeous.  There were also several ground squirrels running to and fro which were also fair game to my lens.

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Park Avenue was another area that I found quite interesting.  It seemed like a corridor of sandstone formations with an alley between them.  In this shot I like the way the hikers are included, which to me allows for perspective of the area.

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Double Arch is also quite the popular sight to photograph, though it was a bit of a challenge to shoot during the day.  It did make for some interesting composition for shooting the night’s sky, especially with the help of some props, thanks to Rodney!

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I have to admit that my internal time clock was a bit messed up.  It seemed that we were either coming in at 3 in the morning … or leaving to go out at 3 in the morning.  Most afternoons were spent trying to catch up on some much needed sleep … or at least rest.

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Moab is an outdoor adventurist’s playground … hiking galore and I believe that Tom was drooling being out there without his much adored mountain bike.  He made up for it though when he recently drove out to Oregon, by way of Moab, to make up for lost time and opportunity.  🙂

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Yes, we had a great time in Arches NP … yet, there was still much more to do.  We barely scratched the surface of the area.  Note to self … return with a few extra weeks to spend.  I have a feeling though … it never seems like enough time.

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Stay tuned for more from the Moab area … including the Potash Road drive.

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Come To The Island … Antelope Island State Park

We’re getting ready to head back to Utah soon where we will explore Arches NP and Canyonlands NP, as well as Monument Valley, for our fill of landscape images and hopefully, some night photography as well.  To get my wildlife “fix”, we’re also planning on spending some time in Rocky Mountain NP.

But as I was thinking about Utah, I started to think about the time we spent in Utah in February.  For my family, it was a snowboard trip, but for me it was a photography trip, with a side helping of skiing.   🙂

Not far from Salt Lake City is Antelope Island State Park.  We spent several days visiting the island, which is accessed via a causeway into the Great Salt Lake, connecting the island to the Wasatch Front Range.  It comprises 28,000 acres, stretched over a length of 15 mi and 5 mi across.  Interestingly enough, the island is home to over 40 freshwater springs which produce over 30 million gallons of water per year … all while being surrounded by the Great Salt Lake!

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It was first explored in 1845 by John C. Fremont and Kit Carson who also named it Antelope Island, after the population of pronghorn antelope that grazed there.

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It’s quite the fascinating place to visit … each season brings a different perspective to the island.  In the winter, I found it much easier to spot the wildlife, as they made their way across the snowy and icy landscape.

In fact, on this trip, we saw more coyote than I think that I ever have there!  They seemed to be just about everywhere …

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… on the ice …

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… on the road …

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… hiding in the brush of the tundra.

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Of course, there were more wildlife sightings than just the coyotes.  Mule deer were sighted as well.

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The coyotes saw the mule deer as well, which signaled the “dinner time” bell in them, so off they went to try to stalk one down.

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The poor deer, though quick making their way over the brush, were on high alert!

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There were so many deer on the island and apparently the Utah state parks have had issues with the lack of deer in other areas, so were stumbled across the Department of Natural Resources conducting a catch of some of female mule deer, for ultimate re-introduction into another park, which had decreased numbers of deer recently.  It was quite interesting the assembly that they had going on.  I know this is a horrible shot, but check out the multi-level carrier netting system they used to transfer the deer to their station for inspection and then transportation.

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In 1848, the Fielding Garr Ranch was erected, which was the first permanent residence on the island.  In 1981, the island and the ranch were bought by the State of Utah and thus turned into the state park of today.

We also had sightings and interactions with other wildlife, such as the great horned owls, as they tried desperately to camouflage themselves from being spotted.  OK, I’m well aware that this is less than stellar of a shot … LOL

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We also spotted several different porcupines in our travels.  One was feasting high up in a tree.  The other was on the ground munching on leaves, twigs, and downed branches from the nearby trees.  This particular one got out in the open and let me crawl around with them.  Contrary to popular belief, porcupines don’t throw their quills, so I was actually quite safe.

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There’s quite a large bison herd on the island as well.  They’re quite interesting to watch as they move slowly across the landscape and you become slowed down by them as they approach the roadway.  Makes me want to belt out with a round of “Oh give me a home…”.

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As we were leaving, we noticed the skies becoming quite beautiful in the rear view of the car.  I made Tom stop and my intention was to capture the moment.  I never did shoot it, but I think I got something better.

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There was a coyote pair hanging out right where we stopped!  Serendipity, I say!  One of them was actively hunting for food (I presume it was the female), while the other (I presume it was the male) followed along like it was stalking the other and just waiting for the right moment for something …. hmmm …. it was quite interesting.

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Either way, they were in gorgeous light as they made their way, all while the sunset was happening.

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On our drive back to SLC, the alpenglow on the Wasatch Range was amazing … such tones of blue, pink, and purple … gorgeous.  Sorry for ending with the moving shot from the iPhone camera, but it truly was gorgeous, so I had to share.

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Hope that you enjoyed Antelope Island SP!  I highly recommend a side trip to visit, if you’re ever in the SLC area.  Will be back to Florida sights and shots for the next blog post.

 

 

2012 Review: PART 5 – Family Reunion – Yellowstone, Tetons, & Zion NP

Barely unpacked from AK, I had a family reunion to get to out west.  See, we decided to gather up the gang – Kelli & Mitchell, my mom & her husband Murray, and us – to spend some time together out in the great outdoors, appreciating each other’s company, as well as the company of lots of wildlife and beautiful surroundings.  Tom & Kelli took a road trip out west, stopping along the way to get their mountain biking fix, and met us in Salt Lake City.  After a brief stop in SLC, we ventured out to Yellowstone NP & Great Teton NP.  To my surprise, we were a bit late for the explosion of fall colors that we had enjoyed 2 years ago – same time, same place.  Oh well, didn’t matter because the trip more than made up for the lack of fall colors by the abundance of wildlife.  Bears, moose, bison, wolves, coyotes, pronghorn, and elk were plentiful!  The weather was crispy cool, OK maybe even cold at times, but this Florida girl enjoyed it immensely.  Tom & I would get up really early every morning and shoot, while the family took in a bit more sleep.

Family reunion

Family reunion

Bison battling it out for superiority

Bison battling it out for superiority

Bull elk readying for the rut

Bull elk readying for the rut

After spending several days trying to track down the elk in the very early mornings, there’s a few things that I can remember as if it were just a moment ago ….

1.  The sound of the elk when they bugle.  If you haven’t heard that amazing sound, you need to google elk and listen to their call.  It’s one of the most amazing sounds that you will ever hear.  For literally miles and miles you can hear the echo within the vast wilderness of the landscape.  So soothing ….

2.  Another sound ….. see we ran across many sightings of coyotes – hunting in the fields, running to and fro ….. but on 2 occasions, we saw them run back to what I figured out afterwards must have been their den, most likely with a meal, and you could hear the yips of their young.  I’m not talking a yip or 2, I’m talking about 1-3 minutes of continuous calling out.  That is another sound that if you’ve never heard it, you should.  I wanted to tape it on my video in my camera, but I was paralyzed by the beauty of their sound.  Big time smiles after hearing that one!

Three generations

Three generations

Moulton Barn, Grand Tetons NP

Moulton Barn, Grand Tetons NP

Enjoying the view from Signal Mountain, Grand Teton NP

Enjoying the view from Signal Mountain, Grand Teton NP

Yellowstone NP, WY

Yellowstone NP, WY

Several days were also spent in and around Park City also, as Mitchell joined us for an extended weekend or so.  Then off towards AZ and NM we went – taking a few detours along the way – some intended, some not.  What a beautiful country we live in!  One of our unintended detours involved St. George (we won’t go into that one), but things happen for a reason and the detour turned into a visit to Zion NP – so incredibly beautiful and a treat from the summertime visit we did several years ago – much less crowded.

Looking up at the tall stand of aspens kissed by autumn

Looking up at the tall stand of aspens kissed by autumn

Paria, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, UT

Paria, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

Zion NP, UT

While the beauty of the southwest was difficult to leave, we had a more definite destination.

Stay tuned for 2012 Review:  Part 6