Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Finally Some Sun!

Sun is always the photographer's friend or enemy.  I know there are folks who say you can get just as great a show without sun as with it, but when the landscape is lush and colors are almost so rich they are fake, nothing does this justice like the sun. 

So I should have known that our sunset/night tour was going to turn out well because at the very start I got this great shot of the resident chamber-of-commerce egret on the wharf before we even started.  To be fair, this Great Egret has a clear draw because the local fishermen come in and clean their fish at the dock and there are lots of tasties for a very aware egret to munch on.  So he's very cannily skulking around to get the goodies from two fishermen working on their catch.  It was a great start.  

We start out and first of all, we have lots of sun - thank heavens.  The lake is not only up, but up a lot because of all the rain, and even a couple of nights ago they had another 2½" of rain in one night.  Rain means clouds, and that means no sun!!!!  But tonite we have sun!

Right away things look up.  There's a couple of osprey nests on the lake and we trek close to one and there they are - a couple working the nest.  This one has a nice tastie and probably getting a little snack before he heads back to the nest with some goodies for the kids!

They really are elegant creatures and these ospreys are very large.  The ones we see in Yellowstone are a bit smaller because of the climate, but these are a lot larger and a little more skittish, but we manage to get closer.  

This guy was obviously trying to draw us away from the nest, and we followed.  Either that or he was protecting his tastie from us.  I wanted to tell him he could have it if he would simply sit still for a quickie portrait....maybe with the dog - maybe not.  I'm not sure Bruno would be that accommodating (barking and all might be a bit disconcerting for the osprey!)

This is the nest and mom finally gave flight with a beautiful wingspan.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any great shots of that fabulous wingspan to show how really large these birds are.    Oh well, something to work for next time around!

We took a canoe ride earlier in the day even with clouds the landscape is totally lush.  All these photos are larger and you can see them when you click on them individually.  I can only imagine what this will look like this summer when the trees are in "full bloom"!

As we ended our ride we got some fabulous shots of the sunset.  One of the great things of nature is how it blends opposite colors of the color wheel (yes, it's another art lesson from Claire), without the colors getting muddy.  Notoriously when you do that with paints - no matter what medium, the colors get muddy, but not in nature.  They simply compliment each other beautifully!  Here the turquoise of the sky and the orange of the setting sun set each other off gloriously.

Match the complimentary colors (without mud) with the silhouette of a cypress or two, and It's a Painting!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Caddo Lake Texas

Walt's first video this morning and it was verrrrry coooooold, but beautiful.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

An Unusual World

We're in east Texas in the middle of the world's largest cypress forest.  Yep, there is such a thing as a cypress forest and it's in the middle of a lake.  Here's the baffling part.....when you look at a map of this lake like this:
So you think this is a pretty good-sized lake and it covers a lot of space and this will be fun to be on a lake this large and the lakescapes should be really neat.

Then you look at this map and think - whoa what there a drought I missed here?....didn't these folks talk about lots of rain in this area?  What in the world happened?

When one overlays the other it shows that almost half of the lake is missing or looks like half of the water is missing.  

But here shows what's really going on.  
All those green dots in there represent the forest.  Cypress don't grow on land, but they can't seed in the water.  That means that they had to seed on land and then grow in the water, so the water had to appear after the tree was seeded.  That answers the question why cypress trees last so long.  Some are even 400 years old.

This lake has a very active history and is the result of some very dramatic earthquakes, oil finds, and finally, conservationist have kept the area as much as possible as it was created.  The lake today looks very much like a fairyland as many of the explorers must have thought when they came upon the lake.

This is Caddo Lake in east Texas.  A few photos from a trip this morning.

As the lake became navigatable with riverboats hauling produce up and down the river, the lake had a path cut through it, and it really does look like the entrance to some huge plantation with rows of cypress on each side.

The sun setting gave us great light on this trip

And the sunset on the lake didn't hurt either

More interesting shots from Walt with the light from the sunset

Some of these scenes look so beautiful that they are almost unreal.  This was from this morning during a paddle boat ride we took, with Walt and me offering the paddling.  Needless to say that paddling a canoe is a team sport, not one in which either member are telling the other what to do!  We both need some paddling lessons.  Tomorrow we're taking a motorboat to save any more arguing about where to go and what to do!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

In The Backyard

So up early the other morning and minding my own business when I noticed a ruckus amongst the holly bush outside our window.  There was way too much action going on.  I had noticed about a week or so ago, that the bush had a beautiful look with beautiful red berries that are typical of holly bushes and didn't even think of  any thing wanting them as we are still in the depths of winter.  Then I actually saw what was going on - and a whole collection of birds in the huge tree across the street.....WAXWINGS! 

The neighbor's tree full of Waxwings

These really are exotic birds (to me) and they are notorious for flying around - a lot.  They do not like to sit still.


They loved liting on our plum tree (which we are guarding like Ft. Knox to have some fabulous plum preserves this summer) for easy access to the holly berries.  
A little drink and off to try some more berries.

It only took them an hour to clear the bush of berries.  Last I looked there was one left - on the very inside, very hard to get to!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Petroglyphs and Mountains

That's what the San Rafael is all about.  Every day we passed through and around the reef, canyon, valley and the effects of the San Rafael Anticline.  And everytime I see it I thought, what did the early settlers think?....what did the early explorers think?....how were they going to get past this?...what was this?...were they meant to get past it?   I think of the courage, determination and perserverance of those early settlers.

This shows the uplift and how it really looks.  As an early settler with a string of wagons, how in the world would a person every traverse this?  It looks insurmountable.

Petroglyphs are the other feature of this area.  It's easy to understand as the area can be so mysterious, no wonder former civilizations and people would think of post thier signs or their words so no one cold forget them.  You can click this photo to see it larger. 

Sometimes it gets a little boring to post what seems like the same photos over and over, but it really is a magical and mysterious part of the country.  And if you love geology, it's a great place to visit.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

More Geology

You would think I was a regular rock hound, but to tell you the truth, dirt is dirt or rather according to Walt it's not dirt it's SOIL!!!  But the truth is that this dirt, errr, that's soil, is actually fascinating.  You can't help but imagine how the early settlers reacted and transversed this part of the country.  There are all sorts of interesting tales.  That and taking into consideration how mysterious and other-worldly this landscape, it makes it very fascinating.

This morning we trekked out on I-70 west out of Green River.  This interstate cuts right through the San Rafael Swell, which includes the San Rafael Desert, San Rafael Reef and the Saan Rafael Swell.  So if there's a route you're taking east, take I-70 at least through Utah...if you're planning a trip west, take the route that's the best....Route 66!!!!

OK - to the photos
 This is Walt's high-performance wide-angle.  He'll give you all the details if you ask, but it's made for these sorts of shots.  This is THE shot on I-70 going east toward Green River.  What makes this so special is that if you miss it, it's an hour turnaround to get the shot again (30 minutes to find a turnaround and then 30 minutes back to this place).  And who would want to. It's super spectacular.
Part of what makes this shot so fabulous is that it's up close and personal view of the uplift or anticline (as the geologists like to say), of the many layers of the earth's crust to cause these beautiful colors.

This is the reef part of the uplift (to see how this is formed click on this photo from the blog the other day.)  The reason it's called a reef is because the early settlers were so stonewalled as to how to cross this, that it reminded them of how treacherous ocean reefs were.  Pretty good description.  Course today we settlers just cut right through it and build an interstate!

This is the other side in the afternoon light.  It really does look reefy and really, REALLY difficult to navigate with a prarie schooner!

I think in another life Walt was Christopher Columbus, or Major Seth Adams (you know Ward Bond in Wagon Train) or Jim Bridger or something cause we always love taking the road less traveled, or so we think.

We veered off I-70 pretty fast after we traveled through the reef part of the swell, and trekked up north - just cause!!!

The first thing we noticed was the San Rafeal River.  Like most rivers through very arid climates, this has a beautiful riparian environment.  The San Rafael isn't all that big, but it is vital. This is the only swining bridge in Utah an historic bridge which does wobble when you walk across it, therefore I had no desire whatsoever to participate in that. 

Here's Walt great lens on the river's edge.

Traveling further up we find some family photos - from long ago!!!  I actually like this one and thought it would make an interesting print on a fabric. 

So then I thought "Wedge Overlook" sounded like fun, so we decided to trek over there, after a few jaunts down some paths that were very loosely labeled "roads"! 

There was sure an overlook here, and for something who's not excited about being on cliff type environs, I was hugging the car door to make sure the car didn't tip over the side.  Walt, was out with his trust lens in no time flat!  Of course a beautiful picture came of it.  This is the Grand Canyon of the San Rafael Swell.  Looks pretty grand-canyon-ish!

I preoccupied myself with flowers!  The desert blooms are really spectacular no matter how big....
or small.

Further down, more beautiful landscape which at some point we have to wonder if it all begins to look the same to everyone but us.  These views are so majestic, that it's hard to say they are special.  but they are.

 This is a great view of the San Rafael River valley, probably a view into the beginnings of the canyon from closer to the flor.  This is my contribution to the canyon photography, not from the top cliff!
Our internet hook up is very slooooow tonite, so I will post a few videos when it gets a good night's sleep and is faster tomorrow!

Slont Canyons

So we've loved slot canyons ever since we did our first one in southern Utah in the Grand Staircase Escalante area.  Mostly these were in the Vermillion Cliffs, but if we went further north we got into the White Cliffs, and although the canyons had interesting construction and formations, the color simply wasn't there. 

 So when local people told us to come to the San Rafeal swell, which is north of Bryce Canyon (Pink Cliffs), I was a little confused how the canyons could be any more beautiful.

Then I started looking at the formation here, and discovered that there had been an uplift in the layers of the formation of this part of the country. This is easy to see when you see a cross section of the San Rafeal Swell.

 I know - this looks like a bunch of gobbledegook. 

But wait till you see the photos from our first slot canyon visit.   You can REALLY see the uplift in the formation of the walls.  Of course Walt's photos are really beautiful of the canyon.  This one really shows the uplift angle of the whole San Rafeal Swell.

Mine were portrait since I had the zoom on my camera (which weighed a ton, hence the sore buns this morning!!!)

Boulders, rocks and various other impediments are frequently lodged in the canyons caused by the rushing waters through the canyon. 

 Of course Walt and I can not resist catching the other in action photos!

 Yes, we took Bruno with us.  We had a little problem with the A/C and didn't want to come home to a dead dog.  The problem with going through a year of puppiness, is that you grow so immensely close to the dog, you don't want to have to go through that again. We look upon Bruno as a beloved member of the family now and Walt has the dog he's always wanted.  Bruno and Walt are big buds and Walt does so much for the dog - that's a whole other blog for another day.  But here are the dynamic duo on this 6-mile hike.  That sounds like a lot and we ended up having to carry him out of the canyon and he sat down in the shade and that was that.  But Bruno is a trouper.  He wants to run with the pack, even though it's the alpha male, alpha female and he's the alpha dipshit!!!  Running with the pack is what he loves. 

Hope this isn't too boring.  We're headed out today to show more of the topography of this part of the country.  Even though the geology sounds so boring ( and I'm president of that club cause most of the time when someone says geology to me, I start singing Zzzzzzzz's!  But you see it, and it's a whole other exciting experience!