Saturday, November 17, 2012

Great Salt Plains

This is an area in northern Oklahoma where salt water was once and the salt is all that's left.  The area also has a lake which is a huge stop-over for migrating birds and they are totally plentiful.
Sandhill Cranes, Whooping Cranes, eagles, hawks, Ruddy ducks, Canadian Geese, Snow Geese and Pelicans are all running through the state park for points south.  Here's a few of some of the Sandhill Cranes as they are congregating on a local field (much to the chagrin of the local farmer who has just planted his winter wheat with the sweet new morsels popping out of the ground that the Sandhills think is just for them!!!).  They are very skittish as the farmers are want to scare them away as much as possible.  But they are also tenacious and are just as fond of finding another field and another and another.  

 They are beautiful birds and are really graceful in the sky.

 And then every once in a while someone doesn't the get memo to wear his dress whites!!!!

 Another beautiful morning in the country (with modern wind turbines in the background!)

Also check out Walt's video of massive crane landing:

Click the picture above to view the video on the CWUAP Facebook Page.

There are some more pictures on his Facebook page (click here).

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Moonrise and The Wave

Our day started with a fun challenge - to catch the moonset over the mountain peaks of the entrance to Zion.  Granted our timing was a tad off - it would have been better just a bit before full moon or a bit after full moon, cause the sun is not as intense and the moon is at its most intense which means its a more balanced light, albeit still pretty uneven.

OK - after that event in's the upshot of our moon over the peaks of Zion.  And this doesn't really tell you what happened....of course a big HUGE cloud came over the moon just as it was setting and cleared about 2 seconds before this shot.  Where's the cloud?  Well, we realized our location was off a tad, and we had to move and in the process, while the moon was setting, the clouds burned off and there was no evidence of the problem clouds - just like those ole nasty clouds!

So we decided that since we didn't win the lottery to make The Wave hike, (NOTE:  You have to go to the Kanab, UT GSENM Visitors Station to sign up and fill out a form and then there's a lottery.  These days about 90b folks are standing in line for The Wave, and so you have a 1 out of 9 chance of getting picked as the 10 to get permits into The Wave - we did our best, and really did a great job schmoozing with the head ranger.  Our number was 3 - they called 2 and 4 but no three!!!!!  Bummer), so we decided to do our own dang Wave, who needs that wave you can tell Walt did a fine job finding his own Wave.

 Actually these rock formations are so amazing, that he just couldn't resist.
And you'll be glad to know that to protect these rocks from any further erosion we are NOT giving away this location!
 But wait.....who else should be on the Walt Wave:
 As we were dilly-dallying around, Claire sees a herd (are Bighorns in herds - well I hope so), galloping down a wash coming toward the road right behind our car and screams: STOP!!!
 Then they make it across the road and you know their life isn't exciting, and a car and two humans with the long clicking thingies in their hands are just too interesting to pass up.  If this gang were up in Yellowstone they'd be used to those silly humans with clicking long black thingies in their hands, but alas, they are from Zion and just country bighorn - not big-city bighorn (like Yellowstone).
 But you know you can only take so much excitement, then you have to move on.
Thus endeth a very good day in Zion - ANIMALS, at last!!!!!!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Calf Creek Falls Trail

I don't know what I was thinking.  But had heard about this hike and heard that it wasn't too taxing - moderate.  I do 4 mile hikes easy so a 2.7 hike to and 2.7 back didn't seem like much - although I knew there would be some climbing.

Everything started out really well.
 This is actually the view of Calf Creek Falls, as you enter the park and trailhead area.

But we passed some pretty desolate landscape to get to Calf Creek.  No one could grow anything here and yet there were cattle guards about every 5 miles or so.

When we first entered the hike we spotted a hawk checking over his side at the airplane!!!

There are always interesting rocks and formations and erosion in this area.  Here's an arch sort of erosion.  

There are also the most remarkable faces on these rocks.

Another beautiful wall.

And here this lizard just seemed to pose for Walt and his camera.

 Some grafitti left by folks here before (Walt and I speculate that this is ancient Femont type grafitti for "John loves Marry"!!!!!)

 All of this culminated in the final reward - this wonder falls and it was wonderful - it was cool - and it was beautiful.  What made it even more fun, was to realize that on the way out back to the trail head, that my struggle to get to the falls was because we were on a slow incline, and the whole trail back was a slow decline - thank heavens, my thighs were twitching when I got home that night, but made up for it by eating half a cartoon of ice cream!!!!

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Pipes of Kodachrome State Park

We made an early-morning visit to this Utah state park, and one of the major features of the parks are the spires or pipes.  You know these things stand out like they do elsewhere in the canyons of Utah, and I assumed they were formed the same way like the Hoodoos in Bryce, but not so.
Of course if you're a crow, the best way to tell everyone is on one of the highest spots!

Known as the ballerina pipe.

 I call this one "the monK"

 And there's always a hat pipe.

They have an even more fascinating beginning.

First you start out with a whole bunch of sediment laid down very quickly.  Remember this is geological terms and quickly for geology is a couple of million years.
 Then you have this gooey stuff that's forced up from the base layer of soil.

 So it makes it to the top.

 And then you have this long channel of gooey stuff that's finally happy cause it's reached the top....but, it's not finished.

 Now some more topped off with more quickly laying sediment and this makes it into a very hard rock.

 So that when the erosion starts, all but the stuff that was once gooey is now....wait for it...."hard as a rock!"  (Bad joke!)

So then what happens is that the wind and water eventually erode all but the pipe and voila - just like that you're left with a spire which of course took only a gazillion years!  But nevertheless very fascinating.

All of these photos are courtesy of the Visitor's Center at Kodachrome State Park, Utah.   

See more of our photos on our gallery.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Slot Canyons

 We had a great day of canyon-ing (is that a verb - oh well it is now!)  Canyon-ing in So. Utah means slot canyons....and they are a blast.  The rain and water and wind erodes certain layers of the soil (not dirt, dirt is something you sweep out of your home!), and therefore some layers of soil stay (are harder to erode) while other layers wash away with the water.

Here is Willis Creek waterfalling into the wash that is going to lead to the slot canyons on further downstream. 

Most slot canyons have washes or creeks through them, and as the area had, had a goodly amount of rain recently we had seen a lot of roads washed out on the road to Willis Creek.  But once there we were treated to a fine show.   These are some of the spectacular photos from Walt's new Canon that really capture the swirls and movement on the slot canyon walls.  I'm continually fascinated by the colors and the designs the water makes;  ridges so perfectly formed, you think someone came through with an intricate Dremel drill!

But one bad thing happened.  We traveled most of the creek today with another couple from Colorado.  You can see them here in the bottom of this shot.

They were lovely and we promised to leave our contact info.  However, on the way back to the car, Claire was attacked by a cactus (and she was just minding her own business - promise!) and the cactus won.  So being the artist and always aware of her fingers and hands and keeping them in as agile condition as possible, became very worried about all the prickly-thingies sticking out of her hand.  So leaving a name & contact info became, get me back to the RV now so I can get these flaming sticky things out of my fingers moment!   Not until we were back in Cannonville, did we remember that we hadn't left a note one.   Alas, hopefully they can see the blog or our site, and hopefully find us that way!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Three days of the Condor....

....or rather one day!

Out in Page, AZ today and we were messing around Horseshoe Bend and there was no  light....we brought a line a storms in when we came into town, and this morning the clouds still hadn't cleared out, so we thought we would trek south to photography Marble Canyon and other beautiful sights around there.

You know sometimes when you have a picture that appeals to you for one reason or another and you keep it on the icebox door, or bulletin board or desktop to remind you of places you want to go?  Well the Navajo Bridge across the Colorado River reminded me just of that.  So when I took my own picture, I was specific about what I wanted and voila - I got it.

These are the beautiful Vermillion Cliffs just past the Navajo Bridge, and although the bridge is not well lit by the sun, we were just so happy to have any Sun, that the cliffs looked fabulous.

While there on the bridge, we began to notice a large vulture like bird, but it was larger than a vulture and not the right markings.  Suddenly it occured to both of us that the bird is a condor - we had lucked into about 3 California Condors and Walt took some remarkable shots.
 They may not be the most beautiful of birds, but they are fascinating up close and HUGE.
 Frankly, this one looks like a Halloween Costume!

Flying is something they do very gracefully and I love the "fingers" on the edge of their wings.

 All of the Condors are numbered as this is an endangered species, however they are making a comback and one of the places that is normal to see them is over the Colorado River near the Navajo Bridge and the Vermillion Cliffs.

We did return to Horseshoe Bend to get the sunlit shot of the "U" in the river.
It is hugely dramatic....there is probably an 800 to 500 foot drop off (what's a few 100 feet or two on a drop off - anything more than 4 feet and I'm afraid I would be a mess of bones!)  Standing on the edge is very unnerving, but the scenery is really gorgeous especially this time of year.

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Camera

....and with a new camera comes practice.  This camera is so far and above anything I can even imagine.  Walt's been reading directions for 3 days.  I  got glassy-eyed the first day and gave up!!!!

But what it does - oh my!!!!
 A wonderful house finch was buzzing about at the zoo, and why not - it's a perfect place for all animals!

 These are such totally strange creature, you can't help but want to photograph them.

 And these are adorable creatures (one of the staff went by and suggested we rustle paper, that brings them to the front).  And with a smile no less!!!

 Red Pandas are adorable too and such beautiful colors (captured gorgeously by the camera).
 A swift fox (I thought all foxes were pretty swift and pretty neat!)

 Kildeer (or road runner) - look at that detail!

 I just had to crop this one to show the detail of the following picture - absolutely gorgeous detail captured by this new camera
In full portrait mode, tigers must love to have their "close up" (but not too close!)

 Obviously when it's warm, the best thing to do is nap it off!

 His cousin (they must have been out late)

And finally a little piece of our beautiful downtown - the new Devon Building (which is absolutely gorgeous.

As you can tell Walt is doing great with the new Canon 1Dx and I adore the pictures (don't ask me to say anything about how it works - I have NO IDEA!!!)