Sunday, October 23, 2016

Ballooning in Canyonlands National Park

This sounded like a lot of fun.  Even though I have vertigo, I thought I'd try it and if I spent the whole trip on the floor of the balloon, so be it.  But the ride was so beautifully gentle and like floating on a cloud - literally - that I didn't have any problems at all.

At the crack of dawn the balloonists pick us up and take us to the launch site and once they have inflated the balloon, we get on and take off.

Take off is very gentle and poof we're in the air and up floating around.  There is a sail of sorts on one side of the balloon which can help guide the balloon a little, but we're really at the mercy of the wind at different altitudes.  The balloon also has a parachute type thing on top that allows the air at the top of the balloon (the hottest air rises to the top) to escape and therefore this way they can adjust the altitude of the balloon beautifully.

When asked where we would land, they jokingly said somewhere down there, but the chatter between the pilot and ground crew was that they were going to land on a road, and they surely did.

We took few pictures and instead a great video from the two of us.  Here's that video:
And here's a few pics during and after the flight.

Canyonlands is most magnificent during golden hours (these are the hours that filmmakers, artists and photographers love - just before sunset and just after dawn).  This is just after dawn and the golden sun is shining on those beautiful sandstone cliffs of the canyons in Canyonland.  

Here's part of the White Rim area which is so aptly named for the white rim of the upper layer of the canyon.  

And this is our balloon basket. It's very sturdy and I never felt a bump or shake or anything abrupt at all.  It was truly like floating on the wind, which is what we were doing.  And I've got a problem with heights and usually shy away from something like this.  
I can't say enough great things about this company.  The pilots were extremely knowledgeable about the area and pointed out everything from Canyonlands to Arches to the San Rafeal Swell as well as landing as soft as I ever have from a flight in air.  Canyonlands Ballooning is a not-to-be-missed activity when you're in the area!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Corona, Bow Tie and Jug Handle

Corona and Bow Tie were suggested by a friend and our guide through White Rim Road and Shafer Trail (another blog) and they were well worth it.

The first shot is from the west (looking east)

And looking west from the east:

As you can tell - it's a huge arch.  Walt sat under neath and got this shot of the span of the arch.
 But this arch also has someone looking over it to protect it that you can see the best in the afternoon sun:

The extra added attraction at this site is Bow Tie Arch, which I guess if you turn sideways this sorta looks like a bow tie - sorta.  Walt's photo here is a really good presentation of the arch, but what I love so much is the gorgeous sandstone against the blue sky.  Not to get too artistic, but these are opposites on the color wheel and they are so common in art of this area and look so beautiful. Nature has a great way of presenting us with great color combinations.

And finally because I didn't have any place else to put this....Jug Handle Arch.  This was the first arch on our 4 x 4 ride on the White Rim Trail and the Shafer Trail.  More on that next post. 

Friday, October 21, 2016

Travel Log

Straight shot once we're on I40 (thru the buggy windshield)


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Delicate Arch vs Landscape Arch

I'm glad I didn't try to write this blog the night after we took these photos cause we found out a very interesting story about them.

Delicate Arch was originally names Teacher's Bloomers arch.  This was back in the rowdy cowboy days of Utah, and really when you look at it, this is a pretty darn good description of the arch.

They sure looks like teacher's bloomers to me, especially a teacher that had been riding horse.

Here's another shot with more fabulous rock formations of the arch.
So you say, why hasn't anyone ever heard of Teacher's Bloomers Arch before?  Unless you're ancient or dead, there's no reason you should unless you know the story behind this arch.  As the park was being more and more respected as a national treasure, the PTB (powers that be) thought that Teacher's Bloomers wasn't as an appropriate name as it could be (little did they know the risque nature of life in the early 2000's!!!)  So they elected to change it.  They decided that it should be called Landscape Arch.

But you say, isn't Landscape Arch another arch that doesn't look anything like teacher's bloomers?  You are right, for this is the Landscape Arch we all know and love that is on the cover of the Arches National Park Map:
Walt's shot here is spectacular and this was supposed to be Delicate Arch.....doesn't it look delicate?  And when you read the blurb on this arch, it actually is delicate as park visitors used to be allowed to walk up under the arch, till 1991 when a piece fell down and that stopped any more traffic under that arch's way to delicate.

So why are these arches so mis-named?  Apparently there was a snafu in the signage, and the sign for Delicate Arch got put up in front of the Teacher's Bloomers (which was supposed to be Landscape Arch) and Landscape Arch (the current Landscape Arch) got named Landscape instead of the Delicate which is what it really looked like!

Now that you're totally confused, that explains everything?!!!

I did not make the trip to Delicate Arch (aka the Teacher's Bloomers which I think it should be renamed), as it had a difficult walk up to the arch and an edge walk with a 200 foot drop-off to the side.  Since I have a little vertigo, that wasn't going to be my big thing or little thing or in between thing!!!

I did visit the Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint which was no small trek, and took pictures of Walt as he arrved and took pictures.  It was only a mere 1/2 mile away:

Can't see him.....well here's an enlargement as he walked off the ledge there and started putting his equipment away.  I watched him through the lends here and took some pictures, but as you can see in the above pictures, this was a slope and below that slope was a drop-off into the canyon below (I don't know how many feet, but anything below 5 feet is enough for me)!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Colorado River

This river sure makes it's mark in this part of the world - most noticeably the Grand Canyon.  But the Green River and Colorado cut through Utah in Canyonlands NP that make for beautiful scenery, even outside the parks.

Outside Arches the river carves through beautiful canyons.

On the other side of the river (not the Arches side) is the Beaurou of Land Management (we like to call it BLAM), and they have copious campgrounds on the river that are mostly full.  It's a beautiful time as the cottonwoods that populate the river are turning and back lit against the canyons is gorgeous.

A view down the river....makes me want to call it the mighty Colorado (not Mississippi - no discrimination)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Arches and Canyons

So from Page we moved to Arches NP and Canyonlands NP.  This sounds like a really boooooring area and it's anything but.  Our first morning we caught Mesa Arch, but it took three tries to get it right. 
And this looks like a little snappy and then we're done......not so fast......

There are always a few other folks around trying to get their shot.  What they don't know that we do (this is our third morning there) is that the real show starts after the sun has been up for about an hour.  What's going on is that the sun is lighting the rock below and reflecting on the under side of the arch, and that reflection on to the red stone is what's causing the gorgeous glow!

I'm naturally preoccupied with the gorgeous sunrise.  We've been very lucky to have clouds abound around  during our stay, and that may sound like a photographer's nightmare, but it makes the sunsets and sunrises beautiful as well as the landscapes much more interesting than a plain ole blue sky.

These are some of my shots from a different angle but also shows the beautiful glow of this arch in the morning. 


 Here's another angle.

Obviously Walt is the artist here. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Upper Anteloper Canyon

This is the mother lode of all slot canyons.  Photographs from this canyon have run into the millions.  Ours are not that expensive!!!!

We were about 2 weeks late on the shafts of light which is what this canyon is known for, but it's still a beautiful canyon and it will be another reason to visit it.  We lucked out since no one else signed up for the tour, we got a private tour from George who was willing to make our trip through the canyon very memorable.
Some of the chambers were very dark.  We were almost always at about 50 feet to 80 feet of walls in the canyon. 
 This is called the heart, with the bottom of the hear at right and top at top of photo. 
 When there is a lot of wind above the canyon, it falls down into the canyon  to give beautiful sand waterfalls. 

 Looking up, you can see how tall the canyon walls are.

Here is another view up

These canyons are so beautiful and colorful, you think they are fake, but we took bracketed photos (3 or 5 photos of different exposures, then are combined together to make a beautiful photo).

 When there is light in the photo, it's almost always taken looking up.

 The swirls and erosion art look so fake.  When there are flash floods in the area, the canyons are closed and this canyon will fill with water washing through it. 

This is one of the more famous frames looking like stair steps to heaven. 

Although we didn't get the shafts of light, we felt this was a beautiful canyon and were thrilled to be able to go through and get these gorgeous shots!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Quick Goodbye to Page

We love this area, and we love this park overlooking Lake Powell.  The stark contrast between the vermilion cliffs layer and the white cliffs layer against the beautiful blue of this lake.  It's hard to describe just how blue this lake is.

We're on to bigger and better things, but it's always a little hard to leave a beautiful place. 

Cathedral Canyon

This is a lesser known canyon - well anything outside Antelope is lesser known, but still a beautiful canyon.  This is a lovely simple, short canyon with huge walls that echo like a great cathedral.  I wanted to sing, but for the benefit of any audio pollution, I restrained myself and took pictures only!

This is my first effort at HDR photography (high dynamic range)

The entrance is like many slot canyons and beckons some great photography ahead.

Even though this is a short canyon the walls are enormously high.

The other amazing thing about slot canyons is that you can get some pretty unique's a tree back lit with a dark background - couldn't resist the contrast. 

This was a very small canyon, but I loved it for the acoustics and of course the beautiful sandstone.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Water Holes

Water Holes is not a well-known slot canyon, but touted as one of the finest in the area, and that's saying a lot in the land of slot canyons. It's on Navajo Tribal land so a permit must be obtained from the Navajo before you hike the canyon.

But here's the thing about Water Holes. It starts out VERY's a little tricky to get into, but once you follow the stacked rocks it's not all that hard.  It may seem a little scary, but I've seen some pretty physically disabled people get in and out of it, and Walt and I did it with our heavy tripods and cameras which is about as hard as being physically disabled (we're probably mentally disabled trying to bring all that stuff into the canyon - but, oh well....)

So we're walking along and it's boring.....or at least I consider this boring for a slot canyon......

 This is NOT a slot's a slot canyon wannabe.  After about 3/4 mile, I'm thinking this is a joke and  not really all that big of a deal and so glad I did not cancel our slot canyon reservations at Antelope Canyon.

So I start trekking down the road to the trail head thinking Walt can just go traipse around all over kingdom come and I'll be back that the car resting...and of course laughing my ass off.

So a couple of other hikers in the canyon caught up to me and told me that they had met Walt in the narrows.  I'm like what narrows?  No one said anything about any narrows!!!  So I tuned around and yes, I re-hiked he 3/4 mile...again thinking the ice cream that night was going to taste mighty good.

This is looking a little better but still not a real slot canyon.  But what does make this one interesting is the sun.  What makes real slot canyons so special and particularly in the Page, AZ area or in the Paria River area is that they are in the Vermilion Cliffs which is one of the steps of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.  The cliffs are called Vermilion cause they are red and mostly made of Navajo sandstone.  What makes this sandstone so special is that it has quartz in it which reflects the light.  What we photographers are looking for is not the sun on the canyon wall, we are looking for the reflection from the other side that is lit.  This shows this perfectly.  The left side is reflecting the light from the right side.  The right side has either no light (in shade and therefore not much reflected from the left side) while the left side has full reflection from the right sunlit side, and see the color on the left - that's what photographers are looking for.

 Here is a real slot canyon.....this is all about the light reflection and when the canyon walls are close there's lots of beautiful reflection going on.  This is the beginning of the Narrows in Water Holes Canyon. 
 From here it gets prettier and prettier.
 Even when there's light further down, it's really remarkably colorful.
Walt and I were both shocked at how well this little unknown canyon is lit and how beautifully it photographs.
It's easy to walk through.  There are some parts of the Narrows that are closer than others, but most of it is easy to walk through.
  The hard part was getting out with all our tripods and equipment.  I did a lot of the five point descending (two hands, two feet, and one butt), while a lot of crawling back up.
The ice cream that night tasted mighty fine!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Lower Antelope Canyon

This is the lessor known, and probably lessor visited of the Antelope Canyons, but I highly recommend this canyon (as well as the upper location).  They are two entirely different canyons.  The lower Antelope Canyon is a classic example of a beautiful slot canyon.  It's easy to traverse (with install steps to get up and down and gets to a very deep part of the canyon. 

It's two most known photos are the eagle:

And the maiden:
This is the way my hair looks every morning!!!

The canyon is filled with beautiful shots one after the other.  Walt did HDR (high dynamic range) photos which take a while to process, but here are some of the rest of mine from this beautiful canyon

Unbelievable aren't they.  And remember this is the lessor know Canyon. 

The canyon is on Navajo Native American Tribe land, and you will need a permit from the Navajos, as well as a guide.  You can do the standard tour for penance or the photo tour for a very reasonable price.  For the photo tour you will need a DSLR or SLR and a tripod to get some of the great settings for the light.  Armando our guide (he's a really sharp dresser)....

 knew how to work everyone's camera and even knew some settings on mine that I didn't know it could do.  Pretty impressive.  It doesn't take anytime at all to get a reservation online or by phone (check out the link to get the phone information). 

The next slot canyon on our three-day slot-canyon extravaganza is even lesser know Water Holes.