Lost and found: Finishing up the Sedona trip

Great news, I found my rice cooker and some other things!! But, now where is the other speaker for my stereo? I know I saw it sitting apart from the other speaker and stereo, but where? This is the game Richard and I have been playing while trying to get things back to normal activity.

I did go out with my Tuesday group last Tuesday, and I’m still processing those pictures. I finally finished processing the Sedona trip. Time for shooting and processing has been minimal; plus I managed to catch a cold. I really wasn’t chasing after it.

So let’s look back at my fun time at the Blazin’ M Ranch in Cottonwood, Arizona. We went for the dinner show, and it was a blast. I, of course, ate way too much. The chicken was excellent and so were the ribs. The entertainment was even better. If you’re ever in Sedona, this is a must.

 

On the way home, when I wasn’t driving, I shared my seat with my D7100. I was able to capture some drive by shots somewhere between Utah,Nevada and California. 

 

Home again: Sedona, AZ

After a 2-week respite from our move, I’m back to finish up–or try to complete unpacking boxes, etc. The house is mostly set up now; things still need to be moved around and set up. We are still trying to find things. Do you know where my rice cooker is??

Now, back to Sedona. This visit was more of a relaxing visit with a bit of photography mixed in. We stayed at Sedona Pines where the 2-bedrooms were separate cabin-like structures. This suited our lifestyle since Alyse is up late and wakes up late while I’m the opposite. I’d get up in the morning, have breakfast, walk, work on photos, etc. By the time I was hungry for lunch, Alyse was up having breakfast. We would spend the day roaming around Sedona. In the evening, we’d come back and enjoy watching TV.

I’ll be honest, as much as I wanted to take Alyse’s car and go shooting, I really needed the rest. Anyway, here is a glimpse of the red rocks of Sedona in Arizona, just in case you haven’t seen it already.

 

 

Internet??: Half day at the Grand Canyon

We’ve come to rely on the internet for so much, and we take it for granted–that is until you don’t have it!

I’m on the road again with my friend Alyse. This trip was set up 9 months ago; a long time before we decided to downsize and move. It was a week retrieval in a sense. I had lost a timeshare week with RCI because of Richard’s inability to travel for 3 years. I was able to recover all but this particular week. So, after paying extra to get it back and extend it, I invited Alyse to join me. There would be no saving the week again.

So that’s why I’m on the road so soon after moving. Yes, we did finally move! I left Richard with a huge mess. It’s hard to lose half a house. Oh, getting back to the internet, it’s very sporadic here at the Sedona Pines Resort in Sedona, Arizona. I’m hoping to get through this blog post.

We stopped at the Grand Canyon National Park for half a day during our trek to Sedona. I was there about 40 years ago with Richard and the kids. Of course, we saw more, but it was great to be there again. The memories of our family trip came flooding back. If you want to see more than just the rim drive, you need to hop on a bus. We didn’t have time for that, so we opted for the South Rim Drive. It was enough to give us a taste of how vast the Canyon is.

On our way, I stopped in Seligman, Arizona. Alyse had never seen this quaint little town with it’s Route 66 allure. I was saddened to see that some of the manikins were gone, but there was enough for her to enjoy.

My internet time may be getting slow so let’s get on with the pictures!

On the road again: Total Solar Eclipse

Exhilarated, excited, frustrated, anxious are just some of the feelings I had the morning of August 21, 2017. It’s now August 23, 2017, and I have all my eclipse images edited and blog ready.

Let’s deal with the frustrated and anxious feelings of that morning. Initially, I was going to use Richard’s small telescope attached to my D3100. We didn’t really get a chance to practice during our stay at Glacier National Park because of smokey skies. I read tutorials on shooting the eclipse, but none were on using a telescope as a lens. I was anxious about that telescope: how do I change the aperture, and what about the proper exposure?

When we went to visit the NASA folks, I saw a guy using a coffee can on a 70 – 300 mm lens attached to a Nikon D3100. He seemed confident that it would work well. I told Richard about it and he fashioned a filter using material from pair of solar glasses and attaching it to the lens hood. It worked great. Now I could use my D7100.

Back to the tutorials! I did get frustrated because they seemed to contradict each other. The worst of all, I really couldn’t work with the tripod. I couldn’t find the sun in live view, and I couldn’t see the live view screen. I saw my reflection. I tried using a loop, but that made it more difficult.

So, I decided to handhold. I knew the risks, but I wanted to enjoy the eclipse. I decided to use my D3100 to capture the crowd during intervals of shooting the eclipse. Actually, it worked out, except for the totality. I did get one good shot of it though.

Exhilaration and excitement came rapidly when the eclipse began. The crowd roared as the sun began to slip behind the moon. There were shouts of joy during each phase, especially during totality. Here are my images from the eclipse: before totality, environmental shots, totality, and after totality.

Right now we are two days from home, and I’m ready to get there. We’ve decided not to do anymore road trips. It’s destination trips from now on. I would say this trip was a great one to end on. From beautiful Glacier National Park to the amazing total solar eclipse. And a big thank you to the small town of Weiser, Idaho. They did a great job with the amount of people added to their community. Oh, I have just one more feeling to add: wonderful!

 

On the road again: Two Medicine Lake & Twin Falls, GNP

It was a lot easier coming down on twisty Highway 95 than going up. We left Columbia Falls yesterday and are now in Weiser, Idaho for the solar eclipse.

But, before we get into the preparation for the eclipse, I need to close out our adventures in Glacier National Park (GNP). The first day of no smoke we, fortunately, had arranged to take a boat ride on Two Medicine Lake and hike to Twin Falls. It was an easy 1.8 mile hike each way, but our guide was young and walked fast. We had seniors and young couples with small children with us, and he sometimes had the group lagging behind. I almost had to run to keep up–short legs!

It was an enjoyable hike with beautiful scenery. The falls were nice, but not spectacular. I tried some handheld slow shutter on the wider one. I think I’m saying they weren’t spectacular because it was difficult to shoot. Nature had put barriers in the way and kids were climbing on the rocks.

Coming back, we missed the boat and waited with some others about 30 minutes for the boat to come back. I didn’t mind because it gave me a chance to relax and rest. It also gave me an opportunity to shoot some more of the lake. Of course, I was shooting, out the boat’s open window, all the way there and back.

We had one more day of sightseeing in Montana and a day of re-stocking and cleaning before our trip to Weiser. That will be in my next post.

On the road again: Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada

It was just a peak at Waterton Lakes National Park, (WLNP) that is at Glacier National Park’s (GNP) most northern end. But, because it’s located in southern Alberta, Canada you need to show a passport at the border. It was a 2 1/2 hour drive, going around the east boundary of GNP since the western border was closed. Well, it was worth it.

Except for just a little fun harassment from the Canadian border guard, it was a great day trip. The park staff was very helpful and showed us two drives we could take and sight-see. We did half of one and the total of the other. We also explored the lovely village near the lake.

But before we did anything, we visited the Prince of Wales Hotel. It stood at the top of a hill. When I saw it, I knew I need to get up there to get some spectacular shots. The hotel itself was fun to shoot. Inside they welcomed everyone, hotel guest or not. And, their staff was from different countries.

Next stop was a village by the lake. I saw a doe walk up to a porch and look at the front door. I quickly picked up my camera and focused it. By the time I was ready, she was already feeding on the flowers in the hanging pot!

After lunch, we drove the route called Akamina Parkway half way because I wanted to drive the entire Red Rock Parkway. This was another mountain drive, much like those in GNP.

Red Rock Parkway showed us a different topography–less trees and more of a prairie. I was curious to go to Red Rock Canyon because of all the red rock canyons we have in the western states. It wasn’t as large but it was beautiful. Families took advantage of the water to wade and get wet.

Again, there were fires. The Park staff said one had just started in Alberta, and everyone was warned to be careful. I’m wondering if this is an unusual or typical summer.

It was a long trip back to our trailer in Columbia Falls, but a totally enjoyable day.

 

On the road again: Kalispell, Bigfork, & Swan Lake

Can I grumble just a little? No! Well, it’s just frustrating to be in a beautiful place and shoot through a smokey haze. In fact, Richard has been unable to star or sun gaze. There, I grumbled! Now, let’s continue with our Montana experience.

In this post, I’m showing you three of our day journeys. The fires and smoke made it almost impossible to shoot in Glacier National Park (GNP), and we went wherever a truck could take us.

Again, unless you can hike miles, the Going To The Sun Road is the main attraction. So, one day we took off to Kalispell, a city larger than we’ve experienced in the region. We found a State Park and, at the overlook, saw the valley below. We also found Foy Lake. Lunch was at a small Italian place, and we enjoyed great pizza. Here are some images from Kaliispell.

 Bigfork was the following evening. It’s a small community on Flathead Lake–the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi. Cute is the word to describe the town. We found a Forest Service picnic area and went down to the lake. You can see the smoke almost covers the horizon on the lake.

Also more towards evening was our visit to Swan Lake. Another quaint community, not far from Bigfork. Here we surprised a doe feeding locally. What a trip that was for me. She allowed me to get close, and was only scared away when Richard started the truck engine. Families were packing their picnic supplies and rafts, etc. We talked to a fireman who said the fires will end about October. This was the worst of the smoke. The featured image is from Swan Lake.

That night, we had a storm and heavy rain. The next morning, the sky was beautiful. Fortunately, we we had arranged for a boat ride at Two Medicine Lake and hike to Twin Falls in GNP that day. You’ll find out about that in another post.

Thanks for letting me grumble for a little bit!

 

On the road again: Try again, Glacier National Park & Hungry Horse Dam

I admit it, I am tenacious. I don’t give up easily. I mentioned in my last post that we went back into the Park to find Polebridge and Bowman Lake but the road was closed because of fire. So instead, we took a path near Lake McDonald. It was smokey, but not that bad.

After, we stopped in West Glacier and found the Canadian Visitor’s Center. We were going into Canada the next day to visit Waterton Lake National Park and needed to know the best route to take. The gal was very helpful, and, loaded with maps, directions and confidence, we left.

On the way home (the trailer), we decided to drive up to the Hungry Horse Dam and Hungry Horse Lake. It was a worthy trip. There are so many lakes in this area, and they are beautiful. While there, we met a family from Kansas doing a whirlwind road trip. After they left, I realized how lucky we are to be living on the West Coast. In Sacramento, we are 2 hours away from mountain life and beaches. We enjoy visiting several lakes and are surrounded by rivers.

Back to GNP and surrounding area. This trip would be perfect if it wasn’t for the smoke and the haze it creates. When you see the clouds emerging from the dissipating smoke, you realize what a beautiful sky it is. However this trip, we’re not seeing it. I’m hoping that for at least one day, it will clear. I don’t give up!

On the road again: Inside/out, Glacier National Park, Montana

Well, we tried. We wanted to get to Polebridge on the west side of Glacier National Park (GNP). We followed the signs within the park, and then we were out of the park. We like to take the challenge of going off the plan and drove on. The map said that if we drove 37 more miles we would get to Canada; Polebridge was before that. Easy? No.

A sign told us that the dirt road we were about to go on was going through private property, meaning—no trespassing. That’s okay. We passed farms and rural scenery, but no livestock. Do people live here all year round? We asked a gal who lives in White Fish, she said that a lot of them only summer here. So, now I’m curious as to why so much property for living around GNP for 3 to 4 months a year!

We did take the road that was supposed to take us back into GNP at Polebridge. After enjoying a delicious cookie at a gift shop, eatery and bakery, we embarked on the dirt road, but it soon turned into the road from hell. We turned back!

That was a couple days ago. I double checked the map and saw where we made our mistake. So today, we took off to find Polebridge and Bowman Lake on the west side of  GNP. We didn’t make it. A fire had forced the rangers to close the road and campground.

After dinner we went into White Fish to experience an evening Farmer’s Market. We did buy some chocolate huckleberry jam–delicious.

I’m not going to tell you what we did next; that will be in a post a few days from now. We just keep trying! Never give up!!

 

On the road again: More from the twisty Going To The Sun Road, Glacier National Park

I’ve been in a lot of National Parks throughout the USA. In fact, that’s how we typically plan our vacation–which park do we want to visit and what’s around there. Glacier NP was on the list when we went across country in 2013, but for medical reasons, we didn’t make it.

Now we’re here, 4 years later. And, now I understand what the Ranger meant the first day when she kept mentioning the Going To The Sun Road. There really aren’t many other paved roads! Most other NPs have a bunch of paved roads that can get you around. I’m not complaining, the road is beautiful and can take a whole day to drive. However, we’re trying to figure out how to get to the Canadian Waterton National Park.

In the meantime, I do have another set from our drive on the Going To The Sun Road. No more grumbling. I’m sure we’ll come up with a solution and find some more roads.

When these were taken, the skies were relatively clear and cloudy. Tuesday, August 8, there were four fires in the Park. We were surrounded by haze as we wandered in and out of the park. You’ll see the fire effects in my next post.