Back from Death Valley and drying up, part 6

It’s partly cloudy today, and it’s nice to go to the store without getting rained on. I know we should feel blessed to finally have rain, but a break is nice. More is due next week. Southern California is digging out from mud slides, and I’m hoping the families whose homes are near the summer’s King Fire are doing okay.

We’re almost done with Death Valley. Today I’m going to show you images from Twenty Mule Team Canyon and of Tom. I was walking Gem in the morning and saw Tom sitting on a table engrossed in what I thought was a music sheet and playing his guitar. His feet were propped up on an orange 5 gallon pail. I told Gem that we had to rush back to our trailer to get the camera. Yes, I do talk to the dog, and yes, he does try to understand. We did get back to Tom. I took some candid shots before he noticed me. Then we talked as I shot more. It was great to meet and talk with him.

After that we left for our drive/hike tour of our last day. Tom hikes the back country and avoids the “tourist areas.” I guess we’re tourists! Our luck had changed because they just opened the Twenty Mule Team Canyon that morning. It’s a drive through canyon, although you could stop and hike, and just beautiful.

See for yourself!

On the road again: Sick in Death Valley, California, part 2

Yes, still sick. Yesterday was a bust. I slept through the morning and two guys slept through the afternoon. So we stayed put. I can’t say I feel a whole lot better, but at least I’m walking upright!

To make up for our day off, we’re having a full day. I figure I can sleep in the truck if I need to! Oh, we have a camp mascot—a coyote. He roams around the campground. Hopefully, I’ll get a shot of him before we leave. Of course we’re very careful with our dog.

Today, I’m going to show you the Borax Museum. The Borax Company’s history is rich in this area as a mining company. Our Ranger guide at the Inn told us that Borax wanted to have this area designated as a National Park and did whatever they could to make it happen. In 1933, Death Valley was designated as a National Monument and became a National Park in 1994.Borax is still mining here.

The museum is a small structure and has artifacts from the old mining era. However, outside, I found my own gold mine—a bunch of old rusted mining equipment.

That equipment can’t be brought back to life, but I hope I don’t feel old and rusted for too much longer!

Finally got my photo fix: Family Thanksgiving weekend, Monterey

Shoot, shoot, shoot. Yes, I did a lot of shooting Thanksgiving weekend. We had one great day, and then the rain came. Fortunately, by the time we got out to see the sights, it had stopped raining. However, it was cold, damp and overcast. Not the opportune time to take photos.

At the butterfly sanctuary, the Monarchs were huddled and not really flying around. They hang from branches high up on trees, and my 300 mm had a difficult time reaching them. But, I did my best–with Richard’s help. I have a difficult time bending my head back; I get dizzy. So, Richard became my human tripod. I leaned up against him and had him hold my elbows so I could steady the camera. I had two other alternatives: 1. to hand him the camera; 2. to go get the tripod. But why take the easy way!!

The weather was in my favor when we visited the lighthouse. But, no blue skies. This wraps up our Thanksgiving weekend. We are on our way to Death Valley. I’m looking forward to more shooting, shooting, shooting.

Finally got my photo fix: Family Thanksgiving weekend at KOA, Watsonville, California

Yes, I finally shot my way out of the funk! I shot grandkids, beach, surfers, buildings, people, butterflies, a lighthouse and more. I think this may be a three-parter, but we’ll see. We’re leaving on Wednesday for Death Valley National Park. So I have to be quick.

Let’s start at the beginning–the very sandy campground. No it wasn’t on the beach, but the children’s play areas were in sand which my dog sat in. Needless to say, sand was all over the trailer! But the grandkids had a great time, and isn’t that what is important?

Cross country: Fernley, Nevada and the last images of Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah

September 1, 2013

Desert! I began this cross country adventure part of my blog in one (the great Mojave in California) and it seems fitting to end it in another (in Nevada). Tomorrow we will be home, ending our three month odyssey across the United States and back. It just doesn’t seem like we’ve been gone for that long.

Did we see everything? Of course we didn’t. Maybe if you took a year off and roamed the States, you might see more, but I don’t think that would even be enough time to see everything. This country is so huge, beautiful and wicked (Yes, that word is sticking with me.) Its diversity is amazing. From shore to shore the geography and climate changes as do the way people speak. For instance, did you know that in Springfield, IL they don’t have the same accent as those in Chicago?

One thing I’ve learned is to not take a California dog that is on natural supplements for fleas and ticks into the Midwest! Those fleas were terrible! They are gone now, and Gem will be returning home with no fleas and a healed cornea. We’re anxious to see how he reacts tomorrow when he sees the house.

Our travels have also given me an appreciation of our home state, California. We have the ocean, desert, mountains and flat lands. We also counted seven National Parks in our State. And, there are more National Monuments. So, if you want to see California, go to Hollywood, San Diego, Yosemite and San Francisco. Then, take time to visit the other National Parks they are wicked.

That’s why this trip was on my bucket list. I wanted to see the U.S. Driving it gives you a different perspective.  Will we do this again? No. Three months is a long time to be away for a couple of homebodies. However, there are places that we will fly to. And we will get up to Glacier National Park in Montana next year.

I’m remembering the Italian couple who took a year to travel the U.S. I still think that was an amazing commitment they made. I know they are missing their family, but she said they needed to do it this year while they still could.

Tomorrow, we’re going to cross the last of the Nevada Desert, through Reno, NV and over the mountain into California. From there it’s only two hours to our house. I’ve been told that I have about 20 pounds of mail to go through, etc. So, this is my last post on our journey. This blog will go back to what it was supposed to be and was—a photo blog and my journey of learning the SLR and post production.

Today, I’m posting the last of the Temple Square images from Salt Lake City, Utah.

For the future, I’ve made several promises to myself regarding my photography. Three of them are to shoot something every day (I read a lot of photo tutorials, and one suggested to do this.), create outings where I plan for photography and learn PE9. Wish me luck on accomplishing these goals. My son has told me that they’d like us to take the younger grandkids for some overnights!

Thanks for following along with our journey. Whether you’ve been with us from the beginning or joined us near the end, your “likes” and comments were appreciated. I hope you’ll continue following this blog, make comments and maybe add your own photos.


Cross country: Elko, Nevada and Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah images

August 31, 2013

Salt? Do you need salt? Well, we passed plenty this morning on our way out of Salt Lake City. First there was the Great Salt Lake itself. As we drove by this huge body of land-locked salt water I was thinking that this was one of Mother Nature’s cruel tricks. Here’s this large amount of water in a desert environment but humankind can’t use it! Then Richard reminded me that there are many life forms that appreciate that salty environment. Gem said nothing—which I always count on him to do.

Next we stopped at the last rest stop in Utah which was actually the Bonneville Salt Flats area. The speedway exit was a mile down the road and I don’t know how much further in. All along the highway, people spelled out their names with rocks or drew designs in the salt.

Once in Nevada, we took advantage of the casinos buffet meals and ate lunch. I’m hoping to be hungry for dinner. We have all sorts of leftovers, especially spaghetti.

Right now we are in an Elko, a lot bigger than I remember it, RV Park, the Double Dice. It’s gravel of course, but has a few trees. We’re going to be home a day sooner because we couldn’t find a Park in Lovelock, Nevada. Can you imagine that! So right now our target date is September 2.

Now that we are in Nevada, Pacific time ,and  one state away from home, I’m ready to be home! And, I was just told by my son that we will be doing some overnights with the younger grandkids. I’m excited to see all the kids.

Tonight I’m positing some of the Temple Square images. I’ll probably finish them up tomorrow night. In the meantime, we’re going to have dinner—no salt!


Cross country: Salt Lake City and the last of Dinosaur National Monument, Utah images

August 30, 2013

I left without my camera last night! I’ve been carrying it for almost three months and last night I forgot to bring it to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearsal!!  I know that some people do great stuff with their cell phone cameras, but I had never used mine before for that task. I did take some shots with it, but now I have to figure out how to get them out of the camera and on to my laptop. So, don’t look for them too soon!

The choir was wicked. I’m sure I would have gotten even more out of it if I knew the music. They were amazing. We were talking to a volunteer, and he took our address, promising to send us a couple of CDs. We do think we were lucky to have come into Salt Lake City on a Thursday night—rehearsal night.

Today, I did remember my camera when we went to the Temple Square. We asked for a tour and two delightful young women, one from California and the other from Oregon, took us around and showed us a couple of buildings. Their faith is what impressed me the most. I told them we were Jewish and would be asking a lot of questions. We did and they answered them.  The only disappointment was that we couldn’t enter the Temple building itself. I remember that from the last time we were here. The whole experience was wicked. I’ll have images to show you maybe tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, we start our four-day trek home. We will drive about 200 miles and stop for the night. I don’t know how much use my camera will get. I started this journey out by shooting out the truck window; I could end it that way. I did some driving by shots on our trip from Grand Lake, Colorado to Jensen, but I haven’t processed them yet.

So we will see what tomorrow brings. I’ll have my camera with me in the front seat.


Cross country: Salt Lake City and Jensen, Utah, and Dinosaur National Park images

August 29, 2013

Jensen—it barely exists. Yesterday, I talked about the National Monument; but, today I want to talk about the town. The Monument covers Utah and Colorado, with the quarry in Jensen. So, I’m wondering why the gateway to the Monument is Vernal and Naples. These cities are 13 – 10 miles away from the Monument.

Jensen’s claim to fame is the Utah Welcome Center! The 2010 census says Jensen’s population is 412. Not much for an unincorporated area that’s the gateway to such a tremendous find. Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox. Oh, before I do, we couldn’t find a real ice cream place in Vernal. They had one store that served frozen custard, soft serve ice cream and frozen yogurt. Vernal needs a Baskin Robbins!

Right now we are in Salt Lake City and I understand from the gals in the campground office that there are plenty of Baskin Robbins stores to quench my ice cream thirst. Maybe tonight we will go listen to the rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and then find a Baskin Robins. We are neither Mormon nor Christian, but we’ve heard a lot about the choir.

This afternoon, I’m posting images of dinosaur bones and the immediate area around the quarry at the Monument. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to show you shots from the Monument’s car tour.

Although I’m still wondering how Jensen lost out, we will enjoy Salt Lake City tomorrow.


Cross country: Still in Jensen, Utah and more Rocky Mountain images

August 28, 2013

What a find! I can only imagine what people thought when they uncovered dinosaur bones in the early 1900s in what is now Jensen, Utah. After digging up and shipping complete skeletal remains to various museums, the original National Monument was established in 1915 to preserve the quarry and 80 acres around it. In 1938 the Monument was increased to include more than 210,000 acres.

You can see the actual bones in the quarry building. How wicked is that? After viewing the bones, we took the 24-mile driving tour to see the scenery that included the Green River. This was a photographer’s dream. I have seen colors like this before in mountains, but the Green River added a new dynamic.

We are both feeling better today, but are still feeling some of the altitude effects. We are still at a little over 5,000 ft. We live at 106 ft.

Tomorrow, we go on to Salt Lake City, and will be there for two days. Then it’s four days to home. We are both anxious to be in our home. I have such mixed feelings. I want to see more, but I also want to be home. Making it easier is that we have visited this part of the United States and seen its beauty.

Tonight, I’ll show you the rest of the Rocky Mountain images.  I’m not going to write captions since they are all landscape images that are similar yet different. I’ll try to get to the Dinosaur National Monument when we get to Salt Lake City. You know it’s true, the further you go, the behinder you get.

I don’t think we’ll find anything new in Salt Lake City, but it’s been about 33 years since we’ve visited. I’m sure things have changed.


Cross country: Jensen, Utah and Rocky Mountain National Park images

August 27, 2013

Beautiful but exhausting—that’s how I’ll describe the Rocky Mountain National Park. Beautiful, because it is; tiring because when you can’t breathe correctly, you get tired and don’t feel well. We left that wicked campground a day early. Richard was having increasingly difficulty breathing.  We did get to see mamma moose and the babies one more time before we left. So, here we are in Jensen, Utah and Dinosaur National Monument—getting closer to home.

We went from a mountain campground to a high desert rocky campground. I’m not griping. That’s just the way it is. Gem is not happy about the move. The other campground had some wicked smells! Tomorrow, if Richard is feeling better, we’ll go into the National Monument. I talked to some people in the campground and they said it was amazing. So, how can we not go??

Now, yesterday I promised you my impressions of Rocky Mountain National Park. Please understand that we love our National Parks. The only one we missed on this trip was Shenandoah National Park because we needed to move on so we could visit relatives.

Rocky Mountain is one of the best we experienced. However, it is not for the person not used to altitude. We peaked at 11,800 ft. Our campground was over 8,000 ft. So for those of us who live at 108 ft. above sea level, it’s hard to breathe.

We did our best and drove the main road through the park, stopping at every trail head and turn out. I think we got the essence of the park. But, timing is everything. Each afternoon, monsoons hit the area. The black clouds roll in, threatening to ruin everyone’s fun. If you’re lucky, they just make it difficult to take photos. If you’re unlucky, you get rained on. The rain can last for a few minutes or for hours.

I know you’re saying, “Well, just go in the morning!” We intended to do that, BUT! I did shoot a lot of images, and I’ll show you some tonight, continuing for a couple of posts.

The other important fact about the Park, is the dying lodge pole trees. They are dying because of a beetle infestation and lack of water. In the current drought conditions, the trees can’t make the sap that helps them fight off the beetles that bore into the bark.

The ranger who led the hike said the forest in changing from a majority of lodge pole trees to a variety of trees that can withstand the drought conditions. Fortunately, Mother Nature’s changes take a long time, and hopefully we’ll see the lodge pole pine make a comeback.

Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll get to see Dinosaur National Monument and it will also be beautiful, but not tiring.