Epic Photography Trip – Southern Utah

I recently went on a photography trip of a lifetime. I traveled over 2000 miles in 10 days. I drove from Albuquerque to Northern Arizona and then up into Southern Utah. I drove the entire circle around the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and saw several National Parks and took many beautiful hikes.

As I drove into Northern Arizona, I came across a gorgeous field of yellow flowers. It was so beautiful that I just had to stop for photos.

Field of gold near Window Rock, Arizona

My next stop was to let Scarlett stretch her legs. I stopped at the top of a sandstone mesa. There have been a lot of monsoon rains and they have filled up all the low spots on the mesa. Scarlett had a great time running through the pools.

Scarlett playing in the monsoon pools

I thought I saw some movement in one of the pools. When I looked more closely, I saw these creepy creatures swimming around. They were around 2 inches long and were very fast! I had to look them up to find out what they were. They are a unique creature that can lay eggs that can stay dormant for a long time until the rains fill their pools. Then they live for 90 days which is just enough to breed. It’s a fresh water crustacean with three eyes!


Coming down from the mesa, I came into the big valley near Monument Valley. The view is just so “Arizona”!

I eventually made it to Kanab, Utah. There I met up with Seth Hamel of Enlighten Photography Excursions. Seth was an awesome tour guide. I signed up for his Utah Milky Way Photography Workshop. I recently upgraded all of my camera equipment so I could start learning astrophotography.

Before meeting up with the tour group, I had time to do a couple of hikes. My first hike was in Zion National Park. I hiked the Canyon Overlook Trail. I started at sunrise. The trail was fun to hike. You climbed along the edge of the canyon with a long drop off.

Handrail to keep you safe from the deep canyon drop
Kelly and Scarlett enjoying the hike
Stone steps
Sketchy bridge – Scarlett wasn’t too sure of this bridge

At the end of the trail, the view of the deep canyon was spectacular! You hike up a steep rock incline and then you look down and say “wow”!

The view at the end of Canyon Overlook Trail

My second hike was Kannarra Creek Falls. I had wanted to do this hike for some time after seeing photos online. It didn’t disappoint! You actually hike in the creek through a slot canyon to several waterfalls.

You can see how deep the slot canyon is by how small Scarlett looks

The entire hike was so wonderful. Every bend was more beautiful than the last.

The light was wonderful
Great little waterfalls

I made it to the first waterfall. So beautiful!

First waterfall of the trail
Steep stairs

I wanted to climb the ladder and go further upstream, but Scarlett was too scared of the loud waterfall and open stairs. They were pretty steep and I was afraid that if she made it up the stairs, she wouldn’t be able to go back down. So we turned around at this point.

That evening I met up with the tour group. Our first stop was a sunset shoot on a mesa west of Zion. The geology of this area was very unique.

View of West Zion
The geology here was so unique and stunning

Once the sun set, we went into Zion and took some night photos. I was so pleased with how my new camera equipment performed. It did way better than my old setup.

I loved this bonsai pine tree
A path looking toward one of the main peaks of Zion

Seth had fun light painting “Zion” for us to photograph. He had to write backwards and had to do it within 20 seconds because that was our length of exposure. He did a great job!

Seth light painting for us

The next day I drove up to Bryce Canyon National Park. One of the highlights of the drive was through a cool tunnel in the red canyon area.

Red Canyon Tunnel

I’d never been to Bryce Canyon before so I was really excited to see it. It did not disappoint! I stayed at the lodge right inside Bryce Canyon. It was great to step outside my room and see the spectacular view!

We hiked down one of the many trails at Bryce. Then we stopped several times on our way back up the trail to take photos. My favorite location was at a pine tree with really cool roots.

I loved the toots of this pine tree

Seth was nice enough to take photos of each of us with our camera. It was fun getting a selfie of me.

Selfie at Bryce

I got up before sunrise to set up my camera for sunrise photos at Bryce Canyon. I went to Sunrise Point to take my photos. I thought it was strange that I didn’t see anyone else from my group or any other professional photographers setting up at this location. I found out later that everyone goes to Inspiration Point. I visited Inspiration Point later in the day and I didn’t care for the formations there. I am glad I messed up and went to Sunrise Point instead!

Blue hour at Bryce
Golden hour at Bryce. I love how the golden light highlighted the rock spires. Stunning!

Our last outing with the tour was to White Pocket in Northern Arizona. This location has been top on my bucket list of places to visit for some time!

The drive to White Pocket is several hours long on a very rough 4WD road. But it was worth the bouncy ride! I wish we had had more time to explore there. I want to go back!

We got there about 2 hours before sunset. I had a blast walking around this unique landscape.

The iconic “Lone Pine” tree that everyone who visits must photograph
Such crazy geology!
Scarlett really enjoyed exploring this place
I loved this swirl formation
Just amazing!
The scale is hard to see in this photo. These boulders were the size of small cars!

After sunset, we set up a couple different places for our milky way photos. I loved photographing this location!

I love how the Milky Way looks like it’s erupting from this rock formation
Swirls of cinnamon

The next day I drove to Escalante, Utah. I stayed at a fantastic place! It’s called Yonder Escalante. You stay in your own private cabin. They have a common area with couches and firepits. I met so many wonderful people hanging out there. They also have a drive in theater and you sit in old classic cars. So cool! I also enjoyed their wonderful pool and hot tub!

My cabin at Yonder Escalante
Drive in theater
The fabulous common area. You can see it’s raining hard while I sat here.

They even come to your cabin to light your own personal firepit to make s’mores!


While staying at Escalante I got to hike another trail on my bucket list: Lower Calf Creek Falls. It was a nice little hike along Calf Creek.

Calf creek

The falls were fabulous!

Lower Calf Creek Falls – 130 feet tall

On my last couple of days, I finished driving the loop. Part of the drive was through Capitol Reef National Park. What a beautiful place! I wish I had time to do a hike in this area, but my trip was coming to a close. Plus, it was just the wrong time of year to hike this area. It was really warm and there isn’t any shade on these trails.

Capitol Reef National Park

I did stop at a roadside trail that had a boardwalk along a tall rock wall with petroglyphs.


The last part of the drive was from Escalante to Bluff, Utah (right in the southeast corner of Utah). I had no idea that this drive was the prettiest scenery of the whole trip!

First you drive through some badlands with unique rock colors.


Then you enter a deep canyon of gorgeous red walls, with a running creek next to the road and a very steep downhill grade of 14%. I loved it!

I loved these trees backed by the creek and canyon walls

You eventually come out at the eastern end of Lake Powell where the Colorado River feeds into it. An amazing drive!

Colorado River heading towards Lake Powell
Bridge over the Colorado River
Bridge over the Colorado River

After crossing this bridge, I came to an area of the river that had large goosenecks. Stunning!

Goosenecks of the Colorado River

I hope you enjoyed hearing about my epic photography tour of Southern Utah!

Southern Utah Photographic Trip – Part 1

In early June I took a trip of a lifetime for a photographer. I have dreamed for years of hiking to and photographing “The Wave” formation in the desert of Utah/Arizona.

In order to hike to “The Wave” formation you have apply to a lottery and hope to win one of 20 tickets available for each day. Based on an average of how many people apply for each day, I calculated that I had a .001% chance of winning a ticket. AND I WON!!!

My hiking date was for Tuesday, June 4. I figured I was pushing it pretty close to the “too” warm weather to hike it comfortably. But based on average temperatures for the area, the high of the day was to be 84 degrees. Not too bad, but hiking on red sandstone was definitely going to be warm.

So I set out for southern Utah on Monday, June 3, and was going to stay for 5 days and see the sights around Kanab, Utah. This town is a cute, quaint town and central to so much desert beauty.

I try to see as many of our country’s National Parks as possible. I believe we should support the preservation of these sites that are so unique to our country. So I planned on stopping at the Hubbell Trading Post National Monument. This is the oldest operating trading post in the Navajo Nation. The trading post was built in 1878 by John Lorenzo Hubbell.

Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado, Arizona

I couldn’t stay long but had a little time to see the store and the barn next door. The inside of the post had the original wood floors and glass cabinets. Sadly no one was available to show me the Hubbell home. This was a shame because it’s an 11,500 square foot home full of Hubbell Family heirlooms.

The plaque says “Sawyer, May 1901)
Inside the Hubbell Trading Post

I was quickly back on the road. My goal was to get to Kanab before sunset so I could visit the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park for sunset photos.

The sand of the dunes is a beautiful color and the texture is like powder. It was very difficult to walk in. Scarlett was so happy to finally get out of the car and stretch her legs.

One Happy Scarlett!!!

We hiked around for a while to find a good place for sunset photos. Tough climbing up the steep dunes.

Steep dunes to climb

We finally found us a good spot to wait for the sun to reach a nice level for photos. While sitting and enjoying the beautiful evening, Scarlett kept running around and exploring. Getting rid of the pent up energy after sleeping in the car all day.

Having fun in the sand!!!

Finally the sun started setting and the air began to cool. Once this happened all kinds of critters started coming out from the sand. I really liked this translucent grasshopper that popped up right beside me. He was only about 1/4 inch long.

Tiny little sand grasshopper

At last the lighting was perfect to start taking pictures. This one was my favorite.

The sunset set off the color of the sand beautifully

I had thought I could get nice blue hour photos, but the sand just turned dark and didn’t look nice. It would have been nice to stay for milky way photos but I was just too tired to stay up late for that. Plus! My big hike to the Wave was going to start early the next day.

Scarlett and Kelly enjoying the sunset

I decided to hire a tour guide to take me to The Wave. There is no formal trail to take you there which made me nervous to hike by myself. I’m glad I did because I know I would have made a few wrong turns adding a few miles to my overall hike. As it was, I hiked 7 miles that took 5 hours.

I knew it was going to be hot so I got Scarlett a vest that held water and cooled her as it dried. It worked great! I also had her carry a lot of water to keep hydrating it.

We started the hike at 7:30 am. First we followed along the bottom of an arroyo. There were birds singing everywhere but I never saw a one. This was to be the case for my entire trip!

We started our hike in this arroyo

We eventually left the arroyo and started walking along a sandy trail. This led to a large area of sandstone that we had to walk across. This is when the views got so pretty.

Scarlett walking with our guide Larry

The red sandstone was so beautiful. And the formations formed by the wind were stunning.

We had to climb this sandstone rock face

We climbed and skirted along the sandstone formations for a couple of miles.

Look at my Scarlett blazing the trail for us

I really enjoyed this part of the hike. Walking on sandstone is nice because of the firm footing. But eventually the sandstone really started to have an incline to it. It was tough hiking for a good mile.

Hiking along this steep section was tough!

Then we came to another arroyo. We had to climb down the steep sandstone and then back up another steep section. But at this point I could see we were only about 1/4 mile from the wave. That was enough to motivate me!

I loved these yellow flowers! The Wave is straight ahead just below that shady spot on the mountainside.
This was the arroyo I had to cross to get to the Wave
It was a very steep climb up this sandstone face. My guide had to lend a helping hand several times.

Finally I was at The Wave!!!!! You enter from the back of the Wave to the north and the Wave faces south. When I got to the back of the Wave I was happy to see a small puddle of water left from the recent rains in the area. Scarlett was happy too and wanted to jump in and cool off.

I made her wait until I took a few photos. She waited but you could tell she really wanted to play in that water.

Kelly and Scarlett

I finally let Scarlett get in the water. Happy girl!

Having fun!

At first I thought this was the Wave and was thinking, “it sure looked bigger in photos I saw on the Internet…”

My guide must have seen my expression because he laughed and said, ‘This is just the entrance to the Wave!” Yay!

So I walked through that opening to the left behind me. And all I can say is WOW!!! It was stunning! So worth the hike there.

We made it!!!

We stayed about an hour there at the Wave exploring all the nooks and crannies. I couldn’t believe no one else showed up while I was there. It was great having the place to myself for all that time.

There was a cool mini slot canyon next to it. The lighting was perfect when I got there.

Relaxing in the shade of the mini slot
Gorgeous lighting

I hiked above the Wave to get a bigger view. It was so beautiful. The swirling rock was just stunning!

Looking down on the Wave

The views from this area were so pretty. Even though my guide has been here many times, you can tell he still enjoys the views.

My guide Larry taking in the stunning views

I climbed even higher and found a very deep water pool. Scarlett was ecstatic to have so much water to play in.

A nice deep pool reflection
This pool was deep. It was great because it re-hydrated her hiking vest.
You can see the water trail left by Miss Scarlett

Sadly it was time to head back. The day was growing warmer by the minute. My guide offered to take me to another formation but that would have added another 2 hours to my hike. I felt Scarlett and I would do better to just head back now.

On the way back we finally started running into the other hikers that won permits. I couldn’t believe they were just starting their hike at the beginning of the hottest part of the day. I hope they all made it there ok.

Scarlett and I had a wonderful day hiking. We took a 2-hour nap when we got back to the hotel. Then I went out and had a fabulous steak dinner to celebrate. A wonderful way to end the day.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – slot canyons and a river hike in Zion.

Birding in Southeastern Arizona – Days 4 & 5

Our last two days in southeastern Arizona were spent in the Greaterville and Sierra Vista areas.

We spent one whole day exploring the mountain area near Greaterville.  Tim was determined to find some gold on this trip.  This area was known for some good gold in the early 1900s.  Tim spent the day in the bottom of an arroyo.  While he did that, I explored the hills around him.


Tim metal detecting

Nearby there was a small pond.  It really seemed to attract the birds.  There were a pair of Killdeer on the shore.   And several Acorn Woodpeckers were hanging out there too.  There were some large trees at one end of the pond, and I scared a Great Horned Owl out of them when I walked under the branches.  He flew too far away to follow for a photo.


Acorn Woodpecker




Lewis’s Woodpecker


Cordilleran Flycatcher

There was a very tame Mockingbird hanging out by our vehicle.


Northern Mockingbird

I kept hearing birdsong I didn’t recognize.  When I finally saw the bird that was singing, I got very excited.  It was a Bridled Titmouse,  a new bird for me!


Bridled Titmouse

While watching this beautiful Titmouse, a band of Bushtits came through.  I got a nice photo of a male Bushtit before they moved on.


Flying overhead was a gorgeous Red-Tailed Hawk.


Red-Tailed Hawk

Tim spent hours digging holes in that arroyo.  And it paid off!  He found several pieces of gold.


Tim’s nuggets

On our way back to our hotel, I spotted something in the dim evening light.  I made Tim turn around so I could see if my guess was right.  I thought I saw a Great Horned Owl sitting on the ground.  And I was right!


Great Horned Owl

The next morning we were to head home.  We got an early start, so I asked Tim if we could spend about 30 minutes at a B&B in the area.  This particular B&B had had sightings of the Lucifer Hummingbird.

The yard of this B&B was full of birds.  I could see why too.  She had so many different types of food for the birds as well as several water sources.  I hadn’t been there 5 minutes when the Lucifer Hummingbird showed up.  Sadly, he landed on a feeder right above my head.  I managed to get one terrible photo before he flew off.  And I never saw him again while I was there.  🙁  But I was still excited.  Such a beautiful bird!  And a lifer for me!


Lucifer Hummingbird

But I wasn’t to be disappointed at the short view of the Lucifer Hummingbird.  Because right after seeing him, I saw the Magnificent Hummingbird.  And boy was he truly magnificent and a lifer for me!


Magnificent Hummingbird


Magnificent Hummingbird

Another lifer quickly showed up to feed on the grand buffet.  A Mexican Jay!


Mexican Jay

There were lots of other birds in that small yard.  A very shy Scott’s Oriole came to feed on an orange.  And several Yellow-Rumped Warblers came for the suet.


Acorn Woodpecker


Gila Woodpecker


Scott’s Oriole


Yellow-Rumped Warbler


House Finch


Green-Tailed Towhee

Sadly, we couldn’t stay long at the B&B.   I could have easily spent an entire morning sitting in my chair there with my camera glued to my face!  LOL!

On the way home Scarlett needed a potty break.  So we stopped in at Steins, New Mexico.  It’s a neat old ghost town.  It was closed to tours, but I was still able to enjoy looking at the old buildings from outside the fence.  It is a nicely preserved town.


Tim spotted what looked to be an old still for making moonshine.


While photographing Steins, the train came through 🙂


We had a wonderful long weekend exploring southeastern Arizona.  I hope we get to go back again someday!  Looks like Scarlett had a great time too.  She snoozed the whole way home.


Scarlett was one tired dog!



Birding in Southeastern Arizona – Day 3

Our third day in Southeastern Arizona brought us to Patagonia, AZ.  A premier birding spot!  I made big plans for some great birding opportunities.

We stayed at a B&B just outside of Patagonia.  They had so many birds there.  I could easily have spent a whole morning just sitting on the patio.  I got a couple new birds there in just the few minutes I spent on the patio.  I saw my first Broad-Billed Hummingbird – gorgeous!  And I saw a very shy Hooded Oriole.


Broad-Billed Hummingbird


Hooded Oriole

Here’s some of the other birds I saw that morning before we headed to our other destinations.


Say’s Phoebe


Northern Cardinal


Lincoln’s Sparrow


Gila Woodpecker


House Finch


Acorn Woodpecker



Ladder-Backed Woodpecker

We stopped at a local coffee shop before heading out.  I just had to snap a quick pic of these beautiful black labs.  🙂


Our first stop was at the Paton Center for Hummingbirds.  This was a former home of birding enthusiasts.   Now it is managed by the Tucson Audubon Society.  It has been opened to the public and designed for optimal hummingbird viewing.  I had hoped to see the Violet-Crowned Hummingbird, but I guess I was a little early in the season for this sighting.  I did see lots of Broad-Billed Hummingbirds.


Broad-Billed Hummingbird


Broad-Billed Hummingbird


Broad-Billed Hummingbird

There were a few other variety of hummingbirds present as well.  However, they were females and I’m terrible at identifying most of the female hummingbird species.


One of my favorite photos I took there was of this Gambel’s Quail.


Gambel’s Quail

While I was photographing birds, Tim spotted this gopher busily cleaning out his den.



From there we headed to Patagonia Lake State Park.


Kelly and Tim

We stopped in at the visitor’s center first.  Lots of birds on the feeders there!


Northern Cardinal


Chipping Sparrow


House Finch


Red-Winged Blackbirds


Great-Tailed Grackle


Inca Dove

While at the visitor’s center, we heard about a 1-hour boat birding tour.  It was only $5!  So of course Tim and I signed up! While waiting for the boat, I saw this Broad-Billed Hummingbird collecting tidbits for her nest.


I then followed her and saw where she landed.  She found a good hiding spot.  I had a lot of difficulty just getting this photo of her.


Broad-Billed Hummingbird

Soon we were on our boat ride.  This was Scarlett’s first time on a boat!  She wasn’t sure what to think of it, until we let her get right up front where she could see out.  Then she loved it!

Lots of great bird sightings from the boat.  It was difficult getting sharp photos while moving.  But I’m pretty pleased with most of my photos.


Eared Grebe


Double-Crested Cormorant


Black-Crowned Night Heron


Green Heron


Great Egret with Neotropic and Double-Crested Cormorants


Neotropic Cormorant


Pied-Billed Grebe


American Coot – looking warily at Scarlett 🙂


Green-Winged Teal

I was very excited to get a new bird on the boat ride.  A Greater Scaup!


Greater Scaup

The bird guides were quite excited to spot a Hooded Merganser female.  Evidently they are a rare visitor to the lake.


Hooded Merganser

Coming back to the visitor’s center, I got this nice shot of a foot bridge in front of the marina.  I really liked this bridge.


The bird guides told us of a path along the lake that is good for birding.  So we quickly headed over there before the day grew too late.  As we started the path, an Osprey flew overhead.



This was a fabulous path.  Birds everywhere!  Tim was a great spotter for me.  He saw many more birds before me.  I told him I was going to take him along more often! Here’s photos of the many birds we saw.


Vermillion Flycatcher


Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher


Yellow Warbler


Black-Throated Gray Warbler


Hermit Thrush


Cinnamon Teal


Yellow-Rumped Warbler


Common Yellowthroat

Tim spotted a Leopard Frog sunning himself in the shallows.


Leopard Frog

We saw lots of butterflies along the trail. Hopefully I named these correctly.  Thanks to Joe on my previous post.


American Snout


Sleepy Duskywing


Golden-Headed Scallopwing


Pipevine Swallowtail


Texan Crescent

There was a bird feeder station set up on the trail.  The feeders were getting quite a few visitors, including a big squirrel.


Rock Squirrel



Lesser Goldfinch


White-Crowned Sparrow

Just before getting in our car after walking the trail, we saw the Osprey fly over again.  This time he had a fish!



It was a fabulous birding day!  Lots of beautiful birds with a couple of lifers, a day spent at the lake and a wonderful time with my husband and dog.  It doesn’t get much better than that!








Birding in Southeast Arizona – Day 2

Our first full day was to be spent in the hills around Arivaca, AZ.  Tim planned on prospecting for gold while I searched for birds.  The area is very arid with rolling hills.

This day was also Scarlett’s 2nd Birthday!  🙂


Happy Birthday Scarlett!

On the way to the hills, we passed through the small town of Arivaca.  Among the tall trees around town, vultures were warming themselves up for a day of soaring.  I was happily surprised to see both Black and Turkey Vultures.


Turkey Vulture on the left.  Black Vulture on the right.

We finally made it to the hills.  The views were expansive.


Hills around Arivaca, AZ

As soon as I got out of the truck, I heard birdsong everywhere.  I thought to myself, “this is going to be a good day!”  🙂

On my list of birds to find, was the Rufous-Winged Sparrow.  As we were driving along the road to our destination, I figured I better play its song so I knew what to look for.  We had the windows down in the truck.  When I played the recording of the birdsong, we heard one reply outside the window.  Bingo!!!  I was gonna see this new bird for me!  And almost as soon as I started exploring around the truck, I saw one singing in a large bush.


Rufous-Winged Sparrow

I had a great time hiking the area.  I saw so many birds.  As barren as the place looked, it was really full of life.


Black-Throated Sparrow






Ash-Throated Flycatcher


Verdin with soft stuff to line its nest 🙂

One bird I saw and heard everywhere was the Lucy’s Warbler.  But it was a challenge trying to get a photograph of this quick, tiny bird!


Lucy’s Warbler

Another bird I heard often was the Bewick’s Wren.  But in this part of the country, it’s song is way more simplified than where I live.  So it took me a while to realize it was the same species.


Bewick’s Wren

I saw a few butterflies that day as well.  Most of them were new butterflies for me.   My friend Joe will hopefully tell me if I’ve incorrectly identified any.


Empress Leilia


Dotted Roadside Skipper


Marine Blue


Pahaska Skipper


Mormon Metalmark


Desert Checkered Skipper


Common Streaky Skipper


Tiny Checkerspot


Pacuvius Duskywing

Near the end of the day, we decided to move to a different area so Tim could explore a different gold claim.  I was surprised at how the area offered different birds even though we only drove a few miles.


Bell’s Vireo


Cassin’s Vireo


Ruby-Crowned Kinglet


Juvenile Golden Eagle


Canyon Towhee


American Crow

We had a wonderful day together.  The weather was gorgeous, the birds plentiful and fun times exploring.  More fun ahead!


Birding in Southeast Arizona – Day 1

I have long wanted to go birding in Southeastern Arizona.  They have a wonderful variety of birds that can’t be found anywhere else in the US.  Many birds are residents of Mexico.  So when my husband suggested we plan a long weekend trip to SE Arizona, I was thrilled!

It takes over 7 hours to get there from our house.  The day we left, a front was blowing through and we were driving with a headwind that was 50 mph+.  Terrible conditions for traveling.  At one point, we lost quite a bit of visibility.


Dust storm we traveled through on I10.

By the time we got to Tucson, the sun was starting to set.  Thankfully the wind had died down considerably.  We had just enough time to stop in at a beautiful historic mission located just south of Tucson.  It’s called the Mission San Xavier Del Bac and was completed in 1797.  When we arrived, it had just closed for the day.  Too bad….I would have loved to see the inside.  But the outside is just stunning!

The mission is undergoing restoration.  You can see the left side is all new and white.  The right side is now being restored.  They have removed the dome and will restore it at a later time.


Mission San Xavier Del Bac


Kelly at the entrance.


I loved all the many details of the mission.  It was fun to explore.


Several statues adorn the mission.


Very detailed flourishes.


Rustic window decor.


Rattlesnake door handle

The desert gardens around the building were very nice.


Beautiful desert gardens

There were a few birds around the mission.  I managed to get a few pics in the low light.


Northern Cardinal


Gila Woodpecker


Cactus Wren

There’s a hill next to the mission with a shrine to Virgin Mary.  It had a gate with interesting lion statues.


Lion statue on the hill. The clouds look like lion’s breath.


Grotto of Lourdes


Virgin Mary


As we hiked to the top of the hill, the views got more expansive.


View of the mission


View looking north toward Tucson

As we were leaving I took this last shot of the property.  I thought it looked like God shining from the heavens.


A Birding Day in Phoenix

Recently my friend Valerie and I went to Phoenix to attend a scrapbooking  class.  The day of class it rained and rained and rained.  I was beginning to believe that I wouldn’t get a chance to bird on the following day.

Luckily, Saturday’s weather had improved.  The rain had stopped, but there were still clouds and a pretty strong breeze and the temperature was pretty cold, especially for Phoenix.  But I deemed it good enough to go birding.

So I headed for my favorite birding spot in Phoenix:  Gilbert Water Ranch.  It’s a fabulous place that has several water reclamation ponds and lots of walking trails.


Entrance to Gilbert Water Ranch at Sunset

When I first arrived, there were three people there holding rescued owls.  Of course, I just had to stop.  It was a very cloudy morning, so the lighting was poor, but I was determined to get the best photos I could.


Western Screech Owl


Burrowing Owl


Great Horned Owl

After enjoying the owls, Scarlett and I hit the trails.  There were bunnies EVERYWHERE!!!  Scarlett was almost overwhelmed at seeing so many bunnies and mom wouldn’t let her chase any of them.  Those bunnies were either brave or foolish.  🙂


Cute bunny enjoying the weak morning sun.


Mom!  That bunny is so close!!!!!

There were lots of shorebirds about. Most of them were quite a distance away, making it difficult to get good photos.


Long-Billed Dowitchers


American Avocet


Least Sandpiper


Black-Necked Stilts

I saw several egrets and herons about.


Great Egret


Green Heron deep in a bush.


Snowy Egret

I just happened to notice three Wilson’s Snipes snoozing under a bush.  They blended in so well that most people walking by never knew they were just a few feet away.


Wilson’s Snipes

Lots of waterfowl out.


Hooded Merganser female


Northern Shoveler


Northern Pintail


Canada Goose


Green-Winged Teal male and female

Finding and photographing the small birds in the low light and windy conditions was challenging.  I did manage to find a few.   But as you can see, the photos aren’t that great.  It’s quite challenging to take pics of birds on little twigs swinging in the breeze!


Red-Winged Blackbird


Cactus Wren




Mourning Dove


Abert’s Towhee


Northern Mockingbird


Orange-Crowned Warbler


Song Sparrow


European Starlings


Yellow-Rumped Warbler


Gambel’s Quail


Gila Woodpecker


Curve-Billed Thrasher

My most enjoyable part of the day was when I came across several cooperative Anna’s Hummingbirds.  I had a great time taking lots of photos in hopes of catching the fire in the feathers.


Anna’s Hummingbird female


Anna’s Hummingbird male – you can see a hint of color


Anna’s Hummingbird


Those wings move fast!


My favorite photo of the day!

Scarlett and I ended up hiking 9.5 miles that day!  We were pooped!  I’m sure Scarlett dreamt about chasing rabbits all night long! 🙂


Scarlett sound asleep…that’s a satisfied puppy!



52-Week Photo Challenge – Week 3 “Drink”

This past weekend I got to travel with my friend Valerie and Miss Scarlett.  We went to Phoenix to participate in a scrapbooking class. 

The weather was terrible on the northern route. So we took the southern route through Tucson.  We stopped in at a local bar to have a burger and a drink. The burger was delicious but sadly I was driving so I couldn’t enjoy any of the unique margaritas or any of their handcrafted beers. Sigh….

So my picture for the week was of my friend’s drink. Looks delicious. 

Scarlett was wanting to have a drink too so she sidled up to the bar next to Valerie to order. A big thanks to Johan for participating in the photo. 

20th Anniversary Trip – Day 8 Arizona

Our last day of vacation.  It has been an amazing trip.  It had been a long time since we had been on a trip together for this many days.  The road trip was a great way to spend quality time together.  When you spend hours in a car, you have a lot of undivided attention.  I highly recommend road trips over flying.  You have everything at your disposal, and you get to see so much of our beautiful country.  There’s so much out there to explore and experience.

The drive home was mostly uneventful.  We could have taken the interstate home pretty much the whole way.  But instead we decided to drive the highways that skirted along the northern border of Arizona.  By doing this we drove along the southern edge of Monument Valley.  You could see many of the formations off in the distance.  The geology along the highway had a lot of its own unique formations.


Unique formations along the edge of Monument Valley


Beautiful scenery

After driving several hours, we started heading south to I40.  Looking at the map, I realized we were going to go right by Canyon de Chelly National Monument (pronounced day shay).  This canyon has been occupied by Native Americans and Anasazi uninterrupted for the last 5000 years.

We didn’t have time to explore down in the canyon.  But we had enough time to drive to several overlooks.  I have wanted to see Canyon de Chelly for a long time.  I’ve known several people that have visited there, and they always said how beautiful it was.

And it was beautiful!  The day was overcast, which is actually perfect for photographing a landscape that has deep canyons, shadows and lots of sandstone.  Each overlook provided a different view of the long canyon.



Last selfie of the trip 🙂


Just beautiful!


The Navajos live and farm in the bottom of the canyon.


I would have loved to take a horseback ride along the bottom of the canyon.

At the upper end of the canyon there were ruins left behind by the Anasazi.  They were way down in the bottom of the canyon.


Anasazi Ruins

I zoomed in with my birding lens to get a closer view of the ruins.


If you look closely, there are petroglyphs on the flat face of the cliff between the upper and lower houses.   I can only imagine how they hung there to do carve those thousands of years ago!

I loved the effects of the staining on the canyon cliffs.


Unique stains and another cliff house near the bottom

We walked along the edges of the overlooks.  It’s a long way down to the bottom!  Tim enjoyed the views.  Anyone that knows my husband knows he doesn’t smile big very often.  I was thrilled to get this photo of him smiling!  🙂


Big happy smile!  I love my handsome husband!

On the way out we saw several of the local horses free grazing along the top of the canyon.  I loved the markings on this gray Appaloosa.


I liked the white eyelashes on this horse.  Gave it a unique appearance.


I’ve never seen a horse with white eyelashes, blue eyes and black eyeliner!  Unique!

But my favorite was this young Palomino.  It posed nicely for me! A great end to our trip!


I loved this photo! I love capturing the beauty of life!

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my fabulous 20th Anniversary Trip.  Thank you so much for coming along!





Sedona Az Trip

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope your day with family and friends was wonderful and blessed.

I finally made it through my photos of Sedona. I figured I better get this blog written before 2015 was over!

I’m officially caught up with my blog now. 🙂

I took my friend Valerie to Sedona for her (dare I say it???) 60th birthday last October.  We had both talked about seeing it someday. As photographers we would dream of going and photographing the beauty there.

Sedona is about 5 hours from Albuquerque. You would think leaving Albuquerque at 9 am we would have gotten there early. Not so! We stop for ALL Kodak moments! On one trip to Phoenix we took 13 hours to get there! It should have been about 8 hours. But we took the tour through the petrified forest and painted desert. We took LOTS of photos!

This trip was no different. We decided to stop at Walnut Canyon in Flagstaff. It is an old historic Indian site. They would build their homes under the natural shelf formations in the canyon.

Now Valerie and I laugh about how we start our trips looking nice with our hair and makeup done. And then it never fails that we always end up with photos of bad hair! It doesn’t matter what time of year we go, it will rain, hail, snow, wind blow, or all of the above!

So here’s me at the start of this trip…


After we were on the road a couple hours it started raining….sigh….

Remember those 224 steps we took at Seven Falls? Well, this canyon was worse. And to make it more difficult we had too climb up to get back to the car. We counted our steps and we climbed 273 steps!

The canyon was beautiful. The history interesting. But halfway through the hike it started raining.


Walnut Canyon



View from inside a dwelling

Back on the road we were ready to see Sedona before dark. We stopped at the edge of town to see the beauty of the vistas. Just stunning! But I found it difficult the entire weekend to truly capture the grandness of the area.



Notice the hair and makeup has deteriorated...