At the end of July 2018 my husband and I took a long anticipated trip to Alaska. I took sooooo many photos. It has taken me this long to edit my photos and post in my blog.
Our trip was to stay at a gold camp in Nome, Alaska. While Tim prospected for gold, I was going to do photography and birding. Yay!
We flew first to Anchorage and stayed a couple nights. We wanted to have one full day to drive the Seward Highway and play tourist. As it must always be in Alaska, it was cloudy and rainy. But we still went out to explore.
I got my first new bird while parking for breakfast. It was sitting on a light post. A Glaucous-Winged Gull. These gulls are quite large, much larger than the Ring-Billed Gulls at home.
As we left Anchorage, our first stop was at Potter’s Marsh. It’s a fabulous birding spot with lots of boardwalks through a shallow marsh. A very scenic place to bird.
While there, my husband Tim spotted a moose deep in the grasses. How exciting! It’s only the 2nd time I’ve seen a wild moose. Not a great photo, but still a great find!
I saw quite a few birds here. Most familiar to me back home but still a joy to see. But I also got some new birds – which is even more enjoyable!
Sadly, I saw a pair of Trumpeter Swans as we started down the Seward Highway. This was a new bird for me, but I couldn’t get a photograph. That highway is busy and narrow with very few places to stop. So I was unable to get a photo. 🙁
We did stop at a few of the pullouts to take some scenic photos. So Beautiful!
We stopped at one place to hike a beautiful trail along a river. Though it was cold and rainy, it will still so beautiful to get out and explore.
We stopped at a gold mine to see if we could pan a little gold. It was a beautiful place and I did find a few flakes. 🙂
We had dinner in Anchorage. While searching for a place to eat, we came across a popular fishing hole right in town. The salmon were running and the people were catching them one after another.
Sadly, we only had the one day to explore the Anchorage area. We left the next day for Nome. My next post will be about all the fabulous new species of birds I saw while staying in Nome.
Saturday, March 24, was Scarlett’s 3rd birthday! So of course, to celebrate we had to do something new and different!
On Friday my husband’s band played in Lamy, NM. It’s a little town that is basically a small railroad stop. A few of the residents recently set up an historic train car and turned it into a bar. The quarters were tight for the band, but it was a fun experience.
Vintage train car
My handsome husband Tim
Brad the drummer
And Bill is on base
Reverend E and the Vagrants
While watching the band, one of the locals told me about a hike nearby. They told me about a trail that followed the train tracks that led to a trestle bridge over a waterfall. Of course, I just had to go see that! What a great way to celebrate Scarlett’s birthday!
On the way there, I had to drive through Stanley. So I took the time drive down my favorite road there: Valley Irrigation Road. Since it’s between times for migrating birds, it was pretty quiet. But I did see a few local birds that hang out year round.
Northern Flicker female
Curve-Billed Thrasher – the breeze was ruffling his feathers
Look at the talons on this Swainson’s Hawk
I came across a Say’s Phoebe busily looking for bugs.
And he’s off to get a bug!
I saw some cute prairie dogs and some beautiful antelope too.
Prong Horn Antelope – female in the background
The clouds were just beautiful behind this granary. I just love New Mexico skies!
Granary in Stanley.
My next town was Galisteo. I drove past a Red-Tailed Hawk hanging out on the power lines next to the highway. I turned around and managed to get a couple pics before he flew off.
Hmmm…looks like he learned from the Say’s Phoebe
And he’s outta here! Showing off that red tail.
Finally we made it to Lamy. It’s about an hour drive from my home. I followed the directions I was given and eventually came to an area where I couldn’t drive any further. Time to get out and hike!
My beautiful Scarlett ready to go!
We followed along the tracks for a while.
Following the tracks
I love the old glass insulators that used to be used on electric lines.
Old railroad bolt
I heard lots of birds, but only managed to photograph a couple of them.
The terrain started narrowing from a wide valley. I’d never hiked next to a train track before. I kept wondering when a train might come through.
Soon we came to a narrow canyon. If the train came through now, there was nowhere to go! Yikes!
Scarlett is standing where the waterfall is below. You can see there’s nowhere to go if the train comes around the corner.
I looked down below and saw a beautiful sight. A sweet little waterfall with a beautiful pool.
Looking down to the waterfall and pool from the trestle
We checked out both sides of the trestle. A wonderful part of Galisteo Creek. I didn’t know until later that this area is called Apache Canyon Railroad Bridge Historic Site. There’s not a lot of information available about this area, but I did find out the bridge was built in 1908 by American Bridge Company of New York. It is also known as Spider Leg Bridge.
Scarlett looking down wanting to get into that creek!
I just had to get down there. It was steep! I slid down the whole way on my backside! 🙂
Below the bridge
Once at the bottom, I made Scarlett wait before I let her play. She wasn’t happy about this, but I wanted to get some pristine photos before she got water everywhere. 🙂 I think you’ll agree, this is a special little place.
I love this shot!
Finally Scarlett was allowed to play. She had a blast running and splashing!
Doing her favorite thing: running back and forth in shallow water.
Headed for the deeper pool
That look tells me she is enjoying her birthday hike.
The day was in the mid 60s and it was beautiful. Next thing I know, I’ve got my shoes off and enjoying the water.
Soon we had to leave. I have to say it was much easier going up than down. Whew!
One last look before leaving. So beautiful!
Not long after leaving the bridge, I heard a train whistle. Yikes! We got out of there just in time! Luckily for us, the train stopped in Lamy to let the passengers take a break. I was able to walk all the way back to the car before the train went by.
Recently I was invited to a night photography workshop held near the Pecos National Monument. I have dabbled in night photography a couple times in the past with poor results. Mostly because my camera I was using at the time was not meant to do night shots. But also because I just didn’t know what the heck I was doing. :-\
So when I was invited to do a workshop that was going to be hosted by several people that were much more experienced at it then me, I jumped on the opportunity. I invited my friend Valerie to join me. We love going out together for camera time.
We drove to Pecos and arrived late afternoon. I had believed the Pecos National Monument was open until 5:30. But sadly, they closed as soon as we got there at 4:30,. Winter hours had begun. 🙁 We weren’t going to meet our group until 6 so we had a 1.5 hours to kill.
I decided to drive up Highway 63 to see what might be interesting to see. We stopped at an old historic church for a few brief photos. Usually these old churches are locked whenever I am there. But on this day, it was open! Such a beautiful sanctuary.
Further up the road we crossed the Pecos River. We just had to stop. The setting sun was glorious on the water with the stunning fall colors.
Next stop was Monastery Lake. I’ve driven by the turn off for this lake several times this summer without stopping. So it was nice to stop in this time. It was a small little lake that seemed popular for fishing. Lovely fall colors surrounded the lake.
Fishermen along the shore
We figured we better start back to the meeting place. But I had one more stop to make. I had seen this cool old garage as we pulled out from the church earlier. So I quickly pulled into the driveway and snapped a few pics.
I loved the patina of the paint
There were a couple of dogs in the driveway that seemed friendly enough. But when it came time to leave, they were determined to chase the car and run in front of us. I couldn’t go very fast for fear of running them over. We had to drive down the road slowly for a ways before they finally gave up. Whew! They almost made us late for our workshop!
We had to be at the meeting spot on time or we would be locked out. We were allowed to shoot at an old ranch that isn’t open to the public. We drove up to the gate with moments to spare!
After a quick meeting, the group broke up into smaller groups around the ranch. Valerie and I decided we wanted to go down to this bridge to get shots of the bridge, river, moon and milky way. Several of us went to the bridge – including an experienced night photographer. Yay!
We had to wear red headlamps to save our night vision. I took a quick pic of Valerie for fun. I thought I took a selfie but I guess it didn’t take. 🙁
Valerie bundled up for the cold night ahead
So we made it to the bridge, got some great advice from our expert in the group, and set up our tripods and cameras. We checked our apps to see where the Milky Way was going to be and pointed our cameras that direction. And there was a sliver of a moon getting ready to set. The sky was the most beautiful purple hue.
Beautiful purple skies
The sun set quickly and I took my first photo of the Milky Way. It was thrilling! I took a 20 second exposure with a 20 second high noise reduction setting. I was anxiously waiting to see what I got. And then it appeared on my camera screen. I was so excited to see my first photo come out so beautifully!
My first Milky Way shot!
The group then decided to try light painting the Pecos River. I have tried light painting in the past with OK results. I realized later than I used too much light to highlight my subject. On this night we literally just lit the river a couple of seconds over a 20 second exposure. I think it turned out nice.
Light painting of the Pecos River
We then light painted the bridge we were standing on. It was a little more difficult as the bridge was white. It really reflected the light. We only had to very briefly shine the light. Even then the bridge is pretty bright. But I like the photo I got.
Bridge over the Pecos River
We were really concentrating on the south side of the bridge. When I turned around and looked to the north, I saw this great deciduous tree silhouetted by the lights of Santa Fe in the distance. I just had to capture it with the purple skies and wonderful light. I was very pleased with my shot. We tried light painting the tree, but I wasn’t as happy with those pics.
By this time, several hours had passed. It went so quickly! We needed to move to warm up. By now the temperature was 32 degrees and we were getting cold standing still. We headed up the hill to the old ranch house. There’s this giant steer head sculpture on the fireplace. We took several exposures of this view but I wasn’t happy with most of them. This is probably the best shot I got.
By now we were very cold. It was time to go home. On one hand I wanted to stay longer, but on the other I was ready to leave. Those heated seats in my Jeep were pure heaven!!!
I had a great time on my first night shot outing. I’m definitely ready to do more!
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.
Here’s some of the other birds I saw that morning before we headed to our other destinations.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Black-Crowned Night Heron
Great Egret with Neotropic and Double-Crested Cormorants
American Coot – looking warily at Scarlett 🙂
I was very excited to get a new bird on the boat ride. A Greater Scaup!
The bird guides were quite excited to spot a Hooded Merganser female. Evidently they are a rare visitor to the lake.
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.
Black-Throated Gray Warbler
Tim spotted a Leopard Frog sunning himself in the shallows.
We saw lots of butterflies along the trail. Hopefully I named these correctly. Thanks to Joe on my previous post.
There was a bird feeder station set up on the trail. The feeders were getting quite a few visitors, including a big squirrel.
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!
Last October my friend Valerie and I went to Silver City for a long weekend. I hadn’t been to that area since I was a young girl in the 70s. I was anxious to see the area again and share it with my friend. Though Valerie was born and raised in New Mexico, she had never been to the sights around Silver City.
It takes several hours to get to Silver City from Albuquerque. We got a late start so ended up driving through the mountains in the dark. The highway from I-25 to Silver City is very windy and steep. It was quite stressful driving that road at night. But it was exciting too. We saw several animals cross in front of us on the road: a mountain lion, a mule deer, a racoon and a fox!
We stayed at an old historic hotel called the Palace Hotel. It still had a nice “old timey” feel to it.
Lobby of the Palace Hotel
We were given Room 55. When we got to the second floor, we had to look twice for the door to our room. Hmmmmm…..I told Valerie “I think it’s behind that lamp.” WTF?!\
There’s our room door behind that standing lamp….
We did eventually find another entrance to our room that wasn’t blocked by lamps, chairs and tables. LOL!
I especially liked the main painting in the lobby. I told Valerie, “It’s me all over! Red dress and lipstick, holding a gun and showing lots of cleavage!”
What I would have been like “back in the day”
One of my favorite memories from childhood was hiking the Catwalk Trail in the Gila Wilderness. This trail consists of suspended walkways above Whitewater Creek. Several years ago the original catwalk was destroyed due to severe flooding. But in May of this year, a one-mile portion of the trail had been restored and opened up to the public.
So on an early October morning, we headed to the trail head. The weather was perfect: cool but sunny. The shadows were long which made for great photography. Here are some pics from the hike.
What a unique hike
Suspended above Whitewater Creek
The walkway criss-crossed so we could see the walkway ahead
Valerie enjoying the hike
The walkway eventually ends and you walk down to the creek.
The bridge ahead was the end of the trail. The entire trail has not been cleaned up from the flood. I hope they eventually open the entire trail again.
Valerie and Kelly having fun!
After hiking the catwalk, we tried hiking another trail nearby, but the creek was too high. There were several river crossings on the hike and no bridges available. So we decided to drive up to Mogollon. It’s a great historic town high in the mountains. Sadly, the road to Mogollon was closed so we had to cancel that idea as well. Drat!
So instead we headed back to Silver City to walk around town. On the way back we stopped to feed horses and photograph some rusty tractors. Valerie got a pic of me in my new Jeep Wrangler! I love my new vehicle!
Those horses loved that apple Valerie fed them
Cool old tractors
Me in my brand new Jeep!
We browsed shopfronts and took some photos around town. Eventually we ended up on a path that follows a creek that runs right behind Main Street. Funny thing is, the creek was actually Main Street before a giant flood took out the street and many of the buildings along it in 1895. So Main Street was moved over and the ditch created by the flood became permanent and is still in use today.
We found a way down to the creek!
I loved all the pools in among the limestone bedrock
Stream flowing from pool to pool
The next day we headed out to see the Gila Cliff Dwellings. Even though my family visited the Gila National Forest many times when I was young, we never went to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. So I was looking forward to seeing it as much as Valerie. The road there was very windy and steep. It was difficult driving. But what made it worse was we were having to drive around and among a bunch of racing bicyclists. Stressful! So many blind curves with no shoulder.
Windy road to the Gila Cliff Dwellings
I was tempted by this car for sale… LOL! After all, it only needs a battery!
It was worth getting there even though it took over an hour to drive there from Silver City. The hike to the dwellings was just beautiful. We both said we could hike trails like this all day. It was picturesque hiking in a forest, along a creek and scenic bridge crossings.
Bridge over the Gila River
A beautiful trail
We loved all the bridges
Eventually we climbed up to the dwellings. They are small, but they allow you to walk inside the rooms and get a feel for what it must have been like to live there so long ago.
Gila Cliff Dwellings
What a beautiful view!
While up at the top, a thunderstorm had moved in. We had to hurry back down the trail to safety. I’m glad we took our time going up and enjoyed the trail sights along the way.
On the rive back we stopped at one of the scenic pullouts to appreciate the stormy sky and wide vistas.
Panorama of the scenic view
I turned one photo into black and white. It made me think of the artist Ansel Adams.
On the drive back to Silver City, we were soooo hungry! We talked about what we wanted for dinner. We both agreed fairly easily…Pizza and Wine!!!! The restaurants in the downtown area were very busy so it took a while to find a place to eat. But we eventually sat down to dinner and we even managed to find that pizza and wine!
Delicious pizza! It hit the spot!
On our last day in the area, we visited City of Rocks State Park. It’s a cool piece of geology just stuck out in the middle of nowhere. It’s a great place to explore all the nooks and crannies formed by erosion.
It was fun exploring for a few hours.
Panorama of the park
We had fun climbing the rocks to get fun photos of each other.
We go to great lengths to get the “perfect” photo
Some of the areas were scary to navigate on foot! LOL!
My beautiful friend!
Going home we got to see that beautiful drive coming in. The views were amazing at the top of Emory Pass.
View from the top of Emory Pass
I hope you enjoyed reading about our adventures in Silver City! It was a fabulous weekend!