Rocky Mountain National Park – Day 1

Recently my friend Dia and I took a long weekend to visit Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) near Estes, Colorado.  We have talked about going there for about 5 years.  Finally our schedules came together and we were able to go.  I have long wanted to visit this national park.  The photos I’ve seen from there are just stunning.  Water everywhere!  (Unlike New Mexico LOL!)

It took us about 10 hours to drive there, due to the many stops made at Starbucks 🙂

11900

Kelly and Dia getting their Starbucks fix!

We arrived at the entrance sign to Estes Park late in the day.  Of course, we had to take a pic there of us in our matches dresses.  🙂

20170720_182240

We made it!  Don’t you love our matching dresses!?  🙂

There were several Black-Billed Magpies around and one was happy to pose for me on the sign.  I guess they are no longer a nemesis of mine LOL!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Billed Magpie

We knew it was going to be crowded every day there as we were visiting during peak season.  So we made plans to go to bed early and get up very early to beat the crowds.  It proved to be a great plan as we found when we were leaving the trails that’s when most people were heading out.  Doing this allowed us to visit the spectacular park with minimal intrusion of other people.  There’s nothing more discouraging to a photographer than to have a beautiful setting for a photo crowded out with masses of tourists.

Dia has been to RMNP a few times in the past.  I had never been before.  So I followed her lead on what to see first.  Her favorite drive is up Old Fall River Road.  A one-way dirt road that climbs to the highest point in the park.  When I looked at the map, I realized a couple of the waterfalls I wanted to photograph were on this route.  Yay!

Our first stop was at the Allivial Fan Falls.  This waterfall was created by a major flood due to a failure in a dam upstream.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Alluvial Fan Falls

Heading up Old Fall River Road, we saw so many beautiful sights.  Everywhere you looked, it was a Kodak moment. Dia drove my Jeep so I could take photos.  She loves driving my Jeep – especially off road.  🙂 At one point, Dia almost ran over a marmot who had no fear of the Jeep.  Evidently he’s used to tourists feeding him as they pass.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kelly and her Jeep (not her husband’s Jeep) 😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia and Scarlett enjoying the drive up Old Fall River Road

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Marmot

I especially loved this little waterfall at the beginning of the drive.  There was no formal trail, just enough of a path to view the water closer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Further up the road we came to Chasm Falls – another waterfall on my “must see” list.  What a beautiful waterfall coming through the narrow canyon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking downstream

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett, Kelly & Dia

Scarlett loves water – so of course we had to let her play a little before hitting the road again.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett enjoying the falls in her own way 🙂

Soon we were climbing higher and higher.  The views expanded.  Just glorious!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gorgeous views from Old Fall River Road.

We eventually rose above the tree line.  Beautiful!  We came across patches of wildflowers.  Everything was so green – way different from New Mexico.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just before reaching the RMNP Alpine Visitor Center, we came across more marmot.  I liked how this one posed nicely for me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Marmot

The views at the visitor center overlooking a glacial cirque were truly breathtaking.   The grasses were so lush and the snow provided a beautiful contrast to the photos.

20170721_083842

Glacial Cirque

There is a hike from the visitor’s center that takes you to a peak.  It was tough going considering there was very little oxygen at 12,000 feet above sea level.  The views from the top were amazing.  I love exploring!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Trail from the visitor’s center.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Breathtaking views!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Where’s Starbucks???!!!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Views of the visitor center from the top of the trail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia, Kelly and Scarlett at the top!

After a brief stop at the Visitor’s Center, we decided to take the drive to Grand Lake.  We wound our way back down the other side of the mountain.  At the bottom we took a short hike to stretch our legs and enjoy the beautiful weather.  I saw several sparrows in this area but only managed to get one pic of a Savannah Sparrow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Such a lush valley of green

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These squirrels found a good home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia happy with her Starbucks! 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This was the only butterfly I saw that day. Terrible photo as I didn’t have my birding lens.  I believe this is a Mormon Fritillary

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Savannah Sparrow

As we made our way toward Grand Lake we saw a turn off for Lake Irene.  What a serene little lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lake Irene

As we left Irene Lake we saw a bunch of folks looking into the dense brush along the road.  We figured they’d spotted something good.  And indeed they had – a moose!  Actually two moose – a mother and calf.  They were a ways away and in dense brush, but I managed to get a couple photos.  I’d never seen a moose before!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Moose with calf

We also saw some nice bull Elk along the road.  One was really enjoying the good life of summer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Very healthy bull Elk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Enjoying summer

Near Grand Lake I spotted an Osprey nest.  It’s always a good day when you see a bird of prey.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Osprey

Grand Lake was very touristy and actually not in RMNP.  So we turned around and decided to drive the Ridge Road back to Estes Park.  Once again we were in store for more stunning views way above the tree line.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Click, click, click….I took over 5,000 photos on this trip! Yikes!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Expansive views

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love the high alpine meadow flowers – so small and delicate.

20170721_141647(0)

Dia and Kelly

At one point we saw a nice herd of elk.  They were grazing in the high meadows well above 11,000 feet.  They have a very picturesque home.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett was enjoying all the sights and smells.

20170721_145853

So many smells!!!!

We stopped at one pullout to view a glacier.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hmmmm…look at my Jeep keys precariously dangling from Dia’s hand….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Glacier at 12,000 feet.  I love the blue pool of water in the lower right.

While taking photos, Dia noticed a little brown bird hopping just below us.  I quickly got my birding lens and was happy to see it was a Brown-Capped Rosy Finch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brown-Capped Rosy Finch

Further down the road we stopped at another pullout.  There were lots of folks feeding the birds and squirrels here.  I couldn’t resist the opportunity to take close up photos of the rather tame squirrels.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What a cutie!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

excuse me…you have something in the corner of your mouth…

But I was thrilled to see a Clark’s Nutcracker here looking for handouts.  I’ve only seen this bird once before several years ago in Santa Fe.  I’ve heard them a few times since then, but never saw them for a photo.  So it was great to see this bird close up!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Clark’s Nutcracker

The views from this location were beautiful.  You could see the entire valley below.  You can even see the Alluvial Fan Falls area we had visited in the morning.

20170721_151838

It was a full day of fun!!!  Off to bed early for another full day of exploring!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These flowers were extremely tiny!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Touring Tularosa Basin – Part 2 of 2 plus Exciting News!

On day 2 of my visit to Carrizozo, I got up early and drove an hour south to White Sands National Park.  I haven’t been there since the mid 70s.   It brought back lots of fun memories of playing in the sand dunes, eating grilled hotdogs and enjoying family time.

On this day in January, there definitely wasn’t any kids playing in the sand dunes and nobody was grilling hot dogs!  It was 20 degrees outside!  But it made for perfect hiking weather.

Believe it or not, they have designated trails in the dunes.  They must have to hike them regularly to make sure the markers are still visible.  You basically follow markers sticking up out of the sand and they guide you on a roughly 2-mile loop.  This day and age it’s pretty difficult to get lost in the dunes now that we have apps like Map my Hike that show you where your starting point was.  But if you were to head out in the dunes without any new technology, it could be very easy to get lost and turned around in that sea of white.

So Scarlett and I headed off on a trail soon after the park opened.  It was very cold out but the sky was clear and the sun was shining brightly.  Hiking the dunes by yourself can be eerily quiet but so peaceful.  I mostly followed the trail, but at times wandered off to get pictures without footprints in the sand.

20170128_090143

 

 

Scarlett loved the dunes.  She ran and ran and ran!  Up one dune and quickly down the other.  I soon lost sight of her and realized she was way far away.  I called her back and told her to stay close to mom!

dsc_5877

Come back Scarlett!

dsc_5844

She loved running up and down the dunes.

 

20170128_082834

My pretty girl!

20170128_082756

While hiking I noticed two other people hiking the same trail but taking the reverse route.  I got a nice pic of them way out on the dunes.  Gives you a real idea of the scale of this place.

dsc_5854

There are lots of critters that live in the dunes.  I didn’t see any while I was there.  But I saw lots of signs of life.

dsc_5926

Coyote or fox tracks and a lizard walking in circles.

dsc_5925

Lizard and bird tracks

And I left my own prints too!

dsc_5924

Kelly’s Footprints

I eventually crossed paths with the two other people on the trail.  I asked them to take a picture of Scarlett and I.  They were nice enough and took several!

dsc_5892

dsc_5894

Telling my girl to pose for the camera!

dsc_5893

I was bundled up for the cold!

There are a few plants living among the dunes.  It’s a gamble for them to take hold there.

dsc_5898

Proof that the dunes are constantly shifting and moving.

dsc_5953

With all that running around, Scarlett got hot. She managed to find the one shady spot among the dunes!

dsc_5931

One spot of shade to cool off after all that running!

Here’s a photo of Scarlett below me.  Some of the dunes were steep to climb up and go down.

dsc_5948

Scarlett had a much easier time going up and down the dunes than me!

We had a fun time exploring.  But soon we had to head back home.

And  now for the exciting news!!!

While at the banquet in Carrizozo, I was told about the Annual New Mexico Photographic Art Show (ANMPAS).   Entries for the event could be submitted by January 31 and I heard about this on the 28th!

So when I got home I had to quickly choose 3 photos to enter.  While reviewing my photos taken at White Sands I came across one photo that really stood out.  So I submitted the following photos to the event.

dsc_5911

Ripples in the Sand

dsc_4571

Tricolored Heron

dsc_8843

Red-Eyed Buffalo

And I got 2 photos chosen!!!! 

They chose the white sands photo and the tricolored heron.  🙂  They had over 400 entries this year and said it was difficult to choose the winning entries.  I am honored to be a participant of this event.

There will be a gallery opening reception on April 1 and the gallery opens to the public on April 2.  The event will run through April 23 at the Fine Arts Building at Expo New Mexico, Albuquerque.  So if you get a chance, go by and view some outstanding photography by New Mexico artists.   And all the art is for sale!

 

 

 

 

 

52-Week Photo Challenge – Week 4 “Self Portrait”

Week 4 was “Self Portrait”.   Lots of things came to mind for me for this week’s challenge I thought about setting up my camera on a tripod and getting creative with lighting, etc.  But then I thought, I need to show “me” as I see myself.

So here’s my “selfie” for the challenge.  I love exploring interesting, picturesque places…and most especially in the southwest.  The varied landscapes and wide vistas can’t be beat in New Mexico. And while exploring and photographing my adventures, I like to look my best.  And that means doing my hair and wearing red lipstick.  🙂

This photo was taken at White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico.  I had a great time exploring the dunes.  It was 20 degrees outside but I didn’t seem to notice since the sun was shining so nicely.  I haven’t been t0 White Sands since about 1976 when I was a young girl.  While there I thought of all the fun my family had picnicking in the dunes.

20170128_083014

Kelly having a good hair day 🙂

 

Scarlett obviously couldn’t take her own selfie.  Now she’s a smart girl and could probably figure it out, but I didn’t have the time to show her LOL!   So I took her picture for her.  She loved running up and down the dunes as fast as she could go.  You can see she was having a great time.

20170128_082834

Miss Scarlett

Silver City Area Adventure

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.

dsc_5026

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.

dsc_4415

dsc_4788

Lobby of the Palace Hotel

dsc_4792

Lobby

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?!\

2016-10-06-thurs-silver-city-7

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!”

dsc_4794

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.

dsc_4456

What a unique hike

dsc_4469

dsc_4470

Suspended above Whitewater Creek

dsc_4482

Beautiful!

dsc_4499

The walkway criss-crossed so we could see the walkway ahead

dsc_4494

dsc_4492

Valerie enjoying the hike

dsc_4626

dsc_4504

The walkway eventually ends and you walk down to the creek.

dsc_4516

dsc_4523

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.

dsc_4570

dsc_4543

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!

dsc_4695

Those horses loved that apple Valerie fed them

dsc_4667

Cool old tractors

2016-10-07-fri-cat-walk-hike-big-ditch-hike-and-silver-city-183

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.

dsc_4719

We found a way down to the creek!

dsc_4734

I loved all the pools in among the limestone bedrock

dsc_4742

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.

dsc_5006

Windy road to the Gila Cliff Dwellings

I was tempted by this car for sale… LOL!  After all, it only needs a battery!

dsc_4802

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.

dsc_4844

Bridge over the Gila River

dsc_4853

A beautiful trail

dsc_4857

We loved all the bridges

dsc_4861

Wonderful!

dsc_4867

Valerie

dsc_4881

Lovely!

2016-10-08-sat-gila-wilderness-and-cliff-dwellings-pinos-altos-10

Kelly

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.

dsc_4885

Gila Cliff Dwellings

dsc_4918

What a beautiful view!

dsc_4929

Valerie

dsc_49402016-10-08-sat-gila-wilderness-and-cliff-dwellings-pinos-altos-74dsc_4944

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.

dsc_4989

dsc_4998

Panorama of the scenic view

I turned one photo into black and white.  It made me think of the artist Ansel Adams.

dsc_4996

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!

20161008_191916

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.

dsc_4237

It was fun exploring for a few hours.

dsc_5325

Panorama of the park

We had fun climbing the rocks to get fun photos of each other.

dsc_5274

dsc_5317

We go to great lengths to get the “perfect” photo

dsc_5269

dsc_5357

Some of the areas were scary to navigate on foot! LOL!

dsc_5362

My beautiful friend! 

Going home we got to see that beautiful drive coming in.  The views were amazing at the top of Emory Pass.

dsc_5374

View from the top of Emory Pass

I hope you enjoyed reading about our adventures in Silver City!  It was a fabulous weekend!

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.

dsc_9493

Unique formations along the edge of Monument Valley

dsc_9488

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.

 

20160907_132534

Last selfie of the trip 🙂

dsc_3510

Just beautiful!

dsc_3494

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

dsc_3504

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.

dsc_9502

Anasazi Ruins

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

dsc_9497

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.

dsc_9572

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!  🙂

dsc_9561

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.

dsc_9520

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

dsc_9549-3

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!

dsc_9538

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!

dsc_9554

 

 

 

20th Anniversary Trip – Day 7 Zion Utah

At the end of Day 6 we had arrived at our cabin at the Zion Mountain Ranch.  I woke up early the next morning to go birding and hopefully see the buffalo.  The very first bird I saw when I started walking was a Sharp-Shinned Hawk.  It was searching the pastures for breakfast.

dsc_8674

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

As I headed to the back of the cabin area toward the large pasture surrounding the property, I heard lots of deep grunting.  When I came closer to the pasture I saw this huge herd of buffalo.  It was a beautiful sight.  You could hear the grass tearing as they ate big mouthfuls of it.  And they grunted while they ate.  They were so close that I had trouble getting photos because I had my big zoom lens on my camera.

dsc_8741

Beautiful buffalo

dsc_8984

Cute baby!

You can see how close they are to the cabins in this photo.  One woman was enjoying her morning coffee to the wondrous sight of all the buffalo.  I think I took over 500 photos of these magnificent animals.

dsc_8728

Perfect morning breakfast scenery

My favorite photo was of this bull staring straight at me with red eyes.

dsc_8843

Now I just couldn’t resist taking this buffalo moment…….

dsc_8941

She’s looking at me thinking….how embarrassing…

Hanging out on the periphery of the buffalo herd was this uniquely colored bull.  I loved the colors of his coat and the shape of his horns.  He was quite a distance away and would never face me, so this was the best photo I could get.

dsc_8738

I soon moved on and found a few other birds to photograph.  The birds were far and few between which surprised me.

dsc_9100

European Starling

dsc_8978

Western Bluebird

dsc_9001

Green-Tailed Towhee

dsc_9059

Mountain Bluebird

Around the farmhouse, the chickens were gearing up for the day.  I liked the white rooster…he looks like he’s enjoying that stretch.

17062

Silky Rooster

dsc_9081

Bantam Rooster

We had decided the evening before not to stay a second night at the ranch.  When we looked at the amount of hours we were going to have to drive to get home from the ranch, we thought it best to drive to Page, Arizona, the next evening and cut about 2.5 hours off our travel time the last day.  This meant we only had until about 5 pm to stay at Zion before leaving for Arizona.  While eating lunch, I searched the internet for the best hiking trail to take for our visit into Zion.  We wouldn’t have time to explore any more than one trail.  We eventually chose the Emerald Pools trail.  It’s a 3-mile out and back hike that takes you to three different pools with stunning scenery and waterfalls as you climb.

dsc_9281

Trail to the emerald pools…it starts out paved but eventually turns into a single track.

As we started the hike, the sun was shining brightly overhead and it was pretty hot.  Tim was ahead of me on the hike by this time because I was taking so many photos.  I looked up and saw him standing above everyone.  He loves being different from the masses.  LOL!

20160906_131357

Can you see Tim?

The first pool is very beautiful with a long waterfall filling it.  I bet that waterfall is stunning during the spring runoff.

dsc_3403

The first emerald pool

I liked that the trail took you around the pool and behind the waterfall.

dsc_3429

After the first pool, you start climbing more aggressively.  This quickly gives you a view from above the waterfall.

dsc_3439

Beautiful even at a trickle

dsc_3436

Gorgeous!

dsc_3454

Climbing above the waterfall.

The second pool you see is just above the waterfall that fills the first pool…or would that actually be the third pool as it is downstream….hmmmm…  I didn’t take many pics of the second pool because it was filled with people.  It was very shallow and on bedrock so it made for a cool stop for hot hikers.

Heading to the top pool the hike became more steep.  The views got more narrow as you headed into a canyon.  As we neared the upper pool, the sun went behind the cliff and it made the hike much more beautiful and cooler.

dsc_9194

Cliff surrounding the upper pool

Our favorite pool of the hike was the upper pool.  Well worth the climb!

dsc_9160

Kelly and Tim at the upper pool

dsc_9156

What a beautiful setting

We spent quite a while enjoying this beautiful place and visiting with people from all over the world.  I enjoyed the mystery the shadows created.

dsc_9185

Soon we were heading back down.  The sun was fully hidden from the trail by this time.  I couldn’t believe how it transformed the trail.  What was beautiful in the sunshine turned to breathtaking in the shade.

dsc_9217

So many colors in the rock

The bottom pool was totally transformed.

dsc_9233

With the sun gone I could appreciate the delicate stream of water

dsc_9277

Emerald pool indeed

I loved the colors that became more rich now that the sun was gone.

dsc_9254

Such a peaceful setting

Soon we were back at the trail head in the sunshine once more.  We saw a lizard soaking up the sun.  He had gorgeous coloring.

dsc_9297

Tiger Whiptail

I wish we could have spent more time here but sadly the day had grown late and we needed to head to Arizona.

dsc_3467

Kelly next to Virgin River

I love the drive that goes through the lower end of Zion on Highway 9.   The scenery is stunning.  It was difficult to do it justice from a moving car.  Here are a few of my better shots.

dsc_9342

I love the crisscross geology of this sandstone

dsc_9335

So majestic!

dsc_9364

Beautiful sandstone layers

dsc_9320

A giant arch in the making

The highlight of the drive along Highway 9 through the park was coming upon some Bighorn Sheep right next to the road.  They are very used to people and didn’t care one bit that I got out of the car to take photographs.  At one point I was only about 15 feet away from some of the females.

18650

We first saw this group of Bighorn Sheep climbing along the sandstone cliffs

dsc_9391

We rounded a corner and saw some right next to the road.  Beautiful!

dsc_9433

A young one running to catch up with the others

dsc_9419

This female was grazing right next to me!!

 

dsc_9472

A majestic ram!

 

All too soon we were on our way to Arizona.  I was sad to leave this beautiful part of the country.  Some day I will be back to explore all Zion has to offer.

dsc_3457

 

 

 

 

20th Anniversary Trip – Day 6 Nevada & Utah

This day was one of the funnest days of our trip.  We covered a lot of miles and saw some stunning scenery.

We left Ely, NV, and started heading to Utah.  Before we left the area, I had Tim stop again at the Comins Lake.  It was such a great place for birding.

This morning I saw completely different birds than I had seen the evening before.  Which I loved!

11265

Sagebrush Sparrow

11369

Solitary Sandpiper

11511

Eared Grebe

11569

Yellow-Headed Blackbird

11963

Sage Thrasher

13419

Barn Swallows

13485

Vesper Sparrow

12200

Brewer’s Sparrow

After birding for a short while, a Great Blue Heron came flying in.  I love these elegant birds.

12384

Great Blue Heron

He wasn’t too sure about me walking along the shoreline.  So he flew to the other side of the lake.  I captured a few photos in flight.  When I was editing the photos, I saw an elusive warbler flying in the photos as well.  Looked like a Yellow Warbler – so bright! Wish I could have gotten some good photos of that warbler.

12488

Great Blue Heron – see that bright yellow warbler!!!

I also saw a tiny bird feeding along the edge of the reeds.  It’s obviously a juvenile.  But I had a heck of a time identifying this bird.  My conclusion is that it’s a juvenile Virginia Rail.  But if someone knows the correct identification of this bird, I’d appreciate knowing.

13243

Juvenile Virginia Rail

Too soon we were on our way.  I never want to leave a good birding spot!  We started heading further south.  One of our planned stops on this trip was Cathedral Gorge State Park.  It’s a small park comprising about 1600 acres, but just beautiful!  We had a good time exploring all the small slots formed in the rocks.  I could easily spend a day investigating all the cracks and crevices. Very unique!

20160905_110954

Cathedral Gorge State Park

20160905_111150

Unique geology

20160905_114043

dsc_3281-2

Tim exploring

 

dsc_3295-2

Just beautiful!

dsc_3290-2

Interesting holes and cracks

 

20160905_115350

Kelly exploring the slots

dsc_3285-2

View from inside the slot canyon

20160905_114244

My handsome husband!

dsc_3298-2

Kelly inside the deepest slot canyon

Tim spotted a lizard among the formation.  Yay!

dsc_3280-2

Plateau Fence Lizard

We next headed east toward Utah.  We headed up a scenic highway called Cedar Canyon that was truly breathtaking at every turn.  We climbed very quickly with some steep grades at times.  One of the most scenic highways I had ever seen.

dsc_3302

River along Highway 14 Cedar Canyon

dsc_3313

Gorgeous rock formations along the scenic drive

We soon had gone from 4,800 foot elevation at Cathedral Gorge to 10,000 feet.   The views were so expansive!

dsc_3320

Views from 10,000 feet

I saw on the map that there was a National Park just ahead of us:  Cedar Breaks National Park.  Of course we just had to stop in.  And I am so glad we did.  Just breathtaking!!!

dsc_3330

Cedar Breaks National Park

 

dsc_3326

Stunning!

dsc_3329

View from 10,000 feet

dsc_3336-2

From 10,000 feet the bottom of the canyon is 2000 feet below

The views looking down into that canyon were breathtaking.  I would have loved to see what the views looked like from down in the bottom of that canyon.

While there I saw (and heard!) and Clark’s Nutcracker.  These birds are big and loud.  Sadly it flew away before I could get a photo.

Further up the road was another turnoff that showed a different view of the park.

20160905_162706

Tim and Kelly

At the parking area of Cedar Breaks there were lots of wildflowers with butterflies busily feeding.  Along with the familiar butterflies, I actually got a new one!

13904

Hoary Comma

13950

Mourning Cloak

13991

Milbert’s Tortoiseshell – a new butterfly for me!

Heading down the other side of the mountain, we saw a beautiful lake, mountain meadows and small ponds.

14201

Red-Tailed Hawk

dsc_3344

Sheep grazing in a high mountain meadow

dsc_3349

Navajo Lake – a high mountain lake formed by lava

 

14823

American Avocets

14697

Mallard female

We stopped at one pond that was full of ducks.  As we watched the ducks an osprey flew over looking for some lunch.  He circled a couple times but didn’t see anything worth trying for and flew away.

14521

Osprey

We finally made it off that mountain and to our destination of the Zion Mountain Ranch.  It’s an actual working buffalo ranch.  The buffalo were there but way far away.  I had hopes of seeing them up close before we left.

We stayed in a private cabin overlooking the horse pasture.  A very peaceful setting.

20160906_083917

Our cabin at Zion Mountain Ranch

20160905_184523

cozy…..

Tomorrow we see Zion!
P.S.  I just learned this was my 100th post!!! 🙂