Rocky Mountain National Park – Day 4

Our last day in Estes Park.  I really didn’t want to leave.  There was so much to explore!

Dia said she wanted to sleep in.  So Scarlett and I headed out very early to go birding in Moraine Park where I had seen so many birds before.  It was a gorgeous morning.  And when I arrived at the trail head, there was birdsong everywhere.  Yay!

The trail I chose crossed a creek flowing through the meadow and headed for a rock outcropping with large pines and oaks.  I figured this would give me a bigger variety of species to look for with the range of habitat available.

My first bird sighting was a Lincoln’s Sparrow.  I could hear him singing among some dead trees along the creek.  But it took me forever to spot him.  He was very camouflaged among the dead branches.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lincoln’s Sparrow

Up ahead on the little bridge crossing the creek I saw several American Crows enjoying the morning sun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soon I was at the treeline edge.  Lots of birds here.  There were many House Wrens busy flitting here and there so it was a challenge to get a decent pic.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

House Wren

While photographing the wrens, a pair of juvenile Williamson’s Sapsuckers came over to check me out.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Juvenile Williamson’s Sapsucker

A White-Breasted Nuthatch was busy feeding above me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

White-Breasted Nuthatch

I saw several Northern Flickers. For the most part they stayed a ways away.  I did manage to get a decent pic of one before it saw me and took off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Northern Flicker

Then I saw a quick peek of yellow.  At first I thought it might be a warbler, but when I finally got a good look at it, I realized it was a young male Western Tanager.  Always a pleasure to see!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Western Tanager

A cute little bunny was feeding next to the trail.  I always think they are so adorable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All of a sudden Scarlett let out a low growl.  I saw where she was looking and realized there was a coyote in the meadow.  It decided it didn’t want anything to do with Scarlett, so it quickly headed off deeper into the meadow.  He was between me and the morning sun, so I didn’t get a great pic.  But I always love seeing coyotes.  For some reason, Scarlett always growls when she sees one.   That’s a good thing I guess!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Coyote

There were several hummingbirds about.  I believe they were all Broad-Tailed Hummingbirds. In that same area where we saw the coyote, there was a patch of Bee Balm.  I love these flowers.  Such unusual blooms and hummingbirds love them.  I managed to catch one feeding but that low morning sun didn’t make for very good photos.  Sigh….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Broad-Tailed Hummingbird feeding on Bee Balm flowers

Further up the trail I saw a LBB (little brown bird).  That’s usually how I end up identifying sparrows when you can’t get a good enough look at them.   This one caught my attention because it had two wing feathers sticking out funny.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I believe this is a Brewer’s Sparrow

I only got one butterfly photo the whole trip.  There were wildflowers everywhere but very few butterflies.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Small Wood Nymph

There were squirrels everywhere.  This park has a healthy population of a large variety of squirrels and chipmunks.  I almost didn’t see this chipmunk as it blended very well with the rock it was sitting on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To my delight a Steller’s Jay landed nearby and the sun was behind me!  🙂  This one looks to be a young one starting to get more adult plumage.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Steller’s Jay

Out in the meadow I saw a flock of Red-Winged and Brewer’s Blackbirds feeding on the grass seeds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brewer’s Blackbird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Red-Winged Blackbird – female

 

I saw many American Robins while in the park, but I only managed to get one good photo of one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

American Robin

As I was getting into my car to leave, I got one last photo of a Black-Billed Magpie.  I love these birds.  I’m so glad I was able to see so many of them and get some nice photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Billed Magpie

 

I was sad to leave the park.  I am definitely coming back again in the future!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mule Deer

Dia called me as I was heading back to town.   I asked her where she was.  Where else?!? Starbucks!   So I met her there and we enjoyed sitting by the river that runs through Estes Park.   Such a beautiful town.

IMG_20170722_174100446

Dia at her happy place!

Before I end this trip, I thought I would share some of the fun and silly photos we took over the weekend.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I made Scarlett get in the water.  She was not happy with me.  I think the loud waterfall nearby was scaring her.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett didn’t know what to think of all the raging rivers and waterfalls.  Even though she loves water, this kind of water was scary!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

These marmots knew how to beg for treats

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is definitely NOT my husband’s Jeep LOL!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia photo bombing me

IMG_20170723_095905538(1)

Dia enjoying all her pleasures

IMG_20170723_084605984_HDR

Kelly and her precious Scarlett

IMG_20170722_082749814

What I do to get that “perfect” photo LOL!

IMG_20170721_100400242_HDR

I just couldn’t get my new tube scarf thing to work 😐

IMG_20170722_165339371_HDR(1)

Enjoying gourmet ice cream on main street

20170722_170222

And of course, Scarlett wanted ice cream too! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocky Mountain National Park – Day 3

On Day 3 Dia and I were up early again – ready to hit the trails for more beautiful sights.  This time Dia got a GIANT coffee from Starbucks so it would last her all morning long.  🙂

On our drive back from hiking to Emerald Lake the day before, we saw a beautiful waterfall in the distance.  I told Dia I wanted to hike to that waterfall.  So here we were heading to Alberta Falls.

The trail head is in the same area as Bear Lake.  So before heading to the falls, we took some very early morning shots at the lake.  Such a tranquil morning.  There was no breeze so the water was like a mirror.

The trail was in deep shade so early in the morning.  It was a challenge to get a photo of us together (lots of work editing those shadows).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia and Kelly at Bear Lake

As we walked around the lake, the view started to open up and the shadowy areas began to lighten.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bear Lake

We came to one area that had giant boulders near the lake.  Dia climbed out on one to get a beautiful view.  A wonderful place for her to enjoy that coffee.

20170723_065357

I climbed an even higher rock and got a very wide angle view.  Gorgeous!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Perfect reflection.

Soon we were on the trail to the falls.  The trail started off beautifully walking through an Aspen grove.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soon the trail started climbing and we could hear rushing water in the distance.  I couldn’t wait to see this waterfall.  I had seen photos online and knew it was going to be beautiful.  We came to Glacier Creek below the falls.  So much water! Not sure why it’s called a creek when it’s a raging river!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Glacier Creek

After a little while of hiking, we could hear the falls in the distance.  The views were opening up and giving us more light on the trail.  Then finally we made it to the falls.  Stunning! The roar of the water was almost deafening.  A wondrous sound to my ears.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stunning waterfall.  I love how the sun’s rays were illuminated by the mist from the falls.

We stayed here awhile and took some photos of each other and enjoyed watching the waterfall.

20170723_084205

Doesn’t Dia look so adorable here 🙂 You can see why I love my friend.  She makes me smile all day long.

20170723_084135

Hmmmm….I see rabbit ears! LOL!

20170723_084046

Scarlett wanted her picture taken at the falls too!  😉

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My beautiful Scarlett enjoying the hike.

Then we decided to walk along the river above the falls instead of staying on the trail.  For some reason the trail leaves the water and we weren’t ready to do that.  I’m so glad we decided to walk upriver because the scenery was so beautiful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Glacier Creek

We spent quite a bit of time in one area.  The sound of rushing water and the privacy of the trees and being off trail.  It was so peaceful and relaxing.  We were truly enjoying God’s creations.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The water was moving so fast!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA20170723_093933

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I tried to capture the feel of the water’s power.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A raging river.

We were still feeling good so decided to continue up the trail and see if we could make it to Mill Lake.  We climbed higher and higher and the views opened way up.  Then we came to a bend in the trail and started walking into another canyon.  The views were so expansive.  Such a wonderful hike.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I love this picture Dia took of me and Scarlett hiking.   🙂

12057

We came to a sign that said Mill Lake was 1.5 miles ahead.  By this time we had hiked 6 miles.  We were debating on if we thought we would make it to the lake and still have enough energy to get all the way back to the car.  We were somewhat undecided for a while.  Then Dia said “Let’s go!  We can do it! And someone said there’s a baby elk to see!”.  Hmmmmmm…… I was just about to agree when a big BOOM! sounded and I looked up to see this giant thundercloud above us.  WOW!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Giant thunderhead.  Beautiful but scary when you’re out hiking.

That did it!  I did not want to be caught at 12,000 feet in a lightening storm.  No way! So we turned around and headed back to the car.

On one hand I’m sorry we didn’t go to the lake.  It never did rain.  I’m sure the views were fabulous.  But on the other hand, I know if we had gone we would have been so sore and tired by the time we got off the trail.  That would have extended our hike another 3 miles.  As it was, we ended up hiking another 10 miles this day.  We did 30 miles in 3 days!

I treated Dia to a wonderful dinner with wine for her birthday.  We even had enough energy left to do a little shopping in Estes Park.   It was a great way to end the day.

20170723_161534

When we got back to our hotel, we had one more treat for the day.  A mother Mallard was trying to take her babies to the little pond at our hotel.  When they saw me and Scarlett not too far away, they flattened themselves trying to hide from us.

20170722_180107(0)

Mallards

We all stayed still and soon the mother felt it was safe enough to go to the pond.  🙂

 

20170722_180226

Safely at the pond 🙂

 

 

Rocky Mountain National Park – Day 2

It’s been a little while since I posted Day 1.  Sorry about that!  Life has been busy!

Day 2 was my favorite of the 3 days at the park.  Dia and I hiked most of the morning.  We took a hike that passed by 3 lakes.  Just stunning!  I think it was the most beautiful hike I have ever been on.  Seriously!  You’ll see why when you see my photos.  And trust me….they don’t do it justice!

We started out very early in the morning to miss the crowds and to hopefully get some pretty photos of the lakes.    And our planning paid off.

The hike started off in deep forest with a slight incline.  About a 1/2 mile into the hike we came upon Nymph Lake.  A beautiful little lake full of lily pads.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nymph Lake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lots of lily pads

Fortunately there was a couple there willing to take our photo.  Even though I had my tripod, sometimes it’s just easier to have someone take your pic.  🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Scarlett, Kelly and Dia

Scarlett was wearing her new backpack.  We had her carry all of our water and snacks!  🙂  Being a working dog, she loved it.  Plus, it slowed her down some LOL!

After Nymph Lake we started climbing higher.   Soon we were climbing above the forest and the view started opening up.  So beautiful!

20170722_155823

Panorama of the trail.  You can just see the shimmer of Nymph Lake below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stunning views

We came across the stream that fed into Nymph Lake.  It was flowing nicely.  I love hiking next to water.  Just that sound of the babbling brook can be so peaceful and rejuvenating.  Seeing as New Mexico really doesn’t have a lot of water, being in RMNP was so wonderful because it’s full of water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia at the creek crossing. Neat tree!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sweet little waterfall in the stream

As we climbed higher on the trail, it just kept getting even more beautiful.  I was never bored.  Every step was a joy.

20170722_073651

We started leveling out and the waters became calmer.  I figured we were getting closer to another of the 3 lakes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

At this point Dia joked that we were hiking to that snow in the background.  Little did we know she was pretty close to the truth.

Soon we rounded a bend and there was Dream Lake.  I absolutely loved this lake.  It was my favorite lake of the entire trip.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia and Kelly at Dream Lake

OMG! This lake was just breathtaking!  I could have sat here for hours.  The water was so clear we could see trout swimming along the shore.  Just beautiful!  The picture below is my most favorite scenic photo from the trip.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dream Lake – Just stunning!!!

Too soon we had to leave Dream Lake and keep hiking up the trail.  Dream Lake was long and skinny so there was lots of time to enjoy it as we headed up the trail.  Other parts of the lake were unique and I couldn’t resist taking a bunch of photos.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Such a beautiful hike

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia loved this cool tree

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Clear water and perfect reflections

Soon we were climbing yet again.  Thankfully the trail was never too steep.  So it was an enjoyable hike the entire time.  And now that I think about it, Dia never once cried for a Starbucks.  That’s how great this hike was!!!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I loved that from this point forward we stayed next to the stream.  At times we crisscrossed over it.  And at several points there were small waterfalls.  Gorgeous!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What a great trail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Loved the bedrock this waterfall cascaded over.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had to scramble down between big boulders for this shot.  What photographers do for a photo!

Finally we were getting close to our final lake and the turnaround point for the hike.  We had made it to the snow that Dia had earlier joked about.  Granted, it was just here and there but we were at around 10,000 feet so it was cool enough for some of it to stay even in the middle of summer.  And what was on that snow????  A lifer bird for me!!!!  A Pine Grosbeak.  A beautiful male so pretty in his pink plumage.  This is the southernmost area you can see these birds in the US.  I was so excited!  I didn’t have my birding lens on, but thankfully he was close enough I got a decent pic with my regular lens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pine Grosbeak

Right after seeing the grosbeak, we came upon Emerald Lake.  A stunning high alpine glacial lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Emerald Lake

My favorite photo of the trip of Dia and I together.   Such a stunning backdrop.  Thankfully I had lugged my tripod along on this trip so I could get such great shots and pictures of us together.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kelly and Dia at Emerald Lake

We stayed here awhile just soaking up the views.  You could hear the distant waterfall.  So peaceful.  A lovely hike on a lovely day.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia enjoying the view of the lake and distant waterfall.  Scarlett enjoying all the squirrels running around.  She let us know where every one was…

Too soon we had to head back down the trail.  Thankfully it was downhill the whole way back.  It was interesting to note how different the lakes looked when the sun was directly overhead.  I was so happy we got up at 5:30 to hit the trail early.  It paid off with gorgeous photos and no people.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Nymph Lake later in the day

We were tired at the end of the hike.  We had a snack in parking lot and talked about what we wanted to do next.  Since we had just hiked 6+ miles we decided we wanted to drive around and see more of the park.

We ended up stopping at another lake – Sprague Lake.

20170722_113459

Sprague Lake

It wasn’t nearly as scenic as the other lakes, but was still nice to walk around.  Plus, there were lots of birds in the area.  Always a plus!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lovely wildflowers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Juvenile Yellow-Rumped Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mountain Chickadee

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mallard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cutie pie 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mountain Bluebird

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bank Swallow

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Steller’s Jay

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dia couldn’t believe I got this dragonfly in flight 🙂

My favorite bird on this walk was a Song Sparrow.  He was kicked back, relaxing, and singing his little heart out.  So Sweet!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Song Sparrow

As if we hadn’t hiked enough that day, I talked Dia into hiking from Sprague Lake down to Glacier Basin.  It was a pretty little downhill hike.  But I tell you, we were wiped out at the end.  Thankfully they have shuttle buses running that were able to take us back to our car.  While waiting for the bus, I saw a wasp carrying a large caterpillar.  He was moving fast so it was tough getting a pic.  But I was fascinated by this.  That caterpillar is going to be food for its young.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Common Thread Waisted Wasp

After getting back to our car, we decided to drive around a little more.  We drove through the giant meadow of Moraine Park.  A beautiful area full of wildflowers and big vistas. And lots of birds!  I made plans with Dia to let me get up early the day we were to drive home so I could go birding in this area before we left.  I knew it was going to be great!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Moraine Park

20170722_135123

Lovely wildflowers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are six Northern Flickers in this photo. Wow!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Black-Billed Magpie – no longer my nemesis 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bee Balm

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Brewer’s Blackbird male and female

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Williamson’s Sapsucker – I love this pic!

There was one river that we crossed every day.  It had beautiful rushing water.  I really wanted a picture of it.  We tried walking up next to it, but it didn’t do it justice.  Though we did see this sign…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So I decided to walk back out onto the bridge for a pic.  Much better! So beautiful!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gorgeous!

When we got back to the hotel, we were pooped!  While I was walking Scarlett for her potty break, Dia sent me this text.  LOL! We had hiked 10 miles this day.  Plus 10 miles the day before.

Screenshot_20170722-185312

As we were getting ready for bed (at 7:30 pm HAHAHAHAHAHA!), I decided to take Scarlett out one more time to go potty.  When I looked out, I saw Bull Elk right outside our room!  WOW!  Of course, I had to grab my camera and take a dozen pics following them as they grazed.  What a great way to end a day!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bull Elk

 

 

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!