Recently my friend Dia and I spent a few days in a cute airBNB near Abiquiu Lake. The place we stayed was in the middle of the high desert up on a rocky mesa. The views from the home were so beautiful. We had wonderful first evening enjoying a glass of wine and exploring the views from the mesa.
I had wanted to do some sunset and/or night photography that first night, but thunderstorms moved in preventing any photography. So we stayed in and enjoyed the kiva fireplace and a yummy dinner.
The next day we decided to explore the Ghost Ranch. I have long wanted to hike the trails at this ranch. You may be familiar with Ghost Ranch as this was the place the famous painter Georgia O’Keefe loved to visit and paint.
We decided to hike the Chimney Rock trail as it wasn’t too long and offered the best views of the area. After a short, steep climb, we quickly came upon the main attraction of the hike, Chimney Rock.
Dia and her dog Buddy decided to hang out here and enjoy the view.
Scarlett and I decided to go further up the steep trail. The views from up high were just stunning.
While exploring Ghost Ranch, the clouds continued to build. By the time we left, the clouds had formed beautifully over the grand vista of the Ranch.
We returned to our airBNB and enjoyed another wonderful dinner by the fireplace. That evening the weather cooperated much better. So Dia and I went out to take some more photos of our gorgeous views.
Not long after the sun set, a bright full moon rose into the sky. We both had great fun photographing the moon and the lovely light of the blue hour.
The next day we headed home. The day was overcast and rainy. We knew the Aspen at the Santa Fe Ski Area were in full color, so we decided to brave the weather and drive to the ski area to get some fall photos.
I’ve often said photographers love bad weather. And this day showed just why. The low clouds on the moutains made my photos more dramatic. Plus the soft light and wet leaves, made the gold color just glow!
We had a fabulous time while visiting the Abiquiu area. It was such a peaceful, relaxing trip. I would gladly go again to this area to escape the stresses of life.
I recently went on a photography trip of a lifetime. I traveled over 2000 miles in 10 days. I drove from Albuquerque to Northern Arizona and then up into Southern Utah. I drove the entire circle around the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and saw several National Parks and took many beautiful hikes.
As I drove into Northern Arizona, I came across a gorgeous field of yellow flowers. It was so beautiful that I just had to stop for photos.
My next stop was to let Scarlett stretch her legs. I stopped at the top of a sandstone mesa. There have been a lot of monsoon rains and they have filled up all the low spots on the mesa. Scarlett had a great time running through the pools.
I thought I saw some movement in one of the pools. When I looked more closely, I saw these creepy creatures swimming around. They were around 2 inches long and were very fast! I had to look them up to find out what they were. They are a unique creature that can lay eggs that can stay dormant for a long time until the rains fill their pools. Then they live for 90 days which is just enough to breed. It’s a fresh water crustacean with three eyes!
Coming down from the mesa, I came into the big valley near Monument Valley. The view is just so “Arizona”!
I eventually made it to Kanab, Utah. There I met up with Seth Hamel of Enlighten Photography Excursions. Seth was an awesome tour guide. I signed up for his Utah Milky Way Photography Workshop. I recently upgraded all of my camera equipment so I could start learning astrophotography.
Before meeting up with the tour group, I had time to do a couple of hikes. My first hike was in Zion National Park. I hiked the Canyon Overlook Trail. I started at sunrise. The trail was fun to hike. You climbed along the edge of the canyon with a long drop off.
At the end of the trail, the view of the deep canyon was spectacular! You hike up a steep rock incline and then you look down and say “wow”!
My second hike was Kannarra Creek Falls. I had wanted to do this hike for some time after seeing photos online. It didn’t disappoint! You actually hike in the creek through a slot canyon to several waterfalls.
The entire hike was so wonderful. Every bend was more beautiful than the last.
I made it to the first waterfall. So beautiful!
I wanted to climb the ladder and go further upstream, but Scarlett was too scared of the loud waterfall and open stairs. They were pretty steep and I was afraid that if she made it up the stairs, she wouldn’t be able to go back down. So we turned around at this point.
That evening I met up with the tour group. Our first stop was a sunset shoot on a mesa west of Zion. The geology of this area was very unique.
Once the sun set, we went into Zion and took some night photos. I was so pleased with how my new camera equipment performed. It did way better than my old setup.
Seth had fun light painting “Zion” for us to photograph. He had to write backwards and had to do it within 20 seconds because that was our length of exposure. He did a great job!
The next day I drove up to Bryce Canyon National Park. One of the highlights of the drive was through a cool tunnel in the red canyon area.
I’d never been to Bryce Canyon before so I was really excited to see it. It did not disappoint! I stayed at the lodge right inside Bryce Canyon. It was great to step outside my room and see the spectacular view!
We hiked down one of the many trails at Bryce. Then we stopped several times on our way back up the trail to take photos. My favorite location was at a pine tree with really cool roots.
Seth was nice enough to take photos of each of us with our camera. It was fun getting a selfie of me.
I got up before sunrise to set up my camera for sunrise photos at Bryce Canyon. I went to Sunrise Point to take my photos. I thought it was strange that I didn’t see anyone else from my group or any other professional photographers setting up at this location. I found out later that everyone goes to Inspiration Point. I visited Inspiration Point later in the day and I didn’t care for the formations there. I am glad I messed up and went to Sunrise Point instead!
Our last outing with the tour was to White Pocket in Northern Arizona. This location has been top on my bucket list of places to visit for some time!
The drive to White Pocket is several hours long on a very rough 4WD road. But it was worth the bouncy ride! I wish we had had more time to explore there. I want to go back!
We got there about 2 hours before sunset. I had a blast walking around this unique landscape.
After sunset, we set up a couple different places for our milky way photos. I loved photographing this location!
The next day I drove to Escalante, Utah. I stayed at a fantastic place! It’s called Yonder Escalante. You stay in your own private cabin. They have a common area with couches and firepits. I met so many wonderful people hanging out there. They also have a drive in theater and you sit in old classic cars. So cool! I also enjoyed their wonderful pool and hot tub!
They even come to your cabin to light your own personal firepit to make s’mores!
While staying at Escalante I got to hike another trail on my bucket list: Lower Calf Creek Falls. It was a nice little hike along Calf Creek.
The falls were fabulous!
On my last couple of days, I finished driving the loop. Part of the drive was through Capitol Reef National Park. What a beautiful place! I wish I had time to do a hike in this area, but my trip was coming to a close. Plus, it was just the wrong time of year to hike this area. It was really warm and there isn’t any shade on these trails.
I did stop at a roadside trail that had a boardwalk along a tall rock wall with petroglyphs.
The last part of the drive was from Escalante to Bluff, Utah (right in the southeast corner of Utah). I had no idea that this drive was the prettiest scenery of the whole trip!
First you drive through some badlands with unique rock colors.
Then you enter a deep canyon of gorgeous red walls, with a running creek next to the road and a very steep downhill grade of 14%. I loved it!
You eventually come out at the eastern end of Lake Powell where the Colorado River feeds into it. An amazing drive!
After crossing this bridge, I came to an area of the river that had large goosenecks. Stunning!
I hope you enjoyed hearing about my epic photography tour of Southern Utah!
It’s been a few years since I hiked the Hondo Canyon trail. It’s one of the few places you can see water year round in the Sandia Mountains.
I got up early to beat the summer heat. Scarlett was thrilled to be out during the cool morning. I was enjoying the morning as well.
The first part of the hike is fairly easy and I think pretty with the rock wall and trees.
After a short while I could see the caves next to the waterfall.
Soon we arrived at the small travertine waterfall. This time of year the spring flow is very low. This created just a trickle for the falls.
I was surprised to see dozens of hummingbirds swarming around the falls. They were drinking and bathing. I was fascinated that they would actually cling to the wall of the waterfall to bathe. I stayed here at the waterfall for a good 30 minutes watching and photographing all the beautiful hummingbirds.
Sometimes I was lucky enough to have one perch nearby for a few moments.
People often ask me how I bird with Scarlett. Doesn’t she scare the birds away??? She’s so good. She just lays down and sits quietly. And sometimes she point out birds to me by staring at them.
After an enjoyable 30 minutes, I climbed above the waterfall to where the spring starts. It’s a beautiful, lush area.
After the spring, the trail really starts to climb. I had forgotten how steep this trail is. Scarlett didn’t seem to notice. She would run ahead and then wait, wondering what was taking me so long.
After the short but steep climb, the views start to open up. But difficult to see with all the vegetation.
One of the parts of the trail I like is climbing up to a small Ponderosa Pine grove. Ponderosa Pine forests are my favorite because of the openness below the canopy. This area is always good for sighting the pygmy nuthatch. I love their piping voices. I heard lots of them today, but sadly couldn’t get a photo.
After reaching this point, I decided to turn around. The morning was really starting to warm up fast. When we reached the spring on the way back, Scarlett stretched out in it to cool off. Smart girl! Of course, she loves water and looks for any excuse to get in it.
Back at the waterfall, the hummingbirds had gone quiet but other birds were out and about.
It was interesting to see a Lesser Goldfinch land on the wall of the falls and peck a the surface. I figured she must be getting important minerals from the travertine wall.
Before leaving the trail, I made Scarlett pose for me on the pretty rock wall. She loves to climb on things and pose for me. I guess she knows it makes me happy.
It was fun to get out again and seeing nature’s beauty and forget about all the stressful things in my life right now.
After getting all rested up after hiking The Wave the day before, I was ready for my next tour. I hired a tour company to take me to a remote slot canyon that required true 4WD to get there. The road there must have had 2 feet of very soft sand that I would have definitely not felt comfortable to drive.
We finally arrived at Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon. Right off the bat it was just beautiful!
Scarlett loved it because it was shady and cool and she liked running up ahead and racing back through the narrow slot. I got her to slow down enough for a photo op.
The tour guide was amazing. He was very patient and knowledgeable in photographing slot canyons. The best part was that he would help me frame up a shot and then help me with the manual settings to capture the moment with the best possible light.
Sometimes the canyon was very narrow and sometimes it would widen up. I loved how it changed with each curve.
One of my favorite spots of the canyon was photographing this big log. I loved having this focal point in the photo.
Here’s some other photos I took during the tour.
Too soon we reached the end of the slot canyon. A Western Whiptail had fallen into the canyon and was in deep shade. It was so cool in the shade that he was very still. This enabled me to take a few fun photos. Afterwards I picked him up and carried him to a sunny area. He woke up then!!!
After the tour I realized I had plenty of time to drive to Zion National Park and do a hike for evening photos. I had picked out a hike that is not well known. I wanted to hike a trail that wasn’t crowded by loads of tourists. The trail is called Lower Pine Creek Waterfall Trail. It isn’t listed on any of the park maps so most tourists don’t know it exists.
To get there I had to drive the famous park highway. It’s a very scenic drive with lots of places that make you want to stop for photos.
At one stop there were loads of Big Horn Sheep grazing near the road. I didn’t have my zoom lens with me, but they were so close it didn’t matter!
The trail was short but beautiful. It headed into a narrow canyon along Lower Pine Creek. I arrived at the trailhead just before sunset. I was hoping to get some nice golden hour/blue hour photos.
Scarlett was thrilled to have water to play in. We had to cross the creek several times. We also had to scramble over large boulders.
There were several nice spots to take photos.
The trail was supposed to end with a beautiful waterfall. I had seen photos of this waterfall and was really looking forward to photographing it. However, this past winter was a very wet winter and all the creeks in the park were way up.
I got to this huge pond in the creek just before the waterfall. It was at least 6 feet deep. Too deep to cross and keep my camera gear dry! Sadly I had to turn around without seeing the waterfall (which was literally just around the corner from this pond).
As I was heading out I heard all of the Bighorn Sheep coming down to the creek for a drink. They were bleating loudly to each other. I looked and looked but never saw a one even though I could hear they were very close.
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.
Recently I decided to explore Plaza Blanca near Abiquiu, New Mexico. If any of you have seen the movie Cowboys and Aliens, then you may remember the white rock formation that was in the scenes of the final battle of the movie.
I have always wanted to explore this place, but never seemed to find the time to do so. We’ve gotten some small snows this winter, so I headed out on a day that I thought there might be some snow on the trail to enhance my photos.
It was a beautiful day and there indeed was some snow left on the ground.
When I arrived at the parking area, I had a wonderful view of the southwest landscape showing the many beautiful layers of color. I just love New Mexico landscapes.
I hiked down the trail and just started exploring. There’s not a lot of information about this area or the hike on the internet. At first you see the large, white rock formation that is the namesake of the hike. It is quite large and impressive.
Next to the white formation is a large brown one. I love how it stands alone. Looks like something from the set of a Star Trek show.
I then turned left along this formation and continued upstream in the arroyo. At first it was very wide. This is where the snow made beautiful accents to the landscape.
I came upon several trees in the bottom of the arroyo.
I turned around and love how the sun shone through the branches.
That’s when I noticed the hole in the formation. You can just see it behind the tree. I backtracked to get some photos of this.
I then saw another hole. Of course, I just had to see how creative I could get with the “window” in the rock.
I then went back up the arroyo. I came to a fork and decided to take the right fork as it seemed more interesting. The rock formations were really cool. I had Scarlett jump up on one to get a fun photo. She’s so cute in how she will do whatever I ask.
The canyon started narrowing as I followed it. For some reason I love hiking narrow canyons.
Soon we came across water in the bottom of the canyon. This is when I realized I had stumbled upon a slot canyon. I LOVE SLOT CANYONS!
Scarlett loved it too! She soon started running around and playing. She especially loved coming around the bend and jumping across the water.
This is a face of a very happy dog!
I followed the now very narrow canyon. It was so beautiful. The melting snow created some beautiful natural sculptures.
We continued further up the slot canyon until the end of the line. Well…then end for me. I wasn’t willing to scramble up this obstacle.
We headed back out of the canyon. It was a wonderful place to explore. When I got back to the main formation, I decided to take my time and get a few photos of the area.
After finishing up my hike I decided to go by Abiquiu Lake. I’ve never been to the lake before. I thought there might be wintering birds there. But when I arrived, it was dead quiet.
I did like the reflections in one of the coves of the lake. So I took a few photos there before moving on.
I was really wanting to see some birds on my outing. So I headed to a place that I know I will see birds. I went to Ohkay Owingeh Lakes near Espanola, NM.
On the way to the lakes, I stopped to get a nice photo of the Rio Grande. This stop always offers a beautiful view of the river.
I hiked around the two ponds at the park. There was surprisingly few birds about. But I managed to get a few pics.
It was nice to finish up the day with some nice bird sightings. Scarlett and I had a wonderful day. I highly recommend you visit the Plaza Blanca area.
Back in July my friend Dia and I spent a long weekend at Pagosa Springs, Colorado. I had never been there before, so I was really looking forward to a long, relaxing weekend hiking and soaking in the hot springs.
On our way we stopped in for lunch at the Purple Adobe Lavender Farm in Abiquiu, New Mexico. (Pronounced Ab-eh-Q) It was a beautiful place to stroll and the lunch was delicious.
Purple Adobe Lavender Farm
Kelly enjoying a wonderful lunch
We also enjoyed shopping in the little store.
Shopping at the cafe
As we drove down the road, we decided to pop in and check out the famous Ghost Ranch. When people hear Ghost Ranch they usually think of the artist Georgia O’Keefe who loved to paint the beauty of the desert here. We didn’t spend long, but I did take some time to take a few photos.
Great old western wagon
Storms over Abiquiu Lake
Old hand-hewn log cabin
Beauty of the Ghost Ranch
As we neared Chama, New Mexico, we passed an Osprey nest. Of course, I had to turn around to get a photo. 🙂
Female Osprey on the nest
While I was photographing the female on the nest, the male showed up with lunch.
Male Osprey with a meal
We stayed at the beautiful Springs Spa and Resort. They have 25 different soaking pools that vary in temperatures from 96 degrees to as hot as 111 degrees. HOT! The hottest pool was called the Lobster Pot. I couldn’t get more than my foot in before I was yelping in pain!
The Springs Resort and Spa
After checking in we decided to go have lunch and let Scarlett run around a bit. Of course, she was thrilled to play in the river.
Scarlett stretching her legs after a long drive.
We ate at a restaurant across the river that had a great view of the resort. We couldn’t wait to get in those pools!
View of the resort and the San Juan River
Looks fabulous doesn’t it?
Of course, we had ourselves a giant margarita at lunch to kick off the relaxing weekend.
One of the things I really wanted to do while staying at the resort was take night photos. I don’t get many opportunities to do night photography, so this was a real treat to have a unique setting.
I first photographed the resort’s hotel. Such a beautiful place.
While photographing the hotel, a pair of girls were playing the outdoor chess game. I was thrilled they consented to let me take their photo. I think it came out nice.
Outdoor chess game under the stars
From there we toured the pools. The first pool we came to overlooked the resort. I liked that there were some people relaxing the in pool. I think they added interest to the view.
Soakers enjoying the beautiful evening
Here’s some other shots I got touring the pools.
Sunken foot bridge through the warm springs
I loved the travertine formations that builds up with the flowing waters of hot springs
I took a few shots from the bridge across the river and from the other side of the river. Beautiful with the reflections in the water.
Gorgeous at night
Definitely a special place
The next day we went on a couple of short hikes. I really wanted to see the waterfalls in the area. I never seem to tire of photographing water.
The views during the hike were spectacular.
Our first hike was to Treasure Falls. It’s not a very long hike, but really beautiful. Of course, where there’s water, there is always wildlife.
American Robin with a mouthful of moths
Northern Flicker digging for grubs
This year the southwest had experienced a pretty severe draught at the beginning of the summer. Because of this, the waterfalls were pretty thin. But I think they were still beautiful.
Lower part of Treasure Falls
My favorite shot of the entire trip was taken at this waterfall. I hiked all the way to the base of the falls to discover a tranquil pool.
To my delight, I spotted an American Dipper. It’s always a real treat to see one of these birds. I love how they dip and bob along the water’s edge and dive into the pools looking for food.
Looking for goodies in the falling water
The other hike we did was to Silver Falls. Dia was my co-pilot and was responsible for finding the trailhead. She led me on a one-hour 4WD goose chase!!! DIA!!!!! I was so busy stressing over the drive, I didn’t take any photos! LOL!
We finally realized we had driven past the falls. We turned around and found the trailhead. This was also a short hike, but very steep! We followed Silver Creek the entire way. There were small waterfalls along the trail.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we got to the main waterfall. All I can say is WOW! It was spectacular! I think it was about 5 stories tall! The sounds of the falls was almost deafening. I can only imagine what they would look like if it hadn’t been a drought year. Dia and I spent quite some time here enjoying the view and taking a few photos.
Lower portion of Silver Fall
Lower portion of Silver Falls
My beautiful friend Dia
Dia took a picture of me at the falls. I look terrible after a stressful Jeep drive! LOL! My headband says “Jeep Hair, Don’t Care!” 🙂
We spent the rest of the afternoon and the next morning soaking in the pools. It was sooooooo relaxing. We spent some time shopping the great shops on main street before we left town. We found lots of goodies!
On the way out of town I spotted a Black-Billed Magpie. I wish we had these birds closer to home.
When we drove through Chama we spotted a little foal in a pasture along the highway. We just had to stop and say hi.
Dia made new friends fast 🙂
This guy was so new he still has his dried umbilical cord
The drought was about to be over on this trip. The monsoons started in earnest on our drive home. I stopped to take a photo of the storms over Abiquiu Lake. Monsoons in the desert can be very dramatic!
Storms over Abiquiu Lake
All the rain made the Rio Grande turn red.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my lovely weekend at Pagosa Springs! I’m so ready to go back!
While in San Antonio last June, I visited the Japanese Tea Garden. It’s not a very big place, but it’s very unique. This site was initially a limestone quarry that opened in 1840. Many of the buildings in San Antonio during that time were built with the stone from this quarry.
Entrance to the gardens
In 1880 it was changed to a cement quarry. At this time a kiln was added to the site, which still stands today.
Old kiln door
Kiln stack and buildings
Such unique craftsmanship
Living quarters for the laborers
More openings for the kiln
By 1917 the cement plant had shut down. The City Parks department of San Antonio launched a program to convert the old quarry into a Japanese Tea Garden. Prison labor was used to shape the quarry into a complex that included walkways, stone arch bridges, an island and a Japanese pagoda.
Restored pagoda, gardens and pond
What a wonderful idea for an old quarry.
In 1919, at the city’s invitation, Kimi Elzo Jingu, a local Japanese-American artist, moved to the garden. Him and his wife maintained the garden, lived in the garden and raised 8 children. Kimi died in 1938 and in 1941 the family was evicted from the garden due to the rise of anti-Japanese sentiment of World War II.