Thursday, April 28, 2011

Evening Moab Sky

We had some free time in Moab and took a walk just as the sun was setting.
 The golden light was captured by the highest of the red rocks.
 The clouds were white cobblestones on a blue highway.
Kokopeli rushed to take one last ride.

Find more skies from around the world at SkyWatch Friday,  hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Parks of Moab

Our next stop was Moab, Utah where two National Parks and one State Park awaited us.
 Our first stop was Dead Horse Point State Park.  This afforded us a great view of Canyonlands and the Colorado River.
 We also had a view of some salt ponds where water saturated with potassium chloride and sodium chloride is left to evaporate and the salts are then harvested.  The mountains in the background are the "La Sal" mountains.  Fittingly, la sal means salt in Spanish.  The are sits atop a large deposit of Potassium and Sodium salts, the remnant of an ancient sea.
 This overlook was withing the boundaries of Canyonlands National Park.  We didn't go down into the canyons, it is rugged land and the roads are unpaved.
 The following day we headed to Arches National Park where the features are quite different.  We took several short hikes.
 On this hike our destination was landscape arch.  You can gage its size by the figure in the corner.
We didn't have the blue skies of earlier days but even on this gray, cloudy day the color of the rocks was spectacular.

You can find more scenes of the great outdoors at "Outdoor Wednesday" hosted for us by Susan at A Southern Daydreamer.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Capital Reef National Park

Capital Reef is one of the lesser known parks in the National Park System.  It is out of the way but well worth a visit
 Two features give this park its name.  The first is the white domes that resemble the dome of our nation's capital.
 The second is the cliffs or "reefs" forming a barrier that made travel difficult.
 Life was hard for the Mormon pioneers and they willingly sold their land to the Park Service.  There remain not only restored pioneer buildings but orchards with heirloom trees nurtured by the Park Service.  Visitors can eat what they like in the orchard or harvest some to take home for a fee.
 Evidence of earlier cultures still remains like this granary
 and these pictographs.
 An easy hike took us to a low natural bridge
and the more spectacular Hickman Bridge.

You can see more of our world by going to That's My World, Tuesday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Frosting on the Hoodoos

The next stop was Bryce Canyon where a different type of formation awaited us.
 The hoodoos of Bryce and what a treat for the photographer.
Snow had started to fall while we were at breakfast but the skies were clearing by the time we got to the rim.
 The slippery trails kept us from our planned hike but it gave us some great photo-ops!
 It was cold and the wind was whipping up the snow but still, it was Bryce at its most beautiful.
Even better, someone else had to deal with the snow and wind while we traveled in comfort.  Our driver was a retired firefighter and knew how to handel large rigs in adverse conditions.

The sky that morning was so beautiful that I am linking to SkyWatch Friday and send my thanks to Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia for hosting this meme.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On to Zion

The day after our orientation We headed our for a week on the road; first stop, Zion National Park.

Zion may be in the desert but when we were there we saw plenty of water.  Here it was sheeting over Weeping Rock.

At the end of the park road, a place called Temple of Sinawava, another waterfall leaps over the cliff and cascades down the rocks

 A closer look at the cascades.
The Virgin River at the end of the River Trail, sometimes people can wade into the water and walk up the narrows.  Followers of Geogypsy may remember that she posted about this hike in 2009.  I don't think she would want to make that hike now.  The river is high, swift and loaded with sediment.

More watery scenes can be found at Watery Wednesday, hosted for us by too sweetnsaxy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Visit to the Colorado Plateau

We've been on the road, this time to Utah and Arizona.  After a few days of camping in California we drove to St. George, Utah for a "Road Scholar" program about the geology and human history of the

Our instructor was Dan, (the one on the left) 83 years young, a retired geologist, he was determined to share his enthusiasm for the geology of his home state of Utah.

Patty, his wife, was our coordinator.  It was her job to keep Dan and the rest of us in line and everything running smoothly.

They were fun, funny and young at heart.

 After a morning of introduction to what we could expect they took us to Snow Canyon, named for a person, not the white stuff.  At Snow Canyon Dan showed us Navajo Sandstone, a feature we would see often all over the Colorado Plateau.
This sandstone is the remnant of ancient sand dunes, much like the Sahara of today.  You can see how the winds changed over time by the different direction in the patterns of the stone.  We learned that this is called cross bedding.  See the tiny people in the upper left?  These formations are huge. 
 While much of the sandstone is the red we associate with the southwest in other places it is almost white but it is all Navajo sandstone.
It is just one of many layers exposed by erosion in the Colorado Plateau, here it's covered by a lava cap, protecting the sandstone from erosion.
Don't worry, I'm not going to try to give you a course in geology but I did find it added something to the trip to know what those layers of rock are.

It was a ten day course and we visited Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Monument Valley, Arches, Canyonlands, Lake Powell and a few other places.  Then Hubby and I continued our camping trip and went to Canyon de Chelly and Petrified forest.  If you get tired of red rocks over the next few weeks, feel free to leave.  I hope you'll return later, to see what our next adventure will be.

More views of our amazing world can be found at That's My World, Tuesday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Rookery

Last month I noticed some flashes of white at the rookery shared by herons and egrets.
 The herons are first to take up residence but they are hard to spot from a distance.
 Once I knew they were in residence I drove to a church parking lot and walked across some fields to get close enough.
 Not too close, though, I don't want them to abandon this rookery as they did an earlier one.  (A golf course had been built under that rookery.)
 There was a lot of activity, birds were coming
 and birds were leaving.
 They were flying off,
off to do their bird jobs.
I didn't get a chance to share these before we headed out on our trip so better late than never.  You can enlarge these for a better view of the action.

I'm linking this to Bird Photography Weekly, you might like to check it out to see what other birders are doing.

Home in Time for Spring!

We've been away, exploring the parks of the Colorado Plateau for the last three weeks.  I haven't had much opportunity to visit blogs so I have a lot of catching up to do.  I also have a lot of images to sort through.  It is going to be tough, like choosing a favorite child.
 I was afraid I would miss the wisteria in bloom but we returned in time.  Three weeks ago I photographed it in bud.  Do you see the heart made by two twining tendrils?
The dogwood is in bloom as well, reaching skyward as if wanting to touch heaven.  Our trip was wonderful but I am glad I did not miss these blooms.

You can find other sky views at SkyWatch Friday

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Wisteria's Promise of Spring

The buds are swelling, promising a wealth of fragrant flowers.  Can't you just see those lavender blooms against the deep blue sky?

See more views of the sky at SkyWatch Friday, hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Few Birds Along the Path

Last week I decided it was time again to take my camera on our walk.  I hoped to see some birds that I hadn't shown you in a while.
 I always like to see the phoebe, always dapper with his cutaway coat.  He makes short forays off of his perch to catch an insect on the fly.
 The Western bluebird hunts in a similar manner.  He posed, showing me the beautiful colors on his back.
 Then he darted off, after an insect on the fly.
 The killdeer was hiding in plain sight.  He was away from the path and so still that I almost didn't see him.
I've been trying for years to get the ring necked pheasant in my lens.  As usual he ran off into the brush as soon as I spotted him.  This is my best attempt yet.  They are common around here but they tease me, jumping up to flap their wings and call then dropping down into the brush before I can get a shot.

Find more views of our wonderful world at That's My World, Tuesday; hosted for us by Klaus, Sandy, Wren and Sylvia.