Friday, August 14, 2015

Last Great Summer Vacation: Jill & Mike in Colorado/Utah, Summer 2015

I have named it my Last Great Summer Vacation because I will retire from public school teaching next June, 2016.  I've been very happy with my chosen profession and until the last decade of NCLB and CC, I would have recommended it as a professional career choice.  Anyway...Here are some shots from this summer, my last "vacation" as I will be on permanent vacation in less than a year!!  Here is the narrative I sent out to many family members and close friends...
As most of you know, I plan on retiring next June, 2016.  Therefore, I called this my Last Great Summer Vacation, and it really has been.
It started out with a great trip to Coyote Flats outside of Bishop, CA with my friends Charlie and Rob.  I was happy to get out of there alive and with our camper still in tow.  That spurred a major upgrade on the camper/truck bed and it was put to excellent use in Colorado and Utah this summer.
Jill and  I began the next journey by driving to South Rim of the Grand Canyon where, to my surprise, I qualified for a Lifetime National Parks Pass for $10!!  Age has its privilege.  We continued to Durango, where the Animas River was still pristine and beautiful and not RUINED (for a long time) by the eventual disaster from the Gold King Mine above Silverton.  Thanks to decades of neglect, corporate irresponsibility, a short staffed, underfunded EPA mistake, and small town political shenanigans (NO superfund designation), a major toxic spill of 3 million gallons rolled out of the mine and into the Animas River.  Eventually, it will complete its destruction into the San Juan River, the Navajo Reservation, the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon, and eventually, Southern California.  A most depressing and frankly, disgusting event to me and everyone else who loves and lives in that part of the world.
While in Durango, we had nice visits with Aunt Shaila, who was working diligently on her second book, and took advantage of her beautiful home and hospitality high above town.  W were also able to visit Uncle John's Cabin in the La Plata Mountains and our great friends, Mike, Janice, Jim, and Craig  joined us for hiking and BBQ's.
The highlight of our 12 day camping journey was an epic 4X4 expedition with our cousins, Laura and Eric.  After a great visit on our own to Yankee Boy Basin, outside of Ouray, we met up with them and proceeded to climb Corkscrew Road.  We camped the first night behind the famous Red Mountains, between Silverton and Ouray.  The next day we topped three passes before settling down in the flower-infested American Basin.  Spectacular doesn't begin to describe it!  After two weeks of nearly daily hiking (and tennis with the boys!), Jill and I were able to trail Laura up to the summit of Handies Peak at 14, 058'.  I believe we gained about 2,500 feet from out campsite, but it was worth every step as you will see if you look at these photos.
Finally, we were a little tired of extreme four wheeling and the crowded Colorado summer, so we headed to Utah.  We visited Bryce Canyon FOR FREE and again experienced big crowds.  However, the views and a nice hike on the Rainbow's End Trail made it worthwhile.  We then hightailed to the East Fork of the Sevier River to explore the Pink Cliffs area.  In the four days we were in that area, we ran into one ATV and two trucks.  A far cry and pleasant surprise from the crowds of Bryce, yet only a few miles away.  We found an incredible campsite above the Pink Cliffs, our own personal Bryce Canyon.
We finally pulled ourselves away from Pink Cliffs and spent our only night in a campground at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park near the Utah/Arizona border.  Showers!!  The next day we barreled home.

     Sloan Lake Just Below Handies Peak out of American Basin...Pano of 6 shots if I remember!! 

     A huge pano from the top of Handies Peak...200 degrees or so.  What a Day!!

    La Plata Creek Falls...long exposure of tilt shift wacko focus...

    Tennis Buddies in Durango...I'm thrilled to join the crowd in summer.

   Silverton, Colorado; They have some comeupance regarding Gold King Mine spill disaster!  Damn.

   Don't Take Another Step!

                       Wow!  Yankee Boy Basin.

    Jill and Pink Cliffs...                           

    Nice Hybrid of Paintbrush!

    Curious about humanoids...

    Columbines in American Basin, Colorado 2015.

     Jill Bags a 14er!!  Handies Peak, June 30, 2015.

   Mike, Laura, and Jill on Handies Peak...July 30, 2015.

    B&W of Yankee Boy Basin.   

   Bryce Canyon money maker.


    Finally got some weather, which then produced beautiful sunset skies...

     Our Own Personal Bryce Canyon!

   Wild Horses Couldn't Drag Me Away...Wild Horses, We'll Ride Them Some Day.

    Going Down is Equally Challenging!

    Another pano of large proportions...Red Mountains, Colorado!  What a View!

    Great View of a Great View...

    CT Hikers...

    Jim admiring the beautiful scenery near Taylor Lake and Kennebec Pass.

    On-duty sentry...he was there last year too!!

    Mariposa Lily....

    Lovers in a Dangerous World...

    The well used Animas River in Durango BEFORE the life changing disaster...

                       Elephant's Heads...

    Moss Campion...can grow in large clumps above timberline for 50 years...

    The highest point of our 3 pass expedition with Laura and Eric.

    Near the top of Corkscrew Road and Hurricane Pass...Hazel wants her camper!

     Animas Forks...a few miles from the Gold King Mine, site of Eco Disaster.

     Just us and these cliffs reflecting the sun going down...

     More Pink Cliffs...Don't Get Too Close!!

     What a camp site!!  Beautiful Jill Beautiful Evening...Great Ending to Last Great Summer Vacation!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hawks at the Ranch

I'm so lucky to have a great group of beer drinking friends with a tennis habit.  We meet every week at The Ranch and play tennis, raise hell, and have a great time.  Another benefit of the ranch is its great wildlife and vistas.  I have photographed bobcats, hawks, many birds, turtles, and organically grazed steers.  Here are some shots of the resident Red-Tailed Hawk, a chick, and some pesky Kingbirds.  Obviously, these are cropped images, but it just shows what a great camera the 6D is.  Not to mention the 100-400mm L IS lens.  All of the shots were taken at 400mm, ISO 800, f/8, and varying shutter speeds from 1/1600 to 1/4000.