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Category Archives: Photography

A walk through the wetlands area turned up quite a few things to photograph. One of my favorite subjects in the spring is backlit leaves.

There were a variety of birds in and around the ponds. This year the Canada Geese only had three goslings.

Mallard Duck

Belted Kingfisher

Canada Geese

Tree Swallow

The fruit trees were in bloom.

Spring Blooms

Pond Reflections are always a good choice.

Pond Reflections

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Following our stop at Tettegouche State Park we moved on up the coast to the Temperance River. We walked the path to Lake Superior and took a few photos of the river as it passed under the foot bridge.

 

We noticed there were quite a few fishermen working the mouth of the Temperance River. Fishing must have not been that good because no one caught a fish while we were watching.

 

I’m a sucker for photographing foam patterns. There was quite a bit of foam in the river and lots of opportunities.

Our second stop for the day was Tettegouche State Park where we hiked the Shovel Point Trail which runs along the lake. This tree is a popular photographic subject because the roots have grown around a large rock.

While we were checking the tree out this fellow came along the trail. He seemed to be licking the sap off of the branch.

There were a couple of rock climbers working the face.

Looking closely you can see the ice on the cliffs along the shore. This is what remains from a large northeaster from a week earlier. It created some spectacular ice formations along the cliffs.

 

After leaving Acoma Pueblo we drove on to El Malpais National Monument. We stopped at the visitors center which was some distance from the park. In talking with the ranger we mentioned that our next stop on the trip was going to be El Morro National Monument. The ranger mentioned that the trails at El Morro closed at 4pm. Given that we wanted to do some hiking at El Morro we decided to make just a brief stop at El Malpais. We decided to drive out to La Ventana Natural Arch and look around before heading back out of the park for El Morro. In retrospect it was a waste of time to drove out to La Ventana Natural Arch. While it was nice we spent several days hiking to arches on our last trip to the southwest so the 40 mile drive really wasn’t worth it.

This is a panorama shot on the ridge opposite the arch.

 

On the way out we passed this watering hole and a panorama shot of the vast lava fields.

We were on the road fairly early in the morning because we had a long day. It happened to be Easter Sunday so we hoped that all of the places we wanted to visit were open. Our first stop was Acoma Pueblo. As we approached the city we could see the butte that was a previous home of the tribe.

More photos from Acoma Pueblo can be found on my website.

When we reached the visitors center it was closed. There were no hours posted so we hoped that it would open at 9 am. In the mean time we took a short drive around the surrounding countryside. There were cattle grazing among the beautiful rock formations.

We drove back to the parking lot and noticed several cars drive into the employee parking lot so we were encouraged that the Visitors center would soon open. It did and we purchased tickets for the tour. A bus takes visitors to  the top of the butte. On the ride up I noticed quite a few interesting photo opportunities.

This is the church at Acoma Pueblo.

We spent several hours wandering around the Pueblo listening to the guide and taking photos.

 

This is one of the ladders used to reach the top of the Pueblo. It was used in religious ceremonies.

This is an oven. It is filled with wood which is burned to heat the oven then the ashes are removed. Bread is then placed in the oven for baking and the opening sealed to keep in the heat.

In the past this was one of the rain catch basins on the butte which was a source of water for the inhabitants.

As you can see from the following shots the Pueblo is far above the valley floor.

 

As we walked through town I took photos of various architectural features on the buildings.

When we were ready to leave we had a choice of taking the bus back down or walking down the original access path. We planned on taking the bus down because my wife doesn’t like heights but on the way up I notice some interesting photo opportunities so I suggested we should walk down. It was quite the experience using handhold from ancient times.

 

At the bottom the fruit trees were in bloom.

There were a number of old corrals next to the rock faces. The Sky City Cultural Center was very impressive.

 

One of the items on my bucket list was to visit the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. It is world renowned for its late fall and winter birds. I knew there would not be a lot of birds around but since we were driving by I wanted to stop and look around. I had hoped that there would be quite a few shore birds around by I was disappointed to find few birds. It is a place I would love to visit again when the birds are around.

There were a few ducks in the flowages.

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler

As we drove along the road we spotted a number of softshell turtles sunning themselves along the bank.

Spiny Softshell Turtle

On the morning of the fourth day of our trip we arrived at White Sands National Monument. We started with a few short hikes but found the short hikes were not that great for photography because folks had walked all over the sand dunes. Finished the The Dune Life Nature Trail before deciding to drive around the park looking for a longer hike.

More photos from White Sands can be found on my website.

We decided we might have better luck taking a longer hike so we decided to hike on the Alkali Flat Trail. This proved to be more interesting and we encountered fewer people and tracks.

We didn’t have time to do the whole trail because we wanted to take in the New Mexico Museum of Space History and we were hiking at high noon. We cut our hike short and headed back to town to visit the museum and check into our hotel. We enjoyed the Museum and my wife is a big Star Trek fan so I couldn’t resist taking her photo in the transporter.

We had an early bite to eat and then headed back out to White Sands. It was starting to cool off a bit. We picked the Backcountry Camping Trail hoping we would not find as many people. We were surprised at the number of backpackers we encountered heading out into the backcountry. This was a nice hike and we were able to find more sand dunes that were undisturbed.

There were a lot of folks out in the park flying kites and sliding down the sand dunes. Fortunately most of them stayed fairly close to the roads.

Surprisingly we did not encounter much wildlife. We managed to find some Roadrunner tracks but no Roadrunner. We also fund a few Darkling Beetles as evening approached.

On the afternoon of the third day we made it to Carlsbad Caverns National Park which was our first scheduled stop on our spring road trip. The previous day I noticed an alert on the sites web page indicating that the elevators were not working. I assumed that it was a temporary thing but when we arrived they were still out of order. As a result we had a 750 foot altitude loss hiking into the Cavern and a 3.75 mile round trip.

More photos from Carlsbad Caverns National Park can be found on my website.

We had problems hiking the first section of the trail because our eyes had trouble adjusting to the dark. When we started down there were quite a few people hiking up. Although the trail is fairly wide and paved it was difficult to avoid running into people when we couldn’t see them or the railings. As we discovered when we exited the trail the people coming up could see us.

We didn’t realize we could walk into the Cavern. The entrance was truly impressive. At night visitors can watch the bats emerge. However, the bats in Carlsbad migrate and they were just starting to return when we were there. On the previous night the ranger had see one bat. My wife was happy that there were no bats in the Cave.

For the most part the hike into the Cavern is not all that spectacular although the Whales Mouth is impressive.

When we reached the bottom of the Cavern it was truly spectacular. At one point we stopped to talk with a ranger. Turns out the elevators are old and they frequently fail. At one point the were out of order for six months. When they fail it is quite a problem because people are stuck in the elevator and there will likely be people who have taken the elevator to the bottom who are really not in condition to hike out. He related one case of a man who was 400 pounds, had two knee replacements and several stints. He did hike to the bottom but then decided he couldn’t get back up. Normally you have to be out of the Cavern by 4 pm. They finally got this person out by 7:30pm.

We spent several hours wandering the trails in the Cavern.

 

 

Bond Falls is know as a great place to photograph in the fall and is known for its iconic Z which is photographed with fall color reflections. However it also a great place to photograph in the winter because is always has open water flowing. It is located just below a dam so the falls area never completely freezes.

Bond Falls

 

This past weekend my wife and I drove up to Calumet, Michigan to watch the CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race and to do a little cross country skiing. We just made it in time to walk around before the race and take in the sites. More photos from the race can be found on my website.

The mushers are usually happy to let the kids pet the dogs.

Generally the mushers feed the dogs a couple of hours before the race and then put them back into their homes until they are ready to race. They usually look a little pathetic as the look out the doors. Some of the dogs are a little more reluctant than others to be put back into their homes. This one put up quite a struggle before he finally was put into his home.

The runners on the sleds are a fiberglass material and the mushers have to wax them before the race.

Generally the Michigan Tech and Finlandia University mascots are at the race.

A popular spot before the race is the Hot Chocolate and cookie stand.The sheriffs department heads out onto the course before the race to insure there are no problems along the course which crosses the main road in several locations.

There are a lot of official photographers to capture the race. Video seems to be growing in popularity.

The color guard brings out the flags before the race. This year there were racers from South Africa, Canada and the United States.

Just before the race starts the trail crew heads out to insure that everything is ready for the race. The Michigan Tech and Finlandia mascots were riding on the sleds.

We watched from the start line as the 10 team sled dogs headed out onto the course.