Last weekend we visited Big Bend National Park. This was our fourth visit in five years. Here is a sample of some of the landscapes we encountered, most of land but a few of sky. We saw both winter and spring on our short trip, from snow to freezing fog to ceaseless sun to cirrus and alto cumulus clouds.
Most of these photos were taken with my trusty Canon DSLR that has served me well now through hundreds of journeys to many natural landscapes over the past few years. A few were taken with a new high-end non-DSLR Lumix that I got as a present for Christmas.
This is my first post in a long time, but our travels have been limited this winter and I’ve had other projects that have distracted me for much of the past few months. Now that spring is here, you will probably see more posts in the coming months!
Ready for another installment from our latest trip? Here are a few from the Grand Tetons. I think this was my favorite park that we visited on the trip, mostly for the sheer amazement at seeing these rugged, pointed, glacier-carved peaks. When I spent some time in Europe in college, I had the amazing opportunity to visit Switzerland. The Alps have remained one of my favorite places I’ve been, and the Grand Tetons are the closest approximation to them I have encountered in North America. Such majesty! If you ever plan to visit the wonderful Yellowstone National Park, you must take an extra day to visit the Grand Tetons just south of the park. You won’t be disappointed!
Here is another gallery from our recent western wanderings. This gallery comes courtesy of Lewis and Clark Caverns in southern Montana. I live not far from its more-famous cousin, Carlsbad Caverns.
Carlsbad Caverns is an amazing place, and I’ve visited numerous times, including last fall. But I was pleasantly surprised by this little gem, not far from Yellowstone National Park. It was one of the few places we stopped that is neither a national park nor a national monument (though it was once federal land before being sold to the state of Montana), so it doesn’t get the same amount of press. But boy am I glad we stopped and took the tour through the cavern! If you’re ever in the area to visit the other “big-name” national parks, you should spare a day to visit these limestone beauties!
Here’s the first gallery from our recent Western trip. This is a (teeny tiny) sample of all the tumbling waterfalls and cascades we observed as we explored the spine of the Rocky Mountains. It would be an understatement to say we saw “a lot” of waterfalls. I must admit that I was growing weary of setting up my tripod in precarious canyons to try to get that perfect waterfall shot; I was certain I was going to lose at least my tripod on these little excursions, if not my camera as well. Fortunately, we all returned intact!
I have plenty more and will perhaps post another waterfall gallery once I finish all my edits. Whew!
Here is yet another panorama from our recent journeys. Perhaps you already recognize it? It’s one of the many wondrous views found along the Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park. It’s less than fifty miles long from end to end, and yet it took us an entire day (probably 14 hours) to drive from one end to the other and back to our campsite. Of course, we stopped for a picnic and even got some pizza during that time, in addition to hiking a few trails and stopping at the many way points to take photos like this. There is a lot to see and do along that relatively short stretch of road! (And lots of construction to avoid as well.)
Glacier National Park is phenomenal, but it wasn’t my favorite park that we visited. I think that honor has to go to the Grand Tetons. (I love my jagged, pointy mountain peaks!) We also visited Zion on a previous trip, and I still think that of all the parks I’ve been to, Zion ranks as the single park you have to visit if you can only visit one. It is a fantastic combination of unique and breathtaking. The spectral coloring and the unusual geological formations, along with the steep canyons and amazing aerial views, make it nearly impossible to beat.
That being said, this panorama takes my own breath away more than any photo I’ve edited so far. The rugged peaks, the endless waterfalls, the glacier-carved cirques, and the snow still lingering into July despite the lush grasses combine to give this panorama a sense of the fantastic. It looks surreal to me, and I probably wouldn’t believe it’s a real place if I hadn’t been there myself. I don’t even have a particular memory of stopping at this point. I’m sure I recognized it as yet another spot of beauty along a stretch of land which, after a while, makes you feel like you’ve become a glutton of beauty. With some photography fatigue, I probably reluctantly set up my tripod and leveled it out and did all the tedious preparations needed for a great panorama. There is just too much to see, too many photo opportunities, to appreciate each stop along the way. But now that I have returned and can finally examine the photos and start to reconstruct a sample of that gluttonous meal of beauty I consumed on this trip, I recognize this as being among some of the best I’ve reconstructed so far.
I still have thousands more photos to get through, so I may yet find another one that surpasses this one. But for right now, I’m skeptical that this won’t be the best of the bunch. I think this is one you have to savor to really appreciate, zoom in and examine all the details–the dozens of cascades and waterfalls, the individual carvings in the rock faces of the mountains, the texture of the grasses, and even the other vehicles stopped along the road, their occupants standing in awe of this amazing scenery. So I hope you’ll wander through this landscape for just a little while. If you click on the image to open it in its own page, you’ll be able to step inside for just a little longer.
As promised, I’m back with more from our recent trip. And it’s another giant panorama! This one is from the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the southernmost park or monument we visited on our vacation, at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in Colorado. If you click on the image to bring up the full-sized version, the intricate patterns on the sand will be more apparent. (And if you look especially closely, you’ll see the little “ants” on the sand hills–which are really people exploring the dunes!)
I’ve visited the Great Sand Dunes many times, as I used to live not far away. I’m not sure I’ve ever been there on a sunny day after a night of steady rain, however. Normally the only pattern you see is that of the sandy mountains themselves, brought about by the relentless and shifting winds. But as the rain evaporated from the sands on this fine morning, we got to see the additional mosaic of sand drying at different rates, creating swirls and whorls like the undulations of a fingerprint. A masterpiece of nature in the works, but an ephemeral one, complemented perfectly by the lovely high clouds in an otherwise sapphire blue sky.
Here is another single image showing the marbling in the sand even more clearly:
After a long hiatus, I am finally back. My husband and I have just returned from a giant camping trip exploring a large swath of the western US (and even a little into Canada). In fact, this first post is from the northern extent of our journey, Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. This is a giant panorama, stitched from ten separate images. It is taken from atop “Bear’s Hump,” a short but strenuous hike to a lower peak in the park. It was shortly before sunset when we alighted the top, offering some lovely lighting and an open view perfect for a panorama. Be sure to open the full-size image to view details of the village below and the distant glacier-carved mountains.
Here is a single shot taken from the same perspective, showing a little more detail of the Waterton village below with the mountains disappearing in the distance, into the United States.
In all, I took more than 8000 images from this trip, which made this more of a “work-cation” than a vacation. My husband proved to be an invaluable assistant, loyally lugging around my tripod and helping secure many wonderful perspectives for me to set my camera’s view. Much of the credit for the images lies with him. Needless to say, there will be many more pictures coming.
Photos edited in Lightroom and Photoshop Elements.