Color bursts from the ground at Valley of Fire State Park.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
Color bursts from the ground at Valley of Fire State Park.
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
It was a short wandering day today because we needed to head to the airport for our flight home - short but good.
I wasn't sure what trail we would head to this morning. Denise clearly had an idea though... We parked at the Sandstone Quarry lot and headed out for a bit on the Grand Circle route. We walked one way, then turned around, passing the car and walking the other way for a bit. It's funny how the scenery was totally different depending on which side of Sandstone Quarry we were visiting. One side was that red sandstone, and the other was rolling terrain and more jagged mountains.
Oh! It's getting close to airplane boarding, time to go...
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Today was a day for wandering Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, switching for the last hour of the afternoon to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. It was a day of wandering among red rocks under a clear blue sky.
I walked two actual trails, spending a good chunk of time following faint paths on the ground instead of sticking to the named trails. My morning started by moving close to the rocks in the Calico Hills, watching the small (far away) people climbing up the rocks. Did you know that Red Rock has more than 2000 climbing routes and that it is one of the top five climbing destinations in the United States? There were other folks like me walking on the flat and tilted ground, and then there were the climbers. Fascinating...
The rocks in the Calico Hills section wear the most pronounced red color, although I'd say the red was closer to a deep rust color. There are some rocks that are deep rust, some showing more of a yellow to white color, and some where the red and the lighter colors are layered together. Across the wide open space in the center of the loop road stand more jagged mountains, an interesting contrast.
I considered driving the one-way loop road in Red Rock Canyon a second time (to stop at different spots) but that will wait for tomorrow morning. Instead I headed to Spring Mountain Ranch to check the colors there. The water in the small pond was wearing an interesting shade of blue-green, a nice contrast to the blue sky. I walked around a couple of times, needing to wait a bit to cover one section since there was a (small) wedding happening at the time I arrived there. Now that's a nice spot for a wedding!
A view of the Calico Hills, courtesy of my phone
Monday, February 25, 2013
I think Denise is tired; she said that I should write again today because words aren't jumping out for her. We didn't overdo it today but we did have that 3-hour drive to get close to our wandering spot for tomorrow.
Let's see, today we started walking and looking in Utah, we stopped in Arizona to explore a new-to-us spot, and we ended the day in Nevada. Hmm... three states! Oh, and we switched time zones again.
We started our day in Zion by walking the Pa'rus Trail. It's a flat (and paved!) trail that winds from the visitor center, following the river to Canyon Junction. It was really cold this morning and Denise wanted a fast walk to start out. Flat means it's easier to go fast! That trail is really pretty too, with red-rocked mountains on two sides. I told Denise she was wearing too many layers to start with (again). She said she needed them to start out; luckily she had room in her camera bag to stash the layers because she didn't need them for very long!
Next we headed up the snaking, switch-backed road leading to the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnel. And yes, we did drive through the tunnel (twice, since we came back the same way). What an amazing structure! The tunnel is a very narrow two-lanes wide. There's only room for two cars side-by-side, no room for walking... It's 1.1 miles long and very dark except for the spots where there is a window to look down into the valley. It's really too bad that stopping in the tunnel is not allowed. I could have stood in those windows soaking in the view for a long time, and Denise told me she would have happily joined me there.
We left Zion at about 2 in the afternoon, heading west. I convinced Denise to make a stop in Arizona on the way back to Las Vegas. On one of our previous visits to Zion Denise noticed a sign for the Virgin River Canyon Recreation Area, and I was curious. I wanted to see what was there. It's really funny - there is an exit on I-15, and the only thing that is there is one road marked private and the recreation area. It's in the section of I-15 where Denise always wants to stop even though she knows it's not OK to stop on an interstate highway. I didn't have to convince her to pull off of the road, I just mentioned that I wanted to stop and we were on our way! We found a path down to the river and did a little bit of walking down there. I'm so glad we stopped!
Back in the car, it was time to head for our home (away from home) for the next two nights. It was another good day!
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Oh! The wind never stopped blowing today, and it was pretty chilly with temperatures in the high 30s to low 40s. Denise started out with lots of light layers then shed most of them. She said that walking (uphill!) warmed her up pretty quickly. I was warm enough too - I rode in the camera bag, popping out when there was something interesting to see.
First we started with a good breakfast at the Zion Canyon B&B. It started with granola and fruit over yogurt. Next, tasty waffles and some eggs for extra protein. Denise sat and chatted for a bit, and then we headed into the park.
Today's wanders were a mix of just wandering along the Virgin River and of hiking parts of two trails. The Sand Bench Loop was new for us. I understand it is mainly a horse trail in the summer. Luckily it isn't summer to it was quite walkable. There were good views of the Court of the Patriarchs. That was a good starting point since it was a relatively flat trail other than a small amount of up at the beginning.
Denise wanted to hike the Angel's Landing trail as far as Scout's Lookout. I could probably go the end to Angel's Landing but Denise doesn't like exposure so we always head out on the West Rim Trail when we get to Scout's Lookout. Not today though... A ranger in the visitor center told us that the top three pieces of Walter's Wiggles are icy, so it sounded like we would need to stop before the top. You've never heard of Walter's Wiggles? They are a series of 21 short switchbacks on the trail just before reaching Scout's Lookout. That's a very cool name, isn't it? When I heard there was ice up there I knew that's where we would turn and head back down. The first part of the trail was in the sun on the way up. It felt warm then, probably because we were gaining elevation pretty fast. Then we turned into Refrigerator Canyon, brrr! Denise grabbed her windbreaker and her hat and mittens, and I jumped back into the camera bag for that part of the hike. Even though we turned back at Walter's Wiggles it was a really good hike. I'm glad we hiked that trail today - it's really beautiful.
The air was pretty nippy today. Blue sky and red rocks kept us focused on wandering, and walking kept us warm. It was a good day at Zion.
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Today was a day of wandering after a night that was too short. A couple of hours of sleep on the plane supplemented my fewer than normal hours of sleep last night. I managed an early start this morning, important since I was going to lose an hour again today, moving from Pacific time back to Mountain time.
I headed to Valley of Fire State Park to soak in the beauty. The terrain from I-15 to the park entrance is rolling, desert covered in low scrub, rising to low mountains. The road twists and turns, climbing high before dropping down to the park entrance. Red rocks rise suddenly out of the browns and greens, spectacular!
My first hike was to the fire wave. The trail is well marked until it delivers you to the swirling colors of the fire wave. At that point it's a good idea to have an idea of where the trail lives (behind you) as you move on the colored rock. The fire wave shows reds (or oranges) interspersed with white. It almost seems as if someone painted the rock. The color would have been stronger if I'd managed to be there earlier or later in the day, but the colors at high noon were pretty amazing today.
The White Domes trail called to me next. The trail starts as relatively level sand before it heads downward, turning to a mixture of rocks and sand. It then goes through a slot canyon, emerging to showcase rock formations in many colors.
There are so many colors in the rocks here. They range from rust red and orange to yellow, white, pink, and green.
I think I should start keeping track of the times I see something that I want to capture with my camera when I'm not able to stop. This morning metal sculptures of wild horses and big horn sheep standing along the side of I-15 in Las Vegas caught my eye.
No, I didn't stop - stopping on a limited access high speed highway just didn't feel like the right thing to do. But oh, the desire to stop and pull out my camera was very strong.
Friday, February 22, 2013
It's time to wait. We're sitting at the gate at Logan Airport waiting for our plane to board. The plane is here, and the sign says we will be boarding in half an hour. Oh! It also says the flight is 5 hours and 58 minutes long. I hope I can convince Denise to grab a little bit of sleep during the flight. She says she is wide awake right now but without a nap she's going to be short on sleep tonight. A nap sounds good to me.
We just had our first taste of pinkberry frozen yogurt. Denise tried a taste of the grapefruit frozen yogurt first. Her nose wrinkled when she tasted it and that's really not a good sign. I decided not to taste that one. The second flavor was really good - chocolate hazelnut. Yum! I liked that one too so we shared a dish. That was a nice treat.
Just a little longer, it's almost time to fly.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
I'm counting the days until we leave (only two more!) and keeping an eye on the weather. It looks like it might snow here over the weekend, probably starting sometime on Saturday. If the forecast is right we should be away before the snow flies. Oh! I hope I didn't jinx our travel plans by saying that.
I'm looking forward to seeing red rocks - red is so different from the colors we see near home (except when the leaves turn colors in the fall). Maybe the red will be decorated in white, maybe not.
I just pulled out maps for Zion and Red Rock Canyon, and I found the trail guide for Valley of Fire State Park too. I think I'll stash them in the bag with Denise's camera; that way they will be easily accessible when we need them. Did you know that Denise really likes maps?
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Monday, February 18, 2013
Today looked like it would be a beautiful day for a coastal wander with blue skies and temperatures edging into the high 20s. That's a bit chilly, but it is still winter!
I headed to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge where I had the challenge of walking in today's strong wind. It was blowing at a steady 23 miles per hour with gusts to 35. Wind or not, Park River is always beautiful!
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 7:22 PM
Friday, February 15, 2013
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Oh wow! I just realized it has been a long time since I wrote. I think I'd better start playing with words again since I know I'll be helping Denise very soon when we start our wanders for 2013.
It was about a week ago when I decided I needed to jump in and tell Denise that she needed a quick escape. Our last wandering holiday was our visit to Acadia in October; that's too long without traveling. I nudged her on Monday and by Wednesday we had a destination (really multiple destinations) and reservations. I'm so excited! We're going to visit Valley of Fire State Park, Zion National Park, and Red Rock Canyon. We've been to all of those places before but I won't complain because they are all beautiful. We are on a non-stop flight on JetBlue from Boston to Las Vegas so even though it's a long flight, it's only one airplane in each direction. Denise really doesn't like to change planes when we are only traveling for part of a week.
I think I'd better remind Denise to bring her winter snow sneakers just in case it snows when we are in Zion. It snowed when were were there two years ago in March. With a visit in February I'm afraid she might need warm and dry shoes.
I think I'd better start thinking of other places I'd like to wander later in the year. It's not too soon to plan, right?
A photo of me in Grand Teton National Park, from August 2012
Sunday, February 10, 2013
I woke up this morning knowing I wanted to wander somewhere along the coast. My assumption was that it might be difficult to find parking but I figured I would manage to escape the confines of my car.
My destination for today was the short New Hampshire coastline. I arrived to find signs of very high tide. There were icicles hanging from metal railings in Hampton Beach. A bit further up the concrete seawall was covered in ice and road showed signs of ocean water encroaching.
I walked down the road a bit to visit the birds who were hanging out on the inland waters. Once I was done chatting with the birds I decided I really did want to walk on the beach. The beaches north of Hampton Beach are small in width (from ocean to the edge of the beach) as compared to Hampton.
While the wild ocean had taken over most of the other beaches I knew Hampton Beach had some sand available for walking, even with today's very high tide.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 7:42 PM
Saturday, February 09, 2013
So much snow...
Light snow (pushed by a strong wind) continued to fall as I headed out for a walk early this afternoon. The effects of the wind made it hard to tell how much snow actually fell. I know I had drifts over 3 feet high in front of my door and I saw patches of bare (frozen) grass as I walked. From the statistics on the National Weather Service site it looks like we probably had about two feet of snow here.
The sky cleared a bit later as the blizzard named Nemo continued its voyage to the east.
This looks like a very cold place to sit, doesn't it?
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 7:58 PM
I woke up this morning to find snow piled against the doors. The depth of the snow at the front door (as measured from inside) appears to have drifted to about 3 feet deep. No, I can't open the screen door - it opens out!
The storm was fed by the convergence of storms that had formed in two branches of the west to east jet stream. From the Boston Globe article Storms carried by two branches of the jet stream converge to spark nor’easter:
There is still light snow falling right now with the forecast calling for it to end by early afternoon. I wonder if the weather wizard pays attention to the forecast. What do you think?
The fierce nor’easter that began walloping New England on Friday was the product of two storms that merged, causing a rapidly strengthening storm known in weather jargon as a “meteorological bomb.”
“We just have the right setup,” said Lance Franck, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Taunton. “It really is just a classic snowstorm."
article by Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe Staff / February 8, 2013
The state ban on vehicle travel that was put into place as of 4PM yesterday is still in effect. Luckily my feet aren't considered vehicles... I think I'll brave the cold in a bit and see if there are enough cleared spots for walking.
The view from my 2nd floor window this morning...
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 10:18 AM
Friday, February 08, 2013
Snow is falling and the wind is blowing.
The blizzard warning for this area was updated to show a more reasonable expected snow depth; it's predicting 2 feet of snow now, down from the 3 feet that was predicted this morning. Here's hoping the lower prediction is the right one. And no, I don't think 2 feet of snow is reasonable; it's just better than 3!
I took a mid-afternoon break to walk in the early hours of the storm. The weather at the time? Snow, and freezing fog.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 6:51 PM
As I was driving home last night my phone beeped. After I stopped to look I found a notification of a change in the weather forecast. The blizzard watch had just been upgraded to a blizzard warning. Ah, I was hoping it would move in a different direction.
I woke up to find a light skim of snow on the ground with the heavy snow predicted for tonight into tomorrow. The words on the forecast have been changed to mimic the storm warning.
Blizzard WarningThe words in the forecast show a large snow accumulation with 3 to 5 inches predicted for today, 13 to 19 inches tonight, and 7 to 11 inches tomorrow. Can I hope that the forecast is wrong?
URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TAUNTON MA
439 AM EST FRI FEB 8 2013
...A POTENTIAL HISTORIC WINTER STORM AND BLIZZARD IS EXPECTED TO DROP UP TO 3 FEET OF SNOW THROUGH SATURDAY...
I think my yikes! from Wednesday is still fitting.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 6:23 AM
Thursday, February 07, 2013
The Portsmouth piece of the new Memorial Bridge was placed on January 15th. I had been thinking about taking a day off to watch; unfortunately I missed the day before the event announcement only finding out about the placement as it was happening. The Kittery section is supposed to be put in place sometime in March and the center span is scheduled for June. I've signed up for email notification in the hopes that I find out about the lift section placement in enough time to (maybe) spend the day watching.
The new bridge is clean and has a very smooth look. I'm fascinated by the design elements. From the 21st Century Innovations page of the Memorial Bridge project web site:
THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN THE WORLD, A GUSSETLESS BRIDGE
The new bridge design has eliminated the most vulnerable part of a truss – the gusset plate – that has historically been the cause of costly maintenance, repairs, and replacements. A gusset plate is a thick plate (sheet) of steel used to connect the various pieces of the bridge (or truss members) and kept in place with steel bolts. As the gusset plates corrode and weaken (and require costly retrofitting), as was the case with the 1922 Memorial Bridge, they compromise the strength of all the separate pieces.
The design team eliminated gusset plates entirely. Instead, the metal sections are all uniform in size so they fit together like puzzle pieces, through a process called splicing.
USE OF A METALIZED COATING
The steel portions of the new bridge will be finished with a metalized coating expected to last 40-50 years without requiring maintenance. The process utilizes an electric arc spray gun to apply molten zinc onto the surface of steel. Zinc provides the highest protection from corrosion and also keeps the look and feel of the new bridge in-line with the local U.S. Navy shipbuilding history.
from old to new
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
We've had very little snow so far this winter but it looks like the weather wizard may be planning a change very soon. Unlike the snow forecasts earlier this season that called for snow that didn't happen, this one sounds like it could be real. Funny, the words for the local forecast don't say anything about snow accumulations but the posted warnings do.
The bright green section of the map below (where I live and work!) is under a blizzard watch; the blue is a winter storm watch.
Blizzard Watch for Eastern Essex County (Zone MAZ007)
...A POTENTIAL HISTORIC WINTER STORM AND BLIZZARD IS EXPECTED TO DROP 1 TO 2 FEET OF SNOW ACROSS MUCH OF THE REGION FRIDAY INTO SATURDAY...
Forecast courtesy of the National Weather Service
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 8:39 PM
Sunday, February 03, 2013
The air was full of snow flurries when I headed to Maudslay State Park this afternoon. Funny, as I drove closer to the coast the snow lessened, disappearing by the time I arrived in the park. Last week's warm weather and rain removed the little snow that was on the ground and the past few days left the ground frozen instead of muddy.
The sky was gray, the air was cold. It was a very good day for a walk in the park.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 7:31 PM
This one's for you +Lori Carey!
As I wandered in Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, NY yesterday afternoon I found myself drawn to the very decorated underground walls of the World War II fortifications that are hidden (in plain sight) beneath grassy hills.
Looking at Lori's photos must be influencing me, teaching me to look beyond my usual (landscape) images.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 8:18 AM
Saturday, February 02, 2013
It was a day of brisk temperatures and skies wearing a background of blue, a good day for a walk by the ocean (along the New Hampshire coast).
My first stop was driven by a desire to walk on the beach. Jenness State Beach allowed me to walk, to enjoy views of the clouds reflecting on the very wet sand and of the sanderlings quickly running along the water line.
Next I headed for a different kind of beach walk at Odiorne Point State Park. Rounded rocks line the "beach" creating a slippery sliding walking surface. Most of the rocks were dry but there was one section of rocks wearing a visible thin layer of ice.
More photos from this afternoon can be viewed in the gallery New Hampshire coast - 2013.
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 7:34 PM
Every so often someone puts together an interesting viewer to look at Google+ photos. I like this new one by +Jari Huomo. It creates a panel of the most liked photos (of those I've posted to Google+) where clicking on the photos brings up a larger view with arrows to scroll through the set.
Click on the image below to jump to my Google+ Photobox, then click on one of the photos to bring up a larger image. If you hover over the sides of the panel an arrow will pop up to scroll through the images one by one.
I've added a sidebar link in my blog to jump to my most recent set of "most liked" photos (in Google+).
Thanks to Jari for his creation!
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 7:41 AM
Friday, February 01, 2013
Chasing butterflies with a camera is always an interesting exercise since they don't seem to like to sit in one spot for any length of time. I love their colors and patterns! I find it interesting that the underside of the wings - the side that is showing here - is much paler than the wings viewed from the top.
butterfly & flowers in Prescott Park, Portsmouth, NH on a summer afternoon
Posted by Denise Goldberg at 8:10 PM