Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Playing with Panoramas

I'm finally getting around to piecing together the panoramas I took last month, and here's one of the better examples. This is Colorado National Monument. You can look out over some unique rock formations to the towns of Fruita and Grand Junction in the valley below. The Bookcliff Mountains are in the far distance. This national monument was created through the efforts of a local who loved the area so much that he agitated the state and the national government into taking action. We need more folks like him!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Meat Eater

An interesting plant we found in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. I believe it's a type of sun dew, where the "dew" is a sticky substance that catches insects, which the plant then digests. Sort of like a Venus Flytrap. This little guy was tiny. The picture is taken with a setting on my camera that I call "Superflower" because macro mode is indicated by a flower symbol with an 'S' inside and it reminds me of the Superman symbol.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Mom's World E-Debut

Having done a Father's Day post, I realized that, back in May, I left Mother's Day unmentioned on my blog. Definitely not meant as a slight! So on the topic of Mothers, the last time I was home, I threatened to put Mom on the internet. Here goes:

She didn't want "millions" of people seeing her picture, but felt better when I told her it would be more like ten people :) And I'm including some flowers for her birthday, which was June 10th. Love you, Mom!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

For all fathers out there, and especially my own, an eight musket salute!

And don't forget the cannon!

*All celebrations courtesy of Valley Forge National Historic Park volunteer reenactors. Thanks, guys!

I am pleased to announce ...

For those of you who wondered where the "Sand" part of Ash & Sand is/was, I have news! No longer crippled by slow dial-up internet service, she is now up and running with a blog of her own:

Please check it out!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I was looking over my past posts, and I realized that I've posted very little about one of my favorite subjects: birds! These are three cormorants on a log at Middle Creek. A fourth cormorant showed up later, after Dad took his big camera back from me. I wasn't too eager to let it go, let me tell you. Dad would have to tell you how far away these guys were. My little S2 couldn't pull them in as well, so I'm posting the three, closer up.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I'll Take Six, Please

Developers are constructing a new subdivision around three sides of our complex. Therefore, we get to see some of the details of construction up close. One day, I was amused to see a "six-pack" of fire hydrants.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Comforts of Camp and Other Thoughts

Natural Bridges National Monument, in Utah, has three spectacular stone bridges. I hate to belittle them, but I believe my favorite part of the park was the campground! There were only thirteen sites and they were spacious. Each had a large sandbox to pitch the tent - sleeping on the level and without rocks poking you means a lot this far into a trip. You could not see the neighboring campsites from our area, and many birds and a rabbit visited us throughout the evening.

This night was the quietest, most peaceful one of the entire trip. The park is a certified "Dark Skies" park, which means that it provides excellent stargazing opportunities. When I went outside the tent once night had fallen, I became a believer! I know many of the basic constellations, but still had trouble picking them out. All of the stars were so bright, it made finding the main stars in the constellation difficult.

I wasn't totally distracted by the camping, though. This is Owachomo Bridge, the bridge with the thinnest "top". When we visited this bridge late in the day, a busload of European tourists was there, too. On our way back to the car, we found a discarded water bottle. I also saw that some of the flowers I photographed along the trail were now missing. I was surprised that visitors who obviously invested a lot of money in traveling were so careless with the natural beauty they came to see.

On a side note, Natural Bridges runs entirely on solar power. The large array is quite close to the visitor center but is well screened by the surrounding vegetation. The Park Service itself is trying to limit its impact on the environment.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Hiding People

One of the most inconvenient things about taking pictures in popular National Parks is ... all the other people! While in most instances, it was impossible to avoid other arch-lookers, I did manage to get a few clean shots by biding my time, getting low to the ground, or otherwise contorting myself. Luckily, Arches NP was the only heavily populated park we visited on this trip.

What you fail to see in this picture is the four or five gentlemen who kindly jammed themselves behind the column to the right, without my asking. It was especially nice of them because it's steep on the other side!

The Park Service has given a name to those folks inconsiderate enough to set up camp below a famous vista: