Wandering among Landscapes

For those of us that embrace travel, it might be safe to assume that many of us also enjoy capturing images of the various landscapes we visit. If I had to pick one genre of photography, I’d probably choose landscape photography.

Colorado National Monument Grand Junction Colorado

Colorado National Monument, Grand Junction, Colorado

Steamboat Lake Colorado

Steamboat Lake, Colorado

So many of the places that I’ve traveled to beg to be photographed. Sometimes the vision before me is jaw-dropping gorgeous or the lighting and colors seems surreal.

dreamy landscape photo

Copano Bay, Texas Gulf Coast

Whatever the reason, I love wandering around new places and capturing images of landscapes. Many times, my photographs fail in capturing the stunning sight before me, but the photograph will always prompt my memory and how I felt while making the image.

Jenny Lake Grand Tetons National Park Wyoming

Jenny Lake, Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

I feel very fortunate that I’ve had the opportunity to witness so many stunning landscapes. Narrowing down my hundred’s (more like thousands) of my landscape photographs for this post was no easy feat.

hot air balloons Cave Creek Regional Park Arizona

Cave Creek Regional Park, Phoenix, Arizona

The photographs I picked for today’s post were chosen not necessarily for the composition but rather for the memories each photograph elicits for me personally.

Summit Lake Mt. Evans Colorado

Summit Lake – Mt. Evans, Colorado

Wandering Wednesday – Landscapes

This weeks photo prompt theme is Landscapes. We’d love to see YOUR landscape photographs. So let’s share and connect … join in and share a link in the comments below or link back to this blog in your own post.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Will your favorite landscape photographs be for the composition, the memory behind the image, or both?

Mormon Barn Grand Tetons National Park Wyoming

Mormon Barn, Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo theme as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Perhaps this prompt will serve as a little inspiration to pick up your camera in search of a composition or peruse your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy ūü§ó¬†share your photos anytime between now and next Wednesday when I’ll post a new prompt.

Crested Butte Colorado

Crested Butte, Colorado

Upcoming prompts – Garden, Birds, Black & White …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
Ultralight Trekking Poles – Enjoy the Outdoors
Audible Membership

Advertisements

Stunning Beauty at Zion National Park

Although the sun hadn’t risen yet, it was no longer pitch dark in the tent. As I breathed in the crisp cold air, I was reminded of the inclement weather the day before. ¬†With each exhale, I could see my breath. ¬†Yeah, it was cold.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Yesterday was a mixed bag of interesting weather at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes.

I glanced over to my left.  Ashton was totally cocooned in her sleeping bag and still sound asleep. How we managed to fall asleep with the tent whipping about in the severe wind while being pelted with sleet and snow remains a mystery to me.  But we slept great.

Tenting in snowI quietly grabbed my toiletry bag, a towel, change of clothes, and quickly walked down the road to the restroom.

The moment I stepped into the building I breathed a sigh of relief …. heat, glorious heat …. a reprieve from the below freezing temperature. The restroom was heated and offered warm water. ¬†Aaaaahhhhh!

I slowly got ready for the day, and when I returned to the tent Ashton was awake. Now it was her turn to get ready, and while she did that, I headed back over to the dunes with the camera.

Coral Pink Sand dunes

“Come on mom. We gotta get going!”

I could’ve spent hours with the camera exploring the sand dunes, but we both knew we needed to hurry and get to Zion National Park as soon as possible. ¬†We didn’t have a campsite reservation and were keeping our fingers crossed that we’d be able to snag a first come, first serve campsite at the South Campground. ¬†It was imperative we join the line as soon as we could. ¬†The earlier, the better!

Zion National Park

We entered Zion National Park via the east entrance

Zion National Park

Waiting patiently for a campsite at the first come, first serve South Campground. We waited in line for over 2 hours, which wasn’t bad from what we hear ūüė≤

We arrived at the South Campground in Zion National Park about 8:30 a.m. to a long line of cars and small RV’s all waiting for a campsite. ¬†Yeah, we realized we were already late to the game. It wasn’t looking good for us. Check out time was 11:00 which meant it’d be just a matter of time before we’d find out if we were one of the lucky ones to get a site. ¬†As soon as a campsite was vacated, the camp hosts quickly assigned the site to the next camper in line. It was sheer craziness!

Right about 11:00, we were given a site. Yippee! Our new friends in the small Class C motorhome behind us also managed to get a site.  We were some of the last ones to snag sites and felt incredibly lucky.

South Campground Zion National Park

Our campsite in Zion National Park

Ashton and I quickly set up camp and started fixing lunch. Remember, we’d been planning¬†this trip for several weeks which also included meal planning and prepping. No going out to eat for these gals!Coleman Camp StoveGrilled chicken

With tummies full, we were ready to explore Zion National Park. From our campsite, we walked over to the visitor center and caught the shuttle. The shuttle system here is awesome, and at this time of the year, it’s the only option to enter the national park.

We stayed on the shuttle until it reached the end of the line at the end of the canyon; Temple of Sinawava stop. The half hour drive allowed us to get an overview of the national park so we could prioritize what we wanted to explore.

Shuttle in Zion National Park

Ashton admiring the views from the comfort of the shuttle. Great shuttle system in Zion National Park.

The end of the canyon or rather stop #9 Temple of Sinawava is the gateway to the famous Narrows¬†hiking trail, which isn’t a trail per se as much as it is a hike through water. ¬†The ‘trail’ was actually closed during our visit due to high fast waters from snow melt. It wasn’t a hike of Riverside Walk Zion National Parkinterest to Ashton and me anyway, but we did have a curiosity and therefore decided to hike the Riverside Walk trail¬†which leads to the beginning of¬†The Narrows.

The paved Riverside Walk is rated as easy and according to the park info is 2.2 miles round trip (3.5 km) and should take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours.

This is a great hike for anyone including families with small children, elderly, and most of the trail is handicap accessible.

We were pleasantly surprised as to how much we enjoyed this hike. It was the perfect first trail easing us into the stunning beauty of Zion … not that we needed any easing!

The Narrows Zion National Park

Ashton views the start of The Narrows trail – yes the trail is THROUGH the water!

hanging garden Zion National Park

Ashton photographing the hanging garden.

We were fascinated by the ‘hanging gardens’ … a sight we’ve never seen or even heard of before. Water seeping out of the rock sandstone creates a wonderfully lush garden filled with ferns, wildflowers, and mosses. Water was slowly cascading in small streams, sometimes dribbles, and occasionally it looked like miniature waterfalls … all on the the side of a huge rock wall.

hanging garden Zion National Park

Ashton admiring the hanging garden – Zion National Park – Riverside Walk

hanging garden Zion National Park

Unbeknownst to us, Zion National Park is famous for these weeping walls and hanging gardens. Unfortunately, our photographic images did not capture the dripping water. Suffice it to say, we found the steady streams of water and lush vegetation intriguing and beautiful. It captivated our attention and kept our cameras working. No wonder they say the hike can take one to two hours.

Riverside Walk Zion

The Riverside Walk offered plenty of entertainment and stimulation

After admiring the hanging garden and trying our best to capture its essence, it was time to stroll over to the bank of the Virgin River. ¬†All that looking up was putting a crimp in our necks ūüėĄ

Virgin River Zion

Ashton photographing me, photographing her along the Virgin River

As we meandered back to the shuttle stop, we couldn’t help stopping several more times just to take in our surroundings. We were in awe! We were hiking in a gorge with Navajo sandstone rock rising skyward. On one side of the trail we were kept amused by the weeping, vegetated rock and on the other side we were admiring the rushing Virgin River.Zion National Park

Our senses were on overload and this was just the beginning. Time to stop at the Zion Lodge for a cup of coffee and then we’re off to hike the Emerald Pools…..

Coleman Camp Propane Grill/Stove

In Love with Bryce

With the weather being fickle, we¬†decided to pay¬†for two nights at¬†a RV Park giving¬†us the flexibility to rearrange our plans on a whim.¬† When the weather improved, our two-night stop to visit Bryce Canyon Country quickly turned into six nights.¬† And oh my gosh…. amazing!Bryce Canyon

I assure you, six nights was not enough to savor this breathtaking scenery.¬† If it hadn’t been for our workamp obligation in Idaho, we would’ve stayed another week.¬† For some reason, I just couldn’t get enough of those perplexing hoodoos¬†or the layers of texture and colors.¬† Simply mesmerizing!

Where to camp?
With snow and freezing overnight temps in the forecast, we knew we wanted a site with hook-ups and chose the Red Canyon Village RV Park. It was an ok place to stay and even offers cabins as well as campsites. (restroom shown in the photo below)

Red Canyon RV Park, Panguitch, Utah

Red Canyon RV Park, Panguitch, Utah

The park is located along highway 12 just east of highway 89 and¬†road noise¬†can be expected.¬† We paid $31 a night for a full hook-up site which included cable TV. The property is owned and managed by the same company that runs the Bryce Canyon Lodge, Forever Resorts.¬† The location worked fine for us.¬† It took a Bryce Canyon national parklittle less than¬†thirty minutes to¬†drive to the Bryce Canyon National Park visitor center and about¬†10 minutes to get to¬†the town of Panguitch, Utah.¬† Just a couple of minutes away was Red Canyon with some lovely hiking trails that shouldn’t be missed.

Red Canyon is also home to a national forest campground: Red Canyon Campground.¬† It’s basic dry camping in a wooded setting.¬† Although some of the sites would accommodate our size RV, we’re not fans of trees and low-lying branches, and thus this campground is not an option we personally would consider.

As we continue along highway 12 toward Bryce Canyon NP, you’ll find the Bryce Canyon Pines RV Park.¬† We didn’t stop in, but drove by several times.¬† From a distance the¬†park looked ok nestled in the pines with dirt/gravel roads and sites.¬† We noticed RV’s of all sizes parked there.

Bryce CanyonRuby’s RV Park¬†seems to be the¬†most popular¬†spot with its close proximity to the hoodoos, but definitely¬†the most¬†expensive.¬† This RV park is located just outside the national park boundaries which means it offers location, full amenities, and is big rig friendly.

Want to camp even closer to the hoodoos?  Bryce Canyon National Park offers two campgrounds, both with no hook-ups, dry camping only.  The majority of the sites look sloped and mounded.  There were one or two sites at the Northern Campground we liked that we would consider if available.  Sunset and Northern Campgrounds appear to be best for tents, small Class C motorhomes, pop-ups, and small travel trailers.Bryce Canyon

Boondocking РThere are a bunch of places off highway 12 east of highway 63 to boondock (boondocking means dry camping on public lands Рno campground or facilities).  The land is located within the Grand Staircase РEscalante National Monument and a free permit is required for any overnight stay.  Along highway 12 from Red Canyon to the town of Torrey, there are six visitor centers to assist you, provide permits, maps, and answer any questions.

There is also a fair amount of national forest land in the area with boondocking options¬†and no¬†permit needed.¬† Here’s a helpful post on dispersed camping.Bryce Canyon National ParkDuring those times when Al and I do boondock, after about a week we like to refresh and find a RV park with full hook-ups.¬† From a budgetary point of view the Paradise RV Park might be the perfect place to refresh.¬†This somewhat basic and rustic park offers full hook-ups for $15 a night.¬† It’s located a few miles north of the town of Panguitch and about 30 miles from the Bryce Canyon Visitor center,¬† We actually did our laundry there since the Red Canyon RV Park offered one staked washer/dryer on the outside of a building.¬† Not ideal, especially in 32 degree weather.

Joe's MarketGroceries?
Since we were staying in the Red Canyon area, the town of Panguitch was an easy ten minute drive away.¬† Joe’s Market in Panguitch, Utah, is a great place to resupply.¬†¬†We were impressed with the¬†quality of fresh meats, veggies, and eggs¬†that were reasonably priced.¬† Other items were a tad pricy though.

sour dough breadAcross the street from Joe’s Market is a Chevron Gas Station with a fast food place inside.¬† We don’t eat deep-fried fast food so I can’t help you there, but with the oven availability, the owners of the gas station bake fresh bread and rolls daily.

Our first stop at the Chevron was late one afternoon.¬† We filled up with gas and¬†when we¬†stepped inside, we noticed the hand written sign on the window¬†noting fresh-baked sour dough bread.¬†¬†When we asked about the bread, we¬†were informed they were all¬†sold out, but the gal behind the counter was quick to¬†suggest placing our name on a loaf of sour dough bread for the¬†next morning.¬†¬†¬†Yes!¬† It was still warm when we¬†picked it up and perfect for our picnic lunch.¬† I wouldn’t normally recommend buying bread at a gas station, but this is small town America and it’s similar to enjoying a loaf of bread your mom made.

bakeryAnother place we tried was a bakery on highway 12 just east of highway 63.  The groceries and baked goods seemed a little pricy in my opinion, but we still ended up buying some fresh-baked baguettes for our sandwiches which were delicious.  And of course, hubby had to sample a blueberry turnover which received a two thumbs up as well.

One of our favorite little stops after hiking amongst the hoodoos, was stopping in at the General Store located within the national park just around the corner from the Bryce Canyon Lodge (btw Рthe restaurant in the lodge had a menu that was tempting, but our sandwiches made with fresh-baked bread won out).  This General Store along with a lovely picnic area is within walking distance to the Sunrise overlook and trailhead to the Queens Stewart'sGarden Trail.  After a somewhat steep hike back out of the canyon, we managed to work up a thirst.

We try to keep our soft drink intact to a minimum, but when we discovered the General Store stocks Stewart’s….. well…. there was no resisting the cream soda and orange cream.

We enjoyed this little splurge so much that when¬†we¬†received an impromptu email from some fellow full-time RVer’s¬†letting us know they¬†were in the area,¬†I knew exactly where to meet up.¬† We hadn’t seen this couple in nearly two years and certainly had plenty to talk about.

Enjoying a picnic with friends at the general store was perfect.  It was awesome reconnecting, catching up, and sharing some of our favorite Bryce Canyon sites with this delightful couple.

me and Al enjoying our sodas while our friends prefer to stay behind the camera ;-)

me and Al enjoying our sodas while our friends prefer to stay behind the camera ūüėČ

Cheers to friendships, breath-taking scenery, amazing hikes, and cold beverages.¬† It’s official, I’m¬†in love with Bryce Canyon National Park and am already scheming¬†my next¬†visit.

Bryce loves me back. Can you see the rock heart in the center of the photo?

Bryce loves me back. Can you see the rock heart in the center of the photo?

 

A Zen of a Day

After a wonderful visit in the Chicago suburbs, it was time for us to move on.  The drive took about an hour and a half and put us closer to the Wisconsin border.  Shortly after our arrival, we met our new neighbor.

Rockford, Illinois

Trooper coming to check out that big white box near his barn.

We set up house¬†at¬†Al’s sister’s place, which is¬†located a few miles north of Rockford, Illinois, and less than ten miles from the Wisconsin line.¬† His sister owns a lovely seven acre piece of property complete with a beautiful home, large barn, some out buildings, plenty of room for us to park, and Trooper.

boondocking

Barn on the right and tack room/out building behind the truck.

The next ten days were filled with lots of visiting with sister(s)¬†– Al’s other sister lives nearby as well.¬† There was no shortage of food, drink,¬†or laughter.Japanese Tea GardenI did sneak off for a day, allowing the siblings the time to reminisce and me to have a little time to myself.¬† I called it my Zen day.Japanese Garden

With camera in hand, I set off for the Anderson Japanese Gardens.¬† One of the first lines used on their website says, “Inspires the mind and energizes the soul”.¬† Sounded perfect and exactly what I was¬†looking for to enjoy a Zen kind of day.Japanese Garden

The three essential elements used to create a Japanese garden are;
* stone = structure of the landscape
* water = represents life-giving force
* plants = provide the color and changes throughout the seasonJapanese Garden

Secondary elements include; lanterns, water basins, pagodas, arbors, and bridges.Japanese Garden

Japanese Gardens

The Founder and History:
Construction of Anderson Japanese Gardens began in 1978, when Rockford businessman John Anderson was inspired by a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon. With the ongoing assistance of renowned Master Craftsman and designer Hoichi Kurisu, the Andersons’ swampy backyard along Rockford’s Spring Creek was transformed into a Japanese-style landscape. From groundbreaking to today, the placement of every rock, alignment of every tree, and layout of all paths has been made with careful consideration by Mr. Kurisu. In 1998, John and Linda Anderson donated the Gardens as a supported organization to the Rockford Rotary Charitable Association. It now exists as a not-for-profit entity and continues to grow and change to this day.Japanese Gardens

Japanese gardens are very carefully designed and patiently pruned according to aesthetic principles to create a work of natural art that inspires calm, renewal, discovery, and an invigorated soul.Japanese Gardens

I spent several¬†hours strolling the gardens and snapping lots of photographs.¬† I was a little disappointed that they don’t allow tripods, but with many of the trails narrow, I can understand why.Japanese Garden

However, that didn’t stop me from playing around with the shutter speed on my camera.¬† I was bound and determined to finally capture flowing water in a soft way.Japanese GardensThe slow shutter speed would¬†require me to stabilize the camera somehow.¬† With a little thought, I found boulders to¬†aid me¬†in my quest.¬†Japanese Garden

I set my camera on an uneven boulder with the strap securely wound around my wrist (having the camera topple into the water was not part of the plan).  I then set the 2 second timer and hoped for the best.Japanese GardenUnfortunately, without the assistance of a tripod the boulders dictated the angle of the composition.  Overall, it was fun experimenting with the different settings on my camera and using a neutral density filter for the first time.Japanese Garden

If it hadn’t been for the temperature approaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit with 80% plus humidity, I would’ve spent the entire day exploring every inch of this 12 acre Japanese Garden (which I may have done anyway).¬† Regardless of the August heat, it was still a¬†Zen of a day.Japanese Garden

Today was a good Day РWordPress Photo Challenge
Creating Your Own Japanese Garden
Kenroy Home Waterdrop Natural Slate Tabletop Fountain