With a strong cup of coffee in hand while watching the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico … Ah, could there possibly be a better way to start a new day? I know it’s one of my favorites; a strong cup of coffee and a beautiful sunrise.
The dawning of a new day brings about a sense of hope, a sense of new beginnings, a fresh start. All the problems of yesterday are just that – yesterday’s problems.
I love watching a beautiful sunrise, but I don’t always love jumping out of the RV so early in the morning in search of those wonderful views. Summer is particularly difficult for me to photograph sunrise considering the sun graces us with her presence so incredibly early in the morning.
It’s too tempting to stay snuggled up in the RV until a more reasonable hour. I guess that’s why I enjoy visiting the Texas Gulf Coast during the winter months. Sunrise is at a more sensible hour and I have no trouble loading up my travel mug with a steaming cup of strong black coffee, tossing the camera in the truck, and heading off in search of capturing an inspiring sunrise photograph. It’s not uncommon for me to be driving along the coast, sipping coffee, long before the sun makes her appearance.
I find these early morning solo excursions to be refreshing. It’s the perfect way to start my day, and I always look forward to our visits to this special place in Texas. I was so looking forward to repeating our usual January – February Texas sojourn, but after much discussion and lots of hemming and hawing, Al and I have decided to stay in Phoenix, Arizona, the entire winter and forgo the Texas journey … this winter, anyway.
I’ll miss those Gulf Coast sunrises, but now I have the challenge of finding the perfect sunrise view in the desert southwest. Hmm, I think I’m up for the photo challenge! If anyone is interested in joining me on a photographic outing in Arizona this winter, please, do reach out … I love company and exploring new locations.
I will miss those coastal views and shore birds, but I look forward to embracing new views, new photographic challenges, and meeting new friends. A new day, a new view, and a new adventure … bring it on!
For this weeks photo challenge, let’s share images of sunrise. Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post. I’d love to see your favorite sunrise location.
Wandering Wednesday –
Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt / challenge as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect 🤗
Upcoming prompt – Zoo …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Will your favorite landscape photographs be for the composition, the memory behind the image, or both?
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 🤗 share your photos anytime between now and next Wednesday when I’ll post a new prompt.
Upcoming prompts – Garden, Birds, Black & White …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!
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.
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.
I 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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 interest to Ashton and me anyway, but we did have a curiosity and therefore decided to hike the Riverside Walk trailwhich 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!
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.
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.
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 😄
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.
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…..
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!
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)
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 little 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.
Ruby’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.
Boondocking – There are a bunch of places off highway 12 east of highway 63 to boondock (boondocking means dry camping on public lands – no campground or facilities). The land is located within the Grand Staircase – Escalante 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.During 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.
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.
Across 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.
Another 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 – the 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 Garden 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.I 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.
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.
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 season
Secondary elements include; lanterns, water basins, pagodas, arbors, and bridges.
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 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.
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.
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.The slow shutter speed would require me to stabilize the camera somehow. With a little thought, I found boulders to aid me in my quest.
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.Unfortunately, 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.
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.