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Archive for May, 2010

We woke to another perfect day, looking back now I see that a 10 day road trip with virtually no rain was indeed a blessing.  Even though we traveled in the desert southwest spring rains can still occur.  We did get a minor touch of rain on the evening of our last night in Colorado.  As we left the Grand Canyon we had just a touch of clouds.  Which is something we were hoping for, at least I was, having some clouds does add to more dramatic Infrared shots.  Today was the first day I dragged out the Sony for some IR shots.

Grand Canyon in Infrared

We started the day with a little hike along the rim trail near the visitor center, it is cool that dogs can join their humans on these trails.  The norm in nearly all National Parks is that no dogs are allowed on any trails.  We got a few pics of the dogs, so they can show their friends how nice their humans were to take them on such a cool trip.

Miss Maybelle at the Grand Canyon

Tori had commented how the background almost looked fake…as if we were doing a photo shoot in some type of studio with the pull down backgrounds.  Eventually we  made our way back toward Desert View and out the way we came in.  Tori got some cool dolly pics with the canyon in the back ground to show off to her doll friends.

We made our way up through Page, and Lake Powell and picked up some more supplies, before heading into Utah.  We broke up the drive  a little by grabbing a couple of Caches outside of Page.  We were 2 for 4, I could have spent some more time looking but I was dressed in jeans and Tori was waiting in the car with the desert heat starting to rise.

The drive into Zion was new undiscovered country for both of us.  We entered Zion from the east entrance and got to see the canyon after driving trough the Carmel Tunnel…hands down the coolest tunnel I have driven trough in some time.  At 1.1 miles it was the longest car tunnel in the US when it opened in 1930.  My first impressions of Zion were that it was a cross between Yosemite and Moab!  Very unique and from now on…its pure Zion.

We made our way to Watchman campground and our three nights worth of reservations.  The loop we camped in was a tent only loop, and no generators were allowed, one bonus we were looking forward to.  However, we had an unfortunate swarm of caterpillars in our camp…it was so bad we ended up moving to the other campground, which turned out to be better for its awesome stars and canyon views.

Our first camp was reserved sight unseen online, South Campground, the other main campground in this part of the park, is first come first served.  With the help of one of the excellent park rangers (Juli Neff ) we were taken care of and our former site was quarantined due to the ‘pillar infestation.  Thanks Juli…you Rock!

Caterpillar Camp

We had dropped the pups off at the doggie dude ranch first thing in the morning so the move to the other site was pretty quick.  We  had a shortened hiking day because of the move, but made up for it by staying an extra day.  One of the joys of first come first serve is nobody has dibs on your spot until you leave…so grabbing an extra day is a piece of cake.

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About 2 weeks ago we returned from our trip only to find snow falling, by the time morning came by we had a fair amount.  Enough heavy spring snow to drag the snow blower back out of the shed.  Yesterday we had temps in the mid to upper 70’s and we got to sleep with the windows open.

The main bonus of open windows are the sounds of nature that come streaming in.  Four nights this week we were awaken to the screech of the neighborhood mountain lion.  A couple of these nights it was in the side yard and quite loud, the other nights he was in the neighborhood but not right under the window.

Wednesday was the last day of school for the girls and Tori and I both got to visit for Tasha’s 5th grade awards and I stayed a bit long to hang out. After Sierra’s lunch I got to have recess with her and some of her friends, it was a total hoot and I even played some 4 Square.

Sierra and some of her buddies

We had one of our famous “Pioneer Nights” on Thursday and instead of reading we did some round-robin story telling and some sing alongs.  It was great to reconnect with the girls some.  It had been awhile since we had one, and it felt great to get back into our quiet evenings together.  We had thought about heading down to the cabin for the holiday weekend but after 2000 miles of driving just a short while ago we will stay home and do some home projects.

Pioneer Night in the Living Room...Oil Lamps aglow

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Time lapse work with the D90.  Night time shots from our trip, cloud clip shooting out the bedroom window.

The Zion NP Star Time-lapses are shorter than the Mitten Buttes due to the camera batteries dying in the middle of the night, I would recharge them each day with the Solar generator…and shoot all day too.  I need to get the DC adapter for the D90 to shoot all night off the Solar Station.

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I was up a bit during the night working with the D-90, getting some time lapse sequences.  It worked pretty good but later in the tirp I found some better ways to shoot…longer exposures and no Noise Reduction.  This speeds up the sequence and prolongs battery life.  I’m thinking about getting a DC adapter to run from the laptop station, I was only getting a couple hours worth out of the stock camera batteries.  With the 10 ahr of the station it should be able to run all night…at least until the 399 pic limit of the Intervalometer.

I was up before dawn for a few pics and also got some of the sun just peeking over the horizon.  After a few of these I went back to sleep for a bit.  Tori and the pups slept through it all.

Dawn at the Mittens

We had a casual Coffee infusion as the sun continued its journey higher into the sky.  After we broke camp we had a short hike on the nearby mitten trail before heading off the the Grand Canyon.

We entered Grand Canyon NP from the eastern entrance and traded out some travel bugs in the last cache before the park.  Once inside we made our way to Desert View.  It was Tori’s first look at the canyon and she had a nice smile on her face.  The Tower at Desert view is undergoing some renovations to fix some structural cracks that have appeared since it was built back in the 30’s.  When I was here about 5 years ago I shot a ton of pics with my old Sony but unfortunately lost them all to a CF drive failure at the end of that trip…It was one of the saddest experiences ever.  I have switched now to SSD’s so this should never happen again.

South Rim View

This time we camped in the Mather Campground, at first I was a little hesitant with the camping here, when I was here before we camped at Desert view, a much smaller campground.  Desert View is also well away from the development along the main area on the south rim.  I was pleasantly surprised by the privacy at Mather despite the 300+ sites the campground was spread out and had enough tree cover to provide a sense of not being in such a large “city in the woods”.

Mather Campground

Tori and I did a little hiking tour on a few of the campground loops,  we also did some hiking along the paved South Rim Trail by the visitor Center on our way out of the park.  The visitor center is under going some upgrades as well.  It was nice to see a spread of Solar panels there.

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Solar Laptop at Angel Peak

I tried to write some when we first got up, but it was too Stinking Cold…I was wearing my down parka for a bit in the morning.  Later, after coffee and our required caffiene input we got moving about.  We did a small hike on one of the nearby hills and got some more pics of Angel Peak.  Tori brought out some of her Blyth dolls and we got some pics of them as well.  You can see those here.

We grabbed a couple Geo-caches as we were leaving the area. Spied a Turkey Vulture and made our way further north into Bloomfield, NM.  After gassing up we headed into Navajo County.  One of our ambitions was to get some great authentic Navajo food along the way….. Sadly we found no charming roadside cafe to fill our bellies.  We had to opt for drive through…and we both believe this is a common thing for many of the Native Americans, as they were quite crowded and most of the people we saw had to look of someone who might eat way too many meals there.

The country here is very big and empty, which is fine for us. It just takes a while to get anywhere.  After we looped through Kayenta, we made our way to our destination of Monument Valley.  This was my first time to actually head into the Tribal Park.  There is a new hotel there built by the locals, it was to be the luxury stop when my brother and his wife were still in the trip plan.  Since Tori and I don’t need fancy rooms as often, we opted for the campsite.  Turns out it was just as awesome as the previous night…Well….maybe just a bit more.

Sweet Campsite #2

The weather was finally starting to be our friend, we picthed the tent then made our way to the Valley Tour.

The Valley Tour is a 17 mile loop that brings you deeper into the park, you can drive your own car or ride in one of the many tour vehicles.  At a few of the more prominent stops locals have tables set up to buy native jewelry and other stuff.  Tori calls this “sucker bait” but ended up getting a very nice necklace with some awesome Turquoise in it anyway.

The highlight of the tour for me was a visit to John Ford Point. It is now the image at the top of this very blog site…Yes, it is a real horse, you can see a pic of me on that same horse on the Flickr pages.  When I was a little kid we went to Yellowstone. I wanted to see the West…the real west in my mind looked like this, or had saguaro cactus in it,  not what you see in Yellowstone

Further along the tour we got some more dolly pics and other pics before heading back to camp. This one was one of my fav’s

Along the Valley Tour

Since we were camping, instead of spending $180 a night in the View Hotel we decided to treat ourselves to the fancy restaurant; We started with Navajo Tacos and finished with Sheep Camp Stew and fry bread. The stew was a bit thin for my tastes, but dipping fry bread was pretty satisfying, when the stew was gone the fry bread got drizzled with honey…Dessert !

After dinner we heading back to camp for a sweet sunset and later in the night I fired up the D90 for some Time Lapse Stars…Stay tuned for those!

Mitten Buttes

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The beginning of last week had me wondering about the motivation behind a double homicide / suicide that rocked Boulder and the smaller tile and flooring community of which I am a part.  Late Monday morning last week, a disgruntled employee of Boulder Stove and Flooring came to work with a 9 mm pistol and shot 12 rounds into the husband and wife couple that owned the store before delivering one shot to his own head.

The saddest part of it for me is the senseless loss of a loving  mother and father to their 12 year old daughter.  As a father of 2 girls near that age it hit home pretty hard.  Sending your kids off to school with the idea that tonight you will return just like you have for every previous day of the kids life.

I have been a customer of that shop for over a decade, first with the prior owners, and for the last  3 years or so with the couple that was murdered.  The family atmosphere of the shop and the great service from the small group of employees was one of the main reasons I would shop and send clients there.  They also have a great show room with some of the best selection in town, I hope  the few remaining people there can continue to provide great service to the community in the time to come.  Sean and Staci will be greatly missed, by me,  and many more.

The end of the week hit even closer to home.  First I get a call from Natasha and Sierra’s School that they are still waiting to get picked up.  Sarah (Ex-Wife and mother to Natasha and Sierra)  was due to bring them up, and the School tried her cell but could not get through.  I tried a few times and finally got through,  she said she was still on the way to the school, it was then about 30 minutes after she was due.   About the time I’m expecting them to arrive here, I get a call from the Boulder County Sheriffs office…Which can often take your breath away in itself.  My first question was, Are the girls OK?…once that was confirmed he told me about Sarah’s alcohol induced accident.

Sarah was heading off to spend a night in jail…And I was heading to pick up the girls from the sheriffs office.  I ran into Tori just as she was getting home, so she got to come too.  The officers that were looking after the girls while  we drove down bought the girls some dinner at the nearby Subway.   We got down there about a hour after the call and began to get some of the details.

Tori and I were both starving by the time we got them back towards Boulder and stopped at the Girls Favorite Chinese restaurant  for some dinner and snacks.  It was great to see that they had not been hurt, and we all started the process of working through this event. Later, It was great to have the girls safe and sound here at home, while the real implications of Sarah’s behavior hopefully began to sink into her incarcerated mind.  How could she do this? Is she that careless stupid and selfish….apparently so.

On Saturday Sierra began some of her own healing with an entry into her Journal, at first she wanted me to write it into her journal because as she said “you can write faster”…..She ended up dictating it to Tori who typed it up for her….who I said “can type way faster than I can write” which is so true!

Today I started some of the phone calls to Social Services to get more information and be involved in how things proceed from here.  I will be able to follow some of this online as this information is in the “public record”

This is all that I can find so far.

Jail Booking in the Last 24 hrs (Boulder County Sheriffs Office)

MEYER-STEVENS,SARAH CARTER Booking #: 1004349 Booking Date: 05/21/2010 21:40 Location: BJ BOK
DOB: 06/13/1964 Race: W Sex: F
Case No: 6C100699 Arresting Agency: COLORADO STATE PATROL
Charge Information: 42-4-1301(1)(A) DUI Arrest Date: 05/21/2010
Charge Information: 42-4-1402 CARELESS DRIVING Arrest Date: 05/21/2010
Charge Information: 42-4-1409(3) FAILED TO PRESENT EV Arrest Date: 05/21/2010
Charge Information: 18-6-401(7)(A)(V) CHILD ABUSE-KNOW/REC Arrest Date: 05/21/2010

Wish me and the girls luck in working through all of this!

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Infrared Shot in Zion Canyon

I spent part of the morning tweaking some IR shots from our trip.  I did about 1/2 of what I shot and uploaded the smaller JPEG’s to Flickr.  You can take a peek by clicking on the link off to the right  in the Flickr section.

For those that are interested these are “true” IR images shot with my Sony, the filter has a 950 nanometer cut off point, which means that only the Infrared spectrum above that is captured by the camera’s sensors.  Some people take regular pictures and use Photoshop effects to simulate the IR look.  That is cheating in my book,  You may call it digital art if you wish, but I like the thought of the physics involved with true IR work.

I hope to add an IR filter set to my collection that I can use on the D90.  Those pics with require tripod use as the D90 has fixed IR filter already installed before the sensors to block IR.  For Photographers that have way more money than I do, they will have cameras specially modified and have that filter removed…It then limits that camera to dedicated IR use.

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