Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Carmel, CA

This was quite a place, just a few miles south of Carmel. My only wish was that sun had come out sooner as it was a pretty grey and dreary (and cold!) morning. Still a great way to spend a morning and picnic lunch. Seeing all the various shades of blue/green water, but no sunlight to illuminate it was a little bit of a bummer.

The Reserve is full of hiking trails, all relatively short and connecting to the various parking areas, so it was easy to pick and choose. We were still sore from our hike in Yosemite a few days prior, so it was nice to have some choices. On the rock off shore in the photo below, you can see that it was covered with Commorants. They are pretty tiny in this photo showing how big these rock formations are (all photos taken with a rented 10-22 Canon lens)
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You can see the variety of paths in the next two photos.

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Here's two photos that were taken with my iPhone. Not sure why I didn't take a photo with another camera, it was a really nice picnic area within Point Lobos and the sun was finally coming out. We'd picked up a deli sandwich from Bruno's in Carmel on a morning walk shared it here while we enjoyed our last few minutes at Point Lobos.
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Humpback Whales in Monterey Bay

We had no intentions of taking a whale watching cruise on our trip to California in September. I'm not exactly sure why, but probably because I generally presumed it would be time consuming, have limited results, and I might get sea sick. We ended up with an extra day due to the Rim Fire sending us from Yosemite a day early. After spotting whales off the coast while touring Big Sur, I stumbled on an article that was published the previous day about the fantastic viewing opportunities to see whales. So off to Monterey we went the next morning. It was fantastic. It wasn't very long (2 hours or so), we so dozens of whales, and I didn't get seasick at all (I did take Dramamine).
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This is a bit of crop so a little fuzzy, but what a fantastic moment to witness!

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I don't think this photo does a good job of showing just how huge the whales are, but maybe a bit with the other boat in the background and the large group of seals surrounding it.

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Maybe this one is a bit better for the whale/boat size comparison.

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Long Layoff - It's October!

Longest gap in posting yet! Busy with long summer days, getting a kid off to college, preparing for a vacation and then taking it!

Lots of photos from California, but I realized that I didn't end up taking some of the photos I had composed in my mind before going. That's fine, because it just means that I spent more time enjoying our vacation than documenting it.

This photo is from Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, which is just south of Carmel. Point Lobos is certainly better known for it's gorgeous coastline, but I decided to post this photo. This photo is Straight Out Of Camera but looks JUST like a photo that's been selectively de-saturated. It probably helped that it was such an overcast, gloomy day.

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50mm Charleston

Unfortunately we didn't have much time in Charleston aside from the soccer itself, but we did make a trip to the historic areas for a quick walk around the waterfront. I just grabbed my camera with the 50mm on it and off we went. I had considered getting up really early and heading downtown alone to get a chance for some creative photography, but a room above us leaking into our hotel room at 4am scuttled those plans!

So here's Charleston in 50mm! (Oh and the photos were also taken/metered using the unintended Spot Metering settings, but I guess I got lucky that the area metered wasn't solid bright/dark.)

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Back to Pocosin Lakes

We headed back to Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge today. We got very lucky the first time we went and saw three bears right away. We keep seeing signs (tracks & scat) but no bears since. Today we saw a number of Bald Eagles and probably as close we've ever been to one. Seeing them sitting in a field makes you realize how big they are -- you can see them from quite a distance. Both of these photos are cropped a good bit.

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(Early) Morning at Harvard

I spent last week in New Hampshire for work and before flying back home from Boston, I decided to get up very early and head to Cambridge and take a very quick walking tour of Harvard (all of these photos were taken before 10am, most before 9am). What a cool place to go to college.
Harvard Square
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L: Harvard Yard, R: Widener Memorial Library
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L: Sever Hall, R: Rhododendron with Massachusetts Hall in background
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Wake Forest Gamelands Hike (and Shortoff Route)

We've made this walk/hike a few times, it's an area where we can let our dog off her leash since we don't see any people. I didn't take my camera yesterday, so of course we see an Eagle.

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I had every intention of publishing our route for the Shortoff Mtn hike on Friday. Apparently I hit pause on the way down and part of the return route ended up looking like a straight as-the-crow-flies route to the trailhead. Instead, I'll embed this accurate map from the Meanderthals hike entry that depicts the same route. The blog entry has lots of detail about the hike.

I should also mention that I became aware of this hike from Joe Miller's 100 Classic Hikes in North Carolina. He also maintains the NCHikes.com and GetGoingNC.com websites.

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Lake James and Shortoff Mountain (Linville Gorge)

It was a beautiful day in North Carolina after a very rainy overnight. We had originally planned to camp at Lake James State Park, but the rain and expected (sort of) cold, coupled with the lack of getting camp gear prepared, we turned the trip into a day trip.

First we stopped at Lake James State Park so I could show G the campground (he had not seen it before). Turns out it probably would have been a wonderful day/night to camp -- if a little chilly on the lake. Next we stopped at the Ranger Station to let them know we wouldn't be using our site in case someone wanted it -- the 17 sites were all reserved for tonight. We also got the driving directions to the trailhead for Shortoff Mountain.

Below: Lake James with part of Linville Gorge visible on the other side -- the "gap" between the ridge line. Shortoff Mountain is on the right side of the Gorge and we would be on top of it in a few hours. (All photos taken with my P&S camera in an effort to have a light pack. I wish I'd have brought my DSLR anyway.)

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So we finally made it to the trailhead and hit the trail around 1pm. It took us about 90 minutes to make it to the top of Shortoff. It was quite an uphill hike, rising about 1300 ft in about 1.5 miles. It was about 2.2 miles to where we stopped for lunch. The views of Linville Gorge from the top were amazing.

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After hiking along the top/plateau, we moved from the burned areas back into the foliage with rock ledges where we could step out and view the Gorge. We came upon two 'campsites' (unoccupied) and at the second campsite, the view up the Gorge was just amazing. This is where we sat and at our lunch before heading back down. I could have stayed there a lot longer than we did, watching the turkey vultures fly beneath us, but we had a long drive back home. Despite 10 cars parked at the trailhead, we only saw 4 other people all afternoon.



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And One More From Grayson Highlands | July 2011

We figured out a way to get there and back in one weekend without too much hiking/driving all in one day. We made our stop over in Elkin, which is just over two hours from Raleigh, and just under two hours from Grayson Highlands. Decided that along with the tight time-line, the heat made it less desirable to camp.

Here is Gregg, descending from Wilburn Ridge on the Appalachian Trail. It's actually the Northbound AT, but it's what drops you back down into Massie Gap before turning northward again. gregg_graysonhighlands