Red-Shouldered Hawk in Snow

Saw this guy (or gal) landed on our fence and grabbed my camera. I had it laying nearby hoping to get a photo of some bluebirds in contrast to the snow, but this guy will do. This was shot thru a (likely dirty) window using my 70-200m F4 lens. It's been cropped a little, along with a little bump in saturation and a little curve (using the very simple Canon Digital Photo Professional).

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Bluebird After Snow

After our little snowfall last week, the birds seem to find a little spot in our gutter that had melted snow and several bluebirds stopped to get a drink. When I noticed they kept returning, I grabbed my camera. I actually took this photo while sitting at my desk working. I noticed her and just reached over, lifted my camera and clicked. It looks like this lady Bluebird is staring right at me.
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Snow Day 2014

Not what they predicted (darn) or what he hoped for, but a few inches of snow to coat everything. Per usual, we take a walk in the snow first thing the following morning to enjoy the snow covered roads and quiet before too many people and cars get out (I even set my alarm, which I normally don't do!). This morning we took a walk to Lake Lynn hoping to see it partially frozen (as it was on Sunday).

We found some other walkers/runners doing the same thing. Loved the brightly colored vest against the white snow.
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Out of the neighborhood and cutting through the woods to Lake Lynn Greenway snow_day003 snow_day004

A really grey, moody, Lake Lynn -- all the birds were hiding elsewhere snow_day005

Heading back home to start the work day
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Yosemite: Panorama & Mist Trails

I'm not sure why it's taken me so long to post photos from this hike on our CA trip in September. It's definitely a highlight (if not THE highlight) of the entire trip. We were very fortunate that we took the hike when we did, as it turned out to be the only totally smoke free day while we were there (other than our arrival day). The smoke from the Rim Fire went north from Yosemite, but occasional shifts brought it south in to the Valley area. We could see the smoke on the horizon on this hike but it was a gorgeous day.




If you want to hike the Panorama Trail in the downhill direction, you can take a bus (fee) from the Yosemite Lodge one-way to Glacier Point. The bus trip was guided so we got a lot of info about geology and wildlife on the way up. Once we were at Glacier Point, we spent some time at the overlook and then set off to the Panorama Trail trailhead. It's all downhill for 2-3 miles down to Illouette Creek, before you start a short uphill section. This part is mostly exposed, but it's just awesome to spend that time hiking and being able to glance over and see Half Dome the entire time.


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here's Vernal Fall, where we would end up later in the day

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deer along the path, we waited for a few moments and it scampered up the hill to the right


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another shot of where we were headed, you can see the small switchbacks across the way, and later we would descend from Nevada Fall and next to Liberty Cap, which is the large round rock at the top left of the photo below


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this is probably a better shot of where we were headed, we would continue to descend down to Illouette Falls (out of photo to the right), then ascend that ridge in the center, then we'd continue around the point, into some woods and eventually connect with the John Muir Trail briefly to end up at the top of Nevada Fall (not viewable) before using the Mist Trail down past Liberty Cap (in photo) to Vernal Fall (in photo) and then down to the Valley floor.


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this is what we called "the mishap"...I slipped on a small damp spot on a big rock (no where near a ledge thankfully) and ended up bruised and dirty, but no broken skin (or bones) and the hike continued
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below Illouette Falls

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the uphill portion, smoke from the Rim Fire viewable on the horizon to the north

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backside of Half Dome


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descending back into the woods

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stop for lunch at the top of Nevada Fall, it was getting pretty hot, so we found a spot in the shade...4.5 miles down, another 4 or so to go


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here's where I wish I had a photo of the sign at the top of the Mist Trail that suggested hikers use the John Muir Trail to descend to the valley due to steep, rocky, slick footing with steep drop offs, but on we went

this is top of the Mist, looking up at Liberty Cap, as we descended next to Nevada Fall -- this was the hardest and scariest part & I was too focused on my footing to stop and take a photo of the trail itself -- wish I had

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this is Emerald Pool which is above Vernal Fall


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the bottom of Vernal Fall, you can see brave (crazy?) people jumping off rocks and swimming below


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steps, steps, and more steps -- this is when we were really hurting.... probably hiking without enough rests or enough food (we'd split a sandwich). we found ourselves rushing the second half of this trip and still wonder why


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And at the bottom waiting for the shuttle bus to take us back to the lodge -- tired and happy (left to right, lol). Looking back, I really didn't take many photos of the Mist Trail due to being hot and tired and just focusing on putting on foot in front of the other.


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First 2014 Hike

I've realized that I do much better about getting up and out in the mornings (weekend or otherwise) if I've already got a plan in place before I go to bed. I've found this for my own exercise, house projects or chores, and hiking. Without a plan to head to the Lower Haw River to hike, I doubt we would have been out at 8am on a 20 degree morning. First time to hike this trail, which is about 30-40 minutes from home. It's part of the Lower Haw River State Rec Area. The river was flowing fast and a little high (from what we could tell) and no kayakers on such a cold morning. We did see a few deer (which is always fun) but zero people.

iPhone photos because I forgot a camera
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thin layer of ice on a side creek
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California: Elkhorn Slough Kayaking

September 13th: Another moody, grey day on the central coast of California. We'd reserved a 3 hour guided kayak trip from Moss Landing via Kayak Connection. We paddled up Elkhorn Slough. From their website:
The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve is one of 28 National Estuarine Research Reserves established nationwide as field laboratories for scientific research and estuarine education. The Reserve is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife
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It was a nice trip with a great leader and easy paddling. We saw tons of birds, sea lions, harbor seals, and otters. Again it would have been nice to have blue skies, but I won't complain.

Ready to go!
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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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Rainy Fall Colors

Determined to enjoy a hike with Fall colors we headed to Hanging Rock State Park. Instead of the popular Hanging Rock trail, we took the Moore's Wall Trail. It was a really pretty hike, but went from drizzly rain to total cloud/fog color at the top. It includes a nice walk along the ridge, but not a single view this day.


Photos with my Canon G12 and SOOC -- tried using Squarespace app on the iPad to post this entry, but ended up using the regular web interface to re-arrange things.

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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