Category Archives: Photography

Jersey Goes West Pt. 8 – Mammoth Lakes and Devil’s Postpile

After our visit to Manzanar, it was getting a little late and we were ready for dinner.  We found this restaurant in Bishop.  It was a nice “home-cooking” type restaurant.  I had fried chicken and the hubby had meatloaf.  Both meals were huge portions and quite tasty!IMG_7384

It was close to 10 pm when we arrived at Mammoth Lakes.  We planned to go to Devil’s Postpile National Monument in the morning and wanted to stay as close as possible, so I chose to make reservations at the Mammoth Mountain Inn. They have pretty affordable rates during the non-ski season.

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We were given an upstairs room in a wing near the main lodge and were told to take any food or smelly items out of the car and into our room as the bears had been quite active lately.

Going from -200+ feet below sea level to 10,000 feet above sea level in a few hours has its issues!  I remember telling my husband that I was out of breath just from brushing my teeth.  The other thing that I totally didn’t expect, was that our clothes in the luggage were soaking wet!  For the life of me, I couldn’t not figure out why our clothes were wet when the luggage was dry.  Then it finally dawned on me, that it was so hot in the desert that our clothes heated up and then cooled so quickly that water condensed on them within the luggage.  We had clothes hung up all over trying to dry them out!

Unfortunately, we were only staying in this beautiful place one night.  We fell exhaustively into bed.

The next morning we had breakfast in the main lodge.  The food and service were wonderful!  After breakfast, we needed to find the ticket office to buy passes to ride the shuttle bus to Devil’s Postpile National Monument.  During the busy season, no cars are allowed up the road to the monument unless you are going early in the morning or late in the evening.  The road is narrow and they try to limit traffic going to the monument.  They sell tickets near the sporting areas at the inn.  I took a few shots while trying to find the tickets.  More than once, my husband said, “We are coming back here and staying for more than one night!”.  He did not want to leave!

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The day was a bit smoky from the wildfires in Sequoia and Yosemite.

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We finally found a little stand that was selling excursions and asked about shuttle bus tickets.  Turns out, that yesterday was the last day for the shuttle bus, so we were free to drive up to the monument!  With that, we said goodbye to Mammoth Mountain Inn and hello to Inyo National Forest.

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Devils Postpile National Monument is located within Inyo National Forest.  When driving, there is an entrance fee.  I think it was $10.  The shuttle is a bit more expensive.  The drive was a little scary as there aren’t many guardrails and the road is narrow.  Downhill drivers are supposed to give uphill drivers the right-of-way and there are some turnouts for photos and to allow faster drivers to pass.  I am a chicken when it comes to mountain roads so hubby did the driving.

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It was a short walk to the postpile from the parking area.  On the way, we passed this beautiful meadow with the San Joaquin River running through itDevils Postpile_Inyo_7448

Devil’s Postpile is located a short easy walk (about 0.4 miles) from the parking area.

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This awesome geologic structure was once a lake of basaltic lava.  As the lava cooled it formed these jointed columns. What was left was a mountain of cooled basaltic columns.  These columns were hidden until glaciers eroded the face of the mountain and left the impressive columns exposed.  If you visit Devil’s Postpile, make sure you climb to the top!  It is a short 15 minute uphill hike and well worth the effort.  Nature is amazing!  The top looks like honeycomb of stone.  It looks like someone laid paving stones here.

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If we are ever able to visit again, I would like to take the longer hike to Rainbow Falls but it was longer than we were prepared to take today. We wanted to make it to Yosemite in time to see a few things before nightfall.

A couple parting shots as we hiked back to the parking area…

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After leaving, we stopped back in Mammoth Lakes for lunch. I am sure the locals had fun watching this Easterner trying to open a bear-proof trashcan.  I was a pro by the time we left Yosemite!

Stay tuned for our few days in Yosemite!

 

 

Jersey Goes West Pt. 7 -Death Valley

Yes, we braved Death Valley in the summer and lived to tell about it!  One thing I search for before we left was information on touring Death Valley in the summer.  I wasn’t sure that we should even attempt it, but after reading that people actually do visit in the summer, we decided to go.  I am really glad we did!  We heeded safety warnings, brought plenty of water, did not do any long hikes and stayed within sight distance of the car. We only had a partial day to spend at the park so it was a really quick tour and we only hit some of the highlights.

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We started out at Harmony Borax Works.  The famous 20-mule teams were used for the difficult task of hauling the borax out of Death Valley to market.  The Harmony Borax Works played an important part of the history of Death Valley and the settlement of the Furnace Creek area.

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Next was a short stop at the Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center.  Check out that temperature!  It was about 11 am.  It is definitely a dry heat!  Make sure you drink plenty of water.  With the dry heat, you do not sweat and may not realize that you are becoming dehydrated until it is too late.

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On to Badwater Basin and the salt flats!IMG_7267

Badwater Basin was as far as we went in the southern section of the park. We turned back toward Furnace Creek and stopped at Devil’s Golf Course.  Crystallized salt was deposited here by ancient oceans and then shaped by wind and rain leaving a sharp, ragged landscape that was said a place where only the devil could play golf!

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Next stop on our whirlwind Death Valley tour was the Artist’s Palette Loop Drive. The colors on this drive are spectacular.  Pictures just don’t do it justice.  It was early afternoon when we drove the loop.  It is supposed to be even more scenic in the late afternoon or early evening sun.

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We began to slowly make our way west towards the western exit of the park.  Before reaching Stovepipe Wells Village, we stopped at Mesquite Sand Dunes.  This place (according to literature at the visitor’s center) is one of the most dangerous places in the park.  The dunes look much closer than they actually are and most of the deaths in the park have been because people try to hike to the dunes in hot weather and become dehydrated and disoriented. We stayed close to the car and admired from a distance since the temperature had reached close to 120 degrees.

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Our last stop in Death Valley was at Stovepipe Wells Village for some refreshments.  We needed to be in Mammoth Lake that night so we couldn’t stick around too long.

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I really enjoyed Death Valley despite the heat.  I hope to plan a trip back one day, hopefully in February or March when the wildflowers are blooming.  There are so many more places to explore and I hate that we had to make it a super fast trip through, only skimming the surface of what the area has to offer.  It is possible to tour Death Valley in the summer, not optimal conditions, but it is possible!  Take A LOT of water with you and heed the “Turn Off Air Conditioning” warning signs when leaving the valley.  As you climb, the car can easily become overheated.  We had no problems, but did turn off the AC and had the windows open.

Coming up next….a stop at Manzanar, the Japanese Relocation Center that was in operation during World War II.

 

 

Jersey Goes West Pt. 6 – Rhyolite, Nevada

After leaving Nelson, we drove back through Las Vegas and on to Beatty, NV.  We made an overnight pit stop at the funky, retro Atomic Inn.  (Click on images to view in larger sizes)Atomic Inn

We set out in the morning and made the short drive to Rhyolite.  We even passed a wild burro on the way.  He was not interested in posing for a picture.

Beatty Burro

In about 10 minutes, we arrived in Rhyolite.

Rhyolite Entrance

Rhyolite was started with just a few miners’ tents in 1905.  By 1907, it was a city of 3500.  Many mining towns grew just as fast or maybe faster but what makes Rhyolite remarkable is how quickly and completely it collapsed.  In 1909, most businesses had been abandoned and a mass exodus of residents followed over the next 3 years.  By 1920 only 14 people remained.

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These days, rattlesnakes outnumber people.  There are a few caretaker residences in the town.  If you visit, heed the warning signs.  There are definitely rattlesnakes in the area.  This one was more interested in taking a snooze in the shade than bothering me.

Rattlesnake

The Las Vegas Tonapah Depot is one of the most complete structures on the property.  Due to poor structural integrity, you can not enter the building and an unsightly fence surrounds the building.  On this day, the gate was open, so we were able to walk around the building.  It was considered the grandest depot in all of Nevada.  Due to construction delays, it was one of the last buildings finished in the town in 1908.

LV&T Depot II

LV&T Depot

The Cook Bank was one of four banks that operated in the town of Rhyolite and was the largest building in the town.  More of the building would probably have survived today except that the supports were taken when the town was abandoned.

Cook Bank

The other remaining bank ruins are the Overbury building ruins.  It is fascinating how well the vault areas have held up in these structures.

Overbury Bank

Another large structure that is still partially standing is the Rhyolite School building.  Unfortunately, the school wasn’t finished till 1909, well after the downfall of the town began.  The school opened with a huge debt and and the school bonds were not paid off until 1978 by the residents of Beatty.

Rhyolite School

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A short distance from the main town site, is the Bullfrog-Rhyolite Cemetery.  It is certainly a peaceful final resting place in the desert for the souls who lived in Rhyolite.

Bullfrog Rhyolite Cemetery

Rhyolite Cemetery

Jersey Goes West Pt. 5 – Nelson, NV

When my husband and I first started planning this trip, I knew that one place I definitely wanted to see was Nelson, Nevada.  I had seen many wonderful photographs of this area and it was a must do for me.

Nelson lies about 25 miles from Boulder City, NV so it makes it a great place to visit after a trip to the Hoover Dam.  The area is rich in history and sparse in population.  During its heyday, Nelson was an area that was home to one of the first gold strikes in the area.  Spaniards who first made gold discoveries called the area Eldorado.  The mines in the area produced several million dollars in gold, silver, copper and lead from 1858-1945.  Now most of the people have left and all that remains are a few private homes and a mine tour business.  The mine tour business operates out of an old Texaco building.

Nelson - Texaco Station

Eldorado Canyon Mine Tours are the caretakers for the “Nelson Ghost Town”.  A few movies including 3000 Miles to Graceland where shot at this location.  This site is eye-candy for photographers!  There are many old buildings and cars littering the landscape.  The current owners have placed items in such a way that are quite aesthetically pleasing.  Its not a true ghost town in the sense that it is kept up and some of the buildings are newer but made too look old.  There are many great artifacts and antiques that look perfect in the settings.  If visiting, be sure to stop into the store to check in before looking around outside and be respectful of the property.  The caretakers also live on site. Based on my research, there is a fee for professional photographers as this is a popular place for photo shoots.  There was actually a model shoot going on while we were there.

Nelson - All Lined Up

Nelson - Desert Trucks

Nelson - Desert Refreshments

Nelson - Chevron Gas Station

Nelson - Chevy Truck

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Jersey Goes West Pt. 4 – Valley of Fire (one last time)

Today is just a short post to finish up Valley of Fire.

When last I left you, we had visited the White Domes at the end of White Domes Rd.  We drove back towards the main road towards the East entrance.  On the way we passed the Seven Sisters which are seven lone, tall rocks.  There  is a little picnic area in this spot.  We continued onwards toward The Cabins and Lone Rock.

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This image was taken near Lone Rock which is kind of what it sounds like.  It is a large lone rock which a picnic area has been set up near.  We hiked back towards a little canyon and took a picture inside one of the little mini caves that dot the rockscape within VOF.

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The light was fading, but I wanted to see the Cabins, which I had missed during my visit last December.

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These cabins were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 to provide shelter for travelers and campers that came to visit the newly established Valley of Fire State Park.

I originally had planned to bring my tripod for some sunset shots but totally forgot it in the hotel room!  This one was captured hand held as the sun started going down.

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It was a beautiful end to our day at Valley of Fire State Park!

Jersey Goes West Pt. 3 – Valley of Fire (continued)

After hiking to Mouse’s Tank, we returned to the car and continued up White Domes Road  to Rainbow Vista.  Rainbow Vista is a provides a great colorful panoramic view of the area.

Rainbow Vista View

There is a short hiking trail in area.  The trail led to this beautiful multi-colored rock formation.  This is what Valley of Fire is all about!

 

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We hiked back to the car.  Next stop,  Silica Dome and Fire Canyon.  Off White Domes Road is Fire Canyon Road.  A short drive up Fire Canyon Road leads to a view of Fire Canyon and Silica Dome.  There is a small lookout area but no hiking trails in this area.

Fire Canyon

The sandstone formations that are prevalent in Valley of Fire are made from grains that are almost pure silica. Silica Dome is the best example in the park of such a deposit. The change in color towards the base of the dome occurs when small amounts of iron in the rock produce the rust stain color.

Silica Dome

After our visit to Silica Dome, we made our way to the Fire Wave.   The Fire Wave hike is about an hour long  out and back and it is not recommended (actual warnings posted at the trail head) to do this hike in hot weather.  We took water with us and planned to only go a short way.

The trail starts with a downhill trail going towards this large rock formation.

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We walked along the large sandstone outcropping and soon found this beautiful formation.

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This flat smooth sand stone was made up of the most vivid beautiful colors.  Pictures really don’t do it justice.  At this point, we decide to just do the whole hike.  We didn’t know when we would be able to make a trip back here and we felt good despite the heat.

The only way to follow the trail at this point were cairn markers that were set up on the rock.

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After a half mile of hiking, we finally came to the Fire Wave.  What an awesome natural piece of artwork!

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After a little rest, we hiked the half mile back to the car.  The hike back was a little more tough since it was uphill.  I am so glad we did it though! It was about 5 pm by this time.  We hopped back on the road and drove to the end of White Domes Road to see……the White Domes of course!

The sun was getting lower in the sky and the lighting wasn’t that great so my images reflect that.

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There is a hiking trail in the area but we were both pretty beat from the Fire Wave hike so we enjoyed the view close to the car.

I thought I could wrap up Valley of Fire in 2 parts, but that’s all the time I have tonight.  Stay tuned for more!

Jersey Goes West Pt. 2: Valley of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire State Park lies about an hour outside Las Vegas off Interstate 15 at Exit 75.  There was a $10 entry fee to the park.  I highly recommend having a full day to explore the park.  I visited last December for a few hours and only had time to see a few sites.  I knew I wanted to go back to explore more and my husband has had this park on his list of must-sees for a while.

Valley of Fire gets its name from the large red sandstone rock formations that are found in the park.  These rock formations were formed by huge shifting sand dunes during the age of dinosaurs, 150 million years ago.  The valley was home to the Basket Maker people and later, the Anasazi Pueblo farmers.  Prehistoric petroglyphs are visible in many sections of the park.

We left Vegas shortly after 8 am and arrived at VOF a little before 10 since we had to stop at a grocery store to load up on water, ice, a cooler and some snacks.  There is only one gas station/convenience store close to the west entrance of the park.  Bring food if you want to eat while there.  The visitor centers sells some drinks and packaged snacks but is very limited.

The day was already getting quite hot and was already close to 90 degrees when we arrived.  The first area we visited was the Scenic Loop Road.  It is a short (2 mile), mostly paved loop that passes two main sites of interest, Arch Rock and Atlatl Rock.

Scenic Loop Road - VOF
Scenic Loop Road – VOF

Arch Rock is the first site you pass on Scenic Loop Road.  We got out to do a short walk in the area.

Arch Rock - VOF
Arch Rock – VOF

While we were hiking in this area, I heard some rustling in the bushes near the rock outcroppings.  I couldn’t see what was back there and I all could think of was “I hope there isn’t a mountain lion back there.”  I then heard a loud thwacking sound and the rustling stopped.  All of a sudden out of the bushes popped out a few Bighorn Sheep.  They were way too quick for my camera.  I only saw their butt ends as they disappeared around the corner of the rocks.

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Hiking near Arch Rock – VOF
Dan has caught the camera bug!
Dan has caught the camera bug!

Next stop was Atlatl Rock.  This one site enables you to get a close look at the prehistoric petroglyphs.  The park service has constructed stairs so you can climb up the rock to view the artwork.

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Atlatl Rock Marker
Atlatl Rock
Atlatl Rock
Atlatl Petroglyphs
Panoramic View from Atlatl Rock
Panoramic View from Atlatl Rock

There is a picnic area at Atlatl Rock.  These cute little antelope ground squirrels were quite bold and begging people for food.  Unfortunately, too many people were obliging.

Antelope Ground Squirrel cools itself.
Antelope Ground Squirrel cools itself.
Antelope Ground Squirrel
Antelope Ground Squirrel

After a quick visit to the visitor’s center, we drove up White Domes Road to hike the Petroglyph Canyon Trail.

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This 3/4 mile round-trip trail leads to Mouse’s Tank.  Mouse’s Tank is a natural basin within the rocks that collects rainwater.  The water can last in the basin for months and had quite a bit of water when we took a peek.  Mouse’s Tank gets its name from an 1890’s outlaw who was believed to survive in the desert by using the water in the tank.

The Petroglyph Trail to Mouse's Tank
The Petroglyph Trail to Mouse’s Tank

The tank is located in the triangle shaped area towards the bottom of the picture.

Mouse's Tank
Mouse’s Tank

This out and back hike is an easy mostly flat hike  to the tank.  Keep your eye out for numerous petroglyphs along the trail.  It was a bit tough this day as the temp by this time had reached 100 degrees.  We took water with us and were fine, but be mindful and know what your body can do especially in hot weather!

More from Valley of Fire coming up! I will also be posting additional pictures on my Flickr page which can be accessed on the side bar of this blog.

Jersey Goes West Pt. 1 – Welcome to Vegas!

Wow!  It has been since March since I last made a post.  Well, I am going to change that.  My husband and I just returned from a whirlwind trip out west.  We had a blast!  During our visit to Nevada and California, we made it to 3 National Parks, 1 national forest (2 if you count that Yosemite is within the Sierra National Forest), 1 State Park, 2 national monuments/sites, 1 national wildlife refuge and 2 ghost towns. We also made it to the Pacific ocean and threw in a visit to Disneyland for good measure. I may be forgetting something in that list.  We were definitely able to check some sites off our bucket list although many we hope to revisit someday.  I am going to write about our travels weekly and show you the sites that we were able to visit.  Hopefully I will be able to do a post or two a week as I wade through my 2000+ images I took.

I am a bit lacking for pictures for the first part of the trip.  We left Philadelphia early on a Sunday morning.  We had an uneventful direct flight to Las Vegas via Southwest.  We picked up our car rental for the next 11 days.

Welcome to Las Vegas!

It was early in the day ( in Vegas) but we were getting hungry.  It was too early to check into our room at the Luxor, so we parked in the lot and walked over to New York, New York and had lunch at the Irish Pub.

After lunch, we took a ride to see Count’s Kustoms showroom, home to the show Counting Cars.  The showroom is a little small but there is no admission fee and it is only a few minutes off the strip.  It was worth a quick trip over too see some of the cars that they made over on the show.  They allow you to take all the photos you want but no video.  Photo credit for the following photos goes to Daniel Adams.  I didn’t bring my camera into the showroom.

Count's KustomsCount's Kustoms BannerCount's Kustoms Mustang GT350Count's Kustom Lamborghini Countach

By the time we finished at CK, it was time to go back to the hotel for check-in and a much needed nap!  Later in the evening, we took a walk on the strip to check out some of the sites.  We didn’t spend too much time in Vegas this trip so I don’t have too many pictures there.

A few quick images from the evening…

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We had an early morning ahead of us so we called it a night pretty early.  Stay tuned for my next – Valley of Fire State Park.

Updated Info for Music Festival This Weekend!

Hello All!  I hope you are having a wonderful summer!  I was super excited to recently have my first raspberry harvest!  Raspberry plants,  somehow seeded themselves along one of my fences and this year we had our first harvest!

Raspberries

I have been super busy preparing for my first art festival.  In my previous blog post, I posted info for the Equus Ferrus Caballus Arts and Music Festival.  The venue for this event has changed and will be held at the South Jersey All-Breeds Horse Rescue, 5745 Pleasant Milld Rd, Weekstown, New Jersey.  The prices are the same $20 per day, $40 for the two days with camping.  Some of the last minute details are still being hashed out, so check to facebook event page for up to the minute details!  The event is BYOB but no outside food.  There will be food available and the food is one of the main fundraisers for the rescue.  There will be 30+ bands over two days plus different vendors.

Two beautiful thoroughbreds currently awaiting adoption at the horse South Jersey Horse Rescue.
Two beautiful thoroughbreds currently awaiting adoption at the horse South Jersey Horse Rescue.

Again, mention my blog and I will give you 20% off a matted 8×10 or 5×7 print!

Upcoming Art Events!

First things first….I have really been neglecting my blog!  I have  my very first event coming up, so I have been very busy matting and framing my photos.  Since this is my first event, I am starting at the beginning and am trying to create an inventory to display in my space.

My first event will be the Equus Ferus Caballus Music and Arts Festival to be held at the Egg Harbor Lake Campground in Egg Harbor City, NJ on July 19th and 20th. This event will benefit the South Jersey Horse Rescue which is where we adopted our beautiful Clydesdale, Theoden.  There will be bands playing all day both Saturday and Sunday along with a variety of vendors and artists.  There will also be fireworks at the campground in the evening.  Tickets are $20 for one day or $40 for a two-day pass that includes camping and swimming.  Children are half-price.  For more info, check out the facebook event : Equus Ferus Caballus Arts and Music Festival

Theoden, our rescued Clydesdale
Theoden, our rescued Clydesdale

My second event will be at the Kirby’s Mill Annual Art Show and Sale on Sunday, August 3, 2014 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm at Kirby’s Mill, 275 Church Road at Fostertown Road, Medford, NJ 08055

Kirby's Mill, Medford, NJ

Come to either event and mention my blog and I will give you 20% off a 5×7 or 8×10 matted print!