When I left the Tetons I headed south to Moab, figuring it had to be warmer there. When I got to Moab late on Thursday afternoon, all the BLM campgrounds were full so I decided to go to the bare bones place just off 191 where I’ve seen lots of rigs with ATVs/ORVs parked. Turns out the land owner has realized he has a good spot there so it is now set up as a basic campground. Pros, large sites, level, small gravel, neat and clean, $15/night. Cons, if you need any amenities don’t bother. No water, shade or dump, 1 portapotty. Since the Casita is self contained, I use solar and it wasn’t an extremely hot time of the year the site worked fine for me. It is also very close to the entrance to Arches and to Moab so instead of traveling several miles in windy roads it was very convenient, worth it to me. The site is backed by grand high red cliffs and a nice spot for the sunset and early morning images.
I’ve been to Arches and posted images from those visits so this time I decided to concentrate on other places. Also, the park is open only Friday and Saturdays nights now because of road work and both nights were cloudy. Anyhow, I drove out 128 along the Colorado River one morning and made several stops. Not only was I enjoying the day time drive I was scouting for night images, too. I’d been through Castle Valley once several years ago and wanted to check it out, too.
Back near the campground I was able to find a good spot for some Milky Way images, too.
Click here for more images
On my way to Yellowstone I stopped in the Tetons for only 4 nights. Got another great site at Gros Ventre CG. There is a lot of smoke around, sometimes you could be at the south end of the Tetons and couldn’t even see the north end of the range. Last year the fires were raging in both Yellowstone and GTNP, this year they are not in the parks but still affecting them.
The second night I was there it was wonderfully clear so I went out to see what I could photograph. First stop was one of the old Mormon barns. There were a couple of guys there already and they were using some LED flashlights to light the barn. Not the best light since it tends to be a very cold white but I warmed it up a bit in the processing.
The night was so clear I wanted to take advantage of it so I headed down to Schwabacher’s Landing unsure if the setting would work or not. Yes! Just the spot to capture the Milky Way over the calm waters.
Bullard Beach SP is a really good location to use as a base. The campground itself is really nice and it’s handy to so many interesting places. Soon after I arrived I took a drive up to the Charleston area, to Sunset Beach SP and Simpson’s Reef. Photographing wildlife is always a draw for me and I spent about 3 hours watching the sea lions (both California and Stellar) and seals (harbor seals and Northern Elephant
Northern Elephant Seals
seals). The N.E. seals were pretty lethargic, laying on the beach and occasionally using their flippers to toss sand on themselves. I never did get to see one in the water but the others were having a great time of it.
Bandon has lots of sea stacks and good access to the local beaches. Yesterday there were some harbor seals resting on a large rock so I was able to get a few images.
This morning there were some clouds with sunlight breaking through so I spent some time photographing some of the sea stacks. I haven’t used ND filters much and decided it would be good to play around with them. Very interesting results I think.
Click here for more images
My last night on the road before getting to Goosenecks SP in UT was at a small campground in Bernalillo, NM, just north of Albuquerque. Each campsite has electric
Coronado RV park, Bernalillo, NM
hookup with water nearby. What caught my eye was the special shade shelters each site has over their picnic tables.
I decided to try to get into Goosenecks SP in UT because I’d heard so many good things about it. It is dry camping with no shade and no water available but if you arrive prepared you can really relax and enjoy it. It is named because over millions of years the San Juan river has carved deeply into the desert rock making several unique goosenecks. We did see some rafters on the river. I think they put in at Bluff and given the distance to be covered it must be an all day trip at least to get to the take out.
I met some really nice folks at the campground, campers like me. One group was in a borrowed coach and they hosted campfires every night. On Friday we were able to watch the ISS (International Space Station) pass overhead. I didn’t think to get my camera out but did 2 nights later and captured it. Another camper here was an experienced astronomer with a large telescope. His knowledge of the stars was impressive and he invited folks to view various planets and stars each night.
One gentleman expressed an interest when I mentioned photographing the Milky Way
Milky Way over Goosenecks SP, UT
so I helped him get started with night photography. I think he’s hooked now!
This has been a really good place to spend a few days and I look forward to staying in touch with my new friends.
Click here for more images
When I was at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico last November I met a nice couple (from NM) with ties to the Lake Panasoffkee area (about 25 miles from my home). I suggested they get in touch if/when they came down later in the winter.
They did and since Bob is an avid photographer he suggested we rent a boat and go out on the river to see what we could find. Great idea! Fortunately he is familiar with the river and outboard motors and was willing to navigate. As we started out there were osprey working on a nest. We started out on a small inlet into Lake Panasoffkee and headed west towards the Withlacoochee River via Princess Lake.
We saw quite a few birds, but getting sharp images was a challenge since the boat was in motion 99% of
the time, either because we were going forward or drifting in the current. It called for fast shutter speeds and a steady hand (no tripod). I got many more blurred images than sharp ones but it was a good day over all. We saw only a couple of other boats, fishermen.
There was a good variety of wading birds and many Red Shouldered Hawks.
Red Shouldered Hawk
Some of the birds were very skittish, others much less disturbed as we went by or slowed to watch them.
Black Crowned Night Heron
Black Crowned Night Herons are very difficult to capture so we were very pleased this one didn’t take off immediately when we slowed and circled near it.
We also ventured into a couple of sloughs looking for birds, didn’t see any
other than a few ibis in among the cypress but the waters were very still and we took advantage of that to get some nice reflections.
We were rather surprised that the only osprey we saw were right at the start, none along the river or small lake and we only saw 3 gators. I suppose the gators were there but staying down in the water nice and warm since it was rather chilly.
Click here for more images
Up and out at dawn to see the cranes fly out from the safe pond where they overnight, three mornings so far and each one slightly different.
Later in the day I did another drive around the loops and happened on a Mule Deer doe with a fawn. A lit
tle ways past them I noticed a couple of Javelinas in the ditch on the right side of the road. I slowed down to see if they would emerge, then stopped and got out of the truck. I stayed near the front end but watched all around. Just spotted two of the critters as they had crossed the road and went into the brush. But, the third one took its time and I managed to get a couple of good images. Charming critter, huh?
Stopped in at the Visitor Center and looked around, lots of good info there! Very nice shop, too. I’ve made a practice of collecting a pin and patch at each national park, wildlife refuge or similar place I’ve visited so I got those.
Later in the afternoon, after a brief rain I went back into the refuge and was treated to a bright bit of rainbow.
Got one image over some of the water then moved along the road and got another with some snow geese (the white line you can see) in the frame.
I was parked at the side of the road and four cranes came pretty close (the t
ruck makes a great blind if you are quiet and just stick the camera lens out the window). A beanbag thing I made years ago worked great over the edge of the window to rest the lens on.
End of the day I went back into the refuge hoping to catch a good sunset. Wonderful way to wrap up the day!