Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Angel Lake Scenic Byway, Nevada

Most people zooming across Nevada on Highway 80 don’t think there is much to see in the state, but Angel Lake Scenic Byway might change their minds.

It would be hard to beat the fall color I saw here on this trip.  I stopped for the night at Angel Creek campground along the byway near Wells, Nevada, and in the morning drove the rest of the road to Angel Lake.  The entire byway is just 12 miles long, but in that distance the elevation rises from about 5600 to 8400 feet.  The last four miles are narrow and winding with sheer drop-offs, so I left the trailer in camp.  The views were spectacular.

The road ends at Angel Lake, which is pretty, but can’t compare to the amazing fall color along the road up the mountain.  This photo is a three shot panorama.
The lake is in the East Humboldt mountains in Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.  The road is open when the snow is gone, usually from May through October.  There is a great view of the Clover Valley, far below.
Most of the spectacular color comes from aspen trees.  The orange and yellow color variations and occasional bare trees are a photographer’s dream.  Isolating the trees from the mountains creates a tapestry of color.
This was the beginning of my 46th trip in 35 years of camping with my California photo friends, and it was a great start.

My photos are copyrighted, so please do not use them for any purpose without my permission.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Port Orford, Oregon, Dolly Harbor

Linda and I have been visiting the southern Oregon coast for a week.  We rented a house at the beach in Gold Beach and used it as a base to explore the surrounding area.
  Since then, we have visited the small fishing harbor at Port Orford several times.
 We had two wonderful seafood dinners, enjoyed spectacular ocean views, and even photographed California gray whales, but what interested me most was the unique harbor.
Port Orford harbor is one of just six dolly ports in the world.  The port has no bar to cross, which allows boats to go out to sea more often than boats in other ports, but also means there isn’t a safe place to dock.  So the boats are hoisted out of the water with huge cranes and placed on dollies for storage on the pier.  How do they get the boats onto the pier?

A crane lifts the boat out of the water,

It swings the boat toward the home-made dolly.

Men line it up with the dolly using ropes.

The boat is lowered carefully.

The 25 ton capacity crane is unhooked.

A little pickup is hooked up to tow the boat to its parking place on the pier.

These boats are used to catch crab, rock fish, cod, salmon, sea urchin, and more.  I’ll bet some of their catch went to Griff’s restaurant right there on the pier.  Wonderful fresh seafood!

Remember, my photos are copyrighted and cannot be used without my permission.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ant Basin, Idaho

The Bear Lake Valley is bordered by National Forests on two sides.  Recently my friend, Jim Parker showed me some high country on the west side of the valley that was new to me.  Since then, I drove back to the same area with my wife, Linda, and again with another friend, Bruce Grayum.

My favorite location on this drive is a ridge in the Ant Basin area (Caribou County).  It is an open T shaped rocky knob with an amazing view toward the next valley to the west.  There were thousands of Indian paintbrush in bloom; hundreds of times more than I have seen anywhere else.  I believe that the eroding rock of the mountaintop created soil that must be ideal for paintbrush.

There were plenty of other wildflowers too, like this lupine.  All of these photos were taken in a small area at the top of the T.  On the third visit I intended to shoot more on a flower covered hillside at one end of the T, but the paintbrush were fading and a thunderstorm chased us away.

Most of the paintbrush were orange or red, but I did find one sulphur paintbrush.

This shows how the flowers were growing in pockets of soil between the rocks.

The roads to Ant Basin are dirt and rock, with some mud after rainstorms.  They are narrow and steep in places, and the climb is about 2300 feet above the Bear Lake Valley.  The rocky knob is not a good place to be in a thunderstorm.

The Indian paintbrush were a wonderful backdrop for other flowers like these lupine.

We saw a variety of wildflowers along the roads as well, and they changed with the elevation.  There was also wildlife including deer, hawks, and one uncooperative weasel.

I haven’t explored anywhere near all the roads in our nearby National Forests.  I need to get out more.

Please note that my photos are copyrighted and should not be used without permission.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Steptoe Butte Revisited

I visited Steptoe Butte in 2013 on my annual camping trip with Bruce Gregory and Steve Johnson, and liked it enough to revisit with my wife, Linda, this May.  This post is about 6 weeks late because I’ve been on another annual camping trip.  Having fun gets in the way of timely posts.

The view from Steptoe Butte varies from month to month as new crops are planted and others are harvested.  On this visit, we saw patterns created by combinations of bare ground and growing crops.  The air was quite hazy, so these photos have been processed to increase clarity and contrast.

We stayed fairly late, so we were treated to some great sidelight touching beautiful farms nestled in green valleys.

The Palouse region of Washington is a remarkable area of gently rolling farmland.  We enjoyed photographing it from below (see previous posts) and Steptoe Butte gave us an entirely different view from above.  Large curvy fields became wonderful abstracts when viewed from here.

Since we were shooting across the tops of the fields, the best abstracts were usually fairly narrow, so I have cropped them.  But this image had two complementary abstracts that I think look pretty good together.

Sometimes I wonder if the farmers arrange their fields just for the benefit of photographers.  The view of these curvy fields from Steptoe Butte is just phenomenal, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Palouse.

However, I did have one complaint.  Steptoe Butte is a state park, and whoever is in charge of this place should be ashamed of the poor condition of the park.  We were there on the Memorial Day weekend, so it was crowded, and the garbage cans were overflowing and the restrooms unusable.  There are potholes big enough to swallow a Toyota.  Come on, Washington, you can do better than that.

Please note that my photos are copyrighted and must not be used without my permission.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Minidoka Pilgrimage

I’m on my 45th camping trip, in our 35th year with Bruce Gregory and Stephen Johnson, and we traveled to the Minidoka Japanese internment camp in Idaho, also called Camp Hunt.  We are all interested in western history, and since I had been there a few years ago I knew they would enjoy it.  It turned out to be an amazing experience.

When we arrived we found out that there were two special events in progress.  Former internees and their descendants were there by the busloads for an annual pilgrimage, and a new baseball field was being dedicated.  There were about 250 people present to remember the past, discuss the possibilities of this injustice happening again to other ethnic groups, and to look to the future of the camp.  Many came from the Seattle area, where a large number of internees originated in World War II.

Baseball was important to many of the 9000 people who were forced to live there, and the restoration of one of the fourteen ball fields was completed as a field-in-a-day project on May 28th and dedicated during our visit on June 26th.

 Several people there wore Camp Hunt baseball shirts.

Minidoka is run by the National Park Service, and at one time there was very little left of the site, but now parts of it are being restored.  There are still a few concrete slabs from original structures, and now buildings that were removed from the camp when it was closed are being located and moved back.  A guard tower replica has been constructed and interpretive signs have been put in place.  So, the National Park Service and Friends of Minidoka are working together to build a site that will help people understand the injustice that occurred here.

For now, artifacts from Minidoka are on display at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument visitor’s center, which is 38 miles away.  I hope that someday soon an on-site visitor’s center will be completed.

A highlight of the visit for me was the placing of origami peace cranes on a barbed wire rack.  People wrote their thoughts and dedications on the cranes before tying them to the rack.

The day was a moving experience for everyone there, and I feel that we stumbled on an important piece of Idaho history.

See my blog post about Topaz for a brief explanation of internment camps.

Remember to ask permission before using my copyrighted photos for any purpose.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Palouse Back Roads, Washington

As I mentioned in my two previous posts, back roads are the way to go in the Palouse.  There is no traffic, it is easy to find a place to stop, and maybe you will discover a location that isn’t photographed very often.

Most of our Palouse photos were taken on dirt or gravel roads, and sometimes I found that the roads themselves were great photo opportunities.  This one was near Steptoe.

How did we decide which roads to take?  This one is Rim Rock Road near Colton, Washington.  In this case we just had a few minutes and took a turn at random near our B&B in Uniontown.

I like S-curves, and roads often have this great composition element.  We found this road near St John on a “Photographing the Palouse” brochure that highlighted barns, lone trees, windmills, and abandoned houses.

This is another dirt road near Steptoe.  The rolling hills and fields were wonderful to explore.  The best resource for finding back roads was a map of Whitman County, Washington that shows every little dirt track.  I picked it up at the county offices in Colfax on a previous trip.

I loved the way this road followed a bank covered with wildflowers that led right to a lone tree near Steptoe.  It is important to be cautious on these roads.  You will be a long way from help, and may not have cell phone coverage, so if you don’t have four wheel drive, keep out of mud holes and loose sand.  We didn’t take chances, and turned back twice in our four days in the Palouse, but we had a wonderful time.

As always, please do not use our photos for any reason without our permission.  Thanks.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Palouse Contours, Washington

The Palouse region of Washington is a remarkably beautiful area of rolling hills and well-kept farms.  Photographers enjoy patterns of green fields cultivated along the curves of these hills.  This is my second post from my recent trip with Linda.

We explored several areas looking for patterns in the cultivated hills.  These two photos were taken near Almota on the edge of the Snake River Canyon.  They are pretty good examples of how many of the fields are farmed wherever the hills aren’t too steep for machinery.  In fact, in many parts of the Palouse, special hillside combines are used.

These two photos were taken along back roads near Steptoe.  You can see what a wonderful effect cloud shadows have on the rolling hills.  Back roads are the best way to explore the Palouse because it is easy to stop anywhere without worrying about traffic.

The last two were taken very close together near the small town of St  John.  Very often two crops are planted on the same hill, for example, rows of garbanzo beans over wheat.  This often results in beautiful stripes or contrasting patterns.  This early in the year we found many fields with unplanted layers over lower bands of green.

It is a good idea to visit the Palouse in different seasons.  In the fall, harvest time brings out the big combines, and winter may add snow drifts to the curves.  The spring curves of new crops were just gorgeous.

Please respect my copyright, and do not use these photos without permission.