Friday, May 17, 2019

Petrified Forest

I drove to Tucson last month to visit my son Brian and his wife Laura.  On the way back I took an extra day to explore Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook, Arizona.  There are two main attractions there, the painted desert and the petrified forest.  Here is the story of the Petrified Forest.


Some people think they are going to see a standing forest here, but the trees turned to stone after they fell and were washed downstream and buried during the late Triassic period around 200 million years ago.



As millions of years passed, the buried logs absorbed water and silica from volcanic ash which crystallized into quartz which often kept some of the logs’ details.


Spectacular colors were added by various minerals.  The colors in this photo have not been altered.


The crystallized logs were harder than the soil where they were buried.  Over time, erosion removed the surrounding dirt and the logs surfaced.  Sometimes the logs helped reduce the erosion under them, leaving them balanced on a narrow ridge.


Many of the huge logs look like they have been sectioned with a chainsaw.  This happened when they were still buried and earth movement caused forces that snapped the crystallized logs like breaking glass rods.

The petrified logs are mostly in the southern part of the park, but if you go be sure to see the painted desert in the north as well.

I hope you enjoy the photos, but remember they are copyrighted.  Please don’t use them without permission.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Bear Lake Monster Encounter


I should have written about my encounter with the Bear Lake monster just after it happened, but I didn’t want trouble from the skeptics.  But since Idaho Magazine published my article about the event in the February 2019 issue, the secret is out.  I might as well talk about it.

It was a dark and stormy night.  Well actually, evening just after sunset, and Linda and I were camped at Bear Lake State Park on the east side of the lake in Idaho during July 2018.  A storm was dropping beautiful sheets of rain on the western mountains across the lake.  I set up my camera on a tripod to photograph the storm and hopefully get a lightning strike.  It got darker and darker, so my exposures got longer and finally I got a photo of some lightning.  The wind got stronger, indicating the storm was getting closer, so I knew I had to leave to avoid the lightning.  But just as I got ready to pack up the tripod I saw something leaping and bounding across the water coming right at me!  My first thought was the famous Bear Lake monster was coming to get me.  What else could it be?

I started taking photos as it got closer and closer, but it was dark and my photos of the charging monster were all blurry because of the long exposures.  The monster hit the beach nearly at my feet.  It was a giant black inflatable turtle that must have blown all the way across the lake from the west shore eight miles away.  Heart pounding, I packed up my gear and returned to our trailer just as the rain hit.


During the night a second thunderstorm hit, and when I looked for the turtle the next morning it was gone.  The wind must have blown it to Wyoming.

I’m glad the folks at Idaho Magazine thought enough of this yarn to publish it, and I got a kick out of telling the story.

Please remember, my photos are copyrighted and must not be used without permission.  I usually charge a reasonable fee to use them, except for charitable or academic purposes.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Sun Dog


A sun dog is an atmospheric phenomenon that creates patches of light about 22° to the side of the sun.  Usually we see them on cold clear mornings here in the Bear Lake Valley, but this one showed up in the middle of a misty afternoon.

Suns dogs, or parhelia, are created by sunlight refracting through icy clouds of hexagonal crystals.  I was out looking for photo opportunities with Bruce Grayum when we saw this one from a back road near Georgetown, Idaho.  The cows didn’t seem impressed by the huge apparition in the sky near their pasture, but they did provide scale to show the size the sun dog.
It was a cold day, 9° F as we continued to explore.  We stopped at the bridge over the Bear River on the Nounan road and saw the sun dog again, but this time no clear sky was visible at all.  I liked the reflected light in the river.
Sometimes the arcs of light form a complete halo around the sun, and some have faint rainbows of color like this one.  Photographing them can be tricky because the camera must be pointed directly at the sun.  A clean lens is needed to prevent flares, and there is danger of getting a burned retina.  If your camera has it, live view might be a good option.
Our last stop was along Creamery Lane between Georgetown and Nounan where the sun dog appeared in icy mist over a winter landscape of drifts and sagebrush.  Shooting into the sun causes the lens to stop down, darkening the photo, but if the exposure is lengthened, the sun dog seems to blend with the sky and disappear.  I think the darkened exposure presents an other-worldly appearance anyway.

Why are they called “sun dogs”?  No one knows for sure, but the term has been around since the 1600’s and the origin seems to be lost in time.  Some say it is because the "dogs" follow the sun around.

I hope you like this post, but please do not use my copyrighted photos without permission.