Sunset in the Coconino National Forest, looking northeast toward Sedona, AZ, 4/17/15

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Many Moods of Moab,
May 2015

One of the benefits of being a snowbird is getting to experience a place in nature throughout a variety of conditions.  Here are some photos that show some of the moods of Moab during our stay throughout most of May 2015.

Spectacular sunsets were not a regular event in Moab like other places
I've camped at in the desert southwest.  So beautiful.  5/2/15 

Even with cloudy skies and an inferior camera, the full moon rising over
the Manti-La Sal Mountains is an awesome sight.  5/3/15 
According to the locals, the weather this Spring has been much more
stormy than usual.  I was fortunate to capture this rainbow.  5/6/15 

Courthouse Wash, about a half mile walk, with a storm brewing over
the Manti-La Sal Mountains in the distance.   5/15/15  

Amazing rock formations, cloudy skies, vultures circling ...
an instance of nature of Moab, Willow Springs.  5/15/15 

An abandoned windmill that once pumped water for
cattle from Willow Springs.  5/15/15 

Walking back to camp from Willow Spring at Courthouse Wash.  5/15/15 

Our camp on the lower left, under the distant cliffs
which tower over Hwy 191.   5/15/15

We weren't alone.  Sometimes other folks showed up in the most
unexpected ways.  Here, a hot air balloon launched just south of us.  5/24/15  

Then floated directly overhead.  5/24/15 

Memorial weekend, many other campers converged on the area.
But, by Monday evening almost everyone had left.
It was too many people, motorized toys, and generators for a while.  5/25/15

Meet one of our hosts.  Raven surveys his home from the vantage
of grandpa juniper tree.  I thank him for his hospitality.  5/25/15 

My last night:  Alpenglow on the Manti-La Sal Mountains in the east.   5/25/15

And the warm colors of sunset in the west.  5/25/15 

Returning to camp from one last walk to the wash this morning.
Almost fully empty of campers, except us.  5/26/15 

What a treat to have spent May in Moab.  Even with the stormy weather, I'd do it all over again ... except for the Memorial weekend crowds.  :)

Also, check out Bob's informative post and beautiful photos on our Moab, Utah Campsite.  

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Arches National Park,
May 2015

We've been camping in Moab since the first of May.  To say the least, the red rocks that surround us are spectacular in their color, texture, shapes, and enormity.   Arches National Park in Moab exemplifies these red rock fantasy forms.

In 2010, during my 6 month tour of the National Parks, I visited Arches.  But, when Bob invited me to tag along on one of his photo sessions into the park, I readily agreed.  It's hard to get too much of a good thing.  We went to the Windows District.  Here are some of the scenes I was able to capture.


Petrified Sand Dunes in front of the Manti-LaSal Mountains.
As viewed  on the drive into Arches NP.  5/11/15 

Close up of Petrified Sand Dunes in Arches NP with  the 
North Window and Turret Arch in the far distance. 5/11/15

Walking toward the North Window and Turret Arch.  5/11/15 

Hiking up the steps toward the North Window.
Look closely at the people standing under it for a
sense of scale.  5/11/15 

The view of the other side of Turret Arch
as taken from the North Window.  5/11/15 

On the other side of the parking lot from the hike to the North Window is the rock formations called the Parade of Elephants.  Do you see them?

Parade of Elephants, Windows District, Arches NP.  5/11/15 
  

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Amazing Monument Valley

In reading back over my posts, I realize I use the word "amazing" a lot.  And not without warrant.  I have seen, and tried to show in my photographs some spectacular sites.  That being said, I can't think of a better word than "amazing" to describe Monument Valley, absolutely amazing.  The gigantic size of each of the monuments -- mesas, buttes, spires -- combined with their placement and number, sets this place apart from anywhere else I've explored.

Because of the vastness of the landscape, many of these photos are very wide.  This makes them smaller and hard to see within the post.  To enlarge in a separate window, please click on the photo.

West Mitten Butte, East Mitten Butte and Merrick Butte from the deck
 of the Visitors Center.  The 2-lane dirt road below takes visitors
17 miles around the valley.  To get a sense of scale, there's a white van on the left,
below the thumb of West Mitten Butte.  4/28/15

We decided to camp in the valley for several days.  Bob's van is on the left
in front of the distant Sentinel Mesa.  My car on the right.  4/28/15  

At my campsite, the view out of my front windshield.
It took my breath away each day we were there.  4/28/15 

At my campsite, horses free range.  4/28/15 

View from my campsite, the Visitors Center below Mitchell Mesa.  4/28/15 

Aglow at sunset.  4/28/15
 
Silhouetted at sunrise  4/30/15


Sentinel Mesa from the Valley Drive Loop.  4/30/15


West Mitten Butte from the Valley Drive Loop.  4/30/15

John Ford's Point, the director's favorite camera location in Monument Valley.
Many of his movies starred John Wayne.  Valley Drive Loop.  4/30/15  


Vista from Artist's Point, Valley Drive Loop.  4/30/15  

Left to Right:  Three Sisters, Mitchell Mesa, Camel Butte
on the Valley Drive Loop.  4/30/15   

View from the North Window Overlook on the Valley Drive Loop.  4/30/15  

I feel honored to have witnessed this absolutely amazing place.

Also, check out Bob's blog and spectacular photos of Monument Valley  -- http://www.cheaprvliving.com/blog/summer-travel-2015-monument-valley/.

Goosenecks State Park

After spending more than a month at our campsite in the Prescott National Forest, it was time to head out for new places.  There were 5 of us in camp at that time -- myself, Bob, Steve, Bryce and Mike. To hang out with the guys felt just like home as I was raised with 4 brothers.  Every one except myself and Bob would be staying in Prescott for a while.  Bryce would soon be heading north to see family, Steve to keep healing up, and Mike would be helping with Zeke (Steve's dog).

Our destination was Monument Valley.  But, we over-nighted at Utah's Goosenecks State Park.

Our camps on a side road in Goosenecks State Park, looking east.
The setting sun shining on the distant cliffs.  Bob's van on the left and
my Prius on the right.  4/27/15  

A wide angle photo is about the only way to convey the expanse of
this landscape as the setting sun highlights the eastern cliffs.  A distant
rock monolith is silhouetted on the right.  Click on photo to enlarge. 4/27/15

Goosenecks State Parks is so named for how the San Juan River
meanders in gooseneck like "S" curves in that area.  Here is one
of those curves.  4/28/15  

And here is another gooseneck curve.  4/28/15 

Click on this link to check out Bob's review and photos of Goosenecks State Park.

On our way to overnight at Goosenecks, we passed by Monument Valley.  I was immediately awestruck by the monolithic size of the rock formations from a distance.  I'd seen them in many western movies, but had no idea just how humongous they were.  I was excited to get to spend some time among them.

Next stop: Monument Valley.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Five Days Around Sedona

From April 17th to 22nd, I left our camp in the Prescott National Forest to check out the sights, and to visit with friends and family.  My first stop was to join the camp of some friends in the Coconino National Forest between Sedona and Cottonwood, off of Highway 89A.

This view was spectacular on my first night,
looking east from my new camp in the Coconino National Forest.    4/17/15  

Cattle free range in the part of the Coconino NF where I was camped.
A couple of mornings, they ate their way in front of my car.
Here are two mamas and their babies.  4/19/15  

I enjoyed spending time with friends, visiting, laughing, and getting my hair trimmed.  On the 22nd I left that camp to do laundry and take a couple of scenic drives around Sedona.  My first drive was to continue north from Sedona on Highway 89A which goes into Oak Creek Canyon.  I didn't get too many photos on this drive as the road was narrow, windy with few places to pull off.

The first part of the drive north on 89A from Sedona featured
amazing red rocks.  4/22/15

Between Sedona and Flagstaff, Highway 89A switchbacks out of
Oak Creek Canyon to an amazing vista.  4/22/15  

Driving south on 89A within the historic part of Sedona, the shops look
out on a view used in several motion pictures.
Placards about various movies are attached to the railing.  4/22/15  

Next I took the Red Rock Scenic Byway (State Route 179) where the rock formations were nothing short of amazing.   I don't know all of their names, but I'll include those I do.  

Driving south from Sedona on 179.  4/22/15 

Courthouse Butte with northbound 179 below.  4/22/15 

Bell Rock, driving south on 179.  4/22/15 

The Prius is dwarfed.  4/22/15  

Driving south on 179.  4/22/15  

Bell Rock in middle.  Courthouse Butte on right.  4/22/15  

Courthouse Butte.  4/22/15  

 Bell Rock.  4/22/15 


Another view of Courthouse Butte.  4/22/15  

Another view of Bell Rock.  4/22/15  

Chapel of the Holy Cross built into a butte in Sedona.  4/22/15   

For my last night before heading back to Prescott NF, I stayed on some BLM land in Cottonwood. At sunrise, I recognized the rush of sound of a hot air balloon.  

1 of 4:  My campsite in Cottonwood.  Find the hot air balloon peaking over the ridge.  4/23/15  

2 of 4:  Hot air balloon as it makes its way towards camp.  4/23/15  

3 of 4:  Hot air balloon gains altitude as it drifts past.  4/23/15  

4 of 4:  Good bye hot air balloon.  4/23/15  

Later that day I got to visit with one of my brothers and his wife, Ray and Kay.  A couple of years ago they sold everything except what they could get on their Harley.  Now, they travel around, camping and renting rooms in the areas they want to explore and enjoy.

Brother Ray and Sister-In-Law Kay, enjoying the scenic overlook
above Jerome on 89A.  4/23/15  

Irises picked for me by Kay, adorning my car.  4/26/15