Tag Archives: travel

The Difference In Elevation

The next time you visit a place that has some elevation difference, take a moment to observe the other differences due to that elevation difference. For instance, notice the differences in these images here? The lowland forest interior, captured at the entrance to Westside Road in Mount Rainier National Park, looks deep and dark and is filled with lush vegetation like ferns and devils club along with dead logs and moss on parts of the trees. Sunlight makes its way into the forest in spots. Whereas the forest along Trail of Shadows in the Longmire Historic District looks – well – clearer, with more space in between the trees, less moss, and a clearer forest floor. Yes, there’s vegetation there, too, but as you can see, not quite as thick. In part because it’s not quite as wet as it is in the lowland forest, plus the difference in elevation between the Nisqually entrance and Longmire creates a difference in temperatures, too. Observation is key to getting nice photos, rather than just a grabshot.

Peering Into The Lowland Forest At Westside Road, Mount Rainier National Park
Looking Into A Smoky Forest Along The Trail Of Shadows, Longmire Historic Districe, Mount Rainier National Park

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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National Parks Quiz And Trivia #16 – The Road Edition

The Chisos Basin Road in Big Bend National Park (Texas)

According to the National Park Service, there are over 5,000 miles of paved roads through the National Park System. Park roads (paved or unpaved) allow us to reach amazing vistas we might not otherwise see within a national park, national monument, or national recreation area. These roads are marvels of construction and merit a nod of appreciation to those builders who may have risked life and limb to ensure completion of that navigable ribbon of gravel or pavement.

So, my latest quiz and trivia piece published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler is all about National Park unit roads, paved and unpaved, and what you can see along those roads. Why not test your knowledge of these roads by clicking on any of the photos. If you take the quiz, try to answer them first before looking at the answers at the bottom of the piece.

The road through Arches National Park (Utah)
The Rim Road as seen from the summit of Watchman Peak in Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)
The road through Denali National Park (Alaska)
Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park (Montana)
The Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway in Zion National Park (Utah)

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Waiting For Sunrise At Sunrise

Ok, I know it’s Tuesday, but the Labor Day holiday makes today feel like a Monday. Anyway, here’s a video for your Tuesday morning. I call it “Waiting For Sunrise At Sunrise.”

I’m trying to capture more videos when I visit the national parks. I tend to keep them relatively short because most readers’ attention spans aren’t that long, and most of the videos (99/9%) are captured with my iPhone 11 (it’s just easier and the iPhone does a nice job).

So, here’s a video I took while waiting for sunrise in the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park. I was at my favorite spot on Sourdough Ridge Trail. I’d like to capture sunrise looking the other way, instead of looking straight at The Mountain, someday, but the parking lot for that particular “other way” spot is always jam-packed and I don’t want to be standing cheek-by-jowl with others at this point in time.

Anyway, enjoy the almost-sunrise at the Sunrise area of the park.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, sunrise, Travel, video, Washington State

Since My Crater Lake Visit In July

The Kiss Of Dawn, Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park

I was trying to remember what I’d done/seen since my previous post about visiting Crater Lake National Park in July, and I had to go to my Facebook photography page to figure it all out.

Let’s see: I managed to visit Crater Lake just prior to all the stupid stuff people started doing there, like illegally hiking (slipping, sliding, rolling) down the very steep rim of Crater Lake to get to the shore (FYI there’s only one legal place to get down to the shore and that’s the Cleetwood Cove Trail). I also managed to visit prior to people defacating along the shoreline of the lake, flicking their cigarette butts into the lake, throwing underwear into the lake, and bringing their little paddle boards and other illegal watercraft to navigate the lake (illegal watercraft can have invasives like quagga mussels encrusted on their bottoms), all of which pollute the pristine waters of this amazingly blue lake that only gets its water from rain and snow and no sort of creek, stream, or river.

There’s a new kind of visitor to the national parks since the coronavirus pandemic: those people who are used to going to Wally World and waterparks and theme parks where there are restrooms and trash cans and food kiosks. These people don’t know how to conduct themselves in a national park, where there may not be those little conveniences. Unfortunately, there are not enough ranger staff to educate the ignorant, so environmental destruction has run wild in these places. While I think it’s great that more people discover the joys of being outside and exploring national parks, it would help if they visited the NPS.gov sites for these national parks to learn what they can and cannot do and can and cannot bring and at least care a little bit about keeping parks in good shape for future visits.

Since that Crater Lake visit, I’ve taken a short, mid-August trip to the Sunrise area of Mount Rainier National Park to fulfill a bucket list of goals such as photographing sunrise, sunset, and the Milky Way in that particular area of the park. I accomplished that and have written a photography article that should post late next week (Sept 4th) in the National Parks Traveler.

As for future plans, I am considering a trip in October to Redwoods National and State Parks to see (and photograph and report) if the California wildfires affected the redwoods there, but that remains up in the air at this point in time.

I still practice social distancing and wear a mask when out. Many people don’t do either, unfortunately. Until we have a valid, tested vaccine for Covid, I’ll continue doing that. Washington state has three face mask orders currently in place.

That’s pretty much it. In between writing photo articles and creating national parks quiz and trivia pieces for the Traveler, I help out around the house and yard and plan for future trips I may or may not take.

Stay safe out there, folks.

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Filed under coronavirus, covid-19, Crater Lake National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Travel

Photography In The National Parks: A Short Stay At Crater Lake

Crater Lake just after sunrise

If you read my previous article published in the National Parks Traveler, then you’ll know how I prepared for my photography trip to Crater Lake National Park during the Coronavirus pandemic. My latest article published by the Traveler is about the photography you can achieve within this park.

To read my photo article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Photography In The National Parks: Getting Out There With My Cameras During The Coronavirus Pandemic

The view from the summit of Watchman Peak in Crater Lake National Park

It is possible to take a safe and enjoyable trip into a national park, if you prepare and use some precautions. I returned alive and well (it’s been 14 days since my return) to write how I did it and what I saw at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.

To read the story published in the National Parks Traveler, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under coronavirus, covid-19, Crater Lake National Park, Equipment, health, Life, National Park Lodging, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Oregon, Photography, summer, Travel, Travel and Photography

Photography In The National Parks: My Final Fave Places

The view overlooking Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

The Kilauea Iki Trail in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park provides some of my favorite views for photography in this national park. And I’ve included this with a number of other national park fave spots in this month’s photography column published by National Parks Traveler. Go check out the article to see if my faves are your faves.

To read the article and view the photos, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Wearing A Facemask / Visiting A National Park

The view along the Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, in Utah

It may come as absolutely no surprise, but Covid-19 has not prevented people from traveling hundreds of miles to visit a national park. So says an article published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Yes, I’m going to visit Crater Lake National Park in less than a week. I’m going to be armed with: masks (lots of them, thanks to my sister’s sewing abilities), disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, my own food (I’m not eating out anywhere) that does not require anything more than the addition of hot water, and plenty of social distancing (I’m not a people person, so I was practicing social distancing long before it was the norm). My goal for this trip is not only to enjoy the fresh air and gorgeous scenery, and to bring back photos and material for articles for the National Parks Traveler, but to also demonstrate that it is possible to have a safe trip to a national park, as long as one practices social distancing and wears a mask.

Right now, the White House is discrediting Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the foremost epidemiologists around. Of course, I think everybody in the WH, including POTUS, are fucking liars, traitors, crooks, and nutbags (if you haven’t read my About Me, then I guess you are just now learning where my politics lean). In defense of Dr. Fauci, he and all the other doctors and scientists knew very little about the coronavirus during the first of the year, so of course, all of them were making points based upon the data they had at the time. Now, because of all the illnesses and deaths, they know much more about how this horrible virus works. It’s not a hoax, folks.

To that end, I made my own YouTube video about wearing a mask. I actually got the idea from watching a Tik Tok video by Bill Nye the Science Guy, who did a simple demonstration of the effectiveness of wearing a cloth fabric, 2-layer mask.

Now, if you decide to view my video, please, please bear in mind that I’m short, dumpy, overweight, out-of-shape, and when I don’t smile, I look like my Aunt Doris (sigh). Also bear in mind that, due to my not being the most telegenic person in the world, I come off as being more than a bit self-righteous … although, come to think of it, I am self-righteous, just like my sister and the rest of my family. And that’s not a bad thing, imo.

Have I gotten trolled over the mask? Hell yeah! Do I care? Hell no! The main thing is that the experiment is cool, my sister feels vindicated over the masks she’s made / making (right now, I have enough masks to wear a different one every day for at least 2 weeks, if not more), and I feel good about protecting others. Am I protected? Well, while I’ve read studies showing that mask wearers seem to get a more diluted version of the virus when confronted by non-mask wearing covid-infected idiots, I’m really more protected if others wear a mask, too.

So, please, wear a damned mask. It shouldn’t be a political thing. It should be all about how much you care about your health, the health of your family, and the health of those around you … even the health of people you don’t really like.

And, thank you!

Yes, this whole coronavirus pandemic is a fucking nightmare

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A Little Advice For You Photographers Out There

Sunrise over “The Mountain” at Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park

Each photo you take tells a story. I practically hammer that in to my readers in my monthly photo columns on the National Parks Traveler . But, I have some advice for you photographers who post your images out there on Flickr, Twitter, or Facebook:

Write a little bit about your photo, too. Add to that story.

People enjoy reading about how you captured the image, what you were feeling, what camera you used, even your settings. It adds to your story, fleshes it out, and helps others figure out settings for their own camera in similar situations. It also makes you more engaging, both as a photographer and a storyteller.

It drives me nuts to see an interesting image with no title, no commentary, no exif, no nuthin’. Now, I can understand why a photographer might not wish to indicate the location of the photo, since many places are loved to death, aready – no need to add to that. But, it’s a primary rant with me that many photographers won’t tell a damned story. Yeah, the sunrise over the mountains in that photo is gorgeous, and yeah, it looks a little cold, but surely there is more to it than that! What did you feel at the time you clicked that shutter button? How many miles did you have to hike to get there? Know anything about the ecosystem there; any sort of facts or trivia to impart to your viewers?

For instance, I took a couple of day trips this month (June 2020) over to Mount Rainier National Park, here in Washington state, for some photography. I was itching to get out with my cameras, but leery of things due to the coronavirus pandemic. When I visited, I practiced my social distancing, went to areas where there were few-to-no people, wore a mask where there were people, and thoroughly enjoyed myself – except for that one moment when a woman in a group not practicing social distancing came up to me, pointed at my mask, and told me I needed to take it off.

I posted some of those images on Flickr, and added commentary along with exif data (specific information about the image, including settings, etc.), because I want people to see the exposure information and to visibly see the difference visiting the same spot can make during different seasons, different times of the day, and under different weather conditions; in this instance, rainy and overcast versus a blue-sky day.

My first trip to the park since the coronavirus pandemic was June 8th, shortly after it reopened. My second trip was June 18th. The difference in weather is dramatic and you can see it in the images.

A fast-flowing stream on an overcast day, Mount Rainier National Park
A sunny day along the same stream in Mount Rainier National Park

The first time I visited, I did not go via Chinook Pass to Tipsoo Lake because I knew things would be snowed over and, due to the rainy, overcast weather, I figured The Mountain would be hiding behind an iron curtain of gray fog. The second time I visited, I did drive by Tipsoo Lake, as you can see from the image at the top of this post.

The view from Ricksecker Point on June 8th
The view from Ricksecker Point on June 18th

I won’t make this post any longer, since attention spans aren’t what they used to be. But you should get the gist of what I am saying to you. If you post to a public viewing site, then write a little commentary / story to go with the image so people get a better flavor of the atmosphere and feeling around the photo.

FYI, in case you wish to quibble, photo essays are a little different, and there, you do need to be able to tell a story with just your photos and captions. Flickr, FB, and Twitter, however, are not exactly conducive to photo essays.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Mount Rainier National Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, National Parks, Photography, Telling A Story, Travel, Washington State

It’s Waterfall Wednesday 5-27-2020!

It’s #WaterfallWednesday ! So here’s a bevvy of waterfalls, and if you click on each photo, you’ll read an interesting fact or two about each.

This image was captured during a winter in Zion National Park, in Utah, so the water is more of a trickle or a track, indicating it’s falling down the side of a hanging valley. According to the placard I read: “Side valleys began to form at the same time as the Virgin River Canyon. But, the main stream downcut faster than its tributaries, leaving them hanging high above the canyon floor. The mouths of hanging valleys are a likely place to look for waterfalls; they also indicate the river’s former level – a measure of the stream’s carving power.”

This image was captured after a bit of a sweaty trek for me, carrying a heavy camera pack (as per usual) and a heavy tripod, working hard to match the pace of my two new friends who insisted I hike with them to Fairy Falls in Yellowstone National Park, because of a bear frequenting the area. I enjoyed the hike more than the falls itself, because I had a pleasant time visiting with the very nice couple.

According to the NPS site page for this park: “Fairy Falls, 200 feet (61 m) high, is one of Yellowstone’s most spectacular waterfalls. From the trailhead, walk 1.6 miles (2.6 km) through a young lodgepole pine forest to the falls. You can continue 0.6 miles (0.97 km) to Spray and Imperial geysers, which adds 1.2 miles (1.9 km) to the hike.” I was too pooped to hike to the geysers, so I and the couple turned around after a short looksee at the falls. I saw that waterfall in October, so the falls wasn’t as “spectacular” in terms of water volume as it probably is during the late spring and early summer.

A waterfall that I *did* think was pretty spectacular was Gibbon Falls in Yellowstone National Park. There is a large parking lot for this next-to-the-road sight with several different vantage points you can walk to along a nice, wide, paved trail. If this is what the waterfall looked like during the autumn, I can only image how powerful it must look during times when the water volume is higher.

According to author Lee H. Whittlesey in his book Yellowstone Place Names: “Gibbon Falls is believed to drop over part of the wall of the Yellowstone Caldera, which is thought to be 640,000 years old.”

Marymere Falls in Olympic National Park, is reached via a very popular, less-than-2-mile hike on a trail that starts behind Storm King Ranger Station, a hop-and-a-skip from Lake Crescent Lodge. This long, narrow waterfall seemingly nestled within a bed of green ferns reminds me of a whiskey bottle, with a long, tall neck and a shorter, fuller, bottom. To get there, you cross a couple of neat log bridges then handle some steep stairs up to two different viewing areas.

If you ever have the opportunity to spend a few days in the remote community of Stehekin, Washington, located at the head of Lake Chelan in Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, then take a hike (after visiting the Stehekin Bakery) or take a bus ride to popular Rainbow Falls. The waterfall cascades 312 feet down to Rainbow Creek, and there are a couple of vantage points from which to view this misty falls – near the bottom of the falls and a short hike toward the middle portion of the falls. It’s one of the most popular stops for day trippers to Stehekin (aside from the bakery, that is) 😉

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, National Parks, North Cascades Complex, Olympic National Park, Photography, Stehekin, Travel, Utah, Washington State, Waterfall Wednesday, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park