Tag Archives: travel

A Kemp’s Ridley Hatchling Release

A highlight of my summer visit to Padre Island National Seashore a few years ago was the opportunity to photograph a public Kemp’s ridley sea turtle hatchling release into the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. If you are thinking of attending a public viewing of the releasing of these nacho-sized little guys, however, you’ll have to wait until 2021, as all public viewings have been canceled for this year due to the coronavirus. As you can see in the last photo, there is definitely NO social distancing of the 700 – 1200 participants who attend these viewings. On that particular day I took the photo, there ended up being 900 people.

https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2020/05/sea-turtle-releases-padre-island-national-seashore-summer-wont-be-public

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Padre Island National Seashore, Photography, Texas

It’s Trivia Tuesday 4-28-2020!

A Smoky Afternoon In The Grand Tetons

A smoky afternoon in Grand Teton National Park

It’s Trivia Tuesday! Did you know that the Tetons are the youngest mountains in the Rockies, and that the eastern front of the Teton Range is one huge fault scarp?

Speaking of Grand Teton National Park, tourism officials in Jackson Hole are looking forward to reaching that new “normal” regarding how they will open up, according to an article published today in the National Parks Traveler:

https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/…/jackson-hole-touris…

As for this image itself, I captured it on my very first visit into this national park, during my 2018 road trip move from Texas to central Washington. It was in the afternoon – I’d checked into my hotel, unloaded some of my stuff, then hopped into the car to drive into the park and do a teeny bit of scouting to see if I could find any good spots for sunrise shots. I didn’t go very far, though, because, in all honesty, I was plumb tuckered out. I’d been on the road for 11 days, driving, unloading, reloading, stopping off at national parks for 2-3 days here and there for full days of photography. I was having fun, but I was tired. Besides, as the afternoon progressed, the smoke from forest fires near and far became heavier. This image was taken not too far from the Windy Point Turnout. I’d gotten some shots there, then drove a little further northward before deciding to call it quits for the afternoon. By then, I’d pretty much figured out what my sunrise location would be.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

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Filed under Canon, Grand Teton National Park, National Parks, Photography, summer, Travel, Trivia Tuesday, Wyoming

Fun Fact Friday 4-24-2020

Black Sand Basin Landscape

“Bobby socks” around Opalescent Pool in Black Sand Basin, Yellowstone National Park

"Bobby Socks" At Fountain Paint Pots Nature Trail

“Bobby socks” along the Fountain Paint Pots Nature Trail, Yellowstone National Park

Hey folks, it’s Fun Fact Friday!

If you’ve ever visited Yellowstone National Park, you’ve seen these dead, desolate trees with the white rings around their bases. Those are called “Bobby socks” and are formed when the trees absorb the silica (natural glass) from the thermal waters. This, of course, kills the trees and “freezes” them to keep them standing.

And now you know!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, Canon Lens, Fun Fact Friday, Geology, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park

Happy Earth Day 2020!

Autumn Color

Maine in the autumn is one of the most beautiful places to visit for the colors. This particular shot epitomizes what you can see (within and outside of Acadia National Park, which is why I was in Maine in the first place). During the fall, you’ll see tall trees with variagated greens, oranges, yellows and reds, and marshlands with thin ribbons of water weaving its way through the golden grass.

John Ford Country

This image was captured in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park, in Utah. They don’t call it “canyonlands” for nothin’. It’s the “John Ford Country” you’ve imagined in Westerns: arid, deep, broad canyons and tall mesas, buttes, hoodoos and spires, all colored in different shades of red, yellow, pink and orange. The immensity of this place dwarfs the human figure.

Fire Hose From The Air

I’ve visited Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, on the Big Island of Hawaii, twice – once in 2014 and again in 2017. During the 2017 visit, I was with a small photo tour, and one of the highlights of the tour was to take an open-door helicopter ride over active volcanics in the park. In this image, I was flying over the “Fire Hose”, a stream of lava pouring from a lava tube directly into the Pacific Ocean. The land above this is cooled pahoehoe lava. Looks desolate on land, doesn’t it? Probably the way things looked when the earth was still shaping itself.

Sunset Over Wild Goose Island

Sunsets at the Wild Goose Island view area on St. Mary Lake in Glacier National Park in Montana are as lovely as sunrises, albeit a little more muted. The trees and forests and lower portions of the mountains become silhouetted while the lake reflects the saturated colors of the oncoming “Blue Hour” (which really lasts only a few minutes between sunset and darkness (or between darkness and sunrise).

Full Moon Over The Three Gossips

The next morning after New Year’s Day, I was up and at ‘em super-early, ready to catch the full moon in Arches National Park in Utah. Actually, I was trying to capture some star shots, but as you can see in this image, the moon outshone everything, creating enough light that I could see my own shadow on the park road as I stood in the freezing winter air with my tripod set up for a long exposure of the moon bathing the Three Gossips rock formation and the landscape below.

As I look back on my photos, I realize I have been to quite a few really cool spots in the U.S. and abroad. Each spot has a different ecosystem, and each ecosystem is fragile. While it sounds trite to write this on every Earth Day, we really should take stock of our environments, appreciate what we see out there in nature, and try to take better care of it – even if that just means we are picking up the trash along the trail and nothing else.

Happy Earth Day 2020!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

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Filed under Arches National Park, Canon, Canon Lens, Canyonlands National Park, Earth Day, Glacier National Park MT, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, Maine, National Parks, Photography, Travel

3 Days In John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Painted Hills On An Overcast Day 3

So, what can you do and see in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon, if you only have 3 days? Plenty! Check out my latest article published in the National Parks Traveler.

To read the article, click on the image above.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

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Filed under Canon, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, National Monuments, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Oregon, Photography, Photography In The National Parks, Travel

It’s Trivia Tuesday 4/7/2020!

StarknessOcotillo RaysOcotillo BloomOcotillo - With Flash

It’s Trivia Tuesday, folks! Did you know that the ocotillo, found all over the Chihuahuan Desert in Big Bend National Park in Texas is a shrub and not a cactus? Those spindly, evilly-thorny branches can grow up to 20 feet tall! In the spring, at the tips of each branch grow a cluster of little bright orange-red flowers, the nectar of which attracts carpenter ants and hummingbirds.

And now you know!

Click on each image to see where they go.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

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Filed under Big Bend, Big Bend National Park, Canon, National Parks, Photography, Texas, Travel, Trivia Tuesday

The Sounds Of Wild Yellowstone

Sunrise Over Old Faithful
When I visited Yellowstone National Park last year, I recorded all sorts of sounds of the park’s geology.  And, in today’s Podcast #60, the National Parks Traveler has captured other sounds of wild Yellowstone.
 
To listen to Yellowstone’s sounds of geology (plus running water and some birds), click on the image above.
To listen to the National Parks Traveler’s Podcast Episode 60 (with different sounds of Yellowstone), click on the image below.
Elk In The Distance
 
Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Podcast, Yellowstone National Park

A Photographic Trip Down Memory Lane: 2019

Becky At Grand Prismatic Overlook

My usual look when in the field: sweaty, tired, and happy as hell

Earlier this morning, I read a lovely little blog post in which the photographer, stuck inside and unable to travel, decided she might as well take a trip down memory lane with her photos. It was a nice post with pretty pics, except there came a point when the enjoyment was ruined after this photographer mentioned that she and some pals had hiked up to a locked fire lookout and jimmied open the lock to get in. FFS, people! Please respect other agencies’ properties. If it’s locked, it’s locked.

Anyway, to get back to the gist of this post, I thought it would, indeed, be a nice idea to take a photographic trip down my own memory lane, as Washington state has a shelter-in-place order right now and I also can’t get out. Parks are closed, and since I have a compromised immune system and my sister with whom I live is 73, I’m just fine with staying at home. Heaven knows, I have lots of photographs and memories, so I thought I’d start with 2019 and work my way back.

In 2019, I was settled into my new home in central Washington. I’d FINALLY been able to move out of Texas and back to the mountains. I’m a mountain gal; I was born in northwest Montana and mountains are a part of my soul, not to mention I don’t much like the South’s politics or attitudes. Full disclosure, however, I do miss Big Bend National Park and Padre Island National Seashore. These two places are favorites of mine and I visited Big Bend 4 times and Padre Island twice. So, I suppose there actually is something I like about Texas.

Once totally moved, I wanted to explore National Park System units around my new neck of the woods. Washington is blessed with three national parks and several national recreation areas and national monuments, all between 2 – 6 hours’ (give or take) drive from my home.

I travel alone. I like it that way. I’ve always been a loner and prefer my own company. I don’t have to worry about whether or not anybody else is bored. I don’t have to deal with non-photographers who don’t understand why I want to stop every 10 minutes for a photo op. I can go where I want when I want, eat what I want when I want, buy what I want (or what I can afford), and basically do what I want, within the boundaries of decency and the law. That said, I wouldn’t mind hosting a photo workshop or photo tour – I do enjoy talking to fellow photographers and I do enjoy showing people different / better ways to get a beautiful shot. Other than that, though, I go solo, if I can manage it.

January 2019: Olympic National Park

Early Morning On Kalaloch Beach

A winter morning along Kalaloch Beach, Olympic National Park in Washington state

My visit coincided with the partial government shutdown, which meant national parks were open, but not staffed. Lodging was open so I spent a few days in an awesome cabin at Kalaloch Lodge, my base from which I explored and photographed Kalaloch Beach, Beach 4, and Ruby Beach.

A View Of Beach 4

The view at Beach 4, Olympic National Park

Ruby Beach Logjam

Log jam at Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

I was always mindful of the tides because I sure didn’t want to get caught in high water or squashed between beached logs, which can move around with the flowing water. I did make the mistake of wading through a beach stream only to get caught by an incoming tide that almost capsized me (and my cameras). Lesson learned.

A Winter Sunset Over Kalaloch Beach

A winter sunset over Kalaloch Beach, Olympic National Park

Winter weather creates terrific storms and clouds along the coast. Sunrises tend to be muted affairs, but winter sunsets can be blazingly colorful.

I really wanted to wander around the trails in the Hoh Rain Forest, but some roads were closed due to the season, and others were closed due to the shutdown, with nobody to make repairs to the storm damage or remove fallen trees in the road. So, I settled for driving to the national park portion of the Quinault Rain Forest, some 27 miles south of Kalaloch, where the road was open as were the trails.

My favorite photo spot was July Creek. There’s a parking lot and a trailhead to a very short loop which crosses over the namesake creek. Nobody else was there so all I heard were the sounds of birds, water dripping, and flowing creek water. The creek allowed me a great opportunity to practice my silky water skills. Because it was damp, the browns of the branches and tree trunks were dark and saturated, as were the greens, yellows, and reds of the foliage and fungi.

The Bridge Over July Creek

The bridge over July Creek in the Quinault Rain Forest, Olympic National Park

I’m a contributing writer and photographer (some use the slang “stringer,” but I like to think I’m more than that) for the National Parks Traveler. I’ve been volunteering my writing and photo abilities for this site since 2012. So of course, I wrote about my shutdown stay for the Traveler. Here’s the link.

May 2019: Mount Rainier National Park

Paradise And The Paradise Inn

“The Mountain” and Paradise Inn, Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state

When the Traveler wanted someone to report on the May Grand Re-Opening of Mount Rainier National Park’s Paradise Inn and its newly renovated Paradise Inn Annex, I raised my hand and volunteered to stay a few days up at The Mountain. FYI, there is still deep snow up there in May.

A Little Spring Snowshoeing For Becky CROP

Going for a little spring snowshoeing, Mount Rainier National Park

It was nice to see the turnout for this event. I’ve stayed in the Annex when it was in big need of renovation, and a tour through the newly-refurbished building showed a world of difference. It was also great to hear about the history of the inn and to meet all sorts of national park / public lands luminaries.  Here’s the link to my story.

June 2019: Mount Rainier National Park

Adventure Awaits

Adventure awaits along the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

I live about 1-1/2 hours’ drive from Mount Rainier National Park’s boundaries, so it’s easy to make just a day trip now and then. I decided to take a trail I’d never hiked before, and chose the Grove of the Patriarchs trail. This relatively short trail ventures into the forest to a group of tall, old-growth trees that are, indeed, patriarchs of Nature.

Bridge Over The Ohanapecosh

The suspension bridge over the Ohanapecosh River, Grove of Patriarchs Trail

1000-Year Old Twins

1,000 year old twins, Grove of Patriarchs Trail, Mount Rainier National Park

July 2019: Stehekin

The Landing

Approaching Stehekin Landing, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, in Washington

In the early 90’s, I lived in Seattle. I’d once read about this community called Stehekin, out in the middle of nowhere within the North Cascades. I distinctly recall scoffing that I’d never want to visit such an out-of-the-way place.

Enjoying The Ferry Ride Uplake

Enjoying the ferry ride to Stehekin, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

Fast forward to 2019. I took a scenic, 4-hour ride on the Lady of The Lake ferry up to the headwaters of Lake Chelan in the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area to stay for a few days in Stehekin. It’s beautiful up there, peaceful, realllly out of the way, and has one of the best bakeries around (Stehekin Pastry Company – their lemon bars and pizzas are to die for). You really can’t get there from here, unless you take a boat, plane, or hike about 24 miles into this isolated community near the Pacific Crest Trail and North Cascades National Park. As a matter of fact, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area is a part of what is called the North Cascades Complex.

The Stehekin River At High Bridge

The clear, cold water of the Stehekin River, North Cascades National Park

A Place To Sit And Meditate

A nice place to sit and meditate, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

Of course, I wrote a story about my stay for the Traveler. Suffice to say, I’d be more than happy to revisit Stehekin again. No more scoffing.

July 2019: Ross Lake National Recreation Area

Sunrise Over Diablo Lake

Sunrise at the Diablo Lake Overlook, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, in Washington

I’d told the Traveler I planned on writing an article or two about places within the North Cascades Complex. Having already visited Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, I made plans to travel to Ross Lake National Recreation Area and North Cascades National Park. Here’s the thing: there are not that many places to lodge within this vast area of wild forest land, cold, clear rushing waters and rugged peaks. Most of the trails are for long-distance backpackers and there aren’t that many view areas into which you can drive in, look, then drive out. With that in mind, I opted for a short stay at the North Cascades Institute, which turned out to be perfect for exploring and photography.

A Place To Sit And Rest And A Surprise Visitor

A nice place to sit and rest, plus a little surprise visitor (can you spot it?), North Cascades Institute

Enjoying A Morning Snack

A furry little visitor in the garden at the North Cascades Institute

Pearly Everlasting

Pearly Ever Lasting, Ross Lake National Recreation Area

A Dam Fine View

Diablo Dam and the mountains of the North Cascades

With these July visits, I was able to put together my Armchair Photography Guides for the North Cascades Complex. I have rheumatoid arthritis. As such, I don’t really do much – ok, I don’t do any – long backcountry trips. I’ll hike at least 5 or 6 miles if the trail is relatively easy, but really, I am firmly of the opinion that anybody can photograph WOW-worthy images from view areas, shorter trails, and pullouts without ever having to go far from their car, camper, cabin, or tent. Thus, my Armchair Photography Guides were born. These guides have photographic tips and techniques for all, regardless whether you use a smartphone, point-and-shoot, or tricked-out SLR. If you go into the Traveler’s site and use the search engine to type in “Armchair Photography,” you’ll pull up all these guides pertaining to national parks I’ve visited.

August 2019: Olympic National Park

That short partial shutdown visit in this national park whetted my appetite for a longer trip, so I booked stays at Kalaloch Lodge (in a cabin, again), Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, and Lake Crescent Lodge. Using each of these places as a base, I explored further into this national park, from beaches to rain forests to rugged mountains. Olympic National Park has a little bit of something for everybody. While it’s usually pretty wet – particularly in the rain forest portion – I managed to luck out with dry, mostly sunny days and gathered enough material for three separate Armchair Photography Guides:

Part 1 – The Beaches

Sunset scenery at Ruby Beach

A Ruby Beach sunset, Olympic National Park, in Washington

Part 2 – The Forests

The Trail Into The Rain Forest

The trail into the Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park

Part 3 – The Mountains

Olympic Mountain Scenery

Hurricane Ridge scenery, Olympic National Park

September – October 2019: Yellowstone National Park

Morning Glory Pool

Viewing the beauty of Morning Glory Pool, Yellowstone National Park, in Wyoming

I’d only visited America’s first national park for a period of about 2 days, and that was during my 2018 road trip move from Texas to central Washington. That first, short August stay almost put me off ever returning – well, at least, during the summer. Talk about crowds! Talk about stupid people doing stupid stuff! Talk about no parking spaces whatsoever! Definitely no social distancing. I only saw maybe 1/10th of 1% of what I wanted to see.

A return trip was in order and I made my plans for the autumn, which is a perfect time for a little holiday. There were fewer people, plenty of parking space (well, except at Grand Prismatic), and the photo ops were incredible. I totally understand why Yellowstone is a huge favorite among so many people. Of course, I wrote an article about my 9-day visit to this national park for the Traveler.

Sunlight And Shadow On The Landscape

A view of the mountains at Swan Lake Flats on a chilly autumn afternoon, Yellowstone National Park

Black Growler Steam Vent And Ledge Geyser

Black Growler steam vent and Ledge Geyser, Porcelain Basin, Yellowstone National Park

Basking In The Sun

Resting in the golden grass, Yellowstone National Park

A View Of Lower Falls From Artist Point On A Snowy Day

The lower Yellowstone Falls on a snowy autmun morning, Yellowstone National Park

Watching Old Faithful From Observation Point 2

Watching Old Faithful erupt from Observation Point, Yellowstone National Park

That sums up my 2019 photo travels. Do check out the various links in this post. These links helped keep this post from becoming a long-assed tome.

Next up: A Photographic Walk Down Memory Lane: 2018.

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Filed under Canon, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, Mount Rainier National Park, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, North Cascades, North Cascades Complex, North Cascades National Park, Olympic National Park, Photography, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Stehekin, Travel, Washington State, Yellowstone National Park

It’s Trivia Tuesday, 3-31-2020

Sheep Rock And John Day River On An Overcast DayThe Rocks Of Sheep Rock

According to the NPS, Sheep Rock (that pointy-peaked mountain), in the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, gets its name from the bighorn sheep that once populated its slopes. At the top of Sheep Rock is the Picture Gorge Basalt. That brown line across the middle part of the mountain is the Picture Gorge Ignimbrite (pumice and volcanic tuff). This ignimbrite makes a nice marker bed by which geologists can place and date geologic events. The green soils you see in the second image are colored by the mineral celadonite. Celadonite comes from the French word for “sea green.”

And now you know.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

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Filed under 5DS, Canon, Geology, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, National Monuments, Oregon, Photography, Travel, Trivia Tuesday

Angular Unconformity Along OR Hwy 207 To Mitchell

Angular Unconformity

I love geology. I went to school to study it. So when I travel, I like to read about the geology of the places I visit and the roads I travel. In hindsight, I wish, now, that I’d have bought and looked through the Roadside Geology of Oregon, by Marli B. Miller *before* rather than after I’d driven to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. At least, then, I would have been able to follow the mile markers and understood what I was seeing.

Anyway, I’d stopped here because I happened to turn my head to look at the scenery right when my car was passing by these awesomly-colored outcroppings. Turns out, my inner geology radar must have been working intuitively. What you see here is called an angular “unconformity.” An angular unconformity is – in easy terms – when you see tilted beds (the green and reddish outcropping of beds) overlain by straight beds (the red-brown lines of columnar basalts you see above. It shows there is a gap in the geologic time record. So, if you are following a series of formations along a geographic distance, you might suddenly see that one formation or sediment layer of that formation is totally missing from the order of deposition, and all you see is this contact line dividing angular tilting beds from straight layers above. Any of this make sense? If not, then just admire the pretty landscape.

This image was captured using my new Sony Alpha a7r IV and 24-105mm lens. I am loving this camera!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, HDR, Landscape, Oregon, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, Travel