Saturday, December 29, 2012

Jeeping in Havasu

So yesterday we were bumping around in my sister's red Jeep in the desert out by Lake Havasu... beautiful canyons and rocks:

A drive along "Powerline Road":

A visit to an Indian graveyard:

View from the back seat... Brother-in-law driving:

Old desert trailers (I want one of these!):

A desert hummingbird getting ready to take flight:

And, my favorite shot... the red Jeep!
Cool ride, eh?? A great time was had by all! Linking this photo with 
Have a Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Havasu Landing, Lake Havasu, CA

Took a night walk with my wife and Lap Dog Knits and her husband from their lake house at Havasu Landing down to the water for some night photography.  Hoping to capture some good night skies for Skywatch Friday. Wow, what a night... full or nearly full moon raising over the water, with the lights from Havasu City on the other side of the lake reflecting on the water... really pretty, perfect night for some moonlight photography!
16-35mm wide angle lense, 10 second exposure
24-70mm lens used for this shot... moon was just out of the frame. I like the moonlight reflected on the water.
View north towards the campground
View south towards the Landing
Lap Dog Knits and her Hubby, version #1...
And my favorite shot of the night, Lap Dog Knits and Hubby, version 2, enjoying a beautiful moon-rise!
If you celebrate Christmas, hoping it was a good one! Linking to Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from all over the world. Have a great weekend, and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Warm Afternoon Skywatch

I'm posting a photo from Oct. of this year, when the S. CA weather was a little warmer (ya, I know, it never really gets that cold here) and the beaches had a little more activity. Really thinking of those of you in colder climes... especially if you're in an area where you don't seen the sun very often in the winter... hoping you enjoy this photo. Click on it to view large for the full effect!!

This looks like a street scene, but it's not. These folks are walking on the Huntington Beach Pier at sunset. I love the activity of the people and the bird, and the yellow / orange sunset glow. I cropped the original image in a way that makes it hard to tell this is a pier.  Here's the original:

Linking to Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world!  Not sure how much posting I'll have time for with the holidays upon us, so wishing you and your loved ones HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

To the Cold Country and Back Again

I flew to Minneapolis on Wednesday afternoon for a meeting this AM. With all my desert travels and living in S CA, I sometimes forget how the other half live! Folks in Minneapolis are going to enjoy a wonderful white winter. I took the photo below outside the back door of my Courtyard by Marriott hotel last night. Brrrrr!
Here's a b&w photo of the view outside my window on the flight home today...
And a little later, the skies were beautiful as we were on final approach into Orange County airport...
Made it back to my house by about 4:15 PM, just in time to take the dog and my camera out for a quick hike and capture some sunset shots to post for Skywatch Friday! Ah, it's good to be home!!

Have a great weekend!!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Zzyzx, CA

I have fond memories of Zzyzx from my college days at Cal State Fullerton. I was lucky enough to spend time there during overnight field trips (once for my Plant Ecology class with Dr. Jack Burk, but I think there was a second visit for another class). I remember the feeling of awe of the open desert, incredible remoteness from anything and everything, the strong impression of desert beauty... all emotions I still experience when I get out in the desert.

Technically, Zzyzx is located in the Mojave National Preserve, but just barely. Many travelers will be familiar with Zzyzx because they've seen the exit off the 15 Freeway on their travels to and from Las Vegas. Most will not have taken the time to turn off and explore, which is too bad. It's well worth the short drive... the first mile or so is paved, then another mile or so of dirt, but 4WD is not needed.
Zzyzx has achieved a certain pop culture status as well... the name has been used for two movie titles, multiple song titles (Zzyzx Road) and an album title. The common theme of both movies seems to be dead bodies. I'm not sure why dead bodies and the desert go together in the minds of script writers and film makers, but they do!
On our drive back from Death Valley this week, the sun was just setting as I saw the exit for Zzyzx and couldn't resist taking the turn-off for a couple quick photos. Click this link for more information on Zzyzx:
Standing water along Zzyzx Road... very unusual in the desert!
A two image panorama shot... gives a truer view of the beautiful desert vista seen from Zzyzx Road
Three image pano shot... even better for sharing the open vista!
Sharing these beautiful desert skies on Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to see great skies from around the world. Have a great weekend, and hope you have time to take some photos!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Death Valley Coyote

We just returned from an overnight stay in Death Valley and I'm in awe of the natural beauty of this area!! This was our first visit, and we didn't even scratch the surface of this incredible place. Repeat visits are in order!
On the drive back today, we were in a really remote section of Death Valley (well, it's all pretty darn remote!) and saw a coyote on the side of the road. My wife was driving, I asked her to turn the car around in hopes of getting a photo, and the strangest thing happened after getting the car turned. Instead of the coyote trotting off into the desert, as usually happens, it started running directly towards us! 

It came right up to the car, and I was able to get some great photos (no cropping necessary!). Quite a thrill getting this close and personal with a coyote.  Isn't he a beaut?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Cadiz, CA (or Route 66, continued!)

Just southeast of Chambless, CA, on old Route 66, you see signs for Cadiz. The map also shows the town of Cadiz, but when you get there and check it out, you realize someone pulled a fast one! No town, not even remnants of a town, but lots of train activity. Desert trains make for good photos, so it was well worth stopping and exploring.
Here's the original photo... 3 exposure HDR shot
Here's the B&W version...
Added a texture to give it that gritty, desert feel...
So, which version do you prefer??
I like the sky in this photo, so linking to Skywatch Friday
Have a great weekend!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Macro Monday!

Been a long time since I've posted to Macro Monday. My wife has milkweed planted in the yard to attract monarch butterflies and it worked like a charm this year. We have monarch caterpillars all over the place, and they've chewed down the milkweed to sticks. Happy Macro Monday, and enjoy your week!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Chambless, CA

We seem to be in a rut (but a good rut)... we get out to the desert every other weekend, and we've been exploring some of the old forgotten towns on Route 66 for the past few trips (check out my Ludlow post). For those of you unfamiliar with Route 66, here's the bottom line:  When the freeways were built, families stopped using Route 66 as a main thoroughfare, and the towns eventually died off. It's an interesting (and sad) piece of Americana, and for whatever reason I'm intrigued by these locations. So today's post:  Chambless, CA. Chambless had a restaurant (The Roadrunner, long ago closed) and a gas station (also long ago closed). Virtually nothing left of the town now other than a few hardy desert dwellers.
Shot full of holes!!
You find some crazy old abandoned vehicles along Route 66!
Route 66 roadside retread. As the sun starts to set, the mountains turn purple.
"Official Garage":  No gas pumped here in many years, but got to love the architecture!
The highlight for me was the Road Runner Retreat Restaurant.  It's fenced off, but much of the fence is conveniently knocked down. I think everyone who passes by this place gets out of their car to take a photo! There was a guy waiting for me to finish up so he could photograph the place! Oh, and got to give credit to John over at Sinbad and I on the Loose for the heads up on this place. Thanks, John!
Linking with 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Original Desert Shoe Tree (or what's left of it!)

The "shoe tree" on old Route 66 about one mile east of Amboy is, I think, the original desert shoe tree. There are others, but they aren't as well known or as heavily decorated with shoes. People driving along Route 66 see the shoe tree and some decide to make their own contribution. Here's what the tree looked like in January, 2005.
Photo credit: It's a good read if you have a few minutes. The author of this blog noted in 2005 that the tree "looks nearly dead". Last weekend, Gayle and I drove out to Route 66 and headed east through Amboy to the little towns of Chambless and Cadiz. We got some really great photos which I'll share on future posts. But here's what's left of the Route 66 shoe tree.
The tree appears to be a victim of it's own success, toppled under the weight of too many "contributions". People do funny things in the desert. The Amboy shoe tree is no more, but if you're traveling in the area, keep an eye out for the dead tree on the south side of Route 66 covered with shoes.
Linking with: 
  and Your Sunday Best.
Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Skywatch Friday: Joshua Tree Edition!

I've just returned from a week in New Brunswick, NJ, for a business meeting so no photography since last weekend. Although I didn't get out of my hotel much, the little bit of New Jersey I did see appears to be cleaning up nicely. Lots of evidence of downed trees, but looks like most people (although not all) have power restored and gasoline available. But virtually all the locals had stories about sustained power outages, ridiculously long wait times in gas lines, and extended periods of time without a hot shower. The most common topic of conversation was about generators... have you installed one yet? Gasoline powered vs. natural gas vs. propane? Free standing vs. hard-wired into the house? Sounds like it won't be long before back-up generators become a standard feature on homes in hurricane country. What's this got to do with my Skywatch post?  Absolutely nothing, so without further rambling, here's a photo I took last month in Joshua Tree National Park. The sun was just setting and there was a beautiful pinkish light glow from behind the rocky hills. One of my favorites!
Click the Skywatch link to check out great looking skies from around the world. Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

SkyWatching: Huntington Beach Pier

I went down to the Huntington Beach pier earlier this week to take some photos of my son and my nephew surfing. It was a great day... unseasonably warm, light Santa Ana winds, and so clear it looked like you could take a short swim out to Catalina Island!  The boys said they would be surfing in front of lifeguard tower #5. Unfortunately, a side current pushed them down the beach, so I never did get any photos of them. But no worries... you can always find stuff to photograph at the beach!
Ruby's restaurant at the end of the pier.
Ruby's version 2:  Added a layer that included the big moon. Not very realistic but kind of fun!
Lone surfer watching the sun set.
Sunset Surfer with Catalina Island clear as a bell in the background!
Linking to Skywatch Friday. Click on the link to check out great skies from around the world!  Have a great weekend!