Blogging Challenge: For Posterity – National Treasures

Are you aware of what a gift we have in the State and National Parks in this country?


The Blogging Challenge

As an attempt to improve on my blogging skills, I am trying out a series of challenges provided by WordPress University.  The first of these was titled “For Posterity” and the challenge was to present something that you felt was very important to preserve.

In May, my wife and I went for the first time to experience some of our National Parks in Utah and Colorado.  To say that I was amazed would be a huge understatement.  These national treasures are so special that there are literally no words that do this justice.  At the same time, if we don’t speak out about things as important as this, we are failing to do our duty to make people aware of how glorious a gift we have here.

Becoming Aware

Awareness may be the most important thing that I could hope to pass on to posterity.  Not just to my children but to all children of this world.  This is something that seems to be missing in today’s world.  People go through their day’s in a haze.  A million messages flashing before us on screens small and large and every surface we pass by.  And yet, how little we are aware of.

While in the National Parks, I could see how some people were awed by the grandeur and beauty.  At the same time, I saw careless tourists who raced for spot to spot, climbing over delicate natural formations to make silly faces and take selfies.  Some people were aware while others were not.  Some, like me, felt a grateful reverence for everything from the incredible vistas to the tiny wild flowers.  Others, seem to think this was an amusement meant only for their passing fancy.

If we can not be aware and appreciative of that which is around us, the importance of things passes us by.  Life becomes a progression of titillations.  Always looking for the new thrill but never being satisfied.  This is evident in the “entertainment” that we view now.  Each new show must be more spectacular, more shocking, more ludicrous and by doing so, each thing that was previously unacceptable becomes more common.

A challenge for all of us

I had a challenge to discuss something that was important for posterity.  So here it is: a challenge to all of us.  Can we become more aware and more appreciative of the treasures that surround us in nature and in the people who fill our daily lives will we continue to follow the downward spiral of voyeurism that drives today’s world?

Visitor’s Center Overlook
Dead Horse Point State Park
Moab, Utah, USA

Nikon D7000
Nikkor 18-105mm lens
18mm at 1/125 sec – f/16 – ISO400

#DeadHorseStatePark #Utah #MoabUtah #UtahStateParks #canyons #nature #photography #landscape

Weekly Photo Challenge: Curves – The long and winding road

Last month, my wife and I went out to see some of our country’s Western National Parks for the first time.  I can’t wait to get back out there again!  Whether it is back to the same parks for a look at all the spots we missed, or to some of the other parks that we’ve never experienced before.

Shafer Canyon Road

The first thing I thought of related to this week’s challenge is the road that leads down through Shafer Canyon (shown above) in Canyonlands National Park in southeastern Utah.  The road descends down through the canyon with twists and hair-pin turns in switch back fashion.  It was amazing to see cars and bicyclist wind their way down this dirt trail with absolutely no railings to prevent you from dropping right off the edge of the cliffs.

This unpaved road runs for 18 miles through the “Island in the Sky” district of Canyonlands through the middle of the park and out to the nearby town of Moab, Utah.

View of Shafer Canyon Road where making its was out to Moab

Maybe, when we get the chance to return here, I will be brave enough to follow this “Long and Winding Road”.  But, I doubt it – pretty scary looking to me.

Shafer Canyon Road
Island in the Sky District
Canyonlands National Park
near Moab, Utah, USA


Life is a journey, not a destination

Why is it that even though we have heard this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote so often, what we always seem to see is only the destination in photographs?  The image above was taken on the trail that leads to Delicate Arch, the most iconic and probably most photographed site in Arches National Park.  Everybody has likely seen that arch if you’ve seen any images of Utah.  But, how often do you see what the trail looks like to get there?

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I am trying to learn to always be present to what is right in front of me.  I mean, getting to the destination is often difficult. You need to watch your step and not drop your camera equipment off the side of a cliff or anything but, what are we missing on the way there and the way back?  If I had put my camera away as soon as I got the “special” shot I was going for, would I have even seen the beauty of everything nearby if I hadn’t kept my eyes open?

I think maybe, life is both a journey and a destination.  The destination is where ever you are right now and the journey is everything that has led to this point as well as the path right in front of you.

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I can see for miles and miles

Canyonlands National Park is a vast area which was a source of constant amazement.  Though the depth and breadth of the canyons may not match the Grand Canyon, the vista seems to be endless.  From this site – Grand View Point Overlook, we could look out across the scenery and take in the awesomeness that is this place.

Monument Basin from Grand View Point

Immediately below Grand View Point, is Monument Basin.  This spot where the canyon drops another level, looks like a monster alien footprint in the desert landscape .  I wish we had been able to explore that area as it contains beautiful spires that can only be glimpsed from the high overlook.

Well, I had plenty of opportunity to play with doing panoramic shots from this place.  From what you can see here, it should be obvious that even multiple shots put together are not enough to express how vast the scenes are.

I have to get back here and do much more exploring.  We barely touched on this section of the park which is called Island in the Sky.  There are two other sections of the park called The Needles and The Maze which we didn’t even get to.  It really gives you perspective on how small we are in relation to the whole of creation.

The images in this post were created by merging multiple images in Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Nikon D7000
Nikkor 18-105mm lens
multiple exposures taken in aperture priority at f/16 and ISO 400

Open the Windows

OK, so yesterday I showed the Parade of Elephants and said how much less attention it got as compared to The Windows.  To be fair, I should show you what the windows look like and you can judge for yourself.  The image above shows the two main arches which make up the windows formation.  Jointly, these are refered to as “The Spectacles” because they look like a pair of glasses resting on a nose.

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Turret Arch on a Rainy Day

Just to the east of the spectacles stands Turret Arch, the third of the trio that are considered part of the windows.  These arches are magnificent each on their own and as a group, it is pretty impressive to see three so close together.  There is a nice trail which goes right up to the arches themselves and connects turret arch to the spectacles.

I still think the Parade of Elephants are more impressive because of the mass and size but it could be that since the windows stand out as individual arches more, that is why they get all the glory.  Also, the way the windows are positioned, it is much easier to see sunrise and sunset over them.

My friend, David Akoubian got some great shots here the week after we visited.  You should check out his blog to see what this looks like at night.

Turret Arch Milky Way


Don’t Rain on my Elephant Parade

It is kind of strange that this amazing formation in Arches National Park known as the Parade of Elephants, is somehow second-sister to the Windows arches just south of it.  This image was taken at the head of the trail leading from the parking area at Windows and leading down to see the parade up close.  Use your imagination a little and you can see how the great bulk and graceful curves within this formation make you think of elephants.

On top of this being an impressive group, there are many unique and interesting individual formations within the parade.  My favorite was the Double Arch.  This formation is the result of two different forms of erosion.  Part of the double arch was formed like most or the other arches you see in the park, from below.  The second arch was formed from above, by what is known as a pot-hole arch.

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Double Arch on a Rainy Day

We almost skipped going into the Windows section since (as you can see) it was raining and overcast. I actually was planning to go to the end of the road to see the Devils Garden section but, something convinced us to make this stop.  I am so glad we did!  If I had gotten nothing other than the double arch picture shown above, I would have considered this a successful photographic trip.  It’s strange how things work out if you have a little trust and patience.

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More detail from the Parade of Elephants


How does your garden grow?


It was Silver Bells and Cockle Shells for the Mary of nursery rhyme fame but the Devil apparently, prefers huge limestone fins and columns and arches!  The Devil’s Canyon section of Arches National Park is quite a sight to see.  Yes, there are some lovely wildflowers scattered around but, the real attraction are the profusion of fins (like those shown above) that jut up out of the landscape and a whole series of arches that can be seen from the trail which winds for over 7 miles through the northern-most portion of the park.

I probably should have planned this out better because this was the last place we visited at Arches and it might have been better if we had gone here first.

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Walking through the canyon that leads into Devils Garden (there are 2 hikers at the far end)

Taking the foolish tourist approach of course, I started at the Visitor’s Center and bounced around, pulling off at every formation that we went past.  We got to see alot but there were also many places that we didn’t have time to explore fully.  Since Devils Garden is at the very end of the road that winds through the park, we didn’t get here until our last day.  I had thought we were making one last swing through the park and since it was rainy, I didn’t expect to get anything good.

So, on this dark dreary day that was obviously a wash-out, we spent 4 hours re-visiting the Windows Section of the park and going to Fiery Furnace and Devils Garden and getting some of my favorite images of the trip.

Devils Garden Panorama2 5-31-2016 9-55-56 PMRMNP_May 09 2016_0631DevilsGarden_Panorama2

As soon as we left, I was planning another visit to Arches so that I could actually walk the many miles of the Devils Garden trail that we didn’t see as well as so many other places that we only touched on.  Anybody up for a field trip?

Broken Arch
Broken Arch