Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park in Spring

Prairie Wetlands

Prairie Wetlands

Alligator Sunning on Bank

Alligator Sunning on Bank

Pond Turtle

Pond Turtle

Green Heron Fishing

Green Heron Fishing

Green Heron Plunging for Fish (yes he pulled himself back up on perch)

Green Heron Plunging for Fish (yes he pulled himself back up on perch)

Crayfish Burrow

Crayfish Burrow

Spanish Moss Draped Oak Tree

Spanish Moss Draped Oak Tree

Pickerelweed in Pond

Pickerelweed in Pond

Duck Potato

Duck Potato

Pearl Crescent Butterfly on Daisy Fleabane

Pearl Crescent Butterfly on Daisy Fleabane

Open land stretches to the horizon at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park (south of Orlando, Florida). Spring is an especially good time to visit. If you look closely, you can see all kinds of wonderful plants and animals. A previous post about this special park is at: http://naturetime.wordpress.com/2012/03/05/florida-kissimmee-prairie-state-park/     More info is at: http://floridabirdingtrail.com/index.php/trip/trail/Kissimmee_Prairie_Preserve_State_Park/

Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park: Spectacular Mountain Scenery!

Spectacular Tetons in Fall

Spectacular Tetons in Fall

Snowy Tetons and Rustic Fence

Snowy Tetons and Rustic Fence

Tetons and Snake River

Tetons and Snake River

Frozen Jackson Lake

Frozen Jackson Lake

Snowy Teton Peaks

Snowy Teton Peaks

Snow-Covered Trees

Snow-Covered Trees

Bare Aspen Trees in Winter

Bare Aspen Trees in Winter

Orange Aspen Trees in Fall

Orange Aspen Trees in Fall

Preserved Reed Moulton Barn and Tetons

Preserved Reed Moulton Barn and Tetons

Lonely Reed Moulton Homestead on Historic Mormon Row

Lonely Reed Moulton Homestead on Historic Mormon Row

Preserved Thomas A. Moulton Barn on Mormon Row (100th anniversary in July 2013)

Preserved Thomas A. Moulton Barn on Mormon Row (100th anniversary in July 2013)

Elk Antler Arch over Bench in Jackson

Elk Antler Arch over Bench in Jackson

Grand Teton National Park is famous for its spectacular mountain scenery!  The views are stunning and ever-changing throughout the year. The Teton mountains rise over a mile above the valley floor, and make quite an impression.  The pristine ecosystem contains numerous bodies of water, including the Snake River and Jackson Lake.  Historic churches and Mormon settlements are also located within the park.  There is much to see and do, and we highly recommend a visit to this beautiful place!

Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park: Scenic Historic Churches

Chapel of the Transfiguration and Rustic Fence

Chapel of the Transfiguration and Rustic Fence

Chapel of the Transfiguration Entrance

Chapel of the Transfiguration Entrance

Chapel of the Transfiguration Interior

Chapel of the Transfiguration Interior

Chapel of the Transfiguration Altar Window in Fall

Chapel of the Transfiguration Altar Window in Fall

Chapel of the Transfiguration Altar Window in Spring

Chapel of the Transfiguration Altar Window in Spring

"Winter" Stained Glass

“Winter” Stained Glass

"Summer" Stained Glass

“Summer” Stained Glass

Chapel of the Sacred Heart Entrance

Chapel of the Sacred Heart Entrance

Chapel of the Sacred Heart Interior

Chapel of the Sacred Heart Interior

"Sacred Heart" Stained Glass

“Sacred Heart” Stained Glass

Quaking Aspen

Quaking Aspen

There are two historic churches within Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyoming.  The Chapel of the Transfiguration is an Episcopalian church that is located near the main Visitor Center for the park.  It was built in 1925 out of lodge pole pines, with pews made of quaking aspen that was cut in the valley.  The window behind the altar perfectly frames the Cathedral Group of the Teton mountain peaks.  The beautiful stained glass windows featuring winter and summer were created by artist Jessie van Brunt.  This church is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Chapel of the Sacred Heart is a Roman Catholic church that is located on the south shore of Jackson Lake.  It was built in 1937 and features a rustic wood interior with a stained glass window of the Sacred Heart.  Both historic churches are popular places for weddings and photography.

Great Salt Lake: Antelope Island State Park

Wild Sunflowers Lining Road

Wild Sunflowers Lining Road

Sunflower Blowing in Wind

Sunflower Blowing in Wind

Bison Crossing Salt Flats

Bison Crossing Salt Flats

Color Bands at Great Salt Lake

Color Bands at Great Salt Lake

Avocets on Lake

Avocets on Lake

Lake and Sky Reflections

Lake and Sky Reflections

Dramatic Storm in Distance

Dramatic Storm in Distance

Patterns in Dried Mud Flats

Patterns in Dried Mud Flats

Male Pronghorn Antelope

Male Pronghorn Antelope

Female Pronghorn Antelope

Female Pronghorn Antelope

Coyote Crossing Road

Coyote Crossing Road

White Buffalo Statue (Sacred Dreams)

White Buffalo Statue (Sacred Dreams)

Antelope Island is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake (northwest of Salt Lake City, Utah).  It is famous for its natural beauty.  Visitors can expect to see incredible vistas of lake and sky, along with abundant wildlife and seasonal wildflowers.  We especially enjoyed seeing the pronghorn antelope and bison.  Over 5 million migratory birds (250 species total) depend on the lake, making it one of the most important bird conservation areas in North America (http://www.fogsl.org/resources/about-the-lake/birds-of-great-salt-lake).  Info on visiting the Great Salt Lake is at:  http://www.visitthegreatsaltlake.com/

California: Beautiful Yosemite National Park

Yosemite's Granite Mountains

Yosemite’s Granite Mountains

Granite Boulders on Mountaintop

Granite Boulders on Mountaintop

Tree Growing in Crack of Rock (Half Dome in Background)

Tree Growing in Crack of Rock (Half Dome in Background)

Ancient Stunted Juniper Tree

Ancient Stunted Juniper Tree

Deer at Tuolumne Meadows

Deer at Tuolumne Meadows

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel

Yosemite Fall Color

Yosemite Fall Color

Vintage Firefall Postcards

Vintage Firefall Postcards

Yosemite National Park is one of our country’s oldest and most beautiful parks.  Its 1,200 square mile wilderness is famous for soaring granite mountains, spectacular waterfalls, and giant sequoias.  Glaciers shaped and polished the granite rocks long ago.  This park is a real treasure – it is one of our nation’s best! 

Summer visitors at Yosemite between 1872-1968 watched the dramatic Firefall Show at Camp Curry every evening.  A fiery “waterfall” was created by slowly and continuously pushing glowing wood embers off Glacier Point to the valley below.  The experience of watching that flowing river of fire while listening to the Indian Love Call song was unforgettable!  Even President Kennedy came by to watch.  Visitor remembrances of the Firefall are at:  http://firefall.info/readers.html.   A fun show about the Firefall by Huell Howser on “California’s Gold” is at:  http://blogs.chapman.edu/huell-howser-archives/1996/01/08/firewall-californias-gold-706/  Info about visiting Yosemite is at:   http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm

Nature at Alcatraz Island National Park

Unusual Low Fog Covering Alcatraz

Unusual Low Fog Covering Alcatraz

Alcatraz Island  - "The Rock"

Alcatraz Island – “The Rock”

Western Gull

Western Gull

Juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron

Juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron

Pigeon Guillemot

Pigeon Guillemot

Beautiful Peach Rose

Beautiful Peach Rose

Gorgeous Calla Lily

Gorgeous Calla Lily

Succulent Garden

Succulent Garden

Alcatraz Island National Park is San Francisco’s number one tourist attraction.  Most people visit “The Rock” to learn about its role as a Federal Penitentiary housing criminals such as Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly (1934-1963).  But some visitors come for a different reason – they come to see its historic gardens and nesting sea bird colonies in spring. 

The gardens were important to everyone living on the island.  Park rangers say the gardens demonstrate the importance of plants to the human spirit.  More info is at:  http://www.alcatrazgardens.org/index.php   A self-guiding brochure of the gardens is at:  http://www.alcatrazgardens.org/pdf/AZ%20Garden_05_12.pdf

Sea birds nest on the island from February – September.  Birds that breed on the island include California and Western Gulls, Pigeon Guillemot, Brandt’s Cormorants, Black-Crowned Night Herons, and Snowy Egrets.  A brochure on the “Waterbirds of Alcatraz” is at:  http://www.nps.gov/alca/naturescience/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&PageID=388749

Killdeer Nest at Matanzas Creek Winery and Lavender Gardens

Killdeer Distraction Display

Killdeer Distraction Display

Killdeer Eggs in Nest

Killdeer Eggs in Nest

Matanzas Creek Wishing Well

Matanzas Creek Wishing Well

Lavender Flowers

Lavender Flowers

View of Matanzas Creek Lavender Gardens

View of Matanzas Creek Lavender Gardens

Killdeer nests are a simple depression scraped out of the ground with added bits of sticks, grass, rocks, or shells.  If a predator gets too close, killdeer perform a distraction display.  We knew we were near a nest when this mother killdeer pretended to have a broken-wing – the performance was quite convincing!  We didn’t want to upset her, so we quickly walked away in the other direction.  Just like that she “recovered” and ran back to the 4 eggs safely tucked in her nest.  She couldn’t have picked a more scenic place to raise her family – right in the middle of the lavender gardens at the Matanzas Creek Winery in Sonoma County, California.  Info on visiting is at:  http://www.matanzascreek.com/

Monterey: Scenic Lover’s Point

Scenic Lover's Point

Scenic Lover’s Point

Field of Pink Trailing Carpet Ice Plants

Field of Pink Trailing Carpet Ice Plants

Brewer's Blackbird and Ice Plants

Brewer’s Blackbird and Ice Plants

Heart on Rock Wall at Lover's Point

Heart on Rock Wall at Lover’s Point

We’ve just returned from a trip celebrating our anniversary along the California coast. One of the most scenic places we visited was Lover’s Point at Monterey, California. The pink ice plants are particularly stunning this time of year!

Bok Tower Gardens: Peak Flower Bloom!

Bok Tower in Early Spring

Bok Tower in Early Spring

Blooming Pink Azalea

Blooming Pink Azalea

Azalea-Lined Trail

Azalea-Lined Trail

Blooming Red Camellia "Royal Velvet"

Blooming Red Camellia “Royal Velvet”

Flowering Jungle Trail

Flowering Jungle Trail

Colorful Blooming Bromeliads

Colorful Blooming Bromeliads

Bok Tower Gardens has been voted Florida’s “Favorite Garden”.  The peak bloom is now!  The trails are filled with flowering azaleas, camellias, and bromeliads.

Florida: Myakka Canopy Walk and Tower

Myakka Canopy Walk

Myakka Canopy Walk

Myakka Canopy Tower

Myakka Canopy Tower

Myakka Canopy Tower Inside Looking Down

Myakka Canopy Tower Inside Looking Down

Myakka Canopy Tower View

Myakka Canopy Tower View

Canopy Walks of North America Sign

Canopy Walks of North America Sign

Myakka River State Park has the only canopy walk/observation tower in the state of Florida. It was the first public treetop trail in North America, and the only one in the world in a subtropical forest! The park is located inland from Sarasota on the west coast of Florida. The 76-foot tower provides a 360-degree view of the wild and scenic Myakka River basin. Scientists have already made important discoveries about life in the oak and palm canopy. The bird’s eye view from the top of the tower is terrific! More info is at: http://www.myakkariver.org/index.php/activities-a-attractions/canopy-walkway

California: Pebble Beach/Bean Hollow State Beach

Pebble Beach Overlook

Pebble Beach Overlook

Pebble Beach - Long Exposure

Pebble Beach – Long Exposure

Rainbow Seaweed on Pebble Beach

Rainbow Seaweed on Pebble Beach

Colorful Pebbles on Beach

Colorful Pebbles on Beach

Tafoni Rock Layers

Tafoni Rock Layers

Tafoni Rock with Mushroom Shape

Tafoni Rock with Mushroom Shape

Tafoni Rock Honeycomb Pattern

Tafoni Rock Honeycomb Pattern

Tafoni Rock Filled with Pebbles

Tafoni Rock Filled with Pebbles

Close-Up of Colorful Pebbles

Close-Up of Colorful Pebbles

Pebble Beach/Bean Hollow State Beach (south of San Francisco) is famous for its tafoni rock and pebble-covered beach.  The lacework tafoni rock is soft sandstone that has been eroded by the wind and waves.  The colorful pebbles are composed of various rocks including green jade, red chert, white agate, jasper, moonstones, and petrified wood.  The rocks are washed in from an offshore Pleistocene-era gravel bed.  Many geological field trips come to this unique location.  More info is at:  http://science.kqed.org/quest/2011/03/03/geological-outings-around-the-bay-pebble-beach/

Florida: Big Talbot Island Driftwood

Driftwood on Beach

Driftwood on Beach

Driftwood on Sand

Driftwood on Sand

Driftwood Logs

Driftwood Logs

Big Talbot Island State Park has the only beach in Florida that is covered in driftwood!  The wood comes from trees that have fallen from the eroded bluffs above the beach.  Over time the wood is polished by the sand and surf.  The bleached-out trunks have given rise to its popular name “Boneyard Beach”.   More info on this unique beach north of Jacksonville is at:  http://www.floridastateparks.org/bigtalbotisland/

Walking Among the Oldest Trees on Earth

Drive to Bristlecone Pine Forest

Scenic Overlook near Bristlecone Pine Forest

Bristlecone Pine Forest on Mountaintop

Photographing a 3,000-year-old Bristlecone Pine

Bristlecone Pine and Sky

Bristlecone Pine and Icy Bluff

Bristlecone Pine and Storm

Gnarly Bristlecone Pine

Tall Bristlecone Pine

Bristlecone Pine Sapling

Bristlecone Pine Covered with Cones

Purple Pine Cone with Sap

Polished Wood of Bristlecone Pines on Rocky Slope

Magic is the word to describe the feeling you have walking among the oldest trees on Earth!  Bristlecone pines grow in the White Mountains of California on white dolomite (limestone) slopes at 10,000-12,000 feet.  The oldest (unmarked) tree is “Methuselah”, which is 4,844 years old.  Just imagine – this tree was growing when the Pyramids were being built!

The trees are twisted and gnarled by the elements at this high elevation.  Blowing wind and ice sculpts and polishes the wood.  Sometimes almost all of the pine is dead, except for a single strip of bark connecting a root to a living branch.  The trees are named for the bristles or spines on their cones.  The pretty purple cones are often covered in sticky sap. 

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is only open a few months of the year because of snow and ice.  This trip is worth the wait – it is unforgettable.  We felt privileged to visit such an awe-inspiring place.  More info is at:  http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/inyo/specialplaces/?cid=stelprdb5129900

California: Beauty at Mono Lake

Mono Lake Sign with Volcanic Rock

Rainbow over Mono Lake

Rainbow’s End at Tufa Towers

Tufa Tower Spires

Kayaks on Mono Beach

Eared Grebe on Mono Lake

California Gull Eating Brine Flies

Mono Lake and Sky

Mono Basin

Mono Lake is located on the dry eastern side of California’s Sierra Mountains.  It is one of America’s oldest lakes – over 1,000,000 years old!  The lake covers 60 square miles in volcanic Mono Basin, and is almost 3 times saltier than the ocean.  Although no fish live in the lake, there are trillions of brine shrimp in its salty waters.  Millions of migratory and nesting birds come to feast on the shrimp.  Mono Lake is the most important migration stop for eared grebes in North America –at times over 2 million birds rest on the lake’s surface.  Eighty-five percent of the state’s California Gulls nest at Mono Lake (second largest breeding colony in the world after the Great Salt Lake).  Gulls frequently run along the shore with their mouths open scooping up brine flies!  One banded seagull returned to the lake every summer for 27 years.  Mono Lake is most famous for its striking tufa towers.  The limestone spires were created when springs bubbled up through the alkaline water.  More info about this special place is at:  http://www.monolake.org/

Big Sur: World Class Beauty!

Big Sur Coastline

Rocky Creek Bridge

McWay Falls

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Pink Ice Plants and California Poppies

Fields of Gold and Turquoise Water

Rocky Coast in Mist

Big Sur has been called “The Greatest Meeting of Land and Sea”.  This rugged coastline south of San Francisco is one of the most beautiful in the world.  The scenery is spectacular!

Big Sur: Stunning Pink Sand Beach!

Pfeiffer Beach

Walking North on Pfeiffer Beach

Pfeiffer Beach Rocks and Pink Sand

Closeup of Rocks and Pink Sand

Pfeiffer Beach Sand Patterns

More Colorful Sand Patterns

Pfeiffer Beach Sea Arch

Big Sur’s Pfeiffer Beach (south of Monterey) is famous for its pink and purple sand.  The sand’s gorgeous color comes from manganese garnet particles that wash down the hillside.  The further north you walk, the more colorful the sand.  The photography opportunities are endless and ever-changing.  This unique beach is absolutely stunning!

Point Reyes: Ladybugs at the Beach!

McClure’s Beach

Yellow Bush Lupine

Tule Elk in Fog

Tule Elk at Tomales Point

Isolated Pocket Beach

Ladybugs Covering Driftwood

Hundreds of Ladybugs at Beach

Acorn Weevil Among Ladybugs

Closeup of Ladybug

McClure’s Beach is a wild and remote beach at the northern tip of Point Reyes National Seashore (north of San Francisco).  In spring and early summer the hills are covered with yellow bush lupine flowers.  Tule Elk graze on the bluffs at Tomales Point.  The San Andreas Fault runs through the center of the park.  At the Visitor Center you can see an offset fence that was ripped 20 feet apart by the 1906 earthquake! 

McClure’s Beach is an excellent place for tidepooling.  A narrow trail leads through the rocks at low tide to an isolated pocket beach on the other side.  This pocket beach has a special secret – at times it is swarmed by ladybugs!  In summer ladybugs migrate from California’s hot Central Valley to cooler areas along the coast.  Sometimes they swarm a beach in search of salt and minerals, but there is no predicting where or when.  Many people think that ladybugs bring good luck.  We think it’s true – it was our lucky day at the beach!

Black Creek in the Jungle

Black Creek

This picture shows Black Creek at Three Lakes Conservation Area in Central Florida.  Even though the creek looks “black”, the water is actually pure and clear.  The dark color comes from tannins in the water.  The oak tree in the background is covered with Resurrection ferns and Spanish moss.  This subtropical jungle is very scenic!

California: Big Sur’s Garrapata Beach

Garrapata Beach Overlook

Garrapata Beach Trail

Garrapata Beach Stairs

Garrapata Beach Ocean View

Garrapata Beach Pyramid Rocks

Big Sur’s Garrapata Beach is a particularly scenic place along the California coast. Although the area is often shrouded in fog, the views are gorgeous on a sunny day in June.

Near Mount Lassen: Sundial Bridge

Sundial Bridge

Sundial Bridge Spire

Underneath the Sundial Bridge

Sundial Bridge at Dusk

Sundial Bridge at Night

The Sundial Bridge is a pedestrian suspension bridge that crosses the Sacramento River at Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, California (near Mount Lassen).  The spire of the bridge is one of the largest working sundials in the world!  The steel, glass, and granite span opened on July 4, 2004, and was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.  The Sundial Bridge is particularly spectacular at night!

Mount Lassen: “Eye of Vulcan”

Mount Lassen Peak with “Eye of Vulcan”

Closeup of “Eye of Vulcan”

Lassen Slope of Wildflowers

A prominent rock feature on Mount Lassen is the “Eye of Vulcan”.   In Roman mythology, Vulcan was the God of Volcanoes and Fire.  Mount Lassen Volcano last erupted in 1915.  Mount Lassen and Mount St. Helens are the only two volcanoes on the West Coast to erupt in the 20th century.  Wildflowers thrive in the volcanic soil.

Mount Lassen: Pink “Watermelon” Snow

Mount Lassen and Snow

Snowman at Mount Lassen in Summer

Lassen Streaks of Pink “Watermelon” Snow

Lassen Slope of Pink “Watermelon” Snow

Closeup of Pink “Watermelon” Snow

Visitors at Mount Lassen sometimes see pink “watermelon” snow in early summer.  The pink color comes from algae that grows on the snow’s surface as it melts in July.  There are over 350 species of snow algae around the world, ranging in color from red, orange, yellow, to green.  The algae supports an entire miniature world of worms and insects.  Scientists study life on the snow’s surface to see how life might survive on other planets.  More info on snow crystals is at:  http://www.its.caltech.edu/~atomic/snowcrystals/

Mount Lassen: Frozen Lake Helen in July!

Mount Lassen Peak and Frozen Lake Helen in July

Lassen Meadow of Mule’s-Ears Wildflowers

Lassen Stream

Mount Lassen Volcano National Park is a 4 hour drive north of San Francisco.  This beautiful park is perfect for hiking.  Even when temperatures top 100 degrees in the valley below, it is often a pleasant 70 degrees at the top of Mount Lassen.  Lake Helen is often still frozen in early July!  Trails lead past mountain streams and meadows of wildflowers at the lower elevations  in early summer.

20,000 Petroglyphs!

Petroglyph National Monument Entrance

Petroglyphs are Carved on Boulders at West Mesa

Variety of Petroglyphs on Black Volcanic Boulder

Petroglyphs of Scarlet Macaws (bottom parrot is in cage)

Petroglyphs of Twin Parrots, Eagle Tail Headdress with Arrow, and Star

Petroglyphs of Human Figures

Petroglyph of Mountain Lion

Petroglyph of Yucca Seed Pod

There are over 20,000 petroglyphs at Petroglyph National Monument! This incredible site near Albuquerque has an amazing variety of images carved on its black volcanic rock. The most surprising petroglyphs on view are macaws. Ancient trade routes brought live parrots up from Mexico to the American Southwest.  The birds were often traded for turquoise, buffalo hides, and turkeys.

La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site is Awesome

La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site

Petroglyphs are Carved on Black Basalt Boulders at Top of Mesa

Awesome Petroglyph Rock Wall

Petroglyph of Butterfly (double triangle)

Petroglyph of Kokopelli (right)

Petroglyph of Snake (center squiggle)

Petroglyph of Coyote

La Cieneguilla Petroglyph Site is an excellent place to view petroglyphs near Santa Fe. Hundreds of petroglyphs, or rock art images, were carved onto the black basalt boulders at the top of the mesa between the 13th and 17th centuries by the Pueblo Indians.  The images are thought to symbolize events of deep cultural meaning or spiritual significance.  The meaning of many images is unknown, and the site may have been a place of worship for a vanished tribe.  The location of petroglyphs is important, as well as what the images are “looking” at.  For example, this coyote petroglyph was placed in the shade, because coyotes hunt in the shadows.  La Cieneguilla is especially famous for its images of birds and Kokopelli (the hump-backed flute-player).  This place is really special.  If you use your imagination, you can almost hear the notes of Kokopelli’s flute on the wind.

Hiking Tent Rocks: Amazing Slot Canyon

Hiking into Tent Rocks Slot Canyon

Narrow Slot Canyon Trail

Curvy Rocks along Slot Canyon Trail

Rock Layers along Slot Canyon Trail

Walking Along Slot Canyon Trail

Slot Canyon Trail Hoodoo Panorama

Blooming Cholla Cactus

The Slot Canyon at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is outstanding! It has been called one of the best day hikes in New Mexico. The trail passes through a single-file slot canyon, past curvy rock layers, and opens out onto a hoodoo panorama. Brilliant cholla cactus blooms added even more color to the spectacular view. This trail is one of our all-time favorites!

Hiking Tent Rocks: Colorful Rock Layers

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks: Colorful Layers

Tent Rocks: Spire Layers

Tent Rocks: Cliff Layers

Tent Rocks and Juniper Tree

Tent Rocks and Yucca

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument is very colorful!  The beautiful cliffs have rock layers composed of volcanic and sedimentary deposits.  Volcanic layers are composed of white and grey pumice, along with pink and red rhyolite.  Sedimentary layers are composed of dark brown gravel, along with light orange soil.  It is a beautiful place for a hike near Santa Fe!

Hiking Tent Rocks: Conical Formations

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Conical Tent Rocks

Close-Up of Cones

Hiking by Three Cones

Cap Rocks top Hoodoos

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks is a little known gem of a park near Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It became a National Monument in 2001, and is famous for its dramatic rock formations.  Kasha-Katuwe means “white cliffs” in the traditional pueblo language.  Conical tent rocks are the result of volcanic activity in the area 7 million years ago.  Hard cap rocks top the softer spires of pumice and tuff. 

Our Best Video of the Golden Gate Bridge and Fog (time lapse 10X speed)

Since today is the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, here is our best video of the Golden Gate Bridge and fog.  The original 6 1/2 minute video has been speeded up to play in 39 seconds.  Enjoy!

Solvang: Danish Fun near Santa Barbara

Solvang Windmill

Solvang Stork Nest on Roof Top for Good Luck

Solvang Danish Bakery

Solvang (which means “sunny fields”) is located north of Santa Barbara. The town is a replica of a Danish village, and celebrated its 100th birthday in 2011. The main crops in the area are wine grapes and strawberries. Several windmills are found throughout town, and replica stork nests decorate the roof tops for good luck.  We especially enjoyed the authentic Danish bakeries in the village. The pastries were the best we’ve ever had!