Saturday, March 12, 2011

A week ago today

Yes, it does already seem like a lifetime ago.
And yes, I want to go back down to the land of red rock and hoo doos in the Dixie National forest just below Brian Head.
As always, you are welcome to view the pictures in full screen size by clicking HERE
There are more pictures in the slide show than on the blog and they look so much better viewed full screen.

So beautiful and so amazing to be out in this scenery all by myself.
I stood aside the road and clicked away, barely ever seeing another car or soul.

I had intended to go to Bryce Canyon National Park, and actually took the wrong fork in the road.
That is how I wound up instead in the Dixie National Forest's Red Canyon.

Not complaining.  No siree.  Given that I had only a few hours to spend it really was best that I didn't dip into the "heavy" scenery of the National Park.
The National Forest scenes were plenty for me!

The red rock and stripes of brownish gray rocks were so amazing.

The snow...that was exactly what I wanted to see surrounding the red rock scenes.
I know this area is really popular in summer; I don't think I could handle the heat that time of year though.

Wind and water sculpted details.
After the Japan earthquake, and knowing how there are fault lines three hours above this area, I look at these pictures realizing that an earthquake could easily ruin all these delicate hoo doos.

Every rain storm and every snow storm makes changes in these structures.

In this scene I can see where a hoo doo has collapsed and is now is mostly just a smooth pile of reddish sand.

As I photographed the first thin high clouds of the next winter's storm was drifting into the area.

I really don't understand how caves are formed. 

Well, I do understand how this cave tunnel was formed. It had a bit of help from the Forest Service I believe.
Actually there were two such arches to drive under.
Pretty cool!

I was winding through the Red Canyon area and was very surprised to suddenly see pink hoo doo structures!

Depending on the exposure, the land was either a foot or more deep in snow or was totally snow free and bone dry.
I only crunched through the snow a couple of times to get shots, but found that sometimes that smooth snow field actually covered undulating landscape; I sunk up to my thigh more than once.
(The day before I had learned that setting up a camera tripod in the snow was pointless.  They need to make baskets for tripod legs, just like they do for ski poles. The tripod legs just knifed through the snow and had me reaching to catch a camera about to take a tumble.  Hand held shots became the order of the day after those tripod usage attempts.)

I'm just going to admit it: I absolutely love all shades of pink. 
Discovering these pink structures in red rock guessed it: I was tickled pink!

Seashell pink is what I would call it. 

Sort of reminded me of paint sample chips with the colors gradiated.
I am smiling again just looking at this shot.
The pinkness with snow!  Love it!

Pink castles...

I did want to trek in closer and try to walk between the spirers.
Not something that I felt would be wise to do alone.
If I had had a buddy with me...I would have though, for sure.

(I did have my snow shoes in the car.  Hiking up the snow to the split was very tempting.)

Then the thin sheer clouds were joined by a different kind of cloud that looked almost like a huge smoke ring.
Those clouds are called Lenticular clouds I am told by friend Vicki.
I didn't think to bring my cloud identification book with me, but I had wondered what they were called.

Eventually I left the National Forest and started back up to Brian Head.
The snow fields looked so different today.

In places they seemed endless.

Then there would be another bend in the road and I would see more red castles perched above me.
It was so strange that I would see a totally different view driving out than I did driving in!

It all had to do with slight changes in angles.

How had I missed this rock with peek holes on the way in?

I should mention that the air was wonderfully scented with the pine and sage and I don't know all what.

More lenticular clouds hovered over the distant mountains.
I am amazed at how many colors are in this one scene.

Then there were these patches of scrub brush and such that looked like they were put in place according to a very detailed landscape plan.

Bernie said he thinks this was either the Freemont or the San Juan river.  It snaked through the area, looking like the sky fallen to earth.

A little saturation and crop, and suddenly the mountain range looked like a painting.

And doesn't a scene like that need a little cabin in it too?
Well, there you go!  I couldn't believe that the perfect cabin was right there when I took the picture.

 A scraggly tree would be good too. 
And there it was.   I only wish I had a wider angle lens to capture it all more clearly

Road side rock arrangements and planting that would be just perfect to duplicate in a billionaires garden.

A small tree was growing straight out of the rocks!
An even smaller one was growing the rock cleft.

I like to think of the orange lichen as God's extra brush strokes of beauty.

Fence posts made of what was naturally available.

A few posts were now no-nonsense metal posts.
Oh I hope the rancher has an artistic soul and at leasts tries to keep the natural posts for as long and as much as possible.

I took lots and lots of pictures of the fence posts. 
OK, OK, I admit it: I am a city girl who just loves the country looks.

From the look of the homestead and ranch buildings, I'm thinking this is a ranching enterprise with a very long history.
I wonder if they realize how much those who pass by enjoy the rugged look of their property.
Maybe I should write them a thank you note thanking them for giving me such wonderful things to photograph with my camera.

I know I want to go back to the area in the fall.  If it is possible, I might try to get back down there while the snow is still around.
We will see.
Got to take one day at a time.
Because as we all are now really really just never know what will happen next.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Last week at this time....

We traveled three and a half hours south, down to a ski town known as Brian Head.

A condo had been retained for a four day holiday.

We arrived in nearly white out conditions; shortly afterwards the sun and the clouds took turns filling the sky above us.

Sunset light on storm clouds makes for great highlights in forest pictures.  The next shot I took when the cloud obscured the sun was a dull and flat picture by comparison.

Son Jeff and DIL Rachel whipped up some fish tacos for our dinner after the long drive.

A fully furnished kitchen and table settings made the meal on par with going out to eat at a nice restaurant.

The next day dawned crystal clear.  The three skiers hit the slopes while I hit the freshly plowed road looking for great photo opportunities.

I found plenty of scenes that caused me to pull over and lift up my camera to my eye.

The wind was eye watering hard and cold. 
Some times the wind blown powdery snow filled the air around me like a fast moving fog that scoured  the skin from my face.

Everything was dusted with glittering snow.

And for some reason, every time I went to take a picture, a jet plane flew overhead.

See the snow being blown up on the mountain ridge?

The white specks against the ultra deep blue sky is snow being blown off the tall bare aspen trees.

Seeing the once golden hued aspen branches now frosted white was simply dazzling.

Random gusts would hit various trees at various time, causing them to explode like a blown upon spent dandelion.

Then it would seem like the entire stand of trees would be shaking down snow all at once.

It was mid-morning when I drove by this still smooth ski trail.

Wherever the snow had drifted, it was undergoing sculpting from the wind.

The sculpting continued before my eyes; a section would blur with the wind for a moment, the assume a new design.  I thought this drift looked like a part of an angel's wing.

I couldn't imagine what turbulence formed these complex snow designs.  The twists and curves: were they the work of a whirl wind?

Remember the cartoon plot line staple of the snowball rolling down the hill and becoming so huge that it over takes the cartoon character?

Perhaps I should have stopped to check to see if someone was trapped in the middle of this runaway snow ball!

As I drove down the mountain, I began to see incredible shapes that we had not seen in the white out drive up the night before.

The two tall cone shaped forms: How were they formed?
I just can't imagine....

Smooth grey walls rose up from the forest in unexpected places.

When switched to black and white the scene is even more mysterious.
(Add in a jet flying over head and I can almost imagine a science fiction movie set here.)

Like many people, I tend to see shapes that remind me of something.
Does anyone else see a Persian cat perched up atop this rock formation?

An enormous waterfall had frozen mid fall.

Rocks seem to lift up from their white blankets while icicles spear down its side.

As I drove I could see bits of red rock peeking out in the distance.  Finally I found a side road and began to travel in to the red rock areas.

A few red "hoo doos" were spotted about.

Odd hybrid formations of gray atop the red had holes burrowed in like oven openings.

It makes me happy to see the vermilion soil in one place and yellow soil else where, and some gray behind it all.   So what exactly is the color of dirt anyway?

Isn't dirt kind of like sky?  Sometimes sky is grey, sometimes it is red, and sometimes it is almost a pale yellow too.

So what do you see in this scene?

I saw a large fish being followed by a smaller fish, and a salamander sitting off to the side down below.

Now I do not know exactly where an air force base might have been, but obviously there was some kind of flight pattern overhead.  The jets were silent, yet constantly passing through my vistas.

Does anyone else see a somewhat reptilian form standing?

Three jets sketching lines up in the sky...

I wondered what the pilots were seeing from up above.

I barely went farther the edge of the road to take all these pictures.
My car, parked on some lingering snow.  I was very glad for all wheel drive as there was no cell phone coverage in the area, and if I got stuck in the snow I would be completely on my own.
The road was creatively named "Five Mile Road".  
I am guessing it is like, um....maybe five miles long?

I probably stopped every twenty feet to take another picture.

The scenes just kept getting better and better as I drove.

Do you see a Tiki god off to the left?
Or what do think you see?
(While it is nice to be driving around all alone so I can stop as often as I please and gawk as long as I wish, sometimes I miss having someone else to chat with about the images that were seen.)

I did take one very short off road trail; hiking no more than five minutes in. 
I just wanted to get close to the red rock walls, wanted to see them up close for a change.

The day had warmed up and a small trickle of snow melt deepened the red where the water ran.

The rocks were not just red after all...

What a marvelous place to enjoy a sunset around a campfire!

A few dried flowers hinted to me that come spring there would be colorful flora to hunt down in the area too.

Noah's Ark Trail?
How fun!  There must be some crazy cool rock formations to see up the way. 
Can't do it today...won't hike alone, and there is probably too much snow on the trail right now anyway.

OK...admit it: How many people are seeing pastry icing in this shot?

North facing scenes are so hard to photograph.  I waited until the sun sunk down low and at last lit up just the jutting edges of the rocks.

It was close to 4 pm, and I hadn't eaten since breakfast.  That *might* have been why I just kept seeing pastry with drizzled white icing as I took these shots.

The whole time I was in the canyon I only saw one person; a woodsman cutting logs accompanied by his dog.  We nodded and said hello, when I came back down the road he was loading his truck with beautiful evenly cut long logs.

When I started shooting these scenes, inching my car along to focus on the views with the best lighting, suddenly cars started appearing with people of all ages heading up the road.

They barely glanced at the scenery but each driver seemed to take a good long stare at me.
Really, I was parked each stop as far off the road as possible, yet they looked at me like I was parked totally in their way.

(Sometimes it is fun to fiddle around with the saturation and shadow feature in Picasa to make a picture look kind of trippy.)

(Can you understand now why I had to keep stopping every couple of feet to take a different perspective of the snow trimmed red rocks?)

I got back to the condo about the same time as the skiers.  They were peeling off their gear and heading for the condo complex jacuzzi and sauna.

Of course I had to join them. We had the jacuzzi pool to all to ourselves.  We chatted over our days and after we were limp and light headed from our soak, we got out and wrapped up in towels to walk back to our condo.

The pool deck and walls were all made from cedar; it smelled wonderful in the hot moist air.

It is just too bad that wet feet had made the wooden step wet, and too bad that I was the one to slip and land on my hip, elbow, knee and ribs beneath my arms.

I am pretty sure I couldn't connect all those points on my body on to stairs again, even if I tried.
Oh boy did it hurt, and worse, the bruised ribs made breathing the 10,000 feet high air even more difficult than before. 
Pizza was ordered for dinner so I could stay in and stay on some heavy pain killers.
I slept poorly that night, but that didn't stop me from heading out the next day again, going to explore the sights in a new direction.

(To be continued.)