…well into the second 5 year mission!


Buffalo Valley Boondocking

For the past week, I have been hanging out at a snow plow turnaround off Buffalo Valley Road, overlooking Buffalo Fork.  I have seen lots of haze, but did not do much photography.

Last night, a front came through, preceded by showers.  This is what I saw just before going to bed.

1 Buffalo Fork area sunset 2016-08-07

2 Buffalo Fork area sunset 2016-08-07_1

3 Buffalo Fork area sunset 2016-08-07_3

And this is what I awoke to this morning, my day of departure.

4 Buffalo Fork area morning 2016-08-08_3

5 Buffalo Fork area morning 2016-08-08_6

6 Buffalo Fork area morning 2016-08-08_10

7 Buffalo Fork area morning 2016-08-08_9

8 Buffalo Fork area morning 2016-08-08_11

Nice spot… but it is becoming “discovered”.  I had it to myself twice during the week.

Early Bike Explorations

I am dry camping a few miles east of the Grand Teton National Park, above the Buffalo Fork, a tributary to the Snake River.  Around me are fishing, camping and hunting access roads and wilderness trails.  I started out near the campsite, following a two rut path down toward the stream.

1 Buffalo Fork area by bike 2016-08-03_0

You can see my RV and a neighbor, with whom I am sharing the site, in the photo above.

Next, I headed east along the road to a wilderness trail.  The north leg headed up, and the south leg headed down.  I went north.

About 50 feet later, having almost lost it three times, I turned around.  The bike was fine – it wanted to climb, but the trail was perhaps a foot wide, with uneven edges, several inches of dusty, very loose dirt, and underbrush right up to the edge of the trail, which had sharp angles in it.  The hoof prints showed it to be used primarily by horses.  Maybe with the reflexes and balance I had 40 years ago, I could have done it, but I decided, not now.

I headed further east and found a fishing access “road”.  It would be impassable for the Subaru due to deep ruts and sharp dips in places, but the bike enjoyed it.

2 Buffalo Fork area by bike 2016-08-03_5

Finally, the scenery I wanted was beginning to open for me.

3 Buffalo Fork area by bike 2016-08-03_1

5 Buffalo Fork area by bike 2016-08-03_4

OK, now THIS is NICE.  This is what I was hoping to find with my new legs.  I know, the light isn’t great.  I am shooting toward the sun.  There is haze in the air from wildfires to the west.  The peaks are far away.  Still – this put a smile on my face.

6 Buffalo Fork area by bike 2016-08-03_11

7 Buffalo Fork area by bike 2016-08-03_7

8 Buffalo Fork area by bike 2016-08-03_9

OK, it is 4:30.  Time for a nap…

Trying out my new “legs”

Wow – three months since my last post…  I haven’t been dragging my feet.  Honest.  I have been really busy, looking for, and hopefully finding, a new way to get a bit off road for my photography.  What I found was an electric moped.

Playing with my new legs 2016-07-08

I won’t belabor you with the path I followed, but it was challenging.  Finally, at the end of June, I received the bike and licensed it.  It will go 20 mph on the flat, but I wanted to see what it would climb.  I headed off to Glass Butte in Oregon to try some hills.

This spot is one that was too rough for my car and too far for last year’s legs, so I have never seen this view.  It isn’t spectacular, but it was new to me, a proof of concept, as it were, therefore exciting to me.

From Bike at Glass Butte 2016-06-28

I learned that the bike will pull me up a 15% grade briskly, will get me up an 18% grade, but presented with a 22% grade, it said, uh uh, not gonna do it.

I took a very short ride along the road in Idaho at a spot I stopped at for the night.

Anderson Ranch Reservoir area 2016-07-05 _1

Right now, I am close to West Yellowstone, in a nice little campground, so I took a tour with my camera.

Playing with my new legs 2016-07-08_1

Playing with my new legs 2016-07-08_2

OK, I COULD have reached these spots with my car, but I would have had to park on the campground road for them, which would have been a concern for anyone passing by.  I wouldn’t have walked – too far.  So, these are pics, again, that I got with the bike but would not have gotten without it.

I think (I hope) this will work for me.


On To Capitol Reef

Working my to the northwest, the next stop for me was Capitol Reef.  Native Americans called this home long before Europeans saw it.

01 Capitol Reef petroglyphs 2016-03-29

For two days, I too called this home.

02 Capitol Reef 2016-03-29_0

My first day here was beneath grey skies.  The sun sneaked out on the afternoon of the second day, so I headed out.  I found the Capitol Dome…

03 Capitol Reef 2016-03-29_4

Further west, the views were expansive.

04 Capitol Reef 2016-03-29_9

05 Capitol Reef 2016-03-29_13

This place is full of trails; it was frustrating to not be able to hike them.  Still, there is a road, called Scenic Drive, that gives a nice experience.

06 Capitol Reef 2016-03-29_15

07 Capitol Reef 2016-03-29_19

A re-visit to Monument Valley

I visited Monument Valley in 2010, and decided it was time to return.  My buddy Jim jokingly urged me to get a sunrise shot, knowing that I tend to sleep in.  Well, usually…

01 Monument Valley 2016-03-28

While sunrise was ok, the late day colors on the rock really do it for me.

02 Monument Valley 2016-03-25_6

03 Monument Valley 2016-03-25_5

Of course, given the chance, I put myself in the photo.

04 Monument Valley self portrait 2016-03-25

Winter becomes spring

I opened the new year boon docking east of Las Cruces, near the Organ Mountains.  Of course, the one week when I decide to camp off the grid, is the week the biggest snow storm in the memory of most folks down there came through.  Before the storm, I was presented with a light show on some incredibly rugged peaks.

Organ Mtns 2015-12-23_11

After the storm, which dropped at least 12″ of snow on my solar panels and I don’t know how much more on the ground around me, I spent a night at a commercial campground before returning to Caballo.

Organ Mtns snow 2015-12-27_7

At Caballo, Jim and I found a new area to explore, the Gila National Forest.  Unfortunately, my  hiking has come to an end.  That means my photos from here on out need to be locations near the car.

Gila NF 2015-11-24_0

I think I can live with that…

With the snow and ice melting, the streams are flowing nicely.  So, while Jim and Sweety go hiking, I find nice spots near the car to enjoy the sight and sound of these clean mountain streams.

Gila 2016-02-15

Gila 2016-02-19_6

Gila 2016-02-19_19

And now, spring is just about here.  The first signs are showing up.

Gila 2016-02-19_13

Before long, it will be time to head northwest again.


Yesterday was a grey day here in the campground.  There was not a hint of blue in the sky, the temperature was in the high 20’s and, surprisingly for New Mexico, it felt damp and raw.  So, of course, Jim and I went hiking.

Actually, we went west into the Gila National Forest, looking for hiking and snow or ice photo ops.  Well, surprise…  As we drove west toward the Gila Mountains, we began seeing hints of blue near the horizon, behind the peaks.  As we got closer, we began to see trees with a dusting of white.  It didn’t look like snow, though.

1 Gila frost 2015-01-02_0

2 Gila frost 2015-01-02_1

3 Gila frost 2015-01-02_2

4 Gila frost 2015-01-02_7

It wasn’t snow.  Clouds had come through the pass, spilled down onto the trees, and the sub-freezing vegetation encouraged the moisture to form tiny feathers of ice on every surface.

5 Gila frost 2015-01-02_18

Finally, the sun hit the feathers, creating a magical few minutes.

6 Gila frost 2015-01-02_23

7 Gila frost 2015-01-02_15

8 Gila frost 2015-01-02_24

Shortly, the temperature had climbed above freezing and those feathers turned into droplets.  Pretty, but it couldn’t compare with what we had been seeing.  A few minutes earlier, and there would have been no sun on the crystals.  A few minutes later, and the crystals would have been gone.  Serendipity.

Ice in the desert

For seven years, in the winter I have been hiking in the high desert near Elephant Butte and Caballo.  I knew, intellectually, that the Gila National Forest was to the west, but I knew little about it.  That changed when Jim and I went exploring for something new.

We found a wonderful area.  The streams cut passages through the rock walls.  With care, one can make their way along the stream bed.  Sometimes it is all but impassable.

01 Gila NF 2015-12-10_24

Sometimes, it is easy.

02 Gila NF 2015-12-17_18

03 Gila NF 2015-12-15_7

What we found there were treasures.  Some were tiny falls dropping into pools.

04 Gila NF 2015-12-18_19

Some were more substantial falls.

05 Gila NF 2015-12-17_6

06 Gila NF 2015-12-17_21

The REAL surprise, though were the ever-varying ice formations created along the stream.  The varicolored rocks in the stream bed are joined by reflections on the frozen crystal forms from the canyon walls.

07 Gila NF 2015-12-17_43

08 Gila NF 2015-12-17_39

It seemed like there were new attractions every few feet.

09 Gila NF 2015-12-19_9

10 Gila NF 2015-12-18_25

11 Gila NF 2015-12-19_14

The topper, for me, was this sculpture of a boot in ice.  It’s all there – the sole, heel, laces and pants leg.

12 Gila NF cold foot 2015-12-19

So, finishing out the year, here is one more unusual image for this area – snow in the mountains.

Organ Mtns snow 2015-12-27_7

Happy New Year to all.

Clouds, Rain and Light

Combine the three…

I know it has been a while.  I have gotten a few nice pics here and there, but I prefer to post several photos linked by a theme when posting here.  Well, yesterday an opportunity presented itself.

It had been raining off and on, all day.  Late in the afternoon, clouds darkened the sky to the east.  The sun, screened by the edge of a storm cloud, was approaching open sky.  The combination meant a rainbow might happen.

I got my camera and two lenses, went outside, and sat at my table, waiting.  In a few minutes, the sun cleared that cloud, and my planning was rewarded.

EBLSP rainbow 2015-11-15_3

As the sun dropped, the rainbow got more intense, forming a double arc of color.

EBLSP rainbow 2015-11-15_7

It grew to form the most intensely colored rainbow I have ever seen.

EBLSP rainbow 2015-11-15_10

EBLSP rainbow 2015-11-15_11

This morning, I awoke to see another double rainbow, nowhere near as intense as the night before, in the western sky.  Ahh, New Mexico light…

Running before the storm

After getting service done for my rig, the car and the generator, all in one day, I was free to leave Albuquerque and head for Elephant Butte.  While the weather forecast the night before had mentioned that there might be storms to the south the next day, the weather looked clear.  Balloons from the Balloon Fiesta were up.  I headed south.

Within 50 miles, I had massive, intense-looking clouds to my right, charcoal skies in my rear view mirror, a few towering cumulus formations well to my left, and mostly clear skies in front of me.  I was fighting some fairly heavy wind gusts.

I kept thinking I would like to stop and grab a few shots of those skies with the camera and my fisheye lens, but the sky behind was so intimidating that I did not want to delay heading for that clear weather.  I pushed on.

By the time I reached Elephant Butte, I had been in some spotty but intense rainfall, some heavy gusting winds, and I was surrounded by dark skies.  I pulled onto the point, put down my levelers and hunkered down.  The storm hit fairly hard, with wind and rain, and lightning flashes in all directions.

About an hour later, it was dark out, but the rain had stopped.  I could see distant lightning flashes outside the windows.  I grabbed the camera and tripod.

The storm had passed.  Stars were visible overhead.  To the north, east, and south, however, there were still some massive clouds.  They were being backlit by lightning.  I rarely saw a lightning bolt, just the light from them in the clouds.

Storm farewell 2015-10-06_5

My posts here usually include several photos.  To be complete, I should have had the clouds as they built all around me in the late afternoon, then those massive towers being lit by the setting sun, finishing with this shot of the departing storm.  Sorry – this time there is only one shot, but it is a sweet one.


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