Musings with Camera in Hand

Belinda Greb – The Photographic Journey


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Yosemite in Spring

Early in April, I met my longtime friends for a vacation in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. It’s a lovely time of year to visit as tourist numbers are lower than summer, but the downside is that some of the trails and roads, including Tioga Pass and the road to Glacier Point were closed (seasonal weather closures).

I hadn’t been to the area since I was a child. We entered the park, and the famous tunnel view is a grand sight to behold.  Yosemite Valley area is splendid. I felt like I was in a long narrow amphitheater surrounded by these awe-inspiring views and granite cliffs. We had reserved rooms at Yosemite Valley Lodge, and I really enjoyed staying in the national park without having to spend the time driving in each day. It didn’t hurt that the Yosemite Falls was right behind our room. All the waterfalls were at high water levels due to the plentiful rainfall California had received that winter. At night I fell asleep to the sounds of rushing water.

Also, I enjoyed getting up in the early morning to take a walk around Cook’s Valley before cars lined the roads. The day was crisp and there were few people about and lots of water in the fields, so I was able to get some lovely reflective shots of the falls.

The weather was beautiful the first full day we were there, and we enjoyed the trail to Mirror Lake after we had let our fellow shuttle bus passengers move on past us. And that is the downside of Yosemite Valley: like Yellowstone there are tons of tourists, but unlike Yellowstone, at least at this time of year, they are concentrated into the much smaller area of the Yosemite Valley. This may not bother others as much, but now having acclimated to the less traveled terrain of my Oregon locale, it is a difficult adjustment having my nature intruded upon by so many other humans. I know I have to share. : ) It is a lovely trail that accompanies Tenaya Creek up to Mirror Lake, which is pretty small, although it used to be larger before a dam was built.

The next day I took a longer hike around the Yosemite Valley Floor Loop. While we did less than half the full 20 miles, it is an flat easy walk that gives some stunning views of El Capitan, Sentinel Falls, Cathedral Rocks and Merced River.

 

After visiting Yosemite National Park, my friends and I drove south to spend a couple of days at Sequoia National Park and one day it was even snowing. In the future, I would wait until later in the year to visit this park as some of the trails were snow-bound. But it was beautiful to see the majestic giant sequoias, including General Sherman, the largest tree by volume in the world, and also General Grant. These trees are among the oldest living organisms alive on Earth, with General Sherman estimated to be between 2300-2700 years old.

All in all it was a vacation filled with wonder and awe at the beautiful world we live in, and I loved being able to share the experience with my friends. And I also hope to explore more of these two national parks in the future!

To see more, please my Yosemite Gallery or Sequoia National Park Gallery .

 

 

 

 

 

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Six Days in Paradise – Kauai, Hawaii – Part I

It should have been a week, but I overlooked that the flight into LAX was one date and the flight out to Lihue was the next. That ended up working out well, as I was able to spend one day visiting with my friends in Los Angeles. On checking the weather forecast, I kept seeing day after day of rain, but knowing Kauai, I was sure we’d get at least a few days of beautiful weather, which we did. This was fortunate, especially as my friend, Diana, from Georgia, who met me there, had never been to Hawaii, and I was hoping she’d see it at its best.

I’ve been to four of the islands, and Kauai is my favorite, because it is the most beautiful island in my opinion, although Maui is also very beautiful. Kauai is also probably the wettest. It has developed at a slower pace. My family has a timeshare in Princeville and so I get a turn every couple or few years. The timeshare sits on bluffs overlooking the ocean, and a favorite pastime of the guests is going out in the morning and late afternoon to watch the whales (during winter months).

There are also Nene Geese wandering around the grounds. The Nene Goose is the world’s rarest goose.  In 1952, there were estimated to be only about thirty left, but they were re-introduced and have made a comeback in numbers with about an estimated  800 in the wild (2004) and 1000 more in captivity.

Soaring Layson Albatross can be seen from the timeshare with more at Kilauea Lighthouse, and many wild chickens (to be found all over the island). This year I also noticed a new bird I had never seen before there, the Chestnut Munia.  They are very small crimson birds and seemed to move as a small flock. There are also lots of red and red-crested cardinals and a few feral cats. I love getting up early and going outside and watching the birds.  The chickens usually have chicks with them, of various ages.  They believe the population of chickens has become so large because they have no real predators (except feral cats when they are chicks).

Not only is the weather in Kauai temperate, with no heating or air conditioning necessary, but the clean air quality, the sounds of the ocean and birds, all create this magical relaxing environment.  This isn’t to say that it doesn’t get muggy at times – it does, but most days are heavenly. Of course, the summers can be hotter.

There is something wonderful about the skies!  When there are big puffy clouds in the evening, they seem so close, as if you might reach up and grab one. It may be the clean air, the fact that you’re surrounded by the ocean and fewer city lights, but I feel more aware of the world around me in a strange and wonderful way.

And then there are the beaches.  I tend to stay at the northern end of the island, which is greener, but also has the most beautiful, secluded beaches. Some you need to hike to, and each beach offers different things. Some beaches offer great swimming, others snorkeling, others paddling or body surfing.

I love snorkeling, but how much snorkeling you get to do will depend on the water conditions, and it tends to be more dangerous in the winter.  This year, there was no snorkeling at two of my favorite beaches Kee and Tunnels, although I did get 15 minutes at Kee, before the lifeguard stopped me.  There had been many straight days of rain, and the week before a snorkeler had drowned at Secret Beach.  One day, after seeing the flags up at Tunnels, I wen tot Annini.  While the conditions were not the best, and I didn’t see as many fish as I normally do, or even as many as I had seen during my 15 minutes at Kee, I did get to see and swim with the sea turtles and that is just an amazing thing. They swim right by you, and in the past, I’ve had to back-paddle to keep my distance from them.  Then it’s fun when one pokes its head up above the surface of the water to scope you out and you have that direct eye contact.  I’m getting blissful just writing about it!

You could stay there a month and probably not visit all the wonderful beaches on the island. There are some beaches you hike to, and are rewarded with complete privacy.  My sister, who was there in November, saw a monk seal on one of the beaches as they like to come ashore and sun. Also you can be sitting at the beach and see a whale breeching or dolphins swimming by. For those who like to avoid the sun, most of the northern beaches also have great shade trees. Parking can be a problem, and getting to some beaches can also be hard on the knees, especially if it’s been raining lately.

Next week, I will continue my Kauai post, with more photographs and more adventures available on the island of Kauai!   I haven’t written my blog for a while, as I came back and immediately came down with a virus that lingered on for almost three weeks. I’m definitely blaming that illness on being back in the stuffy old office!

Anyway, more later, and as they say in Kauai, Aloha and Mahalo!