Saturday, June 3, 2017



We were off early this morning, before 0500!! to be ahead of traffic as we drove North on I-15. It did not really work. We were North of Temecula within an hour, but then things got crowded and slow. It took over another hour to reach Norco. Things began to clear up North of CA 60 and we had smooth driving from I-10 North.

After checking into our motel, The Big Pine Motel, we headed for
Bishop and a rendezvous with our daughter Tina, her husband Justin, and good friends DawnMarie and VidaRose. We got to the Fairgrounds in Bishop in time to see DawnMarie compete in donkey driving classes. 

                 DawnMarie and Mr. Ear E Sistable

It was fun to watch these long-eared animals competing and having to perform specific skills such as backing up their carts, weaving around cones in a circle, and going through various obstacles while being timed. They have changed the program around so we do not get to see the various English jumping classes which are now held on Tuesday morning and are really enjoyable to watch.

After the afternoon classes we watched Tina practice her dressage course for tomorrow's competition.

 Tina and her mule Ima---

We then hurried off to Amigos Mexican Restaurant where we enjoyed a family meal with excellent Mexican food. It has become a tradition to eat there on Tuesday evening as their Special is baby lobster enchiladas!


This morning we went for an early morning walk on the West side of town, and then enjoyed a breakfast of coffee, sweet pretzels, and bananas. As the sun came out we experienced the emergence of painted lady butterflies....

They swarmed over the roof of the motel and then continued on their way to the West. 

Tina was competing in two English dressage classes. Luckily for us her fist start time was about 0845, a decent hour. Dressage is the art of riding and training a mule in a manner that develops obedience, flexibility, and balance. It is the guiding of a mule through a series of complex maneuvers by slight movements of the rider's hands, legs, and weight. Today’s competition was riding English saddle.   

In the afternoon there were English Pleasure classes. Here the mule is shown at the walk, trot and canter with loose reins without undue restraint both ways in the arena, and must be able to back willingly. Tina placed in both classes and was pleased as most of the other riders were trainers. 

Grandstand View of White Mountains

Mules competing in the Jumping Class ---

DawnMarie and her Mom, VidaRose, competed with donkeys.

DawnMarie and Mr. Ear E Sistable

Late in the afternoon was the first round of team roping which we did not watch this year. There were no classes in the evening so we drove back to Big Pine and enjoyed a nice sandwich which had been prepared at Schat’s Bakkery in Bishop.

Sunday, May 21, 2017



I was asked to travel to Lancaster, CA, to judge the Lancaster Photography Association (LPA) spring assignment, "Desert Wildflowers and Desert Scenes". So off I went this past Tuesday, May 16th.

Lancaster is located in Northern Los Angeles County in the high desert region of the Western Mojave Desert. It is about a three hour drive from my home in San Diego. I left mid-morning after the morning commute. The drive went smoothly though it was quite windy. Before reaching Lancaster, I was attracted to Saddleback Butte State Park.

Saddleback Butte State Park is located about 15 miles East of Lancaster, and protects the butte and Joshua trees that dot the high desert landscape. Regrettably the wildflowers were mostly gone. I saw California coreopsis in bloom, a couple of very small blue flowers which were very much past their prime, and a variety of fiddleneck.  I hiked the Saddleback Butte Peak Trail starting from the campground. The trail was quite easy to follow though it was also quite sandy. Due to time constraints I had to turn around before reaching the peak, but I had a commanding view to the West where I stopped to enjoy a tangerine and some water before returning to my car.
Saddleback Butte

Joshua Tree in Saddleback Butte S.P.

Once in Lancaster I checked into my “no tell” Motel and then was off to an early dinner with members of the Lancaster Photography Association. Dinner was at the Greenhouse Café. The club’s meeting was at the Antelope Valley Senior Center which has a number of programs, and facilities for the Senior population to make use of. After the business meeting I was introduced and given the privilege of evaluating both prints and digitally projected images. Hopefully I gave a constructive critique and the makers learned a little from each image. Afterwards I was given a certificate of appreciation, a coffee mug with the LPA logo, and an honorarium to help defray the cost of my travel to and from Lancaster.

 My eye glasses had broken down in that one of the screws holding the ear bar had fallen out. I was able to stop at a drug store on my way back to the motel for a repair kit, and then with the help of the desk clerk at the motel got them repaired so that I could use them for reading, etc. I had them checked and retightened by my optometrist when I got home.

Wednesday morning I was off before sunrise to get to Red Rock State Park which is located about 55 miles North of Lancaster. I had driven through it once before as CA-14 runs right through the park. 

Highlighted Clouds

I did not make it to the park for sunrise, but was not too late to capture low light on the formations around Hagen Canyon. I had been delayed in part by the phenomenal rainbows that were to the West of the highway. Though I did not get rained upon, the low clouds and light mist worked to create some beautiful rainbows.
Double Rainbow and Windmills

Rainbow and Windmills

The cliffs at Red Rock State Park are the result of wind and rain eroding the softer materials beneath the dark caprocks which were formed by a harder lava flow layer.  
Red Rock Canyon Wall

Cloud and Rolling Hills
It was very windy this morning with wind speeds of 25 plus mph. Several times I really got blown around, and the sand also was blowing but generally just at ground level. Though I did not explore much of the park on foot due to the wind, I did enjoy my time there photographing the landscape and enjoying the quiet of the desert.

Hagen Canyon Formation

Hagen Canyon, A Closer View

Layers, Hagen Canyon

Low Cliff, High Cloud
Early this morning I discovered that I had lost my “Tillie Hat” out of the car. I figured that when the back of the car was open that it must have blown out!! Where could it be? The last I remember seeing it and debating using it or a sun bonnet was at Saddleback Butte. So after getting a coffee in Mojave and then having my breakfast in the car as it was too windy to be enjoyable outside, I decided that on my way home I would take the time to swing back by Saddleback Butte S.P. to see if it was there or that the camp host had picked it up. I refueled before I left Palmdale.

The luck of the Irish was with me!! When I drove into the park and stopped almost exactly where I had parked yesterday, lo and behold there was the hat sitting right on the ground, not having been moved by the wind or a critter!!  To say the least, I was very happy.
High Desert and Rainbow
The drive home went smoothly and the traffic was moving quite smoothly. I was home in time for a late lunch. I will have to return to the area at an earlier spring time for desert wildflowers, poppy fields, and further exploration of the various parks in the area.

Sunday, April 23, 2017



My friend Lin and I had been asked to judge the San Joaquin Valley International Exhibition this year. The  judging took place in Madera, California on the first weekend in April.

This year I judged, with two others, the Projected Images Open (No restrictions as to subject matter)  and Projected Images – Creative which is defined as “altered reality” photography and is that the concept stimulates the mind of the viewer to interpret the message conveyed through the creative use of line, form and color, which includes computer generated/manipulated images.
Brittlebush Hillside

Brittlebush Color

We drove up on Friday and were treated very nicely with a casual “happy hour” for the judges and our hosts. Afterwards we all went to dinner at a very good restaurant, Ristorante Gabriela, where I enjoyed a delicious lamb dish. Our motel accommodations were taken care of by the Exhibition as well. All of Saturday and most of Sunday was devoted to the judging process.

SUNDAY, April 2nd

Sunday afternoon we were able to get away by about 3:00 p.m. We headed directly to Mariposa where I had made reservations for two nights while we visited Yosemite. 
A Distant Falls

The Merced River
We got to Yosemite in time for sunset from the Wawona Tunnel. In route we stopped briefly at the Bridalveil Falls area for a couple of photos. The falls created quite a mist so that things were wet in the parking area. 
Bridalveil Falls

The last time I was there, in October 2015, there was just a trickle coming over the Fall. The volume of water today was phenomenal.
Bridalveil Fall from Tunnel View

We hurried onto Tunnel View to get set up for the fast approaching sunset.
Tunnel View


A Seasonal Fall from Tunnel View
Tunnel View as Sun sets
We were rewarded with a decent sunset with clouds forming over Half Dome to the East and the South ridge of Yosemite Canyon. We made it back to Mariposa by about 9:00 p.m. and dined on leftovers from Friday night's lasagna, and some shrimp which Norma had given us along with the sauce for dipping.
Tunnel View with Sunset Sky

MONDAY, April 3rd.

Monday morning we were off by 0600 for the Valley. It is not necessary to be there just at sunrise as the sun needs to crest the Sierras to the east before it enters the Valley. On the way into the Park we photographed several falls 
A Strong Flow

Creek and Falls

It is the Light

that I can not identify. They are seasonal in that they only appear after a good snowy winter, and this has been a wonderful winter in the Sierras.

Once in the  Park our first stop was at Fern Spring. As we were setting up our tripods, several Park employees stopped to fill their water bottles with “the best water” in the park. So we did the same.
Fern Spring
 I also photograph Horsetail Falls
Horsetail Fall

and Ribbon Falls.
Ribbon FAll
I got a kick out of the following signage. (I apologize for the blur but I was hand holding the camera and had the settings wrong for the lighting conditions.)

 We spent time at various locations in the Valley and captured El Capitan,
El Capitan and River

El Capital Reflection

Yosemite Falls in its grandeur, 


Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls and Reflection
and Royal Arches and Cascade - 
Royal Arches and Cascade, North Dome, Washington Column
We avoided the Village as much as possible as this was Spring Break time and the park was quite busy. We did get into a traffic jam at one point, and I had to hunt a distance for a parking place near the approach to Yosemite Falls.
Cascade on South Wall

We finally took a break for lunch at the Ahwahnee Hotel which was a wonderful treat and break in the middle of the afternoon. After lunch we enjoyed some quiet time in the great room before heading out again.

Now it was time to head for late afternoon light on several points, one being Bridalveil Fall. 

Bridalveil Fall from across the Canyon

Bridalveil From North Side
We were a little early but enjoyed the lower light. Then we went to Valley View for it’s classic view of the Valley including El Capitan, The Merced River, and Bridalveil Fall. 
Valley View

Again we did not stick around as the cloud build up was not looking favorable for sunset, and quite frankly we were ready to call it a day. We still had an hour drive back to Mariposa to look forward to. Of course the drive took longer as we had to stop along the way for some more waterfalls. 
Large Fall along El Portal Roadway

Water Flow

TUESDAY, April 4th

Today’s focus was more on the flora in the Merced River Canyon near El Portal. The redbud tree is a member of the pea family, with pink flowers that grow from the trunk, branches, and twigs. It really is an eye catcher in the Spring. We stopped several times to photograph the tree. 

 I was also attracted to the growth of grasses, etc. on the canyon walls. 
Wall 1

Wall Layers

Wall Snail
Once again the various Falls we had seen but not photographed called to us. A couple of times we had to park at a turnout and walk back along the road on the outside of the retaining wall. 

El Portal Cascade

A Tight Squeeze
A Long Fall

Our last stop was on the West side of the Wawona Tunnel where you get another good view of the Valley though from afar. 

CA 140 and Falls

The Long View
A Last View, West of Tunnel
We finally departed the park around 1:30 p.m. with the intention of getting home to San Diego tonight. We left the Park via Wawona and Oakhurst.Then it was onto Fresno, and South on CA99.

The drive went smoothly as we did not get over the Grapevine until after 6 p.m. There was still heavy traffic but no real slow downs. I dropped Lin off in Fallbrook a little after 10 p.m., and got home at 11 p.m.

Would have enjoyed more time there and really enjoyed seeing all of the various waterfalls. Another month and the Valley should be leafing out with all of the various trees. I would suggest that if  you are contemplating visiting Yosemite soon, that you try to do it before Memorial Day.