California Coastal Redwoods

To celebrate our recent anniversary, Cecilia and I camped and hiked in Redwoods National Park in northern California, USA.  I had only briefly passed through several years ago and was thrilled to experience the grandeur of these giant trees again, and this time with my wife.

Of all the places of natural beauty, there’s nowhere like an ancient grove of Redwoods to remind us of the power of the forest to renew a sense of awe and wonder in our souls.  We are minuscule while nature is grand!

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Finding Beauty in the Details… Rocky Mountain Wildflowers

In the high mountains of Colorado spring is slowly giving way to summer, and summer arrives with a multitude of messengers…
The Elk, the Bighorn Sheep, and the Mountain Goats have given birth to this year’s twins and triplets.
Streams and rivers are swollen with icy snowmelt.
Afternoon thunderstorms are sparking fire to the tinder-dry slopes.
And my favorite; the forest floor, the valley meadows, and the alpine tundra are painted with floral color!

I haven’t spent a full Summer in Colorado in nearly 20 years, so this wild-flower season is a special treat for me. Here’s a few of my favorite flower details from these first weeks of June, all taken with my new Olympus OM-D EM-5 and the 12-50mm lens.

I’m still full of nothing but praise for this camera; it’s been a pure joy to carry with me wherever I go, and still no regrets for trading in my full-sized Nikon DSLR kit…

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Posted in Adventure / Outdoor, Travel

Highest Alaska; Denali Summit!

I’m on my way back home to Colorado after leading a successful summit climb of Denali, North America’s highest mountain.

With my group of six Norwegian mountaineers and an Alaskan assistant guide, we climbed for 16 days before reaching the summit on May 22.  We followed the historic West Buttress Route, rising from the Kahiltna Glacier.

While I’d climbed this route several times in the past decade, and brought with me various film and digital cameras, this was the first time I’d climbed with my new Olympus OMD-EM5 and it’s 12-50mm lens.  I found this new little wonder-camera the perfect balance of size and weight, and was continually impressed by it’s non-stop performance in any and all conditions.  Denali’s arctic cold, brutal high-altitude winds, and penetrating snow storms can push photo equipment to its limits daily, and this camera came out a winner in every regard.

These shots are all out-of-camera JPEG images with no post processing.  These are just a quick sampling of the images that caught my eye in the first review; in the days to come I hope to have time to dig a bit deeper and will post some of the others.

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Welcome Back to Talkeetna

I first came to Talkeetna a decade ago during my first Denali climb, and have come back nearly every year since then. I arrived here yesterday and, as always, what surprises me most is the lack of change from one year to the next. If anything, this seems to magnify my own experiences and changes from year to year.

Here’s a couple shots from last night, looking up at the Alaska Mountain Range from the banks of the frozen Talkeetna River, and one of Nagley’s General Store, a historic landmark from the early 1900’s in the town’s center.

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“Best of 2012″… Zion National Park

I’ve been focused on a temporary job for the past 5 weeks, and have barely had time to eat, sleep, and bathe, much less write about photography. I’ve been spectator to every surnise and sunset since November 13, and witness to hundreds of thousands of geese getting antsy to head south. Between the high ladders, steep rooftops, live electrical wires, and long hours dangling from cranes and hydraulic lifts, I think this job was more dangerous than any Mountain Guiding I’ve done. But I’m proud to have finished my contract, and overjoyed to be back to the world of self-employed freedom.

2012 is drawing quickly to a close. Just as in the first days of the new year I tend to think about what I’d like to change and do differently, in these last days of the year I’m prone to looking back at “the best of” 2012. I’d like to dedicate the last few blog posts of 2012 to these “best of” moments.

So I’d like to share with you these images of my “Best National Park Visit of 2012”. Cecilia and I were blessed with the opportunity to travel extensively this past year, and were particularly lucky to visit Zion the day after a late-Spring snowstorm. I’ve spent several months climbing the big walls of Zion in the past, but have never passed a more beautiful day there than April 15, 2012, with my wife.

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Discovering Nova Scotia’s “Lobster Coast”

Nova Scotia is a hammerhead-shaped peninsula which juts out of Eastern mainland Canada into into the cold waters of the North Atlantic. This maritime province abounds with rustic coastal scenery much as its local waters abound with lobster.

As you venture out from the capital city of Halifax, small fishing-port villages dot the coastline. We recently spent a morning in one of the most charming of these local villages, Peggy’s Cove.

Peggy’s Cove has been an active fishing and lobstering port on the eastern shore of St. Margaret’s Bay since at least 1811. Her lighthouse, still in use today by the Canadian Coast Guard, has been in continual service since 1914.

The landscape on this part of the coast is windswept and mostly devoid of trees. You can see evidence of recent glaciation with vast areas scraped down to exposed bedrock. Its heaths and moors evoke a Scottish atmosphere, made all the more evident when the bagpipes echo on the sea breeze.

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Parting Shots from Quebec…

Cecilia and I had an amazing few days here in Quebec, and now will be heading slowly south and eastward to visit a few more corners of wild, scenic, and historic Canada.  We loved the sights (and tastes!) of Old Quebec City and can’t wait to visit again, maybe as part of a long car tour around the Great Lakes.

I just wanted to take a chance to share a few of my favorites from our last day.

Au revoir…

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Quebec Je T’aime

Even under the radiant Indian Summer sun, the North wind has a bite today in Old Quebec City.  The last of the fall foliage is still on display, and the geese are gathering for their pilgrimage to the warmer climes.

Of anyplace in the entire North American continent, I don’t think there is a square mile more distinctly European in flavor.  The ancient stone walls that still surround the heart of the city are full to the brim with French culture.  Narrow streets wind and climb, without typical new-world regard for map grids, through neighborhoods hewn of the same grey stone that rises out of the St. Lawrence River.

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Venice, Forever an Anamoly

Think, Italian City…

Florence, Rome, Genoa, Milan; streets packed with the throb of motor traffic, mobs rushing in and out of espresso cafes and snack bars, the smells of bakeries and restaurants competing with smog, cigarettes, and hot pavement.  Of course, they each have their distinct cuisines, dialects, and customs, but in many ways are more similar than different.  Especially when compared to Venice.   Venice is the anomaly of Italian cities.

Venice is unique in many ways…

Venice is an island city, and throughout its relatively short history has nurtured its own flavors of art and architecture, music, and theater.  The sea  and the brackish lagoon have kept it insulated from the passing trends, leaving it free to nurture its own delicate culture.

Venice is not a product of Roman rule and influence.  Rather, its role as trading leader in the Eastern Mediterranean region, from Croatia to Egypt, and its sporadic control of several Greek and Turkish outposts, including Constantinople itself, lead to a unique amalgam of cultures not found anywhere else in Europe.

And today, Venice is an escape from the modern.  Nothing moves faster than a vaporetto water taxi, and cathedral bells are the loudest sound you’ll hear.

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Thinking about Kaiser

I was worried about getting off-topic, and then I remembered that I’m the Blogger and I can get off-topic if I want to.  So please allow me to drift a bit today…

My step-daughter has a new puppy.  She went to the breeder’s kennel yesterday, about a 4-hour drive from her home in Mendoza, Argentina, and returned with a 50 day-old female Rottweiler puppy named Krista.  I’ll post a photo as soon as I have one to share.  Thinking about Florencia and her new puppy has me foggy-eyed remembering our first days with Kaiser.

Kaiser came to live with us in Mendoza as a 50 day-old puppy in August of 2009.  I expected more mischief and problems, but apart from chewing some shoes and clothes and a bit of havoc on the shrubs and flowers, he was a pretty low-impact puppy.  Even though now he pushes the scale at 120 pounds, every ounce is gentle.  He’s been the greatest friend and companion to us, and we miss him every day now that we live 9000 miles away from him.

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Posted in Family, Pets