Tag Archives: Mountains

Gold in Them There Hills

The California gold rush struck like an feverish epidemic back in 1849.  People flocked to the California gold field after the precious metal was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, fueled by the crazed lure of easy, fast riches.  For most people, though, they found precious little of the stuff…but enough made it “big” that the dreams and aspirations of many continued to be fired for quite some time.  To this day, you can pan gold in the Sierra Nevada’s, either by stopping along a mountain stream, or by going to a tourist site where they have a sluice with water running through it from a nearby stream. Of course, you pay to pan for gold there…and I dare say that most people pay more than the gold they find is worth.

There is more than one kind of gold, though.  To find the love of another person is a far greater treasure than any metal.  True love may be harder to come by than even the golden metal flakes, but once it is found, it is far more precious.

There is also the color of gold – rich, bright and reflective.  When we were up early last Saturday to shoot the sunrise over Emerald Bay, I nearly missed today’s picture. I’d been looking east, towards the sunrise, happily clicking away for some time.  Then, in the desire to move to another location to get a different perspective and vantage point, I turned around and looked westward and I saw this image.  It was as if the rising sun had turned a large strip of the towering mountainside into a band of solid gold.

I didn’t go panning for gold that day, but what I came away with pleased me even more.  I had a great time shooting with my wife, we saw beauty that no man can create, and we have the memories for the rest of our lives.  What more can anyone ask?

GoldenON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in what seems now like a bizarre co-incidence, the Britannic, sister ship to the Titanic, sank in the Aegean Sea on this day in 1916, killing 30 people. More than 1,000 others were rescued.

In the wake of the Titanic disaster on April 14, 1912, the White Star Line made several modifications in the construction of its already-planned sister ship. First, the name was changed from Gigantic to Britannic (probably because it seemed more humble) and the design of the hull was altered to make it less vulnerable to icebergs. In addition, it was mandated that there be enough lifeboats on board to accommodate all passengers, which had not been the case with the Titanic.

The nearly 50,000-ton luxury vessel, the largest in the world, was launched in 1914, but was requisitioned soon afterward by the British government to serve as a hospital ship during World War I. In this capacity, Captain Charlie Bartlett led the Britannic on five successful voyages bringing wounded British troops back to England from various ports around the world.

On November 21, the Britannic was on its way to pick up more wounded soldiers near the Gulf of Athens, when at 8:12 a.m., a violent explosion rocked the ship. Captain Bartlett ordered the closure of the watertight doors and sent out a distress signal. However, the blast had already managed to flood six whole compartments—even more extensive damage than that which had sunk the Titanic. Still, the Britannic had been prepared for such a disaster and would have stayed afloat except for two critical matters.

First, Captain Bartlett decided to try to run the Britannic aground on the nearby island of Kea. This might have been successful, but, earlier, the ship’s nursing staff had opened the portholes to air out the sick wards. Water poured in through the portholes as the Britannic headed toward Kea. Second, the disaster was compounded when some of the crew attempted to launch lifeboats without orders. Since the ship was still moving as fast as it could, the boats were sucked into the propellers, killing those on board.

Less than 30 minutes later, Bartlett realized that the ship was going to sink and ordered it abandoned. The lifeboats were launched and even though the Britannic sank at 9:07, less than an hour after the explosion, nearly 1,100 people managed to make it off the ship. In fact, most of the 30 people who died were in the prematurely launched lifeboats. In 1976, famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau found the Britannic lying on its side 400 feet below the surface of the Aegean. The cause of the explosion remains unknown, but many believe that the Britannic hit a mine.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  A camel can lose up to 30% of its body weight in perspiration and continue to cross the desert. A human would die of heat shock after sweating away only 12% of body weight.


Time to Go! Hey! Where you takin’ me?!?!

It’s the traditional end-of-summer holiday, Labor Day.  People by the boatload (literally) will be heading out of town to the nearby lakes and rivers, or by the tent-or-camper full to the campgrounds.  I don’t know, but I’d just venture a guess that there will be vast amounts of sudsy beverages consumed this weekend!  Please, everyone, be safe!  DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE!

I thought it appropriate to share today’s picture as your get-away shot.  This fellow knows that something is going on, but is a bit perplexed about what it may be by the look on his face!  He’s happy to be out and about (as any dude that’s stylin’ it like he is!) would be.  Now, however, he’s having second thoughts.

“Hey, dad!  Where you takin’ me?  Are we going to the vets again?  Are you gonna stick me in the kennel there where there’s lots of yappin’ beasties?”

“No, son, we’re not taking you to the vet.  Relax!”

“Relax?  Relax???!!!!  How am I supposed to relax?  For all I know, you’re taking me to the mountains with you.  Do you know what’s in the woods up there?  I do!  There are bears and coyotes!  And those things are huge!!!  You’re not expectin’ me to protect you up there, are you?”

“No, son, we’re not expecting you to protect us.  All we ask is that you bark if a bear comes into the campground, that’s all.”

“Bark!  Bark????  Do you know how dangerous that is?  Look at me!  I said, Look at me, you big oaf!  As small as I am, I could hide from a bear under your socks!!  But if I bark, that dang bear will know right where I am!  And, I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not, but I’m about bite-sized for a bear!  Please, dad, I don’t wanna die!”

“Don’t worry, little boy.  I’ll take care of you.  You can sleep in my sleeping bag with me if it makes you feel any better.”

“Whew!  Thanks, dad.  You know, you’re the best dad EVER!”

_MG_4922ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 30 BC, Cleopatra, queen of Egypt and lover of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, took her life following the defeat of her forces against Octavian, the future first emperor (Caesar Augustus) of Rome.

Cleopatra, born in 69 B.C., was made Cleopatra VII, queen of Egypt, upon the death of her father, Ptolemy XII, in 51 B.C. Her brother was made King Ptolemy XIII at the same time, and the siblings ruled Egypt under the formal title of husband and wife. Cleopatra and Ptolemy were members of the Macedonian dynasty that governed Egypt since the death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C. Although Cleopatra had no Egyptian blood, she alone in her ruling house learned Egyptian. To further her influence over the Egyptian people, she was also proclaimed the daughter of Re, the Egyptian sun god. Cleopatra soon fell into dispute with her brother, and civil war erupted in 48 B.C.

After years of tension and war involving Mark Antony, Julius Caesar and Octavian, Octavian declared war against Cleopatra, and therefore Antony, in 31 B.C.  Octavian’s enemies rallied to Antony’s side, but Octavian’s brilliant military commanders gained early successes against his forces. On September 2, 31 B.C., their fleets clashed at Actium in Greece. After heavy fighting, Cleopatra broke from the engagement and set course for Egypt with 60 of her ships. Antony then broke through the enemy line and followed her. The disheartened fleet that remained surrendered to Octavian. One week later, Antony’s land forces surrendered.

Although they had suffered a decisive defeat, it was nearly a year before Octavian reached Alexandria and again defeated Antony. In the aftermath of the battle, Cleopatra took refuge in the mausoleum she had commissioned for herself. Antony, informed that Cleopatra was dead, stabbed himself with his sword. Before he died, another messenger arrived, saying Cleopatra still lived. Antony had himself carried to Cleopatra’s retreat, where he died after bidding her to make her peace with Octavian. When the triumphant Roman arrived, she attempted to seduce him, but he resisted her charms. Rather than fall under Octavian’s domination, Cleopatra committed suicide on August 30, 30 B.C., possibly by means of an asp, a poisonous Egyptian serpent and symbol of divine royalty.

Octavian then executed her son Caesarion, annexed Egypt into the Roman Empire, and used Cleopatra’s treasure to pay off his veterans. In 27 B.C., Octavian became Augustus, the first and arguably most successful of all Roman emperors. He ruled a peaceful, prosperous, and expanding Roman Empire until his death in 14 A.D. at the age of 75.

(Makes you wonder if Elizabeth Taylor knew her character was domed to die in the movie!)

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: some of the other names which were considered for the seven dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs were: Scrappy, Doleful, Crabby, Wistful, Dumpy, Soulful, Tearful, Snappy, Helpful, Gaspy, Gloomy, Busy, Dirty, Awful, Dizzy, Shifty, and Biggy-Wiggy.


Peaks My Interest

Sorry I’ve missed so many posts recently.  We’ve had lots of things going on, including more nausea (yes, I’ve gone to the doc and will have some tests run on Friday, but we think we’ve got a pretty good idea that it might be a gall bladder that’s starting to go bad!), and over the weekend, our littlest grand-daughter (8 months old) was put into the hospital with pneumonia – then she was moved to PICU when she wasn’t responding.  But now, thankfully, though she’s still in the hospital, she’s better by far than she was.  I hope to be back on a regular posting schedule (and shooting schedule, too!) soon!

From my youngest memories I have loved the mountains.  I find more peace and solitude there than in another place I know on earth.  Just being in the mountains, smelling the humus from the fallen leaves and needles is invigorating to the senses.  The coolness of the summer nights at elevation, the glory of a sunrise unimpeded by buildings or of nights where no stars are dimmed by streetlights.  These are just a few of the delights of the mountains that captivate my mind.  I would love to live in the mountains of the west.

Today’s picture was made last summer at the top of one of the Colorado mountain passes.  It seemed as if one could see forever.  It refreshes the soul and renews the spirit.  Will I ever live in the mountains?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  But if not, I’ll at least have wonderful, glorious memories of them thanks to the way a camera freezes time and space in perpetuity.

In the Colorado Rockies…

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1927, Charles Lindbergh landed the “Spirit of St. Louis” at an airfield outside of St. Louis.  The 3800 mile flight from New York to Paris took 33 hours and 29 minutes and marked the first solo crossing of the Atlantic in an airplane.  The event got more press than any previous event in history.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the world’s fastest reptile, the spiny-tailed iguana of Costa Rica, has been measured at 27.1 miles per hour on land.

Many Glacier…Much Beauty

I know that we’re new to the east coast and so I’m not qualified to make comparisons between the eastern scenery and western scenery, but I’m going to do it anyway.

So far, I’ve not found anything on the east coast that can really compare to the Rockies or Sierras, and I doubt that I shall because the “mountains” in the east would be considered foothills in the west.  Yellowstone, Yosemite, Olympic, Grand Canyon, King’s Canyon, Cascades, Zion, Arches, the Tetons, Rocky  Mountain National Park – all these are truly spectacular.  My favorite of all, as I’ve said before, is Glacier National Park.  Sweeping mountain vistas, towering, jagged, snow-covered peaks well into or through the summer – there’s just nothing to match it in the east (at least not that I’ve seen yet).  I miss the western scenery, and now we live so far from it that we can’t just hop in the car for a road trip to see it.

Today’s photo was taken a number of years ago on the eastern side of Glacier National Park, looking westward.  It is at a place called Many Glacier and it was nearing sunset, but there was a violent electrical storm going on to our left from the picture.  Still, the setting sun behind the ridges to the west was spectacular and reflected beautifully in the lake.  I don’t think that I’ll ever forget the feeling in the air, the smell of the ozone from the lightning that was hammering away on the peaks out of the picture to the left.  It was glorious.  I wonder if I will ever see it again.  One can hope…

Sunset and storm at Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: the quirky movie, Bennie and Joon, opened across the country.  Starring Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aidan Quinn and Juliette Moore, the movie earned Depp a Golden Globe for his performance.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: most llamas instinctively make good guardians for livestock.


Dragons Foot

A few days back, I posted a shot taken from the boat off the Na Pali coast in Kauai.  I said that, if requested, I’d post at least one more of the place, and there were some requests, so today, through the magic of hard disk drives we are revisiting Na Pali again.

Let me tell you the reasons I like this picture.  First, I like the colors.  Second, I like the rugged wildness of it.  Third, I like the clouds obscuring the tops of the razor-edged ridges.  And fourth (I wouldn’t realize this until after I looked at it after I got back), the roots of the ridges where they enter the surf remind me of the feet/toed claws of an immense dragon.  Can you see it?  If you look closely, you can even imagine the claws coming out of the toes of the fearsome creature!  But fear not…I vanquished the dragon and all is safe and well!!!

Dragons Foot, Na Pali coast, Kauai

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: In 1969, the BBC broadcast the first episode of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus”, as show that would go on to claim a huge world-wide cult audience, and which introduced people such as John Cleese to audiences.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In Breton, Alabama, there is a law on the books banning riding down the main street in a motorboat.  To top that, in Chico, CA, it is against the law to detonate a nuclear device in the city limits.  Go figure!!!!

Breathtaking Na Pali

When we came to Kauai, part of my hopes were to see Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”  The story goes that Mark Twain gave it that name, but over here I learned that Mark Twain never set foot on Hawaiian soil, so I don’t know where the name comes from.  The last time Laurel and I were here (about 29 years ago) we drove up the long, winding road to try to see it, but it was dumping rain and you couldn’t even see 10 feet, let alone see down into the canyon.  (Kauai got its nickname of “Garden Isle” partly because it gets so much rain and things are lush and green in the mountains and all along the north coast.  In fact, up in the mountains in Kauai, Mount Waialiale holds the unofficial world record for rainfall in a single year – over 700 inches, with an average of 444 inches each year!!!)  So, my impressions of it were formed on what I could see in photographs that others had taken.  So, my hopes were high that this time we’d have good weather to see it.  And we did.

You may have noticed that I’ve not yet posted a picture of it, and I’m not posting one today.  I will – I promise!  Probably tomorrow (Friday.)

On Wednesday, we splurged and took a dinner cruise starting from Port Allen on the south shore of Kauai around the west end of the island up along the Na Pali coast.  One of the crew noticed that I was toting my Canon and engaged me in a discussion about cameras and photography (that seems to happen a lot!)  He asked if we’d seen the Waimea Canyon yet and I told him we had.  He said that it is so beautiful there, and that perhaps the Na Pali coast is the only other thing on Kauai that can rival it for beauty.  I thought to myself, “Well, Waimea Canyon was beautiful but not stunningly beautiful” (I know, I know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder!) “so I hope that Na Pali isn’t a disappointment!”

Well, it wasn’t.  In my humble opinion, Waimea Canyon totally pales in comparison to the Na Pali coast.  I’d seen photos of it before, but seeing it in person was breathtaking!!!! So today’s picture was taken on Wednesday.  A few comments before showing the photo.  Bear in mind that we were on a bobbing (really bobbing!) boat out in the ocean – and to top it off, it was overcast and raining for much of the time that we were off the Na Pali coast.  In some ways that was disappointing, but in other ways, it made for many great pictures of the pinnacles of the Na Pali mountains as they soared and disappeared into the misty clouds.  It did make for interesting exposure challenges, though – between the movement of the boat and brightness of the fog, the darkness of the shadows in the mountains and occasional peek-a-boo doses of sunlight!

Some of the cliffs at Na Pali (the name means “the cliffs”) rise to over 4000 feet above sea level, and some are sheer drops of over 1000 feet straight into the ocean.  Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands, formed by volcanic activity long ago.

I wish I could bring the west coast of Kauai home with me.  If you like this picture, let me know (you can post comments below and they are automatically emailed to me) and I may post some more in the future.  I have a hunch that when God wants a vacation (not that He gets tired because He never sleeps or slumbers!) I think He must go to the Na Pali area.  In fact, I thought I could hear Him passing by…

Na Pali - on Kauai's west end

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: The best thing that ever happened on this day is that my oldest granddaughter, Kailani (what a lovely name and lovely young lady!) was born in 2002!  Happy birthday to Kailani, who stole my heart on the day she was born and never has given it back.

In 1955, James Dean, the brooding film actor who won acclaim in “Giant”, “East of Eden” and “Rebel Without a Cause”, died in a car crash in Cholame, California, a tiny farm town. Dean, was killed when his Porsche Spider ran into another car, head-on at 75 miles an hour. Dean’s mechanic also died in the crash.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Halle Berry turned down the role of Annie in the 1994 film, Speed.  The role was taken by Sandra Bullock, playing opposite Keanu Reeves.  The movie did great things for both actors and catapulted Sandra Bullock to super-stardom!

From On High

Saturday afternoon, after eating lunch surrounded by the trade winds and watching surfers glide over the ocean, we drove up to Waimea Canyon, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”  It’s located on the inside of the island of Kauai, and they tell you that it was formed by three rivers.  When Laurel and I were last here about 29 years ago, it was dumping rain and we couldn’t even see over the edge.  But Saturday looked like a promising day to venture up to the canyon, so we headed off.

We were not disappointed.  There are numerous places you can stop to see the canyon, and it was indeed beautiful (I’m sure I will share a picture of it before much more time passes), but the sight that took my breath away was past the main overlook for the canyon at a place called the Pu’u o Kila Lookout.  This is not a canyon lookout at all.  The valley associated with it is the Kalalau Valley and is the largest valley on Kauai’s Na Pali coast.  It is a breathtaking view of sheer mountains, a lush valley and the shimmering Pacific beyond. At this point, I believe the elevation is 5100 feet – give or take a bit.

At the top of the picture you will see clouds that are actually reflected in the surface of the ocean.  I could have sat at this spot the rest of the week and not felt that I’d wasted my time in the slightest.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Believe it or not, this shot is pretty much straight out of the camera.  I was using my 28-135mm telephoto lens with a polarizing filter to cut down glare, but other than that, what you see is what we saw.

The view from on high (Pu'u o Kila lookout)

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: In 1887, Emile Berliner filed for a patent on the “gramophone”, the predecessor to the record player.  He built on the work of Thomas Edison.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In the ’60’s, actors from the Andy Griffith Show, Green Acres, and Gomer Pyle served as spokepersons for Jello brand instant jello pudding.