Big Day for Wildlife

Yesterday (2-25-19) was a big day for wildlife viewing in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, in northern New Mexico. Shucks, it’s only a National Monument, but has populations of wildlife that rival National Parks. And this is especially so in the winter, when a variety of northern ducks and bald eagles arrive at the generally ice-free waters of the Rio Grande to winter.

In less than an hour’s time, I was able to observe and photograph the creatures that follow. This first movie is of a pair of mallards feeding on midges that have been caught up in foam.

Not over two miles upstream, I spotted a group of bighorn ewes and young, part way up the slope on the far side of the river.

After filming this group of sheep, I looked back down at the river, and saw a long cylindrical shape in the water, which was, of course, an otter. I was seated in my van, using it as a blind, and the otter was about 160′ away (measured with Google Earth), so it was not alarmed. It swam leisurely up and down along the shoreline for a few minutes, before climbing out of the river.

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Otter

A few minutes later, I filmed this group of ducks from an elevated pull-out. All but two of the ducks are goldeneyes. The two ducks closest to shore, with more pointy heads, are ring-necks. And a female mallard passes through the group.

Bald eagle on basalt boulder

Bald eagle

My last sighting was this bald eagle, which circled above me and landed on a basalt boulder. I then returned downstream to a pool where, yesterday, I caught a hefty rainbow trout that was rising to midges. But there were no risers there, and I caught nothing. Did I go home disappointed? Not a chance! Catching something would have been only the sprinkles on the icing on the cake. The Rio Grande had again provided precious moments of being with wildlife.

p.s. while the wintering birds arrive on their own, the bighorns and otters have been returned to the Rio Grande via very successful stocking efforts.

 

Posted in Birding, Nature, Photography, Rio Grande del Norte National Monument | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aerial Photos (and Fishing) – ABQ to Oakland & Oakland to San Diego, 3/12-18/2020

On March 12, when the US pandemic was just getting underway,  Kathy and I flew to Oakland, CA. We judged that the risk of contracting Covid 19 was still quite small. Not enough, in any case, to pass up, for me, a fishing trip with my son Ethan to Pyramid Lake, NV, and for Kathy to visit the grandkids (but check with me in a couple of weeks!).

This post will include not only the aerial photography that these flights made possible, but also scenery and fishing action from Pyramid Lake. The first photographic opportunity presented itself as we climbed out of Albuquerque. It was a cloud mass creeping over the Sandia Crest, and spilling down the western slope.

March 12

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View to the NE, of ABQ and the Sandia Mtns., with clouds creeping over the crest

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View to the N, of ABQ and Rio Rancho areas, the Rio Grande and the Jemez Mtns. in the distance

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View to the N, of the Rio Puerco

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View to the N, of lava flows (mesas) and volcanic necks, with Cabezon Pk. seen in upper left

It became cloudy and remained so all the way to Lake Mead, in Nevada.

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View to the N, of Lake Mead at the junction with the Virgin River arm. The main body of the lake extends out of the picture to the left and right, with down lake to the left.

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View to the N, of Lake Mead at Callville Bay, with down lake to the left.

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View to the N, of Stonewall Mtn., NV

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View to the N, of settling ponds at Silver Peak Mine, NV. I’ve shown this site before, but more as an abstract composition.

We left Nevada and crossed over the White Mtns.

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View to the NE, of the White Mtns.

Then it was over Yosemite, with some fabulous views.

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View to the NE, with the Cathedral Range just below. Its high point, Mt. Lyell, is hidden by clouds. The Tioga Rd. travels east through Tuolomne and Dana Meadows, crosses over Tioga Pass and then descends to Mono Lake.

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View to the N, of  Tuolomne Meadows and, in the foreground, the Cathedral Range

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View to the N, centered on Cathedral Peak

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A closer view to the N, again centered on Cathedral Pk.

Continuing to the west, we flew close to Tenaya Lake, May Lake and Mt. Hoffman.

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View to the NE. The famous view point on the Tioga Rd., Olmstedt Point, is seen in lower right. I hiked to May Lake this fall: https://believesteve.org/2019/10/13/travels-9-26-to-10-6-19/

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View to the N. The high peaks that make up Yosemite’s northern boundary are hidden by cloud.

After our arrival in Oakland, I dropped Kathy off with her daughter Laina and family in Alameda, and then continued to Ethan’s home, in Penngrove (Sonoma County). Ethan and I left for Pyramid Lake around 2 PM, via Donner Summit and Reno. We ate supper at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, SK Noodle, in Sparks, and continued to the lake, and our 5th wheel lodging at Sutcliffe.

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The author, at SK Noodle, Sparks, NV (photo Ethan Miller)

March 13

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Having breakfast in the 5th wheel,  at Crosby’s Resort, in Sutcliffe. Since Ethan is doing “paleo”, the breakfast consisted of  steak, eggs, tomatoes and more. Yum! (photo Ethan Miller)

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Ethan, on the deck of the 5th wheel, at Crosby’s Resort, in Sutcliffe

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View to the E, from Crosby’s. The lake’s namesake, the pyramid, is seen directly across the lake.

On this first day, we were anxious to revisit Monument Beach, which, due to a washout, had been inaccessible for a couple of years. The one guy we found there left after a short while, and we had the place to ourselves. The weather was glorious!

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Our chairs, along with a Thermos of coffee (laced with Irish cream) and a bottle of Red Label (photo Ethan Miller)

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Sitting on the lakeshore was very agreeable (photo Ethan Miller)

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… but happiness is being waist-deep in Pyramid Lake!

It took a while to connect. The lake had risen over 3′ since our last time at Monument, which made it difficult to locate the all-important drop-off. As to our choice of flies, rods and lines, the word was that indicator fishing with midge larvae was the best bet, and, although we both were of the opinion that stripping (retrieving) a wooly worm or bugger was the most reliable technique, we decided to each rig one rod for indicator fishing, and give it a go.

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Our initial set-ups. On the left, two 9 wts. On the right, a 6 wt. and 9 wt. two-hander. The orange and pink things are strike indicators (i.e. bobbers). The blue thing is a flashy wooly worm, and the chartreuse/white fly is a foam beetle, which trailed the wooly worm (photo Ethan Miller).

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The chartreuse/white fly is a foam beetle. The black fly is a balanced leech (photo Ethan Miller)

Using the 6 wt. rod (with floating line), I saw my indicator go under, and hooked and landed the fish. It had eaten a red midge larva, size #14. See movie below (movie by Ethan Miller).

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The author, with a Lahontan cutthroat trout (photo Ethan Miller)

Then Ethan caught a nice one on a black balanced leech, using a 9 wt. rod (with floating line) and an indicator.

Ethan beaches his fish.

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A beautifully-colored male Lahontan cutthroat

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Ethan, with a real beauty!

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We have the place to ourselves

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Two views to the north, with the group of tufa formations that are found along the north shore (photos by Ethan Miller)

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Two views to the south (photos by Ethan Miller)

The two fish seen above were all we caught this day, although I had a fish grab a surface “lake crab” pattern, which I was retrieving across a a glassy surface. But I didn’t hook him.

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Tufa island, at the northern end of the lake, from Monument Beach

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Same as above, with a different composition

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A strange-looking rain cloud (I at first thought it was smoke) appeared in the afternoon (photo by Ethan Miller)

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… and it was followed by a strong wind, which blew dust past the tufa formations, partially obscuring the formations that sat back from the shore

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same as above

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same as above

In the evening, the wind started up in earnest – enough to keep the 5th wheel rocking for the rest of the night. In the AM, we thought the conditions would be unfishable, and, with a big snowstorm arriving, we checked out of our accommodation one day early.

March 14

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Checked-out at Crosby’s. They did not refund us for the third night we wouldn’t use. “Everyone always wants a refund when the wind starts blowing.”, they said (photo by Ethan Miller).

Of course we had to go see what was happening along the lake, and, it being Saturday, we found lots of people at Windless Bay. They were all on ladders and indicator fishing; many of them guided fishermen. The wind, however, was blowing at our backs, which made it possible to cast. But no one but some spin fishermen at the far end of the beach were catching fish.

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Rain sweeps across the lake

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same as above

After a couple of fishless hours, and breaks for coffee, scotch and cold cuts, I got up out of my chair and announced that I would catch a fish within 15 minutes. I rigged my 9 wt. two-hander with two wooly worms, and began to fish with a fast strip.

Bingo! A fish grabbed the black wooly worm. I landed him, and then another one after that. I missed a third strike. The fish were all right in front of me, cruising at around 6′ to 8′ depth.

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No one else was catching fish. Behind me are the variety of ladders (most with seats) that the locals and guides use. The thing at my waist is a stripping basket, which keeps the retrieved line from sinking to the bottom (photo by Ethan Miller).

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My second fish. The fly seen here is credited with catching more fish than any other at Pyramid Lake. It’s a bushy, full-hackled black wooly worm, with a red tag.

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Ethan gets one on a flashy blue streamer (photo by Ethan Miller)

Then the fishing died. The fish, it appeared, had moved on. On the basis of our limited success, we concluded that these fishing conditions required that you keep your fly or flies in the water as much of the time as possible, while awaiting the infrequent arrival of a “platoon” of fish. Clearly, our persistence was awarded, as we had our flies in the water when the fish showed up. As to the question of which of the two – indicator fishing or retrieving a streamer – was the best strategy for putting your fly in front of a fish, I come down in favor of the latter. Since one had no way to determine, beforehand, the depth/distance from shore that the fish were traveling, retrieving seemed to give me the best chance to have my flies intercept a cruising fish. Indicator fishing, on the other hand, pretty much commits you to fishing at a particular depth – which might not be the depth that the fish were traveling in. And add to that, that a retrieved fly acts more life-like and, therefore, enticing to a fish.

We left in mid-afternoon and returned again to SK Noodle for an early dinner. We encountered our first highway department chain control not far uphill from Reno, and another one nearer Truckee. We were driving a AWD Ford Flex, which exempted us of the need for chains. The snow thickened as we climbed towards the summit, and came on full force as we passed over the top.

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It snowed to below 3000′ altitude on the western slope, down to where the grass was growing and the deciduous trees had leafed out, but the car proved capable in all the road conditions we encountered.

Back in the Bay Area

Day by day, the pandemic became a bigger menace, and argued that we cut our trip short. There was no traffic on 101, as I drove south towards Alameda. The flight to San Diego was empty. The flight path was new to me, and provided some fine scenery to photograph.

March 18

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In the Coast Range, view to the E, of Lake San Antonio

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And right next to the above is Lake Nacimiento

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Next up is Paso Robles. View to the NE.

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Further south, we came over the mountains that contain the Sespe Wilderness, located E of Ojai. View to the E.

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same as above

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same as above

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This wider-angle view to the SE includes Palmdale in the distance, with Rt. 14 heading west (top center)

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Lake Piru is located at the southern edge of the mountains, view to the NE

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Simi Valley, view to the E. The red “X” marks the location of the home where my wife, Kathy, grew up.

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San Fernando Valley, view to the NE

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Los Angeles basin and San Gabriel Mtns.

The landing approach in San Diego offered great views of the city, which I have never visited. Views to the west.

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Looking across to the Naval Base

Due to continuous cloud cover, the connecting flight to Albuquerque provided no opportunities for photography. This ends the post.

 

Posted in Corona virus pandemic, Fishing, Nature, Photography, SWA Flights-photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Salmon River, Idaho #1 – 1981 and 1997

The Wild and Scenic Salmon River runs through the 2,366,757 acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Its waters are the purest in the lower 48 states.

In the summer of 1981, our bright new rafting company (New Wave Rafting Company) was faced with a drought on the Rio Grande. What to do? Acquaintances of ours suggested that we accompany them on a trip down the Main Fork of the Salmon River. These were founding and other members of a preservationist group named Earth First! Myself, wife Kathy and son Ethan were thrilled to join them, to experience the Salmon River in the company of kindred folk.

We traveled to Idaho in our 1-ton company van and made a beer stop in Blackfoot, ID. Turns out that one of our party had an uncle who owned a distributorship there, who directed a forklift to load a pallet of beer into the rear end of the van. At the put-in we saw that Dave Foreman’s raft  was a self-bailer i.e. he had cut the floor out. His frame was a homemade aluminum affair that exactly fit the dimensions of the main tubes, so that it rested on those tubes all the way around, with all weight  suspended from it. The pallet of beer was then transferred to his boat, which is all that he carried. And I must confess that I failed to get a photo of it!

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1981

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Ethan Miller takes his turn pumping up our flimsy Udisco raft

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Kathy

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Kathy

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Kathy and Steve, in our new Miwok

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Scouting

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Our Udisco taco’ed, with a paddler whose foot got caught in the crease suffering a broken toe

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Kathy and ?

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The wilderness setting and sublimity of the scenery was conducive to drinking lots of beer and taking lots of drugs

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Beach camp

Thanks, Dave Foreman and Earth First!, for the invite!

After our 1981 trip on the Main Fork, our next goal was to run the  Middle Fork  – perhaps the most prized river destination in the country. With the clearest water and an astounding native cutthroat trout fishery, we just had to get there! And, friends who had secured a permit provided us that opportunity in the fall of 1997. We flew into Indian Creek from Salmon, ID, with Wilderness Aviation.

1997

Our put-in for this fall trip (9-21-97) was Indian Creek, at Mile 25. Seasonal low water in the very rocky stretch upstream of here argued against using the usual start at Boundary Creek (Mile 0).

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Seen in the center is Will MacHendrie, our host

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Are those kayaks and canoe going into that little plane?

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Well,  two of them went in

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We pass over the confluence of Marble Creek and the Middle Fork

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We circle over the strip, losing altitude

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The final approach. The airstrip is seen ahead. A burned hillside is seen below.

 

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The ramp and put-in, Mile 25

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The put-in, view downstream

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Kathy. We began to catch beautiful cutthroat trout (and release them) within minutes of launching.

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same as above

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Will MacHendrie, at Marble Creek Rapid, Mile 31.7. The pink tag on the rear of the kayak is his boat permit.

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Kathy and Will MacHendrie

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Kathy and cutthroat

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Kathy casting. We used only dry flies – mainly grasshopper imitations.

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Gorgeous!

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Kathy and cutthroat

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Tappen Falls, Mile 57.9

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Kathy, enjoying Tappen Falls

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Elk Bar Camp, Mile 79.6

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Just one more fish!

Thanks, Will and Carol MacHendrie, for inviting us on your trip!

See Part #2, on our 2009 trip: https://wordpress.com/post/believesteve.org/18162

Posted in Nature, River-running (USA&Mexico) | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Salmon River, Idaho #2 – 2009

The Wild and Scenic Salmon River runs through the 2,366,757 acre Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness. Its waters are the purest in the lower 48 states.

NOTE: This post is preceded by a post on our 1981 and 1997 Salmon River trips. The Main Fork, in 1981, and the Middle Fork, in 1997: https://wordpress.com/post/believesteve.org/18530

2009

In 2009, we were invited by our friends, Michele and Marcos Puigarri, to join their Middle Fork trip. It being late summer (8-21-09), we again chose Indian Creek as our launch point.

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We met at the Village Inn, in Challis, ID

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Middle Fork Aviation, Challis, ID

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Kathy

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Michele

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View towards the White Cloud Mountains

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Indian Creek, again. As before, we circle over the strip to lose altitude.

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The final approach

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Kathy

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It took 5 flights to get us and our gear to riverside

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No electricity, no power inflator. Scott pumps.

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The ramp and put-in, Mile 25

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We are checked-out by USFS Ranger Amanda

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Look at that clear water! Mile 25+

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Indian Creek enters on the left, Mile 26.1.

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Little Soldier Creek, Mile 30.6.

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Lunch stop at Little Soldier Creek

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Inlet of Little Soldier Creek, Mile 30.6

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Rafts arrive at Marble Creek Camp, Mile 31.7

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The Puigarri brothers rig-up, as Scott looks on

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Marble Creek Rapid, Mile 31.7

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same as above

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Marble Creek Rapid. Scott, Laura and Sue

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Pack bridge at Marble Creek, Mile 31.6

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Hot Springs at Sunflower Flat, Mile 32.6

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Marcos catches a cutthroat on a streamer

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Lunch and a snooze, at Jackass Camp, Mile 37.2

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Jackass Rapid, Mile 37.2

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Mile 40ish

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Culver Creek Camp ahead, Mile 45.6

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Culver Creek Camp

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same as above

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Above Whitey Cox, Mile 45.9

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Whitey Cox area, Mile 46.2

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Whitey Cox Camp, Mile 46.2

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White Creek pack bridge, Mile 47.7

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Kathy, with cutthroat, Mile 47.8

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Shelf Camp, Mile 48.1

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Above Big Loon Creek, Mile 48+

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Big Loon Creek, Mile 49.3

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Lunch, at Big Loon Creek, Mile 49.3

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Squawfish (aka Pike Minnow), caught on a Wooly Bugger, Big Loon Creek

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Underwater Canyon, Mile 50+

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Scott, at Hospital Bar Hot Springs, Mile 52.1

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At Grouse Creek Camp, Mile 56.5

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Evening at Grouse Creek Camp, Mile 56.5. A great camp!

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Rattler!

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Snake tossing, Marcos

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Tappen Falls, Mile 57.9. The camera catches Joe grimacing …

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… and Kathy exulting

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Marcos at the oars, with Diego

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Tappen #3, Kathy

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Tappen #3, Marcos and Diego

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Tappen #3, Scott

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Tappen #3. Commercial raft with sweep oars, a Salmon River tradition

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Below Tappen #3, Mile 58.4, upstream view

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Entry of Camas Creek, Mile 59.9

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Camas Creek, Mile 59.9

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Wide-angle view at Camas Creek lunch spot, Mile 59.9, with upstream to the left

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Camas Creek, Mile 59.9. Three women on a rock.

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Downstream view to Aparejo Point, Mile 62

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Above Aparejo Point Rapid, Mile 62.6

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The cutthroat trout is named for the red slash seen on its lower jaw

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Clematis vine

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Approaching Sheep Creek Camp, Mile 65.3

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Pine, Sheep Creek Camp, Mile 65.3

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Sheep Creek Camp, Mile 65.3, Laura

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Diego is very pleased with his purchase of ice at the Flying B Ranch, Mile 66.8

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The very rocky Haystack Rapid, Mile 68.1

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Jack Creek Rapid, Mile 70.7

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Jack Creek Rapid, Mile 70.7

M.72.8AboveWilsonCk900_3518TD.jpg

Above Wilson Creek, Mile 72.7

M.72.8AboveWilsonCk900_3519TD.jpg

Approaching Wilson Creek, Mile 72.8

M.72.9WilsonCkCamp900_3520T.jpg

Wilson Creek Camp, Mile 72.9

M.73WilsonCk900_3521T.jpg

Entry of Wilson Creek, Mile 72.9

M.73AreaAboveSurvey900_3522TD.jpg

Area above Survey Creek, Mile 73

M.74.8SurveyCkCamp900_3524T.jpg

Commercial trip at Survey Creek Camp, Mile 74.8

M.74.9WoolardCkCamp900_3525T.jpg

Woolard Creek Camp, Mile 74.9

M.74AreaTrout900_3523.jpg

Cutthroat trout caught on a grasshopper imitation, Mile 74 area

M.75.6AboveFlyCamp900_3527.jpg

Above Fly Camp, Mile 75.6

M.76.4BobtailCk900_3528.jpg

Bobtail Creek, Mile 76.4

M.77.6WaterfallCkRapids900_3529.jpg

Waterfall Creek Rapid, Mile 77.8

M.77.8WaterfallCk900_3532T.jpg

Entry of Waterfall Creek, Mile 77.8

M.77.9BigCkConfluence900_3535T.jpg

Big Creek enters from the left, Mile 77.9. The section of river canyon called Impassible Canyon begins here. The Middle Fork trail, which has followed the river from the start, leaves the river here.

M.78.9DiegoKitchen900_3352TD.jpg

Camp at Cutthroat Cove. Diego fishes. Mile 78.9

M.78.9CutthroatCoveKathSteve900-_3538.jpg

Kathy and Steve, at Cutthroat Cove Camp, Mile 78.9

M.78.9CutthroatCoveSteveChair900_3537TD.jpg

Then I went through the chair!

M.78.9CutthroatCoveAM900_3324TD.jpg

Packing up, at Cutthroat Cove Camp, Mile 78.9

M.82.0AreaView900_3494TD.jpg

Mile 82 area. One of the nicest walls in the canyon.

M.82.0AreaView900_3495D.jpg

Mile 82 area. Sue

M.82.5AreaLichen900_3333T.jpg

Lichen, Mile 82.5 area

M.82.7RedsideRapidKath900_3496D.jpg

Redside Rapid, Mile 82.7. Kathy

M.84.4PapooseCk900_3336.jpg

Papoose Creek, Mile 84.4, river left

M.84.5ShipIslandCkView900_3337T.jpg

Ship Island Creek and Peak 5548′, Mile 84.5

M.87.9ParrottCabinGrotto900_3501T.jpg

Parrot Cabin grotto, Mile 87.9

M.88.6U.CliffsideR.Sue900_3503T.jpg

Approaching Upper Cliffside Rapid, Mile 88.6. Sue

M.88.6U.CliffsideR.Sue900_3340.jpg

She swam

M.88.6U.CliffsideR.Kayaker900_3345.jpg

Upper Cliffside Rapid, Mile 88.6. Kayaker surfs top wave.

M.88.6U.CliffsideR.Kayaker900_3346.jpg

Upper Cliffside Rapid, Mile 88.6. Another kayaker.

M.88.6U.CliffsideR.JoeSue900 3339D.jpg

Upper Cliffside Rapid, Mile 88.6. Joe and Sue.

M.88.6U.CliffsideR.Marcos900_3343T.jpg

Upper Cliffside Rapid, Mile 88.6. Marcos and Diego

M.89.7CliffsideCamp900_3347T.jpg

View at Cliffside Camp, Mile 89.7

M.91.1RubberRapid900_3483T.jpg

Rubber Rapid, Mile 91.1

M.92.2HancockRapid900_3280TD.jpg

Hancock Rapid, Mile 92.2, Diego

M.92.2HancockRapid900_3283T.jpg

Hancock Rapid, Mile 92.2, Marcos and Diego

M.92.7SolitudeCamp900_3285T.jpg

Solitude Camp, Mile 92.7, Marcos and Diego

M.93.4DevilsT.Boat900_3294T.jpg

Devil’s Tooth Rapid, Mile 93.4, commercial trip

M.93.4DevilsT.SweepBoat900_3290TD.jpg

Devil’s Tooth Rapid, Mile 93.4. Commercial sweep boat we saw earlier.

M.93.4DevilsToothRapidJoe900_3309.jpg

Devil’s Tooth Rapid, Mile 93.4, Joe

M.93.4DevilsToothRapidKath900_3299D.jpg

Devil’s Tooth Rapid, Mile 93.4, Kathy

M.93.4DevilsToothRapidMarcos900_3314.jpg

Devil’s Tooth Rapid, Mile 93.4, Marcos and Diego

M.93.4DevilsT.Kayaker900_3304TMildColor.jpg

Devil’s Tooth Rapid, Mile 93.4, kayaker

M.93.4DevilsT.Kayaker900_3305.jpg

same as above

M.94HouseRocksRapid900_3484T.jpg

House Rocks Rapids, Mile 94

M.94HouseRocksRapid900_3486T.jpg

same as above

M.95AreaSwells900_3315D.jpg

Swells on a tongue, Mile 95 area

M.96.3Confluence900_3317T.jpg

At the confluence with the Main Fork, which comes in from the right. Banded gneiss bedrock is seen through the water. Mile 96.3

M.96.3Confluence900_3318T.jpg

Another look at same. Interesting!

We join the Main Fork, turning left.

M.96.9StoddardPackBridge900_3487.jpg

Stoddard pack bridge, Mile 96.9

M.99Cramer900_3322T.jpg

Cramer Creek Rapid, Mile 99

M.99Cramer900_3323T.jpg

same as above

The take-out at Cache Bar was less than a mile downstream, at Mile 99.7. Thanks, Puigarris, for inviting us on your trip!

See Part #1, of our Salmon River trips in 1981 and 1997, with the Main Fork in 1981, and the Middle Fork in 1997: https://wordpress.com/post/believesteve.org/18530

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Photography, River-running (USA&Mexico) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bosque del Apache, Jan. 29 & 30, 2020, #2

Light geese

LightGeese&Shovelers900DSC_0288-denoise.jpg

Light geese and northern shovelers

LightGeese900DSC_0168.jpg

Light geese

LightGeese900DSC_0247.jpg

same as above

LightGeeseLgGroup900DSC_0197-denoise.jpg

same as above

LightGeeseLgGroupTaking Off900DSC_0195-denoise.jpg

Light geese take off

LightGeeseInAir900DSC_0209.jpg

same as above

LightGeeseInAir900DSC_0210-denoise.jpg

same as above

LightGeeseStopSign900DSC_0224-denoise.jpg

Waves of geese head out to their feeding grounds

Sandhill cranes, in the morning

1.Crane900DSCN4577.jpg

Sandhill crane

2Cranes900DSCN4600.jpg

Sandhill cranes

3Cranes900DSCN4588.jpg

Sandhill cranes

5Cranes900DSCN4583.jpg

Sandhill cranes

5Cranes900DSCN4586.jpg

Sandhill cranes

6Cranes900DSCN4573.jpg

Sandhill cranes

12Cranes900DSCN4551.jpg

Sandhill cranes

1.WetlandRoost900DSCN4591.jpg

Sandhill cranes

2GroupsCranes900DSCN4590.jpg

Sandhill cranes

3CranesPointing900DSCN4617.jpg

Sandhill cranes pointing, an “intention movement” that shows their readiness to fly off in the direction indicated

1CraneInAir900DSC_0234.jpg

Sandhill crane takes off

1CraneInAir900DSC_0233-denoise-denoise.jpg

Sandhill crane takes off

5CranesInAir900DSC_0293-denoise-denoise.jpg

Sandhill cranes take off

2CranesinAir900DSC_0238-denoise.jpg

Sandhill cranes take off

Sandhill cranes, in the evening

1CraneLanding900DSC_0016.jpg

Sandhill crane approaches the roost

2CranesLanding900DSC_0009.jpg

Sandhill cranes approach the roost

3CranesLanding900DSC_0056.jpg

Sandhill cranes approach the roost

15CranesLanding900DSC_0112-denoise.jpg

Sandhill cranes approach the roost

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Sandhill cranes approach the roost

1CraneLanding900-DSC_0021.jpg

Sandhill crane comes in for a landing

4CranesLanding900DSC_0030.jpg

Sandhill cranes come in for a landing

1CraneLandingSilhouette900DSC_0026.jpg

Sandhill crane lands

3CranesSilhouette900DSC_0042.jpg

Evening at the Wetland Roost

10CranesSunset900DSC_0048.jpg

Evening at the Wetland Roost

CranesLgGroupSunset900DSC_0069.jpg

Evening at the Wetland Roost

12CranesSunset900DSC_0051.jpg

Evening at the Wetland Roost

CranesLgGroupAfterSunset900DSC_0132.jpg

Evening at the Wetland Roost

CranesLgGroupSunset900DSC_0077.jpg

Evening at the Wetland Roost

And lastly, did I mention that a visit to BdA also makes possible a visit to the Owl Cafe, in San Antonio? Their chili cheeseburger can’t be beat, and costs only $6.00!

End of Part 2

 

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Bosque del Apache, Jan. 29 & 30, 2020, #1

The Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (BdA) is a wetland located alongside the Rio Grande, just south of San Antonio, NM, in the central part of the state. In New Mexico, the Spanish word “bosque” usually refers to riverside groves of cottonwood trees. “Apache” needs no explanation.

My every visit to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is a soul-stirring experience of the plenitude and magnificence of Nature. While we no longer have millions of bison on the plains, or the skies full of passenger pigeons, we do have thousands of sandhill cranes and light (snow and Ross’s) geese crowding their winter roosts at BdA. Add to that the other birds and animals that fill the refuge and the fact that all the creatures that inhabit or visit the refuge are remarkably habituated to humans and their vehicles. This makes the refuge an open-air exhibit of unconfined animals, which borders on the unique in this part of the world. What else? There are the calls and cries – the din –  of the cranes and geese,  as they arrive or depart from their night-time roosts. This element adds considerably to the spectacle. Here is a video of sandhill cranes calling in the evening.

My wife Kathy and I stayed at the very conveniently situated Chupadero RV Park.  From there to the Wetland Roost was a 2 -3 minute drive! The RV Park also has its own small group of cranes and a flock of widgeons had chosen to hang out on a pond that borders the park’s main field, where they feed. We spent two nights there, which afforded us two each of morning and evening flights and the day in-between.

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At Chupadero RV Park, view to the east

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A sandhill crane and a flock of widgeons, Chupadero RV Park

The sandhill cranes, light geese, many ducks, bald eagles, harriers and others are winter migrants from points north. The cranes and geese are best seen at both dawn and dusk, when they leave their roosting ponds to fly to fields where they feed on grain crops, and when they return for the night, respectively. Photographers line up alongside the favored ponds at these times.

My photos of the cranes and light geese are presented in Part 2. In this part I present some scenes from the refuge, and some of the other birds and animals we were fortunate to encounter.

Scenes

00.Boardwalk900PixDSCN4659.jpg

The boardwalk in the South Loop, view to the southeast

0.Pond900PixDSCN4537.jpg

The big North Loop pond, from the Flight Deck

00.ViewEast900PixDSCN4537.jpg

The big North Loop pond and mountains to the east

00.WetlandsSunset900DSCN4545.jpg

The Wetland Roost pond, view to the southwest

SunsetReflection900DSC_0158-denoise.jpg

The Wetland Roost in evening, view to the northwest

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Snag

Birds and Animals

RavenOnGoose900DSCN4620.jpg

Raven on a dead goose

Roadrunner900DSCN4702.jpg

Roadrunner

Roadrunner900DSCN4705.jpg

same as above

Shoveler900DSC_0300.jpg

Northern shoveler duck

Shoveler900DSCN4613.jpg

same as above

Shovelers900DSCN4595.jpg

Group of northern shoveler ducks

Widgeons900DSCN4540.jpg

Widgeons

2Coyotes900DSCN4647.jpg

This pair of coyotes are keeping an eye on the dead goose seen above

CoyoteInPond900DSCN4634.jpg

This coyote decided to test out the approach to the goose …

CoyoteInPond900DSCN4639.jpg

… but eventually returned to land

1Crane&Coyote900DSCN4622.jpg

Coyote licking his chops. Hunters (yes, they are legally hunted) call the sandhill “the ribeye of the sky”

Bobcat900DSCN4695.jpg

Bobcat

Bobcat900DSCN4696.jpg

same as above

The bobcat seen above first approached us on the far side of a canal, then crossed on a bridge to the side we were parked on, and then walked right past us, to cross another bridge and then follow a new canal. The bobcat passed within a few feet of Kathy, who didn’t utter a sound, while I was looking the other way.

While on the boardwalk, an American bittern flew towards us and landed in the cattails no more than 75′ away. This was a new bird for us.

AmericanBittern900DSCN4681.jpg

American bittern, in cattails

AmericanBittern900DSCN4667.jpg

same as above

GreatBlueHeron900DSCN4729.jpg

Great blue heron

GreatBlueHeron900DSCN4731.jpg

The heron noticed something, and a moment later grabbed a bug

Also seen from the boardwalk were a few pied-bill grebes:

Pied-billGrebe900DSCN4689.jpg

Pied-bill grebe

Pied-billGrebe900DSCN4691.jpg

Pied-bill grebe

Along with mallards, pintails, northern shovelers and widgeons were the most common ducks. A few buffleheads were also seen.

Pintails900DSCN4552.jpg

Pintail ducks

Pintail&Shoveler900DSCN4637.jpg

Northern shoveler (left) and pintail duck

Pintail&Shoveler900DSCN4638.jpg

Pintail duck and northern shoveler

DeerCranes900Nov172014_3508.jpg

Deer

BuffleheadPairGeese900Nov172014_3496.jpg

Light geese and female buffleheads

 

End Part 1

 

 

 

 

 

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Bald Eagle Action Sequence, Jan. 10, 2020

Dateline: Rio Grande, New Mexico, Jan. 10, 2020

I was driving downstream on Hwy 68, and looking ahead to the upcoming County Line River Access area. The cottonwood trees found on the far bank of the river at that site provide favored perches for the wintering bald eagles, and, indeed, as I got closer, I saw that an eagle was perched in one of those trees. I turned in, parked opposite the eagle, and mounted my camera on the van window. My presence appeared not to disturb the eagle, and I was able to get a few photos.

BaldEagleCountyLineDSCN4451.jpg

Then, the bird took off and dropped down and out of sight. I repositioned the van and saw that the eagle was sitting in the river.

BaldEagleInRiverCountyLineDSCN4461.jpg

I thought that that was curious, and then the eagle jumped up and snatched something out of the water. In the photo of that moment, it looks like a dead fish was lodged against a stick, and it was that, that the eagle grabbed, and flew off with.

BaldEagle&FishCountyLineDSCN4462.jpg

I had often wondered about how the eagles obtain their food, presuming that their usual prey was fish and wintering ducks. This observation shows that the river acts as a conveyor belt, carrying food down to a perched eagle, who, with an “eagle eye”, spots it as it arrives.

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Aerial Photos – Oakland, Las Vegas and ABQ, Dec. 2019

A flight from Oakland to Albuquerque, with a stop in Las Vegas, did not provide any views until we were approaching Las Vegas. Then Charleston Peak came into view. All views to the north.

Mt.CharlestonDSCN4029.jpg

Charleston Peak, 11,916′

This was followed quickly by Red Rocks (Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area).

RedRocksDSCN4031.jpg

Red Rocks

RedRocksDSCN4032.jpg

same as above

RedRocksDSCN4034.jpg

same as above

LasVegasDSCN4036.jpg

Downtown Las Vegas and airport

BoulderDamDSCN4048.jpg

Lake Mead, Boulder Dam and the Black Canyon on the Colorado River. The bathtub ring seen upstream of the dam shows how much drought has lowered Lake Mead.

UraniumMineDSCN4061.jpg

Presumed uranium mine, northwest of Grants, NM

VolcanicNeck&ShadowDSCN4062.jpg

Volcanic neck casts a shadow, east of Mt. Taylor, NM

RioGrandeABQ&I-40 DSCN4083.jpg

I-40 bridges the Rio Grande, in Albuquerque, NM

I-25ABQAirportDSCN4087.jpg

Passing over I-25, just prior to landing at Albuquerque

Flights between Albuquerque and Oakland have provided me with many great photographic opportunities, which can be found by searching for “Southwest Airlines”.

 

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