Ink, Yarn & Beer

my life a bit at a time

The Grand Grand Canyon

August 13, 2017

Needing to travel light, I took only my Chrome Book, my Nikon V3, the Olympus OM-1n, and the Olympus XA4.  I used up 3 out of 10 rolls of film, and probably blew one of those.  I thought I had used a 4th roll, and maybe I did, but cannot seem to find it.  I used a Chrome-OS based editor called Polarr, but found the Chrome Book a bit too small to do much editing.  I backed up all my images onto an external HD, a 1.5 TB “My Passport.”

The first stop on our trip was Flagstaff, Arizona, for two nights.  We stayed at the England House B&B to use as our jumping-off points for the Grand Canyon and Sedona.  Our hosts, Richard and Laurel, were full of great information, and sent us out to the Grand Canyon to a very specific spot from which we could peer into the depths of the Grand Canyon.  We made a few stops as we drove into the Grand Canyon National Park.

The first stop was the Desert View Watchtower designed by Mary Colter, who was quite an amazing woman.  If you have a chance to visit the Desert View Tower, take the time to do so.  Not only is the Tower a piece of fascinating architectural design and execution, the views are worthwhile.  Take the time to walk around it, find the little corners, and stop for a moment to appreciate the grandeur of the view and the vision of Ms. Colter.

From the Desert View Watchtower, we drove deeper into the park, following the specific directions from Richard and Laurel.  It is a pullout leading to a fire road, and about a 20 minute walk through a pine wood.  The air is aromatic, redolent with the spices of high desert plants – resinous and sweet.

Flowers and grasses grow between the pine trees, and old, dead trees have become architectural designs created by nature, with the details of their structure revealed in their craggy lines and intimate remains.

Finally, at the end of the road, a picnic area opens up at the very edge of the Grand Canyon, which drops below you a mile.  No fences protect you.  No one tells you not to jump.  You find a place to stop, and look, to hold on to.  Birds such as ravens and raptors fly above you, only to drop down into the Canyon.  The Colorado river, a deep muddy red, flows at the very bottom.  As the sun shifts and clouds move, the colors of the Canyon change.  It’s a mesmerizing, enchanting, and magical place – far too big and grand to be seen in one day.

I used the Nikon V3 with the 1 Nikon  10-100mm lens for most – if not all – of these images, with post in Lightroom and On1.

A Stop Along the Way

August 7, 2017

We are actually in the Jackson Lake Lodge in the Teton National Park.  Today will be the first day out – we had a long drive from Laramie.  Without a laptop, much less good internet connections in the Wild West, it’s been difficult to edit pictures or make an entry to a blog here or there.

I’ve been using Polarr editing software with my Chrome Book, and I have rather mixed feelings about it but that is just because I am not sure how things look in the final edit.  Still, it is an easy-to-use editor, and given that, I am not going to complain.  I just need to master it, and when home, compare the images I see on the screen of the Chrome Book to my 27″ monitors at home.

We have really been enjoying the trip!  We started out in California, and the first stop was in Flagstaff, Arizona.  I really like Flag – as we are known to call it – and we stayed at a wonderful B&B.  Knowledgeable hosts are one of the draws of a good B&B, along with great breakfasts.  We had both.  We were in Flagstaff for two full days, taking in Shoshone Point in the Grand Canyon, and a drive through Oak Creek Canyon to see Sedona.  The Grand Canyon is truly grand, and unfathomable, so to speak, until you are on the edge, looking down and across from the rim.  Sedona is a tourist town surrounded by incredible red rocks, buttes, mesas and cliffs.  To get there, one drives through a lovely canyon, and it is worthwhile to stop at Oak Canyon to wander through it.

Oak Creek Canyon is a deep, narrow canyon, complete with creek, old buildings, and a former apple orchard put in by some of the original families who settled there.  It was my favorite part of the day out to Sedona, other than fantastic food at a restaurant – Mariposa – which has 360 degree views of the rocks surrounding Sedona.  The canyon is surrounded by red cliffs and traversed by a winding road.  The drive is one to take slowly, stopping, hiking, gawking.  It’s a wonderful corner of the world to see.


Photography Decisions for Vacation

July 26, 2017


Yesterday, I packed up the rest of the choices I’d made for the photographic gear I want to take on our trip.  It was a really hard, but choices had to be made.

My first decision was the bag size.  I have back packs and over-the-shoulder bags of varying sizes, along with a sling bag.  I decided on an over-the-shoulder bag, which is roomy, but not large, and is now carrying the following:

  • Nikon V3
  • 1 Nikon 70-300mm
  • 1 Nikon 10-110mm
  • 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm
  • 1 Nikon 10mm
  • 1 Nikon 18.5mm
  • 1 Nikon 32mm
  • Olympus OM-1n
  • Olympus Zuiko 50mm
  • Olympus Zuiko 35-70mm Close Focus
  • 49mm yellow, orange, and UV filters
  • 55mm ND filters

The OM system and the Nikon 1 system were chosen because they are small and lightweight, but deliver good quality.

I am also bringing 12 rolls of 35mm film, in black and white, and in color, ranging in speed.  It’s still a toss-up between the XA4 and the Trip 35, but I am inclined to take the XA4 as it is more diverse, smaller, and has a covered lens.  No medium format camera made it to the final mix.  I may bring a tripod.   I am also packing some art supplies and my Kindle.  Some knitting, too.  Headphones.  Chrome Book.  Plugs and cords and a power strip.  Yeah, stuff.  Clothes, shoes, and a toothbrush!

Dang! Water!

February 18, 2017


Over the last 24 hours, we got 4 inches / 10 cm. of rain.  Here, the soil is clay, and drainage is very poor.  As well, the infrastructure for handling massive amounts of water is not the best because we don’t get rain.

Rain?  What’s that?

We haven’t seen much in the past 6 years!  In our own back yard, we were flooded, literally, with inches of water creeping ever closer to the back patio doors.  Finally, Josh took a submersible pump and hooked it up; we pumped out about 1800 gallons based on a 2-hour run with 900 gallons / hour (about 3600 l. / hour).  He ran a hose from the back yard to the corner of the sidewalk, and the water poured into the street.  And this was in the dark of the night . . . 


So, what do we get out of massive rain besides mudslides, flood damage, fallen trees, tipped-over fire trucks, and general chaos?  Greenery!  New flowers!  Mossy rocks!  Mud!

And to celebrate – and explore – I returned to the park I went to last weekend, different cameras in hand.  Just in a week’s time, new growth is more than evident – buds are now tiny, bright leaves; the water in the creek is a bit higher.  There were little changes, too, such as the mossy rocks are greener than before, more palm trees are dead(ish) – for which I say, “Hooray!” – and little mushrooms coming up from under the fallen leaves.

Mushrooms in the Leaves

And more rain is on the way!


Rainy Day Walk

January 4, 2017


I’ve been rather housebound for the last few days, busy with this and that, and just plain lazy.  This morning, though, with the prediction of a whole day of rain, the allure of a walk in the damp was too much.  Our rain has dwindled into a slow drizzle, but it is so welcomed here in our parched California landscape.  The sky was a blue-grey, hinting at moisture to come, and it did soon after I started out, more like a misty rain than drops, which is fine when you want to go hiking.  The trails were all sticky – my boots sucked into the mud and made a rhythmic noise with each step.  Areas of the trail had not yet dried, but when they do, the trail will be lumpy and bumpy for a long time.

When I got to the area I wanted to explore – it’s always new, no matter how many times you go! – the parking area was closed for repairs.  I skirted around to where the oaks and cacti and stream and sycamore hang out, just in case it did get wetter.  It turns out that the recent rains have caused soil slippage, and some trees have toppled a bit.  One oak had fallen and split, so the work crew was waiting for the oak tree specialist (the city has one, as oak trees are protected where I live) to determine whether it needed anything or just a bit of a trim.


Here, a little bit of rain goes a long way, and soon enough the grasses begin to sprout for the upcoming spring.  Beige and brown give way to the delicate greens.  The cold temperatures have pushed the autumn leaves to golds and reds, so suddenly a dull grey-brown landscape pops into life.  The smell of the damp earth, the creeks with running water, and the occasional bird song or insect was all that could be heard.  A bit of bliss for a couple of hours!  Click a picture below to scroll through them.

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