Posts Tagged Capitol Reef National Park

Home for the Holidays

I’ve mentioned before that several years ago, after having lost my muse because I stayed away from the desert far too long, I had to take a trip back to this beautiful country. As I dropped into Capitol Reef from the west, I burst into tears and said to no-one in particular, “Mother, I’m home.” To no-one? No, to the desert itself.

The mother desert? Yes, why not? It’s part of Mother Nature (or, as I often refer to her when the weather is bad, Ma Nature), and it’s the best part, I’ll warrant. There’s something about the desert that attracts me and nurtures me.

That’s hard to believe when one gives a cursory look around. There’s really not much there to offer physical sustenance (while I haven’t tried it, I’d guess it’s hard to eat cactus spines or juniper bark). If it’s not physical sustenance the desert offers it must be something else. Sustenance for the soul, perhaps. A deeper look confirms that.

I decided on that trip so long ago that this desert is my soul’s home. And home is where I need to be.

So I went down to the desert this past Thanksgiving. That means a couple things:

  • First, no turkey for thanksgiving dinner. In fact, if I didn’t stash some food in my motel room, no dinner at all. Everything closes for the holiday in the small towns that border the area I love. And that’s a good thing. I hate turkey anyway
  • Second, it reminds me to be truly thankful for this incredible landscape, my family and friends. You know, all the good things

But what is it that is so attractive in this land of harsh, dry rock and clay? Clearly there’s something. Perhaps it’s just the glee one feels when yet another stunning piece of land presents itself. And in that presentation challenges the photographer to record it with sensitivity and love.

Along with the discovery and recording comes the opportunity to share this experience with others. That’s key: the opportunity to share my experiences. When I stumble across natural beauty, I want to share it. And the best way for me to share is through my photography. So here are a couple looks at what I was thankful for last week.

 

As you know, I’m fascinated by Factory Butte. I walked in closer to the landform to see what it looked like up close.

 

Factory Butte

Factory Butte

 

The ‘badlands’ around the Butte are equally worth taking a look at.

 

Clay Hills, Caineville, Utah

Clay Hills, Caineville, Utah

 

And, of course, what’s a photography trip without a sunset?

 

Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

 

Or a sunrise, for that matter?

 

Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

Sunset, Capitol Reef National Park

 

 

 

More to follow,

Bob

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A mysterious lack of mystery

Last post I talked about the desert and how I came to believe it is my soul’s home. There are several reasons for that feeling, I suppose, and I’ll list a couple here.

First the desert has no mystery. It’s nothing more than rocks and sand and scrubby plants that can barely survive the harsh climate. Juniper trees that are hundreds of years old form beautiful shapes that testify to their struggle for life. Cactus protect their internally-held water with spines that will make you wish you’d never touched them. There are poisonous critters throughout the area: scorpions, rattlesnakes and all-terrain vehicles. The desert will kill you as readily as it will tolerate you, so you’d better come prepared for the worst if you visit the desert.

Second, the desert has great mysteries. I’ll share a few examples today.

Long ago—estimates suggest 1,000+ years—there were thriving civilizations in the desert. I say civilizations, plural, because archaeological evidence suggests that there were actually several different periods of occupation over the centuries.

The first European-descended settlers in the area named them “Anasazi,” a term they picked up from Navajos. The disappearance of the Anasazi became a great mystery and was ballyhooed around the region in an attempt to lure tourists in to spend their dollars. Problem is, Anasazi is an insult to the people who lived here way back then. According to interpretations of the term that I’ve seen it means “Enemies of Our Ancestors.” Not a very nice name for the ancient ones.

Craig Childs, in his book House of Rain, explores several sites and reports conversations with archaeologists who, he says, reports that the “Anasazi” were actually Pueblo people who were nomadic and ranged from the Cedar Mesa areas of Utah all the way into Mexico, finally staying in New Mexico after the European invasion. A guide at Navajo National Monument, a place with great examples of Ancestral Pueblo dwellings told the story of Monument staff bringing some Pueblo elders to the site of the Betatakin ruin in the Monument. The elders read some of the rock art and pointed out where the springs were, where the kivas were and accurately described some of the features of the ruin without having ever been there. A pretty good indication that they know who the inhabitants were.

Another sign the mysterious inhabitants of the area left behind was rock art. I just love petroglyphs and pictographs that are found in the area. They are truly mysterious. Sure, there are representations of desert bighorn sheep and elk or deer, clearly an indication of the source of food in the area, but there are other far more indecipherable figures. What looks like people, or maybe space aliens, footprints that may indicate a clan association or what to look out for, plants and possible crops and wondrous birds. Maybe. It’s impossible to tell. Few today really know what they’re all about and they aren’t telling because it’s none of our business. So we look at the art and speculate and wonder and enjoy the mystery.

Here are a few examples of some fine rock art (As usual, click on the images to see them full-size).

 

 

There are several panels in Capitol Reef National Park. One is labeled and easily accessed. The art seems to come from the ancients named the Fremont People.

 

Fremont Petroglyphs, Capitol Reef National Park

Fremont Petroglyphs, Capitol Reef National Park

 

As you approach the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, you go by a fascinating Utah State Historical Monument, Newspaper Rock. The site was so named because of the incredible display of rock art. Here is a look at the whole panel:

 

Newspaper Rock State Hitorical Monument, Utah

Newspaper Rock State Hitorical Monument, Utah

 

And here are some detail shots:

 

Newsapaper Rock State Historical Monument, Utah, Detail 1

Newsapaper Rock State Historical Monument, Utah, Detail 1

 

 

Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument, Utah, Detail 2

Newspaper Rock State Historic Monument, Utah, Detail 2

 

I’ll share more rock art captures as time goes on. There are so many examples, all so mysterious. It’s a great treat to stumble across an ancient drawing, especially one that hasn’t been trashed by some more recent arrival. Some of the finest panels have bullet holes from high-powered rifles marring the art. But the art has outlasted the defilers. Good.

 

More to follow.

Bob

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You CAN go home, I guess

I’ve been pretty inactive with my blog and I guess I could claim that it was work that was getting in my way.

OK, so I’ll make that claim.

But now that I’ve retired from my ‘day job,’ I’ve got time on my hands and I can’t think of a better way to use that time than to revisit old images to see if I was right in hanging on to them ‘just in case’ I learned a little more in Photoshop or if Lightroom ever advanced to the point that I’d like to use it most of the time. And if my ability with the processing software has indeed improved, the resulting images would be no good if they’re not shared, so I’ll try to post at least weekly.

The best way to start is to go through old files and see what I can find. I’ll share the results with you and tell you a few stories along the way. (I’ve always thought I should put more into the blog posts, so here is my first attempt.)

The best way, I think, to go through a project like this is to go in a somewhat chronological order, so I’ve started with a file that’s appropriately labeled “Soul Search 2006.” That was really the first serious attempt I made to capture images with a digital camera and not knowing the medium and not being particularly familiar with the processing software left me with a lot of captures to finish today in ways I could not have a decade ago.

For the fotos included with this post, however, the images aren’t as important as the reason I went.

It had been at least 20years since I’d been in the desert. I missed it, but I didn’t realize quite how much. Knowing that I had to go, I made plans for a two-week trip, visiting Arches, Zion, Canyonlands, Bryce and Capitol Reef National Parks and in the interim, Hovenweep and Navajo National Monuments and a few state parks to boot.

Things didn’t go exactly as planned, but everything worked out just fine in the long run.

I finally realized how much I missed the desert when I dropped into my last stop, Capitol Reef National Park. As I entered from the west, I saw the cliffs and domes and burst into tears, saying to no one in particular, “I’m home.” It was that stop that made me realize that the desert, and especially Capitol Reef is my soul’s home. I had abandoned it for two decades, but it called me back and I answered that call. I’m glad I did, because that put me in a mind to move back to Utah in order to have more access to the desert and upon retirement I have done so.

What came out of that soul search? Quite a bit, actually. Most important is the knowledge that the desert is my home, of course. The images are of secondary importance to the self-knowledge  I gained, but I’ll share a couple fotos from that trip today and from subsequent visits home as I process them. For today’s post,  I’ve got a couple that rather frame the trip (first stop and last stop) and I’m ready to share, so take a look (As always, click on the images to see the whole thing):

 

First stop: Arches National Park

Delicate Arch and the Lasalle Mountains, Arches National Park

Delicate Arch and the Lasalle Mountains, Arches National Park

 

Final stop: Capitol Reef National Park (luckily in bad weather)

 

Storm, Capitol Reef National Park

Storm, Capitol Reef National Park

 

More to follow,

 

Bob

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More from Capitol Reef

If you follow my blog, you know that Capitol Reef and Factory Butte are my favorite places on the planet. We were there a couple weeks ago and I’m slowly poring through the several hundred exposures I made.

A few of them are worth sharing, so I’ll drop them in as time moves on.

Factory Butte is a real attraction for me. I’ve tried and tried to get a good image of it, and while I’ve got some that I’m glad to share, the perfect image is still out there. I’ll get it someday, but while I wait, here’s one that’s not too bad. A nice dramatic sky after a very disappointing sunrise (click to see the image full size):

Factory Butte, Sunrise April, 2015

Factory Butte, Sunrise April, 2015

 

And the skies were dramatic all around. This one was taken in Capitol Grand Gorge Wash (I can never remember if it’s Capitol Gorge or Grand Wash). Ma Nature really put on a show that weekend. As an added attraction, the moon appears in the only open piece of sky. See if you can spot it.

Canyon, Clouds and Moon

Canyon, Clouds and Moon

 

More to follow,

Bob

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Looking at the past

Well, a couple things have changes. First, I’ve tried to get rid of the hacks that trash my RSS feed, but can’t seem to find a way to do that. So I changed my theme, hoping that might make a difference. We’ll see. I don’t like the new theme that much, but I’ve tried to modify it and it doesn’t seem to want to work either. Grrrrrr.

Anyway, I’ve been going through some old fotos after receiving a request for prints of a couple that I really couldn’t find. I’ve still got a bunch of new ones to go through, but this request got me started.

These aren’t the ones and I may have shown them to you before, but I was just reminded how much I like Factory Butte, so I’m going to show them again. So there.

In addition, I’m experimenting with a different kind of image file, so we’ll see what happens.

 

Two sunrise images (Click on the images for a better view):

 

Factory Butte Sunrise #1

Factory Butte Sunrise #1

Factory Butte Sunrise #1

 

Factory Butte Sunrise #2

Factory Butte Sunrise #2

Factory Butte Sunrise #2

 

More to follow.

Bob

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Desert Whirlwind 2

OK, still trying to get to the site of our Board meeting, we pressed onward. From Bryce we traveled up over Boulder Mountain and went across Hell’s Backbone. Hell’s backbone was an interesting engineering feat, but all-in-all, we were disappointed in it.

Of course, we weren’t disappointed by our trip to Capitol Reef, undoubtedly my favorite place in the world.

First we met some of the local fauna while photographing in the Boneyard.

Lizard

Lizard

Then we went to see if we could find a decent sunset spot. The tree you see below is my favorite sunset silhouette.

Sunset Tree 1

Sunset Tree 1

And

Sunset Tree 2

Sunset Tree 2

It’s great to be back!

More to follow,

 

Bob

 

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Why do they Call it Capitol Reef?

Because to the non-geologists who first came here (OK, the European-descended non-archeologists, the Fremont People were here long before), the domes of Navajo Sandstone looked like the domes of state capitol buildings and the sheer cliff left by the upthrust millions of years ago looked like a reef in the ocean. What else to call it but “Capitol Reef”?

Here’s a view of the domes and reef. See if you agree.

Domes and Reef

Domes and Reef

There are other features that decided not to erode with the rest of the area surrounding it. One noticeable one is Chimney Rock (probably so named because it looked to the first Europeans to enter the area like a, well, chimney made of rock) (OK, no evidence of imagination there, but what do you expect?). Here’s what it looks like from the highway as you walk back to the car after hiking a slot canyon:

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock

Short Post today, I’m in Washington, DC, and I don’t want to miss one exciting word of the speeches. And if you think it’s bad posting from a trip that was over a week ago, I’ve still got some Monument Valley shots to share with you!

More to follow,

Bob

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I’m Incorrigible

I had to head back to Laramie a day early and wanted to start early in the day. I figured if I got back at a decent time I’d be able to get some rest and have a little time to decompress. I had no plans to stop at Factory Butte. After all, we had already been there for a hike and I managed not to take any photos of the monolith. One day at a time is what it takes to break an addiction and photographing the Butte is truly my worst habit.

I headed out on Highway 24 before dawn (easy when daylight savings time rears its ugly head), and thought I’d make it past the Butte before the light got good. No way. Here’s what I was compelled to stop and shoot:

The light was pretty good, but the only light that was hitting the butte was reflected from the clouds. The sky was pretty dramatic, so I thought a black-and-white would do it justice.

Factory Butte Sunrise 1

Factory Butte Sunrise 1

But the colors were changing and these looked about right (remember, click on the image to see larger (and more color-accurate versions):

Factory Butte Sunrise 2

Factory Butte Sunrise 2

More to follow,

Bob

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Black, White and Water

Short post, tired tonite for some reason.

Spent the day hiking again and saw a few images that should be monochrome rather than color, so I shot them that way. We started the day trying to get a good angle on the waterfall on the Fremont River and this one was fairly good.

 

Waterfall, Fremont River

Waterfall, Fremont River

Pourover, The Other Little Canyon

Pourover, The Other Little Canyon

Lava Rock

Lava Rock

More to follow, if I wake up,

Bob

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Is that really a Basset Hound?

Went to a few new places today. One was not really new, I’d been there before about 30 years ago. Long story: buy me a beer and I’ll tell you.

Hog Springs is a small rest area between Lake Powell and Hanksville. Just to the south of the rest area is a very nice Barrier-style pictograph, which is called, for some odd reason, Cleopatra. Cleopatra has another creature next to her. I think it’s a turkey, Tom thought it might be a Basset Hound. Another long-ish story. Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you about it. All I can say is that cast in stone is a fine place for a Basset Hound to be.

In the wash above Hog Springs is a waterfall. Well a falling trickle, anyway. We went up the canyon, fought our way through typical thick growth one finds in a permanently-running desert stream and found the ‘waterfall.’ Actually, I think my bathtub flows more freely than that did. Add to the mix that the light was awful and the place was infested with people and it simply didn’t lend itself to photography. Oh, well, sometimes you eat the photons, sometime the photons eat you.

Here’s Cleopatra:

Cleopatra

Cleopatra

And Here’s Cleopatra with Allie, er the turkey.

Cleopatra and Allie

Cleopatra and Allie

More to follow,

 

Bob

 

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