Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

 

I think I have a new favorite National Park in Utah.   Zion, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands…the competition is stiff.  But Capitol Reef National Park is up there for me now.   It has great slot hikes like Zion NP, stunning arches like Arches NP, and the hiking is every bit as good as in Canyonlands NP.   What Capitol Reef National Park doesn’t have that the other parks often excel at is hordes of tourists.

 

I love Zion NP  but as I encounter throngs of people after an awesome hike there I can feel my nature high ebbing away bit by bit.   There is something magical about not seeing another soul on an all day hike.   The flip side is if you slip and break your leg, you may not see another soul for a day or two!     So be careful and always sign the trail register and stick a note on your dash with your expected return date.    I never used to take these basic precautions but Aaron Ralston cured me of my carelessness.

 

I love the international vibe of our National Parks.  At breakfast one morning in Capitol Reef I could hear French accents and German accents.   And even as a confirmed introvert, I look forward to meeting folks from other countries on the trail.  And the people I meet way way in the backcountry are almost always Europeans.  Germans, Swiss, Austrians…they do some serious hiking.

 

All images were shot with the Leica Q or Sony RX100III.

 

I rolled into the Chimney Rock Trailhead just as the sun was coming up. It's a six mile hike with killer views of the park. But it was the this ancient tree that caught my eye more than the views.

I rolled into the Chimney Rock Trailhead just as the sun was coming up. It’s a six mile hike with killer views of the park. But it was the this ancient tree near Chimney Rock that caught my eye more than the views. Something moving to me about these seemingly dead trees that really aren’t.

 

Upper Muley Twist Canyon is now in my top ten fav hikes.   Although the ninety minute drive over the roughest washboard roads, followed by a a stunning drive up the switchbacks on Burr Trail Road. After that it's a 4wheel drive road the last three miles to the trailhead. I understand why I didn't see anyone else on my hike the next day.

Looking down on Burr Trail Road. Upper Muley Twist Canyon is now in my top ten fav hikes.   Getting to the trailhead is a ninety minute drive over the roughest washboard roads I’ve seen, followed by a a stunning drive up the switchbacks on Burr Trail Road. After that it’s a 4wheel drive road the last three miles to the trailhead. I understand why I didn’t see anyone else on my hike the next day.

Upper Muley Twist Canyon is now in my top five fav hikes. I was a couple miles into my hike when I saw the sun coming up over the horizon through the trees just as I got to Fifth Arch.

I was a couple miles into the Upper Muley Twist hike when I saw the sun coming up over the horizon through the trees just as I got to Fifth Arch.

Stunning views from the top.

Stunning views from the top on the Upper Muley Twist trail.

Although a little more ominous to the north. The thunder clouds kept me moving.

The weather was a little more ominous to the west and north. The thunder clouds kept me moving. A little hail definitely help me pick up the pace.

A rock wall protecting a cactus that was in the middle of the trail.

A rock wall protecting a cactus that was in the middle of the trail.

Something else had walked this way earlier.

Something else had walked this way earlier.

Years ago a ranger had recommended the Burro Wash hike to me. It did not disappoint. Although going through the narrow slot canyon at the end of the hike cured me from ever hiking the Narrows in Zion NP. Something a little claustrophobic about being in a slot canyon that's 30-50 feet deep, wading through freezing chest deep water in a space that's not wide enough to turn around in with your backpack on. Nah, I'll pass on the Narrows.

Years ago a ranger at Capitol Reef had recommended the Burro Wash hike to me. It did not disappoint. Although going through the narrow slot canyon at the end of the hike cured me from ever hiking the Narrows in Zion NP. Something a little claustrophobic about being in a slot canyon that’s 30-50 feet deep, wading through freezing chest deep water in a space that’s not wide enough to turn around in with your backpack on. Nah, I’ll pass on the Narrows.

Roots of a tree growing up the canyon wall in Burro Wash.

Roots of a tree growing up the canyon wall in Burro Wash.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy Snow Day!

Happy Snow Day!

 

Happy snow day from Colorado! Sunny and 70 degrees yesterday and a blizzard today. One of the many reasons I love Colorado.

 

Big horn sheep in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Big horn sheep in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Posted in Uncategorized

Aerospace Day

Aerospace Day at the Capital

 

Nothing like hanging out with a bunch of smart people who are passionate about what they do!   I always enjoy shooting for the Colorado Space Business Roundtable.  And it’s tough to beat the Colorado State Capital for a backdrop.

 

Shooting events like this is always heartening for me.  As much as I am concerned by the polarization of our political discourse, I am always struck by the intelligence and compassion of most of the politicians I interact with at these events.  I mostly see smart, dedicated people who could be making more money in the private sector but choose to serve.  I know it’s an American pastime to bitch about politicians, and I know our system has it’s flaws, but cliched complaining just seems like a lazy response in a democracy.    I’m saying this as reminder to myself, too : )

 

The Colorado State Capital.

The Colorado State Capital.

 

I felt a little spoiled shooting in the capital.

I felt a little spoiled shooting in the capital.

The dome of the capital.

The dome of the capital.

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The University of Colorado was well represented at Aerospace Day. Go Buffs!

The University of Colorado was well represented at Aerospace Day. Go Buffs!

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State senators introducing a bill for Aerospace Day in Colorado.

State senators introducing a bill for Aerospace Day in Colorado.

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State senators congratulating Colorado aerospace luminaries.

State senators congratulating Colorado aerospace luminaries.

The bill being introduced in the Colorado House.

The bill being introduced in the Colorado House. The atmosphere in the House was a little more laid back than the Senate.

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Tough day to be inside, though. : )

Tough day to be inside, though. : )

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Joe Rice presenting Colorado Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia with an award.

My good friend Joe Rice presenting Colorado Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia with an award.

A receptive crowd.

A receptive crowd.

A panel discussion in the old Colorado Supreme Court chambers.

A panel discussion in the old Colorado Supreme Court chambers.

I know it's an American pastime to bitch about politicians, but I'm usually struck by the dedication of folks representing Colorado. Not always : ) but often.

I know it’s an American pastime to bitch about politicians, but I’m usually struck by the dedication of folks representing Colorado. Not always : ) but often.

Not a bad backdrop for a group pic.

Not a bad backdrop for a group pic.

Posted in Humanitarian, Uncategorized

Cienfuegos, Cuba

Cienfuegos, Cuba

 

Cienfuegos, Cuba is up there for me now.  I thought Trinidad was a cool town but Cienfuegos had that chill vibe that I love when I travel.    There’s a few places I’ve found in my travels that have that magic:  Hanalei on Kauai, Paris, and Portland are among them.    My need to see things and do stuff completely subsides, and it’s all about just hanging out.

 

I did not see a ton of tourists in Cienfuegos.  The town felt to be about the same size as Trinidad but it had about ten percent of the tourists of Trinidad.   So much easier to connect with locals in a place that’s not inundated with visitors.

 

A shout out to my friend at End the Travel Ban on Cuba on Facebook for recommending a visit to Cienfuegos.

 

The Malecon in Cienfuegos.

The Malecon in Cienfuegos.   An awesome place to go for a run and to just meet locals.

I loved the three eras that each of these represent: horse and buggy, 50's car and a pay telephone. All still a part of everyday Cuban life.

I loved the three eras represented here: horse and buggy, 50’s car and a pay telephone. All still a part of everyday Cuban life.

Shrimp boats in Cienfuegos.

Shrimp boats in Cienfuegos.

Cienfuegos seemed a little more in touch with the Revolution than Trinidad.

Cienfuegos seemed a little more in touch with the Revolution than Trinidad.

Local butcher shop in Cienfuegos.

Local butcher shop in Cienfuegos.

Kids playing soccer on the plaza. The plaza is the place to be at night - soccer games, surfing WiFi, and just hanging out.

Kids playing soccer on the plaza. The plaza is the place to be at night – soccer games, surfing WiFi, and just hanging out.

Cienfuegos Cuba (6)

We actually ducked into the Customs office to escape a downpour. I found Cubans to be nothing but kind.

We actually ducked into the Customs office to escape a downpour. I found Cubans to be nothing but kind.

The plaza in Cienfuegos.

A dad and his daughter checking out the plaza in Cienfuegos.

Fishing along the Malecon just after sunrise.

Fishing along the Malecon just after sunrise.

I met this guy at the end of my early morning run. His Englis was right up there with my Spanish, so after exchanging greetings and names, we didn't have much left. He was incredibly animated and it was clear he wanted me to try his pastries. I only have my room key and a laminated copy of passport when i run so I had no money. He didn't care. He insisted I try one. And damn if it wasn't one of the tastiest pastries I've had. We shook hands and he was off to find his next customer. I love these moments when I travel.

I met this guy at the end of my early morning run.   His English was right up there with my Spanish, so after exchanging greetings and names, we didn’t have much left. He was incredibly animated and it was clear he wanted me to try his pastries. I only have my room key and a laminated copy of passport when I run so I had no money. He didn’t care. He insisted I try one.  And damn if it wasn’t one of the tastiest pastries I’ve had. We shook hands and he was off to find his next customer.  I love these moments when I travel.

 

Posted in Cuba