Saturday, April 30, 2011

Coming Back to Canada

As we were coming thru Montana on the last leg of the trip to Calgary I stopped to capture this water tower.  I have never seen one yet with Sherwin or Sherilee on it... but thought my son might smile when he sees this.

I enjoyed seeing several herds of prong horn antelope in Montana.

After getting up really early and making it thru the border crossing in 5 minutes... we had plenty of time to enjoy my favourite Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump... only to find that it was closed on Easter Sunday.  But we did come back on Wednesday for an enjoyable visit.

Marilyn had a fabulous Easter dinner prepared ... and the desserts were over the top.

Since I couldn't decide which one to have I had a piece of each.  Very Yummy.  I can see what a week in Paris did to her!

Seize the moment.  Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.  ~Erma Bombeck

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Idaho Falls -Travel Day Two

Saturday morning we awoke to a snowy winter wonderland.  I had hoped to go and shoot the sunrise at the Sunrise Viewpoint... but a blanket of snow sort of hid the sunrise from us.

So we just beetled it down the road.  As soon as we got to lower elevations the snow turned to rain... and within an hour we were out of the rain.  It was a pretty good travel day.

We had to make a stop in Idaho Falls to try to pick up a pillow for Lorne and Gail's friend... so I suggested we spend an hour getting a little exercise.  Let's find a good place to take a walk or a hike.

We found the local Chamber of Commerce Information Centre, but it closed at 3:00 on Saturday.  But right next to it was a park beside the Snake River, so we parked the car and started to look around.  Lots of people were enjoying the park with their family...

I approached a lady walking her dog and told her the Information Centre was closed... could she recommend the best place in Idaho Falls to go for a walk or hike?  She told us that this was it.  There is a loop path around the river here that takes about 45 minutes.  She said this the best thing that ever happened to Idaho Falls.

I didn't fully understand what she was talking about, but as we hiked around the loop there were some great opportunities to take pictures of the falls, birds and people, as well as learn more about the how Idaho Falls uses this river to get all the power it needs for the entire city.

People had been feeding these birds so much that they were hardly interested in the bread that was being thrown into the river for them.

There were lots of Canadian Geese here... ducks and gulls.

But the highlight of the afternoon was to catch this family with five babies!  I followed these geese and shot over 40 photos of them.  They were so cute and tiny.

There were even a couple of cormorants enjoying some sunshine by the river.

There were several benches along the path where one could rest and enjoy the scenery.

Several benches were very creative... like this large fishing hook, complete with swivel!

Or this granite bench with a message, "to live for to love."  There were so many different ones I could do a blog post just on the different benches along this loop walk.  And not one with advertising for a local realtor or restaurant.

There was even the Ten Commandments set up here with the message below stating,

"This display is not meant to endorse any particular system of religious beliefs or intrude into matters of religious worship.  As a historical precedent, the Ten Commandments represents one of man's earliest efforts to live by the rule of law.  Many of these ancient pronouncements survive in our jurisprudence today."

I was impressed at how tactfully this was done.

Credit was given to Thomas V. Campbell, mayor of Idaho Falls from 1978 to 1993 for his part in guiding the city to set up this greenbelt, concurrent with the Hydro Electric Project.  He was honoured to be one of 12 mayors in the USA to speak at the University of Virginia on "Beautifying Americas Cities.  I think it speaks volumes that he was mayor for 15 years!

Many cities could take a lesson from this small city of 56,813 people (2010 census) that has become self-sufficent in it's electricity consumption.  By spending only $48 million between 1978-82 they are generating their own power.

In fact, this city has operated a municipal electric generation system since 1900... Idaho Falls Power.  check it out!

I did a little checking into how a Bulb Turbine is different from the other turbines used in most hydro electric damns.  The Bulb Turbine can be installed horizontally instead of vertically... allowing it to operate in situations where there is a low head.  The three bulb turbines used by Idaho Falls are 19 feet of head.

What an impressive economic solution this city has taken... starting over 100 years ago, they now are in control of their power source and have a cash flow for the city.

Could it be that the Mormon influence in this community is part of the reason for the forward thinking towards financial independence?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bryce Canyon -Travel Day One

This morning before 7 AM we were on the road heading north from Tucson.  Our goal today was to get to Bryce Canyon in Utah... and all along the way the rocks and hills were getting redder and redder the closer we got to Bryce.

Stanley gave us an old chest cooler that we stocked with travel food... and today for lunch we found an abandoned table beside the road where we prepared our gourmet lunch.  Sandwiches with luncheon meat, lettuce, tomato and onion slices.... some Bushes beans, carrot and celery sticks, dry roasted peanuts and onion and vinegar potato chips.  It was wonderful.

Arriving at the gates to Bryce Canyon National Park about 4:30, Lorne saw this father taking a picture of  his family... so offered to take one with all of them together.

Nothing could prepare me for the absolute beauty of this most picturesque canyon.  This is called Sunset Viewpoint.  It was the only place we visited twice and when we came back just as the sun was setting we overheard a girl saying, "I don't get it.  Why did they name this Sunset Viewpoint?"  My sentiment exactly... This photo is by far better than the one we took at sunset.

There was still some snow here... and it helped to add interest to the photo.  The elevation was almost 9,000 feet.

This is Inspiration Point.  The 18-mile road along the rim of the canyon has 18 viewpoints... and today we stopped at every one and took some photos.

There were several tour busses with people from all over the world visiting here today.

It is amazing how close we can drive to these viewpoints... and how close the people can go to the edge of danger to see these amazing rock formations.

The Parks do however provide excellent security to keep people from going into places that they shouldn't go.  These rock posts with rails are very well built and look beautiful.

Welcome to Paria Viewpoint.  There are a number of trails that go from one viewpoint to another, so on a future visit we might enjoy doing some hiking here.

It does not appear that any of these trails are difficult... and what a glorious place to get a little exercise.

As you can see they have some serious equipment to help to build, maintain and improve the trails here in this park.

There was apparently a pretty serious fire here recently... several miles along the last half of the rim road have been burnt.

This is the land of Far, Far Away.  They called this the Far Viewpoint.  What a breath taking view!  But you will get a chance to see it again from the very last viewpoint... although this is the best distance to enjoy it.

They misnamed this the Natural Bridge... but it really is just a magnificent arch hole in the rock.   You would be hard put to use it to cross anywhere.  The sun was getting low and I was wishing I had been here earlier in the day.

This is Aqua Canyon Viewpoint... and what a magnificent cathedral!  I immediately thought of Shirley in Paris, who is also looking at magnificent cathedrals.  Look closely at the very top and you will see vegetation struggling to grow there.

This stately old Ponderosa was what this next viewpoint was named after.

I don't know if this was hit with a vehicle... or if it is just settling... but this Ponderosa Viewpoint is needing a little repair work.

This is the end of the trail... Rainbow Point... and the highest elevation... which means the deepest snow was here.  Beside the sidewalk it was three feet deep.

Even from here at the end of the viewpoints you can see in the distance the "Far Away" escarpment.  This is one big park... full of inspiration and magnificent views.

It is certainly a place I will want to return to.

"I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us to aright." -Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Return to Arizona National

We enjoyed the Arizona National so much we returned for another round.

Lorne and I on the 5th green.  Today we played our game exceptionally quickly... only 3 hours and 10 minutes when usually it takes between 4 to 5 hours.

We took no pictures between the 5th and here on the 18th today.  It was my best round of golf so far this year... and the only game I scored less than Lorne.  I used the same ball for the entire game... rare.

When we took back the cart I asked permission to take it back around the golf course just to take photos... which they were ok with.  There were several beautiful homes around the course... this one not only sees the green, but it overlooks most of Tucson.

Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed this golf course... and there are lots of bunkers... which I fortunately managed to stay out of today.

Lorne composed this photo using my iPhone while I was using my Nikon.  In another week there will be countless more cactus blossoms.

My good friend Stanley says this White Wing Dove is only here for a short time, an indication that spring has come to Tucson.

I was able to slowly creep closer to this dove, who from this top of cactus perch, enjoys an awesome view of life below.

I have wanted all week to get a photo of the ocotillo blooming.  What a bonus to focus on this flower and have a hummingbird fly into the picture.  What are the odds?

This ocotillo bloom is very well protected by it's thorny stem.

This bird on the cactus was right next to the cart path and after driving by him, I walked back "To Shoot a Mockingbird."  I wish I would still be here when this cactus breaks forth in bloom... it will be awesome!

The course winds thru some hilly mountainside, which opens up some special views of the city and the golf course.  Behind the lake is a most beautiful club house.

Doesn't this look like a giant Arizona asparagus... but really we think it is a Century Plant.

Apparently the Century plant only blooms once in 25 years... and then completely dies.

This little bunny was so close to our golf cart I did this photo sitting down behind the wheel.  You can see the blood vessels in his ears!  Hundreds of these little bunnies make the golf course their home.

The grasses not only add to the beauty, but provide protection for many creatures... like the countless quail which were too quick for me to catch.  Lorne also took this photo with iPhone.

This is one of the most beautiful times of the year to be able to take pictures in the desert.

Over the next few weeks most all the cacti will be in bloom... what a great time to be here.

To see more photos taken at Arizona National click here.  Or to see more desert flower photos taken here last week click here.

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers." 
-Claude Monet