Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Orangutan ( sad? )- this picture was taken from SD Zoo not from Safari Park
mom with a newly born (less than a day old) gorilla
elephant (taking it slowly uphill :), very slowly actually )
playful baby elephant ( he purposely put the bigger elephant for comparison)
what are they doing?
There will be new animal encounter at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is the Cheetah Run Safari, where park visitors will be able to witness the amazing speed of the fastest land mammal on Earth. It will open on July 2nd, so maybe, I will share my Safari Park pictures after July 2nd :)
Monday, June 27, 2011
San Diego Spring 2011 WildflowersSpring is one of the most colorful season, it is the season where brown slowly changes to a rainbow of color.
Despite the allergies spring season brings, yet I adore spring! Spring is the time when all of nature sings, it is the awakening of nature from its most needed restful slumber. During spring, the scenery around becomes insanely breath-taking, my camera shouts for joy of taking pictures of wildflowers here, there and everywhere.
Thinking about what the bee tries to teach each time it appears in my sight remind me that in life there are several unthinkable circumstances we cannot avoid but we can best prepare for. To prepare for the unthinkable of us leaving our loved ones behind all so sudden, we get life insurance not for us, but for our loved one. With the recent economic woes, it is best to find the insurance that suits our needs best. There are different types of life insurance, you can visit to learn more about these different types. Aside from life insurance, other insurances also provide us security to the question "what if". What if someone hits our car on the road despite we are too careful? There are so many car insurance companies Nationwide, and just like life insurance, it is a must we find the best for our bucks.
In going out, nature reminds us of the many realities of life that we have to face and we have to prepare for. The singing of the birds and seeing them enjoying the sweet nectar around them is like celebration of life anew.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Mobius Arch @ Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, Eastern SierraThe Eastern Sierra Nevada of California is full of mind boggling diversity. It is full of extremes and contrasts. The low elevation has a stunnning desert scenery.
Looking East from the Arch Rock above, @ Alabama HillsWhereas the high elevation has the giant forests.The Sierra is home to the giant sequoias, home of the largest tree by volume in the world.
One of the interesting stops at Highway 395 in the Eastern Sierra is Alabama Hills. Those who hike to Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in contiguous US, from Whitney Portal must have passed this place.
Mt. Whitney As Seen From Alabama Hills
Alabama Hills is very short detour if you are traveling on Hwy 395 to Death Valley National Park, or to Mammoth Lakes, or to Lake Tahoe, or to Yosemite National Park from Southern California, or vice versa. Movie Portal Road is only 2.5 miles from Hwy 395, and to the parking lot for the Mobius Arch is 1.5 miles of unpaved road.
- Coming from Hwy 395 South to Lone Pine, Turn west (at the stop light) onto Whitney Portal Road, drive 2.5 miles to Movie Road, turn right.
- After 1.5 miles you will come to a "Y" in the road.
- Go right and pull into the dirt parking area immediately on your left.
- You will see the trail sign on the left side of this parking area; this is where you begin your arch walk, which takes approximately 15 minutes round trip.
If you have short time and needed to be in another place at a given time, you may skip driving the while Movie Flats Road and just do the short Arch Walk (all pictures in this post were just from the Arch Walk). Why? The whole Movie Portal Flats is huge and may take you very long to complete it. You can have a movie tour by following this map which is also availabe at the inter-agency visitor center, or at Lone Pine Chamber of Commerce. Doing this however would no longer be a short detour. For a short 30 minute- 1 hr detour ( with photography), the Arch Walk would be enough.
Me, Trying to Copy John Wayne :) @ Mobius Arch (found at Arch Walk)
Lathe Arch close to Mobius Arch ( at Arch Walk )
For more information about Alabama Hills, please click the following below:
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
The technological advances in camera also allow me to shoot hummingbirds and other wildlife from afar without disturbing them. What a wonderful world it is.
while this hummingbird was busy enjoying the nectar, I was also busy taking her a picture without disturbing her
When I go home and upload the pictures to my computer, I enjoy looking at the finer details which my naked eyes will not be able to see.
The evolution of technology is not limited to photography only. Cell phones right now can take higher resolution pictures and offer higher resolution videos. But for those who are not satisfied with small screen, they can view their very high resolution photos in their wide screen TV! It is very relaxing sometimes to just sit and watch my chosen pictures from travel or simply from wildlife with full high definition content at 1080p! To optimize high definition viewing, it is not only necessary to have a 1080p monitor and disc player, but a high definition multimedia interface (hdmi) cable is also a must. Optimized Cable Company brings optimized hdmi cables that boast picture-perfect 1080p digital pictures and brilliant eight-channel sound. Even with just sounds, listening to music becomes ultra different with high definition sounds. One disadvantage though of enjoying optimized high definition viewing and high definition audio is that you may forget about the time and just simply sit for long hours enjoying the finer details. Thankfully, for me, my favorite high definition video discs are the picture slide shows with my chosen favorite music that I created! It means I have to get out more, explore our world out of the doors so I can create more relaxing high definition wildlife and places discs. Maybe, I should start selling them? But for now, let me just enjoy our beautiful world in the most relaxing way that I know minus business stress :)
Friday, June 17, 2011
I will start from the East entrance of Yosemite moving to the Valley.
1st stop: Mono Lake South Tufa State Reserve
Mono Lake @ Dusk
Though Mono Lake is not part of Yosemite National Park, but this amazingly surreal place that looks like an Alien Kingdom of Towering Calcium Carbonate Towers ( or tufas) is only 13 miles from the East Entrance of Yosemite National Park. If you are visiting Yosemite, why miss this one? The picture above is my favorite picture of Mono Lake, which was shot by my husband. Now, if you ask me where I was when he was shooting the above picture? I was at the other side of Mono Lake.
Mono Lake @ Dusk
(my hubby who took the first picture above was in the other side of those towering tufas)The second picture of Mono Lake is closer to the trail head. When we first reached the shore, I was right away enchanted by these eerie guards of the Alien Kingdom that I started happily snapping pictures away. My hubby on the other hand, continued his walk to the other side to survey first the area for a perfect spot to take pictures. But since we came in late, we hardly have time to survey, so we ended up shooting where we were :)
For more about Mono Lake, you can revisit my old post of Mono Lake here.
2nd many stops: Tioga Pass ( Yosemite High Sierra) - note: because of snow accumulation, expected completion of road snow plowing at Tioga Pass is on June 18, to see how the road looks right now with the snow plowers heavily working- click here.
Reflecting Pond @ Toulumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park
Toulumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park
There is no skipping Toulumne Meadows if you are going to Yosemite Valley coming from the East. Anyone will really pass the High Sierra of Yosemite National Park. Unlike in the valley, the High Sierra does not attract so much crowds. Though mostly everyone passes by here, but very few stop their cars to breathe in this beautiful and peaceful scenery. When we travel, even when we are driving, we always open our eyes for photo opportunities, and as long as it is safe to pull over for pictures, we would! So, when you are driving Tioga Pass, open your heart and eyes to the inspiration you will see. If you see something beautiful for pictures, pull over if it is safe. The two pictures above were not popular spots in Yosemite, we simply excitedly said "STOP" to the one driving when we saw them. And there are many more of them, but I do not want to load you with pictures in one post. The next two pictures below on the other hand you cannot miss because this is where most people stop because this is a popular viewpoint in the High Sierra.
Olmstead Point, Yosemite National Park
Tenaya Lake from Olmstead Point
There are many hikes here at Tioga Pass, I will feature some of those hikes we took in another post since this post is about Yosemite without the hikes or with little family friendly walks.
3rd many stops: Yosemite Valley
Yosemite Tunnel View
(left to right: El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Fall)
Yosemite Valley is where the heart of Yosemite National Park. It's not that huge, but there is so much to see. Because the valley is formed by glaciation, there are steep walls from granite rocks and cliffs. The valley offers one of the world's most concentrations of waterfalls,
Bridalveil Fall ( shot late in the afternoon, about 5 pm, late June)
note: if you want to take pictures of waterfalls with rainbow, the park rangers at the VISITOR CENTER are very friendly and with much enthusiasm and happiness, they share with you the time of day rainbow appears in a specific waterfall ( of course with the right sunny conditions).
Yosemite Falls and Merced River
massive granite walls,
( each year, climbers from all over the world come to scale this giant rock)
Half Dome from Cook's Meadow
wildflowers @ Cook's Meadows
and giant trees.
4th stop: Glacier Point
Half Dome and Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point
Yosemite Fall from Glacier Point
Please click anyone below for more information:
2. Lodging at Lee Vining ( Mono Lake and Tioga Pass)- there are very few hotel and cabin accommodations in Yosemite Valley that they are usually fully booked months ahead, if in case Yosemite Valley runs out of lodging options, the closest to stay with a view is Lee Vining, and you can have Mono Lake at both sunrise and sunset.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
beluga whale @ Sea World San Diegopolar bears,
Polar Bears @ Sea World, San Diegoand other arctic wildlife in their native habitat. Presently, I only get to see these creatures in Sea World, San Diego. How exciting and educational it would be to be able to experience how they interact in their natural setting. At first, I thought taking an alaska cruise will bring me closer to these wonderful but rare creatures, but then, later I found it I would have greater chances of seeing them through an adventure vacation both on land and water. Alaska is definitely one of my dream vacation destinations, but I also learned that there is a greater chance to see beluga whales and polar bears in Manitoba, Canada. As I looked into the different wildlife, adventure tours and cruises from Canadian Sky, I can't help but get excited. Though I am not thinking of spending some holidays to Canada this summer or this year, but I have learned from our many travels that planning ahead is very helpful in securing better accommodations at a cheaper price. I am thinking that if we take the birds, bears and whales tour at Manitoba, Canada, we might as well explore other places in Canada such as exploring Niagara Falls in Ontario. The vibrant city of Toronto, which is the cultural, entertainment and financial capital of Canada, is close to Niagara Falls and not so far either from Manitoba. I think it would be ideal to spend some nights both in Toronto and Manitoba. The Hotels in Toronto will most probably give us a more luxurious sleep yet a lot cheaper compared to the wilderness lodging in Manitoba. But of course, experiencing the joy of seeing these wondrous wildlife in their native habitat is priceless. Manitoba, Canada, here we come, but when?
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
from left to right: Back of Half Dome, Liberty Cap and Nevada Fall from John Muir Trail
Mileage: 7 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 2000 ft
Best Time: Late Spring to Early Summer, when the waterfalls are at their thunderous best.
Trailhead: at Happy Isles ( from the valley, take the Yosemite free shuttle bus and get off at Happy Isles)
Let me start this post with a quote from blogging friend Jo of Poetic Shutterbug: "Yosemite is God's country". Indeed, Yosemite is such a beautiful place and a sight to behold, it's more than just a great valley. Yosemite is one of the first wilderness National Parks in US ( 3rd after Yellowstone and Sequoia). Though it is most well known for its numerous waterfalls, but in Yosemite you will find nature's beauty and power through glacially carved massive granite rocks, an almost heaven on Earth meadows, pristine alpine lakes, giant sequoias, and miles of trails that wind through nature's beauty.
When we were deciding before which trail to hike, Vernal and Nevada Fall or Yosemite Fall ( probably the most popular waterfall in Yosemite is the Yosemite Fall, North America's tallest waterfall), we considered the following information:
1. Yosemite Fall can be photographed from the valley. In fact, most of the people who visit Yosemite probably have seen only this waterfall thinking this is the only waterfall in Yosemite.
Yosemite Fall from the Valley Floor
Vernal and Nevada Fall on the other hand cannot be photographed nor can be seen from the valley floor. One really has to exert an effort to take a glimpse of what it is like.
2. Hiking to the top of Yosemite Fall is more strenuous and more exposed to sun. Whereas, hiking to the top of Nevada Fall is mostly shaded by pine forest.
3. On the day we were deciding which trail to hike next, we just finished a 13 mile Valley Floor Loop Hike plus a 4 mile round trip to Mirror Lake and Tenaya Canyon. With already tired feet, for about the same hiking mileage ( 7+ miles), a 2000 ft climb to Nevada Fall sounded better than the 2600 ft climb to the top of Yosemite Falls.
4. We already have tons of pictures of Yosemite Fall from the valley but none of Nevada Fall.
5. We will be back to hike Yosemite Fall and Half Dome via Cloud's Rest :)
So here goes a little bit more description of the hike to Vernal and Nevada Fall. Since you can find complete details of the Vernal and Nevada Fall hike at Yosemite Hikes, I will instead let our pictures speak for our experience.
From Happy Isles Stop to the footbridge of Vernal Fall is about 0.8 miles, 400 ft climb. This is the view from the footbridge when we were there.
Vernal Fall From the Footbridge
( can you spot some of the people at the top of the waterfall? see how small they are compared to Vernal Fall?)
I met some tourists who probably did not do their research prior to this hike. They turned around from the footbridge very disappointed! Saying, "ahhhhh, I worked so hard for nothing!"- yes, because of the very thick leaves from the trees, the footbridge view is obstructed and the waterfall was hardly seen. What some of these tourists were meaning about working so hard was that a climb of 400 ft in 0.8 mile is very steep for those who are not much into uphill hiking and climbing stairs is a battle. But for those who did their assignment, they knew that there is so much more to Vernal fall beyond the footbridge.
After the footbridge, we continued hiking the Mist Trail, in another 0.5 mile and 400 ft climb, we were greeted with the unobstructed view of the Vernal Fall.
Unobstructed view of Vernal fall, less than 0.5 mile from the footbridge
Rainbow at the base of Vernal Fall
( we got there at Vernal Fall between 10:00- 11:00 am, early summer or late June- but anyone can ask the park ranger at visitor Center at what time does rainbow appear in specific waterfalls because it varies with day and month of the year)
Vernal Fall and Rainbow
From the base of Vernal Fall, the trail climbs up over 600 steps over a steep granite stairway. The trail is very slippery here because of all the waterfall mist and spray. In about 0.7 miles from the footbridge, and 600 ft climb, we reached the top of Vernal Fall.
left to right: granite staircase, rainbow, and Vernal Fall from the top
At the top, there is a very scenic pool ( sorry, I forgot the name) where we stopped for our nutrition and hydration break.
Pool @ the top of Vernal Fall
( this pool is closed for swimming due to very close to Vernal Fall and some tourists who did not pay attention to the "no swimming signs" had lost their lives being swept by rushing current down to the fall )
After our nourishment break, we continued up the Mist Trail to the top of Nevada Fall. In less than half a mile from that pool above, we were greeted by the beauty of Nevada Fall.
Nevada Fall from the Mist Trail
Then, we continued up the rocky strewn slopes to get to the top of Nevada fall. For a while, we got lost of the sight of Nevada Fall in the trail, but we knew we were close because of all its thundering sound. When the trail opened to the sight of Nevada Fall again, we were again meandering an exposed trail of rocky strewn steep slopes.
Nevada Fall from the Exposed Rocky Strewn Trail
The Power of Nevada Fall
( I took this picture with a fast shutter speed since I wanted to show the power and action of Nevada Fall. I usually use the cotton effect or slow shutter speed for waterfall shots when the waterfall is not as powerful and thunderous)
After about 1.2 miles and another 1000 ft climb from the top of Vernal Fall, we reached the top of Nevada Fall. Before reaching the top of Nevada Fall, there is a legal swimming hole where a lot of kids and other tourists stop to have a cool swim. This swimming hole is safe enough for swimming, but because we did not do our research, we did not have swimsuit, we passed the opportunity to swim in the frigid waters of Merced River. We instead moved away from the swimming crowd and seek a cooler place to enjoy the scenery with more solitude.
Where we stopped at the top to enjoy the fruits of our hike, this is where most hikers also refill their water container
When we were done resting and enjoying the scenery at the top of Nevada Fall, we looked down and looked back at where we've come from.
Looking Down and Back from Where We Came ( Though of Course we could not see the trailhead here)
Nevada Fall from the Top
Instead of returning the same route, we took the longer but less steep John Muir Trail. We had several purposes for taking a different trail, first is to photograph the very first picture above. The shot of Half Dome, Liberty Cap and Nevada Fall is from the John Muir Trail. Second was to see different scenery from a different trail. And third, it is friendlier to the knees to go downhill when the miles is longer since it means the slope is less steep.
Here are my other posts about Yosemite and places near Yosemite:
4. Mono Lake