Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Faces Part 2

Last Saturday, we visited the San Diego Zoo Safari Park ( formerly known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park) and had a great time photographing animals. In this post, I will not be sharing my pictures, but instead, I will be continuing my Faces post last January where all pictures were taken by my husband who loves to shoot faces of animals, and of people :) However, because of internet etiquette, I cannot post here the faces of people he took because we do not have permission to publish them for public viewing. Instead, I will share here some of the animal "faces" that my hubby took. I enjoy looking at these faces shots, hope you will too.
Orangutan ( sad? )- this picture was taken from SD Zoo not from Safari Park
mom with a newly born (less than a day old) gorilla
rhino (dreamy?)
white pelican
cheetahs
elephant (taking it slowly uphill :), very slowly actually )
playful baby elephant ( he purposely put the bigger elephant for comparison)
what are they doing?
Lizard
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

Lessons From Nature

 San Diego Spring 2011 Wildflowers

Spring 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.

When taking pictures of flowers, I usually do not purposely wait for bugs to suck the nectar out of flowers as I am scared of the bee stinging me. However, oftentimes, while I am attempting to take an up-close picture of a flower, a bee would suddenly appear right in time to take the photo.And as if I do not exist, the bee would always proceed nourishing himself to feed on the flowers.
I believe the bees keep on appearing in my sight whenever I snap pictures of flowers to teach me something. But what were these bees teaching me? Are they teaching me to remain focused while set on a goal?  Or do the bees remind me to follow their way of life, that is to slow down, smell the lupines and poppies, to taste the sweetest nectar of life? Are they teaching me that no matter how we avoid some circumstances such as my avoidance of the bees, yet we have no control over their coming? But we can  best prepare for it?

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 AptusInsurance.com 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.
Life is precious and beautiful, it is worth celebrating, and preparing for the unthinkable circumstances. So that whatever happens, the strength within that we built through the years will continue to live beautifully just as nature continues to live beautifully in its many cycles and seasons of life. 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Archwalk at Alabama Hills

Mobius Arch @ Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, Eastern Sierra
The 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 Hills
Whereas 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
Those who have not been to Alabama Hills may still find this place very familiar, or may have seen this place through the many movies filmed here! The mind boggling scenery here at Alabama Hills was a popular location for sci-fi, adventure and Western movies. Our poses in Mobious Arch was our fun way of copying John Wayne :)

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.
- directions above were taken from Alabama Hills website.

If you have short time and needed to be in another place at a given time, you may skip driving the whole 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

Enjoying The Finer Details

How do you view the physical world around you? For me, I mostly view our physical world with my naked eyes. Sometimes, I also use camera and cell phone to help me see what my naked eyes cannot see. For example, I was afraid to inspect the details of a bee because it meant getting close to the bee and I feared getting bee sting. These days, because of technological advances in our gadgets, I can get the details of the bee even if I am several feet away!
Bumblebee
Busy Bee
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 :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Canadian Adventure Vacation

One of my dream vacations is to see beluga whales,
beluga whale @ Sea World San Diego
polar bears,
Polar Bears @ Sea World, San Diego
and 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

Butterflies

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I am having one of those wordless days :( Hope you enjoy these butterfly shots, greetings from San Diego.

Hiking Vernal and Nevada Falls

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:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yosemite Waterfalls



Rainbow at Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite National Park CA
This was supposed to be my post before we leave for the trip on June 28th, however, I did not get a chance to post this at all. Anyway, since we were heading at that time to another waterfall country, I thought of leaving you then with our waterfall memories from  Yosemite National Park, CA.

Half Dome, Liberty Cap and Nevada Falls

Rainbow Below Vernal Falls

Rainbow and Vernal Falls from the Top

Yosemite Falls

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Photoshoot Dream

I Heard Your Loud Chime that Soared and Floated Into The Air
As I Gazed Up, I Asked, "Was it really you calling me?"
Then I Saw You looked down with your Piercing Stare
I just had to ask again, "were you calling me?"
Was I Dreaming When You Quickly Jumped Down from the tree?
Was I walking with you, 
Or Were you walking With Me?
When you finally stopped I did not know what to do
Finally, I woke up from my dream......and left you be
As I marched away, I heard your chiming voice again,
I looked back to see you spread your beautiful wings 
Was I dreaming when I heard you say,
"come......take a picture of me....
with my wings open wide and my hundred eyes"
You then swayed your wide open wings beautifully
My eyes locked in your regal beauty....
I followed you in your every turn....
In your every walk....
Were you really modeling for me?
Or Was I in a Photoshoot Dream?
all photos taken at:
May 21, 2011