Thursday, October 29, 2015

Day 3 (Part 1): Bryce Canyon sounds like a soap opera name

Sorry for the delay. I had planned on continuing my trip log last weekend, but the Bryce photos were overwhelming me, so I put it aside. There were so many pictures to go through and prep, so I think I will have to divide this day into more than one post.

Here are some helpful links, if you haven't seen them yet:

Day 1: Vegas
Day 2: Zion
Gallery with more photos than I'm putting in my posts

Okay! After a quick hotel breakfast, Dania and I left Springdale to head to Bryce Canyon. To get there, you drive through Zion National Park for awhile. This was really fun and scenic. There are some tunnels through the rocks, including one that is over a mile long.

We stopped at a few outlook points to take pictures, and at one of them we saw several bighorn sheep! They were all likely female, so they just looked like deer with horns to me, but my Instagram and Twitter friends helped set me straight.

These photos are way out of order in terms of our drive. I messed up, but I'm not going to fix it. :) Just know that the Brycey ones are from later in the drive, and the non-Brycey ones are from earlier in our drive! I'm sure you'll need to mark your journal with this important info.

The scenery between Zion and Bryce varied from the orangey mountain walls to valleys with cattle grazing between curvy rivers. As I always do when I travel, I thought about what life is like for people living there, and how it would be to grow up in that area. I wondered about how much snow they got, and how the landscape changed with the seasons. It was very pretty, though I wouldn't want to live so far from major cities, myself. We passed through a couple of small towns, but things were quiet. I wanted to find a store and/or some food, but without options we just continued on until we reached Bryce.

It was too early to check into the hotel, so Dania and I got some mediocre lunch next door and then went into the park. BC--I'm going to just call it that now--is a very user-friendly park. There is a lodge and camping within the park, but then the city just a few miles outside has hotels as well. So it's easy access, and you can enter the park at any hour. The roads throughout the park are smooth and safe-feeling even as you're driving up to the highest point. There are some creepy drop-offs, but overall it felt much safer than some roads I've been on. There is decent parking at most of the lookout points.

The main road takes you past several viewpoints. It's a nice driving tour of BC. The highest/furthest stop is Rainbow Point. There's plenty of parking, bathrooms and amazing views here. I took a bunch of pictures, but it's very difficult to capture the scene in photos. When I look at them, they are underwhelming, but in person it's much more awesome.

I made a couple of panoramas that are lame (and one of them didn't even stitch correctly!), but they kind of give a better idea of the view. Click on these for a larger version.

After some time at Rainbow, we headed back, stopping at a few locations along the way. There was a bit of fall color, but not a ton yet.

Finally we checked into our hotel, changed and then headed back into the park for a hike. And that hike--one of the highlights of the trip for me--will be in the next post. :)

See more photos up to this point over in my gallery!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Day 2: Zion rhymes with lion

[Before the trip I kept saying it like "Zy-awn," (like how I'd pronounce it from the Bible). But after listening to enough locals say it, it seems to be more like "Zy-un."]

Helpful links!:

The next morning, we left for Zion National Park in Utah. From Vegas to Zion it's about 2.5 hours, and parts of the drive are fairly dull. Dania and I had prepared with a Mary Higgins Clark audiobook (a little road trip tradition).

Our hotel was in Springdale, just a half mile from the park's entrance. It's a tiny tourist town with some hotels, shops and restaurants. It's situated right at the base of the mountains, so our hotel room had a pretty view.

[It was very hard to take decent photos in Zion because it's so much darker down in the canyon than it is in the sky. Plus, I'm just not very good with landscapes at this point! So I'm not thrilled with most of my photos, but at least they show you what it's like.]

We checked in and then headed next door to have lunch and take the tram into the park. There were several stops, but we stayed on to the last one (Temple of Sinawava) for our first hike. From there you can hike to The Narrows, a popular spot to visit in Zion. To hike in The Narrows, you need to walk through the Virgin River (the little river that cut out canyons in Zion). It's not very deep (to about my thighs in some spots, but usually to about mid-calf), but it's cloudy and rocky, so it's hard to feel steady. Dania and I weren't prepared with walking sticks (and other supplies) and so it was difficult and we couldn't go very far. I was paranoid one of us might slip and fall. The water was cold, but not overly so. It felt kind of nice. I'd definitely like to go further in, but who knows if I'll ever be back in Zion? (This makes me more determined to go to to Oneonta Gorge.)

After this hike, we caught the shuttle (or tram? What's the diff?) again to take us back. Our driver this time was really cool. Super nice and happy, and he was great about pointing out and stopping for wildlife. We saw a deer family and several wild turkeys.

I should mention that this day I had a growing headache that started early and persisted for hours. I was able to tune it out sometimes, but toward the evening I was more complainy about it and probably not as cooperative as Dania would've preferred. :P Sorry, Dania. She was much more pumped to do another hike before the last shuttle, while I was resistant and doubted we'd have time. She asked the driver and he said we'd be okay, so we stopped at the Emerald Pools hike.

[See the tiny waterfall up there?]

The pools and waterfalls were shallow/thin, but the hike was pretty. I took the opportunity to take some waterfall photos while Dania hiked down close to the water. On our hike back, we saw several deer by the river. We then caught the shuttle that takes you to the park entrance.

We were going to wait for the final ride to our hotel, but decided to just walk the half mile. It was dark, but I had a flashlight (a gift from Dania!) and other people were out walking too. In the empty lot at the park we saw what we think was a fox! We could only see its silhouette, and it looked like a large cat, but walked slightly differently. Since gray foxes are common there, I'm pretty sure that's what it was. :D He kept looking at us with his glowing eyes, and he was actually pretty close.

When we finally got back, my head was killing me. We decided on a place to get dinner, and Dania sooooo sweetly went and picked it up for us so I could stay at the hotel. She also brought ice cream! My dinner was a pasta dish with a red meat sauce that appealed to me when we were looking through some menus. After loading up on headache medicine, resting and having dinner, I was feeling a lot better. The food was good, but I think I enjoyed it more than usual just because I associated the meal with being able to relax and recuperate. That's a happy memory. :)

Check out more photos in the the gallery and stay tuned for day 3 probably this weekend. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 1: Vegas, baby!

Before I forget everything, let's talk about that trip I took! This will be very summarized or I'll never finish.

I purposely took a later flight so I wouldn't have to get up SUPER early and then feel all tired and headachey. I arrived in Vegas at around 1pm and Dania had already gotten the rental car and picked up some snacks and beverages. After picking me up, she wanted to stop by the Pinball Hall of Fame, where we played a few games. Then we headed to our hotel, the Monte Carlo, and unloaded our stuff.

[Dania's burger at Holstein's]

By then it was late afternoon and I hadn't eaten a real lunch, so we opted to have an early dinner and then sight-see afterwards. We had dinner at Holstein's, a burger place in the Cosmopolitan hotel. It was pretty good, and the hotel had some really cool decor.

Vegas is so over-the-top and decorated, which would never work in, say, my own home. But it's cool to see and photograph! There was this bar area that was surrounded in strings of crystals (I guess it's called the Chandelier Bar, now that I looked it up), and then a whole wall of sewing machines, plus quirky lights, video screens and statues.

We headed back to the hotel briefly before going out again. We wanted to go swimming, but the pool/lazy river was unfortunately closed! :(

 [Chihuly ceiling installation (?) in the Bellagio lobby. So cool.]

There are sooooooo many things to see and spend time on, but we had to make some sacrifices and set priorities. Not only because of our short stay, but it just takes time and energy to get everywhere. We went to the Bellagio and saw the botanical garden/conservatory, the general lobby area, and the fountain show. I loved that hotel and all of the cool things to see. It's more sophisticated than some of the other hotels and there are all sorts of beautiful details in the decor.

We walked around a bit and Dania wanted to see the Venetian after having seen it on a previous visit. It took awhile to get there, but it was really cool. They have the canals and gondolas and then inside is a pretend sky over an area that is supposed to look like Italy (I wouldn't know). The gondola drivers sing, too. I know most of you are aware of all this, but I thought I'd mention some details for people who haven't been or heard much about Las Vegas.

We agreed that a cab was in order for our ride home. We were exhausted from walking so much (with all my camera stuff, including the tripod), plus it had been a long day of travel. It probably took just as long to get back in the cab, due to traffic, but it was so worth it to sit down awhile. Then we grabbed some frozen yogurt and went back to our hotel to relax and watch TV.

These are just a few of the photos, but I have more in a gallery I'm starting and will link to in each post. Click here to visit the gallery! You may leave questions/comments on the photos and I'll try and respond. I didn't spend a bunch of time on edits, so just accept most of these as travel snapshots. :)

Have you been to Vegas? What's your favorite thing to see there?

Sunday, October 4, 2015


WOW,  I can't believe my last post was in August! It feels more recent! I didn't intend to give up on the blog, but when things got hectic at work this summer, I cut myself lots of slack on personal projects. Also, I tend to use Instagram a lot more for my photos, since I can easily transfer them off my camera even while I'm out in a garden or wherever. If you don't already follow me there, please come visit/follow! I'm @greengatephoto. If you don't yet have Instagram, why not? :)

Anyway, I wanted to say happy October! As you probably know by now, I loooove October. It's my birthday month, but it's also a nice time of year for other reasons. This October has not disappointed so far. It's only day 4, but I've been feeling great and I am super excited about my plans this month (more about that in a minute).

Before I proceed with October, let's talk September! I know I won't get to it otherwise. It was a busy month (work and personal), but I did get out to take pictures a couple of times. By the way, most of the photos in this entry have been posted elsewhere on social media, so I'm sorry for repeats.

First, at the state fair. I mainly went to try a few of the classic ride photos that I've been seeing online.

Later in the month, my parents visited! It was a really nice time, and we got to go to the coast and the refuge. I didn't take a ton of photos, but here are a few.

There were TONS of bullfrog pollywogs, but sadly most of them probably died since the water was drying up quickly.

I also got out to Bush Park at some point, but didn't stay long. It had only started turning fally at that point.

Back to October! The weather has been awesome--sunny, but milder than our hot summer. The leaves are changing and it's looking really nice outside. To kick off October, I got to go to the Oregon Garden for a work photo assignment on the 1st. After taking care of my duties, I spent my "lunch break" briefly walking around the garden and taking a few photos. I was carrying a heavy bag so I didn't stay as long as I normally would.

Then, last night I went to Deepwood hoping that the porcelain berries would be in bloom. Timehop showed me that they were ready last year at this time, but we've had such a weird year of hot weather that I wasn't sure. But yes, they are looking their awesome selves!!

I loooove them. I know they are invasive, but they're so cool looking!! I would love to pick some for some photos/arrangements, so if you happen to know of someone local who would let me take some, please let me know!

Oh and I also took a few other pictures:

I mentioned having fun plans, and now I'll tell you about them: I'm going to Utah! I have never been, but my friend Dania invited me to join her on a trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon. We'll also get a little time in Vegas, where we're flying in. We're both super excited! I have even rented a lens so I can hopefully get a few good landscapes. While I'm down south, I'm also quickly hopping over to New Mexico to visit my younger sister's family. It happens that I'll be there for part of the hot air balloon fiesta, so fingers crossed the weather cooperates for us!

I hope you're having a good October so far. :) I want post here more before the end of the year. Hopefully some trip photos, and then I have plans to go to Houston (where my older sister and parents now live) over Christmas, so that should give me a lot to post about. Meanwhile, I will definitely be Instagramming as usual, so find me over there if you want to see some pictures on an almost daily basis.



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