Friday, December 16, 2011

Yellowstone Geysers

Everyone around the world has heard of Old Faithful Geyser, but very few have probably heard of Heart Geyser or Great Fountain Geyser.  Yellowstone boasts some of the most spectacular geysers and hot springs in the world.  My son and I spent considerable time enjoying the best of Yellowstone geysers.

Firehole Geyser

Geyser along Gibbon River

"The words of a man's mouth are deep waters, the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook."  Proverbs 18:4 (ESV)

White Dome Geyser

Heart Geyser

"Knowing what is right is like deep water in the heart;
a wise person draws from the well within." Proverbs 20:5 (MSG)

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)

For more Yellowstone & Grand Teton photos, go to:  Yellowstone & Grand Tetons @

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Yellowstone National Park - A Unique View of Lower Falls

THIS PHOTO INSPIRED BY TRUE EVENTS (SEE SHORT YOUTUBE VIDEO BELOW):  While on an early morning adventure with my son to visit the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, we just had to stop along the way to throw rocks down the canyon.  With a 4 year old, nothing is ever as easy as just going to our planned destination and then returning the same way we came.  We had just finished visiting the famous Artist Point location to view the falls (second photo below - look familiar?) and were heading back to the car when we took a detour to look at the yellow cliffs, throw some rocks and check out the squirrels.  After a while of watching the joy in my son's eyes as he was doing what a 4 year old does, I noticed that this particular view of the falls and the cliffs was breathtaking.  The early morning sun kept half of the canyon in the shade and the nearby cliffs were especially colorful.  The trees growing precariously along the edge added to the mystique of this ancient canyon.

Traditional View of Lower Falls from Artist Point:

So, credit for this spectacular view of the Lower Falls goes to my son, the mighty Yellowstone rock thrower and wildlife hunter.

View more Yellowstone and Grand Teton Photos at:  Yellowstone & Grand Tetons @

Friday, November 25, 2011

Vintage Washington Barn at Sunset

This abandoned barn and farmhouse is across the rural highway from Promise Farm.  When visiting the grandparents, I enjoy taking the kids and cousins there to scout out the old place and to look for wildlife in the forest beyond.  I've had my eye on this barn for a while, keeping a mental note that this would look really cool with good lighting, either at sunrise or sunset.  There was a particularly good sunset this day and I slipped away to capture the moment.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Joshua Tree Forest

On the way to Kingman just outside Wickenburg is a forest of Joshua Trees.  I drive by them all the time, probably over 50 times so far in my life.  This particular day it was storming out and the landscape took on almost a surreal feel.  This tree was on the edge of the forest on its own.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mt. Adams, Washington - Hiking the Volcano

Our annual vacation to visit family on the farm in Washington has also yielded another benefit.  My brother-in-law, Justin, and I have been able to "pick a volcano" and take a hike into the pristine wilderness surrounding the monster domes.

Last year we hiked Naches peak for an unobstructed view of Mt. Rainier (see Mt. Rainier Hike) and this year's adventure started at Taknakh Lake near Mt. Adams.  It can be really challenging to pick a day to hike where you can actually see a volcano.  In early August, Justin determined that our best chance to see one would be Mt. Adams as Rainier and St. Helens were likely clouded in.  This turned out to be the case.  As we pulled up to the parking area at the lake, we were blown away with this view:

Justin is a Washington native and, while he has never hiked this area before, had a route all planned out:

The hike would be a combination of several trails that would lead us to the base of Mt. Adams.  We estimated the round trip to be around 11-12 miles (give or take).  After making it around the lake, we entered an ancient volcanic flow, a strip of canyon filled with volcanic boulders, alpine trees and abundant wildflowers.

We also came across this scenic meadow:

Our ascent through the forest up to the base of the mountain was met with snow, lots of snow.  WA had a long winter and summer was just beginning in the high country (it was early August when Arizona is typically 115 degrees).  The physical trail was no where to be found most of the way up as the snow completely blanketed the forest floor.  Justin was navigating by carvings on the trees, something that I have never seen in AZ.  There were also two sets of footprints in the snow that were ahead of us that day, probably the first hikers of the season.  It was reassuring that both of us had a full supply of wilderness survival gear in case we got lost and needed to survive overnight.  Besides the approximate 2000' to 2500' climb, the tromping through the snow with serious camera gear in tow was an incredible leg workout.

After the first few miles of the hike, we entered the forest and the volcano was nowhere to be seen.  It seemed like it would present itself around every corner, but then it wouldn't -- more forest.  I realized that when I could see the mountain, I had more energy and excitement and when I couldn't, it seemed like a long slog through the snowy uphill trail.  I distinctly remembered a message I had read years earlier about a sociologist who studied mountain climbers.  As climbers ascended up Everest, Denali, etc., a higher percentage of hikers made it to the top when the mountain itself wasn't obscured by cloud cover.  A smaller percentage of hikers would make it to the top when they couldn't see the mountain ahead of them.  The mountain didn't get any higher or lower.  It was the same with or without cloud cover, yet it had an impact on whether climbers make it to the top or not.  It's very easy to let the mind wander to how tough everything is, how your legs hurt, how this is taking too long..... and poof, you're turning around.

Justin and I spent most of the time keeping our minds off the difficult climb by chatting about what's important in our lives..... our families and our faith.  We also discussed the challenges of our jobs, but even that didn't seem to be as big of a problem when on a mountain away from it all.  I'm convinced that a retreat to the wilderness is some of the best medicine to keeping healthy.  After all, Jesus retreated to the wilderness quite often, sometimes by himself and often with a few of his friends.

Coming down the mountain was fantastic.  We were in a hurry to make it back before dark.  Clouds were beginning to roll in and we were hoping for a spectacular sunset with the reflection on the lake.  We had a blast nearly skiing down the mountain in our boots.  We got back just in time for this....

A week after this trip, I was to be heading back up a mountain in AZ for a men's retreat where about 400 guys would be attending.  The theme of the retreat was "THRIVE - An Adventure For Men".  Justin and I spent a lot of time thinking that we couldn't get much closer to thriving on this mountain.  He had a message from Psalm 34 for me to take back to the guys....

"Taste and See that the Lord is Good,
Oh the Joys for those who take refuge in Him"

When I'm having a rough day in everyday life and it's starting to lead me to an unhealthy place, you can often times find me outside staring at the top of Camelback mountain or thinking about the mountains I've been fortunate to climb or photograph.  Instantly I'm drawn into a place of peace that my Creator is in charge of the universe and directs my path.  The apostle Paul said to set your mind upon the heavenly places, not the ground beneath your feet.  It's great advice in the midst of cloud cover.

May you find a Peace that transcends all understanding!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

La Jolla Shores Beach & Tennis Club

My wife and I feel really blessed to be able to spend time with our family and friends in La Jolla, CA.  We have vacationed there for the last several years and have found it to be one of the best family friendly locations along the coast of CA.  This year our kids and our nephew spent more time in the water than they did on the beach.  This was the first year the kids both enjoyed the boogie board.  My daughter spent a few waves hanging on my neck before tackling the board herself.  She then wanted me to be around but wanted to master the board herself.  She did a great job!  My son was perfectly content to ride the board while hanging from my neck.  It was just a blast to see them enjoying the water as much as I do.

Some family friends came to visit which was a fun time for all.  Their kids and our kids have known each other since practically birth.  They all were great sand crab hunters..... We enjoyed dinner on the beach as the sun set below the pacific.

Some of the best moments included the glorious sunsets on the beach, 4th of July festivities, two nice dates with my wife to fantastic italian and sushi restaurants down the street, finding sea life at the tide pools and the times my son collapsed from exhaustion in my arms on the beach to nap for 2 hours (wondering how much longer I'll be able to do that with him?)

For more photos, visit:  La Jolla Vacation (July 2011)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Christopher Creek Crawdad Hunters (Payson / Mogollon Rim, Arizona)

When the heat rises in Arizona, often times one is looking to escape the Valley of the Sun by the time June rolls around.  I grew up camping with my family at Christopher Creek campground just outside Payson near the Mogollon Rim.  I have vivid memories of time spent being a kid..... catching crawdads, snakes, fishing, hiking, campfires, smore's, etc.  It's probably what birthed my passion for the great outdoors.  In passing down the great legacy of this time in my life with my kids, you can see the joy in their eyes as they spend most of the time in the water catching every critter that comes their way.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Golden Gate Bridge

I had business in San Francisco and was on the fence about bringing my camera gear, mainly because the weather called for two straight days of pouring rain.  Well, it did rain for two straight days, however, the day before showed the storm coming in just before dusk.  Since I was arriving in the afternoon, I took a chance and spent the late afternoon all around the Golden Gate Bridge.  Perfect timing I might add as the storm clouds rolled in but not before a great day hiking the beautiful park.  By dusk, it began to pour and I was drenched waiting for a taxi to pick me up.  Some of the best times for a photographer are just before and right after a big storm.  Of course, you have to expect to get a little wet.... People in Arizona don't live in the rain and typically run inside at the onset of any possible weather (if you did that in Portland, you would never go outside!)  I did this most of my life.... Not anymore....Live a little!

Sometimes the best locations for photographs are known to the locals... I asked a guy at the cafe near the bridge for any cool spots and he walked me past the public area to a restricted area away from the crowds....

These last two photos were tough to take as it was pouring rain and as much as I tried to shield my lens, there was so much water on it.  I would clean it and have time for one photo before it would be wet again...Ugh!

Lugging my 30+ pound camera gear on the plane for a chance to shoot for a couple hours paid off!  The joy of this almost-lost adventure carried me through the next two days of gloomy weather spent in a conference room.