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February 2016

WPC: State of Mind

On my first visit to Yellowstone National Park, I entered the park via the Beartooth Highway, on the northeast side.  When I started in the morning, it had been relatively sunny and warm, but by the time I reached the road’s summit, winter conditions prevailed.  This was in the 2nd week of July.

The snow had started to accumulate to at least a couple inches, and the clouds made visibility very poor.  This mountain road turns and climbs to an elevation well above treeline.  What I remember most was the lack of a guardrail, and the eerie bamboo poles stuck into the ground at the road’s edge – a guide for the plows to find the road when their time came.

I had been in 4wd, and I’m sure my top speed was no more than 25mph.  At one point I came across a fairly long section of straightaway and decided to test the braking ability ever so lightly.  As I did, I could feel there was no traction underneath and I started to slide a little towards the downhill side.  That was the last time I made any attempts at braking, and slowed my pace even further.  Although not a sheer cliff, the mountainside sloped downward at least 1000 feet, and if I rolled off, it would have been at least a day before anyone would have found me.  I found out later that the road was closed minutes after I started my ascent, which explained why I was the only one out there that day.

Upon descending back to the forested regions, I came across this small lake and pulled over.  By now, I was just glad to have something flat on the side of the road, and having that crazy drive over the mountain pass behind me.  I remember feeling so much more relaxed when I got out.  This scene, with the calm lake, and the storm clouds moving out, echoed my state of mind at the time.

Mid-week Mixings: Roosevelt Lake

In the desert east of Phoenix, Arizona lies the Salt River.  Along the Salt, there are four man-made lakes:  Saguaro, Canyon, Apache, and Roosevelt.  Saguaro Lake is the only one that requires a different road to gain access, and the other three are along the famed Apache Trail route.  The oldest and largest, Roosevelt, is in a more open setting, and can also be reached by a longer, yet entirely paved highway.  The mountains surrounding the lake contain some very rugged wilderness, yet their distance away from the water suggests they might be on the tame side.

Roosevelt Lake Reflections - Steve Bruno
Reflections on a spring day at Roosevelt Lake, Arizona. Photo by Steve Bruno.

WPC: Seasons

When I first moved away from the midwestern US to the state of Arizona, it rained so much, I was wondering where they hid the desert.  Spring flowers emerged profusely from the rocky, yet green desert.  Every year.  I remember on several occasions seeing hillsides that were bright orange or yellow from a couple miles away.  Knowing there were thousands of flowers covering the hills, yet no access roads or trails, used to be mildly frustrating.  There were more than enough flowers in parts that I could get to, easing any of that frustration.

Those rainy years have moved on.  It’s been over ten years since the last spectacular spring display in the desert southwest, and it seems as though it will be at least another ten years.  Last week in Las Vegas, we had a day with a few raindrops, but mostly a lot of wind.  That one day kept us from immortalizing February 2016 into the weather books with its string of 70-degree-plus days.  One thing we can count on in springtime here is the wind.  There have been a couple spring days when they have had to temporarily shut down the airport, and many times I’ve felt sorry for anyone landing in a plane.  A friend of mine was on the last flight before one of those temporary closures a couple years ago.  He told me everyone was on their cell phone in the last minute of the flight, passing on what they thought were final words to loved ones.  Yes, it can be that bad.

My image for this week’s challenge is a video, taken in Valley Of Fire State Park.  The video was taken with an old point-and-shoot camera, but I want to try to recreate this with my current camera someday.  The foxtails had already started to brown, but as the wind kept shifting directions, I loved the way the field appeared to sway with the mixture of still green plants.  And yes, I managed to find a couple flowers.  The video is at half-speed to emphasize the details of the motion.

Mid-week Mixings: Valentine’s Day Hearts & Kisses

As we approach Valentine’s Day, just a reminder to show those you love your appreciation.  We should be doing that everyday, anyway.

The heart shaped falls are from Hawaii, near Hilo.

The kissing rocks are from Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

Kissing Rocks - Steve Bruno

Window Seat V: Sunset From 30,000 feet

On my flight to Seattle last November I captured one of my favorite images ever from the air. The return flight looked as though there would be nothing to see, because cloud cover had moved into the Pacific northwest just before my departure.  Somewhere around northwestern Nevada, the clouds started to break, and a little bit of color hit the far eastern horizon.  If I had been on the ground and seen these clouds, I would have thought there were some powerful winds aloft.  Our flight was as calm as could be, and I was glad to take a single shot on the return journey.

But this turned out to be just the start.  We had now passed the edge of the cloud layer and the color was getting stronger.  Mountains on the desert floor were beginning to glow as the eastern horizon lit up more before eventually darkening.  The light seemed to go on forever, and the time stamps on my images show that from the top shot to my last was over 15 minutes.Airplane Seattle to Las Vegas 02 - Steve BrunoAirplane Seattle to Las Vegas 03 - Steve BrunoAirplane Seattle to Las Vegas 04 - Steve Bruno

WPC: Time

Although there are new studies which are saying the Grand Canyon may be much older, it is generally believed that the Grand Canyon is over 5 million years in the making.  This is the first place I thought of when seeing this week’s Daily Post challenge of Time.

Mid-week Mixings: What To Do With All That Snow

When I was still in high school, one of my older brothers was attending college in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, at MTU.  We went to visit when they were having their Winter Carnival.  I had never seen such a creative use of ice and snow before.  In a land that received hundreds of inches of snow every year, they knew what to do with it.  Just remember, these were created by college students.

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