Saturday, July 23, 2011

Burros and Tigers

Not usually spoken in the same sentence, but when seen in the same day, it's an experience.  I finally arrived in Laughlin to a melting 114 degrees.  You won't see any pictures of Laughlin because I was inside the RV with the dogs, trying to stay under 100 degrees while I figured out how to reset every circuit breaker that exists!  My plan was to stay 3 days and travel around the area, but after one night, I was off to cooler heights.  I spent the first half of the next day touring Oatman .. NOT a ghost town (yet anyway) ... but an old west mining town struggling to survive.
The original buildings still stand ... named something else originally (which escapes me now), it was named after Olive Oatman, who was captured by Indians when she was 7 or 8 years old.  She lived with them and married a native.  At some point, she returned to the forts, where it was discovered that she had survived.  Here is her picture ...
The lines on her chin are the tattoos of the Indians she lived with.  Oatman has an historic hotel that was the site of Clark Gable and Carol Lombards honeymoon after they were married.
Oatman is more renown for its wild burros who inhabit every corner.  On my way there, I found the locals parked on the side of the road in the shade of an old building.
Four Jennies and one Jack along with four brand new babies.  
The babies have stickers on their foreheads saying not to feed them.  Carrots and hay cubes are their favorites, which can be purchased in town and fed to them; however that is not good for the babies.
I have about 300 images of them ... but I'm sure you have seen enough.  Next stop is Keepers of the Wild, a wildlife refuge in the middle of nowhere, where loving people save animals destined for death, basically.  They have everything you can imagine, but mostly tigers it seems.  Please go to their website .. Keepers of the Wild in Arizona ... and make a donation.  They are doing this all on their own and truly deserve your help.
It was feeding time, as you can see he's salivating.  He went crazy when he heard the meat wagon coming.  
The enclosures these guys are in are chain ink fences, each VERY high and VERY big.  They have more room to roam in each cage than my horses do in my back yard.  Bet they think they are in heaven.
Yes, I have another 300 images of these guys too!!!  They are just so gorgeous.
At last I'm off, still on old Route 66, to the Grand Canyon.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nerves of Steel

I don't have them yet, but taking off in an RV by yourself helps build them.  I'm always stressed about finding fuel, and yet it has not been a problem so far.  At least not until the "Trucker" GPS told me to take Goffs Road, Old Route 66 Highway to get to Laughlin.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  First we (Cooper, Jessie and I) had to climb Tehachapi Pass.  At the top are windmills ... not turning, but windmills none the less.
Once over the pass, there is really nothing to look at.  The road just goes on forever.

I had a route all planned out and thought my GPS must be telling me to go the same way .... it wasn't.  56 miles on a narrow two lane road with no cars, trucks or fuel in sight.  The stress level increased with every mile.  What I did pass was five of the longest freight trains I've ever seen.  I can't believe it ... I've become the "window" photographer.  No place to stop and it's very hard to drive in your lane and take pictures with one hand.  So I apologize for any that are a little fuzzy!!  
First train ......
Second Train .....
First Train again ...
Ok, that's enough.  They all looked pretty much the same.  Finally with a huge sigh of relief, I start a long 15 mile downhill stretch (1/4 tank of fuel left) into Laughlin where I will stay for 3 days.
or NOT!!!   OMG!!!  The temperature here is 114 ... in case you don't believe me, here's a really bad picture of my truck gauge.

Finally got to Riverside Casino RV park ... very nice and huge!!  Good thing I have electrical hookups ... my a.c. has been running for over an hour and I think it's 90 in here now.  I'm definitely going to get my $30 worth!!.    Poor dogs ... I soaked them with water and the cool air is finally easing their panting.  Not sure if I'm staying here or not.  I'm going to take an early morning trip to Oatman for pictures.  Will probably leave the dogs here and not stay in Oatman long.  Can't take a chance of the a.c. going out.  Looking forward to tomorrow.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Yosemite By Moonlight

Another sojourn to Yosemite National Park, one of my favorite places to be.  Especially since I can now get in free ... well, $10.00 for a lifetime pass, but that counts as free.  This time for another beautiful full moon, which by the way you can't see unless you leave the park.  The mountain walls are too high and the moon too far south.  What we DO get is moonlight for pictures.  We spent the first couple hours taking images of ferns, flowers and miscellaneous "stuff", waiting for the main feature.
Gee .. flowers you say.  The trials of getting this image are great.  First I slid down the cliff carrying 20 pounds of camera and tripod, with keys and other miscellaneous equipment swinging from lanyards around my neck ... to the swamp!  Do you know what grows in swamps besides flowers?  Mosquitos ... BIG ones!!!  By the time I got my tripod set up low to the ground in order to take this picture, I was bitten numerous times, had wet tennis shoes and very wet dirty knees on my jeans.  Finally ready to take the picture ... the wind starts blowing.  What you get are lots of blurry images, since the shutter speed needs to be very slow due to the fading light.  So one out of 35 flower pics isn't bad, right??
Here's the swamp ... so you can visualize the conditions .....
Next we're off to try painting with light.  We each picked a tree or object we wanted lit, but by now it's pitch dark.  Traipsing through the meadow with camera, tripod, same stuff around my neck but adding a flashlight (wrist mounted), an SB900 flash (big and heavy) and pieces of gel to cover the flash and add color.  Shutter times now are anywhere from 45 seconds to 5 minutes.  It takes as long for the camera to produce the image in the display (so you can see where to set the camera since it's so dark you can't really see through the viewfinder!!)  as it does for it to take the image.  Lots of patience and waiting in this game.  First results are here ... orange gel.
In case you are interested, 400 iso, F 3.5 for 45 seconds.  You set the camera on "bulb", push the shutter button, place the gel over the flash and hold it where you want the light, setting off the flash.  When the shutter finally trips after 45 seconds, this is what you get.  The first few times I got beautiful light on the grass in front of me and on the photographer next to me.  What I REALLY needed was a helper to work the flash and lure the mosquitos away.  My favorite red gel was next.
The first few images had a little too much red in them.  My photographer/nurse friend Cyndy said they  looked like blood vessels ... yuck!!  You can also use a flashlight, running it over the areas you want highlighted ... but it's not as dramatic as the gels.
Okay, I'm tired of fumbling around with all this equipment.  Time for just a straight moonlight lit image of El Capitan.  I have to say nature does an amazing job.  When I got back, I put this image in Photoshop and went to work on it.  I made several adjustments, then compared that image to the original.  The original with no adjustments was so much better!!!  I deleted the shopped one and kept the original ... here it is!!
I love this image.  So that's it ... I was up at 4:00 a.m. Thursday morning in order to acquire an entry registration to the Nike Womens Marathon.  I stood in line in Stockton for 3.75 hours and had to spend $215 (I got the entry) ... back by 1:00 p.m., I couldn't nap because my dog wanted to play ... and play ... and ... you get the picture.  I finally got home from Yosemite at 12:30 a.m.  Hence it has taken me two days to rest up and get these posted!!  LOL  Note to self:  leave a can of OFF mosquito spray in the truck and let someone else drive so you can sleep!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Garden Hose Summer Fun!

It's 105 degrees here today ... nothing compared to other areas where it's upwards of 118 ... but when the mercury rises, you can be sure the kids will play with sprinklers and garden hoses in the back yard.  My kids are no different ...
These guys aren't your typical kids, but they do love to play in the water when it is hot.  Not great images, since it's pretty hard to hold the hose, shoot the picture between the fence rails and not get soaked myself.  Showboy on the left and Remy on the right.  We three stood here for about 30 minutes getting soaked and cooling off.
These two guys were my cutting horses for many years.  They are retired now, like me and are obviously very spoiled, since I'm standing in 105 degrees cooling THEM off!!  They love to have the hose actually in their mouth.  Both mouths are open here!!  LOL
Lovely perspective of a fuzzy nose!!  They would stand here all day if I would keep the hose on.
Okay, not everyone wants to look at my horses mouths, so here's the last one.  Showboy got a good teeth cleaning ... they are fighting for control of the flow!!!!
After 30 minutes of cooling off resulting in a large mud puddle for Cooper the poodle to run through, I turned the water off.  Tomorrow has even hotter weather predicted.  I suppose you will see me out at the fence around 2:00 .......