Or-Ca Road Trip–Part 2–Klamath Falls to Lassen

Leaving Klamath Falls we headed south into California and Lava Beds National Monument.  The landscape was quite eerie – a little like parts of Iceland – volcanic rock that looked like it had been ploughed into strange shapes. 


Close to the visitor center there is a well lit and accessible lava tube cave – and we visited that one before going down a couple of others that were easy to access – without the usual caving gear (first signing forms to say we hadn’t been in other caves – a protection for the local bats as a fungal infection called white-nose is spreading from the east).  There are over 700 caves in the park – and we first drove around the cave loop where you could see various entrances – before visiting Skull Cave and Big Painted Cave. 


Deep in Skull cave it was virtually pitch black – this next picture was a 20 second exposure, hand help, with Diane painting the cave depths with a torch.


A quick look at Symbol Bridge then back to the car to dodge a short shower.  Fleener Chimneys was the next stop – and a view across to an odd shaped hill that seemed to be catching the sun all day.


A trek around Captain Jack’s Stronghold then on to Petroglyph Point – which was a bit disappointing – even before the rain came.  But that hill still attracted the sun!


Our overnight stop was in Redding, back on I-5, but we had a feeling that we wouldn’t get a great view of Shasta that day…


To make the most of our day though, we headed East to Burney Falls and well worth the drive and getting wet – as these falls were quite breathtaking!


Our day ended in Redding and for some fast food we found an Indian Restaurant close to the hotel – the Taj Mahal.  Good food – could have done without the staff vacuuming around us while we were still eating.  The Hampton Inn & Suites was to be our home for two nights – as we were heading East again to Lassen Volcanic National Park the following day.  288 miles and 6+ hours driving.


The following morning we headed out to Lassen, already knowing that part of the park was closed due to snow – so we aimed for the visitor center to find out where we could expect to visit.  Just close to the visitor center there are the ‘Sulphur Works’ which was about as far into the park as you could drive.



Heavy rain and steam from the hot springs made for some interesting shots!









Another accessible area of the part was a 4-5 mile roundtrip trail to Devils Kitchen.  The off-road drive was a little daunting without the luxury of AWD – but we made it through the rain, and with our wet weather gear the trek through the steady drizzle was very well worth it.  Pictures courtesy of my Windows Phone (Lumia 920) as I even though my XT-1 is weatherproof – that was just too much weather!



An unforgettable walk!  Nothing more to see – and again missing seeing the main local peak (Lassen) we headed back to Redding and took a quick look in the city – walked across the Sundial bridge – then Panda Express the fast food we were ready for after a wet and muddy day.

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255 miles for the day – and again around 6 hours driving.  The following day we were to head West – to tall trees and the Pacific!

Oregon and Northern California Road Trip – Part 1 – Seattle to Klamath Falls

Our second road trip of the year took us down through Oregon, into California for some amazing scenery and finally over to the coast for some tall trees and back up the coast.  This was late October – but some early snow did change our plans a little…

Day 1 was straight down I5 from Seattle, then crossing into Oregon on the 205 and following some scenic byways South, keeping well East of Highway 5.  Initially following 224 down to Estacada before turning left onto the Clackamas Hwy to NF-46 Clackamas River Road.  We had some miles to cover so not many photo stops – but some great scenery along the river!  The road name changes to Breitenbush Rd SE before reaching Detroit Lake.  Worth a slight diversion West on 22 to get good lake views!


Turning back on 22 East – N Santiam Highway – then onto 126 McKenzie Highway then back onto another Forest Road – NF19 just past Rainbow.  The first few miles initially called South Fork Rd before reaching Cougar Reservoir and becoming Aufderhride Dr.  Cougar Reservoir was impressive – and part of their conservation work was to ensure the water leaving the reservoir was a good temperature for the salmon – as the cold depths of the water were not good to release right into the South Fork of the McKenzie.  The tower in this picture allows the run out to be controlled by releasing water from the different depths – to ensure the right temperature.


NF-19 switches rivers and picks up the North Fork of the Willamette, eventually entering Westfir just by the Office Covered Bridge – well worth a stop!

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From here we followed the 58 back towards I-5, crossing Dexter Lake at Lowell and a short stop as the sun was going down.



Needing food for the evening we headed towards Eugene, but then spotted the Plank Town Brewing company – a perfect place for dinner – and a sampling of some of their ales – the first of many sample flights of this trip!   Our night stop was the Windmill Inn of Roseburg – quite close to the freeway, but surprisingly quiet.  A long day’s drive – over 500 miles and nearly 10 hours, but a nicer drive than if we’d just headed down I-5!


Day 2 – and heading out to Crater Lake.  We’d been keeping a close eye on the weather as an early snow storm had closed the Northern Road and the Rim road – and even the Southern entrance for a while.  Fortunately the Southern approach was open and the forecast was good – so we headed out on the North Umpqua Highway taking in some wonderful river views along the way – this first just a few miles out of Roseburg at Glide.


Quite a few stops along the way – for some river, rock and foliage shots!


Worth a longer stop and a short hike (less than a mile round trip) are the Toketee Falls.  The trail head is near the Toketee Ranger Station and you will also see a wooden 12ft diameter pipeline that diverts water to a powerhouse.


Continuing on you will get some excellent views of Mount Bailey and Mount Thielsen (below) as you reach Diamond Lake.


We then skirted around Crater lake to make the Southern approach.  In the warmer season you could go in from the North.  The rim road was still closed but some wonderful views looking North – with the recent snow adding to the beauty!  I took plenty of pictures – but I’ll just limit this blog post to one – more on Flickr if you are interested – https://www.flickr.com/photos/bsmi067 


We had a good view South towards Klamath Lake – or next stopping point, and also took in views of the cinder cones on the way out of the park.



As we drove down to Klamath Falls little did we know that the glimpse we hade of Mount Shasta would be the only time we would see it.  I’d have taken a special picture if I’d known!  The colours along the lake were beautiful – so many changes of season and scenery through the day.


Day 2 ended with dinner at the Klamath Basin Brewing Company and a night spent at Cimarron Inn – which will soon have a Starbucks next door!  Not soon enough!

A shorter driving day – 209 miles in just under 5 hours.


Next blog will take us into California!

Squid Eggs on Gardiner Beach!

Walking the beach yesterday saw literally dozens of these groups of eggs (only found they were squid eggs later – looked like some weird jellyfish at first!).  Some just out of the water at low tide early on but plenty still floating around as the afternoon tide cam in.  Not sure if these are California Market squid or Humboldt.  Gardiner beach is on Discovery Bay in Washington State  – and looks North from the Olympic Peninsula towards the San Juan Islands.



Captured a video of these too – quite relaxing watching.  For scale each egg sac is about the size of my little finger (and for scale I have a quite small little finger!) And the photography reference – all taken with the Fujifilm X-T1 with 90mm f/2 prime.

Road Trip 2016 – Salt Lake City to Albuquerque

Cliff House at Pikes Peak Before I forget where we went and what we did I’ll record our 2016 road trip here – with a small selection of photos.  Most were taken with Fujifilm X-T1, and I took with me just 3 prime lenses;  The Zeiss 12mm f/2.8, the Fujifilm 35mm F/2 and the Fujifilm 90mm f/2.  A few were taken with my Lumia 920 when I didn’t have the camera on me.  A rather larger selection of photos than I have included here can be found on my SmugMug page.

We flew Seattle to Salt Lake City – picked up our transport for the journey – a Mazda CX-5 – then headed into the city for a quick walk around Temple Square.  Amazed how quiet the city center was – managed to park right next to the temple.WP_20160516_003Heading South we had planned to take in a scenic drive along Nebo Loop Road – but after 16 miles or so found it was closed due to road damage – so turned back… We were headed for Moab, but wanted to get off the beaten track so took 24 through Capitol Reef National park.160516_Utah_030

Light rain didn’t spoil the viewing as we took some short walks – and when the rain got heavier – with thunder and lightning this made the already breathtaking scenery even more amazing!  Turning North on 24 to pick up Highway 70 the sun was catching the mountains in the distance.


Our first and second nights were to be spent at the Castle Valley Inn just a few miles outside Moab.  We found Moab to be particularly busy – and our first choice eating place – the Moab Brewery – was full with a long wait.  We ate instead at Twisted Sistas’ Café.  Food was good – though a little pricey – but perhaps that is just Moab…

The following day we visited Arches National Park in the morning – probably could have done with getting there earlier.  Very busy and difficult to get photos that didn’t contain lots of people!  Had to pick your moment.


For the afternoon and early evening we went just a short way to Canyonlands National Park – which quieter and just as beautiful – in some ways more impressive.


That evening we did get to eat at the Moab Brewery – very pleasant and great beer!

The following morning we took in some local sites with a trip along 279, before heading long Highway 128 along the Colorado river – up to 70 then across the border into Colorado.  Our overnight stop was planned for Grand Junction – and heading into Colorado National Monument at Fruita and then coming out near Grand Junction was the perfect way to spend the afternoon.


That evening was spent at Castle Creek B&B in Grand Junction (“The largest town between Salt Lake City and Denver”) and a short drive into the very pleasant town and we found the Rockslide Brew Pub – excellent food and beer – and a continental feel with outside seating.

The following day was to be our longest drive – out of Grand Junction and looping around the 141 from Whitewater then up to Montrose and heading East on the 50 – past Blue Mesa and through Monarch pass (11,312ft) before descending and heading North to Buena Vista – turning East on the  285 and taking in the view of some of the 14k peaks we had passed between.


Our home for the next two night was in Manitou Springs, Cliff House at Pikes Peak (we had the  – where we took some of the waters and enjoyed one of the food and beer highlights of the trip at Swirls Wine Bar where we shared the beer paddle and small plate selection.


We stayed local the following day – taking in the Garden of the Gods, Red Canyon trail – and more beer at Swirls!


Another long driving day followed that as we headed for New Mexico.  But not before taking in the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and a trip 1,000ft down the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine at Cripple Creek.


As the roads South on 1 were likely to be harrowing for my passenger we looped back to pick up 11 – then 50 West to Salida before heading South on 17 towards the border – but stopping off first at Great Sand Dunes National Park.


We hit the border with New Mexico using 159, then South to Taos for our overnight stay at El Pueblo Lodge – with a very welcome pool.  Dinner was at the Alley Cantina.  Following a good breakfast on the terrace we headed of to see Taos Pueblo and the Rio Grande gorge and bridge – then South to Santa Fe on the High Road – taking in the Sanuario de Chimayo.


Our home in Santa Fe for two night was the Inn at Vanessie – and dining took us to the Pink Adobe and Coyote Café cantina .  Our day out from Santa Fe took us to Bandelier National Monument, then up to Los Alamos and a walk around the historical park – the White Rock Overlook – where a guide told us rattle snakes don’t usually rattle – then finally to another part of the Bandelier Park – the Tsankawi prehistoric site where we discovered they certainly can rattle – if they happen to be sunning themselves on the trail and your wife nearly trips over one (no pictures!).  It was a very nice trail though – another of the highlights of the trip.


The final day was spent with a short visit to Pecos National Historical Park – interesting history lesson – then along the turquoise trail to Albuquerque for the flight home – quick stop for lunch at The Hollar in Madrid for Buffalo Burgers (Excellent!) .  Alaska were very keen to get us onboard and away as soon as possible – Donald Trump was due to land shortly after – and they didn’t want to get grounded in the Trump carnival…




Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

The tulips are early again this year – so beat the crowds (although it was still busy) and took a trip up to La Conner the day before the festival officially opened.  Armed just with a single lens, my 12mm f/2.8 Zeiss Touit and my Fujifilm XT-1 it made for some interesting choices of camera angle.  Only so many lines of tulips and lots of sky photos you can stomach.



Getting low between the rows…


This one I call tuliclipse!

Even with a 12mm (18mm equiv) where depth of focus is pretty wide most of the time – you can still get out of focus backgrounds by getting close and focusing tight!


And then looking for the more unusual shots – daffs in a tree!


The organizers had done a great job considering the recent rain.  A dry few days in the run up had helped – but still some mud to suck off some unwary visitor’s shoes – and home to these stray blooms… Mt Baker in the background.


Happy New Year–and a new camera


Just before Christmas I got a new Fujifilm XT-1 and a few lenses.  This was picture taken of the New Year’s Eve celebrations at the Space Needle – looking across from Ursula Judkins viewpoint at the top of Magnolia Bridge with the 90mm F2 WR – and I’m loving this lens.  Also took this picture of a merlin that was feeding in the yard.  I have the Zeiss 12mm and the new 35mm F2 weatherproof too – so expect some pictures from those beauties soon.


No themes for my 2016 blog – bug I might continue with the periodic table if I find the right subjects.

Iodine – I – With Silver makes photos, rain and snow

Iodine (I – Atomic Number 53) has very strong photography connections – and was used in some of the earlier photosensitive solutions as AgI – silver iodide – in daguerreotypes, named after Louis Daguerre.  More recently film emulsions have tended to be mostly AgCl and AgBr – Silver Chloride and Silver Bromide, but usually the Silver Bromide crystals have a small amount of Silver Iodide present to improve the light sensitivity characteristics.  Iodine is also found in seaweed, including Kelp – my first Iodine picture.


The discovery of Iodine related to seaweed too.  Bernard Courtois was using ash from seaweed as a source of Potassium for creating saltpeter (Potassium Nitrate) and one day noticed purple fumes when he added sulphuric acid to the ash.  The fumes condensed to form crystals and he guessed this was a new element – the name Iodine being given from the Greek ‘iodes’ meaning violet.  Iodine sublimes (goes right from a solid to vapour) at room temperature – so easy enough to sort of re-create this discovery.

Clouds over Amsterdam
Clouds over Amsterdam

Another use for Silver Iodide cystals is to seed clouds.  I’m pretty sure these clouds were not seeded though – I’m sure Amsterdam, much like Seattle – does not need any more clouds than they normally get!  As well as seeding clouds, Silver Iodide crystals are used in snow machines where a combination of high pressure air is used to reduce thelocal temperature – and then a jets of water and AgI crystals are sprayed together to give the ice crystals a head start.

Iodine Is very important to health and we need a daily intake of around 0.1 milligrams.  Most of the bodies 20 milligrams is found in the thyroid gland.  Radioactive Iodine (I 131) can accumulate in the thyroid – which can be used for good to fight cancer – but I the exposure is more sinister then normal Iodine can be taken (as Potassium Iodide) to replace the radioactive Iodine.  Potassium Iodide is also added to  table salt to help avoid Iodine deficiency.

The main source of Iodine is from the sea – not so much from seaweed these days – but from brine.

Next up is Cerium – Ce – Named for the asteroid Ceres!

More kelp
More kelp