Apr 212014

Celebrate National Parks Week not just this week, or on free weekends, but all the time.   These parks were created for the people of the world and “future generations”.  Let’s not loose them to corporate America.

OK, so I’m a little late on the no entrance fee for April 19 & 20, 2014.  However there are more to come this yea:  August 25 National Park Service birthday, September 27 National Public Lands Day, November 11 Veterans Day.

The National Park Service administers over 400 natural and cultural sites.  I’ve visited 62 of them but unfortunately many pre-blogging.  Below find links to posts of a few National Park sites I personally recommend.

Monuments of sandstone Zion National Park Utah

A convenient shuttle operates in Zion National Park Utah  stopping at many hiking and viewing areas in Zion Canyon.  The towering cliffs and amazing natural sandstone sculptures will fill your eyes and mind with wonder.

Saguaro National Park Arizona

To many, the giant saguaro symbolizes the American West yet they only grown in southern Arizona and northern Mexico.  Saguaro National Park Arizona offers drives and hikes past forests of these unusual cactus plus areas to see ancient rock art.

View from Bristlecone Loop trail Bryce Canyon National Park Utah

The ancient bristlecone pines seen on the rim at Bryce Canyon National Park Utah are as magnificent as the various rock hoodoos below.  Driving and hiking trails will take you through the magic of both.

Panamint Range Emigrant Canyon Road Death Valley National Park California

To view the diversity of desert and mountains Death Valley National Park California will blow your mind, and possibly your radiator in the middle of summer.

Buckskin Gulch Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument Utah

Just one of many opportunities in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument includes slipping into the cool of Buckskin Gulch slot canyon Utah surrounded by walls of wavy sandstone sculpted over time by water.

Cliff Palace Mesa Verde National Park Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park Colorado receives top kudos for exploring ancient cliff dwellings on a guided Ranger walk but also check out the excellent museum full of interesting artifacts.

Ruins Walnut Canyon National Monument Arizona

Yet another opportunity to see cliff dwellings in a different landscape and not quite so busy is Walnut Canyon National Monument Arizona where the Sinagua people settled almost 900 years ago.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument Lake Powell Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Utah

The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Arizona and Utah offers boating on Lake Powell including access to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, touring the Glen Canyon Dam, exploring Lee’s ferry Lonely Dell Ranch by the Colorado River launch site and so much more.

Amphitheater Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah

Enjoy red rock country at high elevation visiting Cedar Breaks National Monument Utah but check for opening dates because it can snow up there even in early summer.

Wukoki Pueblo Wupatki National Monument Arizona

Pueblos built in the shadow of Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument Arizona may be long abandoned at Wupatki National Monument yet a feeling of the people’s spirit is left behind.

Great House Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Arizona

More Native American ruins can be explored at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument Arizona that are easy to access.

Petrified gardens Oregon Caves National Monument Oregon

If you like to explore underground then Oregon Caves National Monument will give you an up close and personal cave experience on a guided Ranger walk or ask about the wild crawling tour for more adventure.

Sunset upriver Tuweep Grand Canyon National Park Arizona

Of course I’ve posted a lot about Grand Canyon National Park because I’m a summer Park Ranger on the North Rim.  In fact I’ll be back on the North Rim in five days and posting more so follow along for more ideas.  With too many posts to list I recommend a search on this Geogypsytraveler website under ‘Grand Canyon’ for lots of awesome options.

National Parks really are “America’s Best Idea” that has spread across the world to preserve diverse natural and cultural sites of importance to the people.  And it’s not just national parks but also monuments, scenic rivers, historic sites and more.  Look for a park near where you are.  Then get out there, and ‘Go Wild’!  And remember to attend the informative Ranger walks and talks.

What park will you be visiting next?

Foto Friday Fun 55

 Posted by on April 18, 2014  Foto Friday Fun
Apr 182014

This week’s Foto Friday Fun features 6 images chosen by readers out of my photo archives.  Now that I’m back in Arizona, and have access to All my photos, the images will be mixed up a bit more than exclusively South Africa.  Yet there’s many more of those to come as well.

Clouds in the canyon North Rim Grand Canyon National Park Arizona

Sallie chose #1579, “For no reason. Just because it’s not a multiple and doesn’t have a 6 in it.”  Winking smile  From the Grand Lodge on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park the multiple views provide more than 6 peaks in almost any direction.  Looking southeast during monsoon season clouds hanging in multiple small canyons highlight the ridges and temples.

Carson at Fleamarket Carson Washington

Bibi chose #2, which takes us back to 1997.  She likes to explore thrift shops, second hand stores, and presumably fleamarkets too.  Well I used to sell at fleamarkets with the help of my trusty companion Carson.  He’s just a puppy in training here in Carson, Washington where we lived and sold.

Giraffe legs Kruger National Park South Africa

Sherry chose #4644 and she likes to walk, hike and bike so has a great pair of legs.  Much better looking than these giraffe’s legs seen at Kruger National Park, South Africa.  but I’ll wager it could out run her.

Snow melt on the meadows approaching the entrance station North Rim Grand Canyon National Park Arizona

Yogi chose #321123 as “my number for next month.”  Being I have no numbers that big I divided it in half for the two weeks left in the month.  #321 shows snow melt along the road to the entrance station of the North Rim when I arrived in April 2012.  I have no idea what the snowpack was this winter so will just be surprised at the conditions when I return the end of this April.  Sometimes there’s still lots of snow.

View along the road to Nelspruit South Africa

Jo chose #3500, “no reason.”  If she has a reason to travel between Nelspruit and St Lucia during her May holiday she may see this view along the way.  I think we were caught in construction traffic when I shot this view.

Terrapin head at birdhide Mankwe Dam Pilanesberg Game Reserve South Africa

Diane chose #9966.  She is currently traveling in France yet in the past visited Pilanesberg Game Reserve in South Africa  so I think she’ll like seeing this Terrapin I saw at the birdhide along the Mankwe Dam.  This is the same species of ‘attack turtles’ encountered at Kruger National Park so I kept my distance.  Winking smile

Lions on the road Kruger National Park South Africa

My choice…  As I continue to label the 1000s of photos taken during the last three months touring South Africa feelings of warm memories flood my senses.  Everybody loves the animals.  We speculate on what they are thinking.  I could watch them for hours—maybe even days if it was possible.  We all live on the same planet along with all other life.  Do they wonder about us?  Taken at Kruger National Park.

Thank you for joining in Foto Friday Fun where readers choose a number from my archives and I share the corresponding photo and a story.   To join in the fun for
next week leave a number between 01 and 9997 in a comment and maybe see your chosen image next week.  And now that I have access to my all my photos the images
shouldn’t be only from South Africa.

Do you have a favorite from this week?

I have so many photos to share from this recent journey in South Africa.  So as I label them I’ll post every 100th image on the Geogypsy Facebook page where you can follow along.

Capturing the present for future memories of the past

Apr 152014

Lunar eclipse & star Spica Yarnell Arizona

Lunar eclipse with star Spica at 12:08am April 15

The April 2014 lunar eclipse being called a ‘Blood Moon’ may have more of a religious than astronomical meaning.  Either way, it sure provided a dramatic show as the Earth’s shadow crept across the moon.

Last light on Rich Hill Yarnell Arizona

Moonrise in Arizona the 14th was 6:44pm yet at 7:01pm Rich Hill still obstructed the view in Yarnell.

Full moon behind branch Yarnell Arizona

I started out with totally the wrong camera settings.

Full moon through trees Yarnell Arizona

A full moon is exceedingly bright and my first attempts were washed out.

Lunar eclipse exposure guide

So I Googled camera settings for the lunar eclipse and figured it out.  I used my biggest lens zoomed to 300mm, ISO 800, f11, and changed shutter speed from 1/4000 down to 30 seconds over time.  Set up on tripod but remote batteries were dead.  Keep scrolling down for the show.

Full moon Yarnell Arizona

Full moon 8:57pm

Earth and Sky defines a lunar tetrad as “four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six lunar months (six full moons).”

Partial lunar eclipse series Yarnell Arizona

       10:59pm                                                11:14pm                                                   11:31pm                                                  11:40pm

Total lunar eclipse:  April 14-15
Total lunar eclipse: October 8

Total lunar eclipse: April 4
Total lunar eclipse: September 28

Partial lunar eclipse series Yarnell Arizona

11:48pm                                                 11:59pm                                                   12:01am                                                  12:04am

So why a ‘Blood Moon’?  “The full moon nearly always appears coppery red during a total lunar eclipse. That’s because the dispersed light from all the Earth’s sunrises and sunsets falls on the face of the moon at mid-eclipse. Thus the term blood moon can be and probably is applied to any and all total lunar eclipses.  We astronomy writers often say it looks blood red. Why? Because it sounds dramatic, and a lunar eclipse is a dramatic natural event.”  (from Earth and Sky)

Yet the popularization of the term seems recently introduced by two Christian pastors, Mark Blitz and John Hagee, in their 2013 book Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change, as representing a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.

“The sun will be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood before the great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.”  Joel 2:31 (Common English Bible)

So the first of the lunar tetrad fell on the beginning of Passover but couldn’t even be seen from Israel.  Think what you want.  It’s just science.

All full moons have names which typically coincide with seasons.  The Harvest Moon occurs most closely to the autumnal equinox.  This followed by the Hunter’s Moon, also sometimes called the Blood Moon, which falls on October 8, 2014 and marks the second total lunar eclipse of the lunar tetrad.

Lunar eclipse with star Spica & Mars 12:15am Yarnell Arizona

My last moon shot with star Spica to the right and Mars upper right at 12:15am on the 15th.  Then I lost it in the view finder.

Stars 12:58am Yarnell Arizona

And this shot of stars when trying to re-align at 12:58am.  By then I was cold and very tired so gave up and went to bed.

April 2014 lunar eclipse Blood Moon 9:27pm to 12:03am Yarnell Arizona

But after some playing around on the computer, I ended up with this.

Did you stay awake for the lunar eclipse?