Second week in February, the temps were in the 60s, the sky a brilliant blue, I needed to get outside and engage in nature. How ‘bout you?
Feeling like spring in southern Utah and hadn’t been out hiking in way too long. So last Friday Bill and I took Sasha for a walk on BLM near Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Ground was mostly dry, a few patches of snow remained in the shade. Delightful!
Except for seeing the chaining, a process of stripping the land mechanically for the supposed betterment for grazing livestock. Beautiful old junipers and pinyons perhaps 100s of years old, wantonly knocked down so some stupid cow can be there. It’s almost enough to make me a vegetarian. I can’t imagine what there is left to graze on, or what was grazable in the first place. Truly ugly. The arid drought stricken Southwest is no place for cattle.
The BLM part of the dunes is heavily used by ATVs and because there really isn’t a “trail” riders go wherever. Fun toys I guess even though not my preferred transport but irresponsible operators often tear up the land as bad as the chainings. [BLM = Bureau of Land Management or “Bureau of livestock and mining” as Bill says.]
We parked by a coral to walk on BLM11. Went through a gate and tiptoed past security with Sasha on a short leash and although we saw evidence of more bovines never actually saw any more as we walked down a dry wash also used as a road probably by the nearby ranchers.
Sasha happily ran off leash yet always nearby even if not visible in the brush. Up and down the sides of the bank she goes sniffing along the way and always seeking shade. She laid in the snow and drank from puddles. I know she gets at least five times as much exercise as we do lollygaging along at my slow photographers pace. What a delight for us all to get outside.
Almost back to the parking lot when we heard a rig coming. One cowboy in a beat up pickup turned out of the wash and u-turned around a tree. Got out of the truck briefly, possibly to take a pee. We had stepped off the road for him to pass but then cautiously continued as Bill reminded me these are the “Sagebrush Rebellion” type of people. Then cowboy drove back into the wash with us again off to the side and slowly drove by tipping his hat when I waved. Not sure I want to get into this discussion about the use of public lands but I think this High Country News article puts the recent Malheur occupation into perspective.
Back through the state park with a brief dune walk stop where I took maybe my first successful selfie with Bill using my new phone. I need more practice so am looking for cooperative sidekicks. Bill actually gave me permission to post this one so he’s getting better at smiling for the camera. I’ll try to get Sasha in with us next time.
And for another opportunity to engage with nature, as of yesterday Bill and I were on our way to Death Valley National Park. Hoping for a Superbloom. If I have a signal will try to post photos to Facebook.
Seems a lot of the photos are fuzzy. My camera is having trouble auto focusing and my manual focus hasn’t ever been good. I’ve tried a different lens and carefully cleaning the contact points which didn’t help. My four year old Nikon D5100 introduced me to the world of DSLR. I’ve grown past AUTO, am getting better at guessing estimating both shutter speed and f-stop on Manual, take lots of shots to get the one I may want or like the best, and if your comments mean anything my photography keeps improving. Having Lightroom for post-processing has helped a lot too but you can’t fix a really bad photo. The shutter count is 81,529 out of a manufacturer expected 100,000. Don’t think I can justify the cost of a new DSLR right now. Maybe by the time I’m back to work I’ll have a better idea about replacement while still using my current lenses. I have a Nikon Coolpix P600 that I’m not overly excited about yet does work for my drive by shots. The current challenge is to get better at manual focusing. Anyway, I’m open to comments and suggestions.
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