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Entries in national park (28)


Olympic -photoblog

"Wow!" summed it up.



Sunset, last night

Just plain gorgeous...



Olympic National Park - day trip from Seattle

The last day of 2008 was spent in Olympic National Park.

Knowing that there was 5 inches of snow expected that day at the park and that there was already 51 inches of snow piled up in most places, it was a risky decision to go. We have made five to six trips to Seattle since 2001 (started way before the BIL became a Softee) and we have driven around this park only once from Port Angeles to Seattle.

This time we wanted to see Rialto beach and Crescent lake. So we started off with hopes that the main road through the park would be ploughed and it was!

Considering it is a day trip, we used the Edmunds to Kingston ferry to cross over and then drove through cute places like Port Gamble, Discovery bay, Sequim and Port Angeles into the park and past an incredibly beautiful place called Piedmont.

We drove through rapidly changing weather, snow, then slush, rain, followed by clear sun, then fog to end up in Rialto beach. The temperature was a warm 33 F (but with wind chill it was 27 F) and the kids and some adults could not handle the winds at the beach.

The group spent 20 minutes there for a quick photo shoot and turned back just in time to beat a sudden spurt of rain. On our way back we did stop at Crescent lake to play in the snow at the edge of the "moment of time" trail. There was this beautiful house in the background and lots of fresh snow.

This is the first place where you see a mountain with snow and five minutes later you are on the other side at a beach!

Little one playing in snow for the first time at an age where she can understand what is going on. At first she was puzzled by the strange white stuff falling from the sky which instantly disappeared when she touched it.. after a few minutes she was thrilled with the possibilities of this new material..

There were snowfights, pictures, smiling faces and all round happiness! That made the trip worth the trouble.

Here are the stitch shots...

Had to wade through 3 1/2 feet of snow across a small bridge to get this shot.

A slice of heaven!

The next two shots were taken with 16 to 21 pictures. Fast moving waves and a fine mist in the air were challenges. (a tip for other stitch enthusiasts : get a flower hood and shoot with ISO1600. I did not have a hood on because it was low light conditions. there are pros and cons of not having a hood. you get more light in but the boundaries of the adjacent shots are visible. Maybe there is software that can correct for that?!)

The ones at Rialto beach were the most difficult because my fingers were numb from the cold and wasn't even sure if I hit the button or not! My appreciation for nature photographers went up several notches after this trip..

All the roads from the highway into various view points and attractions like Hurricane ridge, the Ho rain forest , Sol Duc, hot springs etc. were closed for snow or fallen trees.

That means, another trip to this place is due, preferably sometime when it has just started snowing and the roads are still navigable! Sunset at Rialto beach should be amazing, and we hope to see that on our next trip.

The cottages at the lake front looked very inviting. Someday, someday assuming the Venn diagram for "this body still has some strength left to press on a gas pedal" and "there is no obligation to be in this rat race" has an intersection, Sundar and Sangeetha will be at that cottage and spend a long time there watching the snow fall while sipping tea on the lakefront!

Until then, it is back to school time!



Mt. Shasta and Lassen National Park

Another long weekend. Another drive to a national park.

This time, we went to Mt. Shasta and the Lassen Volcanic park area. It was a really great trip. We went with the cousins and as an added treat, my brother happened to land here the previous week for a business trip and my brother in law drove down from Seattle! We were met a bunch of familiar faces at the hotel where we stayed and the kids thought we were going to a wedding in Shasta!

We pretty much covered a lot of places and saw what we could, given the rain, snow and the hiking trails being closed.

Shasta Dam, Lake Shasta, Burney falls, Mt. Shasta, Turtle bay museum, Sundial Bridge in Redding, The arboretum in Redding, Shasta Caverns (which included a boat ride, bus ride up the mountains, a descent into the caverns and another descent on a mountain wall after we exit the caverns!), the Waterhead of the sacramento river where all the underground water channels come out of the mountain wall (which incidentally is where Evian water is bottled) and the entire loop on Lassen national park!

An amazing trip, with harrowing moments when it suddenly rained, and the rain instantly turned to ice on the just plowed highway at 8000 feet with daddy trying to steer a van full of people around a sharp bend. People started reciting whatever slokas they remembered and many "kalpoorams" will be purchased on the next India trip. Daddy is just praying that no "vendudhals" have been made to some remote deity in India like Hairpinbendkaapaathamman which involve tonsuring his head! These days, you never know!

Without further ado, here are the "stitch shots" made of anything from 6 to 21 photos.

Burney falls, wide, majestic, crystal clear waters, it was really beautiful.

Considering that the images are 30 to 51 MB, blogger is not allowing me to upload those the way they are. The remaining pictures are resized to 3k pixels.

This was taken from a boat, as we crossed the Shasta Lake to see the caverns.

Lake Britton, on route 89 from Burney falls to McCloud. The place had an eerie tranquility to it.

Just past the Summit lake trails on Lassen, a little creek that cuts through a field of snow. Did not venture too close to the creek because we could see the ice was too thin and slippery.

Bunny flat, 6950 feet, as far as the road would take us on Mt. Shasta.

Bumpass Hell, a solitary boulder on a ledge, an amazing view of the snow covered hills and the valley below.

We will definitely visit this place again when the sky is clear and we get some contrast between the sky and the snow.

There are always the pictures of the little ones spicing up the landscape. Those come later!



Kaakaas and Kuruvis..

Kaakaa is crow and Kuruvi is sparrow in Tamizh.

We did not see those, but the local flora and fauna of California and we went to some really scenic places to see them.

Mono Lake and Yosemite.

Travelling with small kids is highly over rated. Especially if not to Disneyland, Lego Land, Sea World etc. If Half dome were to wear a costume or the Tufa towers had a mascot with a DVD franchise, things would have been a lot better.

We learnt a valuable lesson over this weekend. Do not take kids to see nature, especially if it means

1. they sit in a carseat
2. we are driving in 95 degree heat with the AC on full blast
3. We travel for 4 hours, open the doors and say "ta da. Behold Mono Lake!"
4. and the kids go "you dragged me here to see these plants, animals, flies and this lake ?!?! You could have taken me to the local park in Cupertino!!"

So, if you are a parent out there, planning a trip to Mono Lake (which is definitely a star attraction in the top 10, for a nature lover, but is going to be on the bottom 10 list for your kids), go without your kids, if that is possible.

That said, the pictures did turn out nicely..

Finally, this post answers the question "What has physical fitness got to do with Photography ?". The answer is "Everything!! especially if you are trying to take pictures like the one below."

I am way out of shape. I had 10 seconds to run down from the tripod and make it to the group. It was probably 10 meters max including two leaps across wooden barricades. But NO! I could not make it on the first try.

The second lesson that came from this trip is that I should take better care of my health! (I was defending the position that I had misjudged 10 seconds and started towards the camera rather slowly, but the entire group told me that, it was not my problem).

The scenic shots, the panoramas, stitch photos will probably hit this blog tomorrow or day after.

Until then, ta ta..