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As the trip fades in memory....I culled through a few more pics, and de-saturated a couple. Here are a couple of pics, one from White Sands, and one from Bisti, that I de-saturated -- pics to match the memories fading.

Desaturated White Sands

Looks like an old graveyard

I think I'm finally back in work mode.

And my annual Christmas party is on my mind. I've been buying food, and cleaning house for it. This coming holiday weekend, I will have 2 different Thanksgiving dinners...also getting ready to make recipes to take with me to those. Lots to do!
karmicdragonfly: (Default)
I went to Chaco again this trip, and experienced the last 5 miles of washboard dirt road to get there, omg...but I did NOT experience the same feeling of 'not being alone', -- when I was totally alone -- as before. Partly because I got to Pueblo Bonito just after a busload of kids, lol!

Still glad I went back.



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When I arrived and was driving around Farmington, I kept seeing these beautiful yellow trees everywhere! I had no idea what they were, and then I later found out that they were Fremont Cottonwoods...an indicator of permanent water...and very pretty in the Fall!

How pretty!

When I travel, I have learned to allow myself down time. Travel is stressful, and you need some down time...some rest time...some recovery. After Bisti, I needed some rest, so one afternoon I spent walking around a park along the river and admiring the beautiful, yellow Cottonwoods!
Cottonwoods in the Fall / Bridges and Fall foliage

Animas River in Farmington


Cottonwoods along the Animas River in Farmington
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The last day I was in Farmington, I had nothing planned. And there was a picture that I wanted to take, but it was 2.5 hours drive away, and I had to be there by 10ish AM. I was feeling so lazy that I did NOT want to get up early and do that drive!

But I did get up, and I think I got a decent photo for the trouble. This is "House on Fire", taken with my iPhone:
House on Fire in Mule Canyon near Blanding Utah

The effect of fire is caused by the sun reflecting off the rock in front of the pueblo. This happens as the sun comes up behind the pueblo, and shines over into the canyon. Once the sun gets too high in the sky and the sunlight gets too direct, the effect stops.

So I had been reading that the effect happens between 10AM and Noon .... but I could never tell what time of year that was (standard time or daylight savings...). It's a 20 minute walk (a mile or so) from the trailhead to the site, so I figured I needed to be there by about 9:30. I got to the trailhead and arrived at the site on schedule...and then I waited....and waited...and waited. I think I could have gotten there an hour later and been fine, lol!

Here's a pic from a different angle. You can see a little of the 'fire' to the right - but the fire effect really is dependent on the angle.
House on Fire in Mule Canyon near Blanding Utah

One thing to note is that there is a small fee for the park service when you go on this hike. But when I got to the trailhead, I didn't see a place to play. It turns out that the fee box is just after you turn off the highway onto the dirt road. I totally missed it. I ended up paying on the way out (I don't mind paying small fees to help the park service).

I think this might be a place that I visit again when I go back to Utah.
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For the first time, I think my iPhone rivals my Canon! I mean, phones take great pics now, but previously I could ALWAYS get a better picture by taking RAW images on my 'big camera', as I call it.

And that hasn't exactly changed...but for the very first time I am comfortable having 'just' the iPhone XS. They say the best camera is the one you have with you, but I always wanted to have the Canon with me. And I still do. But seriously, I was impressed with the XS photos!

Still if I need a long zoom...certainly I would use the Canon. Or if I were going to print an image at a larger size -- definitely would need the image taken from the Canon. Or if I wanted to use my wide angle lens, again Canon. But I really was impressed by the shots I got with the iPhone XS, and I think it would suffice for a lot of situations!

Here's a pic with the iPhone on the left and Canon on the right. I'm pretty satisfied with either! (Don't judge them by the warmth or lack thereof of the colors -- they were both edited - one on the phone, and the other in Lightroom. I wasn't intending to keep them the same. This just an example of the detail of the iPhone XS on the left and the Canon on the right.)
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White Sands a ways off from Las Cruces is a "national monument" as opposed to a "national park". I'm not sure what the exact definition is, but it seems that "monuments" are smaller, have fewer personnel and less money to do things. They also tend to be cheaper, and easier to visit.

I didn't know my plan for White Sands. I just figured I would wing the photographs, and I got some decent ones. I went to the Alkali Trail, which is at the opposite end of the loop, when the loop is turning back towards the entrance.

I enjoyed it. I'd like to go again when I wasn't exhausted from traveling, and I'd like to stay until sunset because there are some good photos to be had! There were lots of patterns to look at...and as usual, early morning and evening would be best for photography -- bright light of day would NOT be ideal! The site is heavily visited -- lots of folks coming and going!

Speaking of lots of people...these patterns in the picture are NOT natural -- these are footsteps, lol! Still an excellent photo!
White Sands National Monument NM

In this one, I think the woman in the distance on the dune to the right is taking a selfie, lol! #ModernLife
White Sands National Monument

Is that a VW Bug?

White Sands National Monument

White Sands

The sand is very fine -- I had seen a warning about that, so to prevent getting the rental full of sand, I brought a change of shoes, and took off my hiking boots before I got in the car. Then, I used a large plastic bag to hold the boots until I could get them back to the hotel to knock out some of the sand.
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In general, I tend to chat with people that I run into. Maybe it's weird for an introvert, but I really enjoy that initial conversation with strangers!

There was the guy on the petroglyph trail at Chaco...we walked and talked together for a part of the trail. He was from Colorado....his wife died a couple years ago. He said she told him to not sit around the house after she was gone, and he is following her advice! He was on the way to Austin to meet up with his brother to see some music, drink some beer and hang out! Which sounds fantastic to me!

Then there was the guy at the bar at the airport...an applied mathematician on his way back home. He had missed the shuttle to his city, so he was having a bite to eat and a beer, waiting for the next time when the shuttle would leave.

Then there was the couple at House on Fire in Mule Canyon...she was a retired school Superintendent...and he was 6 months from retiring. They were from Albuquerque I think, traveling around with a camper to enjoy their time! The other folks at the site were from Tucson...and I think Santa Fe?

And even if I don't chat with them long, I usually establish some sort of rapport...the park ranger at Chaco....the guy in the bathroom at Chaco when he found out that there was no hot water...the woman sitting next to me in the plane...the ranger at White Sands whom I made laugh, etc.

Basically, I know how to start a conversation, if the other person is open to it!


30 Oct 2018 20:43
karmicdragonfly: (Default)
I tend to use Apple Maps since it is default on the iPhone....and because Apple has a male Brazilian voice, whereas it seems Google only has a female..and I find the Google female voice a bit grating. All of that is really nothing of importance, but I noted some differences.

When Apple Maps first came out, it was a shoddy piece of work.. But Apple Maps has improved a lot since then, and I have no issues with it now.

Things I noted...First, Google's ability to download offline maps ahead of time really matters. If you're going to a place where you know you'll probably have a weak signal, being able to download offline maps ahead of time really matters. +100 to Google on this.

Second...for Apple Maps, I was able to look up 'Mule Canyon', but in Google Maps, I was able to look up 'Mule Canyon Trailhead' -- it's the 2nd one that I needed. +50 to Google.

Third...Apple's maps showed me the speed limit, which was really nice when I was driving a candle-apple-ticket-magnet! Sometimes, I wondered how fast could I drive, and Apple Maps noted the speed limit nicely. At least on the highways in New Mexico, it was pretty much on the money! +25 to Apple

I like Apple's voices better...+10 to Apple.

User interface? +10 to Apple.
Showing me road congestion earlier? +10 to Google!

Sometimes, they used different vocabulary to refer to the same thing. Apple used pista for lane, and I feel like Google used a different word (faixa?), although I can't remember which. Not important -- it's kind of a vocabulary building exercise for me to use both of them.

Nice thing...Apple's CarPlay used whichever map you were using to display on screen. +5 to Apple.

End result Google has a better product, but I like the UI better on Apple. So I tend to use Apple until I need to look up a trailhead or use offline maps, when I switch to Google.
karmicdragonfly: (Default)
I like looking at petroglyphs. This one was on the trail at Mesa Verde that leaves Spruce Tree House. It is the only panel on that trail, so while impressive, I took the trail mostly for the exercise.
Petroglyphs at Mesa Verde National Park

There were on the petroglyph trail at Chaco Canyon --
Is this a Kachina explaining things?

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I was surprised when the car rental place gave me a candy apple red car! Not my usual color, and it felt like I was driving around in a ticket magnet!

And I have come back home with a lead foot, having gotten used to 75mph speed limits on New Mexico highways!

Here's a pic of the rental at White Sands -- the 'roads' at White Sands were just packed sand after the asphault ended.
karmicdragonfly: (Default)
I was glad to visit the Bisti Badlands again, this time during the day.

I kinda wanted to prove to myself that I was comfortable going out by myself to a place where there are no trails and no cell coverage. I mean, it's only a few miles in and out, so even if I got lost (which I did for a bit), I would still be able to find the road again using the sun as my guide. But it still freaks me out a bit to be out of touch by myself -- what if I broke a leg or something?

I saw 1 person at a distance in the first couple hours. Then I saw about 3 additional couples or small groups as I was leaving.

Bisti draws me, but it's not like I feel any powerful energy when I'm there or anything -- the area just seems to be like a grandfather that I have visited now a couple of times. And I tend to miss it when I leave. It was like that the first time (the nighttime photo workshop), and it was like that this time also.

So speaking of getting lost...I took 1 wrong turn. I already had waypoints on a GPS app on my phone from the last visit, and I could see the route, but the way the arrow was pointing was confusing. So I decided to just 'follow the wash'. 'Follow the wash' is the general instruction for navigating in and out of Bisti. But in addition to the main Bisti wash, there are a lot of 'feeder' washes, and I got attached to one of those feeders. This led me into a canyon which got narrower and narrower before I realized I was going the wrong way. (By the way, there were footprints in the wash through the canyon, so I was not the first there recently, lol!)

Anyways, I found my way after that. Everything looked so different in the daylight! I don't think I got great pics -- the hoodoos are a jumbled mass that are hard to compose into an image. Here are some --


Cracked Alien Eggs in Bisti


Here's my selfie for the trip. See the 2 red hills? The photo group from last year's workshop agreed on the name '2 angry boobs' for these...and they are good for navigating. When I 're-found my way', I remembered the boobs as a sign post. I used them on the way out as well.
Every trip deserves a selfie lol :)
karmicdragonfly: (Default)
I'm back from my visit to New Mexico (and Colorado 1 day and Utah 1 day). It was a good vacation! And I am also glad to be back in my own bed! My routine when I travel alone is to grab the hotel breakfast early then get on my way each day so as to avoid the heat of the day. Even in cool October, the sun in New Mexico beats down on you! I was not hot while I was hiking, but even with sunscreen, I still got mild sunburn in the face a couple of days from the sun.

And now I'm thinking I have explored New Mexico as much as I need to, this being my 3rd trip there. Next time I got out west will probably be to explore the eastern part of Utah.

I'm also glad I didn't watch the news much -- seems like same shit, different century. News delivered this headline today: "A Week Of American Hate: Bombs Mailed, Black People Executed, Jews Slaughtered".

This was my tweet while I was driving around NM --
karmicdragonfly: (Default)
The sun rises for everyone, but the moon for those who deserve her....

I realized I am not traveling as much as I like, so I'm taking a week off in the next couple months to go back to New Mexico and Utah...when my life ends, I don't want to 'wish' I had gone somewhere or seen something!

I am planning now...but I also want to 'let go' and not plan too much.

Plane ticket is purchased, so I'm now committed!
karmicdragonfly: (Default)
So I had another couch surfer stay the night this weekend. As usual, it was a pleasant experience. He was only here the 1 night, but nice conversation and he treated me to dinner.

This guy was older than me -- and fully retired. Being retired sounds great to me -- it will be several more years for me sadly!

He is also the second nudist that I have hosted, lol! That doesn't bother me, but I had no idea it was such a lifestyle! Who ever heard of nude hiking groups, lol? Evidently, there is some 'mystique' about nude hiking on the Appalachian Trail...

As usual, I have tagged this entry with 'travel' because having a couch surfer stay sort of feels like traveling, because often the conversations center around travels.
karmicdragonfly: (Default)
...or is it JUST ME?

Funny that I find myself muttering / talking to myself in half English and half Portuguese...like I was looking at the weather the other day, saying "Oh, it's gonna be raining no Sábado" -- It's gonna be raining on Saturday!

Stayed home sick today with some allergy symptoms. It's a little bizarre -- Spring came...with my accompanying allergies...but it's supposed to snow this weekend!

I needed a piece of 'home decor' in the living room, so I had a print made of a photo I took of a statue at the Grand Palace in Bangkok back in 2013. The trip is a good memory.

This print was delivered today. I think this is a Kinnara. Or maybe it is a 'Kinnon' -- male version of Kinnara.

I like hanging pictures in the house that I have taken myself.
karmicdragonfly: (Default)
I tended to spend time by myself at Bisti. I liked the others in the group, but I wanted a lot of solitude...

This was during the blue hour after sunset....me by myself, wind, solitude...standing, thinking, taking pictures....

I was and will always continue to be fascinated by these 'swirls', lol!

Missing Bisti tonight...As I told my Brazilian friend -- "I'm feeling a lack of Bisti tonight!" Eu sinto falta de Bisti!

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I had a couple hours before I had to drive from Albuquerque to Farmington, so I stopped at one of the trails that are part of the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque.

I went to the 'main' office, but I had already picked out this particular trail based on the time I had available. They told me how to get there (I got lost, until I stopped and turned on the maps...)...it is sandwiched between residential and commercial strips, but it has its own (free) parking area.

Petroglyphs at the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque

Petroglyphs at the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque

Petroglyphs at the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque
karmicdragonfly: (Default)
Alien Eggs --
Alien Eggs

One friend said it looked like a Dali. A sister said it looked like a set from the original Star Trek series...

Milky Way --
Bisti Milky Way

The workshop instructor is in the background --

karmicdragonfly: (Default)
These are just a jumble of some of my thoughts and memory vignettes form the trip.

Flash of Light

We were out all night at Bisti 3 times. When you're out at night, there are distinct phases which happen during the night. How the night unfolds depends on time of year, weather of course, and the moon cycle. For us, the phases were: Sunset, Nautical Twilight, the dark time when the Milky Way is very visible, and then moonrise and finally the glow that indicates sunrise is approaching.

Moonrise always lit up the landscape to the point where we did not need our headlamps to navigate the hoodoos. You could just walk around in the dark, with no problem at all.

During the dark time one night, I was talking to the instructor, and there was suddenly a flash of light! The flash lit up the landscape the way moonlight does! My back was towards the flash, but the instructor said it appeared to come from one star in the sky.

He thought it was light from a supernova or something, with the light finally reaching us. The rest of the group (who were set up in a different place from me) also saw the flash, but their backs were to it as well.

I have not been able to find info on that anywhere online about it, and I have not reviewed my pics to see if my shutter was open during the flash.

Learned about Mongolia

One of the students was originally from Mongolia. She speaks Mongolian, of course, and I think Russian. She also is fluent-ish in German and English. I got to speak to her about where she grew up, and how Mongolian is written, etc.

A Little Cuddle

One of the folks at the workshop and I hug deeply whenever we see each other. This time there was more than a hug. We got some cuddling -- cheek to cheek (or beard to beard really). He was close to me, and leaned in to whisper something in my ear, so I put my arm around his waist and pulled him in for a cheek cuddle. It was nice.


One of the students provided WAY TOO MUCH information about his bodily habits. Do I really need to know that he gets sweaty balls? Or that he has hemorrhoids? Yea, so there's that.

Chaco Ancestors

Chaco Canyon came up in our conversations. One of the students had gone to Chaco (paid the permit, etc. etc.) for nighttime photography. While he was there, he and the ranger heard voices. He said it distinctly sounded like voices, and the temperature got cold. The ranger experienced the same thing.

I reminded me of when I was at Chaco (during the day), when I distinctly heard a child's laughter behind me. But there was nobody there. Here is is what I wrote about that experience back in 2015:
It is hard to put into words what I felt at Chaco. I certainly did not see it as just a set of ruins -- I sort of felt like I was intruding on the everyday lives of the people living there. But, of course, there were no actual people...but maybe impressions of people...or somehow I was intersecting from my time into the time when people were actually living at Chaco.

Not ghosts (which has a negative connotation anyway)...and not exactly spirits...just like I was there at the same time they were. It was an odd feeling, for sure!

When I was at Chetro Ketl, I swear I heard a child's laughter...I was taking pictures, and I looked up from the camera, expecting to see a child with his parents. But there was nothing but the sun and wind -- no child.

It was interesting to hear someone else having a similar experience!

Pack Weight

I was pleased with the weight I carried. Although I certainly love to hike, I'm usually only out for a few hours, so the water I carry is maybe a couple of biking bottles. I also never carry a tripod.

And I usually am hiking in a green area, so I carry a small water filter in case I need it. In the case of Bisti, there is no water...you have to carry it all, and we were outside about 11 hours, starting hot (85F) and then getting pretty cold (43F) at night. It's an arid area with no amenities, so you get dehydrated fast!

For the workshop, I carried 2.5 liters of water, a tripod, camera and 2 lenses, extra batteries, gadgets I need for shooting, food for dinner, and several layers of clothes -- for the big layers like my coat, I rolled them all together into a tube and tied them up, so that I just carried those with 1 hand - not on my backpack.

I estimate my pack was about 20 lbs, not counting the rolled up tube of clothes. And I did fine. I kept my knee wrapped, so it didn't cause problems. I did get a pretty bad blister, but kept that bandaged for the remaining hikes.

I was pleased with my own performance in carrying 20 lbs plus other stuff for 5+ miles!

MacBook Air

The little Air still worked very well! It's a 2013 model, so not new at all, but it performed better than some of the MacBooks and Windows machines there. I believe its performance is related to the flash memory -- there's no spinning hard drive on the Air -- just flash memory. I think that is why it is fast. I'm still really pleased with this little, light laptop!


When I got back home, the flowers out front had exploded! I have a guy painting the trim on the house, and he said that it was like overnight! I also noticed I had 4" of rain in the rain gauge, so I suspect the rain is what caused the sudden bloom!

Time to go back to work...go back to reality! I am not prepared for that just yet!

karmicdragonfly: (Default)
I had a great time in New Mexico...

And I'm completely off schedule now! The week was spent in a nighttime photo workshop -- I've taken 2 previous workshops with this same guy -- where we stayed up all night taking night pictures. There were 6 in the workshop, in addition to the instructor.

Bisti was great! I miss it -- other worldly. I didn't take as many photos as I could have, because I tended to spend time lying on my back looking at the stars! I just couldn't help it! Where there is artificial light, you CANNOT see stars...not like this.

I'll be editing pics over the next few days...Here is the 1st post from the trip --
Bisti Badlands in New Mexico (Explored)


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"O seguro morreu de velho, mas o desconfiado ainda está vivo." -- "The safe one died of old age, but the suspicious one is still living."