Monday, April 9, 2012

Two Great Hikes This Weekend.

It's rare that I get a chance to do two hikes in one weekend. The reason is that usually I want to make sure I'm home with Penny on at least one of the weekend days, her only days off. Well as luck would have it, Penny decided she was up for a hike and decided to join me on Sunday.
But first - Saturday. It was one of the rare chances I get to hike with all three of my regular hiking buddies. Usually at least one of us is working over the weekend or has other plans so it was great that all four of us were able to coordinate a weekend hike out at Red Rock out to La Madre Springs.
The morning started out very cool, almost verging on cold, with a slight breeze in the air. We were in the park and at our trail-head just shortly after sunrise and fortunate enough to witness one of those fantastic Red Rock sunrises.
Red Rock - La Madre Springs Red Rock - La Madre Springs

Eventually the sun came up and the breeze stopped and it warmed up to a comfortable temperature. It really turned into a perfect day for a hike with friends.
Here the sun is just starting to hit the needles on this cactus.
Red Rock - La Madre Springs

 And Steve is out grabbing a close up of something I'm sure he'll turn into another masterpiece.
Red Rock - La Madre Springs

The Four Musketeers!
Red Rock - La Madre Springs

Steve's gotta give Fred driving advice....
Red Rock - La Madre Springs

The following morning, Sunday, Easter Sunday to be more exact, Penny and I decided to hit the Railroad Pass Trail out by Lake Meade. This is a great, easy hike I highly recommend but just make sure you do it at the right time of year. Much later then now and it will be too darn hot. Penny and I got a very early start and in fact were the second car in the parking lot when we started. Penny and I did this same hike Easter weekend 2010 and they have made several improvements to the trail since then. They put up the occasional trail side sign with lots of information about the trail history and tunnels.
Railroad Pass Trail
This would have been a great shot if it were not for the ever-present powerlines.
Railroad Pass Trail
There's my woman reading about the Big Horns. Maybe we'll get lucky and see some????
Railroad Pass Trail
Here's a couple shots I took that are single images I simple cropped down into pano format mainly to get rid of power lines in the foreground.
Railroad Pass Trail
Railroad Pass Trail
As I mentioned, the signs along the route give a bit of a history lesson. If you have kids I would highly recommend this hike if only for the education. But the exercise sure is nice too!
Railroad Pass Trail
Penny, my Twitter addicted wife, had to tweet a picure after passing the first tunnel.
Railroad Pass Trail
A tunnel on the other side of a tunnel.
Railroad Pass Trail
Yeah, watch out for the bats in the tunnels...
Railroad Pass Trail
A different view of the lake and Fortification Hill, the large flat topped "plateau"in the background.
It only looks like a plateau from here, it's not really.
Railroad Pass Trail
Eventually we made it through all five tunnels and happened upon three Big Horn sheep just up a hill along our path. In this first shot you really have to look hard to spot it right in the center.
Railroad Pass Trail
And here's one of them silhouetted along the top of the ridge.
Railroad Pass Trail
Mama and her baby can be seen in this shot.
Railroad Pass Trail
A clean shot of all three.
Railroad Pass Trail
After this we had the option of continuing along the path and ending up at the dam as we did two years ago or taking a slight detour and walking out onto the new dam bridge. We decided to go out on the bridge. We did the dam last time and Penny had not been on the bridge walkway yet so it seemed the logical choice.
Railroad Pass Trail
Railroad Pass Trail
Railroad Pass Trail
After the bridge walk we headed back to the car and back home. 7.5 miles round trip including the detour to the bridge.
Counting the 7.5 miles I put in on Saturday on the La Madre Springs hike I put in 15 miles this weekend. Not a bad bit of exercise!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Africa 2012 - The video diaries, Pt.2 of 2

Hey, you're back!
Well, this is it, my final blog entry about my trip to Africa and today I'll be sharing all of the video clips from the safari. I promise there will be none from the dreaded "diarrhea" portion of the trip. But I do need to warn viewers that there are a couple clips of the scene with the two cubs and female lion eating the warthog. They might be a bit too graphic for small children so I'll post a big WARNING graphic ahead of those scenes.

I believe I mentioned in my blog a while back about the crazy drivers in this country and also a bit about the huge speed bumps. Well, here's a twofer. Crazy drivers and huge speed bumps in one clip.
My safari driver, Ben, driving on the outskirts of Arusha. Notice two things, the crazy speed bumps on the road used to control our speed limit since there are no traffic cops and the crazy driver passing this slow truck in front of us with oncoming traffic. And then my driver passing the slow truck too with big trucks headed our way!

Nothing here really worth viewing, just a few seconds of shaky camera work driving down a bumpy road in Lake Manyara. Go ahead, skip this one.
Driving through the forest of Lake Manyara National Park.
I told you it wasn't worth watching.

This clip is very loud due to the wind noise so I'd turn the sound down a bit. It shows zebras in the plains around Lake Manyara and gives you an idea just how close they were to the truck. Oh yeah, a glimpse at the monster lens setup too.
Zebras in the open plains around Lake Manyara. Best played with the sound turned down. Lots of wind noise.

Another loud shot of zebras so watch the sound level. It was very windy that day. Some people thought I enhanced the green in some of my photos but this unedited video clip proves just how green the grass was.
Zebras in the open plains around Lake Manyara. Best played with the sound turned down. Lots of wind noise.
More zebras near the road. Wind noise is not quite so bad in this one but it's not much different then the clip above.
Zebras crossing the road in Lake Manyara Nat. Park.

I'm not sure why I like this clip because there are no animals and the first 10 seconds is quite shaky but once the camera settles down I'm reminded of the breeze blowing in my face as I stand up in the truck.
Driving through the forest of Lake Manyara. Nothing too exciting to see here, Just cool footage from the roof of the vehicle.

A quick glance at what I first thought were Dik Diks but looking at the video again I think they are too large to be Dik Diks. Maybe some other young antelope.
A very quick glance at a tiny Dik Dik running off to hide. At least that's what I thought this was. In the video it looks too big to be a Dik Dik and may just be a baby Grant's Gazelle or some other animal of the antelope species.

Baboons blocking our road. Can anyone say The OMEN?
Baboons blocking the road in Lake Manyara Nat. Park. This is the scene that reminded me of the movie, The Omen. Please don't jump up and attack me!

Day two of the safari and we are out in the Serengeti. I see this huge dust devil on the horizon and have to shoot a couple clips.
A dust devil in the middle of the Serengeti.
The dust devil in the Serengeti doesn't seem to bother the zebras.

My first lion sighting and also the first clip recorded with the Canon 5D Mark II. Behind the wind noise you can hear a slight drone. That's the sound of the image stabilizer on the big lens. I'm surprised I was able to hold it as steady as I did on the monopod. This shot is at 840mm.
My first lion in the Serengeti, She didn't want to look my way.
Of course she never looked my way while I was shooting video.

A glimpse at four young lions laying in the high grass.
Four young lions laying together here. One alone sort of behind the brush and three in the foreground that are hard to make out because of the tall grass.

This little girl kept an eye on me.
A lazy cub just relaxing on the rocks.

Day three on the safari and not long after getting those incredible sunrise shots we come upon this pride of lions.
Even as we drive closer, the big female in the road is not afraid and doesn't move.
Ben is describing a large group of animals off in the distance. From here we can't tell what they are till I check them out through the big lens. Turns out to be Cape Buffalo.
At some point the large female in the road stood up, turned around, and sat back down with her back to us. How rude!
Just to show her defiance, the mom stands up, turns her back to us, and sits down again in the middle of the road. She knows who's boss around here.

Another shot showing our vehicle for scale so you get an idea how close we were on some occasions.
One of my favorite shots from the Serengeti was taken right here and this video shows just how close we really were to the two female lions that I stitched together to make the pano.

You may remember this photo that I told you was actually two images I stitched together.
Two lions. This is a Super Telephoto pano of two images stitched together.

Well, here's a couple video clips I rolled through the big lens to show you the individual framing and how I couldn't see both in one shot.
We are just told there are four lions but we only see two. The other two are in the taller grass and cannot be seen from our location.
Visually not much to look at but I kept it because you get to hear Ben talking to one of the other safari drivers. I have no idea what they are saying.
I like listening to my driver Ben and the other driver talking. I don't understand a word they are saying though.

Cape Buffalo at a watering hole.
Cape Buffalo crossing our path.
Get outta my way big guy.
Cape Buffalo, jumping out of our way.

::: WARNING ::: 

 This first clip in this sequence is probably my favorite. They have just made their way over to the warthog and are trying to decide what to do. Eat or be concerned with our presence.
This is probably my favorite video clip from the safari. The two cubs are just deciding what to do with the warthog mom has brought them to. They can't decide whether to tear into it or be afraid of our presence. They get to it eventually.
 Mom sits nearby as one of the cubs decides to start the process of eating lunch.
The two lion cubs just starting to tear into their lunch a warthog their nearby mother recently killed for them.

Eventually the little one starts making way on the warthog.
The cub is just getting into the warthog. The constant sound you hear beneath the wind noise is the sound of the image stabilizer on the lens. 
My friends from Germany and Denmark show up to witness the spectacle.  I like this shot because as the camera pans around you get a sense of just how close we were to this event.
My friends from Germany and Denmark enjoying the show.

Eventually mom decides to join in on the feast. Mmmm, mmmm, warthog, just too good to resist.
::: GRAPHIC VIDEO WARNING :::My longest individual clip on the entire trip, it's just fascinating to watch nature in action like this. It's interesting to see how they share for the most part with one of the cubs getting a bit snippy once or twice.
Nature at it's grittiest.
Mom helps herself to a little bit of lunch. Watch around 13 seconds into the clip when one of the cubs tries to move in where mom is eating. A quick snap puts the cub in her place.


A zebra caught closeup with the big lens. Actually a little too closeup.
A zebra in the Serengeti, too close for the big lens.

A young zebra. Check out that mohawk!
A Young zebra. You gotta love the Mohawks.

I really wish this shot was longer and steadier. I love the lighting. And I could do without the other truck passing through the shot too.
Happy Grant's Gazelles. Check out those wagging tails.

Two very short, very shaky clips of two leopards in a far off tree.
Two leopards lounging around in a tree. Sorry it's so shaky, they were very, very far away and this is shot at 840mm.
Two leopards lounging around in a tree. Not quite as shaky as the last one but still not great.

These remaining clips were taken on my final day in Tanzania as I'm being driven to the Kilimanjaro airport to leave. I had hoped the sounds on the radio would have been recorded too but unfortunately they were too low. It's just a few random clips along the roadside. Lots of wind noise so watch your volume. Not much to see here.
Random roadside shots as I was being taken back to Kilimanjaro Airport to leave the country. Sort of a farewell video from the country.
Random roadside shots as I was being taken back to Kilimanjaro Airport to leave the country. Sort of a farewell video from the country.
Random roadside shots as I was being taken back to Kilimanjaro Airport to leave the country. Sort of a farewell video from the country.I had really hoped you could hear the radio in this clip. It was more about the sounds then the visuals.
Random roadside shots as I was being taken back to Kilimanjaro Airport to leave the country. Sort of a farewell video from the country.I had really hoped you could hear the radio in this clip. It was more about the sounds then the visuals.Random roadside shots as I was being taken back to Kilimanjaro Airport to leave the country. Sort of a farewell video from the country.

That's it guys, my final clip and my final post from the trip. I hope everyone has enjoyed following along with me as I relived the journey. I guess it really is over now......
Thanks to my faithful followers for making this worthwhile as it was quite the endeavor to keep up with the blog while also being back in the real world and having to work.
Now what?...........