Impressions of Muir Woods

May 22, 2010 by Janine |
Weeks ago, half jokingly, I mentioned that it would take me six months to post my shots from California. These days its looking more and more like I was right!
I am going a bit out of order now, but wanted to share these shots before going back to the rest of my Monterey adventures. Muir Woods is just north of San Francisco and is one of the last remnants of the once vast ancient coastal redwood forests.
I arrived early in the morning and the valley was shrouded in fog. Like Pete, I prefer solitude, and not having people in my pictures! Happily there were few other early risers and I had the place to myself for the first few hours of the morning.











Its hard to describe the place. The words surreal and transcendental come to mind. It was a spiritual experience. Even though I am describing the visit over a month later, I still vividly remember the clean crisp air, the serene burbling of the mountain streams, and the sense of awe and amazement from walking among the towering ancient trees.





Making excuses for not having better photos, I called these impressions because I just wasn't able to capture the magnitude of the place. Maybe I need a fisheye lens next time! Also, the conditions were not ideal. Dark, misty conditions are not ideal for most cameras, and the majority of the time, the camera stayed in the bag. Many of these were taken with the point and shoot. I do plan to return to the redwood forest someday and perhaps I will get better shots then.

Lately I have been busy, both at work with the usual grind, and also at home preparing for hurricane season. That joy will soon be upon us. This past week I visited Charlotte, NC for the first time for a business meeting. I'll share a shot from a sneak peek at the shiny new NASCAR Hall of Fame and Museum. An unlikely place for me to visit, but an interesting experience all the same!
Here's a cell phone shot (edited in phone with photoshop app! yes I am a nerd).

Liftoff

May 14, 2010 by Janine |
Today Space Shuttle Atlantis embarked upon its final journey to the International Space Station. We watched the launch from Titusville, the closest public viewing site outside of the restricted area. This was the first time that we have been able to watch a shuttle launch from such a close vantage point. Although we have been able to see the shuttle from here in Palm Beach on several occasions, especially the night launches, its just not the same as "being there." It was an amazing experience that we will treasure always.

STS-132; 2:20 p.m. EDT










2:22:10- Solid rocket boosters, away!


2:24- By this time, Atlantis was visible only as a tiny speck of light, when this osprey flew over.

Red-Shouldered Hawk Family

May 09, 2010 by Janine |
Our local red-shouldered hawks have recently fledged three (!) babies. Just in time for Mother's Day, we witnessed some of the feeding activity in our back yard.

Wahh I'm hungry!


Lunch is served.


Here's a snake.


I dowannit!


Eww! No!


Fine. Have some pine needles.


Yum!


Dude, I'm outta here.


This looks tasty.


Bombs away!

Walking Riverbend with a Point and Shoot

May 05, 2010 by Janine |
The lengthening summer evenings make for lovely walks at Riverbend park after work. I usually don't bring my DSLR with me since these walks are for "exercise" rather than photography. But there is no way I'll be out anywhere without a camera so I usually have my little Lumix in hand as we tromp around. I joked that we will see a Golden Eagle riding a Florida Panther on one of these walks, but so far no luck with that yet.

Thought I'd share a few sights from the past few days here to break up all the California stuff.

We see several rabbits in the yard these days.


Swallowtail kite


A nice surprise yesterday evening was this Barred Owl that hooted at us several times.

Orchid and Whale search

May 01, 2010 by Janine |
After the rough winter, my orchids are looking a lot better these days, and many are flowering.



Now, back to Monterey. After a fantastic visit to the aquarium, I headed down to the Fisherman's wharf for a whale watch trip. The boat trip was actually supposed to be the following morning, but because of the threat of bad weather, they cancelled the morning trips. Unfortunately, as I was to experience, the bad weather began a lot sooner than expected.

Fisherman's Wharf




The sun was shining and there was a stiff breeze. We headed offshore and began the search.

First "wild" sea lions


Seabirds were abundant




Unfortunately, the wind whipped up the sea into a foamy wavy mess, which made it difficult to see any whales, even if they were there. The presence of hunting sea lions created many "false alarms"



After a couple of hours, because of the increasing roughness of the sea, over half of the "whale watchers" were leaned over the back railing of the boat! I didn't feel great but grimly held my ground up front in case a whale was seen. I did see an Albatross, a first for me! However this may have been an bad omen for our trip, since we saw no whales. This was my second "dip" on whales so I hope my next attempt is successful!

Coming back to the fisherman's wharf. Of course there the water was blissfully calm.