Monday, June 30, 2014

Unbelievable Campsite !

We arrived at Muncho Lake Provincial Park on a Friday morning about 11:30am-ish.  We were sooooo lucky!  We scored the very last lake view at this provincial park.  This was probably the most fabulous campsite view that we’ve ever had.  We were hard-pressed to think of a better one!

Most importantly, this campsite had its own private beach!  As far as Miki was concerned, this was her beach, and she was gracious enough to share with us!

Here’s Jeff admiring the view from “our” beach.  The mountains in the background are the Canadian Rockies.  Altho, you can’t see it in this image, the color of the lake is incredible due to the minerals in the lake.  Muncho Lake (In the Kaska language, it means “big lake”) is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in Canada, along with the more famous Lake Louise, in Glacier National Park (Canada portion of the Park)……

And, this gives you some idea why.  It was so peaceful to just pull our camp chairs down to the beach to read, relax and just enjoy this view…..

And, this one!  This image provides the best view of the incredible color of this lake.  I did not really enhance this – it’s what nature provided!

Stone Sheep of Muncho Lake

As we approached Muncho Lake, we saw signs warning of sheep.  In Muncho Lake, stone sheep are fairly plentiful.  These creatures literally climb up the very steep rock faces along the sides of the road….

This was our first sighting of stone sheep.  We were curious about a couple of things – the first was what the sheep seemed to be grazing on along the road side.  We sort of figured out that there are some minerals that are found in the rocks that they really seem to like….perhaps salt??  The second thing I was particularly curious about was that little baby…..

But first, check out this guy starting his trek up the rocks.  Granted they aren’t steep at this specific point, but it definitely got steep really quickly!!  I had to sort of highlight him in the image, since their coloring really blends in with the rocks. 

Oh, gosh, isn’t this sweet?  The rocks in the background, by the way, are the rocks that they climb up somehow.  Anyway, this little one just tagged along behind his/her mom, following close in her hoof-prints!

And, here’s the cutest shot of this little one!!  His/her mom crossed the road and walked directly toward me standing outside the Jeep.  She stopped once she seemed to realize I was outside the Jeep and I wasn’t a car (which it seems they are pretty used to).  She was about 15 feet from me, but, as you can see from the look in her eye, she was a bit wary of me.  I didn’t attempt to get any closer, but just sort of slid over so I could capture her baby peeking out from behind her.  Just too cute for words!

Wildflowers at Muncho Lake

I also founs some wildflowers to capture while we were exploring, either around some wildflowers to capture while we were exploring, either around the campsite or the lake overall.  As you’ll see, most of the flowers seemed to be yellow.  There were some other color blooms, but some seemed like they were past their prime, and others weren’t quite blooms….or even buds….yet.

This little bloom was found at our campsite.  I just loved the simplicity of it.  It seems like this image is calling for a quote, and perhaps I’ll address that later….!

I know, I know, it’s a dandelion!  But, just look at it – it’s really pretty!  I also loved the sort of evolution of the bloom in this image – the dying bud just next to the beautiful bloom, and the one yet to open behind it….a promise of sorts.  I really like the texture of all the petals of this flower – really quite complex.

As we wandered around in our explorations, I noticed this pink bloom.  I have no idea what it is, but I truly liked the sort of delicate, layered structure of the flower.

Again, I don’t know what this bloom will be, but I really liked being able to capture the moment of a bloom just about to burst out of its bud.

Road to Muncho Lake

We are now on the Alaska Highway, continuing our adventure of this summer.  Shortly after we leave Dawson Creek, we come across some great views….

Our first bear!!  I know, we actually have seen a couple so far, but this is the first on the Alaska Highway, and that makes him special somehow!  Anyway, altho he raced across the road, we had to really apply our brakes to stop in time (we could smell our brakes).  Above is the view of him with the highway in view, and below, it’s all him!


There were some great views along the highway.  Oh, and I apologize in advance for the quality of some of the images.  They were all taken at speed (between 50 – 60 mph roughly) and thru the windshield.  Just follow the winding road….

Now, you can’t really tell by this image, but we were starting a pretty steep decline.  We came around the bend and saw this, and both Jeff & I said “Wow” – me because of the beauty of all the textures on the side of the canyon…..Jeff because of the beautiful view, but also because of the curve of the road coupled with the decline angle!  I processed this with my HDR software, just to give you a more realistic image of what it truly looked like!

I really love how blue the water was in this river, and couldn’t help but include this image to illustrate how wonderfully beautiful the drive was!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Traveling From Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson

For the past couple of days, we've pretty much just driven to head further north in British Columbia.....

Yesterday, we reached Dawson Creek, BC, Mile 0 of the Alaska Highway!  We've been on the road for quite some time, but today we finally reached the beginning of the Alcan or Alaska Highway!
After quite some time of driving thru the mountains, today, for the most part, we experienced gentle rolling roads.  I must add that for this image and the following two, they were taken thru the windshield of our RV.  I've tried to work some Photoshop magic on the images, but for this one, I really couldn't get rid of the windshield glare.  Still, I wanted to share this image of some really open, beautiful views.....

Here's a view of the Alaska Highway.  For those friends who live in cities and would consider this a little country road, this is one of the main roads up thru Canada into Alaska!  I decided to finish this as a pastel painting to cover up some of the glare and the bugs who committed suicide on our windshield!  I do love the feel of this image - it was a great feeling to drive on this road.  There was traffic, but not a lot (relatively speaking).

There were a few sharp turns and steep inclines or descents.  This was one of them.  Still, what a pretty sky!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Back Road Scenery at Wells Gray Provincial Park

While at Wells Gray, we explored some of the back roads in the area.  This provincial park is really huge, altho one couldn’t really get around to all of it unless we would do some serious back country hiking. We did some good exploring, tho, in the Jeep.  Beautiful views – take a look…..

Just as we turned on the back road, we startled a black bear that was on the side of the road.  He started running/lumbering off, but then stopped to look back and check us out.  Take a look at his face – I think he might have been deciding whether or not to turn and stand his ground.  Thank goodness he decided not to take us on and continued on his way back into the woods.
The first time I saw the snow-capped mountain tops as we approached this area, I told Jeff that I felt like we were really getting into the “up north” area where we’ll be spending most of this trip.  I found it very exciting!  This was one of the first times we could see the snow-capped mountains on this little back road, and we also noticed another waterfall much higher up the mountain (not in this image).  We absolutely couldn’t get to that waterfall, so I wasn’t able to get any really good images of it (darn!).
I stood looking at the water rushing over these rocks for a minute or two before I took this image.  I thought of all those “river rocks” people have around their yards, making up retaining walls or even fireplace walls, and thought about this being the “factory” where they are naturally made!
As we walked along a trail, I looked up and it appeared that we were level with the clouds and mountain tops in the distance.  I know we really weren’t, but it was such a nice thought – to feel like we were so far away from civilization.

Here’s another view from the trail, this time with Jeff & Miki walking in front of me.  Again, such a lovely walk under the blue sky up here in the clouds!

Flowers along the back road at Wells Gray Provincial Park

There were all sorts of wildflowers in bloom in the park.  It was really just the time when the spring wildflowers were starting to bloom, even tho it was summer per the calendar.  In fact, up in the flower meadows at the higher elevations, we were told the spring wildflowers weren’t blooming yet because the meadows were still under snow!  You know you’re up high and up north when someone is telling you that in the latter part of June!

I believe these are marsh marigolds, and we saw them on a trail that would lead up to a flower meadow (altho we couldn’t quite reach the meadow).  When I saw these flowers, I had to chuckle because they reminded me of another photo expedition I was on a number of years ago with a dear friend.  These flowers are called marsh marigolds because they grow in the wet, marshy ground.  During the photo expedition, I was quite pleased that the boots I had waterproofed were holding up so well.  I was slogging along in the marsh, and I was totally dry!  I had just commented on that when I saw some marsh marigolds and, clearly without thinking, I dropped to my knees to get up close to photograph them!  Needless to say, that was a time I proved I was a natural blonde!!  LOL!  (I’m wiser now, tho – stayed out of the marsh and let my zoom lens do the getting up close part.)

I love the simplicity of this image.  As we walked along, I noticed some bushes and shrubs were just starting to bud, and captured this image of a bud. 
This is what some photographers refer to as an intimate landscape.  It’s up close and personal to a piece of nature that just happened to be there.  I didn’t rearrange anything, just captured the perfect positioning!
These Indian Paintbrush flowers were just blooming like mad along the roadsides!  I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it was that no one was doing any mowing along these back roads.

I have no idea what these orange/yellow blooms are, but I thought they were very interesting in that they seem to bloom upside down!

Spahat Falls at Wells Gray Provincial Park

We spent a day just exploring Wells Gray Provincial Park, and this was the 3rd waterfall we saw – Spahat Falls.  The waterfalls here are just wonderful – and here’s the 3rd example of that!

Here’s the broadest view I could get of Spahat Falls.  Quite the drop and beautiful fall off of the water at the bottom.  So graceful looking!  However, there’s a hidden falls at Spahat…..

Here’s a closer in view of the “top” of Spahat Falls – at least the top that you can see.  However, as you see off to the left, there is another waterfall that pours the water into a small pool, of sorts, and then there’s the big drop off of the main portion of Spahat Falls.  Unfortunately, there’s no way to get around to get a shot of that first waterfall.  Still, this is such a pretty view…

There are a few things that I just love about this close up of the bottom of Spahat Falls.  First, the tree on the left is just so vibrant and sets off the waterfall beautifully.  It’s also a great balance for the moss growing on the wall of the canyon formed by Spahat Falls.  Second, I love the way the mist just curls up from the bottom of the falls.  I don’t know why I noticed the mist so much from the waterfalls here, but at each fall, the mist just captivated me.  And, thirdly, I really like the pattern of the water as it falls.  I’m glad I was able to capture this moment frozen in time.  I think it really shows the pattern beautifully!

Isn’t it cool how this tree trunk seems to be growing toward the camera?  It is actually growing in a curved manner and I managed to position myself so that it looks like it’s coming toward me. 
Finally, I had to stop and photograph this lovely pine branch.  I think it looks sort of like a fern.  I don’t know the name of the type of evergreen it is, tho.  Still, the green against the brown branches are very pretty.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dawson Falls in Wells Gray Provincial Park

Another waterfall at Wells Gary Provincial Park is Dawson Falls.  There’s also a cool view of a bridge that we crossed on the way to and from these falls.  Take a look……

As we drove up the road to Helmcken Falls, we crossed over Bailey Bridge and what’s called the Mush Bowl.  From the look of this image, you can see why!  I purposefully used a slower shutter speed so that you get the feel of how fast the water was rushing down the river into the Mush Bowl!

Here’s another view of the Bailey Bridge from the path toward Dawson Falls.  Altho it was very sturdy, from this view, it has a sort of rustic look to it that I really like.  I’m including this image so you can see how the water really does sort of mush together right at this point!

After a short walk, here’s Dawson Falls!  It’s incredibly beautiful and wide – and the water is rushing over it at such a fast pace……definitely wouldn’t want to accidentally fall into it!
On the walk to and from the falls, we’re in such a pretty forest, I couldn’t help but stop and take a photo.  I just love the green of the forest and the calmness of the woods.  Altho the area is known for having bears, we didn’t see any.  However, can’t you imagine one looking at you thru this slice of nature?

And, look down for some tiny treasures!  As we walked the forest path, I saw these adorable little white flowers set in the deep green leaves.  I really liked them, especially set next to this downed birch tree branch.  An intimate little landscape!

Helmcken Falls at Wells Gray Provincial Park

I consider Wells Gray Provincial Park a gem in the heart of British Columbia.  Ok, so we’re not really physically in the middle of British Columbia, but this park is really pretty and is a gem.  It’s known for its waterfalls, and I can certainly see why.  And, now, you can, too –

Helmcken Falls is a striking waterfall.  Part of what I love about it is that it created this huge hollow behind it.  And, the mist that just keeps rising is incredible.  The green of the foliage surrounding it sets off the waterfall beautifully.

This is a close-up of the mist I was talking about.  I just love the way the mist drifted up from the churning water below.

Here’s the formal “portrait” of the Falls.  They truly looked like a painting, so that’s the effect that I used.  You can see all the greenery surrounding the falls, the bowl the falls created and both the huge top falls and the lower, much smaller, falls.

I feel it’s always important to look around you.  When I turned around, I loved the forest green.  And, the branches which fell and crossed each other seemed to indicate that “X” marked the spot!  It certainly marked the spot for a magical forest image!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Nature in Bear Creek Provincial Park

As we wandered around the park, there were signs of nature around us, altho the kids outnumbered the nature signs!  Oh, well, I’m betting that as we get further north, there will be less families out on vacation – the trip we’re on is too long for a family vacation, and in all likelihood, the kids would probably prefer DisneyWorld!  Take a look at my idea of a fabulous small world…..

Isn’t this a beautiful butterfly?  He was just sitting on the orange blossom blooms enjoying the dappled sunlight.  Altho I know he didn’t know I was there, I felt as if he was posing for me!

Now, this guy was another story!  He definitely didn’t pose for me, and it was difficult for me to capture him.  He kept cawing at me, but when I’d raise my camera, he’d fly off to hide among the tree branches, and then caw at me from another location.  I did finally manage to capture him, but a regular photo image just didn’t seem to “fit” somehow, so I played with it until I found the appropriate painting type effect which allowed him to stand out from the leaves much better than he did in person!

Here are some of the orange blossoms that the butterfly was enjoying.  I’m fairly certain this is what they are because they also bloom close to home, up in the Sandia Mountains.  There was something about this image that I loved, but I wanted to make it a bit more special, so I applied a crayon type drawing effect.  Doesn’t it look like it should be enlarged to poster size?

There’s something about red and green in nature that gets me every time!  Add the berries and it’s a photo op that just winks at me until I can’t ignore it – LOL!  I liked the colored pencil look for this one, just to add a bit more artsy-ness to it.

Whenever I’ve seen this in the past (last year at Yellowstone, for example), I have always thought that this was the end of the bloom, and the seedlings were in the process of redistribution for next year’s growth.  But, I just realized that this IS the bloom.  Take a look at the image below.  It’s really not much from an artistic perspective, but I didn’t take it for that reason.  I took it so you could see an open bloom (bottom of image) and the bloom as it’s just starting to open (top of image).  I’m used to flowers having color and more substance to them, but for this one, it’s the delicate wispiness that’s its claim to fame.