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Earth Day 2018

I remember the first Earth Day in 1970.  At our school, each of the students was given a small tree to plant.  We planted ours in the front yard, and it remained a small tree for what seemed an eternity.  Although I have not lived in that house for many years now, I can go on Google Earth for a peek and see how much it has grown.  Although that is just one simple act, I cannot get a visual progress reminder how my daily efforts to be as green as possible are working.

When I planted that tree, I was still young, and didn’t realize that an environmental movement was needed.  I do remember public service ads against littering, and that it wasn’t uncommon to see a bag or a can flying out of the window of the car in front while driving down the highway.  I don’t think I began to comprehend the magnitude of mankind’s waste until the first time I heard the expression acid rain.  As our numbers grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy planet, especially with consumer products becoming cheaper, and in the minds of many, more disposable.

Somewhere near the top of our environmental problems list would have to be our use of plastics.  Once they find their way to major rivers and oceans, they mostly end up in one of 5 garbage patches currently circulating our planet’s oceans.  Fortunately, there is an effort underway called The Ocean Cleanup, whose goal is to eliminate these vast floating debris piles.  You can go to their website to read more about it, or possibly donate to their cause.  This is, of course, just a large band-aid to a large problem.  The real solution is to curb our use of plastics and make sure they end up being recycled.

Pacific Ocean, sunset, CaliforniaHere in the US, one of the more prominent issues in recent times was the reduction of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  If ever there was a case to show that politicians work for special interests, and not the people, this would be it.  In the public input phase of this reduction, 99% of the respondents favored keeping the monument as it was.  In the redistricting map of the GSENM, they have created three separate national monuments.  Inside the former GSENM lies the highest concentration of well-preserved fossils ever discovered.  It also contains the richest and most accessible coal deposit in the state of Utah, which is no longer under protected status on the new map.  Coal consumption is on the decline in this country, so any coal mined here would most likely be sold to China.

Several lawsuits were filed to block the reduction of the national monuments, and Utah politicians immediately introduced a bill to manage the new property and see to it no further changes could ever be made.  Proposed management of the new national monuments would consist of a seven member panel, of which, a majority would be local county officials.  One of the members would also be appointed by the President, so a real public voice would be lost there as well.  These are still federal lands, not designated as Utah state parks.  Yes, our public lands in the hands of local politicians.  This is a precedence we cannot establish.  You can blame Trump all you want, but this ordeal was promoted and encouraged by Utah politicians.  We can all follow suit from the Outdoor Retailers Association, and some of its vendors, who have boycotted the state of Utah for its policies about the environment and how it should be overseen.  Although unlikely, a boycott by all potential visitors would send a message to the cronies in Salt Lake City that people coming to see the special lands in the southern part of the state provide a viable and profitable tourism economy.  Once this land is tarnished it will remain that way.

On a more positive note, a project I wrote about previously has been killed off.  The Grand Canyon Escalade, was voted down by Navajo Nation Council late last year.  Efforts by the tribe are underway to designate this area as a sacred site, and prevent any future blemishes on this special region from rearing their ugly heads again.  Perhaps a long legacy of Native Americans being offered roses, only to discover that they were just getting the fertilizer, has provided Navajos and other tribes a better insight to what is truly best for them and their land.  A special thank you goes out to the Navajo Nation Council and their wisdom for a long-term vision.

confluence, Grand Canyon, Arizona, Little Colorado River

WPC: Rise/Set

I’ve seen many beautiful sunrises and sunsets, with most of those happening in Arizona and New Mexico.  Many times I have been in exquisite surroundings, only to have a faint hint of color, or to have the color burst through in a different part of the sky than I was hoping for.  There have only been a couple occasions where the entire sky has lit up and I’ve been in an excellent spot to capture it.  This was one of those moments from Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Rain or Rainbows

There’s no better place to capture photographs of rain than a rain forest.  I certainly would be hesitant to bring out my DSLR under these conditions, so this is where I have learned to appreciate my phone’s camera.  I’m not sure how well it shows up, but there were plenty of large drops coming down when I took this shot near Hilo last summer.

Takeoffs and landings near thunderstorms can be on the turbulent side, but occasionally there’s a visual reward for being this close.  I’m sure I was the only person hoping we would sit on the runway longer because I knew the delay would give this view.  We were just a couple minutes off from seeing this one full circle.

flight

As you know by now, I’ve spent a significant amount of time in the desert, and I still have a sense of fascination when the rain showers move through.  There’s a unique scent that permeates the air, and a sense of freshness with the rain settling the dust.  Summer storms frequently arrive just in time for sunset, providing memorable light shows.

desert rain

Rainbow panorama

While in Hawaii last summer, I made two nighttime crossings on the road near Mauna Kea.  On the first one, the skies were clear and the moon had set for the night.  The stars were incredible to witness, and I posted that shot about a week ago.  On my second trip, I was driving through fog as I made the ascent.  Somewhere near the summit, I pulled over.  There was still a still a light haze present, but I could see stars, despite the fact that the moon was still visible.  As I looked away from the moon, I saw this….I call it a moonbow.

moonbow

For Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Rain or Rainbows

Monochrome Madness: MM 192

Most visitors to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon see the forests of the Kaibab Plateau upon entering and exiting the park.  The plateau drops off sharply on either side, and much of the land north of the Grand Canyon is vast, wide open desert.  On one of my trips to the west side of the plateau, I set out across the desert, mostly following one wash.  Above one side of the wash, I found this lonely boulder with an opening beneath it, and the late afternoon sun perfectly highlighting the grasses and other textures beneath it.

This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week.  To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions to join in, please visit Leanne’s website.

WPC: Serene

As is probably obvious by now, I have a fascination with the desert.  The plants, features, textures and moods always provide reasons to explore further.  Although I have experienced serenity in the desert, I’m not sure I have images that convey that mood – especially to those who have never truly explored those same places.

I think there are many who would agree that oceans are a great place to find serenity, especially on a remote beach at sunrise.  I find that sunrises, in general, tend to be more peaceful and calming than sunsets.  Perhaps because they signal the start of a new day, often witnessed alone.  Almost everyone I know thinks this is not a good time to be awake yet.  That’s OK.  More serenity for me to enjoy.

clouds, reflection, black sand beach, Hawaii, solitude

trees, mountains, sunrise, colorado

I can find calm settings just about anywhere in nature, but I think forested mountains would have to be second on my list, right after oceans.  Having a lake or a small stream is certainly an added element of calming.

mountains, lake, reflections, wasatch mountains, utah, Steve Bruno

Black Hills, South Dakota, rolling hills, Steve Bruno

I spend a fair amount of time in airplanes.  By allowing myself to get distracted looking out the windows, I find this can become very calming, especially when flying over seemingly infinite cloud cover.

gulf of mexico, clouds, aerial photography, gottatakemorepix

clouds, aerial photography

Also making my list would have to be any moment when witnessing a rainbow.  This one happened to be from an airplane.  Ahhhhhhh!

rainbow, sunset, sacramento, california, aerial photography

 

PHOTOS:

  • Feature photo:  Early morning on a black sand beach in Hawaii
  • 2nd:  Same beach and morning as above
  • 3rd:  Sunrise from Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  • 4th:  Small lake in the Wasatch Mountains, Utah
  • 5th:  Infinite rolling hills from the Black Hills, South Dakota
  • 6th:  Minimal cloud cover over the Gulf of Mexico
  • 7th:  Sea of clouds somewhere over Texas
  • 8th:  Rainbow upon approach to Sacramento, California

Monochrome Madness: MM4-27

Some places are just off limits in summertime.  The canyons feeding into the Colorado River from western Grand Canyon on down towards Parker, AZ are all in that category.  This is White Rock Canyon, in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, just below Hoover Dam.  Just like nearby canyons, the gravel in the bottom is your trail, the grade is very light, and the chances of wanting to take out your camera are very good.

You will find this photo along with the work of others on Leanne Cole’s site.  There are also instructions on how to join in every week.

WPC: Glow

When I saw the title for this week’s photo challenge, I immediately thought of some of the canyons I’ve visited.  The canyons of the southwestern US are great places to hike because there is often shade.  Because of the shade, light reaching the bottom is often reflected off higher sunlit walls, resulting in a warm glow.  In those canyons where water is present, the effect is magnified.

My photo comes from Zion National Park, Utah.  As sunrise lit up the high cliffs on a morning with clear blue skies, the North Fork of the Virgin River glowed from the light being cast onto it.

WPC: Elemental

My recent trip to Hawaii provided me with the perfect shot for this weeks Daily Post Challenge of Elemental.  Earth, air, fire, and water are all there, but you can’t tell that the air is not exactly the best for you from this shot.  I probably could have gotten a little closer if this hadn’t been the downwind side.  I was fortunate to grab a couple shots before retreating to cooler non-toxic air.  In full size images enlarged on my screen, I can see the distortion from the heat.

Monochrome Madness: MM4-15

A large part of the land in the southwestern US is by definition, a desert.  A couple times during the year, weather patterns shift, and much needed rain covers the desert, often in volumes too excessive to benefit the land.  One of those times is happening now.  The summer rainy season, or monsoon season, can make travel tricky or unsafe at times, but can also make for tremendous lighting conditions.  In the case of the rainwater pools, above, all the smaller ones usually evaporate within a day.  The larger ones can remain for weeks, providing water for the wildlife through drier times.

This spot is in the western Grand Canyon.  The Esplanade Sandstone layer is riddled with these water collecting depressions and can be seen through lengthy, though not necessarily difficult hikes.  This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness with the theme of Season.  To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions to join in, please visit her website.

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