Boston Trip

I was in Boston for a business trip recently. Sunday morning, I met my friend Jennifer for breakfast. Her day job is being an oncologist and Harvard professor, but she’s also passionate about wildlife and nature photography. She was leaving the next day for a two-week Alaska trip and agonizing about what equipment to take.

Sunday afternoon, I went to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox play the Toronto Blue Jays.

I thought my seats were pretty good, but too bad the Sox gave up six runs in the first inning. It was a tough day.

On Thursday afternoon, I went to Gloucester to take a whale watching tour with Capt. Bill & Sons. Gloucester is near the top of this map, with Boston on the left. I used my new Dawn Technology GPS to geotag my images.

The first whale we saw, nicknamed “Etch-a-sketch”, was swimming around in circles creating a bubble net to trap fish. The birds, being clever, sat on the surface watching for the bubbles. When they saw them, they’d fly over and wait for the whale (and fish) to show up. So this made it easy for us to know when the whale was going to surface.

We saw several other whales, including whales that breached and slapped their fins and tails on the water…

After the whales, I drove back to Burlington, MA, and had dinner with my friend Dafna at Legal Seafood.

A Little Hiking in Colorado

A friend from work and I departed Austin for Denver Friday afternoon, May 30. Our original plan was to hike primarily in Rocky Mountain National Park. But it was a little early in the season for many hikes there. We had called the park ranger the week before, and they warned us that many of the hikes were “slushy”.

So, I brought along my book Hiking Colorado’s Front Range and my trusty Trails Illustrated Trail Map for Boulder and Golden for drier hiking ideas.

Day 1: Heil Valley Ranch
Our warmup hike was in a Boulder County park called Heil Valley Ranch. It was a little over 7.5 miles, with elevation of 5900′ to 6800′.

This hike was pretty uneventful. The trail is used by a lot of mountain bikes. On the return leg, we were warned of a rattlesnake that we never saw. There were some nice wildflowers.

And here’s an infrared shot from my converted Nikon D200 camera…

Day 1: Boulder Falls
After this hike, we made a quick trip up Boulder Canyon and visited Boulder Falls…

And then we kept a mid-afternoon lunch date with an old friend at Tahona Tequila Bistro on Pearl Street in downtown Boulder.

After our late lunch, we continued walking down Pearl Street. This pedestrian mall has a lot of street performers, and we stopped to listen to a country trio. I thought they were really good—they had a good “presence”, and the lead singer had a great voice. She kind of had the style of Iris Dement. I bought a CD from them. Later, I checked out the band’s website, only to discover that they were an Austin band on tour. The band is Shotgun Party (on MySpace).

After this leisurely afternoon, we went up to the National Park to check out the situation there…

There was plenty of snow above 9000′ in the middle of the park, but it looked like we could still hike some places inside the park.

Day 2: Button Rock Preserve
On Sunday, we decided to do a couple of hikes, starting with a relatively “easy” hike near Button Rock Reservoir.

This 4.5 mile hike starts out on a gravel road at about 6000′, but moves on to a somewhat more difficult trail after about a mile.

In this photo, you can see my friend and his red daypack hiking off into the distance. This was a common occurrence, because he is in better shape than I am and dealt with the altitude better than me.

Here’s another infrared shot from the hike…

Day 2: Gem Lake Trail
Next, we drove up through Estes Park to the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead to hike to Gem Lake. This is a short hike of a little more than 3 miles, but the elevation nears 9000′ at Gem Lake.

Here’s what happens when my friend got really far ahead of me. He just lays down and takes a nap…

Eventually, he managed to drag me all the way to the lake and wait patiently for me to take pictures…

Here’s another infrared shot of the lake…

And on the way down, I stop for a nice view of Estes Park…

Day 2: Trail Ridge Road
After the hike, my friend wanted to drive to the western side of the park over Trail Ridge Road. I’m a little skeptical, because it’s already mid-afternoon, but what the heck, it’s only about 150 miles to take the long way back to Boulder, and he’s paying for half the gas.

Here are a few more pictures from the trip up. Here’s a picture of the Alluvial Fan, created by the Lawn Lake flood of 1982.

And here’s an overall panorama from about the same point on the road…

And a bird hanging out at 10,000′ or so…

Day 3: Bear Peak
The big hike of the weekend was Bear Peak, just southwest of Boulder—almost 8 miles, starting at about 6000′, and reaching the Bear Peak summit above 8400′.

The hike starts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, up Bear Canyon to the western ridge of Bear Peak. There are some nice views of the flatirons from there…

We took a shorter, but steeper route down through Fern Canyon. This return route was miserably steep—downhill, but very slow going because of the rocky terrain and because my knees were getting tired.

Fortunately, I had a one-hour head start on my friend. He stopped on the way up for a work-related conference call. He had to find a spot with a view towards Boulder to get cell phone coverage. Here’s the approximate location, looking down on the NCAR buildings…

While he was on the phone, I trudged ahead as the trail got steeper near the summit. The plan was for me to wait at the summit, but the bugs were too annoying there.

After descending a few hundred feet, I stopped and made my own work-related phone call. After I hung up, I decided to keep descending (and descending and descending). My friend didn’t catch up with me until the last couple of miles.

After our return to NCAR, my friend made a great suggestion to eat a late lunch at the Chautauqua Dining Hall in Boulder.

San Antonio Trip

Yesterday, I traveled down to San Antonio with one of my best friends for a photography expedition.  Our goal was to just explore and play.  I took my infrared Nikon D200 (converted by LifePixel) and my visible light (unmodified) Nikon D300.

We visited several of the missions that are part of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.  Here’s an infrared tree portrait from Mission San Juan Capistrano.


We also visited the San Antonio Japanese Tea Garden, which had completed a major renovation the day before.

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One of my favorite photos is this one looking straight up at the ceiling of the pagoda.

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Vancouver Trip

I went to Vancouver, British Columbia, in late June to give some presentations to customers. One of my co-workers, Chris, joined me for part of this trip.

Chris had arranged for us to do some whale watching, leaving from Steveston, south of Vancouver. The whales hang out down near the San Juan Islands, so much of the 3 to 5-hour trip is the transit of the Strait of Georgia and passing among the Gulf Islands off the eastern coast of Vancouver Island.

We did, in fact, get to see whales, but we weren’t as close as either Chris or I expected us to be. It was still enjoyable.

When we got back to Steveston, we ate lunch and wandered around town a little. Chris found us the right bus to take us back to our hotel, and we planned our next adventure, the Richmond Nature Park. This park, which sounded more interesting than it was, was a few kilometers walk from our hotel. At least it gave us something healthy to do.
Friday morning, we checked out of the hotel. Chris returned to Austin, and I rented a car and drove up to Whistler. Vancouver, Whistler, and the roads in between are undergoing a lot of construction to prepare for the 2010 Olympics.
For lunch, I stopped in Squamish, a town about halfway between Vancouver and Whistler in terms of both location and size.

There are numerous provincial parks, and I stopped at a few.
Here is Nairn Falls. This image is stitched together from 17 different wide angle shots.

And here’s about 500 vertical feet of Shannon Falls

And some of the local wildlife…

On Saturday afternoon, I returned to Vancouver and stayed at a very nice hotel downtown, looking out over the harbour. I watched the cruise ships and seaplanes come and go.

Sunday was Canada Day (celebrated much like July 4 in the US), and I wanted to find something interesting to do Sunday morning before I returned to Austin.
I didn’t have enough time for a seaplane tour. It didn’t look like there was going to be a parade. So instead, I got up early and did the Vancouver 10K Run for Canada. What better way to see a city than to run through it? Besides getting a running shirt, I also got the most awesome finishers’ medal.

After the run, I walked back to my hotel, showered, and drove to the airport. In Vancouver, you clear US Customs before you leave. After you check in at the airline counter, you join a really long line that winds through the duty free shop and then on to the US Customs agents. This simplifies your experience at your US arrival location.

Conservation Photography and Other Photo Adventures

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