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National Parks

Hopi House at Grand Canyon

This image is from our spring break trip to Grand Canyon.  The beauty of this image is that it’s something that is out in the open, but most people don’t ever really see.  My wife’s grandmother grew up in the Hopi House on the South Rim, so when we were there, we talked to the folks at the Hopi House and got to get a tour of the upstairs.  While the third floor is really just an apartment and there’s not much special to it by today’s standards, it was certainly fun to see.  We also got to see some of the places where the Hopi used to hang out. This picture is from the exterior rock wall of the third floor.

Hopi House Wall

Here are some other interesting photos from the Hopi House.

Randomness on the Trail

Since @WildernessDave posted a story about his recent Grand Canyon trip and random stuff on the trail, I finally had to post this.

When we are at Grand Canyon over spring break, my wife and I got to take a good chunk of the day and hike down the South Kaibab Trail.  We didn’t have all day, but, enough time to make it down the 3 miles to Skeleton Point and enjoy a snack while looking over the river and then back up.  It was a great hike, and like most tourist hikes, we saw hundreds of people, most of whom were unprepared for a spring hike into Grand Canyon.  As a member of a mountain rescue team, it’s very sad to see so many ill-prepared people who feel the need to tempt fate by heading out with little or no water, preparation or fitness.

Anyway, on the way back up, we were passed by this lovely bit of randomness:

South Kaibab trail hiker with a suitcase

I particularly like the clothes hanging out and flapping in the wind.  But, this young man may have everything he needs in the suitcase and the shoulder bag to last for a while; maybe a tent, water bottles, a little stove, some food, etc in this lovely, bright blue, wheelie, hard case luggage. We’ll never know…

Grand Canyon Trip: Part Three

Today started out fairly early, as did all of our days on the Canyon. We were told that Spring Break on the South Rim was about as busy as it ever gets and that they can have up to 50,000 people per day there, and there are less than 1000 rooms available. I can’t imagine there’s more than a couple hundred campsites, so, I’m sure a large percentage of visitors are Griswolds.

It’s worth it to get up and out early at the Canyon, mostly to miss the crowds, but also to escape the heat of the day (which wasn’t really a problem this time of year). We were very grateful to miss the crowds and get out as the sun was rising and see things many people miss. When you stay in one of the rim lodges, they deliver the daily USA Today to the door of each room. It’s somewhat interesting to see how late into the morning some papers are still in the hallway in front of the door. I’m somewhat of a night owl usually, but on this type of vacation, it’s worth it to get up early.

Grand Canyon from the South Rim

Grand Canyon from the South Rim

With our down coats and mittens on, we headed down to the shuttle bus, which is about the only way to get out to Hermit’s Rest and the stops along the way by vehicle. We made a couple short stops on the way out, but decided that it would be easier to get out to the end early and then casually make our way back and this was definitely a good decision.

Hermit’s Rest is a nice place to stop, rest, enjoy a cup of coffee, and hang out and enjoy the view for a while. I decided this was a house that I could live in if the opportunity ever arises (I won’t hold my breath).

It was somewhat windy out there and with it being a little chilly, the kids weren’t all that interested in hiking a lot. But, Lynn and I were. So, we sent the kids back on the shuttle bus with the grandparents and Lynn and I kept going. Beyond Hermit’s Rest lies the Hermit Trail which leads down into the canyon on a much less used trail than say, the Bright Angel trail. It’s a really beautiful trail and it’s not to miss if you can help it. It starts out a bit rocky, but then quickly drops off the edge and get’s less rocky and, fortunately, less windy! We didn’t have a lot of time, so we only went down a mile or a little more, but only saw a few people and were treated to some pretty great views, ricks and trail engineering as you’ll see in the slideshow below.

After a snack on a nice overlook, we had to turn around and head back up as we couldn’t count on being away for too long. We hiked back up, our legs remembering the happiness that comes from being on a trail, yet sad that it was a short hike today.

Back up at the top, we hopped on the crowded shuttle as close to a door as we could be since we knew we wanted to get off somewhere and it was crowded and only gonna get more crowded. We rode in silence most of the way, listening to the other conversations that seemed fairly pointless while in this amazing place and fighting the sleepys caused by the sudden stop in activity and the hot bus. We didn’t want to ride it back the entire way so at Hopi Point, we hopped off and cruised the rim trail for the last couple miles back to the rim and the kiddos.

I wasn’t sure what I’d think about the shuttle bus, but ultimately decided that it’s a good thing. There’s just no place for all the cars out there and this seems to be a working solution to get out there. Of course, you can walk or ride a bike and they do make exceptions for the handicapped so all in all, I think it’s a good part of the park management plan.

Dinner that night was at the Bright Angel Lodge which I would only recommend if there was nothing else. It wasn’t very good. The service was poor, the food was sub-par and it was too expensive. It’s hard to believe that this restaurant is run by the same company as the Arizona Room and the El Tovar. Xanterra really needs to do something to bring the quality up here.

In Part Four, we head the other way to Desert View and the Watchtower.

Learning Adobe Lightroom

Our Grand Canyon trip, was really fun, and somewhat hazy, chilly and breezy the entire time we were there – well, except the day we left when it cleared up and calmed down.  That didn’t keep us from taking lots of pictures with the new Nikon D3200, which, while not the highest end camera out there, really is fun to use and play with.  I’m a big believer in the theory that the camera matters less for good photography than it does the subject, but it sure is nice to have!

Last year during Spring break, we took one of our thrice a year trips to Moab and headed to Dead Horse Point for sunset.  On the rim were all sorts of folks with really high end cameras on tri-pods and shooting hundreds of pictures, and me on, elbows on the railing, with my iPhone snapping away. I think I did pretty good.

deadhorsepoint

So, I thought I would try to edit this in Adobe LightRoom and I’m still learning, but a few edits later and I’m fairly happy with the results.  To me this just feels richer with more depth and texture.  It’s how you make photography feel more like being there.

Dead Horse Point - from iPhone, edited.

Dead Horse Point – from iPhone, edited.

So, back to Grand Canyon and it’s hazy views. I was somewhat disappointed that the pictures weren’t coming out very good.  They were dull and lifeless.  That’s when I stumbled upon Wilderness Dave’s post about Editing photos in Lightroom. I was suddenly inspired!  So, that night, I decided I needed Lightroom, ordered it and downloaded and started playing. Many times I turned the canyons purple and the sky red, but as I’m getting the hang of it, I’m finding it really powerful. Here’s an original photo:

grand canyon first look original

Grand Canyon First Look Original

After importing this image into Lightroom, I discovered that it can see through the overcast haze and distance to see what the camera sees and bring it out easily.

grand-canyon-first-look-edited

Grand Canyon First Look Edited

Original and Edited Side by Side

The crazy thing is I don’t really know all that much yet. Seriously, between reading Wilderness Dave’s post and watching the video below, I’ve figured out a great deal.  I can’t wait to learn more as I know I’ve still got a lot to learn.  But, so far, I’m pleased!  And while the camera might not always be the most important part of photography, sometimes some really good software helps.

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