Destination, Ohiopyle

Pittsburghers don’t have to travel far to find great places to kayak, bike and hike. The fall foliage, waterfalls and white water of the Youghiogheny River are just 90 minutes from Pittsburgh and can be easily accessed from several directions: approach from I-76 or I-70 and old Route 40.

#kayak, #foliage, #youghiogheny, #laurelhighlands, #ohiopyle, #recreation, #october, #pittsburgh, #pennsylvania
Just downstream from Cucumber Falls, kayakers navigate the white water of the Youghiogheny.

The town of Ohiopyle is a mecca for bike, raft and kayak rentals as well as parking, bike trails and restaurants. This October it is just warm enough, just cool enough and plenty scenic!

Thinking of you, Sonoma

Hard to believe that the peaceful vineyards we visited on September 8 are now suffering from devastating wildfires. I’m hoping that the nice people and the good wines at Iron Horse Vineyards have been spared. We tasted some Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sparkling Wine and enjoyed them so much that we ordered a case of these varieties.

Sending our best wishes for safety and recovery to our friends in wine country.

#vineyard, #sonoma, #fires, #wildfires, #ironhorse, #wine, #chardonnay, #pinotnoir
The author with husband and daughter at Iron Horse Vineyards in Sonoma County, California, September 8, 2017.

 

Meet the Avocet

I met an avocet for the first time at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. These birds sometimes live on the south east shores of the United States, but they are more common on East Texas coast and in California. I was captivated by the unique thin beak  curving up. The bird is about 16″ tall and slender with delicate legs and beak. If you find it feeding in the wild, you will see it wading along the shore and in marshes, sweeping for little insects and other edible creatures.

#avocet, #bird, #wildlife, #monterey, #aquarium, #shorebird, #wadingbird
The avocet’s delicate beak sweeps the sand for tiny bits of food.

While American avocets display a rust colored neck during breeding season, this one was purely grey and white.

#bird #wildlife, #monterey, #aquarium, #shorebird, #wadingbird, #beak
The graceful avocet at the Monterey Bay Aquarium has an unusual beak that curves upward.

Have you seen this bird? Where?

Big Sur’s Stepping Stones

Just off the coast of Big Sur, these offshore boulders reminded me of stepping stones, but you’d have to be a giant to walk on them. As the surf crashes and surrounds them with white foam, your eye is drawn out to the largest one and follows the more distant line of boulders back to shore up north. The highlights in the clouds echo the highlights in the surf. What a day to test my new Sony Zeiss 16-35mm lens!

#bigsur, #hurricanepoint, #boulders, #granite, #rocks, #surf, #clouds, #coastline, #pacific, #california, #monterey, #sony, #wideangle
This wide view of Big Sur from Hurricane Point on California’s Pacific Coast reveals an interesting pattern of offshore boulders.

It would be challenging to spot a humpback whale in these waters, but they are out there. The whales have been spotted frequently just north of here in Monterey Bay.

The “Strenuous Hike”

When someone says “hike,” I immediately think “photoshoot,” and wonder which camera and lens to bring along. So, when a guide says, “strenuous hike,” I immediately become nervous about how heavy my equipment is, and whether I will need two hands for climbing. I also wonder about the huffing and puffing index!

On this 1.5 km hike to Hengifoss in eastern Iceland (not far from Seydisfjordur), I limited my load to the Nikon D800 and my 14-24mm lens to capture wide vistas. As I hiked and panted, I resisted the temptation to ask the downhill hikers how much longer it was.

#waterfall, #iceland, #basalt, #volcanic, #hike, #leadinglines, #rock
The rocky stream bed forms leading lines to the upper falls, the high point of our hike.

Do you see the pink lines in the cliff near the falls? They represent different volcanic eruptions over the years. This hike is a geologist’s dream.

Here an iPhone photo illustrates some detailed information on site:

IMG_7154

While midday is not the optimal time for photography, I was grateful for clear skies. Last week when another group hiked Hengifoss, they endured rain and fog. We enjoyed sights of long and wide vistas and cool temperatures. No complaints!

Gifts of Point Lobos

Today I had two conversations about holistic ways of countering stress — whether that stress comes from your personal life or worries about national and world events. One friend suggested turning one’s attention to community and religion. Another hailed the healing power of Nature.

Point Lobos State Reserve in Monterey Bay, California is one of those healing places. A long hike along the coastline is salve for whatever might ail you. This image features the yellow blossoms of early September.

#pointlobos, #monterey, #montereybay, #california, #hike, #nature, #bay, #pacific, #bluesky, #freshair
Point Lobos State Reserve is a marvelous place for a hike. Monterey Bay, California.

Harpa in Reykjavik

Like Sydney, Reykjavik Iceland has an architectural gem along its harbor, and it is a music hall. While I photographed Harpa from our ship as we departed the city harbor in the evening, I did not have a chance to visit the inside.

#harpa, #reykjavik, #iceland, #architecture, #harbor, #music, #july, #windstar
Harpa, the music hall, is Reykjavik’s architectural gem. Its surface is reflective except when the interior is lit. I’m sure the building looks different during the long dark winter months.

I have started to make my list of things to do in Iceland for my next trip. Iceland is a photographer’s dream.