Sunday, August 6, 2017

Scene & Story - July 2017

One of the most unforgettable experiences in Yellowstone is seeing wolves. Most people don't even see them because you need to get up early to have a chance of a wolf encounter.

The Lamar Valley is home to one or two wolf packs, and so we headed out one morning before sunrise. We first saw a black bear right at the side of the road who didn't bother to pay any attention to these humans in their funny little boxes on wheels. After the bear had trundled away we continued our journey into the valley - and when we reached the top of a hill we had this stunning view over the valley.

I already knew when I took photos of this moment before the sun rose over the mountains that one of them would be a favorite of the month. This image reflects the atmosphere of that morning in Lamar Valley perfectly - the beginning of a new day, cool air before the heat, the meadows with the Lamar River meandering through them and those tall trees scattered all around. It holds the anticipation of seeing wildlife - at this moment I didn't know that only minutes later I would see five wolves feeding on a bison carcass and, after their meal, standing together and howling, an eerily spooky and beautiful sound at the same time. I would stand and stare through the scopes and listen to those "wolf watchers" talk to each other, deeply envying them for the time and leisure they had to follow these amazing animals day after day and get familiar with their behavior. My heart would beat for joy that I could see the wolves.

But all of this I didn't know when I took this photo, but when I look at it now it all comes back. I have always loved the gentle Lamar Valley with its abundance of wildlife and its tranquility. I know how quickly it can change from calmness to excitement, from peaceful enjoyment to breath taking joy.

I'm joining Sarah and León for Scene and Story.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Firework of Orange and Turquoise

Yellowstone is full of hot springs, bubbling mud pots and hissing geysers. One of the most famous thermal features that seems to be on every calendar, collage postcard and in every article about this beautiful national park is the Grand Prismatic Spring. Since we had never seen it before (I don't really know why) we visited it this time.

When you get there it doesn't really look like much, especially when the sun is hiding behind the clouds.

But then you get closer, and the sun leaves her hiding spot behind the clouds, and suddenly the entire scene changes!

The colors are just spectacular! You do need the sun out to see this place in all its glory. It's rather drab in overcast or even rainy weather.

I also loved the reflections of the clouds.

But it was the intense vivid color that completely fascinated me.

When you look toward the wooden hill in the picture above you can see people standing up on a small hill in the right half of the photo. Of course we had to find out how to get there.

It was only a 20 to 30 minutes walk up there and it was fully worth it, every single step. Just see for yourself.

Here you can also see the crowds - it was incredible. However, it didn't dampen our excitement about this amazing view.

If only I could bottle those colors and take them home!

It wasn't only the color, but the texture as well.

The Grand Prismatic Spring - located in the Midway Geyser Basin - is the largest hot spring in the United States and the third largest in the world. Of course it got its name for its striking colors. Its colors match the rainbow dispersion of white light by an optical prism: red, orange, yellow, green, and blue. The water is mineral rich and the colors are a result of microbial mats around the edges of the water. The spring is about 370 feet in diameter (bigger than a football field) and 160 feet deep.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The Other Grand Canyon

Usually when we hear the words "Grand Canyon" we think of this beauty:

It is totally deserved that we think of the Grand Canyon because this amazing place is inspiring and unique, breath taking and so big it's hard to grasp.

However, there's another Grand Canyon that usually doesn't come to mind. It's much smaller, way further north - and in one of the most wonderful places on this planet.

Do you know which place I'm talking about?

Perhaps if I look at this canyon from the other direction you might get the idea.

It is the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, where the Yellowstone River crashes down at what is called the Lower Yellowstone Falls, and it does it with high speed and tremendous noise.

It is simply amazing.

We just came back from our fourth visit to Yellowstone National Park. I fell in love with this amazing national park when we visited it in 2002 for the very first time. My love for this incredibly beautiful and wild place only deepened with every visit. This is a place that has healing powers for me and never fails to inspire me and feed my soul.

However, this was the first time that we explored the Grand Canyon and the Yellowstone Falls (there is the Upper and Lower Falls, the Lower Falls being the more famous ones). I'm not quite sure why we always ignored this part of Yellowstone before and only passed by without taking the time to hike to the brink of the falls and along the North Rim.

The sheer strength and force of the water leaves one almost speechless - no one would hear you anyway since it crashes down so loudly. It drops down more than 300 feet, nearly twice as high as Niagara Falls (but still a baby compared to Upper Yosemite Fall with 1,430 feet).

It winds its way through the canyon, and while the canyon walls aren't as colorful as the ones of its bigger brother, it still offers different shades of warm yellow, rust and red.

You can hike down to the brink of the Lower Falls (as well as to the Upper Falls which is not quite as exciting), but unfortunately you eventually have to hike it up again... not so easy for me due to the altitude of Yellowstone. In the following photo you can see the people standing right above the fall.

If you look hard at the photo below you can see wooden stairs leading down the hill and ending in a wooden platform. I simply refused to go down there.

However, nothing could hold back Kaefer ...

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Scene & Story - June 2017

One day in June I went into my garden with my macro lens and when I later looked at the pictures, this was the one that stood out immediately. The remains of a poppy - a seedpod that looks like candy cane and the stamen spreading around it. Usually the stamen are falling down as well and only the seedpod remains, beautiful in its own way. However, this special phase in the life cycle of a poppy spoke to me - simple yet elegant.

I am joining Sarah and León for Scene and Story again as I try to do every first Sunday of a month. You can find more stories here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

San Francisco Pride

June is Pride month and last weekend the Pride Parade took place in San Francisco. Kaefer wanted to go, and so we took her and a friend of hers down to the city and watched the parade and the festivities.

It was a joyful affair. Of course it was crowded which I don't particularly like and even tend to panic, but the "panicky moments" were fortunately only few and most of the time I could simply enjoy this colorful event. It was rather cool in the morning with a chilly wind - rather typical for San Francisco - but it warmed up eventually and became a sunny day.

The mood was joyful and I felt a very positive vibe. I loved people watching, taking in the creativity many people showed. Of course it was colorful, rainbows everywhere!

The parade was fascinating, full of great music and laughter.

Here are some more snippets that represent the color and joy of this festival:

I especially enjoyed these two guys with their colorful dogs!

Even some of the police officers carried pink handcuffs. I loved this little detail.

While the girls enjoyed the parade on their own, the Geek and I strolled around the Civic Center where all the booths (and the food!) were until we ended up near the dance floor. The dancing was fabulous, and we even ventured onto the dance floor ourselves and learned some line dancing. How fun!

This definitely was my favorite part of the day!

After we had met up with the girls again it was late in the afternoon and we decided to bring the day to a tasty end by visiting our favorite German restaurant in the city, the Suppenküche (soup kitchen). The food is very authentic here and absolutely delicious.

We had Wiener Schnitzel mit Bratkartoffeln and the Geek and I enjoyed some Erdinger Hefeweizen - the dark one was mine. Their selection of beer is so good - you can check it out here. Prost!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Escaping the Heat

We're currently having a rather bad heatwave here. Without any air conditioning we close up the house in the morning as soon as temperatures rise and only open doors and windows when temperatures are slightly lower outside, put on the fans and let the breeze get into the house and cool it down.

Last Sunday, on Father's Day, it was a 106 F. Way too hot for us, and so we decided to go up North to the coast. Our destination was Glass Beach in Fort Bragg where we enjoyed a comfortable 74 F. Bliss!

So what is Glass Beach and what are these people doing there?

Looking for sea glass of course! This used to be an area where from 1906 to 1967 garbage was dumped, especially glass. There are actually three Glass Beach sites and they have become quite the tourist destination. Everybody is looking for their personal favorite pieces. Before we headed out to find our own sea glass we made sure that it was okay to take it, but couldn't find a single sign that it wasn't allowed to collect sea glass.

The sea glass is everywhere. White pieces are the most abundant, but there was also green, blue and brown glass. I especially liked the white pieces with a faint blue shade - sea foam, I guess, is the color called.

The scenery itself is quite breath taking and wild.

We walked along the beach and the cliffs until we decided to have some fresh fish and chips in the harbor. It was nice to sit in the sun without breaking out in a sweat and desperately looking for shade.

This is not a person by the way.... Someone got quite creative here!

Back home I looked at my finds, enjoying that I found three tiny true blue pieces and even a red one. One day they will be added to some kind of artwork.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Veggies And Fruit And Eggs And...

One thing - among many others - Kaefer enjoyed in Davis was the farmers market. Two weeks ago, only shortly before her Freshman year was over, she asked us whether we'd like to come and go to the farmers market with her.

Of course our answer was yes! I love farmers markets, and the one in Davis is a gem. At the beginning of June it already had so much to offer since it is right in the Sacramento Valley which is part of the Central Valley. One of the regions that feed the nation.

There was fruit in abundance - and those peaches, though small, were incredibly sweet and juicy, exactly the way I like it.

Lots and lots of veggies from radishes to onions and beets and even mushrooms, and everything looked so very delicious.

I loved the scale that some of the vendors used - classic!

Herbs either freshly cut or in a pot to plant in your kitchen garden.

I loved this creative marker - great idea. Perhaps I will look for some old forks on my next visit to a thrift store.

Since this is California, there were avocados and raw almonds.

Did I mention eggs?

We were happy to find and eat real German Brezeln, and we could even taste some coffee.

And if you don't like coffee but rather a glass of wine - well, you could taste that as well, and it even was free!

What is a farmers market without lavender?

And when you were done you could sit and listen to the music.