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Monday, February 28, 2011

Turkeys @ My Condo

From time to time I'll see a flock of Wild Turkeys strolling through my condo complex.  They typically graze on the hill above the parking lot before making their way through the bushes and plants within the complex. Today, for shits and giggles, I decided to grab my camera and follow them while they took their stroll through my hood.  Here are some pics from the bunch that I thought turned out OK:

The rest can be seen @ my flickr site: Turkey Set.  That's it for now. Hopefully I'll have something more interesting for the next post.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Vegas Baby! Vegas!!!

On the way to and from Zion we traveled through Vegas!  On the whole flight there I kept saying "Vegas Baby..Vegas"!!!  Holly got annoyed at how many times I kept saying it so I was told to come up with a new saying.  The only alternative I could think of was saying "Las Vegas...Child, Las Vegas (in a nerd voice).  This annoyed her even more.

So we got to Vegas and checked in at the MGM.  We then had a nice meal and a great bottle of wine at Fiamma Trattoria & Bar before heading to go see .  This was my first show in Vegas and it didn't dissapoint.  I loved how the stage moved in all kinds of different angles even getting completely vertical at times.  It was cool. 

After the show we hit one of the bars for a few drinks, but before calling it a night I grabbed my camera and hit the strip to snap off a few pics.  I can't say they turned out as good as I would of liked because I was kind of rushing.  It is Vegas and you don't want to be wasting your time in Vegas trying to get that perfect picture right???  It's also kind of distracting when you have drunks jumping in front of your camera saying "Take a picture of me!!!" 

Here's a few that I took:

MGM from one of the walkways

Paris on the Vegas Strip
The Vegas STrip from the New York New York Walkway
The Water Show @ The Bellagio
The Luxor
I posted more pictures from Vegas to my Flickr site @ Vegas 2.13.2011.

On our way back from Zion we checked in at Treasure Island which I'll have to say smelled like an Ashtray.  I wasn't impressed, but the bartender show at Kahunaville was pretty cool.  They had three bartenders come out to intros and video highlights like WWE or UFC.  They then did some tricks like Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail.  It was cool.  It was even cooler when they gave us free shots of what they just made!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Zion Park, Utah - Part 3

After hiking Angel's Landing and Emerald Pools we decided to finish up the day by fitting in the rest of the easier hikes within the canyon.  The hikes included Zion Classics the Riverside Walk and the Weeping Rock.

We started off by taking a look at the Temple of Sinawava, which is basically just a cool looking rock formation at the edge of the river:

Another view of the Temple of Sinawava:

We then proceeded to the Riverside Walk which is an easy 2 mile stroll that takes you to the entry way to the Narrows which is an amazing series of narrow canyon walls along the river which I'm hoping I'll get a chance to come back and do another time.  Our hike showed us great views of the canyon walls with the river water having a greenish tint to it: 

Another view of the canyon on the way to the Narrows:

As we continued our stroll along the river the sun was shining on one side of the canyon walls giving it a glowing look that I thought was cool:

About a mile into the hike we approached a portion of the trail that was closed due to ice falling from the canyon walls.  We tried to ignore the trail being closed and hiked through the ice anyway, but the more I walked through the ice the more I started thinking about where it was coming from and I started thinking about getting stabbed in the head from icicles falling from the canyon walls.  I freaked myself out and decided that it probably wasn't a good idea to proceed, but Holly was able to snap off this pic of the ice before we turned around:

Unfortunately I decided that it would be safer to turn back and head to the Weeping Rock which is a very easy .5 mile hike up to a rock cave that drips water.  It was kind of cool to check out, but really crowded due to it being so easy to get to:

This trail was also closed due to ice, but this time we ignored the warnings:

After Weeping Rock we finished our day by driving around and taking in some of the last sights of the Canyon.  Here are a few more pictures that I took that I thought were good views of the Court of the Patriarchs:

and some Arches in the wall that look like two eyes looking back at you:

The rest of the pictures that I took from these hikes can be seen at my flickr site: Zion National Park, Utah - Part III.

For our night cap we hit up a few of the nearby Zion restaurants.  Our first stop was Bit & Spur Restaurant and Saloon for some good Utah Micro Brews (Believe it or not they do have beer in Utah, and believe it or not it is actually pretty good) and some chips and salsa.  We then left for diner at Oscar's Cafe for some more beer and a nice meal.  I had some ribs and Holly had the Turkey Burger that she was craving.  

The next day we headed back to St. George before making the drive back to Vegas for one more night of fun.  I'll have more pics from the Vegas strip in my next post.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

Zion National Park, Utah - Day 2.

For our second day at Zion we decided to try and get as much in as we could starting off with one of Zion's most famous hikes Angel's Landing.  This hike is about 5 miles in duration and about 1500 ft of elevation.  The trail starts off with paved switch backs, a trip through a canyon, some caves, then more switch backs before reaching the top of Scout's Lookout where the last 1/2 mile includes along a narrow rock fin with 1500 ft drop-offs on both sides. Anchored support chains are attached along some sections of the sheer fin.

The beginning of the hike was paved and started out like this.

Holly starting the hike up Angel's Landing
 The 1st leg of the hike begins with a series of switch backs:

The 1st part of Angel's Landing
 After getting our hearts pumping a little bit from hiking up the first set of switchbacks we came to a canyon which had some caves that Holly thought were fun:

Holly having fun in a cave.
After messing around in the caves we made our way through the canyon to the last accent which included a series of about 21 switchbacks.  At the time of our hike these switchbacks were covered in ice which made this portion of the hike slippery and at times a little dangerous (in Holly's Opinion):

The ice on the switch backs.
After making it through the ice on the switchbacks we made it to the top of Scout's Lookout which took us to the beginning of the last 1/2 mile of the hike which includes a narrow ridge with huge drop offs of exposed cliff up to Angel's Landing.  A warning sign is posted expressing the danger of this portion of the hike.  It was at this point Holly decided she had enough of this hike and was ready to explore other areas of the park:

A sign warning of the danger of the last part of the hike
I decided to proceed along the ridge using the chain as my leverage.  The ridge was pretty narrow, and the drop off was pretty significant at times.  I tried to snap a picture to try and capture the experience, but it doesn't really tell the story, or show how far the drop off was.

A part of the ridge portion of the hike
Here's another view of the ridge.  Notice the chain to the right and the drop off the side of the cliff to the left:

Another part of the ridge portion

I made it past the 1st portion of the ridge before the last part of the accent.  I'm not sure if you can see the chain in this pic, but this is the view looking back from the point where I stopped my hike. 

Looking back from the 1st ridge
It was this point I estimated that it would take me about another hour to complete the hike and I just didn't want to leave Holly sitting there by herself for another hour .  I made the decision to call it quits at this point so we could try and fit more hikes into our day.  I did get a glimpse of the overlook of the valley though.  The lighting and shadows were harsh so the picture sucks, but here is the view from where I stopped my hike:

Overlooking the canyon
I'll definitely need to make it a point to come back and complete this hike, because it was kind of thrilling and I'd like to try later in the day where I can get some better lighting for my pictures at the top.

I made my way back to Holly and we headed back down and headed straight for the Emerald Pools.  My pictures from the Angel's Landing and Emerald Pools can be seen here: Zion National Park, Utah - Part II

Pictures from our afternoon hikes which included stops at the Weeping Rock, the Temple of Sinawava, and the Riverside Walk will be posted on my next post.

Zion National Park, Utah - Canyon Overlook

Last week Holly and I took a trip to Zion National Park in Utah to do a little hiking and to explore a little of what the park has to offer.  We first flew in to Vegas on Thursday night (2.10.2011) to spend the night at the MGM having dinner @ Fiamma Trattoria & Bar and to watch KÀ by Cirque du Soleil.  Both were great and I'll have pics of the Vegas trip posted later, but for the purpose of this post I'll focus on our Zion experience. 

On the morning of Friday 2.11.2011 (My Birthday) we left for Zion which is roughly about a 2 1/2 hour drive from the Vegas Strip.  Due to Vegas being Vegas, we hit the road a little later than expected.  We had also forgotten about the hour time difference between Nevada and Utah, so after making a quick stop in St. George to have a late breakfast @ Cracker Barrel (which was pretty freagin grubbing btw) we found ourselves not getting to Zion until about 3:30ish in the afternoon which was a few hours later then we had hoped for.  At the time we got into the park we only had about 2 hours or so before sunset so we decided to get one of the easier hikes in to get the legs going and to get a little sample of the park.  We decided on the Canyon Over Look Trail which was a short 1 mile hike up to one of the classic veiws of the canyon.  To get there we had to drive through this long dark tunnel that is lit only by the day light coming through 3 windows that are carved into the the side of the cliff.  It was definitely interesting.

Canyon Overlook Observation Point, Zion National Park, Utah
The sun at the time we started our hike was pretty harsh for pictures and it casted a pretty big shadow on the valley once we got to the observation point so I wasn't able to snap that many great shots, but the ones that I did take are posted here:  Zion National Park, Utah - Part I.

The hike was quick, probably only taking about an hour or so round trip including the time hanging out at the observation point.  It was a pretty easy hike with some exposed cliffs, but definitely doable for those that are not avid hikers. 

Sun setting on the Red Rocks in Zion
After our hike we decided to take a quick drive around the park to scope out where we would start off the following day.  While we were driving  I thought it was cool the way the sun was setting on the rocks.  It made them look like they were glowing.I tried to capture it with the picture to the right.

The next day we were planning on starting off with the Angel's Landing trail which is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in the national park system.  The hike includes exposed cliffs, narrow drop offs, and the last 1/2 mile is a narrow rock fin with about a 1500 ft drop.  There is a chain embedded in the side of the cliff that is needed to aid hike.  I'll have pics posted of this hike and the other's we took in my next post.  For the conclusion of our 1st day at Zion we capped it off with some Pizza and beer at the Zion Pizza & Noodle.  The pizza was decent and I was surprised to see that they even make beer in Utah, but the micro beer was actually pretty good there. 

Stay tuned for the next post, because I definitely was able to get some better pictures on the second day. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Woody Tried to Steal My Beer!

Today as I was messing around with my Speedlite 580 EX II, Woody tried to steel my beer when I wasn't looking, so I decided to keep any eye on him and use him as my subject at the same time.  I have a lot to learn about controlling the glare and power of the flash, but here is today's attempt.

For this picture Natural light from the screen door was coming from the right.  The Speedlite was off camera slight to off center to the right to try and fill in the shadows of Woody's face.

I have a lot to learn about how to control the power of the flash and how to control the glare on the bottle.  I'm hoping to add a second Speedlite so I can experiment with creating ambient and fill light with two off camera flashes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Captain 49er

In November I went to Phoenix to watch my 49ers play against the Cardinals for a Monday Night Football game where the Niners kicked ass in one of their few great performances of the season!  We got there super early to tailgate and had a blast drinking beers and grilling up some carne asada and brawts!  I of course showed up in my #42 Ronnie Lott Jersey and full 49er gear which I thought that I might catch a lot of crap for from Cardinal fans since I was wearing my Jersey in enemy territory.  To my surpise thousands of 49ers fans had shown up in full force...including this guy who we saw in the parking lot as we were setting up our tailgate party...

Notice the socks in the crotch to give the costume the full effect.  I thought his get up was hilarious so I had to take a pic!  As great as his costume was the game was greater.  I'd say that 49ers fans made up about 40% to 50% of the attendance that night and to our delight the Niners whooped ass 27-6!