Black and White Bristlecones

Because I fancy myself as a photographer that prefers black and white, I am going to share some of the bristlecone photos that I used filters on in Photoshop.   I’m not big on too many adjustments so don’t get all ‘straight out of camera’ on me.   If I was just a touch better at manual settings, I would seriously just go back to film and do this old school.

Do you think some photos are better in monochrome tones than color?    Sometimes, I wonder if I’m a little bit colorblind and that’s why I like the contrast of black and white better.    Let me know what you think in the comments.

And, if you want to see some more in color, please check out my previous post HERE.   That one will tell you a little bit of history on the bristlecone pines and Great Basin National Park, Nevada, too.

Bristlecone Pine

The bristlecone pine trees of Great Basin National Park are some of the oldest known trees in existence.   These high-altitude, gnarly trees have been dated to more the 4,900 years old.   From the Wheeler Peek campground at over 10,000 feet in elevation, there is an easy, 3-mile round trip, hike to the tree grove.   My four year old managed the trek and, if it hadn’t rained on us the entire way back, it would have been a perfect adventure for him.

I think the trees are extremely beautiful.   Let me know in the comments if you agree.

Freaky Windfarms

I have a completely unnatural fear of windmills.   Not the cute little dutch-style wooden ones that people put in their garden but the huge wind turbines that all of those tree-hugger types tout will save the planet with their renewable energy greatness.

They are very creepy to me.

Now, first things first, I love the concept of green energy and I’m all about saving some planet Earth.   This post is not about that kind of stuff.    This post is about being completely freaked out by a stupid wind farm.   There are a ton (actual measurement: shit ton) of wind farms and the like in California.   Every time we go somewhere, I am confronted with a hillside or valley of these darn things.   And, to make it worse, there is a colossal behemoth wind turbine thing in Fairfield, California, near the Anheuser-Busch Factory.   Can’t go anywhere without going past that.   Ugh.

This gallery of photos is the Spring Valley Wind Farm just outside of Ely, Nevada.    Logistically, it is probably a great place to catch the wind necessary to generate lots of power.  And, there are very few human residents that will complain about how much landscape these big propellers take.   However, it totally peeves me to see some pristine desert get hogged up for a wind farm to power all of our electronic doodads.   It’s kind of ridiculous really.

There are 75 wind turbines in this project and it was built in 2012.   The last time I drove through here was 2005.   I guess that’s progress but I liked it better without them.   I did pretty much drive right up to them to take a picture and I’ll call that a win for conquering my weird phobia.   But, I still don’t like them.

Anywhooo … I’m working on getting over my weird freak out over these things.   It’s not totally a fear.   I just can’t stop staring at them and they totally give me the oogies.

What are you afraid of?

Vacation Days

It doesn’t matter what time of year it is but vacation days are better than regular days.   You know, those ‘going to work days’ or even just the ones where you stay home on the weekend aren’t the same as official vacation ones.    I have a ton of new photos to share but thought I would give you a quick peek into some recent vacation days.    We made the drive across all of Northern Nevada to Great Basin National Park which borders on Utah.   You can expect to see more in the upcoming days … enjoy.

Point Pinos Lighthouse, California

pp lighthouse

The Point Pinos LIghthouse in Pacific Grove, California, is about five minutes (depending on traffic) away from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.   If you are planning a visit, this is a great side trip and is much less crowded than Cannery Row or any of the downtown area.

I became a lighthouse nerd a few years ago when my family took a camping trip up the Oregon coast and we stopped at all of the lighthouse along the way.   I have a little lighthouse “passport” and the volunteers or tour docents that work the lighthouse have stamps and stickers for the book when you present it to them.   It’s a fun thing and we always buy a book or magnet from the gift shop.   Lighthouse restoration and preservation seems like a pretty decent cause to donate a little cash to, right?

Point Pinos is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the west coast of the United States.   It has been flashing a Fresnel lens nightly since February 1, 1855.

pp light

There is even a golf course just outside the lighthouse with fantastic ocean views.   Oh, and the deer don’t seem to mind if you play through, either.   Wow.   Deer.   Right in the middle of a town.  (If you knew how crowded this part of California actually is, you would share my awe.)

pp light golfers

pp light deer

We weren’t there during the right time of year but, apparently, Pacific Grove is also known as Butterfly Town for the Monarch butterflies that migrate through during the winter.   Have you ever been there to see the butterflies?   I’m certain it’s nothing short of spectacular.

The Octopus, Monterey Bay Aquarium

aq octo ringo


I am a Beatles fan so I had this song stuck in my head for the rest of the day when I saw the quote on the wall of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.    And, to be real honest, I’m singing it in my head right now as I type.   (Come on, sing-a-long with me … )

Every time I have ever been to any kind of aquarium exhibit, the octopus is usually hiding in the darkest corner of the tank basically begging for everyone to go away–far, far away!    Not on this day, though.   This is the most photogenic octopus I have ever met.   It was front and center on the tank begging for photos and posing like a pin-up model.   So impressive!

aq octo a

aq octo1

I’m wondering what the tentacles feel like.   Have any of you ever actually touched an octopus?   Do they bite?   Or are they stranglers like a boa constrictor?   Eeew.   I’m freaking myself out now.   Yikes!


Seahorses, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Allrighty … here’s another post from the Monterey Bay Aquarium.   I know I have bragged about how great the visit was, how awesome the jellyfish were, and how beautiful The Kelp Forest is … but, seahorses are the BEST!   I had forgotten there were so many kinds.   And, BONUS, did you know seahorse Dads are the childbearers of the species?   Yup.   The Daddies are the Mommies.   Go figure.

OK.   That’s all the science stuff that I remember from the exhibit.   On to photos …

The Kelp Forest, Monterey Bay Aquarium

I have to admit that I didn’t think The Kelp Forest was going to be that big of a deal.   I mean, I really thought it was going to be a fish tank with some seaweed.   Honest.   Wow — I was wrong.  This is way cooler than just some seaweed.   Way cooler!

aq kelp jd mom

The tank is three stories tall and open to top of the building so natural sunlight shines in through the water.   It is amazing.   I could have stood there all day watching leopard sharks circle the kelp.

I never imagined that kelp would be this beautiful.
I never imagined that kelp would be this beautiful.
Peek-a-boo, Fishy!
Peek-a-boo, Fishy!
Scuba Steve answers questions from INSIDE the tank.
Scuba Steve answers questions from INSIDE the tank.
aq kelp forest
Just a section of the huge kelp forest tank.

This is a must-see and makes the $35 per person admission to the aquarium worth it.   To watch some video of the sharks in the kelp forest, check out my YouTube channel, HERE.   I don’t have the video upgrade on this blog so … you gotta click through to get there …

Have you ever been to The Kelp Forest at the Monterey Bay Aquarium?   What did you think?

Is there another exhibit at a different aquarium that compares to this?   Please tell me about it.   I think I might be adding aquarium visits to my travel wish list for the future.

The Jellies Experience, Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of those magical places that must visited at least once in your lifetime.   If you are lucky enough to live close, it is mandatory that you visit regularly to see how the exhibits change and go to special events.  The aquarium sits right on the bay and there are tons of natural wildlife to see all along the coast including seals, sea otters and whales.   And, in case you are feeling left out because you are too far away, those crazy scientists in Monterey have lots of live webcams for you to check out the sea creatures from home, right HERE.

Today, however, I am going to take you with me on part of my family’s adventure through the aquarium.    It was a wild Saturday during peak hours in the middle of summer.   So, that means my four year old ran out of patience pretty quickly and every square inch of the place was crawling with tourists (just like us) trying to get the perfect picture for their scrapbooks.   I would have loved to stayed in the aquarium all day to learn more about all of the different species and the interesting trivia that wins on Jeopardy but that just wasn’t possible.  Here’s the highlights and our trippy adventure with the jellyfish.

“The Jellies Experience” is the jellyfish exhibit and has been set up with a 60s theme; groovy music, strobe lights, and a psychedelic feel that’s totally mellow, ya.   Right on!

So, enjoy the fake names that I have given all of the jellyfish in the photos because I wasn’t paying attention to all of the signs and see what I think they should be called.

Do you have an aquarium near you?   What do you name the jellyfish?

Up next:   The Kelp Forest …

Beach Days

My family and I visited Monterey Bay in California last weekend.   It was just a short visit but we made sure to get some beach time in while we were there.   The sun cooperated on the first day but the foggy, marine layer stuck around too long on the second day for us to get much warm weather.   It didn’t matter to us, though.   The icy, cold water of the Pacific was still tolerable enough to wash our souls a little bit.   It’s always nice to get away from the norm for a bit and recharge.  What do you do to recharge?

water view

watching the waves   beach1 b

beach2 wide view

Plus, those cold weather days are good for seashell hunting!   Check out our beach loot:

beach loot

Stay tuned for more Monterey photos … of course, we visited the aquarium.   And, there’s a cool lighthouse out on the point, too!