The Pumpkin Tower

Lattin Farms in Fallon, Nevada, is the main farm for the CSA (community supported agriculture) subscription that I do every week from spring through autumn.   About this time every year, they do a fall festival with kid activities, pumpkin patch and corn maze.    The highlight of the festival is The Pumpkin Tower.

It’s super cool — check this out:

tower lattin farms

 

Oh, Deer

If I haven’t already bragged about all of the cool stuff where I live enough, here’s another one for you.   There is an amazing alfalfa farm down the road where there are tons of mule deer almost every day.    Apparently, the farmer isn’t really into worrying about how much alfalfa he gets because the deer are busy eating it.    I think they run a bed and breakfast on the farm so I’m sure sitting on the porch and watching a couple hundred (yes, hundred) deer wander by every day doesn’t hurt business.

This is just one section of the fields as seen from the main road.
This is just one section of the fields as seen from the main road.

 

This is what it looks like in the other direction.   Not too shabby, either.
This is what it looks like in the other direction. Not too shabby, either.

 

This is what my husband sees every day on his way to work.   I head the other direction but it is only about three miles from our house so I can take the long way every once in a while to enjoy the view, too.   I’m feeling pretty lucky about that.

I guess I need to remember that the next time I’m all grumpy about the world.   I have it pretty good.

What’s your drive to work look like?

 

ABE, American Bald Eagle


close profile

I finally shot a bald eagle!  OK, wait.   To clarify, I have been trying to get a photograph of an american bald eagle for years.   And, technically, I have about a dozen or so crappy, out of focus and from too far away to count as a real picture shots of bald eagles.   Even when I went to Alaska, I did not get a decent picture of this beloved bird.

Where did I shoot this one?   Nevada.   Ya, go figure.   Apparently, we have quite a few, though.   They like the kokanee salmon that spawn from Lake Tahoe through Thomas Creek.   They like to feast in the fields in the spring after the cows and sheep give birth.   They even like muddy, almost dry Washoe Lake State Park.   Have I ever seen a bald eagle during any of the photo trips that I have done over the past ten years?   Nope.    I saw one once while playing golf.   No camera, of course.

Today was my lucky day.   And, by luck, I mean I have been stalking this huge bald bird for weeks and missing it.   My husband, who doesn’t really take a lot of photos, sees the bird every day.   He calls me from the truck on his way to work to tell me all about it.   So, after many misses, I decided to leave for work a few minutes early and go the long way around the lake to get to my office.    Nope, not Lake Tahoe but Washoe Lake, Nevada.

you lookin at me

The weather has shifted and it was pretty cold this morning.   The fog curled around the south end of the lake, even though the water in the lake is very low.   It’s nearly dry, actually.   The lighting was horrible and the fog kept coming in and covering me in grey.  But, he was there.   My bald eagle.

And, I got him.

Getting ready ...
Getting ready …

 

Almost take-off
Almost take-off

 

swoooop
swoooop

I had to drive around and sneak up on him, trampling through the dirt and sagebrush in my work khakis.   But, I got him.   Oh, ya.   I was totally late for work, too.

Worth it.   I got my ABE.

The Sand Mandala

In 1997, I fell in love with the Nikon FM2.   It had been a friend of mine for a while, but I didn’t really love it until I got to know it better.   I took it with me on a month long art project where I watched a Buddhist monk build a sand mandala.

My beautiful picture

This is Losang Samten and he spent every day for a month finely choosing grains of sand to place in perfect order fora Wheel of Life mandala at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nevada.   It was a special delight to simply sit and watch this master at work.   So, I came back every day or two to get a new photo and watch.    It was a metaphor for learning how to use a fully manual film camera.   The FM2 is a master of Nikon’s building and is both complicated and simple at the same time.   Using film is much more deliberate than the digital cameras we use now.   You have to focus more clearly, understanding the light and shutter speed.   Of course, you could burn through enough film to get that “one” shot.   But, it is much more rewarding to patiently wait for the right moment and get that image.

I was just learning so these photos are not perfect.   I do enjoy them just the same and hope you do, too.

After the mandala was completed, there was a ceremony where the monk swept all of the sand together into an urn and then the sand was returned to the earth.    For this mandala, a large gathering was held, with much pomp and circumstance.  The sands were swept and then a procession led to the Truckee River, a few blocks away, and simply poured into the water.    Sands of time … washed away in an instant.

 

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.

Where There’s Smoke …

Where there’s smoke, there is no kayaking.    Ugh.

In case you haven’t heard, there is a huge fire roaring on the edge of Yosemite in California aptly named The Rim Fire.   Normally, a fire more than 100 miles away wouldn’t be that big of a deal.   This is no ordinary fire.   Currently, it has burned more than 250 square miles and all of that smoke is landing on Northern Nevada.   It is so gross that there are major health advisories to stay indoors and, seriously, it is hard to breath.   We are talking worse than Beijing air quality here, people!

So, that means I did not go kayaking last weekend and I will probably not go this weekend.   And, ultimately, that is killing my summer goal of making it around Lake Tahoe via kayak.   The weather and the water are cold.   That’s not good for kayaking, either.   Well, not when you don’t really have cold weather gear.   My kayak buddy isn’t that into cold weather kayaking either.   This is turning into a big bummer.

Let me show you how bad the smoke is.  This is a comparison from my backyard:

image

And, here’s the sunrise:

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And, for good measure, here is a shot taken by someone on a flight to Los Angeles.   Those NASA people can even see the fire from the International Space Station:

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Another one from the local newspaper, this is just how smoke-gross it is in downtown Reno.  Photo by Marilyn Newton, RGJ.com:

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Lake Tahoe by Kayak

9 with all of the lake

One of my goals for this summer is to circumnavigate Lake Tahoe by kayak with a friend of mine.   It is about 72 miles and something many people do every year either by camping along the shores or breaking into multi-day segments.   My plan is to split the adventure into at least six (maybe seven) day trips and share it with you through my camera.

If you would like to know more about Lake Tahoe and the water trails, access points, etc, please click HERE for more information.

You may also notice a Tahoe Keeper sticker on my kayak in many of the photos and videos.   Lake Tahoe’s water brags a 99% clarity and one the best ways to maintain that is to keep invasive aquatic species out of the water.   All boats are inspected prior to launch in Tahoe and even kayaks can spread pollutants.   Please click HERE for information on the Tahoe Keeper program and how you can get a sticker for free, too.

This is one of my favorite pictures that shows almost all of Lake Tahoe so you can see the full lake.   I took this last summer from the Tahoe Rim Trail and hiked 14 miles to see the view.  This is from Snow Peak facing West and shows the full beauty of the mountains in the Sierra.

TRT Higher Tahoe Pano

Now, for some kayaking … we put in our boats at Sand Harbor State Park and paddled north through Incline Village, Crystal Bay, Stateline Point and the day’s destination, Kings Beach.    It was a peak Saturday with temperatures in the high 90s at the lake so it was a busy beach day.

Blue skies, blue water!
Blue skies, blue water!
As we were leaving Sand Harbor, we noticed some diver and dog training exercises.   How cool is that??
As we were leaving Sand Harbor, we noticed some diver and dog training exercises. How cool is that??
There's my kayak buddy in front of me.   You can also see some traffic in the background on the highway.   It took us forever to launch and park.   Ridiculously busy day.
There’s my kayak buddy in front of me. You can also see some traffic in the background on the highway. It took us forever to launch and park. Ridiculously busy day.
The boats of Incline Village.   Schmancy.
The boats of Incline Village. Schmancy.
Seeing the houses from the water is a real treat.   I'm sure this one is a bit outside of my budget.
Seeing the houses from the water is a real treat. I’m sure this one is a bit outside of my budget.
Ya.   Nice Chris-Craft wooden boat.  Cha-ching. $$$$
Ya. Nice Chris-Craft wooden boat. Cha-ching. $$$$
parasailer
parasailer
expect to see a lot of the back of this kayaker in my next few posts, she's camera-shy but will tolerate this much fame
You can expect to see a lot of the back of this kayaker in my next few posts, she’s camera-shy but will tolerate this much fame
I have a thing for taking pictures of my paddle against the water.   This picture is straight out of camera.   The water here looks soooo blue.   It is even prettier in person.
I have a thing for taking pictures of my paddle against the water. This picture is straight out of camera. The water here looks soooo blue. It is even prettier in person.
I was trying to get a shot of another parasailer here.   They were slowing the boat down and 'dipping' the person.   Crazy.   It turns out that my camera liked the bubbles from my paddle in the water better.  I thought it looked cool too.
I was trying to get a shot of another parasailer here. They were slowing the boat down and ‘dipping’ the person. Crazy. It turns out that my camera liked the bubbles from my paddle in the water better. I thought it looked cool, too.
Stateline Point.   From Nevada into California on the water.
Stateline Point. From Nevada into California on the water.
Right after Stateline Point, the rocks and depth of the water changed.   The wind picked up a bit, too.   But, look at how clear the water is!
Right after Stateline Point, the rocks and depth of the water changed. The wind picked up a bit, too. But, look at how clear the water is!
Kids jumping off rocks ...
Kids jumping off rocks …
Stand Up Paddleboarding is popular these days.   This was the SUP Super Highway to Kings Beach.
Stand Up Paddleboarding is popular these days. This was the SUP Super Highway to Kings Beach.
Even from the water, the beach looks packed.
Even from the water, the beach looks packed.
A beautiful, busy Tahoe day.
A beautiful, busy Tahoe day.

When I’m done with my trip around the lake, I am going to put together a video with snippets from the paddle trip and post it all together.    What do you think so far?

Bowers Mansion

 

 

Just south of Reno, there is a county park with some fantastic history.   Bower’s Mansion hails from the heyday of mining on the Comstock and the riches of the wild west.   The property has changed ownership several times and still struggles to survive but it remains, as beautiful as ever.

Throughout the month of June, the park as put on a Friday night “Programs on the Porch” series and I have gone with my family.   Everyone is invited to bring a lawn chair and picnic dinner to enjoy free shows with everything from cowboy poetry to tales of the Donner Party.

This park is one of those magic places that reminds everyone of their childhood, no matter where you grew up or what parks you visited.   There is a public swimming pool here fed from a natural hot spring.   The grounds are beautiful, the trees majestic.   If you have ever lived within a 100 miles of the park, you probably have more than one memory of a family picnic or school field trip to visit.    There is even an old cemetery up the hill that you can hike to and the tour of the mansion by park rangers have inspired many campfire tales.

Here are a few of my Instagram photos from my family’s evenings at the park:

image

 

The cowboy in this photo is Richard Elloyan.   Fantastic performer — we bought a couple of CDs that night.

I love the fountain in front of the mansion.   The view over to the rest of the valley never disappoints.

image

 

I took quite a few photos inside the mansion but this one is my favorite.   Legend is that the mistress of the mansion was a fortune teller … I wonder what her crystal ball shows for us in this shot?

image

I have a thing for old chandeliers and light fixtures.   The light on this one was just right to get all of the red.   That’s not a filter.   The ceiling reflected red.   Cool–creepy.

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For more information on the history of the mansion and the park, please visit http://www.washoecounty.us/parks/parkdetails~pkid=1.

Mountain Trails

One of the best things about Nevada is that there are tons of mountain trails into the vast open spaces.    This is a glimpse of one of the trails from my house into the woods.   I love the ATV tracks in the dirt.   It is interesting how much the desert changes when you get to the mountains–by far, the best part of having an ATV is being able to get to these places.

z quad trail closer tracks

Sometimes, it is a lot of work to get out to the middle of nowhere but the reward is always an incredible view.   This is Mount Rose from way back in the Virginia Range between Virginia City and Fernley.    Way out in the boondocks.

z mt rose full