photography

Tetons and Yellowstone Part II

I forgot these photos on the last post…I entered Yellowstone, and got welcomed with sunshine bursting through the trees at a waterfall.

I woke up at 6am to drive over to old faithful before the crowds came. Lucky for me a bison without a care in the world was hanging out right in front of it, and I got to see it erupt after waiting only 10 minutes! I went to the next geysers, sapphire pool. I explored a bit, but at this point, it was 10am and getting swamped with tourists everywhere. This is when I go back to camp and relax until 5, where I head back out for sunset

I head over to the yellowstone falls - “the grand canyon of the north” beautiful, and worth the hike around there.

the next morning I used some tips that people told me there was a grizzly bear in Heyden Valley. So I head out there first thing, and find the spot. It was all socked in with fog. after waiting 1.5hours (mid 30F) for the fog to clear, there was no bear :(. I did see a coyote out hunting though

that night I got treated to another excellent sunset. Also checked out the mud volcano. crazy stuff

the next day I took the drive up to Lamar Valley - “the serengetti of the united states”. I hung around a couple hours as there was a carcass nearby. I ended up saw Wolves in the distance (the black dogs), tons of bison, pronghorn, and more. with the wildfires going on, and I was treated to a sky on fire.

the next morning I headed east of the Lake Yellowstone for a little hike. Saw that marmot, squirrel, sunrise, elk all that morning. the views were beautiful over there, naturally too

later that day, I experienced some thunderstorms that left the coolest orange color in the sky. The sun burst through the clouds afterwards and flooded the valley with sunlight.

that night, i went back to that carcass, and finally saw a grizzly bear! First one I’ve seen in the wild!

My first grizzly bear in the wild!

My first grizzly bear in the wild!

So every night, there was a big bison or elk that came to my tent and would eat the grass around. once I figured out it wasn’t anything to be worried about, II was able to (barely) get some sleep. The last night I was there, my neighbor asked if he could leave his stove in the car. I said yes, no problem (in yosemite the bears rip off doors). So I went to bed, noticing the stove was still out, but he was still awake. Figuring he would put it away, I went to bed.

About 3 in the morning I was awakened by all sorts of critters wanting to taste the stove drippings. Sounded like some crows, squirrels, etc. after listening to them for 15-30 minutes, something spooked them all and everything scurried away. I then hear footsteps past my tent, followed by snorting and deep grunts. I tried to grab my bear spray without making noise, but of course my sleeping pad makes a crunchy sound, and my sleeping bag swooshed. The bear was more interested in the stove, thankfully.

Exhausted, I get up and adventure on my final day:

Bull elk exhaling on the roadside

Bull elk exhaling on the roadside

headed over to Grand Prismatic - one of the coolest stops in the park IMO

more beauty at grand prismatic:

As I’m leaving, I stop for some bison crossing the road, and 15 minutes later, I’m on my way. As I’m leaving, no lie there was thousands of cars held up from the bison. the line of cars was easily 2-3 miles, and probably 3+ hour wait! Allow plenty of time to get around the park.

I got into West Yellowstone, and stopped at the Bear and wolf discovery center. You get to see and learn about the animals here

additionally, they had some birds of pray there as well.

then I made the 14 hour drive home. I made it to twin falls, ID, which was about 6 hours away. including the drive out of the park, I was already at my 8 hour limit and starting to get fatigued. Twin Falls was a beautiful town surrounded by boring farmland. I’m glad I discovered it

The rest of the drive was a boring, uneventful 8 hour drive back.

Thanks for following along! cheers.

Tetons and Yellowstone Part 1

I started my trip off by leaving early on Friday August 31st to get a head start on my drive. It is a 12 hour drive from Portland to Tetons, and My limit is about 8 hours of driving in a day. I got to Dead Man’s Pass in Eastern Oregon (~4.5 hours away) at about 9:45pm. The Stars and Milky Way were already incredible! I pulled over on a feeder road and star gazed for about a half hour. (first milky way shot). I stayed at the rest stop there, which was the first time ever staying overnight at a rest stop. It went well, except I was a little cramped, as my folded seats were not tall enough to stretch out enough, when laid flat.

The rest of the drive to the Tetons was uneventful. Woke up at 6am and headed out, for a great sunrise over the mountains! I was going to find a campsite outside of the Tetons that Saturday night, but I called one of the campgrounds in the park, and they said they had 30 sites still available, but quickly filling, as the other campgrounds were full and sending people there. I was an hour away and booked it over. When I got to the CG, they were full, and sent me 10 miles up the road to another CG (last few miles were potholed and terrible). The people I was following took the last site at that CG, and I was getting ready to find a place to crash in my car again. Luckily the host stopped me and let me (and a few others) stay in the day use area for the night!

My camp neighbors invited me over to their bonfire, and we talked for a while. It was a father and son that were driving from Austin, TX, and on the road for over a month. They were in the Olympics, Yellowstone, Banff, etc!

tetons at sunset (below)

tetons at sunrise

Two Oceans Lake and Oxford Bend

Sunrise at Tetons - It dropped to 30F at night!

I did a hike around Jenny Lake

As soon as I got into YS, I saw tons of Bison. The viewings continued (Part 2)

Umpqua lighthouse trip 8/3/18

Went on another camping trip down to Umpqua Lighthouse State Park, on the Oregon Coast. we started off stopping at the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene. The Owls were exquisite:

All of the raptors here have been brought from all over the states for rehab. The birds that can't be reintroduced into the wild for various reasons, end up as residents here. Birds of prey are my favorite, so I had a blast here, naturally.

who knew turkey vulture feathers were irridescent??

we made it to our campsite at the state park, and set up camp. We did a walk around the lake that was connected to our campground, and headed out to the lighthouse for sunset. 

once it got dark, we were treated to an awesome light show from the lighthouse, and then dazzling stars

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We headed down to Coos Bay. Nice and sunny! It was low 70s on the coast on Friday, but Saturday was a little cooler, in the 60s. 

then it all turned to fog

with all the dunes in this part of the coast, brings in all the ATVs.

some weirdness on the coast...with full overcast there was no sunset or stars :(

It's Sunday. so we mosey our way up the 101. We stopped at Haceta Head Lighthouse, which was another cool, old lighthouse. Being near the sea lion caves, there were a bunch of sealions swimming around.

Some more from this park. Beautiful views everywhere!

Next up is actually probably my favorite spot on the coast! Cape Perpetua/Thors Well near Yachats, OR. the ocean is so dramatic here, and you really fee the power of the ocean here.

waves splashing out of the well

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Cape Foulweather: known for its amazing whale watching - we saw some distant ones!

That's all for now!

Final Days - Arthur's Pass, Oamaru, and Akaroa

I headed east after leaving Westport via Arthur's Pass. This pass was one of my favorites of the trip, and definitely not one to miss! 

Just look how jaw-droppingly moody and beautiful this is!

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I got tons of recomendations to do Devil's punchbowl falls. It sure was a thighburner getting up there though! I think the ranger said there was 212 stairs? it was 250 ft elevation gain in only 1.4 miles, but seemed like a lot more :D

Back in the town of Arthur's Pass, I ran into a couple of Kea! These mischievous parrots will steal your food, wallets, whatever for laughs. These smart, cheeky birds have been caught on camera moving traffic cones to redirect traffic in Milfords Pass! NZ have since setup roadside jungle gyms to keep them distracted/occupied.

I ended up camping just east of town, and the weather changed very fast. In the mountains, it was 40ish degrees, and socked in. At campground, it was about 60degrees and sunny! The drive was about 5 minutes. 

The next day I dropped a pin on a hike that looked like it would be pretty cool, and I was not wrong! It took me into the mountains right away, and I was literally the only one around for miles. I literally live for these types of secluded hikes. It followed upstream and the sun even popped out for a few minutes and a (faint) rainbow appeared!

The Hike was Otira Velley Track

Views up and down the alpine valley are framed by jagged peaks and enchanting cascades. The hike up Otira Valley Track is 3.8 kilometers round trip with 125 meters of elevation change (or 2.35 miles round trip with 410 feet of elevation change)

The next day I made the decision to drive from Arthur's Pass to Oamaru, to get my last chance to see a penguin. It was a 5.5 hour trip, so I stopped a few times along the way. The first was Cave Stream Scenic Reserve. Just a quick jaunt around and then back on the road. I then stopped in a small town of Geraldine and was starting to get hangry. I ordered a hamburger and fries at a local cafe (Country cafe) and Idk if I was just really hungry, but it had to be one of the best burgers I've ever had! It came on a gluten free bun (I'm intolerant) with 2 patties, a fried egg, beetroot, lettuce, tomatoes, etc. I finished it before i remembered to take a photo :D

Springfield, NZ - Simpsons themed town. A girl stuck her head in the hole and photobombed me before i was ready to take it haha. 

Springfield, NZ - Simpsons themed town. A girl stuck her head in the hole and photobombed me before i was ready to take it haha. 

When I arrived in Oamaru, I was pleasantly surprised at not only the architecture, but the steampunk installations all over town! This was a quirkly, cool town that I had no idea was this cool. Came for the penguins, stayed for the art.

I checked into my airbnb and went exploring.

The blue penguin watch sounded super touristy-sit in bleachers and watch them come up. I understand that they use the proceeds to benefit the penguins, but they wouldn't allow photography. Hat-tip to Nathan, my airbnb host for helping me find a penguin in the wild!

put your flippers in the air if you've seen a penguin in the wild!

put your flippers in the air if you've seen a penguin in the wild!

I was sitting on this beach motionless for about 45 minutes, hoping that they would come. As it was just about dark (9:45pm) this guy popped up! I had to do a double take, as it blended in so well 

The next day I drove up to Akaroa to swim with dolphins! It was pretty cold and drizzly, as there was a big storm that hit the west coast.The town of Hokitika where I was 2 days prior was under feet of water!

These dolphins were completely wild. what's especially special about them, is that they are the worlds smallest at 3 feet long, and also the rarest! Those of you who know me, know I hate going in the water, but this was totally worth it. 

I mosied my way back to Christchurch for my final days in NZ. I started out exploring the gardens:

This curious little fantail was chillin with me for like 15 minutes! These images were not cropped, and I didn't even need my Telephoto!

I went downtown Christchurch for some streetart and to see the 185 white chairs. Each chair represents each person that lost their lives in the earthquakes in 2010.

I stopped at willowbank wildlife preserve to see some kiwi, etc, but I was really cutting it close to my flight, so I took some pictures from the parking lot, and headed out to fly out

That concludes my NZ trip. I hope you guys enjoyed the adventure, and hope you can visit some of this beautiful country! If you would like prints of anything you see, please let me know! Anything you see here can be printed in sizes like 8x10, 16x20, 11x14, etc, and will not have a watermark on it.

Cheers!

Kevin