Horseshoe Bend

We drove most of the day from Mesa Verde, Colorado, to Page, Arizona, where we visited nearby Horseshoe Bend at sunset. We’ll see how the light changed during the golden hour.

At Horseshoe Bend, the Colorado River makes a 270° horseshoe-shaped bend in a 1000-foot-deep canyon carved from pink Navajo sandstone. From the park service, “Notice how the rock itself has diagonal striped layers. These are the remnants of the layers of the ancient massive sand dunes before they were petrified into stone.”

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Death Valley: Salt Creek and Wildflowers

After walking the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and hiking Mosaic Canyon in the morning, we drove to Salt Creek after lunch. Salt Creek is a short creek of salty water flowing on the floor of Death Valley. The water originates in the mountains and flows underground until forced above ground by an impermeable, underground layer.

Shown above is a pickleweed (salicornia) in Salt Creek. White salts are deposited on the bank and pickleweed. Most of the foliage looks dead, but there are bits of light-green and reddish growth at the tips, perhaps new foliage. The pickleweed is able to ingest the salt water, but salt then goes up to the foliage. When the salt becomes too concentrated for the foliage, that foliage dies, and the pickleweed grows more foliage.

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A Hike for a Blood Moon

On September 27, I photographed the total lunar eclipse, called a blood moon since the moon turns red. A total lunar eclipse occurs during a full moon when the sun, earth, and moon are in a line and the moon is close enough to the earth so that the earth blocks the sun from shining on the moon. Red light refracts the most. The moon in eclipse is reddish from the sunlight shining through the earth’s atmosphere and bending around the earth to illuminate the moon. A total lunar eclipse doesn’t occur very often — the next total lunar eclipse visible in California is in four years. A storm passed overhead, we were concerned we’d miss the total eclipse.

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Denali Midnight Sunset and Sled Dogs

As far north as Reykavik, Iceland, and Trondheim, Norway, Denali had 19 hours of daylight during our visit in early July. The sun set very slowly in the north, giving us more time to enjoy the sunset and take photos. The next day we saw ranger sled dogs and Denali views on our drive back to Anchorage.

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