Truckee-Tahoe Trip

Truckee-Tahoe Trip

Recently we enjoyed a visit for a week at Truckee, California in the North Lake Tahoe area. It’s a great place to visit in the winter with all the ski areas such as Northstar, Squaw Valley, Sugar Bowl, Alpine Meadows, Boreal, Tahoe Donner, and Soda Springs. However, it might be even better during the summer with so much to do.

The weather was perfect all week, except for some wildfire smoke in the area on the last day, and we went hiking most every day. I have included my photos.

Prosser Lake – Truckee

These are photos of Prosser Lake from the deck of my sister-in-law’s house in Truckee where we stayed all week. It was a lovely place to have breakfast in the morning, as well as dinner and wine in the evening. It got a little too warm in the afternoon especially with the sun being so intense at about 6,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The temperatures were higher than normal for July, but it still got down in the upper 30’s overnight. Truckee frequently has the coldest US temperature in the summer. Truckee was named #16 of the World’s 25 Best Ski Towns by NationalGeographic.com.



West Shore Cafe – Lake Tahoe

We celebrated my birthday with a nice lakeside lunch at the West Shore Cafe which overlooks Lake Tahoe.

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Tahoe Rim Trail – Tahoe City

After lunch we went for a hike on the Tahoe Rim Trail west of Tahoe City on the edge of Lake Tahoe. Actually the 165-mile trail completely circles all of Lake Tahoe, but we only went for about an 1 1/2 hours. It shares about 50 miles with the much longer Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail through California, Oregon, and Washington for 2,659 miles from Mexico to British Columbia. It’s on the back side of the Alpine Meadows ski area just south of Squaw Valley, site of the 1964 Winter Olympics.





 Donner Lake – Truckee

On another day we took a hour-long hike along Donner Lake in the Donner Memorial State Park. It was a nice shaded trail with views of the lake, kayaks, rocks, and surrounding mountains.







Legacy Trail – Truckee

For another day, we took a 4 mile 90-minute hike on Legacy Trail along the Truckee River, the only outlet of Lake Tahoe, which flows through Truckee and down to Reno. In addition to the meandering river, it included lovely vistas of meadows, boulders, wildflowers, snow-capped mountains, and a passing railroad freight train.





















Tahoe Rim Trail – Brockway Summit

We hiked another day for 2 1/2 miles (83 minutes) at Brockway Summit on the Tahoe Rim Trail on the north side of Lake Tahoe, above Tahoe Vista and King’s Beach. The trail is about 7,200 ft in elevation, although it was smoky that day from fires along the Pacific coast of California so it’s hard to see Lake Tahoe beyond the trees.

The smoke was coming from the large Soberanes fire near Big Sur and Carmel Valley in Monterey County. It has now burned about 30,000 acres over 50 square miles with at least 57 homes destroyed so far and 2,000 threatened, and it’s still only 15% contained after burning now for 9 days.



















Bocce Ball & Pizza

One afternoon we played bocce ball for about 45 minutes before dinner.


Then I made a vegetarian pizza from Trader Joe’s Pizza Dough, and it turned out pretty good. Of course, I had to wear the silly chef’s hat that my sister-in-law placed on my head. There’s a margherita pizza already cooking in the oven that my brother-in-law made, and an unfinished 2000-piece puzzle on the table.


Of course, we did some walks, shopping, and other activities, but I didn’t take any photos there. It was a fun relaxing week.

Photography 101: Landscape

Photography 101: Landscape

Our Day 15 assignment for Photography 101 was “Landscape”. I have included several photos which feature mountains, glaciers, desert, ocean coastline, and water reflections, with most of them taken at various national parks. I will present them in order from north to south.

I like this first photo taken in Denali National Park, Alaska, which shows reflections in the water from the mountains, trees, and clouds. This day was overcast, but the photo turned out nice anyway (maybe more interesting than if it were clear and sunny).  It’s interesting how the trees frame the photo across the upper middle, left side, and bottom right.  This photo highlights the peaceful remoteness of this beautiful area of the country.

Denali Reflections

Denali Reflections

This is one was taken from a cruise ship in Glacier National Park, Alaska, and it this shows reflections in the water of both the glacier and mountains. The glacier originates many miles inland and moves slowly down toward the water, where you can see remnant of icebergs that fell off the glacier.  It feels cold and looks quite impressive.

Glacier Reflections

Glacier Reflections

Here’s a photo taken while hiking Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park of Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula near Seattle. It’s interesting with the various shades of green in the closer mountains along with the snow-capped mountains in the distance (taken in July).

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge

Here is a photo of the Pacific Ocean coastline at La Jolla, California, north of San Diego. The water looks so peaceful and inviting with such contrast to the imposing cliff which juts out into the water; the different blues of the water and sky is nice too.

La Jolla Coast

La Jolla Coast

This shows some of the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park in far west Texas along the Rio Grande border with Mexico. We were hiking to a window opening between the rocks that looked out over the surrounding desert area. This is another very remote area which offers unique quiet beauty; the stars are supposed to be amazing at night for those staying in this area, but we didn’t get the opportunity to see them (it might have been overcast, or maybe we just forgot to look up).

Chisos Mountains

Chisos Mountains

I hope you have enjoyed viewing these landscape photos. These are all great places to visit, if you get the chance.

Photography 101: Swarm

Photography 101: Swarm

Our Day 14 assignment for Photography 101 was “Swarm”. My photos cover swarms of cormorants, seals, kayaks, bucks, and people.

During a visit to La Jolla north of San Diego, California, there were lots of cormorants all over the cliff and rocks, which they also share with a large number of seals.  These are reflected in this first set of photos taken from various angles, including a closeup of the seals.

Nearby I spotted a large group of red kayaks all grouped together which contrasted with the blue water all around and the light cliff behind them.  Up the coast a little bit there were many surfers trying to catch the waves, and they were interesting to watch.

The last set of photos is closer to home, with a large group of white-tailed buck in our backyard.  You will notice that most of them have quite a rack.  Sometimes the males tend to travel together, except when they’re out looking for females in the fall.

The final shot shows flocks of people coming and going between music day parties on Sixth Street in Austin Texas during the South by Southwest music festival in 2010.

Photography 101: Pop of Color

Photography 101: Pop of Color

The theme for our Day 11 assignment in Photography 101 was “A Pop of Color”. I focused on several images which emphasize various shades of yellow which stand out from their backgrounds, including sunsets, blue agave, glass sculpture, paraglider, and hot-air balloon.

Seattle Sunset

This first one is a photo of a Seattle sunset taken by the mother of the groom at a wedding reception I attended for my niece on the 76th floor of the Columbia Tower Club. I also took quite a few photos, but none turned out like hers, so I decided to include hers since it’s so amazing. This is actually what it looked like, but I just missed the perfect timing she had.

Notice the yellow from the sun and the awesome red glow on Puget Sound. The ferris wheel down on the pier in the lower-left is nicely lit up, so are the Seattle streets and some of the skyscrapers, and of course there’s the Space Needle in the distance (upper-right) that looks so tiny from up where we were.

Seattle Sunset

Seattle Sunset

Lago Vista Sunset

This is another sunset photo that I took from my deck in Lago Vista, which shows the setting sun over Lake Travis west of Austin, Texas. Its golden ball stands out and lights up the sky and clouds.

Lago Vista Sunset

Lago Vista Sunset

Blue Agave at Sunset

This was another photo that I took which shows a Blue Agave which sprouted in my neighbor’s back yard.  We watched it grow daily from what looked like a giant asparagus stalk until it fully evolved with its spiral arms and and all their flowers. I couldn’t help taking lots photos of it since it was rising so fast and quite an amazing sight.

This one was taken at sunset with the blue agave in the foreground with the sun exploding through the clouds behind it with all the rays of light that are scattered in all directions. My guess that it must have been over 30 feet tall, and you can see how tall it is here. By the way, this is the plant that grows in Mexico which they use to make tequila.

Blue Agave at Sunset

Blue Agave at Sunset

Glass Sculpture

I thought this was a fantastic splash of yellow at the Chihuly Garden and Glass, where they have an exhibition, glasshouse, and garden that highlight Dale Chihuly’s colorful glass sculptures next to the Space Needle at Seattle Center. It really pops out at you, especially against the blue sky, green trees, and even the smaller purple sculpture.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Paraglider

Here’s a photo that I took of a yellow/green paraglider at Torrey Pines Gliderport on the scenic cliffs above Black’s Beach in the La Jolla area of north San Diego, which is a very popular place for hang gliders, paragliders, and sailplanes. The colorful wing really stands out from the blue somewhat overcast sky which blends into the Pacific Ocean.  Notice the pilot in the little pod hanging from the paraglider. I guess they must be able to guide it somewhat, but I think the winds might contribute more to where they actually land.

Yellow Paraglider

Yellow Paraglider

Hot-Air Balloon

Finally, we have a yellow hot-air balloon against a clear blue sky above Prosser Lake north of Truckee, California, where ballooning is a fairly popular activity. This really pops out at you also from the blue background.

Yellow Balloon

Yellow Balloon

I’ve enjoyed sharing these colorful photos with you.

Photography 101: Landmark – Indian Wells

Photography 101: Landmark – Indian Wells

Our theme for Day 7 of Photography 101 was “Landmark”.  We were supposed to take multiple photos from different points of view of some landmark.  I decided to focus on the Indian Wells Tennis Garden where the BNP Paripas Open tennis tournament is held every March at Indian Wells, California in the desert near Palm Springs. We have visited there several different times and really enjoyed it, and these are some of the photos which I captured that show various aspects of this famous venue.

The BNP Paribas Open is the largest professional two-week combined ATP (men) and WTA (women)  Tour tennis tournament in the world with 96 players in the singles and 32 teams in the double draws. The Indian Wells Tennis Garden features the second largest stadium in the world next to the US Open which includes 16,100-seats and 44 luxurious stadium suites and a new permanent Stadium 2 with 8,000 seats, as well as 7 additional outer stadiums.

Stadium 1

Stadium 1 is the largest where all the best matches are played.  This was a shot from the upper deck before the first match was scheduled to get a general shot of the stadium.

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This shot was taken during a mid-week watch so not as many people were there at night.

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This shows the stadium after the lights come on.

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Other Stadiums

Here’s one of the outer stadiums, which are more intimate since you’re closer to the players.

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Here I tried zooming in for a closer shot of this women’s match.

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This shows the desert mountains in the distance which surround the tennis venue, so the views are great when you look beyond the stadium.  Also, you see the lights and flags over the stadium. In this men’s match, we were sitting at the end instead of the side.

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Grounds

Here is shot of the grounds outside the main stadium.  There are many concessions, activities, and entertainment available within the complex which make it very pleasant between matches, or just relaxing in the shade to get something to eat or drink.

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We love tennis, and thoroughly enjoyed this experience.  In fact, I’m looking forward to going back again soon, maybe for the next one during March 9-22, 2015.

Photography 101: Solitude

Photography 101: Solitude

Here are several photos which suggest “Solitude” for our Photography 101 Day 5 assignment.

Sunset Reflection

I like this photo of Lake Travis at sunset from our deck. It captures the sunset reflection in the lake, as well as the rays emanating from the sun through the clouds. Lots of interesting color and contrast. It is very relaxing and peaceful to just sit with my wife and watch the close of another day. Usually it’s very quiet here and it’s great to be alone with nature. A glass of wine helps too.

Sunset Lake Reflection

Sunset Lake Reflection

Wildflowers

This shows wildflowers in a field near Brenham, Texas. In the spring, there are wildflowers all over, and it’s fun to go for scenic rides in the country to see them.  They have been making old-fashioned Blue Bell Ice Cream there for over 100 years. You can see a their video, take a 45-minute tour, and get some wonderful complimentary ice cream in the parlor.  Plus there are a few wineries around the area for tastings.  It’s a nice day trip from Austin (about halfway to Houston).  See the Visitor Guide for more information about the area.

Brenham Wildflowers

Brenham Wildflowers

Desert Oasis

While attending the BNP Paripas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, we visited Thousand Palms Oasis in the Coachella Valley Preserve near Palm Springs.  It offers interesting hikes among the fan palms in a desert oasis.  This was my  photo of a pond in the McCallum Grove which is interesting.  It captures the various palms lining the pond, and includes reflections in the water.

Actually, I understand this sits right on top of the San Andreas Fault line, which apparently causes the water to seep to the surface even in the middle of the desert. This has a very serene feeling, especially since it’s an oasis in a desert. You can see additional information and photo gallery on the McCallum Trail.

Desert Oasis

Desert Oasis

Balloon Ride

There are lots of hot-air balloons around Prosser Lake near Truckee, California north of Lake Tahoe.  We went one morning to watch a balloon club prepare their balloons and take flight.  They offered my wife and her sister a test ride in one to see what it was like, and they actually agreed to try it.

I took this photo of them as they rose in the sky, but you will notice that there are two ropes tied to the balloon so they don’t go sailing off on their own.  It was exciting to watch them go up, and they had a nice view from up there.  I’m sure they felt very alone, but the solitude would have been much worse if the ropes didn’t hold.

Balloon Test Ride

Balloon Test Ride

Deer Necklace

This last one was interesting because it shows a white-tailed deer in our back yard with an unusual accessory.  This is the top of a trash receptacle from the nearby golf course around its neck.  Apparently, it got too nosey and stuck its head into it to get something to eat that it smelled like a granola bar, apple, sandwich, etc.  And when it got up, the lid came off and stayed around its neck. We saw this deer fairly regularly for several years as they wander around the area, and we also called it the “golfer”.

I wonder if the other deer thought this was rather strange, although it didn’t seem to be an outcast because of it since it would travel around with others.  We always felt bad for it because it would keep sliding down when it would be eating grass, and then fall back down when it got up.  You would think it would figure out some way to get this thing off its neck, but I guess deer are not that smart. There was no way to could go up to it to remove it because it would always run away so there was nothing we could do.  We haven’t seen it any more, so I’m not sure what happened to it (unless maybe somehow it managed to get it off).

Golfer Deer

Golfer Deer

It’s been fun sharing these “solitude” photos with you, and I hope you enjoyed them too.

Photography 101: Water

Photography 101: Water

When I think of “Water”, I remember all the wonderful and fun places we have visited which all feature water in various forms. I have included a few photos that capture some of these images for this Photography 101 Day 3 assignment.

Here we have frozen water from a wonderful 10-day Alaskan cruise and land tour in Denali National Park we took in 2009.  One of the highlights was visiting this impressive Margerie Glacier in Glacer Bay National Park. It’s about 1 mile wide and extends about 21 miles from Mount Root (12,860 feet high) on the Alaska-Canada border.  We even witnessed it calving icebergs where chunks fall off into the water with a loud cracking boom sound.  Glacial ice is blue because its compacted ice absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue so that’s what we see .

Margerie Glacier

Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

 

Here the water is massive and provides lots of great recreation opportunities as well as views like this.  We love hiking, especially in scenic areas like the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in La Jolla, California (San Diego) where we visited in 2012.  There are great views of the Pacific Ocean here with the beaches and cliffs, and wonderful hiking trails to enjoy.

Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines

Pacific Ocean at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, La Jolla, CA

 

Another place we love to go is Lake Tahoe, which is so large and the water is very blue because it’s so deep.  We’re fortunate that my sister-in-law lives there so we get to visit quite a bit and enjoy this great area in the Sierra Mountains of California which borders Nevada.  There are so many great things to enjoy here like hiking, but sometimes it’s just so pleasant to appreciate the beauty while relaxing in a restaurant by the lake with the trees, boats, and mountains in our view. This was taken in 2011 at the Wild Goose restaurant, which I understand is now closed.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe from Wild Goose restaurant

 

Here the water forms the border which separates Mexico and the United States at Lajitas, Texas.  We stayed at Lajitas Golf Resort there in February 2013, and played golf at Black Jack’s Crossing golf course.  This photo was taken from our golf tee looking down to the green where we had to hit.  Beyond that you can see the Rio Grande meandering along between the countries with the Mexican mountains in the background.  It’s not very wide so it’s understandable how easy it must be for illegal immigrants to cross.

Rio Grande

Rio Grande from Black Jack’s Crossing golf tee

 

In this photo from Big Bend National Park, you can see how the water has formed the deep cliffs of Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande over thousands of years.  We hiked on a trail along the edge of the water where we could appreciate the view from the riverbed.  You can’t go much further because you would go into Mexico (illegally).

Santa Elena Canyon

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park

 

This year we attended my niece’s wedding in Seattle, Washington and the reception was held in the Columbia Tower Club on the 76th floor.  I  took this photo of Puget Sound surrounding the city looking down on all the city’s skyscrapers with the 605-foot Space Needle landmark built for the 1962 World’s Fair in the middle.  It offered wonderful views below in all directions, including Mount Ranier as well as the stadiums for the Seattle Mariners baseball and Seattle Seahawks football teams.

Seattle and Puget Sound

Seattle, Space Needle, and Puget Sound (from 76th floor)

 

Of course, after all the wonderful vacations and fun times traveling to other places, it’s also great to come back home to Lago Vista where we enjoy our lake views and sunsets every day.

Currently, I use an iPhone 5 for my photos, although some of these earlier ones were taken with an iPhone 3G, Canon PowerShot S400, and Kodak C875.  I look forward to share more photos with you.