Latest

Spindrift

A passing conversation with a San Diego Lifeguard this morning:

John, “I love the spray coming off the top of the waves in the wind this morning!”

Lifeguard, “Spindrift?  Yeah.”

John, quietly to himself, “Wait, spindrift is something other than a street name??”

February 17, 2017:  Big, clean surf.  Winds gusting to 50 MPH.  Spindrift!

Three surf barrels in a row, with spindrift above, near Scripps Pier in La Jolla, California, USA

 

Breaking wave and spindrift near Scripps Pier. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Surfer in a barrel on a very windy day (with spindrift) near Scripps Pier. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

A surfer inside a breaking wave with spindrift above. La Jolla, California, USA.

 

Surfers near Scripps Pier on a very windy day, with spindrift. La Jolla, California, USA.

Snowstorms in Yosemite Valley

El Capitan peeks out through falling snow. Yosemite National Park.

I love Yosemite National Park in winter.  There’s room to breathe… and park, and camp, and turn around without hitting a hundred tourists!  And it is so, so indescribably beautiful during snowstorms.  Almost all of my trips to Yosemite over the years have been in winter.  Fortunately the girls (not the eldest girl, who hates nature at this point, but the two younger girls) have also come to love Yosemite during snowstorms.  Thanksgiving 2015 there was a big snowstorm forecast for the Valley, so we threw everyone in the car and headed up.  Didn’t make it before the storm, thus the whole drive in on 41 was a slow but beautiful, tire-chain thumping, hours-long slog through nighttime blizzard.  Had an absolutely fabulous time playing in the snow and the girls have been begging since to do it again.

Fast forward to January 2017, which was a very, very wet month for Yosemite–between giant snowfalls (some of which made it down to the Valley floor) and torrential rains that flooded the Valley and caused the park to be evacuated.  By January 17th, there were several big snowfalls forecast to make it down to the Valley floor (many Sierra snowfalls will dump feet of snow at higher elevations but just rain the the Valley–which sits at just 4,000 feet and is somewhat thermally insulated by cloud cover topping the granite walls of the valley), so we made reservations for a 4-day weekend at the Lodge and started checking our snow gear.

We were not disappointed!  The weekend teetered between rain and snow.  Both Saturday and Monday mornings we awoke to 8-12 inches of new snow covering everything.  Sunday it rained all day–but without really melting much of the previous snowfall.  Monday was one of those absolutely classic Yosemite days with a clearing winter storm.  I would have killed to stay through Monday and catch more of the clearing skies (as local Michael Frye did), but I had a 2 PM flight out of Fresno to catch for work.  As it was, I stopped so many times on the drive out of the park to take photos… and it took me forever to get the snow chains on that morning… that we pulled up in front of the Fresno Airport just 20 minutes before my flight was to depart.  Miraculously, I made it!

Below are some of my early culls from an amazing number of “keepers” from that weekend.

El Capitan peeks out through falling snow. Yosemite National Park.

 

Flooded field and trees during a heavy snowstorm. Yosemite National Park.

 

The Merced River in Yosemite National Park during a heavy winter snowstorm.

 

Yosemite Valley Chapel during a winter snowstorm

 

Upper Yosemite Falls looms in the snowfall above broken ice in flooded Cook’s Meadow. Yosemite National Park.

 

Pre-sunrise Merced River in Yosemite National Park during a winter morning snowstorm.

 

A lovely photography mistake!  Pre-sunrise on the bridge across the Merced near Yosemite Valley Chapel.

 

Slabs of ice in a frozen flooded section of Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park.

 

Bridalveil Falls during a heavy winter snowstorm. Yosemite National Park.

 

Upper Yosemite Falls in a winter snowstorm

 

A stand of trees during a heavy winter snowstorm in Yosemite National Park.

 

Sentinel Rock overlooks icy flooded wetlands in Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park.

 

Yosemite National Park during a snowstorm

 

El Capitan looms through the falling snow over the Merced River in Yosemite National Park.

 

Bridalveil Falls during a snowstorm. Yosemite National Park.

 

Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park

 

Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park

 

Granite peaks peaking through clouds above Yosemite Valley

 

Footbridge over the Merced River in Yosemite National Park during a winter snowstorm.

Fall color in the Eastern Sierra

The photographer gets the tables turned on him.

The photographer gets the tables turned on him.

Most years in late September or early October, you can find me at least one long weekend up in the Eastern Sierra along Highway 395 between Bishop and June Lake Loop for fall color. That part of the Eastern Sierra is full of alpine lakes and creeks running down from the Sierras into the valley below. The lakes and creeks tend to be surrounded by aspen trees whose leaves turn the most lovely yellows and oranges in fall. In recent years, my two younger daughters have come along… and it’s getting to be more and more of a battle between my middle daughter and me for the camera. The girl needs her own camera, I think!

My younger daughters enjoy a walk in the woods near Bishop Creek.

My younger daughters enjoy a walk in the woods near Bishop Creek.

This year, conditions at higher elevations were beautifully at peak color and we were all set to head up the last couple days of September, but a final weather forecast check the night before showed nightly wind gusts in the 30-40 MPH range for the long weekend. I don’t know if you’ve ever camped in high winds, but it is not fun! So we delayed a week and prayed that the winds wouldn’t strip all the leaves that had already turned color off the trees. As we found out a week later, the winds had come that weekend and all the aspens at higher elevation were bare. Conditions at middle elevations were a weird mix… a few spots had great color, some spots were past peak with burnt oranges and yellows, and much hadn’t turned yet at all. In our time there, we explored both forks of Bishop Creek (and all three lakes) plus McGee Creek. We didn’t make it up to June Lake Loop, but my guess from the creeks closer to Mammoth is that it might have been nice.

Below are some of my better shots from this Mother Nature-challenged year.

Grove of aspens in different stages of color around a waterfall on the South Fork of Bishop Creek.

Grove of aspens in different stages of color around Mist Falls on the South Fork of Bishop Creek.

View of Cardinal Village Resort in Aspendell, California, from Highway 168 up to Lake Sabrina.

View of Cardinal Village Resort in Aspendell, California, from Highway 168 up to Lake Sabrina.

Mixed yellows and greens in a stand of aspens just turning color.

Mixed yellows and greens in a stand of aspens just turning color.

A road in the autumn woods near Cardinal Village Resort in Aspendell.

A road in the autumn woods near Cardinal Village Resort in Aspendell.

Aspen woods in fall.

Aspen woods in fall.

A sunny glade of aspens in fall.

A sunny glade of aspens in fall.

Fall color along McGee Creek.

Fall color along McGee Creek.

Fall leaves swirl in a small pool in a creek near Aspendell.

Fall leaves swirl in a small pool in a creek near Aspendell.

Fall color in the Eastern Sierra at McGee Creek.

Fall color in the Eastern Sierra at McGee Creek.

Fall color in the Eastern Sierra near Aspendell.

Fall color in the Eastern Sierra near Aspendell.

A path in autumn woods.

A path in autumn woods.

A deer in the woods along a the walking path at Carindal Village Resort in Aspendell.

A deer in the woods along a the walking path at Carindal Village Resort in Aspendell.

Aspens in fall.

Aspens in fall. Eastern Sierras.

Aspens turn color along Bishop Creek.

Aspens turn color along Bishop Creek.

A yellow leaf stuck on a stick along some rapids in McGee Creek.

A yellow leaf stuck on a stick along some rapids in McGee Creek.

A small grove of just-past-peek aspens, all in orange, just outside of Aspendell.

A small grove of just-past-peek aspens, all in orange, just outside of Aspendell.

The one time each year that it’s nice to live near MCAS Miramar

All of the 19 years that I’ve lived in San Diego, I’ve lived within a couple mile radius and always relatively under the flight path for NAS Miramar… now MCAS Miramar. Sometimes a little further, sometimes a little closer. These days it’s a little closer and while that’s OK almost all the time, there are maybe ten days each year when the kids are hiding under the tables and one wonders how it is that the pilots apparently cannot tell when they’re violating the flight path when they’ve got about a bazillion dollars of navigational equipment onboard. The fun days, though, are when Air Force One is in town (and takes off so low and slow, banking majestically right over our neighborhood) and during the annual Air Show.

The Miramar Air Show is a big deal in our neighborhood. One neighbor throws and annual party that’s up to about 100 guests at this point, and everyone else can be found up on their roofs waiting for the Blue Angels to go screaming by, car alarms blaring after each pass. They appear to use our street as their line up for the westward leg of their routine, and it can be very exciting and very loud!

The following are my favorites of this year’s Air Show photos. For the closer shots, you lay on your back on the roof, put the camera on continuous focus and high-speed shot burst, and swing the camera overhead–tracking the plane(s)–as fast as you can, trying desperately to keep the shot framed correctly. You miss as many as you get. But if you did this standing up, swinging the camera from west to east, over your head, as fast as you can… you’d end up knocking yourself off the roof!

Most of these are uncropped. Only a couple are cropped, and that just because the framing was pretty strange from the wildly swinging camera.

Plane 6 of the US Navy Blue Angels does a close flyby at the 2016 Miramar Air Show

Plane 6 of the US Navy Blue Angels does a close flyby at the 2016 Miramar Air Show. (This photo is not cropped!)

The Blue Angels make smoke at the 2016 Miramar Air Show

The Blue Angels make smoke at the 2016 Miramar Air Show.

Plane 6 of the Blue Angels makes a low pass over the University City neighborhood of San Diego.  2016 Miramar Air Show.

Plane 6 of the Blue Angels makes a low pass over the University City neighborhood of San Diego.

Plane 6 of the US Navy Blue Angels does a close flyby at the 2016 Miramar Air Show

Plane 6 of the US Navy Blue Angels does a close flyby at the 2016 Miramar Air Show

Blue Angel climbing and laying smoke.  2016 Miramar Air Show.  San Diego, California, USA.

Blue Angel climbing and laying smoke.

An F-35 lit up by the sun.  2016 Miramar Air Show.  San Diego, California, USA.

An F-35 lit up by the sun.

F-35.  2016 Miramar Air Show.  San Diego, California, USA.

The new F-35.

Breitling #5 and #3 at the 2016 Miramar Air Show.  San Diego, California, USA.

Breitling #5 and #3 at the 2016 Miramar Air Show.

Blue Angel #5 crosses above the smoke trail just laid by Blue Angel #6. 2016 Miramar Air Show.  San Diego, California, USA.

Blue Angel #5 crosses above the smoke trail just laid by Blue Angel #6.

Four Blue Angels cross while laying smoke.  2016 Miramar Air Show.  San Diego, California, USA.

Four Blue Angels cross while laying smoke.

A Blue Angel crosses back behind its own smoke.  2016 Miramar Air Show.  San Diego, California, USA.

A Blue Angel crosses back behind its own smoke.