Big Lake, Greer AZ

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There are a number of little lakes around the Show Low / Heber area in northeast AZ.  Originally named, Big Lake is one of the larger lakes, with multiple camp grounds, and boat rentals that make up this Recreational Area.

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There are signs everywhere to be aware of bear… but we didn’t see any, only Journey who enjoyed a dip in the water during the water summer sun.

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We did see some antelope which is always a treat, along with the occasional deer and elk.

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Cinque Terre, Italy

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We have been told by a number of people that we just HAD to go to Cinque Terre… that we would absolutely LOVE it, as it is one of their favorite places.  So when we decided to go to Provence, we tagged on some time for Cinque Terre.  You can see my photos of Provence here……   https://kritterspaw.com/2018/06/04/south-of-france/.

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Cinque Terre, literally translates to the 5 villages: Monterosso, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore.  We spent 3 nights in Riomaggiore and 2 nights in Vernazza so that we could photograph sunset / sunrise in both.

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Cinque Terre is certainly an oft photographed place, so many images have been seen and overdone.  But it is still made up of beautiful villages cut into the hillside.

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The hikes between the villages are the thing to do.  But unfortunately, the hike between Riomaggiore to Manarola and Corniglia are both closed (and have been for 7 years since the floods in 2011, with no apparent signs of it ever re-opening).  So we wound up taking a train to Manarola to photograph instead. We found Manarola to be our favorite of the villages as it was the quietest and had several different vantage points to photograph.

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We hiked from Monterossa to Vernazza and from Vernazza to Corniglia trails.  We also liked Corniglia, as it was a very quiet peaceful place (as much as that is possible for Cinque Terre).

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The views from the hikes were stunning, and starting early proved to be the trick to stay out of the crowds.

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Vernazza on the the other hand (along with Monterosso) were our least favorites.  While Vernazza was photographic enough, it was stupid crowded.

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Though the views were beautiful from Vernazza, as you can see below.

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The real story is what we tried to stay away from, and what we didn’t take photos of… the hoards of people.  I could never in good standing recommend Cinque Terre to anyone.  We love great scenery and taking in the true culture on our travels; meeting the people and understanding their way of life; and immersing ourselves in the places we travel to.  Cinque Terre was ‘ruined by Rick Steves’ which we heard more than several times.  We were astonished at the gross volumes of tourists flooding the streets, bumping and shoving each other to get to the next souvenir shop.  I saw no cheese shops, sausage shops, or charming hand crafted goods – not that we spent any time fighting the crowds or souvenir shopping.

We sat on a pillar and watched the spectacle that has become Cinque Terre…. and we watched an elder Italian man do the same.  The disbelief and awe in his face was telling.  We talked to a shop keep in a food market about it.  The life was drained from his face.  He said this isn’t even bad… it’s much worse in August.  We were astonished and horrified.  Someone nerfed me out of the space I was standing in because they wanted to get a selfie photo of themselves at the space I was occupying.  Selfie sticks were outreached everywhere, people walking with their heads in their phones, and their hurried rude attitudes to ‘see the place’ in their allotted time.  Not for us.  This is not the travel we aspire to do.

Beautiful, yes… but not in the parts that as much as we tried to avoid, which were unavoidable.  We cannot contribute or participate in this sort of sea of humanity, once charming, now ruined by tourism.  Such a shame to see… truly sad.

 

 

 

Bartlett Lake

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You know, I live in Arizona, and it still astonishes me the delta in temperatures and climates in a mere 3 hours.  I do believe the delta is getting larger as time goes on.  It used to be 20F, now it borders on 30 – 40F difference between northern AZ and the Phx area.  When we left our home in the mountains it was snowing, 20F with 4 inches of snow on the ground.

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When we arrived at Bartlett Lake, outside of Carefree, AZ, just 3 hours south, it was 78F, and people were in shorts and t-shirts.  Crazy!

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We soaked up the sun before heading back to our cool climate.

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Mary Colter’s Watchtower

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All the sudden I am fascinated with Mary Colter.  While she is a figure from our past (born 1869), I find her a fascinating character.  When her father died at only 53 (who refused her pleas to go to Art School), she struck a deal with her mother that she would use what little money he left to pay for her to go to school.  She would then get her education and become a teacher to provide monies for her mother and young sister.  Her mother agreed, and Mary moved her mother and sister from St Paul, MN to California to go to the California School of Art and Design.  There she got her architecture degree in 1890, and as promised got a job teaching to support the family.

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By 1902 she was hired by Fred Harvey to design a style of architecture that would become known as Rustic National Park, used by most National Parks to follow.  Her association with Fred Harvey lasted for 48 years.  Many of the Fred Harvey buildings she was associated with have been since demolished by the railroads.

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But the Grand Canyon remains the single largest treasure trove of Mary Colter works , including the Lookout Studio, Hopi House, Hermit’s Rest, and the Watchtower, all of which continue to thrive and entertain… albeit, unfortunately as gift shops today.

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One of her last ‘masterpieces’ was the Watchtower at the Grand Canyon-South Rim.  It was built in 1932.  It was modeled after several Indian towers, mostly all already in ruins.  She wanted a tower that could serve as a spectacular vantage point to take in the awesome Grand Canyon vistas.

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But she wanted it to last… so she had it built with a concrete and re-bar support structure on top of which the ‘boys’ had to cull the landscape to find the individual stones from the natural environment to plaster on the exterior.  Individual stones would pop out to cast eclectic shadows, and different styles and designs from different tribes made up the exterior.

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The inside was painted by the then well known Indian painter, Fred Kabotie, based on ancient drawings provided by Colter to assist in the decorations.

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It is a fascinating building, and largely intact from the original tower devised by Mary Colter… though one can no longer go onto the roof, and glass window panes have been added for safety reasons.

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If you find yourself at the Grand Canyon – South Rim, don’t miss the Watchtower, as it is a fascinating piece of living history outside a stunning landscape.

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See more Grand Canyon – South Rim photos … here.

 

 

Lehman Caves

Lehman Caves, on the Eastern Edge of Nevada, are just outside of Great Basin National Park, not far from Zion National Park in Utah.  They were discovered by Absalom Lehman in 1885.  For us, our trip was not much more than a byway toward our home in AZ.  We thought we would check out Great Basin National Park, which unfortunately, despite their website saying it was open, was closed.  So the Caves ‘saved the day’ giving us a highlight we had not anticipated.  You can see my limited photos of Great Basin National Park here.

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We took a tour into the caves.  The pathways were paved and well lit.  Our guide was new, but friendly and informative.  She explained how after Lehman discovered the caves, he invited everyone he knew to come check them out.  They literally had parties and dances inside the caves, knocking down stalactites and stalagmites out of the way with sledge hammers to make more open space.

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People would right their names in graffiti on the ceilings and walls of the cave with their candles.

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There were sections that were dry and old.. others that had bred new life and were dripping into puddles below.  It was a huge cavernous area full of a number of cave formations we would learn.

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When we were there, there was a group of ‘cave cleaners’ who had volunteered to meticulously clean the inside of the caves.  Using feather dusters on long sticks, toothbrushes, paint brushes and tweezers, donning their lit mining hats they carefully inspected and cleaned the cave floor, spires, and formations.

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They had small trays where they picked up anything from hair strands, clothing fibers, to gum wrappers.  What a pain staking job!

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We found it fascinating and entertaining.  It was an excellent reprieve from our long journey.

 

Lockett Meadow Aspen Yellow

Lockett Mdw_IR.jpgThere’s a chill in the air, you know what that means.  Snow is on the way, and fall is in the air.  It’s been a busy time around here, but we are trying to get out to check out the fall colors.  I posted our first glimpse here…  https://kritterspaw.com/2017/09/29/first-fall/

In an effort to diversify our fall outings, we planned a picnic to Lockett Meadow to check out the aspen color.  Lockett Meadow, just outside of Flagstaff, is known for it’s fields of yellow aspen… and it didn’t disappoint.

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The woods were ‘aflame’ with yellow, bursting with brilliant yellows against aspens’s signature white truck.  It made a delightful setting for our enjoyable and relaxing day out.  Even Journey enjoyed it.

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With the winds we are experiencing, I don’t expect the leaves to last long.  The roads are alive with leaves scattering and blowing across our path as we walk among nature’s beauty.   Catch it while you can, and enjoy it while it lasts.

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From the Archives: Albuquerque Re-visited

It’s that time of the year – second week of October – for the Albuquerque Balloon Festival.  This event is photographic nirvana.  There is so much to shoot, close, far; different balloons – up and down; it is a cornucopia of photographic fodor.

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I have a dear friend going this year, so I promised to send her my post of photos from my last visit.  I had no idea it had been so long.  We were there last in 2012, before I had this blog.  Where does the time go.  So I thought I would post some of those oldies but goodies to her to give her an idea of what she’s in for.

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There are so many balloons, in the air and on the ground to shoot.  Of all different colors and characters.  One can shoot up, down, or inside the many awesome balloons.  It’s a humbling and gratifying experience… and all but done by 9am.

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I loved the balloon fire pix.  I was obsessed with that mechanic tool of fire.  I was a nuisance with a camera… and a kid in a candy store.  It was so much fun.

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I also loved the inside balloon shots.  It was sometimes hard to get close enough to get those shots… but there are plenty of opportunities with so many balloons everywhere.  One can take creative license and get so many different creative shots.

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There were also tons of animal figures, Sponge Bob, Darth Vader, and cartoon characters like Woody WoodPecker.  The variety and types seemed endless.  I found myself running from one balloon on the ground just about to going up, to others yet to go, to one’s already launched.  It was a frenzy of mad photography for a couple hours from 6am to 8am.  It was such fun.  I’m sure she’ll have an awesome time and bring back amazing pix.

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