Travels and Stories

Arkansas or Bust

Total solar eclipse, April 8, 2024, northeast Arkansas, USA

Total solar eclipse, April 8, 2024, northeast Arkansas

The "diamond ring" and solar flares as the sun emerges from a total solar eclipse, April 8, 2024, northeast Arkansas, USA

The “diamond ring” and solar flares as the sun emerges from a total solar eclipse, April 8, 2024, northeast Arkansas

I started thinking about the 2024 solar eclipse right after our last one in 2017. Claudia and I, along with our friend Robert Eckhardt, viewed that eclipse from the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, and it was such an amazing experience I immediately wanted to do it again.

When I looked at this 2024 eclipse, the best part was the length – four-and-a-half minutes of totality in Mexico and Texas, compared with only a little over two minutes in Idaho in 2017. Two minutes seemed way too short.

(more…)

A Dynamic Valley

Dunes in a sandstorm at sunrise, Death Valley NP, CA, USA

Dunes in a sandstorm at sunrise, Death Valley NP, California

Death Valley is a dynamic place. While the appearance of other landscapes frequently changes because of weather and seasonal changes, in Death Valley the land itself undergoes routine transformations caused by wind and water – especially the infrequent, but highly destructive, flash floods.

Last August Tropical Storm Hilary dumped over two inches of rain on Death Valley, washing out roads, closing the park for two months, and filling Badwater Basin with water – a resurrection of ancient Lake Manly. We visited Death Valley in late December, and got to see and photograph that lake, though it was shallower by then. (You can see some of my photos from that trip toward the bottom of my year-end-photos post.)

(more…)

Olympic Medley

Barred owl, Olympic NP, WA, USA

Barred owl, Olympic NP, Washington

My previous two posts focused on autumn color on the Olympic Peninsula, but it’s a diverse and beautiful area, and I made many photographs that didn’t involve fall color. The forests are quite photogenic even without fall leaves, plus some of my favorite images from the trip were made along the coast. And one of the highlights of our trip was photographing a barred owl.

We found this owl while driving along a back road early one morning. The owl took off from a log next to the road and flew into a nearby tree. I didn’t have my camera out, so we backed up to where the owl couldn’t see us. Then I stepped out of the car, grabbed my camera and 100-400mm lens, climbed into the passenger seat (the owl was on the right), and got everything set.

(more…)

Olympic Autumn: Part Two

Vine maple and alders, autumn, Olympic NP, WA, USA

Vine maple and alders, autumn, Olympic NP, Washington

My previous post featured mostly images that combined fall color with the moss- and lichen-draped branches that Olympic National Park is known for. I like those juxtapositions, as they’re so characteristic of that area. But we found lots of other interesting juxtapositions as well.

One thing I kept looking for was groves of alders. Alders often form great patterns, with leaning, criss-crossing, light-colored trunks spotted with patches of moss or lichen. But while alders are deciduous trees, their leaves don’t turn color in the fall. Alders just drop their leaves while they’re still green. Even without that color, however, their patterns and structure make them worth photographing, and sometimes (like in the photo above) I was able to juxtapose maples with alder trunks. (Why don’t alder leaves turn color? No one really knows, but here’s one possible explanation.)

(more…)

Olympic Autumn: Part One

Vine maples and big-leaf maples, autumn, Olympic NP, WA, USA

Vine maples and big-leaf maples, autumn, Olympic NP, Washington

Earlier this month, Claudia and I spent about two weeks on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. Part of that time I was co-leading a workshop for Visionary Wild with Jerry Dodrill, which was super fun. We had a great, lively group of people, and beautiful conditions, with lots of fall color, and a gorgeous sunset on the beach.

This was our second trip to the Olympic Peninsula this year, and we loved both visits. There’s something about temperate rain forests that seems to strike a chord with me, whether on the Olympic Peninsula, in the redwoods, or on the west coast of New Zealand.

(more…)

Late Summer

White-lined sphinx moth and larkspur, Yosemite NP, CA, USA

White-lined sphinx moth and larkspur, Yosemite NP, California. 200mm, 1/4000 sec. at f/16, ISO 1250.



Summer arrived late this year in the Sierra high country, as the prodigious amounts of snow left over from last winter took awhile to melt. Snowmelt, mosquitos, and wildflower blooms all started and ended at least a month later than normal.

But that meant that summer lingered longer as well; we were still finding lots of flowers in late August.

And something about the timing of everything, or the great abundance of flowers, seemed to suit the white-lined sphinx moths. Claudia and I started seeing lots of these moths, along with their caterpillars, during July in the Eastern Sierra, and kept finding them anywhere we saw flowers for a good two months afterward.

(more…)