Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Hiking / Soul Searching

Soul Searching
Soul Searching, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
soul searching
continuing the journey
through a daunting world
>>:::<<

Five years ago, I took this photo at beautiful Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah, USA, along the Queens Garden hiking trail.  I was still able to hike at that time, at least on the less difficult trails.

This is the photo I used in my first posting to introduce this blog.  I created this blog almost two years ago as part of my healing process through many, many health issues, debilitating and including widespread chronic pain.  (I’ve explained some of these in my other health blog.)  It is a much-needed therapeutic way to explore my own creativity, whatever may arise, with a primary goal to help me heal, and a secondary hope to develop and improve artistically.

Last week the number of followers on this blog reached and surpassed 1,000!  I never imagined this would happen when I started blogging, but more importantly, I am encouraged and appreciate that many have found my blog worthy of following, commenting, liking, or even just visiting.  It does help with the healing.  Thank you very much!

I am still on the journey through several health issues, and I don’t know yet what is on the other side.  Perhaps I will be able to hike a trail like the Queens Garden Trail again.  But in the meantime, Soul-Searching is still applicable.

This photo is for the Wild Weekly Photo Challenge where we are encouraged to take you along on a hike.
This is also for the “Tagged” letter challenge (letter “S”) by Frizztext,
(“S” is for Soul Searching.)

Wild Weekly Photo Challenge: Birds / Quest

Majestic Flight
Majestic Flight, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
a splash of sky
rising out of the water
majestic heron
>>:::<<

A Great Blue Heron on a quest for dinner!

This photo was taken just over a week ago at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah, USA.  The Great Blue Heron is the largest of the herons in North America and is found throughout most of the continent.  They have been described as “graceful flyers with slow, steady, dignified wingbeats.”  They feed primarily on fish, insects, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and usually nest in trees or brushes near water’s edge.  They rarely venture away from bodies of water.  In Utah, they are a common breeding resident in the summer and nest in scattered colonies.  A few remain throughout the winter in areas of open water.

Note:  The website for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service states that the Bear River Bird Refuge is an oasis for water birds and “acclaimed as one of the world’s 10 best birding areas.” It provides habitat for more than 200 bird species.  It is definitely one of my favorite places to visit.

This photo is for the Wild Weekly Photo Challenge where we are encouraged to turn
our lens toward some feathery friends.  No one has to twist my arm to do that!
This is also for the “Tagged” letter challenge (letter “Q”) by Frizztext,
(“Q” is for Quest.)

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

Fremont Petroglyphs
Fremont Petroglyphs, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

For this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge theme, I present images from two Native American cultures in my home state of Utah, USA.

The photo above was taken near Dinosaur National Monument in northeastern Utah.  These are petroglyphs dating from AD 100 to 1200, and were made by people from the Native American Fremont culture.  Some of the figures reach 9 feet tall and are located along a 200-foot high sandstone cliff.  Many rock art sites such as petroglyphs exist across Utah, and as with most rock art, they are a record of the presence of the people who lived there at the time.  (Fremont people were here until about AD 1300.  A suggestion as to why their traditions and culture disappeared here is climate change and worsening farming conditions, which did not allow Fremont people to easily adapt to for sustenance.)

Of interest to most general readers of petroglyphs is “What does it mean?”  Although archaeologists have arrived at certain general interpretations, “interpreting rock art designs is intriguing yet difficult, often impossible.”

How would you interpret these petroglyphs?

Now to the opposite end of the state for the next photo.  Tucked away into a ledge above a dry wash in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park (southeastern Utah) is a structure from the Native American Pueblo culture.  This structure, located in the left side of the photo, is an Ancestral Puebloan granary (grain storage bin).  Built between AD 1270 and 1295, this type of granary was used to store corn, bean or squash seeds.  There are dozens of similar storage structures in this area, but few dwellings.  According to the park information, this suggests that the early inhabitants of this area farmed intensively but lived there only seasonally.

Puebloan Granary
Puebloan Granary, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

“For many years, changing weather patterns made growing crops more and more difficult. Around AD 1300, the ancestral Puebloans left the area and migrated south. Their descendants include the people living in modern pueblos in New Mexico and Arizona like Acoma, Zuni, and the Hopi Mesas.”  (Source: National Park Service – Canyonlands)

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Linking up with:
WEEKLY TOP SHOT

Love is in the Air at the Bird Refuge

Grebe Courtship 1
Grebe Courtship 1, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
dramatic performance

like a choreographed dance
instinctive courtship
>>:::<<

In my last posting, I mentioned that we had seen far fewer migratory birds at the local Bear River Bird Refuge than the same time last year.  We went for another visit this past Easter Sunday and I’m happy to report that the birds are gradually arriving, although, still not at the level we saw a year ago on March 24, 2012.  The birds that have arrived since our last visit (at least that we saw) were a few American Pelicans, about 10 to 15 cliff swallows and LOTS of Western Grebes.  The refuge is large, so I’m sure there are many more recent arrivals hiding in the marshes.

The focus of this post is the Western Grebe, which you see in the photos.  They are the largest of the North American grebes and are fish-eating water birds that winter along the west coast of North America and breed on inland lakes during the summer.  The bird is a common breeder in northern Utah, USA, where the refuge is located.  Their preferred habitats are lakes, marshes and coasts.  They are graceful with long flexible necks, and dive into the water, rather than fly away when approached.  They spend most of the time in water.  They are awkward walking on land as their feet are placed far back on the body.

What’s so unusual about the grebes is their courtship display, which is among the most elaborate breeding rituals of North American wildlife.  Their mating display is among the most complicated of all.  A long pair bond is formed and strengthened by elaborate courtship displays including neck-bobbing, flexing their necks backwards toward the water, ritualized preening, head shaking, diving, weed carrying, caressing each other with aquatic vegetation, etc.  The bond is reinforced by a dance, or “rushing” phase.  Each bird glances at one another before exploding into a synchronous sprint, side by side, across the water’s surface, with their bodies completely out of the water, like hydroplaning.  They stand high, their wings held back and their cobra-like head and neck rigid and curved gracefully forward until the race ends with a headfirst dive!!  Wow!  (This dance was the reason for my haiku above.)

If that doesn’t sound cute enough, when the young hatch, the babies ride on the backs of their parents, sometimes as many as four chicks at a time, while the other parent dives for fish and brings food to them.  (Click here to see photos.)

Grebes build floating nests on the water, constructed of reeds, weeds and other floating vegetation.  Both parents take turns sitting on a nest of two to six eggs that hatch in about 23 days.  After the chicks hatch, the nests are deserted and gradually dissolve into the lake.  This is a perfect example of “green” recycling.

Our last visit to the refuge must have been too early for us to see the “dance finale” of this fascinating courtship routine.  There were several pairs, and we only saw the head bobbing and preening, but that’s ok.  It was still fun to see.  Here are a few photos of the beginnings of a courtship:

Grebe Courtship 2
Grebe Courtship 2, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Grebe Courtship 3
Grebe Courtship 3, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Grebe Courtship 4
Grebe Courtship 4, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Grebe Courtship 5
Grebe Courtship 5, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Grebe Courtship 6
Grebe Courtship 6, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Grebe Courtship 7
Grebe Courtship 7, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

Future BR Bird Refuge

>>:::<<
heartfelt invitation
excited for your return
spring migration
>>:::<<

Doesn’t this body of water look lonely, eagerly awaiting the return of migratory birds to fill it full of life, including the adorable playfulness of a whole new generation of baby birds?

It’s still phoneography month, and this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge encourages taking another photo with our camera phones.  I took this photo with my iPhone almost two weeks ago at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah, USA.  The water was mostly covered in ice still, and was too early for the migratory birds to make their appearance.  We heard that the migration would occur a little later this year because the ice was taking longer to thaw, but we made the trip anyway hoping to see some year-round birds including bald eagles.

One year ago, this section of water was about like you see it (minus the ice), and full of various birds.  However, having one of the driest seasons on record left this area and other units of the refuge dry or drying up by mid-summer, when we made our previous trip.  It was sad to see this so dry, but the refuge was also keeping and diverting water only in priority nesting areas.  At least we were able to see a higher concentration of birds in the priority areas.

It is refreshing to see this refuge full of water again and I am anxious to return when the migratory birds start arriving.  According to information from the refuge, the birds have survived worst conditions than last year, but lets hope the future is better and brighter for them.

Here is another photo I took last weekend, on our second trip to the refuge this year.  The bird is a Great Blue Heron.  This photo was taken with my Pentax DSLR.

Heron Silhouette
Heron Silhouette, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

I’ve had several postings in the past related to this refuge.  The refuge is on a delta of the Bear River in the northeast arm of the Great Salt Lake, and is the largest freshwater component of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem.  It “offers some of the most phenomenal water bird watching in the Western United States.”  According to the US Fish & Wildlife Services, the refuge is “acclaimed as one of the world’s 10 best birding areas” and has “long been considered one of the most valuable wetlands in the intermountain west region.”  It is a 74,000 acre National Wildlife Refuge and is host to millions of migratory birds yearly.  Located the edge of two North American migration flyways, the Central and Pacific flyways, it is an important resting, feeding, and nesting area for birds in both flyways and is a habitat for more than 200 bird species.

The mountain range you see in the first photo is the beautiful Wasatch Range, home to many world class ski resorts and a host of other outdoor pursuits.  Further to the right (south) near Salt Lake City, and just into these mountains, is where I live. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime

Lunch
Lunch, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

This is a juvenile male downy woodpecker being fed lunch by its mother.  The juvenile was able to land clumsily on the feeders, but wasn’t able to feed itself yet.  Thank goodness for Mama!  (If you have been following my blog for a while, I’m sure you’re not surprised that I’ve tried to work a nature shot, especially birds, into the photo challenge.)

Since it’s phoneography month, this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to take a lunch photo with our cameraphones, that is, if we have a cameraphone.  The photo above was taken with my DSLR camera, but the photos below were taken with my recently acquired iPhone.

One of my favorite things to do is to try different eating establishments with my hubby and mother.  From the fancy to the non-fancy, we’re game to try many different places and cuisines, which we have done more frequently in the last couple of years.

Most recently, a burger, fries, beer and a movie sounded good, so hubby and I tried Brewvies in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.  It is a cinema pub “featuring first release and independent films shown in a pub and restaurant atmosphere.”  Here, you can order a meal and drinks at the bar, load them up on a tray, take them into the movie theatre with you, and even play some pool or a pinball machine afterwards.  Narrow tables are located in front of each row of theatre seats where you can set your food.  It is an older establishment, so the theatre is not fancy.  We watched Django, which was shown from a movie reel.  It had been a while since I had seen the occasional vertical lines in the picture and heard the movie projector running in the back room.

The drinks: For hubby, a Detour Double India Pale Ale, 9.5% abv. For me, since I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol and I prefer still to be standing after a drink, I went for the hard apple cider in a much smaller bottle than the IPA and less alcohol content.

The bartender had a “great suggestion” to combine the cider and Guinness together, and gave me a small amount of Guinness to try it out. I took a small swig of Guinness combined with a small swig of cider and decided that the taste wasn’t my cup of tea. I prefer to enjoy each one independent of the other.

Finally the food! I ordered a wild salmon burger with caramelized onions, chunks of roasted garlic and blue cheese crumbles. What a yummy combination that was! Oh, and it came with home made wedge cut fries.

Overall, it was a nice way to spend the afternoon!

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

Part of a dinosaur leg bone fossil imbedded in a large rock face.  There also appears to be clam fossils along the lower right side of the bone.  (See the hand at the top right corner for perspective on size.)

Part of a dinosaur leg bone fossil imbedded in a large rock face. There also appears to be clam fossils along the lower right side of the bone. (See the hand at the top right corner for perspective on size.)

150 million year old fossilized clam shells imbedded in a large rock face.  (I hope hubby is not upset that I didn't get a model release for his fingers!)

150 million year old fossilized clam shells imbedded in a large rock face. (I hope hubby is not upset that I didn’t get a model release for his fingers!)

Dinosaur National Monument, located on the border between northeast Utah, USA and northwest Colorado, USA, is the only national park area set up to protect a historic dinosaur quarry.  It is one of the world’s best windows into the late Jurassic period and is home to an amazing display of fossils from this era.  The vast diversity of plant and animal fossils found there helps reveal its ancient environment.  (Click here to see my previous post on this monument.)

Along the park’s Fossil Discovery Trail, one can view a few large dinosaur bones and bone fragments that are imbedded in the rock face along the Morrison Formation spur trail.  These dinosaurs lived approximately 150 million years ago.  Approximately 163 million years ago, the area was an ocean environment.  If you look carefully, you can find small clam-like fossils and one-hundred-million-year-old fish scales!

One could definitely get lost in the detail looking at both large and small fossils imbedded in these large rock faces.  Fascinating to realize how ancient the remains are!

Sign at the beginning of the trail.

Sign at the beginning of the trail.

Morrison Formation spur trail at Dinosaur National Monument

Morrison Formation spur trail at Dinosaur National Monument

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to share a photo that means Lost in the Details to you.  (This challenge is about getting lost in the details. Once you’ve found a subject you want to photograph, challenge yourself to work a little further into the scene.)

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Linking up with:
PHOTO ART FRIDAY

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

>>:::<<
petite cotton balls
blanketing as downy quilts
their journey accomplished
>>:::<<

It’s still the middle of autumn, but the last three days have made me feel like we’re in the middle of winter.  We received our second large snowstorm this season, and the biggest snowstorm in over a year, per our local evening news.  My eyes confirm that statement based on how deep the snow is in our yard.

It’s amazing how quickly the weather can change.  Thursday was a very nice, sunny, warm day with temperatures in the mid 60’sF (about 19 Celsius) and no snow on the ground.  On Friday morning, we woke up to about a foot of snow (30cm) and freezing temperatures, and it has been snowing almost nonstop since.  Saturday morning we woke up to a few more inches of snow, about 16 inches total (41cm).  Right now, Sunday afternoon, there is about 22 inches (55cm) of heavy, wet snow accumulated on our deck since Friday.  You can see the difference in those snow depths among the above images.  (I live at an elevation of about 5,500 ft/1,676 meters.  The elevation of nearby Salt Lake City is 4,226 ft/1,288 meters.)

I enjoy the beauty of living where we experience all four distinct seasons.  Freshly fallen snow blanketing the mountains and valleys is certainly beautiful in the winter, even if I don’t like driving in it.  However, last year was a dismal snowfall year here.  We live in a dry, desert climate, and my state’s (Utah, USA) water supply is dependent on the buildup of winter snowpack in the mountains and the resulting spring water runoffs into our reservoirs.  Also, the ski tourism industry here, with 14 world-class ski resorts and “The Greatest Snow on Earth®” is an important part of the regional economy and obviously dependent on snow levels.

Hopefully, this large snowstorm indicates a good start to a respite and renewing some of the snowfall totals we didn’t get last year.   However, the Utah State University Climate Center found that over the past 40 years, Utah has warmed twice as fast as the global average, and our annual snowpack is shrinking.  Time will tell, but it is a situation that cannot be ignored.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to share a picture
that means renewal to you.

Linking up with:
YOUR SUNDAY BEST 

Continue reading

“S” Challenge: Survival

>>:::<<
avian banquet
abruptly evacuated
predator shadow
>>:::<<

Lately our birdseed feeders have been swarming with more feathered friends, moreso than this past summer.  There could be 30+ finches, chickadees, pine siskins and scrub jays monopolizing the four feeders at any one time, quickly depleting the food.  Then suddenly, it seems like one of the birds sounds an alarm and they disappear in a flash!  Yesterday, we saw why.  As the small birds evacuated, another larger bird flew across all the feeders and perched in a tree just outside our deck near those feeders…it was a stunning sight!

I believe this bird is a prairie falcon.  (Can anyone confirm its identification for me?)  With a length of up to 50 centimeters, their diet consists mainly of smaller birds caught in flight, and small mammals.  Recently, I found one of the feeders covered in fresh blood.  I thought some of the little birds got in a fight, but now I’m wondering if this hunter had anything to do with it.  Anyway, I would flee too, if I were in danger of being eaten!

(Although it has been snowing heavily these past two days, I was glad to be able to get some shots of this activity.)

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This is for the letter “S” Story Challenge by Frizztext, to share a short story or reflection, even an aphorism using a word tagged with each letter of the alphabet.

 Linking up with:
CAMERA CRITTERS
BIRD D’POT
WILD WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE

Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

Foreign Language
Foreign Language, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
peculiar symbols
meaningless and ignored
language barrier
>>:::<<

“Hey little bird!  Parking is allowed between the signs, not on top of the signs!”

This sign is obviously in a foreign language to the yellow-headed blackbird (or perhaps he’s just the parking enforcer to those who find this sign a foreign concept).  I was trying to come up with a different take on the “foreign” theme this week.

Photo taken at the Bear River Bird Migratory Refuge in northern Utah, USA.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to share a picture
that means foreign to you!
While foreign (rightly so) often brings up images of things outside of your own nation, it can also apply to things outside of or different from your normal environment, or even something which is out of place in general.

 Linking up with:
CAMERA CRITTERS
BIRD D’POT

Weekly Photo Challenge: Big

Bryce Canyon Hike
Bryce Canyon Hike, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
endless wonders
infuses awe and respect
nature’s creations
>>:::<<

This photo was taken during one of our hikes at Bryce Canyon National Park in southwestern Utah, USA.  The park is just another example of Utah’s spectacular geology and scenery.

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mine

My Diamonds
My Diamonds, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
bumps in the road
reveal one’s true friends
exquisite diamonds
>>:::<<

I love this photo because of the people in it.  This is my hubby and my mother, the two most important people in my life.  They are my rocks.  Together, they make an even stronger and more solid rock…my rock…a rock tailored for me.  Throughout my struggles over the years, they have remained on this journey with me with constant help, support and encouragement.  When you encounter “bumps in the road,” you learn who is with you for the long haul…and who is not.

Also, they are both mine!  Yes, I am possessive about that.  Hubby is MY hubby.  I’m an only child, and the only one who calls my mother, “Mom.”  From those perspectives, they are both mine.

They are exquisite diamonds!

(This photo was taken during one of our short walks near Canyonlands National Park.  Hubby is helping my mom, due to some knee and hip pain, and making sure she doesn’t stumble over the uneven trail.)

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

Solitary Snowy Egret
Solitary Snowy Egret, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
calm breeze embraces me
and tenderly kisses my face
solitary bliss
>>:::<<

(I took this photo of a Snowy Egret at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in northern Utah, USA.  For more information about this bird and the bird refuge, see my previous posting on the Snowy Egret here.) Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

Near and Far
Near and Far, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

>>:::<<
nature’s howls and whispers
carving majestic landscapes
visual symphony
>>:::<<

This photo was taken at Dead Horse Point State Park in Southeastern Utah, USA, near Canyonlands National Park.  The discovermoab website states that “The view from Dead Horse Point is one of the most photographed scenic vistas in the world,” the panorama of the Colorado River Canyon.  (Also, see my other posting here, from the same park.)

When I’m visiting the parks in Southern Utah, I tend to notice the character of old curly trees almost as much as I notice the breathtaking scenery.  Sometimes these trees appear to be growing right out from bare rock.  I often try to compose a photo with one or more curly trees in the foreground, and the photo above is one of those attempts…the trees are in the foreground nearest to you on the left…and the further to the right you go, the more distant the formations are.  The constructed lookout point (upper left) and the people offer a perspective on the size of this spectacular landscape.

Continue reading

“F” Challenge: Fossils

Dinosaur Skull Fossil
Dinosaur Skull Fossil, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Linking up with WEEKLY TOP SHOT, OUR WORLD TUESDAY, YOUR SUNDAY BEST 
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This past weekend, Hubby and I took a short yet fascinating road trip to Dinosaur National Monument (DNM), located on the border between northeast Utah, USA and northwest Colorado, USA.  DNM is the only national park area set up to protect a historic dinosaur quarry.  It is one of the world’s best windows into the late Jurassic period and is home to an amazing display of fossils from this era.  The vast diversity of plant and animal fossils found there helps reveal its ancient environment.

The fossil beds in this area were discovered in 1909 by Paleontologist Earl Douglass, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA, when he found eight dinosaur tailbones protruding from a sandstone hill.  This find turned out to be part of the most complete Apatosaurus skeleton ever discovered.  Douglass was working for the Carnegie Museum at the time, and established a formal digsite here known as the Carnegie Quarry.

From 1909 to 1924, field crews excavated and shipped fossils to museums, including the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Utah.  The first skeleton, and first specimen found at the quarry, was sent to Pittsburgh (my previous home) and mounted at the Carnegie Museum.

In 1915, the quarry site was declared a national monument to protect and conserve its world-class fossil bones.  Originally 80-acres, the monument was expanded to over 200,000 acres in 1938 to protect the spectacular canyons and beauty of the Green and Yampa rivers.

This image below shows the original size of the Carnegie Quarry, and what now exists of the quarry, in red.  This red area is what you can view at DNM in the Quarry Exhibit Hall.

The initial quarry was formed as a result of a “log jam” of dinosaurs that were killed by long droughts and returning extensive rains and floods.  The resulting fast flowing river swept carcasses and bones downstream along the river bottom where they began to pile and be covered by sand and mud.

Fossils from the Carnegie Quarry have been collected from almost 400 different dinosaurs.  Visitors can view a wall at the Quarry Exhibit Hall of the remaining 1,500 (approx.) fossil bones from 100 individuals dating back about 149 million years.  Earl Douglass was one of the first to suggest leaving some of the bones in place for public viewing.  DNM was the first place to do this and other sites have followed.

We were told that the skull in the very first photo above is the most photographed fossil at the quarry.  The following is a photo of the quarry wall inside the exhibit hall.  In the upper middle part of the photo, I’ve drawn an arrow to show where this skull is located.  (You can see a small protrusion at the end of the arrow point.)

Quarry Exhibit Hall
Quarry Exhibit Hall, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)

Here is another skull with the spine directly to the left of it.  This is a camarasaurus, which is the most common dinosaur at the quarry:

Camarasaurus skull (circled) and spine

The original Quarry Exhibit Hall, built in 1958 to house the quarry was closed in July 2006 because it was at risk of collapsing due to the expanding and contracting of the soil it was built on.  The Quarry Exhibit Hall underwent a major rehabilitation and was reopened on October 4, 2011:

Quarry Exhibit Hall at Dinosaur National Monument

Allosaurus skeleton. Original skull is seen in the lower left side of the photo.

This large, original Allosaurus skull inside the exhibit hall is one of the best-preserved skulls ever discovered.  It is uncrushed and only minimally distorted:

Allosaurus skull fossil

Near the quarry, visitors can take a short hike along the Fossil Discovery Trail and see more fossils of bone fragments, 100 million year old fish scales, and small clams.  Further away from the quarry, visitors can go on other hiking trails and scenic drives, take a river rafting trip, see dramatic river canyons, look for petroglyphs, etc.

The 23 rock layers and unique rock formations in this monument area provide a geologic record of earth’s history spanning over one billion years.  Fossils were deposited in many different environments, which allow scientists to reconstruct how the area was 150 million years ago.  Evidence, including Native American rock art (petroglyphs) show that the area has been inhabited off and on for thousands of years.

According to information at the visitors center, the monument has the “most complete geological records of any National Park Service site…It’s rock layers preserve ecosystems from ancient seas, to dinosaurs roaming river plains, to Sahara-like deserts with tiny mammals.”  Fascinating!

Baseball cap placed next to a dinosaur fossil – to show perspective

I am glad for the preservation of such historical significance and scenic beauty for present and future generations.


This is for the letter “F” Story Challenge by Frizztext, to share a short story or reflection, even an aphorism using a word tagged with each letter of the alphabet.

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dreaming

Dreaming Clouds
Dreaming Clouds, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Linking up with Our World Tuesday, Nature Notes and Rural Thursday.

>>:::<<
a mesmeric finale
introduces a dream world
lavender sunset
>>:::<<

This photo was taken from the Slickrock mountain biking trail in Moab, Utah USA.  Applying a blue photo filter turned a golden sunset into a dreamy lavender color.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is to share a photo that makes you dream!

Happiness Is…

Skyline Sunset
Skyline Sunset, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (click on photo to enlarge)
Linking up with Rural Thursday.
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…a summer sunset picnic high in the mountains!

A couple of weeks ago, hubby and I took a drive up a popular mountain trail in northern Utah, USA named Skyline Drive to have a sunset picnic and capture some sunset photos.  This trail is a 24-mile rocky dirt road located along the beautiful Wasatch Range mountains between Bountiful, Utah, and Farmington, Utah.  The starting altitude is about 4,550 feet and climbs to about 9,200 feet.  Along the way, you can see great mountain scenery, forests and spectacular views of the Great Salt Lake.  We started this trail on the Bountiful side and were at the very top of this trail when we took the photo above.  It was quite windy at the peak that day, making it difficult to hold the camera and tripod steady, but we still got some nice photos.  (Bountiful is Utah’s second settlement after Salt Lake City, which is the state’s capital.)

This post is also for Island Traveler’s theme this week of Weekly Image of Life: Breathtaking.

If you happen to have an image or posting with your own interpretation of “Happiness Is…”, feel free to include the link in the comments below.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer

I missed the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge from May 25, because I was vacationing in Moab, Utah. Even though it wasn’t officially summer when I went, today is the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere. For me, this post is about summer vacation.

Gemini Bridges Trail
Gemini Bridges Trail, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on image to enlarge).

We enjoy outdoor activities and a couple of those include hiking and off-roading. Hubby also enjoys mountain biking. The Moab area with its breathtaking national parks and Slickrock biking is a great place for these activities!  One of the trails we took during our trip was the Gemini Bridges Trail. It is one of the more famous mountain biking and popular 4×4 trails in Utah. The trail’s namesake destination, Gemini Bridges are natural bridges; a “massive rock span that has been cleaved down the center into two parallel bridges.” The trail leads you on to their flat tops where you can experience spectacular views and look 250-feet down over the edge, if you aren’t afraid of heights.

You will see many spectacular rock formations along this trail, like the one in the above photo. If you’re like me, you will need to be with patient travelers who don’t mind stopping frequently so you can fill your camera’s memory card with the surrounding beauty, large and small, and experimenting with different camera settings. In this photo, there is a dune buggy parked in the shade of the tallest rock (lower left side of photo), but it’s too dark to see. I hoped it would be visible to give a perspective of how massive the rocks are. I was also intrigued by the number of airline contrails in the sky that day.

The following photo was taken when we reached Gemini Bridges. To understand how large this formation is, you can see my hubby standing on the bridge taking a photo of me taking a photo of him. I didn’t look down over the edge, though. The cautionary butterflies in my stomach were holding me back, it was windy, I really didn’t want to get any closer to the edge, and I got some of the photos I wanted!

Gemini Bridges
Gemini Bridges Trail, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on image to enlarge).

HAPPY SUMMER!!

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U! Challenge: Utah, Ute

Potash Petroglyphs
Potash Petroglyphs, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on image to enlarge).

Utah, a state in the Western USA, was the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics and is the place where I grew up.  I just spent the last week visiting the Moab, Utah area and decided to use my home state to represent this week’s theme of “U.”

Utah was officially granted statehood on January 4, 1896.  The capital is Salt Lake City.  It is a dry, semi-arid to desert climate, and is a geographically diverse state known for the natural variety of its terrain.  What I like most about Utah is it’s incredible natural beauty, year round outdoor recreational activities, and four distinct seasons, to name a few.  From the beautiful mountains of northern Utah with it’s world-renowned ski resorts and fluffy powder snow (“The Greatest Snow on Earth®”), to the striking terrain of southern Utah sculpted over millions of years into spectacular canyons, arches, pinnacles, etc., visitors come from all over the world to experience Utah!  It is an outdoor enthusiasts paradise which includes skiing, snowboarding, hiking, boating, water skiing, horseback riding, camping, fishing, rock climbing, etc.

The name “Utah” is derived from the name of the “Ute” Native American tribe now living primarily in Utah and Colorado.  According to www.uteindian.com, Ute means “Land of the sun”.  Thousands of years before European explorers arrived, Native American tribes represented the original inhabitants of the area now known as Utah.  This included the Desert Archaic Culture starting in 10,000 B.C., per the Utah History Encyclopedia, and the Anasazi and Fremont Native American tribes from about 1 A.D. to 1300.  The most recent inhabitants, the Utes, have been in southeast Utah since the 1200’s.  Since those ancient times, Utah has become a web of sacred places, dwelling sites, and intriguing rock art messages depicting their art, lives and beliefs through petroglyphs and pictographs.  The southern Utah region was explored by the Spanish in 1540, and trappers and fur traders explored some of the Utah areas in the early 19th century.  The first Mormon pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847.  At that time, Utah was Mexican territory.  In 1848, Utah became a United States territory through the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and in 1896 officially became a state.

The images I chose to represent the theme this week are photos of some of the many rock art petryoglyphs left by some of Utah’s earliest inhabitants.  I find this art both fascinating and humbling, and took several photos last week when I was in Moab (Canyonlands and Arches National Park areas, Slickrock mountain biking, etc.)  See also my previous posting on Newspaper Rock petroglyphs near Canyonlands.

The first photo above was taking along the Potash-Lower Colorado River Scenic Byway (U-279) where you can see great views of the Colorado River, ancient petroglyphs and dinosaur tracks.  The presence of bows and arrows in this image is presumed to indicate a date after 500 A.D.

The photos below were taken along the Hurrah Pass Trail.

Moonflower Petroglyphs
Moonflower Petroglyphs, a photo by Fergiemoto on Flickr.  (Click on image to enlarge).

How would you interpret these petroglyphs?

If you live in Utah, or have visited, where are your favorite places?  If you have not visited Utah, what are the places would you like to see?

There are many great places to explore in Utah!  Here are just a few of them: Continue reading