Grand Canyon: Day 4

Departure Day.
The view out of our hotel window.  It was another snowy morning and Northern Arizona was under a severe winter weather storm warning.  

We had some breakfast and things started to brighten up so we visited the geology museum and walked along the rim.  It was still a little bit snow.  There is an awesome rim trail that runs 20+ miles along the rim. 

The Geology Museum was placed where it is because it is thought to capture the most diversity and beauty of the Grand Canyon and I agree that it was one of my favorite spots.   And this is one of my favorite pictures of the canyon.  The colors, shadows, clouds, vastness.  So beautiful!

While Don collected a geocache I got my one and only bear picture!

The Grand Canyon is about a 90 minute drive back to Flagstaff and because of the Winter Weather Warning we decided to get an early start and hit the road around noon.  Sure enough we drove through some areas where the road was completed covered with snow and visibility was bad.

Our train was scheduled to leave at 10 pm so we found a cheap hotel near the train station to spend our day.  We got checked in and Don returned the car to the airport. 

A look at one of the snowy Flagstaff streets.

At 10 pm we caught the train back to LA.  The only disappointing part of the train ride was that we only traveled at night.  But it was a great trip and we plan to train it elsewhere in the near future!

Grand Canyon: Day 3

I was super excited about sunrise and sunset photography at the Grand Canyon.  Sunrise wasn\’t until 7:15 am so it was totally doable.  
I got up early to catch this beautiful sunrise.  

(To give a little perspective, this was the view the previous afternoon. )

It was really cold and the snow was coming down!

Fortunately the weather changes quickly and by 8:30 am there were blue skies!

We were scheduled for a 10 am helicopter tour but the bad weather was grounding all the tours.  So we went to the visitors center, watched the introductory movie and checked out the view from there.

One crazy good and bad thing about the Grand Canyon is that most of it is just a drop off with no railing.  And it was snowy and icy.  I\’m not sure how many people we saw standing on the edge for the perfect picture.  You can see all the footprints leading to the edge.

A look towards the visitors center.  The people give a little perspective on the HUGENESS of the Grand Canyon.

Quinn was really freaked out about us getting close to the edge, like in the picture above.  In the picture below Quinn was trying to get to firmer ground.

We had rebooked our helicopter tour for 1 pm.   They weighed each of us to determine where we would sit so the weight would be distributed.   Quinn and I got front row seats next to the pilot!

After we took off, we traveled over the Kaibab Forest to get to the canyon.

All the passengers had headsets and the moment we crossed over the rim you could hear everyone oooh and aahh and omg!  It was mind blowing.

Quinn was pretty pleased.

What a view we had!

The tour was about 45 minutes and then we headed back to the little airport.

They didn\’t give us much time to get pictures on the ground but here\’s Quinn and Don exiting the helicopter.

We stopped to get this shot on our way back into the park.

That afternoon we had planned to hike down in to the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail.  But it was very snowy and icy and Quinn and I weren\’t feeling so comfortable with it.  So we sent Don down the trail and we headed back towards the hotel.   Just having a great time!

I had scoped out some spots to get a good sunset picture.   Hopi Point is one of the most popular places and we were going to keep driving to a less popular area but we found a perfect parking spot.

It was really cold and I staked out my spot about 45 minutes before the sun actually set.  When the sun is peaking out from a cloud, you can get a really great starburst.  This was at 5:18 pm.

I captured another starburst just as the sun was setting around 6 pm.  By this point I was frozen.  But so worth it!!

Grand Canyon: Day 2

The train was running very late and ended up arriving in Flagstaff around 7:30 am.  But we enjoyed having breakfast on the train before departing.  
We caught a cab to the airport where the friendliest man ever got us in our rental car and provided us with lots of great information on getting to the Grand Canyon.  
It was about 9 am by the time we hit the road.   
We made our first detour at Sunset Crater Volcano.  Did you know that Arizona is covered in volcanoes that erupted about 1,000 years ago?

Next stop Wukoki.  This pueblo rises above the desert and can be seen from miles. 

Next stop, Little Columbia River Gorge.  Pictures just don\’t do it justice.    It was a long, long way down.  Quinn was a little freaked out by it and didn\’t want to get too close. 

A pretty amazing sight.

We approached the Grand Canyon from the eastern side at Desert View as we knew we would be spending most of our time on the Western end of the canyon.  Our hotel was Thunderbird Lodge in the Village which is about 25 miles from Desert View. 

First view of the canyon and the Colorado River.  Wowza!

The Desert View Watchtower.  We climbed to the top.  I thanked Don for wearing that red pop-of-color coat!

We made several stops along the way towards our hotel and the Grand Canyon Village. 

Quinn had jumped out of his bunk this morning around 5 am when he heard his dad going to breakfast because he wanted to have breakfast on the train too.  He was zonked out at 3 pm. 

This is a view of the canyon right in front of our hotel.  By traveling to the Grand Canyon in February we were able to get a hotel right in the park and right on the rim. 

You can see the Bright Angel Hiking Trail that leads to the end of the plateau.  Easier to get down than up.  There is a camp group in the group of trees in the middle of the trail. 

We were pretty tired by the time we checked in to our room around 4 pm so we took a nap.  I woke up around 6 pm and looked out the window and rushed out with my camera.

This is about the same spot as the picture above taken at 6 pm. 

The sky and the canyon just kept on changing colors and did not disappoint.  6:15 pm

Grand Canyon: Day 1

Quinn had a 4 day weekend over President\’s Day so we decided to go to the Grand Canyon.  We looked at all the options on getting there and settled on the train.   Yes, the train!!  Little did we know how much fun we would have.
We could take an overnight train from Los Angeles Union Station to Flagstaff Arizona.   There was an option to take the train right to the rim of the Grand Canyon but we really wanted to have a car so the plan was to rent a car in Flagstaff.  
We arrived at Union Station in LA having no idea where to go so we went to the Amtrak info booth.  From there we were whisked off to the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge to wait for our train.  We didn\’t realize that by booking a sleeper car we were traveling first class.  But honestly the best part was that someone held our hands in getting us through the station and on to the train.    

From the lounge we hopped on a buggy that took us and our luggage right to the train.  So much fun!

We booked a family sleeper that was in the back of one of the cars and spanned the width of the train.  It was small but pretty sweet. 

Quinn\’s pull down bunk can be seen above us in the pic below.  Don slept on the pull down bunk on the left side of the pic.  I slept on the bottom below Don.  

Someone was pretty pleased!

We got on the train at 6 pm and were called up to dining car at 7:15 pm.  We were really enjoying this experience.

Then back down to our room before lights out.   We were scheduled to arrive in Flagstaff at 5 am.

We slept as the train rocked us back and forth. 

Rays of Sun

I thought these photos I took were pretty cool.  They look like they are taken in a foggy bamboo forest.  

Actually it had just rained and the sun was peaking out….and I was doing the laundry and the dryer was venting steam….and I was taking out the garbage when I looked up to see this.    Here\’s the exotic forest.    I just happened to be at the right place at the right time. 

The Flu

I received a call from the school nurse on Friday that Quinn was in her office and he had a slight fever.   He came home and put on his pajamas and chilled. 

He woke up Saturday with a fever so we pulled out all the stops. 

Then around 4 pm he registered a temp of 105 degrees so we took him to urgent care.  They did a nose swab and he had Influenza A.  At the same time I asked if they could swab me because I was feeling under the weather too but it was pediatrics only.  So we got Quinn his TamiFlu on Saturday and he was improved by Sunday.

On Sunday it hit me hard.  I visited urgent care in the late afternoon and tested positive for Influenza A too.  I had a bit of a run around trying to find TamiFlu at a pharmacy that was open but eventually found some in Woodland Hills. 

We had a couch filled weekend and then again Monday.  Quinn was finally fever free on Tuesday and we were both feeling better so we went to In-n-Out for lunch and then out for a short walk with Sonic.  It was good to get some fresh air.

Don had his flu shot this year and avoided this whole mess.  This is my 2nd year in a row getting the flu so next year I will make sure I get my flu shot. 

Quinn Stuff

Quinn goes to the orthodontist every 6 weeks.  On his next visit he will be getting his bottom braces.  Oh yay!  We will all be happy when his braces are off.

Mr. Hot Chocolate.

Homework joys.

Having fun with weapons in TKD. 

Gelato and chess after Saturday night dinner.  

Building a snowman from a science kit.

Rain then Green

We are getting lots of rain and expecting more.  I had some fun photographing plants around the yard once the rain stopped and the sun came out.  

A look down our street to the green on the blackened hills. 

And a morning sunrise. 

Destin FL: Day 3

Day 3 started with an indoor creativity exercise that a bunch of us had completed previously so we went for a walk on the beach instead.  

Karen (left) was part of the Thailand group and Olena was part of the Utah group and both were in NYC.   And it was pretty chilly.

The grass on the dunes is so lovely.

We went back to the house and regrouped.  We had a family beach shoot scheduled for 4 pm so MeRa ran us through the ins and outs of family photography. 

A view from our room out to the ocean.

And the family and the paparazzi have arrived.   Those poor kids looked a little shell shocked!

There was a wedding happening right down the beach.

MeRa was directing and positioning the family.  At this point she asked the little girl to put her arm around her brother and she said no way.   I love their faces.

The sky had been gray and flat all day but it turned into cotton candy pastels or our family shoot.  It was as dreamy as could be.

The little boy was super shy and hid his head in his blankee most of the time.

He is a mama\’s boy and you know I can relate to that!

The kids were so done getting their pictures taken.  But the sky started to light up for us.  

The good thing about being around photographers is that you get lots of pictures of yourself.  I\’m holding someone elses camera while she takes my picture with my camera.  We had so much fun!

MeRa\’s husband Brian setting up his tripod.  I like to hang out near Brian or MeRa because they are always setting up great shots.

You know how I love my sunsets and this one was amazing.

Me capturing Stacey.

Brian in action.

Jumping Brian!

Leaping Stacey!

Leaping Amy!

The beauty of Mother Nature.

And MeRa, MeRa, MeRa.

I learned so much on this trip and loved spending the weekend with Stacey.  It was great seeing my friends from previous travels with MeRa and making a whole new round of friends.   I feel recharged and ready to sign up for the next trip.

But first home to squeeze my guys!

Destin FL: Day 2

We started Day 2 with a morning lesson on travel photography.  We had plans to travel to a cute little town called Seaside and MeRa talked to us about the types of shots travel magazines want.  MeRa makes it look so easy.  
MeRa\’s husband Brian gave Stacey a lesson on shooting in manual (vs. auto).  Stacey already has a great eye for photography and with the added technical knowledge she was on fire!  All pics today are with my \”big\” camera.  

My travel photography from Seaside.  

There were airstream food \”trucks\” lined up and we had lunch at the Crepe place.

Best. Donut. Ever.

Heading towards the beach.

Stacey in front and MeRa in back.

Nothing like handing your camera over to MeRa to get some pics!

She knows how to capture your good angles.

And then it was home for some sunset pics.  It wasn\’t quite as amazing as the night before but there\’s never a bad sunset in my book.

Sea Cucumbers at sunset.

A long exposure so the ocean looks flat.

Then it was back to the house and we shared pictures from our day.  It\’s so interesting to all go to the same place but see and capture it so differently.  I loved the photo sharing!