Halloween in Zion National Park

This Halloween my daughter and I went to Zion National Park to camp and hike. She had never hiked the Narrows before so that was the primary reason for the trip.

The first day, after setting up camp and grabbing dinner, we picked up our hiking gear for the next day. We rented the dry pants, river hiking boots, and neoprene socks for the Narrows hike. The Visitor’s Center in Zion claimed the water temperature of the Virgin River was about 55 degrees, so we would definitely want to remain dry.

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Monte Cristo Aspen Carpet

I recently purchased the Fujifilm 14mm f/2.8 R lens. The lens gets great reviews and is widely recognized for its optical quality. My morning trip to the Monte Cristo mountains was my first opportunity to use the lens. I was very excited to use it.

The photograph below was taken using the 14mm lens and it performed very well. I am very impressed with the lens and happy I bought it. I’m not going to do a review of the lens - there are plenty of them online - but will just use it to take pictures. Nevertheless, the lens delivers on the hype.

As I was exploring some of the aspen groves around Monte Cristo, I came across this hillside where the ground underneath the aspen trees was mostly clear of debris and undergrowth, and many of the aspen leaves had fallen, creating a carpet of yellow under the trees.

The place seemed to echo the quiet, cool experience that I love about autumn. It was peaceful, with a cool breeze, and I decided to try and make a photograph that captured that feeling.

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Monte Cristo Fall Painting

This image was taken a bit later in the morning, after I had waited for the sun to fill in some of the canyon’s crevices with light. I had taken a few photos earlier, as the sun rose above the mountains to the left of the frame, but I didn’t like any of the other compositions. So, rather than stress about losing a photo opportunity in great light, I put the 60mm lens on the X-Pro1, framed this shot, and then waited for the light to paint the canyon. The time spent enjoying the view was fantastic.

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Autumn Morning in Monte Cristo

The other day, prior to work, I headed up to the Monte Cristo mountains in Utah to capture sunrise and the autumn colors of the trees. The weather forecast showed an approaching storm that should arrive around noon so I had hoped there would be some leading clouds that could make for a dramatic sky in sunrise photos.

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Cabin in Featherville

One of the highlights of our year is an annual get-together with some people we have been friends with for decades now. We consider each other family and even our children are best friends. I have been friends with both guys since high school. They married sisters. We all attended the same university and hung out at every opportunity. These types of friendships are extremely rare and I consider our friendship to be among the greatest blessings in my life. The fact that all of our kids are best friends is icing on the cake.

Not all of us live close together now, so for the past several years we have made it an annual tradition to rent a large home/cabin and spend a few days together all in that same home. We try to select different places in order to mix up the experience, resulting in trips to Island Park, Idaho; Park City, Utah; the Oregon coast; and now: Featherville, Idaho.

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Family Trip - Ouray

One of the last places we stayed on our family trip to Colorado was Ouray (pronounced yoo-ray). I was very excited to check out the town because it has looked so picturesque in the photos I’ve seen of it.

After checking into the hotel I headed up to a trail, hoping to get a photo of the town from up high. I had located a spot on the map that looked promising, so I drove to the trail.

While on the hike I passed by some old, ruined mining buildings that were pretty neat.

Old mining building near Ouray

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Family Trip - San Juan Mountains

The highlight of the trip for me was taking the FJ onto some jeep roads in the San Juan Mountains. I wanted to see the towns of Ophir and Telluride, so we decided to take the Ophir Pass trail down into Ophir and then Telluride, followed by Last Dollar Road and on into Ouray (pronounced yoo-ray).

Here is the FJ along the road to Ophir Pass. FJ headed to Ophir Pass

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Family Trip - Durango

Following the visit to Cortez and Mesa Verde National Park, we headed over to Durango, Colorado for a few days. I was most excited to visit the San Juan Mountains to hike and take the FJ up on the jeep trails, but first we had to take the obligatory train ride from Durango to Silverton. I have to say, I was pretty skeptical of this train ride. It was expensive and going to be long, so I wasn’t too excited. However, I was impressed with the effort they make to keep the late-nineteenth century feel of the train. In addition, the views from the train during the ride are spectacular. Unfortunately, it was raining very hard the day we rode the train, causing a mudslide part of the way between Durango and Silverton, forcing the train to turn around about half-way. The company re-imbursed half our ticket price, which was very kind of them, and the ride was still great. I highly recommend it.

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Family Trip - Mesa Verde NP

After spending a couple of days in Moab, our next stop was Cortez, Colorado so we could spend some time at Mesa Verde National Park. None of us had ever been there and we were very excited to see the Pueblo ruins.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Cortez, which has a very kid-friendly “fort” in the room, complete with a wall, TV, and two bunk beds. Our kids loved it.

We spent a couple of days visiting Mesa Verde and were unable to see everything. Here are a few photos from the visit.

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Family Trip to Colorado - Day 1

The family and I are taking a much-needed trip to southwestern Colorado to visit Mesa Verde National Park, the San Juan Mountains, and Ouray. We’ll be making a few other stops along the way, but those locations are foremost in our minds as we pack the back of the FJ Cruiser with our stuff and head out to Moab, Utah.

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