Recent comments

  • Reader Participation Day: Tell Us Your "Dream" National Park Vacation   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I'm on it right now. Sketching in 6 national parks in 2 weeks through Utah. Colorado, and Arizoma. Posting along the way via iPhone so friends can travel virtually with me.

  • Reader Participation Day: Tell Us Your "Dream" National Park Vacation   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Any National Park in Alaska. I would love to see bears, calving glaciers, whales, and all the incredible beautiful scenery! However, Great Smoky Mountains and North Cascades are very high on my list as well.

  • Mules In Grand Canyon National Park: Should They Stay?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    My wife and I have been to the Grand several times and we have ridden the mules to Phantom Ranch and we have hiked rim-to-rim. For us, both experiences were uniquely memorable and profound beyond the justice that any written word can bring. The mule trip to Phantom Ranch was later gifted to my mother and sister as a Christmas gift because I discovered the experience to be so very profound. Upon the completion of their trip, they couldn't have agreed more. For many, the mules offer the only way to reach the inner depths of the canyon, and anyone who has been there learns immediately that one cannot truly appreciate the overpowering beauty and majesty of The Grand from behind the railings on the rims. On our rim-to-rim hike, we, of course, encountered several mule trains, and this was expected. Encountering the mules on the trails was just another part of what experiencing The Grand is all about. Never did we feel the mule’s presence as undesirable. On the contrary, the presence of the mule trains only enhanced our overall experience. As time goes by, the mules remain one of the few aspects of a Grand Canyon experience that reflect the history and heritage of the visit in a truly hands-on way. One hundred years from now, portions of a mule ride to the bottom of the canyon will feel just as they felt in the early 1900's. The day will likely come when a mule ride into the depths of the Grand is the only remaining experience that represents the historical heritage of the Grand. The hands-on, sometimes-dirty, dusty, hot, sweaty, uniquely beautiful and spiritual experience, that is accessible to the many, that is remembered for a lifetime, should certainly be preserved.

  • Reader Participation Day: Tell Us Your "Dream" National Park Vacation   5 years 25 weeks ago

    To buy an R.V. and travel around the U.S. for a month or two stopping at as many parks as I could along the way!

  • National Park Mystery Plant 3 Revealed: It’s Lupine, and It’s Complicated   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Thanks, Linda. It's nice to know that the dicots I encounter on the golf course are the trees that my golf balls hit, not the chunks of turf I send flying with my errant swings.

  • Studies Show Bear Spray More Effective Than Guns Against Grizzlies   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Any aggresiveness from you will definitely anger the bear more, always act defensively be calm, use bear spray but also hold a survival knife with your right master hand, you need only one hand to spray the bear,if the bear is undeterred use your survival knife to defend yourself by allowing the bear to touch the razor tip of blade to warn that you can inflict pain on him. Stay upright but if you fall curl up yourself holding the survival knife with two hands pointing upwards tostab the bear in case it crawls up near you

  • National Park Mystery Plant 3 Revealed: It’s Lupine, and It’s Complicated   5 years 25 weeks ago

    I enjoyed this mystery!

    Dicotyledon (dye-cottle-ee-don)
    A member of the class of flowering plants having two seed leaves, or cotyledons, floral organs arranged in cycles of four or five, and leaves with reticulated veins, among other distinguishing features; often abbreviated as dicot. Includes trees (with exception of conifers) and most ornamental and crop plants. Source: http://www.phschool.com/science/biology_place/glossary/d.html

  • Should the Trains Keep Rolling into Grand Canyon National Park?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    As a hiker and train lover.... I have enjoyed everything about the grand canyon. The train just makes it that much special. Two years ago my twin brother, dad , and uncle took the train which was a breath taking experience and then hiked down to phantom ranch and back up. The train ride let me see how the past use to be and allow new generations to still be able to enjoy the grand canyon.

  • Should the Trains Keep Rolling into Grand Canyon National Park?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    There is much we can learn (relearn) from western Europe where train travel is thriving. It's time to quit building endless highways and shift to far more efficient and sustainable transportation.

  • Should the Trains Keep Rolling into Grand Canyon National Park?   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Keep 'em rolling!

  • Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park Could Shut Down For Structural Strengthening   5 years 25 weeks ago

    Imagine paying the high rates the Ahwahnee commands to stay at a hotel that could kill us in an earthquake!!! Talk about corporate greed!!!

  • Vessel Speed Restrictions Extended At Glacier Bay National Park to Protect Whales   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Marshall -

    Here's a link to the park press release on this subject - the map with that release is quite a bit larger:http://www.nps.gov/glba/parknews/2009624.htm

    My wife and I were in Alaska for 2 weeks recently, including 4 days at Glacier Bay. We saw a lot of whale activity in a number of locations, and the above speed restrictions seem very reasonable in this part of the park. The new regs should also have very limited impact on most visitors making the usual boating trips into the park.

  • Vessel Speed Restrictions Extended At Glacier Bay National Park to Protect Whales   5 years 26 weeks ago

    World it be possible to get a link to the map you have as your photo? Or the ability to click on it and blow it up, though I'm guessing it would be harder than a link.

    Thanks, if so!

  • Selecting Lenses For Your National Park Visit   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Thanks a lot for the write-up Brett! It's amazing how many photographers I see out and about without TRIPODS. This goes for wildlife, landscapes, macro, etc. You can set up your composition by walking around the scene without a tripod, but, always use a tripod when taking your shot. And, don't use one with a extendable center head. It's too unstable and defeats the purpose of having a tripod.

    I use a Gitzo 1548. It's lightweight and extremely tough (it's expensive, but, you won't have to buy another one, for many years) and has enough weight to act as a support. A tripod too light is not much good and you end up having to stabilize it.

    rob
    ---
    Executive Director,
    Crater Lake Institute
    www.craterlakeinstitute.com
    Robert Mutch Photography

  • National Park Mystery Plant 3 Revealed: It’s Lupine, and It’s Complicated   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Bob, my question was innocent. I had no intention of setting you up, but I think I'll let either my good friend Rob or willow explain to you what a dicot is.

  • Americans' Dream Vacation in 2009? That'd Be A National Park Visit According to Survey   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Holy crap, they charge people $2750 to see the full report!? Are they nuts?

  • Winter In Summer at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Sorry I'm too far from Apostle Islands to hear the talk. We thoroughly enjoyed a visit to the park last summer - but remarked during wonderful weather in June that life is undoubtedly different here in the winter!

  • Selecting Lenses For Your National Park Visit   5 years 26 weeks ago

    For nikon digital slrs: I use my 18-200 zoom as a walking around lens, with a canon close-focusing ring that screws on at the filter end to make this almost a 1:1 macro when needed for flowers & insects. It has autofocus (I often override) and vibration-reduction, which helps in low light.

    I also have the 12-24mm: I take crazy shots out on the playas, and have photoshop to automatically back-correct the curvature from 12mm.

    I agree with MRC: the limitations of my photography in the parks are due to my limitations, not the equipment's, except for vivid color & resolution, where film still beats digital. I shoot thousands of digital frames (thousands of bad shots, a few keepers, but I'm learning), but when I have the time and light, I still shoot film for the best shots.

  • Selecting Lenses For Your National Park Visit   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Great introduction Brett, thank you for it. But in the end the most important factor in photography is the photographer. The image is created in your mind before you release the shutter. And a good photographer can make good to excellent pictures with (almost) any equipment. So the real advice to those who wish to improve their pictures is: You don't need much equipment, but get to know your gear and learn how to use it for the best results.

    Regarding lenses and focal length, I believe that the magnifying is not the decisive factor. Usually you can substitute a telephoto lens by simply walking closer. The real effect of focal length is how a lens depicts depth. A wide angle exaggerates the foreground and distances there, while a telephoto lens compresses depth and make distant objects appear close behind each other. "Objects in the rear view mirror ..." may in fact be closer than they appear - a rear view mirror works like a small wide angle lens.

    So if you own a zoom lens on your point-and-shoot or several interchangeable lenses on a SLR, experiment with the focal length. Try the obvious and its opposite. Take a telephoto lens (or the equivalent setting of your zoom) to photograph a single blossom - then take a wide angle and get very close to the flower. Get on your knees if necessary and physically possible for you, and take a picture. The blossom will be singled out of its surrounding because the wide angle exaggerates the distances and wide angles tend to blur the background, if focused on a very close object. Two different ways to guide the eye of the beholder to the important part of your picture: The small frame of a telephoto lens or the exaggerated perspective of a wide angle.

    Now do the opposite: The usual way to take a picture of a valley, a mountain, a meadow would be to use a wide angle. Try it. Then take a telephoto lens and photograph the same setting from long distance away. The result will be dramatic. All depth in your objects will be compressed.

    A normal lens, 50mm equivalent, depicts your objects like the human eye does. So those lenses (or settings in a zoom) are excellent for pictures with lots of details.

    Explore and learn. With digital cameras the costs of an individual picture are nil. So we can take many and try new things easily. Experiment with shapes and motives. Use a telephoto lens over long distances as above for motives with a diagonal line in it, maybe a hiking trail or a fence or the tree line and the edge of a meadow.

  • Survey Says National Park Service Is Far from the Best Government Agency to Work For   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Frank,

    The Stoneman Meadow Riot of July 4, 1970 occurred long before the time of commissioned, professional-grade law enforcement rangers in the NPS. Prior to and during the riots, however, the NPS was being advised by the FBI. This event, which was perhaps the single most important event that spawned the law enforcement specialty in the NPS, is the subject of ongoing research by former NPS historians.

    With respect to how the NPS compares with other government agencies, I wonder if it doesn't simply come down to average salary per person. I don't think the Nuclear Regulatory Agency has many lower-salaried "seasonal" employees. The highly specialized and technical nature of their work probably commands more highly-paid employees than any other branch of government. For example, I'm willing to bet that the Nuclear Regulatory Agency has more GS-14 to GS-18 salaried employees (per full-time equivalent employee) than any other Federal Agency. Each individual's job assignment and measures of performance would also be highly defined.

    By contrast, I wonder how job definitions, assignments, and measures of performance are apportioned for seasonal and career NPS'ers? To what extent did the NPS survey even consider seasonal employees? To what extent is there a clear connection between excellence in performance of duty and salary/career advancement?

    Unless this Federal employment survey is highly affected by salary per person, I cannot fathom how it is possible for the Nuclear Regulartory Commission to be ranked higher than the NPS.

    Owen Hoffman
    Oak Ridge, TN 37830

  • Americans' Dream Vacation in 2009? That'd Be A National Park Visit According to Survey   5 years 26 weeks ago

    Dear anon: Twelve National Parks in one week? The study is about leisure travelers, not those out to break records. I sincerely hope you got a first glimpse of those parks so you were able to pick your favorites.

    Now you can return to those for longer stays. Take your time in a national park, explore, relax, enjoy. Get off the beaten track, spend several hours in one beautiful spot and see how the vistas changes with light and weather. Observe wildlife. And take a ranger let walk or attend a campfire program in the evening.

  • Americans' Dream Vacation in 2009? That'd Be A National Park Visit According to Survey   5 years 26 weeks ago

    My husband and I have made it a goal to get our daughters to all 391 National Parks. We're at 131 right now so still a ways to go. There's no better place to go for family vacations than our National Parks!!

  • Should the Trains Keep Rolling into Grand Canyon National Park?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    The only rail connection from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon is via Barstow, CA. So either you build new tracks (and buy the right of way necessary) or the 550 miles per direction make this a very long day trip.

  • Should the Trains Keep Rolling into Grand Canyon National Park?   5 years 26 weeks ago

    please dont stop any more trains. i love trains ,and for some of us this the only way we well be able to see the sites of such beauty.

  • Americans' Dream Vacation in 2009? That'd Be A National Park Visit According to Survey   5 years 26 weeks ago

    I love our National Parks and Monuments. My husband and I and another couple visited 12 in a week. The park employees were very nice and we plan on doing more parks in the years ahead. I love it that they have made it free on 3 weekends this summer.