Photo challenge: Layered

This week’s photo challenge is “Layered.” I immediately thought of this photo I took in Snow Canyon on our hike this week:


Snow Canyon is famous for “petrified sand dunes.” They are sort of like slick rock in Moab, but sort of not. The look like they could blow away at a moment’s notice, but they are as stout and firm as any rock you’ll see. The patterns in the rock are mesmerizing.

Southern Utah trip

Sherrie and I made a fun trip to Southern Utah this week! We stayed in St. George for a couple of days and went to Zion National Park and to a see Newsies at Tuacahn. We also hiked in Snow Canyon and were able to squeeze in a fun game of pickleball with our very busy friends Tracie and Glen. On the way home, we stayed one night in Bryce Canyon and hiked through the canyon. It was a fun trip, and we didn’t want to come home, which probably means it was a successful vacation.

Zion National Park

On Tuesday, we hiked to Observation Point in Zion. This was a fairly difficult hike. We included Hidden Canyon, so the total distance was over eight miles, with about 2500 feet of elevation gain. We were tired by the end, but we loved the hike.

Here’s a beautiful landscape of the view from the trail partway up; you can clearly see Angel’s Landing, and the beauty that is Zion.


At the top, I took a picture of the end of Angel’s Landing with the telephoto; this is from nearly a mile away, and the telephoto did a nice job picking out the people.


And here’s the big-picture view:


Sherrie shows the happiness we both felt at the top after a strenuous hike rewarded with beautiful views


We visited Hidden Canyon on the way down. It wasn’t scary like Angel’s Landing, but there were some spots that required your attention:


Snow Canyon

Wednesday we hiked in Snow Canyon. Neither of us had ever been there before. Snow Canyon is famous for “petrified sand dunes,” which are sort of like slick rock and sort of not.



We also saw lots and lots of Moqui Marbles (see “Iron Oxide Concretions” in the article). Native Americans believe them to hold mystical properties; I think they are pretty cool.


At the end of our hike there, we were about a mile from the car. There was a very large petrified dune between us and the car. Sherrie was sure we would go around it; I wasn’t sure whether we would or not. To the vexation of our tired legs, we scrambled over:



Wednesday night, we went to Tuacahn and watched Newsies. The weather was perfect and we both enjoyed the show. The best part is that we had Hotwired a hotel, which turned out to be Red Mountain Resort, which is about a mile from Tuacahn, so we were home after the show within a couple of minutes.

Bryce Canyon

Thursday, we drove to Bryce Canyon. On the way, we stopped in Parowan and had lunch at La Villa’s with our friends Bruce and Kathy Allen. At Bryce, we had Hotwired a room which turned out to be “Ruby’s Inn” just outside the park entrance (location, location, location!). The weather turned cold and stormy Thursday afternoon and into Friday, and Bryce was a lot colder than St. George.

On Thursday, we hiked the rim and had some awesome views:



We weren’t too ambitious Thursday, so we only hiked a few miles. Thursday night, I went back to Sunset Point at sunset to take a timelapse of the night sky. I was nearly thwarted by clouds, but they went away right around sunset, and so I took my timelapse. Here’s a frame:


The sky was very dark and the Milky Way really stood out. Take a look at my Sunset Point Timelapse to see the result; I wish I could have recorded longer, but the clouds moved in so quit earlier than I wanted.

On Friday, we hiked through Zion. We started at Bryce Point and worked our way north back to Sunset Point. Here’s a picture of Michael on the trail from Bryce Point:


A cool view as the path goes through a hole in the rock:


We hiked through the bottom and then up via Queen’s Garden so we could see the “Queen Victoria” rock.


And then, we went BACK DOWN into the bottom again so we could see the Navajo Loop and Wall Street. The bummer about hiking in Bryce Canyon is that you always start at the top and hike down, and you don’t really know what’s waiting for you because you have to climb back out–it’s hard! But it’s totally worth it. We accidentally saved the best for last, as Wall Street was pretty cool. This part of the trail ended up being our favorite.  Here’s one of the big trees growing up past the steep walls on Wall Street:


and here’s Sherrie on the switchbacks climbing back out above Wall Street:


The view down into Wall Street:


It was a great trip, and we had a blast.

Weekly photo challenge: Waiting

In this week’s photo challenge (“Waiting”), we were asked to share a snapshot that shows a sense of waiting.

I had the blessing today to spend some time with my two granddaughters Esther and (newborn) Sylvia while their parents had some time out together. Esther was, of course, a ball of energy, and Sylvia was, of course, sleeping. We had fun playing with playdough and Esther was her normal ebullient self.

I got a couple of good shots of Esther, both of which evoked for me Waiting. The first was when Esther told us all we had to take a nap. She proceeded to lie on the couch, and although she was only still for about  a microsecond, I managed to capture this:


Do not fool yourself into thinking that the afternoon was a quiet affair! The second photo is more indicative of how things went:


Applause please!

Weekly photo challenge: Structure

In light of the fact that I’m trying to become a (better? good? not horrible?) photographer, I’m going start participating in WordPress’ weekly photo challenge.

This week’s challenge is Structure. When I saw that, the first thing I thought of was the structure in the sun’s corona that I captured in my eclipse photos. The best of those, in my opinion, is this one:


It captures a few things that are appealing to me. First is the structure in the corona, which is what this week’s photo challenge is about. It also captures Mercury’s ability to shine in the presence of the sun, and not be overwhelmed by it. I’m sure many people can relate to that metaphorically.

The photo is simple, but I am quite pleased with it.


I want to do a quick post to close the loop on the eclipse. It was, without hyperbole, one of the greatest experiences of my life. Perhaps short of seeing my children born, but definitely better than any other natural world experience I’ve ever had. Totality was amazing. Don’t let anybody ever tell you that it’s almost as good to see it at 99%. I’ve seen both, and I promise you, it is night and day different (literally, and figuratively).

We had a long car ride home, but it was TOTALITY worth it.

Without further ado, some photos:

First, through the solar filter as the eclipse began; you can see a few sunspots in this one:


Later, with the sunspots on the “limb” clearly visible:


I managed to get “last light” through the solar filter:


Of course it’s impossible to describe what happened during the eclipse. It got cold. The streetlights came on. There was a 360-degree “sunset.” And the stars came out, as you can see in this one (four or more “stars” if you look closely, including Venus to the right and Mercury to the lower left):


This is my favorite; Mercury is very prominent to the lower left, and you can see a lot of structure in the corona.


Finally, I tried to get the “diamond ring.” I didn’t time it quite right, but here’s what I ended up with. I purposely edited it so you can see the structure in the corona, though it makes the central part over-exposed. You can also see some visual artifacts from diffraction in the camera (?) from the bright part of the diamond ring:


A new baby in the Webb family

The exciting news this week is that we have a new baby in the Webb family! Sylvia Ann Webb was born to Matthew and Becky at 0526 this morning (7 pounds, 19 inches long).


We got a call at 0100 this morning that Becky had begun labor. Sherrie quickly got her things together and went to Salt Lake. She had to go to the neighbors to pick up Esther, and she had to go to the hospital to get keys from Matt (not sure of the order). Eventually she got Esther back to her own house and to bed and finally fell asleep around 0400. (I’m on the phone with her right now and she sounds very tired.) One fun story is that when Esther got to the neighbors’, she was wide awake and they had to read stories to her for a couple of hours until Sherrie arrived.

I was up just after 5 for my early-morning meeting, and I texted Matt at 0524 (yes, two minutes before Sylvia came, by coincidence) to send me updates. Well, at 0610, during the beginning of our meeting, my phone rang and I could see it was Matt, so I excused myself and went out in the hall to talk to him, and I got the happy news.

Sherrie and I spent most of the day with Matt, Becky, Esther, and Sylvia. It was lovely! Becky seems to be in high spirits and feeling and looking great. Sylvia slept a lot and seems to be happy to be here, if sleepy. Esther was very quiet and reserved when she first saw her sister:

DSC_0079but as the day wore on she got quite used to the idea that she was now a big sister, and was then her normal ebullient self (here I caught her jumping):


Matthew was a glowing new papa.


And of course, Grandma and Grandpa were pretty happy as well:


Sherrie just told me that when they left the hospital (I had to leave a while ago), Esther fell asleep in the car on the ride home. Mind you, it was only five blocks, so that was fast! She pretty much conked out.

We are so happy to have a new lovely granddaughter in our family, and that things went so well with her arrival. Children, grand or otherwise, are a great blessing from a loving Heavenly Father. I cherish the children in my life.


Sherrie and I are currently in Rexburg, ID with Jared, Rachel and Silas, and Rachel Elizabeth. We had the happy coincidence that our nephew Joey returned home from his mission to Oklahoma a few days ago and gave his report in sacrament meeting here today. So we came up to visit Sherrie’s sister Pam’s family, and this just happens (:-) to coincide with the eclipse tomorrow. We are excited to be here. Rexburg is in the path of totality, and only nine miles from the centerline. The skies are a little hazy from fires, but hopefully we will have a good show tomorrow.

We had a loss this week: our peach tree split right down the middle on its main branch:


We are going to try and let the branches “live” long enough to ripen the peaches, but the tree will have to go this Fall or in the Spring. I’m bummed about that.

As of yet, we haven’t seen any evidence of the #Eclipolypse. Although, in church today, there we quite a few visitors from near and far. The Rexburg-ites seem to be taking it in stride. I keep watching Google Maps to see the traffic problems, but none have arisen in Northern Utah/Southern Idaho yet. Much ado about nothing?

I bought an “entry-level” Nikon DSLR this past week. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and decided to let the #Eclipolypse be the impetus to make the purchase. I’ve been practicing taking pictures. Here are few:

Here’s one taken by a stranger in Jared’s apartment complex:


I took a few photos of Matt, Becky and Esther:


and here’s Becky, ready to burst:


I took a couple pictures of the night sky this week. First, a picture toward the north (Cassiopeia) with the Milky Way; if you know where to look in the right third just below center, you can see the Andromeda Galaxy:


(I need to get away from city lights to get better Milky Way photos).

In preps for the #Eclipolypse, I took some photos of the sun through a filter today. You can see some (somewhat blurry) sunspots:


I’m excited about the #Eclipolypse tomorrow. I hope we can get some good photos, but above all that we have a neat experience.

We are breathlessly awaiting the call from Matt and Becky, as she is due in the next week or so and the baby can come at any time. Sherrie has plans to go down and help Matt and Esther when the big day comes. We’re excited for the new baby!

I took a couple of good pictures of Silas: one at our table at home before we left:


And one of Silas in the backyard sand pile after being buried by his (first, once-removed) cousins Elijah and Benjamin: