A Walk in the Park

Skyline Park

The Missus enjoying a late afternoon walk while west Phoenix gets some rain in the background.

When you live in the southwestern desert you learn to accept that much of the summer is just plain too hot for outdoors activities.  That’s not to say one is housebound the entire time, but aside from morning and evening walks hiking is not on the schedule.

In late September the weather starts to change, and we start getting out a little more.  The town we live in has opened a new park recently, so we took an hour or so to take some pictures and enjoy the weather.

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South Africa Landscape

Pastels

Water color reflections on the lake at Shambala.

Some final thoughts in closing out the South Africa trip posts…  While the animals are fascinating, the country itself is beautiful.  One thing seasoned travelers frequently notice is that when you go to a new region, it smells different.  Usually the first impression is slightly unpleasant, but you quickly adjust and no longer notice.  South Africa is the first place I’ve been that immediately smelled good.  I associated the smell with good earth, the kind you could plant a good crop on.

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Portraits

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White Lion at Shambala displays his teeth.

Most of the time photographing wildlife is done at some distance. Depending on the animal and the environment that may be as close as a few feet, but more likely twenty feet would be considered close and 50 to 300 feet not unreasonable.  While most of the animals we photographed were free running on game preserves, there were some that were captive and allowed for closer shots.  The male White Lion above is at Shambala and is fenced in at the owners property along with two females.  They’re fed and cared for, but are certainly not pets.  Their human interaction consists of being fed from a distance and being hopeful that one of those tasty looking photographers will fall into the enclosure.

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Water Hazard

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Only the eyes and nostrils break the waterline. The crocodile moves barely disturbing the water.

As a youngster I remember seeing old black and white movies on Saturday afternoon television.  Aside from all the World War II dramas, Johnny Weissmuller playing Tarzan were the movies I most remember.  A required scene in all those Africa adventure movies were the crocodiles splashing into the water.  What better way to show the dangers of the bush.  While Hollywood usually stretches artistic license to the limit, the Nile Crocodile is indeed one of the most dangerous animals on the continent.

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The Big Five

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Bull elephant expresses his displeasure at our presence.

Our latest travels took us to South Africa with the intention of getting some wildlife photographs.  Although I’m fairly well travelled, this was the first time I’ve been on the African continent and I was looking forward to the trip.  Our schedule included time at the private game farms of Ukutula and Shambala, as well as a visit to the Pilanesberg National Park and Game Reserve.

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Havasupai

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Havasu Falls the evening we made camp.

Last week we took a five-day outing with Arizona Highways Photography Workshops to Havasupai in the Grand Canyon. The workshop was led by Suzanne Mathia and supported by Tyler, A.J. and Todd from Arizona Outback Adventures. It was a great trip with some excellent hikes, spectacular photographs, and lots of fun!

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Field Trip

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White Sands National Monument

One of the few down sides to the photo trips we take is that we have to leave our dog Trix behind.  True, she stays in quite the pet resort and seems to enjoy herself but we still have that pet owners guilt thing going.  We’ve talked about bringing her along on some of the shorter trips, and since she’s been successful going on our day hikes with us we thought it was time for a camping trip.  White Sands National Monument is about an eight hour drive from here, so after a little research we decided to give it a try.

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