Engelberg Mountains


Engelberg, Switzerland is still possibly the most picturesque little town I’ve ever been to.  It seemed like it must have been completely kept in existence by tourism, but it didn’t have the level of commercialization that it seems most ski areas do.

“It’s a German legend, there’s always going to be a mountain in there somewhere.”

Picture taken with Olympus C-2040Z, lens @ 8.9mm (49mm eq), 1/400 sec, f/5.0, ISO 100



There’s nothing particularly notable about this building and courtyard in Japan and I’m not even sure what the building is.  I still find it kind of picturesque, probably just because of how clean everything in Japan is kept.  I think I stayed at the hotel from where this was taken two or three times over the course of WPC travel.

Picture taken with Canon Rebel XTi, EF-S 17-85mm lens @ 17mm, f/9, 1/160 sec shutter, ISO 400.

Smoky Mountains 2015 – Day 4


Smoky Mountains Day 4 itinerary:

  • 6:30 – got to Cades Cove (sunrise)
  • Drove two loops around Cades Cove
  • Started hiking Middle-Prong trail
  • Turned back due to rain
  • Stopped at “The Sinks”
  • Returned to hotel – nap
  • 4:30 – Chimney’s Trail
  • 7:00 – return to trailhead
  • Bear sighting
  • Drove through Gatlinburg
  • Geocaching and dinner in G-burg

It was rumored that Cades Cove was the best place to go for sunrise, so we figured we’d best to that at least one morning.  Cades Cove is 45 minutes to an hour from the entrance to the park (disregarding the campground next to the cove).  There had been a storm the night before, and we did find one tree down along the way.  Fortunately it didn’t block enough of the road and shoulder to prevent the Subaru from getting through.  We got to Cades Cove before the gate opened, so as early as we could.  I think we were car #3 in line.

I expected to be in search of a new view for sunrise and wildlife, but I think that was a misconception, at least with regards to the sunrise.  Maybe thanks to the storm the night before, the entire area was blanketed in fog.  This yielded a different kind of photography opportunity.  It did limit the likelihood of seeing much wildlife as on our first pass around the loop, we couldn’t see more than 100 yards or so from the road. Continue reading

Smoky Mountains 2015 – Day 3


Smoky Mountains Day 3 itinerary:

  • Slept in (forecast of rain)
  • 11:30 – stopped at NOC for a hat
  • 12:00 – Alum trail to Mt. LaConte
  • 7:00 – return to trailhead
  • Return to hotel, made dinner
  • Went to Morton Overlook for sunset

It was supposed to rain on Saturday, so we didn’t really hurry to get up and going.  Turns out, that forecast was wrong and we probably could have gotten an earlier start.

We had noticed that there was an NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) building on the border of the park just in Gatlinburg.  I was unaware that NOC had physical stores – I thought they were an online only entity – but since it was there it got added to our list of things to do.  We stopped in mainly just to browse, and because I wanted a less warm hat than the one I was forced to use the day before.

Continue reading

Smoky Mountains 2015 – Day 2


Smoky Mountains Day 2 itinerary:

  • Stupid early – drive to Clingman’s Dome
  • Nap in Clingman’s Dome parking lot
  • 9:00 – Hiked to Clingman’s Dome
  • Continue down the Appalachian Trail
  • Fail to find Siler’s Bald
  • 4:30 – return to Clingman’s Dome lot
  • Returned to hotel

Day 2’s itinerary really only had two items on the list:  wake up and go watch the sunrise and then hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail starting at Clingman’s Dome.  We were able to get up early enough to do the sunrise thing in spite of the previous nights minimal sleep.  I haven’t done a lot of sunrise photography, but I’m happy with the pictures I got. Continue reading

Smoky Mountains 2015 – Day 1


Smoky Mountains Day 1 itinerary:

  • 9:30pm (CT) – depart Chicago (Midlothian)
  • Drove through the night
  • 8:30am – arrive in the Smoky Mountains
  • Stopped at Sugarlands visitor center
  • Headed to Ramsey Falls (+ coffee)
  • 10:20 – started hike
  • 12:15 – arrived at the fall
  • 1:15 – start descent
  • 3:30 – return to trailhead
  • 4:30 – check in at hotel
  • Unpacked, napped
  • 8:20 – sunset at Morton Overlook

We headed south out of Chicago starting at around 9:30PM (central) and traded off driving through the night to the Smoky Mountains.  Janet started out driving and I attempted, with limited success, to sleep.  This is admittedly an obnoxious way of going on vacation, but it does help compress things into a long weekend.

Continue reading

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji

This was taken on a trip before I was officially involved in the WPC.  I was overseas supporting various potential customers and met up with some of the people who were there on a WPC trip.  I don’t remember who we were visiting at the time, which is probably good b/c I wouldn’t say anyway.  It was cool for me just to ride one of Japan’s bullet trains.  This was snapped out the window as we were rocketing along, and it’s the closest shot of Mt. Fuji I got on the trip (we could see Mt. Fuji from the hotel, but very much in the distance).

Picture taken with Canon Rebel XTi, EF-S 17-85mm lens @ 85mm, f/14, 1/640 sec shutter, ISO 400.  Yes, apparently I was carrying that camera on a customer visit.

Half Dome

Half Dome

I’ve posted one similar to this before, but it was not this one, so I’m not breaking my rules.  Of course, in some cases that means I could post what appeared to be the same picture for a month straight without truly repeating.

This is a shot of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, taken from the Lower Yosemite Falls trail (I think).  It started out with a strong bluish haze over everything since it was taken at quite a distance and later in the day.  Took a lot of doing to adjust it to the point where it was something really worth viewing.

Picture taken with Canon 60D, EF-S 18-135mm lens @ 42mm, f/16, 1/15 sec shutter, ISO 100

Tetons & Yellowstone – Badlands National Park

Well, the title of this post is dumb because I’ve been referring to the trip as the Tetons & Yellowstone even though it also included the South Dakota Badlands.  The Badlands was kind of an add-on, somewhere to stop on the drive if we had time.  We weren’t exactly sure what to expect or how long we were going to want to stay in the badlands.

Mt. Rushmore

Our first stop was on the way to the Badlands in the Black Hills at Mount Rushmore.

While Mt. Rushmore might be an impressive National Monument, the general area is a complete tourist trap.  Keystone is a small town just outside Mt. Rushmore which resembles a year round carnival, kind of like Pigeon Forge, TN.  We drove through Keystone and continued up toward Mt. Rushmore.  There were occasional vehicles pulled over on the side of the road, which we found odd, given that we were less than a mile from the actual entrance.

Turns out, although the National Monument access is free, parking is privately run and cost $11, park passes not accepted.  Between that and a general distaste for the tourist trap we had just driven through, we decided not to pay, dubbed the entire place Mt. Shmushmore, turned around and just took some pictures from the road around the area.

Mount Rushmore Continue reading

Tetons & Yellowstone – Yellowstone Falls

We started out the day with the plan to go see Yellowstone Falls and Artist’s Point (#3).  The ranger told us that there was 6ft of snow on the trail, but we figured he was just being cautious and we’d go regardless, like we had in the Tetons.

On our way to the Falls, we stopped to watch a coyote hunting in the field and got to see it successfully catch a gopher (or something similar) for breakfast.  It kept hunting for a while, but we did not get to witness a second successful kill.


Continue reading