It is President's Day and the mechanical humming of paint spraying equipment penetrates from outside my window. We are having the house painted today and new windows installed next week. It's not as exciting as a photography trip to some exotic location, but it takes care of a major "to do" for this year. Getting the painting and windows out of the way clears the calendar for more adventurous undertakings in 2013. But, let's not get too far ahead. After all, it's only mid-February.
So far our travels have been more vacation than photography. Early in January, Jane and I enjoyed a ski vacation with Joy and Jon Eaton at Park City, Utah (www.parkcitymountain.com). We thoroughly enjoy skiing at Park City. It feels like the slopes were designed and groomed to our level of skiing ability. Over the years, this was our fifth time at Park City and the third with Joy and Jon, we have been able to hone our skills and now feel extremely comfortable paralleling down the slope. We have found our "grove", one might say. Of course, this is all limited to the trails with Green Circles. We totally loose confidence when the Blue Squares appear and panic should a Black Diamond loom ahead.
We had a lot of fun. That is, untill Jane twisted her ankle on the sidewalk coming home from dinner one evening. We had all devoured some savory buffalo burgers at the No Name Saloon (www.nonamesaloon.net) and were on our way back to the condo. Walking from the shuttle stop, she stepped off the sidewalk onto a large break in the gutter, twisted her ankle and when down to her knees. A visit to urgent care the next day revealed a small crack in a bone in her foot. So, poor Jane was relegated to wearing a foot boot and using crutches for the rest of our stay.
Jane is a trooper and was ready to travel again in early February to our next destination, Whistler, Canada, (www.wistlerblackcomb.com) for some more skiing. Our lodging was a most comfortable timeshare condo at Northstar Creekside. All of Whistler Village was an easy walk from there and what fun it was to stoll along the shops and restaurants all bundled up on our winter wear. At night the Village was singularly vibrant with colorful, sparkling lights illuminating the pedestrian concourse. Adding to the ambiance of the Village were the multitudes of people coming and going in their showy, multicolored ski outfits. The Village is large and easily accommodated the crowds with its abundent shops, restaurants and bars. We loved it and became part of the crowd finding a different restaurant for dinner each evening.
The skiing experience, however, is a different story. To begin, the weather did not cooperate with us. By even the most conservative definition, we are fair weather skiers. A stormy overcast and light rain in the Village kept us cozily sitting by the fire reading our books for the first few days. The wait payed off. After a few days we were treated to blue skies and high clouds and ventured out to experience Whistler Mountain. The mountain was magnificent, the snow plentiful and scenery breathtaking. The gondola ride from the Village to the top of the mountain is a stunning twentyfive minute sensory adventure. The snow capped peaks of the coastal range surrounding Whistler Mountain provided a stunning 360 degree vista. There are two major ski areas, Whistler and Blackcomb, seperated by the Fitzsimmons Creek canyon. A peak-to-peak gondola has been constructed connecting the tops of two ski areas. Jane and I rode this amazing peak-to-peak gondola to experience the spectacular scenic beauty of the area.
Returning to our skiing experience, let me merely recount that not all Green Circles are created equal. The Green Circle ski runs at Whistler are reminiscent of the Blue Square runs at Park City. Both Jane and I were more than a little intimidated by the steepness of the slopes marked with the Green Circles. In addition, at Park City we are accustomed to packed groomed ski runs. At Whistler the runs were loosely groomed causing the snow to billow into small mounds and moguls as more and more skiers moved the loose snow around. Needless to say, we lost some of the cockyness we acquired in Park City but still enjoyed the challenge of Whistler Mountain.
Just because there were two consecutive ski-vacation trips does not suggest that my hankering for photography diminished. My photo-buddy Bruce Hollingsworth joined Jane and me for an exploration of The Living Coast (formerly The Nature Center) at Gunpowderpoint in Chula Vista. Thanks to Sherry Lankston, Guest Experience & Marketing Coordinator at The Living Coast (www.thelivingcoast.org) we were treated to some one-on-one photo ops with three of their birds on exhibit. The birds were displayed for us by Lindsay Bradshaw one of The Living Coast avian curators. We were able to get some charming closeups of a burrowing owl, barn owl and female kestrel. These birds were not able to be returned to the wild and so are on perminent display at The Living Coast. Getting portrait style closeups of birds in the wild is nearly impossible so this was an exceptional opportunity for us to obtain some very detailed images.
So far, a very good start to the 2013 travel season, two ski trips and some awsome bird shots. Once the house painting is complete and new windows installed, we will go into extreme research mode as we contemplate and plan where we will go this year. It will be difficult to replicate last year's great trips, but we will certainly give it a try. Please come back occasionally to check the blog and catch up on our travel experiences.