Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wildlife! May Long Weekend!

Wildlife! I love it!

As many of you know, I love wildlife. I love being outdoors, and photographing animals of all kinds. May long weekend presented itself with the normal outrageous fuel prices, but I never have let that stop me from venturing out into the mountains.

May 18 - I was up early and on the road at 6:30am. The goal was to hopefully see some Great Grey Owls on the Grand Valley Road NW of Cochrane, then to head down highway 11 (The David Thompson Highway) to Highway 93 and hopefully see my first bear(s) of 2013!

Well, on the way along the 1A west of Cochrane, there were quite a few hawks sitting on the top of the telegraph poles...a promising sign for wildlife for the day...hopefully lol! There were tons of hawks up GVR too! and I drove up, and down, and back up, Grand Valley Road, but unfortunately, no about 9am I gave up and started to head on the way to the Icefields Parkway. Heading north on hwy 22, North of Cochrane, there were hawks all over the place...about every mile there was one or two sitting on fence posts and such. Through Sundre, on the way to Caroline (luckily I beat their parade start so I was able to quickly get through town...), and onto a fuel stop at Rocky Mountain house. I was getting close to Nordegg where they recently had a very large, out of control, wildfire. Amazingly though, when passing Nordegg, I couldn't smell any smoke or see any burnt trees like a wildfire normally leaves. Although Nordegg was evacuated, it obviously didn't get "that" close, which is good.
Just west of Nordegg, there was a large lake and I could see about 5 helicopters flying around with buckets under them. One filled up the bucket so I got some great shots of that. Obviously there are still some hot spots so they're dousing those.

About 10 minutes East of the Banff National Park boundary, I saw a black bear at the side of the road. It was a big one, so the first thing I did was look for any young in case I was in between them...but there wasn't any around that I could see. I stopped and started taking photos. About 4 other vehicles briefly stopped, and over the 15-20 minutes I was there, I got some fantastic shots. The photo above is one of those.

I took off down the road, and about 1km down the road, there was another one. This one looked a little smaller, but just like the other one, just was content at eating dandylions. After about another 20 minutes of shooting away, I decided to keep going. When I got towards the Bow Summit on Highway 93, south of Saskatchewan crossing, I understood why I saw the bears where I saw them. There is a LOT of snow still south of Saskatchewan Crossing, so the bears are sticking to wear the food is, obviously.

What a great trip!!

May 19th - Sunday.

My photography friend Robin has wanted to come with me on a trip for quite some time. Unfortunately, she gave me heck for not telling her about my bear hunting trip, I said let's go out and about today. So, since she knew an area where she had seen a Bald Eagle, and I want some good shots of a Baldie, finally, that was our main objective.

So, we headed to where she had seen it yesterday, and Friday, but on initial findings, we didn't see anything. A couple of hawks and such, but nothing "big". We headed down a bank into this gulley near the river, and we heard a rustle to our right. We both turned, and I instinctively looked through my was a Porcupine!!!! The first one I'd seen in the wild, in Calgary. I had seen a HUGE one when I was young, up near Redwater when I lived in Fort Saskatchewan, but wasn't a photographer at that time. This one was quite maybe not so old. I'll have to do some research as to their average size and age...just to get a bit more information on it. By the time we got back onto the area we saw it, it was climbing a tree...what an amazing sight!! It was scratching itself on the hind area every now and then, and it was just a really cute animal....obviously can be quite painful with it's barbs, but cute all the same. :)

I took just over 400 photos of "Spike" (that's our name for it...) and we decided to head up the river bank to see if we could run into the Bald Eagle (or Baldie, as we call him/her...). Unfortunately, no Eagle...we headed back to see if Spike was still there, and he Robin filled her card, and I took a bunch more. Still had a couple hundred shots left on the card as I headed out of the trees from where Spike was in his tree.

I looked up and the Bald Eagle was flying right over us, but I couldn't get my camera raised in time before it was gone...then, to my luck, it came back with something (what looked like a Rabbit or Gopher...) in it's talons. I watched to see where it sort of landed, and we went back down into the gulley to see if we could see anything, but no luck. On the path, I saw an object a ways away that just didn't "look" like it fit as part of a tree. Looking through my 500mm lens, I could see it was a Bald Eagle standing at it's nest!! We had found it!! I showed Robin where it was and we both snapped away....this is where an 800mm with a 2x converter would be just the perfect thing to have!! But, you have to work with what you have. :)

A fantastic afternoon....and so far, an amazing weekend!!

Now to post some photos of Spike and Baldie!! :)



Monday, March 18, 2013

Cabo San Lucas - Day 7 - I'M ON A BOAT!!

Cabo San Lucas - Mexico
Day 7

Early rise today as we're going on the Amazing Day tour. Had breakfast and waited for our bus to come. It arrived and we couldn't sit next to each other due to seating, but I sat next to a decent young guy and found out he was in Cabo for a wedding, but him and his buddies and their girlfriends were from my old stomping grounds of Fort Saskatchew, Gibbons, Redwater, Sherwood Park, Leduc, and Edmonton. It sure is a small world!!! Nobody I knew though....

Our first stop was the Cabo San Lucas glass blowing factory. These guys have amazing skill!! Took lots of photos of them and their creations.

*this information added 3.18.13*
On our way to our next stop, the "flea market" at the Marina, we learned from our guide that there were no roads or the freeway we were currently on, until 1987. Before that, where we were driving, small planes would land to deliver goods to shops, and residents, by air. It really is amazing that since then, this small city of Cabo San Lucas, has just exploded with money, and celebrities vacationing and/or living in Cabo.
We also learned that the one highway, which looks like a regular small, thin, road in town, is "Calle Cabo San Lucas", which turns into the freeway of "Todos Santos Cabo San Lucas", which goes all the way up through the USA, and eventually up to Canada.

We were then dropped off by the Navy Station at the Marina which was awesome because I love the military stuff :)  Took a shot of a Navy Guard at the base and he saw me and didn't look too happy...pretended I was taking shots of the boats..which I
Went around some of the shops there and even a sea lion came into the harbor and was hanging out near where we were. Got LOTS of photos of him lol

Went to Diamonds International as part of the tour...not sure why, but obviously it's to time it so that the boat is ready as even after we got to the dock where the gorgeous "Ecocat" Catamaran was, we had to wait a few minutes before boarding. 

The boat was fantastic! We headed up the West side of the Los Cabo Bay towards the arch. Apparently there's a hole in the ocean floor near lovers beach and Jacques Cousteau proved that it goes down 300feet!!  There are quite a few amazing dives in Cabo like Sand Falls and alike.

Took a ton more photos of the arch and a few of the sea lion colony. Then, it seemed like full steam ahead as the Catamaran was going at a good clip down the coast to the East towards Santa Fe. Here we stopped at Santa Maria Bay to do some snorkling. Now we had both had a few drinks...although I stopped about half hour before we got to the bay as I didn't want to be really buzzing when I was snorkling. So, the majority of the boat either went snorkling or dove off into the ocean for a swim.
It was really cool to be snorkling in the ocean....first time snorkling for both of us. Didn't see any fish, but we heard afterwards that we should have snorkled over by the rocks. On our way to the airport on Day 8, we found that some of the best snorkling is found at Chileno Bay which is further towards Santa Fe from where we stopped.

On our way back to the Marina, we saw a ton of boats, Sammy Hagar's house (apparently), and even saw the patrol boat speeding out to look for any cartel action along the shores.

After getting back to the Riu, we had a couple of cervezas at the "Bravo" bar then got ready for dinner...I couldn't help but think this would be our last dinner at the resort, and I felt a bit sad that we had to leave.
I was peeling from the sunburn, but I'll take that over -10 and snow which was facing us back in YYC!



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cabo San Lucas - Day 8

Cabo San Lucas - Mexico
Day 8....The Finale

Thursday, March 7th, the final day has arrived. The day where I dream of having enough money to make something like this a permanent fixture...but we all have those dreams.
I really don't want to leave..we really did have an "Amazing Day" yesterday, so there was no better way to end our vacation....except unless it wasn't ending. :)

Breakfast was good, but I was still a bit sad that it was ending. We checked out and like many others, waited in the large lobby for the departure time. Our Sunwing rep put us on a smaller van with some others and it was a good thing as we beat the larger bus to the airport. We checked our luggage, then headed up through security. I left my Cabo San Lucas hat at the security area, but it was still there when we went back for it so that was good...
We had a look around some shops, T got some playing cards, and we had a bite to eat (the food on the plane wasn't very good on our way to Cabo, so we figured it wouldn't be very good on the way back lol) and a couple of Corona. They changed our gate a total of 3 times, and we boarded the same way as we arrived - using the stairs on the tarmac.

On takeoff the plane banked and we could see lands end and the bay. Lucky for us we were leaving that day, as there was a cruise ship that had arrived that morning, in the bay. Prices would have gone up for sure, in the shopping areas, as that's normal practice for when cruise ships arrive.
It was quite cloudy about 20 minutes North of Cabo, so pictures on the way back were pretty much null and void. 

We were both quite tired, as I hadn't slept much at all that last night. I sat listening to my iRiver looking out of the window every now and then. T was asleep near the Grand Canyon (I got some great photos of it on the way down) on the way back, but she woke up in time to just see it again as the cloud cleared right over the top of it.
About 45 minutes out of Kelowna my butt was a bit sore from sitting for so long, and I was fidgety. I really didn't want to head back to -10 and snow....
One thing I was able to get photos of, was the setting sun, from 36,000 feet. We had both never seen the setting sun like that before, and it was a gorgeous sight with the different colors.

We landed in Kelowna to let off the passengers we picked up on the way down to Cabo, and after another 40 minute stay at the gate, we departed to Calgary. As we departed Kelowna the wing lights were on and we could see snow as we were hitting the clouds. Coming into Calgary we could see just how much snow they had gotten. When we left the ground was brown with small patches of snow, and now, just one week later, it was completely white again.

We got our luggage and my mate Tim was there to pick us up (Cheers mate!). Got to his place, where my car was, and I warmed up my car while we told him a bit about our trip. I had to get T home as she worked the next morning, and it was already almost 11:30pm. After dropping her off at home I had to get back to downtown and I think I got home at about 12:45...exhausted, yet completely happy with the way life has been going for me.

I have T in my life which I am totally grateful for, and got to spend a week together in an amazing place, with gorgeous weather. It took me 17 years to go on a vacation, and I'm going to put a large effort into going on a REAL vacation once a year. I got to experience things that I only dreamed about, and I got to document it not only here, in this blog (thanks so much for reading this by the way!!!), but in the hundreds (and yes..literally HUNDREDS) of photos that I took (hope you're enjoying the photos!!)

Cheers everyone! Until next time....


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cabo San Lucas - Day 5

Cabo San Lucas - Mexico
Day 5

Today we were up early and booked our dinner for the next two nights. The steakhouse restaurant, which overlooks the ocean and Lands End books up quickly and has been full the first few days but we were able to get in there on the last night, for dinner. Had the normal breakfast at La Baja California, and inquired about a jetski for an hour. Our sunwing rep hooked us up and Senior Leo, the driver for the company we were going through was awesome. Funny, and taught us some Spanish as we only know un poco (a little).

T let me drive and I had my camera in the dry bag, in the storage area, under the "hood" of the jetski. Took the jetski out towards the arch and when almost there, there was a small pod of dolphins that we saw. At the arch I put the nose into the large swells that would come from the Pacific side, and precariously stood up and opened the "hood" to get my dry bag out. I was quite amazed at how stable the jetski was. I snapped a TON of photos of the arch and surrounding rocks, and got a couple of good ones of the sea lion colony...however didn't want to go too close to them as the swells coming from the Pacific Ocean side would have tipped us for sure! 

Once back on the beach, after our hour, I mentioned that it was awesome and that it was my first time driving one....T gave me a bit of a grilling, as she didn't know I was a jetski novice...but did tell me I drove it really well - like I had done it before. :)

We decided to take a later ride back to the hotel, and walked to the Marina. Had lunch at Cabo Wabo again, and quite a few people from our hotel showed up for lunch there too. We hooked into their free wifi and after posting a photo of the gorgeous sun and cabo wabo, Kenton (my boss..back in Calgary) promptly advised me that he was shoveling 10 inches of snow!! This made me even more happy that I was on vacation in +29/+30 degree celcius weather, with not a cloud in the sky!! :)
T finally found some glassware that she was looking for, for her friend, and I bought a nice shirt from there too. 

After getting our ride back to the hotel from Senior Leo, we went into one of the pools overlooking the ocean. I was getting that feeling, sitting in the pool with T, looking at the beach, ocean, and Lands End, that I didn't want to leave....which apparently is normal for people that go on a vacation. While in the pool we chatted with a guy from Minnesota who has traveled all over the place with his wife, and was giving us tips on which hotels to stay at in which countries. And we chatted with a couple from Oregon too.

Well, once the pool bars closed (6pm) we decided to head back and get ready for dinner at the Mexican Restaurant again. I was going to take some more night shots, but tonight was a bit cloudy for the first time, and it had cooled off slightly, so we decided to wrap up under T's new Mexican blanket, and have a drink on the balcony.

Stay tuned!! Almost time to come back to Calgary!!! :(


Cabo San Lucas - Day 6

Cabo San Lucas - Mexico
Day 6

Surprisingly, we didn't leave the room until about 11am today...both felt lazy lol
Spent the day on the beach again and I got some good shots of the sales people on the beach, and birds and such. Got back to the room and we were both really wiped out...must have been all the sun we had gotten over the six days. We dozed for about an hour and got ready for dinner at the Asian Restaurant again. 

Again, amazing food, and we had a couple of tequila sevens before bed....not too much excitement today, but it sure was nice to lay in the sun again! :)

It was a bit bittersweet as I couldn't help but think that tomorrow is our last day here in what seems like paradise. 

Last day fun tomorow....the "Amazing Day" tour!



Cabo San Lucas - Day 4

Cabo San Lucas - Mexico
Day 4

Day 4 started off a bit later than we normally started, but we had breakfast and was on the beach, in the sun, for about 10:30. Great sights and lots of beer as always :)
At about 3:45 we figured we'd get a bite to eat, but lunch stops being served at 3:30 so that the restaurants can get set up for we chilled at one of the outdoor courtyard bars and met a really nice couple from Kitchener/Waterloo (Ontario). At about 5:30 we decided to get showered and get ready for dinner at the Asian restaurant. Had the most amazing tuna dinner...was cooked perfectly!

After dinner, I wanted to do some more night shots. We sat on the beach and the sky was the clearest sky I have ever seen, anywhere! We could see stars even all the way to the horizon!! 
Got some more great night shots, and it was just a gorgeous evening sitting on the beach with T, drinking a couple of beers and enjoying the sounds of an ocean beach at night.

Paradise....for sure!



Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cabo San Lucas - Day 3

Cabo San Lucas - Mexico

Day 3 

Early to rise today, and went to La Baja California restaurant for their breakfast buffet. Over breakfast, we decided that we would go to into the town of Cabo. It would only be a 20 minute walk from the hotel, but we decided to pay the one dollar and take the public bus into town. 

This certainly was an experience. It was an old schoolbus, and their destinations (stops) were painted on the windshield in what looked like white paint. We were all sat troop style (down the sides) and no seat belts.

Our Sunwing guide told us to get off at the mall stop, which we did, and the other people from the resort obviously hadn't checked and they were going to stay on until they saw us getting off and they talked to the driver to confirm that's where they should get off. The mall was interesting, and they have some high end stores in there, along with the regular stores selling shirts, and things. 

The marina was gorgeous, with gorgeous boats all over the place! We headed towards the flea market and the peddlers on the way there were relentless. They don't want to take no for an answer. T bought a nice silver bracelet. Everything we saw there was labeled 92.5% silver. Not sure if this was true or not.
I was after a Mexico soccer jersey for my mate Tim as he provided us a ride to the airport and back from the airport when we get back to Calgary. And he let me park my car at his place for the week we were gone. They weren't "official" (Adidas sponsored) but they're pretty decent.

Going through the flea market, everyone has a "special price" just for you, and everyone pretty much sells the same thing. Bartering is an art in itself, that's for sure. I did manage to get a nice silver chain for a decent price of $70.

We decided to go to Sammy Hagar's bar Cabo Wabo, for lunch. They had Corona on special 2 for 1, so we had a few Corona, and some appetizers. Afterwards, we went to the souvenir shop there, and bought some small bottles of Cabo Wabo tequila, and a big bottle of the longest aged Tequila. Also I bought some guitar pics...hopefully get my acoustic guitar soon so that I can play it with the new pics! :)

After lunch and walking back to the mall, we went by a high end jewelry store where an armed guard was outside with his shotgun. He could barely speak English, but he was really nice and posed for a couple of photos for me.

After taking a taxi back to the hotel, we chilled at one of the outdoor courtyard bars. My burned shoulders were starting to hurt so like most others, I sat there with my shirt off..this time with my back to the sun though lol
The crowd of newly arrived holiday goers were gathering at the bar and commenting on the burn, and we had some pretty great laughs. We met a couple from Edmonton, Calgary, and a family from Minnesota. Some really nice people at the resort that we met, that's for sure.

Dinner was at 8:30 at the Italian restaurant, and I had an amazing Risotto with seafood. Great service and food all around.

Then, sat on the balcony and had a Tequila and seven with my small bottles of my Cabo Wabo tequila. YUMMY!!

Stay tuned for more updates!