Autumn from Both Sides of the Pacific

This past autumn, I ventured to two places on opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean in a quest for spectacular scenery and colorful autumn foliage. One trip was to Alaska, my first time there. The fall colors season in Alaska is apparently very brief compared to other places, lasting only about 1-2 weeks. While it was not a primary objective of the trip, I was luckily able to catch the tail end of the fall colors around Anchorage.

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And speaking of luck, I was extremely fortunate to be able to see the Northern Lights for the first time! Witnessing such a beautiful dance play out in the night sky is an experience I’d never forget.

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My next trip was a return visit to Japan, this time to the Tokyo and Mount Fuji regions, as compared to the Kansai region back all the way back in the spring of 2014. Just like last time, I immediately fell in love with its welcoming people, delicious food, and beautiful architecture:

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Yes, Tokyo can be extremely crowded at times, such as when trying to navigate the inexorable currents of people in a train station during peak hours, but even the barely-contained chaos of the metropolis is awe-inspiring, as if it were a living, breathing organism. That said, it was nice to take a breather to the (slightly) less crowded parts of Japan around Mount Fuji. And when you see Mount Fuji for the first time, especially in such close proximity, it’s easy to see why the mountain plays such a central role in Japanese culture.

Tenjozan Park   Mountain Clouds thumb

The seasons also feature prominently in Japanese culture, and autumn is no exception, with beautiful maple and ginko trees turning entire forests and hillsides into a kaleidoscope of colors.

Takaosan   Forest Foliage III thumb

Yes, I admit I may have gone a bit overboard uploading three albums for Alaska, and six for Japan, but these are images and moments that will stay with me forever. I hope you enjoy them!

Waterfalls and Wildflowers, 2023 Edition

With the autumn equinox upon us, ushering in the arrival of fall, I thought I’d revisit the spectacularly photogenic spring and summer we had in California. Just like back in 2017, a record-setting snowfall gave us a bounty of wildflowers and a torrent of waterfalls.

I was lucky enough to be able to travel to some of the state’s wildflower blooms, ranging from the angelic magnolias of San Francisco…​

SF Botanical Garden   Magnolia thumb

…​to the otherworldly cactus flowers of the Anza-Borrego desert.

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Who could forget the the California golden poppy, the state flower itself? It bloomed in abundance all throughout California, such as here at Coyote Hills overlooking the bay.

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Later in the spring, I hiked to wildflower blooms along the coast. The first, Mori Point, is one I’ve hiked at many times in the past years. This time, it was unfortunately on the foggy side, but you can’t deny that it makes for dramatic scenery.

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Nearby in Pacifica is Rockaway Beach, where I could glimpse wildflowers against an equally dramatic sunset.

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Further down the coast in Half Moon Bay, I found I wasn’t the only admirer of the views.

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Switching now to waterfalls, the first waterfall hike of the year was at Uvas Canyon, a favorite Bay Area hike for waterfalls.

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I also ventured out to the Mt. Shasta area, same as back in 2017. This time around, I visited Hedge Creek Falls, a beautiful little waterfall surrounded by basalt columns. You can even walk behind it!

Hedge Creek Falls   Waterfall I thumb

Another trip was to June Lake in the summer. Usually, getting there from the Bay Area would take you through Yosemite and Tioga Pass, but the snowfall had still closed off the pass. Going through Sonora Pass instead, I came across this waterfall just off of the highway.

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Moving on to another part of the Sierra Nevada, I visited Lake Tahoe where I hiked the Pyramid Creek trail for the first time. It’s a wonderful hike with beautiful views of the river all throughout, culminating in the spectacular Horsetail Falls.

Pyramid Creek   Waterfall thumb

All in all, it was a spring and summer that I won’t forget anytime soon. I’m looking forward to the cooler temperatures of autumn and the colorful foliage that awaits. Nature never ceases to amaze, any time of the year!

New Astrophotography Section

I’ve started a new section in my gallery for my newest hobby, astrophotography! There are different albums for the various kinds of deep sky objects like galaxies or nebulae, as well as nighttime landscape photos. It’s a little bare at the moment, but I hope to fill it over time with beautiful images of the night sky. Enjoy!

M 101   Pinwheel Galaxy thumb

Three Beautiful Parks

This past September, I had the chance to visit three beautiful parks: Mount Rainier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park.

At Mount Rainier, the Skyline Trail is not to be missed. While definitely a strenuous hike, nearly every step on the trail rewards you with a scenic view such as this, and that’s barely an hour into the hike!

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Yellowstone is a one-of-a-kind place, with hissing geysers, spectacular canyons, and lush valleys teeming with wildlife. It’s really the first time I visited a place with so many wild animals roaming freely (especially bison)! And while everybody thinks of Old Faithful when they think of Yellowstone geysers, my favorite actually turned out to be Riverside Geyser.

Upper Geyser Basin   Riverside Geyser thumb

And last but not least, just one drive through Grand Teton National Park will quickly show why it’s worthy of the name: the majestic Teton Range can be seen from many different areas and angles, and each one will take your breath away. A particularly popular spot is Schwabacher Landing, where I encountered two actual wedding ceremonies, and at least three additional wedding photoshoots, all on the same day! It’s not hard to see why.

Schwabacher Landing   Sunrise Reflections II thumb

I feel lucky to have been able to spend multiple days at each one, enjoy fairly good weather, and come back with so many spectacular memories. Yet, there’s still so much to see and do at each park, and I look forward to my return visits!

Tales from Two Cities

I’ve recently uploaded albums from two cities I visited which could not be further apart, geographically and in many other ways. One is San Diego, visited in the Before Time(tm) during autumn (or as close to an approximation of autumn as you can get in sunny Southern California).

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The other is Washington, D.C., which I visited earlier this year during spring cherry blossom season. While the alternating freezing cold and sweltering heat made this year’s cherry blossom season a bit unpredictable, I was happy to arrive just after peak bloom had arrived.

Tidal Basin   Backlit Blossoms thumb

One thing they had in common: both cities and both trips were spectacular. In San Diego, I ate my fill of perfectly-cooked fish tacos while admiring the beautiful Pacific coast. In Washington, D.C., I spent countless hours browsing through the numerous museums on the National Mall or walking under cherry blossom snow along the Tidal Basin. Whichever side of the country I was on, I experienced the true joys of traveling.