OBX Connection Logo

Outer Banks of North Carolina Weather
86.0 F, Fair
Wind: Variable at 4.6 MPH (4 KT)
Outer Banks Guide > Outer Banks Blogs > Eve Turek's Natural Outer Banks Blog

Friday, July 14, 2023
Springing into summertime
While I have been posting some on social media (aka FB), I obviously have not written a longer blog since earlier in the spring! I have a really good nature-based reason for that. Spring 2023 was one of the wettest in years, best I can remember. And this wasn’t the dramatic and picturesque rain we see in summer with mounting cumulus clouds that turn dark as a quick thundersquall races through in late afternoon, leaving a rainbow as a calling card. No, think medium to white-gray skies with very little cloud definition, and drizzles to downpours making the entire landscape look bedraggled. We had so much rain, and overcast skies, that even before the wildfires up north began sending smoke far southward, we had hardly any colorful sunrises and sunsets. Sea oats, which thrive in drought, are extremely late to bloom this year. In past years, I photograph their emergence typically in late June; occasionally I have had to wait until the 4th of July to make my annual seascape with new sea oats image. Not this year. I have been checking every few days and they were only just beginning to show some seed heads and green color a couple days ago in Nags Head. But I can at last also report a weather change as of last week. We have had hot dry days, with an occasional thunderstorm, and I saw the prettiest sunset up in Duck since last winter over last weekend.

I did make three excursions up to Carova before the beach got very crowded, none of which combined best light with best tide with best winds, but I did manage to observe one of this year’s foals, Drake, when he was just a week old, and cavorting all around the beach like a baby goat while his mother Amelia, his sire Cowboy and the other mares in the family harem circled around him with constant vigilance. He was a treat to watch! One early morning, Dan Waters rode north with me and while we did not see horses at first light by the water, we did watch a pale sun rise dimly through the smoky haze while Sanderlings foraged at the water’s edge.

I drove down to Buxton in May for a sea turtle release at the old lighthouse site. The Green Sea Turtles had been cold-stunned over the winter, and the one Loggerhead had been injured. The work that the STAR sea turtle recovery hospital does in Manteo is truly amazing. If you are visiting the area, I highly recommend a visit there – just don’t do what the rest of the vacationing world does and pick the rainy day! The Aquarium gets so crowded on those days, that staff has to limit entry.

In June, I dropped off new work to Down Creek Gallery and for the first time ever, was able to enter the base of Ocracoke Lighthouse and point my lens up the stairwell. The lighthouse has been closed even to public view of the inside but is open some this summer for looking up the stairwell at random hours, depending on availability of NPS personnel and volunteers.

Meanwhile, rain or shine, I have still been spending a lot of time in my go-to sanctuary spot, Alligator River Refuge. While I have seen one of the critically endangered Red Wolves on occasion, sightings have been much less since the parents denned again and had a new litter on April 11, and since the cornfields have grown so high on Long Curve. I had a few brief life-list moments the other morning shortly after sunrise when a Red Wolf and a young black bear shared the field edge for a few minutes. Even more than before, every glimpse is a thrill and a gift.

While out looking for Red Wolves, I can’t help but notice the bears. As the black bears begin to emerge into view in spring, we start to see the big male boar bears first. They are on the hunt for eligible females and the mating behavior can be hilarious to watch. Some females are ready and willing while others show little or definitely no interest. Yearling bears who have spent all their lives at their mother’s side suddenly find themselves thrust out into the world on their own, so their mothers can mate again, and the yearlings are often spooky, startling at every passing car and keeping watch for larger, aggressive, territorial males. With friends who were here from Virginia, I watched a wounded, huge male bear chase a young, small bear along a berm even though that youngster was clearly no threat to him. That younger bear had earlier left the berm and gone into the brush and out of sight – until he gave his position away by standing up to see where the larger bear was. That was the moment the bigger bear began to give chase. The two charged through the brush until they reappeared atop the berm. Once the younger got some distance away, the larger male quit chasing him and turned around to go into the fields and forage. Judging from how beat up some of the older males look, and the fresh wounds some show, the fights between males for dominance can be brutal, and I am glad to report I have not witnessed those. I am not naïve; I know it happens, but I don’t have to watch it.

I would much rather watch and photograph the gentler and tender side of nature. So I am looking for the bigger bears soaking in the canals for some relief from the heat. Add in a sleepy-eyed bear napping and the “awwww” factor goes way up. And for maximum “awww” I watch for mother bears bringing itty-bitty cubs out into the fields or leading them safely back into the woods. Bear cubs are curious and will often stand up to get a better look at their surroundings. They are already adept swimmers and will follow their mother into and through the canals to reach the fields, and cross again back to the sanctuary and safety of the woods. A mother will send her babies high up into the trees if she goes to forage alone, since the big males will attack and kill cubs so the female will come into breeding season earlier. There is a reason “mama bear” is a shorthand phrase for a fiercely protective mother.

With that said, the refuge roads are (as is typical) more crowded this time of year with visitors who hope to see a bear in the wild. I always, always, always need to remind myself that the choice to bring your family into the outdoors for an adventure is a good one. I see how the effects of time outdoors have influenced my own now grown grandboys and the men they have become. But folks who come here to visit don’t always realize that the bear they are hanging out their car window to photograph with their cell phone (or are climbing out to photograph with a cell phone at close range) has babies nearby. Absolutely, enjoy and observe! Drink in the experience, yes. But be cautious, smart, and above all, respectful. If you give wildlife some space, you will see more and learn more. You will have the chance, as I have had, to watch wonderful and precious wildlife interactions not on your large screen smart TV, but with your own eyes in the wild. The keyword here is “smart” – and patience. Don’t cut a mother bear off from her cubs, or prevent a mother and cubs from crossing the roadway and getting where she needs them to go. Back up, be still, don’t rush, and the rewards are immense. And you will also know you have not stressed the animals or put them (or yourself) in any danger as you observe. Are animals aware of your presence? Of course! That is how generations of animals have survived, through awareness. But there is a difference between being aware of and totally unconcerned about someone’s presence and being stressed by that presence. I have watched animals show sudden signs of stress or agitation merely when a vehicle approaches too fast – or the occupants clearly are loud or agitated or even angry themselves. I have also observed animals who are completely calm and relaxed, continuing their natural behavior even as I photograph them with my long telephoto lens. That is why I always try to go out with my very best thoughts possible. I KNOW from long experience how sensitive animals and birds are, and I am trying for the remainder of my earthly life to learn from them, and to match my sensitivity to theirs. One final word: NEVER, and I mean never, try to feed a bear (or a wolf, either, for that matter) or to make a selfie or a photo with you or a family member and a bear close in the background! (This should all go without saying, but yup, I am going to say it.) Some of the bears have gotten so bold around cars that those of us who photograph and are out in the Refuge a lot, as well as some of the FWS personnel or volunteers I have talked to are concerned that folks may have fed them, or carelessly left trash behind. There is no good outcome for such behavior—for the animals or for humans. Don’t even think about it. Okay, soapbox speech over (for now).

The other day, I set myself a task of spending an entire day, dawn to dusk, in the Refuge. I packed in water and trail mix snacks. I blessed the porta-potty at the end of Buffalo City Road and the folks who clean it. I did not have over-the-top wildlife sightings until late in the day when I did watch a mother bear bring three itty-bitty baby bears across the road and into the woods. As I drove out of the refuge, a barred owl flew ahead of me down the last stretch of Milltail before veering west shortly before the parking area at the entrance. I paused at the canal to catch the last light of the day in what turned out to also become my “heart of the day” photograph. In that moment, I was reminded all over again why I do what I do. Why I get up way before 0’dark:thirty. Why I spend long hours in the field, every chance I get. It’s the love. It’s the chance to immerse in all the gifts nature offers, to renew my own spirit and to recommit on a regular basis to bring my best self, my best love, to all I do and say and even think. I hope you enjoy some of these gifts of love below.

click for larger image
This is as bright as sunrise became in Carova when the Canada wildfires caused smokey hazy skies over the Outer Banks.

click for larger image
Frisky new foal Drake practices prancing for the ladies. His mother, Amelia, and the other two mares watch closely.

click for larger image
Peering up the Ocracoke Light Stairwell.

click for larger image
I'm used to waiting out an elusive, longed-for wildlife sighting. But waiting out a sunset? Finally, a pretty one!

click for larger image
I not only waited...I specifically asked for these two to share the field's edge, and share with me. So, so grateful.

click for larger image
This bear could barely (bearly??) keep its eyes open. So sleepy!

click for larger image
While I have seen bears stand up in fields or on the roadside before, this is the first time I have seen a bear stand up in a tree for a better view.

click for larger image
Big bear gives chase! These bears were galloping!

click for larger image
Here is a mother bear with one of her three cubs of the year.

click for larger image
Sundown, leaving the refuge. See the heart reflecting the sky above?

posted by eturek at 3:34 PM

Comments [1]

Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Spring Wishes Granted
Since my last blog, the calendar declared it was spring, and in a sudden rush, when our temperatures fluctuated between the high 30s and high 80s (and just a few days ago they did this all over again, 35 in the morning and high 70s by afternoon), spring decided to comply.

Here is the opening stanza from one of my favorite e.e. cummings’ poems, originally published in 1950:

when faces called flowers float out of the ground
and breathing is wishing and wishing is having-
but keeping is downward and doubting and never
-it’s april(yes,april;my darling)it’s spring!

Sanctuary spaces to me are precious. Over the years, my sanctuary spots have included particular stretches of beach in Kitty Hawk and on Pea Island, and the northern section of Jockey’s Ridge, a tracker’s paradise.

Since last summer, my go-to sanctuary spot has become Alligator River. While I watched spring’s exuberant entry in my own yard and neighborhood, I have really noticed spring’s markers while riding the refuge roads, and breathing out gently my own wishes. Cummings’ poem goes on to offer life advice, especially in this season of spring, telling us that wishing is having and having is giving and giving is living…but keeping (which I interpret to mean keeping to oneself, refusing to share), is in his words downward, doubting, never, doting, nothing, nonsense, darkness, winter and cringing. Yikes.

Here is my paradox. I love to recharge outside, in sanctuary spaces. I also long for others to experience for themselves the same sorts of renewal and comfort and peace and yes, even joy, I experience in my best moments of connection—connection to all that is beautiful in our natural world, and connection to the God Who – I believe – is the ultimate Creator and Artist and Source and Sustainer of all that beauty and goodness. This dual longing, to receive but also to share creates the obvious conundrum, in which the very places which are quiet sanctuaries for me become more crowded as others seek (and hopefully find) the solace I crave myself.

For my part, I try to remember as I watch more visitors discover the quieter places I love that the best chances these places have of preservation is for people to know and appreciate and love them, as I do. My heart sings when I see a family who have chosen to come out in hopes of seeing a bear, for instance, rather than staying inside and just watching something on a small (in comparison) screen. That’s my education in Environmental Education coming to the forefront, too, I realize.

So what have I noticed recently, in my meandering and wishing?

Well, thistle has, in cummings’ words, seemingly “floated out of the ground” just within the past couple of days. In fact, I saw only one thistle plant with a fully opened flower, and several swallowtails (there were dozens flying about everywhere) had discovered this one flower and were vying for a spot atop it.

I’ve seen yearling bears, bears older than yearlings but not yet their ultimate full size, and the biggest male bear I think I have ever seen at the refuge, all in the span of the last week. No cubs yet.

I continue to sometimes see either a coyote (no collar) or our own critically endangered Red Wolves (unmistakable orange collar), most often fairly far back in the fields, and as I say to anyone blessed enough to watch them for a few minutes, every sighting is a gift—considering I have lived here 47 years this spring, and am only now seeing them myself.

A frisky full grown female deer ran through a field, out to the edge and up the fields, turned around and ran back in my direction and then back into the field she started from yesterday morning, giving me my best running deer image ever. (Yes, I told her she was beautiful; yes, I thanked her.) A couple nights ago the father of the Red Wolf litter born last spring trotted across a field with another wolf right at sunset, and a few mornings back, a coyote and bear grazed in a field together. I saw my first Barred Owl of the year last week, and am looking forward to watching new owlets once they hatch, fledge and come into the open later this season.

I always go into the refuge wishing for some connecting experience. Sometimes I see iridescence shimmering in the sky above. Going at dawn and dusk often means spectacular color in the sky sometimes mirrored below. Almost always I see Great Blue Herons, intent on their foraging at a canal edge, and Northern Harriers, such acrobatic flyers, maneuvering low over the fields, and Red Tail Hawks silently watching over the landscape from their high perches. After years of never seeing a Kestrel, I have watched a couple this winter-into-spring, and just a few days ago, added a new bird to my life list, a Common Yellowthroat, which my friend and fellow photographer Joyce Edwards identified for me. Another local photographer, Mark Buckler, pointed out a Bittern to me the other evening that I surely would have missed; while I have seen one at Pea Island and Bodie Island, I have never seen one here. Yesterday I paused at a tiny spot where one of the roadside canals widened a wee bit, recognizing this was exactly the sort of place my younger childhood self would have sat for hours, watching dragonflies and butterflies and hoping for a turtle or a frog. I guess I have always been who I really am—I just did not always recognize myself in my younger years.

What are you breathing and wishing for this spring? Here are some of my wishes granted below, from the "inner banks."

click for larger image
Sometimes the first gift is in the landscape. We had temps in the 30s a few days ago at dawn.

click for larger image
This bear has a heart on her nose!

click for larger image
And THIS bear, a huge male, is the largest bear I think I have ever seen out here. Who says you can't thrive on a plant-based diet?

click for larger image
I would have missed this Bittern if not for Mark Buckler pointing it out.

click for larger image
These you can't miss! I love them, though they have a bad rep. To me they speak of releasing what we no longer need, and cleaning up our messes.

click for larger image
The season's first swallowtails, on the season's first thistle.

click for larger image
A frisky doe runs alongside the canal.

click for larger image
A coyote and bear share a field in early morning.

click for larger image
The father wolf and one of his pack at sunset.

click for larger image
Recent rains created a pathway of light on Long Curve Road at sunset.

posted by eturek at 3:06 PM

Comments [3]

Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Western Travelogue Part 3 - Monument Valley and Homeward Bound
After the Tetons’ rocky mountain grandeur and Moab’s arches and red rocks, I headed to Monument Valley, a spot Pete and I had intended to visit in our October, 2011 trip, but the weather on our designated day was not favorable.

On the way, I stopped to recreate that long look down into the monoliths that Forrest Gump made so famous. In fact the pull-off for the obligatory souvenir-style photograph is named after him! I also found time to drive through the Valley of the Gods and to stop at Goosenecks State Park and view the twists and turns of the San Juan River before entering the Navajo Nation and heading for lunch and my hotel. That stop also offered me a panoramic view of rock formations that reminded me of the patterns seen on many Native-woven blankets and baskets. I found it easy to understand how the natural beauty inspired their artistry.

I ate lunch at Gouldings Restaurant; the property includes props from several John Ford/John Wayne movies, including a stagecoach, a western buckboard wagon, and the cabin John Wayne stayed in -- but not while filming Stagecoach, as I originally and incorrectly wrote! The cabin was actually built for the movie, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and was the headquarters for his character, Capt. Brittles, in that movie. It's a good thing I have friends who know their classic westerns better than I do! I know Pete would have loved seeing those as well as so many of the locations featured in his favorite classic western movies. A museum telling the history of how Hollywood came to Monument Valley has been closed to the public since the onset of Covid, and I was sorry not to be able to tour it while there.

My hotel room balcony overlooked The Mittens, among the best known of the valley’s monoliths, and I watched one sunrise and moonrise from the balcony. At the first sunset, I darted back and forth – first to a balcony and stairwell across from my room to watch the sun go down behind rock formations on that side of the hotel, and then back to my own balcony to watch the afterglow light up the Mittens.

When Pete and I went west, I found myself seeking compositions that included the many gnarled and twisted trees that find a way to grow in what seems too arid a landscape. For this leg of the trip, I noticed especially the blooming plants made even more vibrant in early morning light.

I shared earlier on Facebook how hiring a Navajo guide gave me the chance to photograph sunrise in an area inaccessible to the general public. After the sun came up, we drove to several more locations before he brought me back to the hotel. Later that afternoon, I explored the 17-mile loop road that is open to the general public. Every angle seemed to provide a different but equally spectacular view. The mounting cumulus clouds I photographed in Wyoming and Utah followed me to Arizona, and my guide here repeated what I had heard earlier in my trip, how unusual the cloud formations were, and how lucky I was to see not only them, but the Rabbitbrush in full bloom. I just smiled.

Riding with the guide, I asked him questions about more of the landscape features, plants and birds I had seen. All of a sudden, something small and winged whizzed right past our windshield. I could have sworn it was a dragonfly! That was the last thing I expected to see in what I think of as a desert landscape. My guide said the small stand of shrubs and one tree we had just passed was growing next to a fresh water spring. Perhaps the dragonfly had come from there. That afternoon, at one of the pull-off spots along the loop road, I was concentrating on photographing some of the interesting plants at my feet when I saw another dragonfly. Please wait; please don’t go, I said! I was able to make a quick photo before it flew around me and I turned to keep it in sight but once I made a complete circle, I never saw it again. I might doubt the whole encounter if not for the photograph. Regular readers know from all I have shared in the past 18 months how special dragonflies have become for me. Its brief appearance, in a desert no less, was one more heaven-hug and prompted a surge of both joy and comfort. Over and over in so many ways on the trip, I received assurances that I don’t travel alone, that even my seeming seasons of desert hold oases – if I will just keep my eyes and heart open.

By the time I came home through the NC mountains, the trees were beginning to turn, signaling another season’s passage. I lost another dear friend and also had to put my Sheltie down within days of getting home. I was glad I had the trip to help fill up a heart made weary this past year with the sheer effort living through grief can be.

That has been my quest this year: to live through grief, with grief. To figure out the daily steps that can bring me joy, and peace, even while still grieving. Since love never ends, tears still flow at odd (or expected) moments. But this world, though emptier in one way, still offers so much beauty, so much to be grateful for, so many moments to cherish. That very emptiness offers a portal into fullness I can only sometimes glimpse here. But, oh, how I treasure the glimpses! That is why I’ve purposed in my own heart to continue to live, to walk in this world, and to seek all the beauty I can, for ever as long as I can—and to share as much as I can.

click for larger image
Goosenecks State Park. The San Juan River makes numerous bends below and the park provides a wonderful overlook.

click for larger image
Another stop on the way to Monument Valley, Valley of the Gods offered great views and hardly any visitors!

click for larger image
The first sunset. This was the view from a stairwell and balcony on the front of the hotel across from my room.

click for larger image
Meanwhile, this was the scene in the other direction, from the balcony off my room. Anti-crepuscular rays over the Mittens!

click for larger image
Had I not seen this for myself, I would never have believed how the western red rocks glow at dawn and dusk. This is sunrise.

click for larger image
The morning's clear skies yielded to mounting white clouds in the afternoons.

click for larger image
The precious dragonfly.

click for larger image
The trees in red rock country have to be resilient and tenacious. This one seems to be dancing in joy.

click for larger image
I even had a chance to photograph the Big Dipper over the Mittens.

click for larger image
Heading toward home, I could follow fall's palette. This is a rest stop in the Smokies.

posted by eturek at 8:59 PM

Comments [1]

Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Story of a Sunset
It pays to pay attention.

I had afternoon errands yesterday that when I finished put me in Nags Head about an hour before sunset. So I went to the ocean, not necessarily expecting wonderful photographs right then. What I wanted was some fresh salt air and a few minutes to walk. While the skies had been mostly cloudy bordering on overcast for much of the day, I noticed that underneath the western clouds the sky was clear for a narrow strip above the horizon. Those are exactly the conditions I look for. If the cloud layer moved west (or “down” from my point of perspective) as the sun sank, there would be no sunset to watch. But if they moved east, or “up”-- or just stayed fairly stationary -- there was good sunset potential.

What I noticed immediately upon climbing the dune crossover was the color of the water. I am a sucker for color—pastel, vibrant, subtle, intense, you name it. And the color was subtle and pastel and varied. God’s playing in His paintbox again, I thought, choosing the palest hues. They definitely got my attention and I made several images as the light played with the moving wave swells before they crested and broke. At that point, I also began to notice the faint brushstrokes of color on the lowest level of clouds to the south. I expected a slight intensifying in color but still in pastel hues come actual sunset.

Boy, was I in for a surprise.

First, to the south, what had been a pale peachy yellow turned to a deeper orange. The ocean itself, which had hints of gold and turquoise when I arrived began to glow with pinks and oranges as the sky directly east began to warm up with shades of pink that eventually deepened and darkened to almost red. To the north, what began in blue hues with the barest nod to pastel pink and yellow, brightened with deeper pinks and mauve, and then, as the sun actually set, the clouds to the north lit up with streaks of neon red. If God was playing in His paintbox while angelic choruses were singing in the background, then He must have started while they warmed up and sang scales, then ran through a bit of Bach’s Ode to Joy and ended with a grand finale of the Hallelujah Chorus!

This is my life. I am not talking just about living near the ocean, which is a wonderful blessing I don’t take for granted. I am talking about living a life that seeks to pay attention, that tries to notice the smallest wonders, that like a child looks for patterns and colors in the sky, that always wonders what the light is doing now, and now, and now… a life woven in the beauty that every day provides, somehow, somewhere. Some days I have to look more intently than others. Some days I miss it.

I could easily have missed the blessing of last night’s sunset. I could have written off the potential I hoped for. I could have decided the results probably would not be worth the effort. I did miss a great sunset, in fact, a couple weeks ago, because I was engrossed in tasks in the house and frankly not paying attention. I am so glad I took the time to “notice what I noticed” yesterday afternoon.

It pays to pay attention.

click for larger image
Standing atop the dune crossover, I first noticed the patterns and colors of the ocean itself through my longest lens.

click for larger image
Closer to the water's edge, I looked south to see the subtleties of warm tones in the sky and wave wash.

click for larger image
Looking north I saw that the tinges of warmer colors were even more subtle. Pale pinks contrasted with the blues.

click for larger image
Looking east I spotted a heart cloud. See it?

click for larger image
The color to the south kept intensifying.

click for larger image
At this point, the most intense color was due east, as the sky picked up what was happening as the sun sank lower in the west.

click for larger image
Just for fun I made one more long lens image of the ocean beyond the breakers, to compare with the one I had made 18 minutes earlier.

click for larger image
The Grand Finale to the south.

click for larger image
The Grand Finale, to the north.

click for larger image
Here is a peek at the western sky through the dunes, made as I walked back to my car. Yes the sunset was amazing over the Sound but I am glad I went to the ocean.

posted by eturek at 12:05 PM

Comments [0]

Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Western Travelogue Part 2 - Moab UT and surrounds
For the second leg of my fall western trip, I journeyed from Jackson, WY to Moab, UT. Pete and I visited Moab in 2011 and I was excited to revisit some of the same locations and explore some new territory, too. By far the best part of the trip was spending an evening with our oldest grandson, Dennis, and then a second evening and the next full morning with his younger brother, Patrick. Dennis moved west after college, and it had been six years since I had seen him; his younger brother followed and we’d been apart for two years. In those two years, Patrick began photographing in a serious way, and our time together included a sunrise in Arches National Park! But I am getting a little ahead of my story.

While Arches is arguably the most famous and most visited of the parks in the region, it is not the only one. During the pandemic, a reservation system limited the number of visitors and although that system had been discontinued, visitation was monitored and no more vehicles allowed into the park once the daily quota was reached. Further, road construction closed the popular “windows” section until our last full day in Moab. So…what to do? Plenty, turns out!!

Besides Arches, I explored Canyonlands National Park( with a wonderful sunrise glow on the canyon walls and river below) as well as the Island in the Sky section, Dead Horse Point State Park (made famous by Thelma and Louise), the foothills of La Sal mountain range, Ken’s Lake (south of Moab off highway 191), and even positioned myself for a full moon rising above Fisher Towers, a dramatic rock formation north of Moab that glows an impossible russet red at dawn and sundown. The entire region is famous for petroglyphs and pictographs, and there are a number of those easily accessible to view along Utah Highway 279.

Although I left the fog behind in Wyoming, and the mornings dawned clear, the entire trip included afternoons of mounting cumulus clouds, which I will evermore associate with Ray Matthews, as we both relished photographing the drama they add to a landscape.

Both grandsons have become outdoor enthusiasts and are avid hikers, snowboarders and (in Dennis’ case) mountain bikers. Dennis took me along the road that parallels Highway 279 but is on the other side of the river, and showed me one of his favorite biking trailheads. When we got out of his truck, what should I find there but a good sized heart-shaped rock! (And yes, we made selfies there! Six years is a long time to go without a hug or pictures together!) I found another heart rock with Patrick two days later. Patrick’s and my adventure began with a sunrise in Arches, at a spot looking west toward the Three Gossips, not east, because the rock faces glow in the light of a low-angled sun. Without clouds to light up the sky in color, sunrise was more interesting looking west than east. Several other photographers had the same idea and it was a thrill for me to watch Patrick set up his tripod and carefully compose for the images he wanted to make.

After sunrise, he drove me through that section of Arches and I spotted in the distance an arch that looked very familiar—can we get over to that arch, I asked excitedly. Yes, indeed we could as the road construction project was completed and all roads were open. We pulled up into the parking area of Skyline Arch, got out, and I asked Patrick to stand in a particular spot while I made a quick photograph of him there. At that point, my heart was so full it spilled right out of my eyes and onto my cheeks as I explained that his grandfather Pete and I had been there, at that exact spot, ON THAT EXACT DATE, Oct. 6, 2011, eleven years earlier. In fact, I made my favorite photograph of Arches at that spot that afternoon eleven years ago and it has been hanging in our house since. On that trip, Pete could not walk out to the arch itself, so Patrick and I did, arm in arm much of the way and I was able to see the arch close up. Walking back, I glanced down, and that is when I found my second heart rock of the trip. Honestly, I felt so connected to Pete in that moment, and so grateful to share that beautiful spot with our grown grandson. I understood at a deeper level than before how the phrases “coming full circle” and “will the circle be unbroken” are connected.

There are a number of companies and individuals that offer guide services, in some cases to inaccessible areas, and I was grateful to have hired the local knowledge and expertise of Bryan Haile, both for sunrise in Canyonlands and for sunset at a beautiful arch inaccessible except by a bouncy 4wd excursion and a tricky walk (for me) over slickrock—which I never could have done without Bryan’s steady arm and support. But as you will see below, the reward was so worth the journey! Even Bryan remarked about how unusual the afternoon cloud formations had been during the time I was there and I just smiled and said an inward, “thank you, buddy” to Ray.

I am always amazed at the variety of landforms in what we call the American west. In a few hours’ drive, I went from “lofty mountain grandeur” of the Tetons to Utah’s red rock country with its canyons and arches and spires. No visit ever seems long enough, but after just a few days, I was off to Arizona and the famed Monument Valley—which Pete and I had planned to visit during that fall 2011 trip, but were unable to do so. Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode in the next blog—did you catch the broadcast reference there? Monument Valley is the locale where many of the classic, iconic John Ford/John Wayne westerns were filmed—as well as that key moment in Forest Gump when he decides, “I think I’ll go home now.”

That’s the thing about traveling. Ultimately, we go home. (That’s the thing about life, too.) But the best journeys see us home full of memories and experiences that expand our emotional and spiritual horizons as well as our literal ones. Perhaps these views and vistas prompt you to ask yourself, what journeys (literal or spiritual) do I want to make in this new year, and, how can I make them happen?

click for larger image
What a glorious morning! The canyon walls glowed at dawn and the river was so still I could see a reflection from above.

click for larger image
When Pete and were in Moab, I was fascinated by all the twisted trees. Turns out I still am!

click for larger image
Opposite end of the day -- this is that location Bryan Haile took me to in his 4WD.

click for larger image
Now we come to my morning with grandson Patrick. I loved how the rim light accentuated the repeating rock ridges.

click for larger image
This is Skyline Arch, that Pete and I saw only from the parking area, but that Patrick and I walked to.

click for larger image
Now we come to the dramatic afternoon clouds. These are some of the spires in Arches.

click for larger image
For a total change of scenery, just outside of Moab is the La Sal range. Pete and I drove up here too.

click for larger image
Because Moab is surrounded by higher elevation, I chose to photograph the moon on two nights before it was "full."

click for larger image
Almost full moon at Fisher Towers.

click for larger image
This is from Island in the Sky, another locale Pete and I visited. Again, note the afternoon clouds!

posted by eturek at 3:15 PM

Comments [0]

(c) 2009-2010 Eve Turek & OBX Connection, all rights reserved - read 747673 times

click picture for more
Eve Turek's Natural Outer Banks
July 2023 (1)

April 2023 (1)

January 2023 (3)

December 2022 (2)

September 2022 (1)

July 2022 (1)

June 2022 (1)

May 2022 (1)

March 2022 (1)

January 2022 (1)

November 2021 (1)

August 2021 (1)

June 2021 (1)

May 2021 (1)

April 2021 (1)

February 2021 (2)

January 2021 (1)

December 2020 (3)

November 2020 (1)

October 2020 (1)

August 2020 (2)

July 2020 (2)

April 2020 (1)

March 2020 (1)

January 2020 (1)

December 2019 (2)

November 2019 (1)

October 2019 (1)

September 2019 (1)

August 2019 (1)

June 2019 (1)

May 2019 (1)

April 2019 (2)

February 2019 (3)

January 2019 (1)

November 2018 (1)

October 2018 (1)

August 2018 (1)

July 2018 (1)

June 2018 (1)

May 2018 (1)

April 2018 (1)

March 2018 (1)

January 2018 (2)

November 2017 (1)

October 2017 (1)

September 2017 (2)

July 2017 (1)

June 2017 (1)

May 2017 (1)

April 2017 (1)

March 2017 (1)

February 2017 (1)

January 2017 (1)

December 2016 (1)

November 2016 (1)

October 2016 (1)

September 2016 (1)

August 2016 (1)

July 2016 (1)

May 2016 (2)

April 2016 (1)

February 2016 (3)

January 2016 (1)

December 2015 (2)

October 2015 (2)

September 2015 (1)

August 2015 (1)

July 2015 (2)

June 2015 (2)

May 2015 (2)

April 2015 (1)

February 2015 (1)

January 2015 (4)

November 2014 (1)

September 2014 (2)

July 2014 (2)

June 2014 (3)

May 2014 (1)

April 2014 (1)

March 2014 (2)

February 2014 (1)

January 2014 (4)

December 2013 (1)

November 2013 (1)

September 2013 (1)

August 2013 (2)

July 2013 (3)

June 2013 (1)

May 2013 (2)

April 2013 (1)

March 2013 (2)

February 2013 (2)

January 2013 (2)

December 2012 (2)

November 2012 (2)

October 2012 (2)

September 2012 (1)

August 2012 (2)

July 2012 (1)

June 2012 (3)

May 2012 (1)

April 2012 (2)

March 2012 (1)

February 2012 (2)

January 2012 (1)

December 2011 (2)

November 2011 (1)

October 2011 (2)

September 2011 (2)

August 2011 (2)

July 2011 (2)

June 2011 (2)

May 2011 (1)

April 2011 (1)

March 2011 (1)

February 2011 (2)

January 2011 (2)

December 2010 (2)

November 2010 (2)

October 2010 (2)

September 2010 (2)

August 2010 (2)

July 2010 (2)

June 2010 (2)

May 2010 (3)

April 2010 (3)

March 2010 (3)

February 2010 (1)

January 2010 (3)

December 2009 (2)

November 2009 (1)

October 2009 (4)

September 2009 (2)

August 2009 (3)

July 2009 (3)

June 2009 (3)

May 2009 (4)

April 2009 (4)

March 2009 (7)

February 2009 (5)

NEW Home | Outer Banks Vacation Rentals | Outer Banks Message Board | Outer Banks Webcams