Thursday, March 31, 2022

For Brent

Earlier this month, Little Rock's Junction Bridge was lit with purple lights in honor of Brent Renaud. Brent was a journalist who was killed by Russian soldiers while reporting on the war in Ukraine. The Little Rock native was an acclaimed documentary filmmaker and journalist, and was a founder of the Little Rock Film Festival.

For Brent

After his tragic death, condolences included:

"I'm devastated by the loss of my close friend and long-time producer, Brent Renaud. The world and our profession has lost one of our greatest legends. Hug your family, your colleagues, and watch the news. People are dying to bring it to you." - Christof Putzel, a documentary filmmaker and television correspondent

"My heart is heavy at the passing of American journalist and Little Rock native Brent Renaud. He lost his life while covering the pure evil that is the invasion of Ukraine. An award-winning filmmaker and journalist, Brent made great contributions to the culture and arts of Arkansas. Susan and I are praying for Brent's family and all those affected by his loss." - Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson

"Today, a US journalist was killed in Ukraine. Before him, others have been targeted, murdered, injured or kidnapped. Our thoughts are with all those journalists driven by courage and an ideal: the freedom to inform. This freedom is fundamental to our democracies." - French President Emmanuel Macron

"A talented and brave journalist, Brent lost his life while documenting human tragedy, devastation and suffering of millions of Ukrainians. With all his courage and determination, he travelled to the most dangerous war zones to film the unprecedented ruthlessness and evil, also inflicted upon our nation by the aggressor state.
The people of Ukraine, who are fighting against the Russian regime to defend their homeland and democracy in the world, are mourning with you.
We are thankful for Brent for his professionalism and commitment to the values of compassion, ethics and justice.
May Brent's life, service and sacrifice inspire generations of people all over the world to stand up in fight for the forces of light against forces of darkness." - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

For Brent

The Big Dam Bridge was also lit that night with the colors of the Ukrainian flag:



It was a cold and drizzly night when these pictures were taken, and there wasn't anyone else out at the Big Dam Bridge. I wasn't alone however, there was a large flock of pelicans resting in the waters of the Arkansas River. During the long exposure, they moved and drifted in the currents of the water.


Monday, March 28, 2022

Bryce Canyon National Park

On the last full day of our trip, we made the drive to another one of Utah's iconic National Parks - Bryce Canyon. It was a spectacularly scenic drive, especially since we got to travel through Zion National Park again along the way. The route we took passed through the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel at Zion, before passing through the wilderness areas of the park's eastern sections.

Along the way we stopped at the overlook for the Checkerboard Mesa, an iconic 6,520 foot-tall sandstone summit. The recent snows covered up the mesa's distinctive lines that resemble a checkers game board.


We soon left Zion and drove across southern Utah. Eventually we reached the Dixie National Forest, which covers 2 million acres and sits just outside of Bryce Canyon. The road passes by a few red rock formations, and also through this small tunnel.


We soon made it to Bryce Canyon. After taking a quick look around the visitor's center, we headed off to one of the overlooks. The recent snows were deep here, probably about a foot deep.


We walked along part of a trail that follows the rim around the Sunrise Point overlook, which was really just a channel that was cut through the deep snow.


Despite its name, Bryce Canyon isn't actually a canyon. It's a series of large natural amphitheaters along the Paunsaugunt Plateau, which sits at an elevation of about 7,000–9,300 feet.


Bryce Canyon is famous for its hoodoos - the tall thin spires that were caused by a combination of frost weathering and erosion on the sedimentary rocks. Native American legend states that the hoodoos are the petrified remains of ancient beings who had misbehaved.


One of the most famous hoodoos in the park is Thor's Hammer, which was not named after the Marvel movies.


This view of Thor's Hammer was taken at Sunset Point, which is one of the more popular overlooks in the park.






The next overlook we visited was Inspiration Point, which was actually quite inspirational.




The next overlook we visited was at Bryce Point, which provides an expansive view. The overlook, and the park itself, are named after Ebenezer Bryce. Ebenezer was a Mormon pioneer who travelled west with Brigham Young. In 1870, he settled in the lands around Bryce Canyon. Of the amazing natural beauty that surrounded him, Bryce is quoted as saying that "It's a hell of a place to lose a cow."



In 1916, the scenic beauty of Bryce Canyon was described in articles in a magazine published by the Union Pacific and Santa Fe railroads. But even with the publicity, very few people visited Bryce Canyon. There were no accomodations, and travel to the area was still difficult. In 1923, Bryce Canyon was declared a National Monument. A few years later, Bryce Canyon was officially named a National Park in 1928.


We headed onto the scenic drive, which visits a few other overlooks. The drive had recently been closed due to the snow, and had just reopened. One of the first stops was at the Swamp Canyon overlook.


A popular spot on the drive is the Natural Bridge, an arch of eroded red-sandstone.


The last stop was at Rainbow Point, which sits at an elevation of 9115 feet. On clear days it's said you can see for 100 miles. It is amazing that from here you can't see any traces of human activity. No roads, no shopping centers, no suburban sprawl. Just miles and miles of untouched nature.



The light had been sunny and harsh the entire time we had been there, so I wanted to stay to sunset when the light would be more photogenic. So we tried to determine which overlook would we be the best to catch the light at dusk. Should we be rebellious and try to see the sunset from Sunrise Point? After some deliberation, we decided to revisit Inspirataion Point.




It was an amazing and breathtaking view. Especially as the hoodoos and rock formations seemed to glow in the fading light at the end of the day.



It had been cold the entire time we were there (below freezing), but it got even chillier as the sun sank below the horizon.






It's amazing how the rocks seemed to hold onto the light and still glow, even after the sun sank below the horizon. Bryce Canyon is an amazing place, and I wanted to keep on taking pictures.




And finally one last shot from Bryce Canyon. It was hard to put the camera away when standing at a place like this.


It was starting to get dark, so I headed back to the car. We then made the two hour drive back to our hotel, where we sadly packed up our things. Early the next morning we drove back to Las Vegas and then flew home, eager to see the kids again.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Zion National Park - Part 3

After our little side trip to Grafton, we headed back to Zion National Park. Unfortunately we soon met a gate, it turns out that the park was already full and there was no more parking. The park ranger stationed at the gate kindly suggested we wait a few hours and try to get in later. Other parts of the park were open, so we drove back through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. It was also crowded there with a lack of parking (again, I can't imagine what it must be like here in the summer). We stopped at this smaller tunnel to get a few pictures.


A few hours later we did try again, and the gate was open. The delay meant that we weren't able to do any hiking that day, but oh well. It was still great to be within the towering mountains of the park again.


It was still cold (at or below freezing), but the sun had already melted away a good amount of the snow.




I headed back to the Temple of Sinawava to get a few more pictures. At least by this time the entire bottom of the canyon was in shadow, which helped with the pictures.



And one last shot of the Pulpit, as the Virgin River hurries by at the Temple of Sinawava.


Zion National Park is an amazing place, filled with some awe-inspiring scenic beauty. Our time here was too short, and we didn't see all that we wanted to see. But that just means that we'll have to come back soon, I guess.

It was getting dark, and I ended up by this small waterfall along the Virgin River near the Court of the Patriarchs. As I was setting up this shot, the lens cap popped off and dropped right into the swift waters of the river.


And a wider view, a 20 second exposure taken well after sunset.


On the way back to the hotel I made one last stop near the edge of the park, so I could attempt to catch the mountains holding onto the last embers of light from the day. Already a multitude of stars were out and shining down on Zion.