Recently returned from a trip to Bosque del Apache just outside of Socorro, NM. Sand Hill Cranes winter there and my friend Kathy wanted to photograph the cranes before they all left. The last official count of Sand Hills Cranes before we arrived was around 8,500 but there seemed to be much less than that during our stay.
On the first day of our arrival at Bosque del Apache, we waited at one of the ponds on the preserve for the cranes to return. While waiting, a young photographer engaged me in a conversation. He was visiting Bosque del Apache with his wife. He was a nice young man with the perfect amount of cynicism. When the cranes finally arrived, it was too dark to get much of anything except for silhouettes. Photographing birds is not my forte, but watching and stalking them to learn their behavior is a lot of fun.
The next morning we arrived at another pond before dark. Although dressed warmly enough, I had no gloves and it was pretty chilly. We spent some time there until leaving to drive around the loop road within the preserve. We stopped several times to shoot the cranes.
We left Bosque del Apache and made our way to the Acoma Pueblo also known as Sky City. Acoma Pueblo is built on a mesa and has been continuously inhabited since the 1500’s. Unfortunately, the pueblo was closed to tourists during the week. Don’t know if this is true during the summer months or not. Anyway, we spoke with a Native American couple who lived in the area and had familial claims to live on the mesa. Both were living traditional Acoma lives, although the man had lived off the reservation and only within the past several years adopted a more traditional Acoma life-style. He likes to make and shoot bows and arrows made in the old-timey way. After telling him I would be interested in seeing his bows and learning how he makes them, he invited me to return someday and he would show me how it’s done and even teach me to use them. I may just take him up on that offer.
Our next stop was Sedona, AZ – the land of red rock beauty, vortexes, crystals and psychics. We spent the first day in Oak Creek Canyon along a road that connects Flagstaff and Sedona. The next day we went to Crescent Moon Ranch - a park just outside of Sedona. We were fortunate to be there when the creek was running high.
Our final stop before returning to Kingman was Watson Lake near Prescott, AZ. Prescott has a thriving artist community with many galleries located on the town square. After visiting the galleries, we had tacos for lunch and headed out to Watson Lake, planning to return again the next morning. That night it snowed and when we got to Watson Lake the next morning, there was about 2 – 3 inches of snow on the ground. While at Watson Lake a man called us “cheaters”. He was a member of a photo group in Prescott. Their assignment was to shoot in “The Dells in Winter”. He probably thought we were there too early. Watson Lake is in an area known as the Dells. This area includes the Granite Dells, which are adjacent to Watson Lake. After shooting some more shots we hopped in the car and made our way back to Kingman.
For me, half the fun of photography is being outside and enjoying nature. Sometimes at home I will go outside with my camera and shoot whatever there is. It may be a backlit cholla, my neighbor’s wagons or my garden gnomes. I am truly blessed that relatively good health allows me to pursue my photography.