Blog en-us (C) ( Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:57:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:57:00 GMT Blog 120 120 American Southwest 3: Monument Valley & Canyon de Chelly Monument Valley & Canyon de Chelly   Our next stop was Kayenta, the gateway to Monument Valley. If parts of Monument Valley look familiar to you, you may have seen them in movies. Its striking sandstone buttes, mesas and spires have long been used in Hollywood movies, starting with the 1939 movie "Stagecoach" that launched John Wayne's career. The area is in Navajo territory, and we wisely hired Navajo guides for our 2 tours into the Valley. Of the two trips, our sunrise tour was definitely more memorable as we had to get up at 4 am. Such a show of dedication!!!

We also made a day trip to Canyon de Chelly, a national monument co-managed by the National Park Service and Navajo Nation. A well-maintained trail took us down to the river bed and a ruin named "White House", which was thought to be home to the ancient Anasazi people (before arrival of the Navajo tribe). The trail took us through marvelous sandstone formations, all intricately carved out by Mother Nature.

Time passed by quickly, and we had to say goodbye to Paul and Eric. They headed north for the second half of the Grand Circle, while we turned south towards Phoenix.

Sedona & Painted Desert   On our drive south, we quickly toured the Petrified Forest National Park and its colorful badlands, known as Painted Desert. We wish we had more time to explore, but we had to head to Flagstaff for our final night in Arizona.

Visiting Sedona was our special bonus this time. The Sedona-Flagstaff area was a perfect stopover to and from our various destinations in Northern Arizona. In our brief visits, we managed a lovely short walk at Bell Rock & Courthouse Butte and a half-day hike in Oak Creek Canyon. Spring flowers were in bloom. We learned a few desert flowers, along with many we could not identify. It was a perfect complement to our Grand Circle trip.

Here are some photos:  

Monument Valley & Canyon de Chelly​  or  Monument Valley & Canyon de Chelly Slideshow   

Sedona & Painted Desert​  or  Sedona & Painted Desert Slideshow

Links back to other blogs on our Southwest trip:  

American Southwest 1: Grand Canyon

American Southwest 2: Page & Antelope Canyon

Last light on the rock

( Canyon de Chelly Monument Valley National Park Oak Creek Canyon Painted Desert Petrified Forest Sedona Thu, 02 Jun 2016 19:21:05 GMT
American Southwest 2: Page & Antelope Canyon Page and Antelope Canyon   We drove from Grand Canyon to Page, a small town near the Utah-Arizona border. The town got its start in 1957 as a base for construction of the Glen Canyon Dam, which gave rise to Lake Powell. Over 3 million visitors come here yearly for access to Lake Powell, Colorado River, and, especially for photographers, stunning red rock formations such as Antelope Canyon and Coyote Butte. Coyote Butte requires permits granted on a lottery system and was out of the question on this trip. Hence, Antelope Canyon was our main target.

Slot canyons in the American Southwest are wonderfully photogenic. With light shining into the canyon juxtaposed against swirling sandstone formations, it is easy to get great photos (yes, even with an iPhone). Antelope Canyon is the best known of these canyons. It attracts visitors from all over the world. Access is only permissible via paid guided tours. Antelope Canyon is actually 2 canyons, Lower and Upper, and are quite short in distance (1300 and 660 feet, respectively). We visited both, which took much of the day. They are indeed stunning to see, and the hours passed by quickly with the amazing rock formations all around us. 

Another fascinating sight is Horseshoe Bend just outside Page. This is a peculiar horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River about 5 miles downstream from the Glen Canyon Dam. A short trail took us to a lookout at the top edge of a vertical cliff 1000 feet above the river. There is no guardrail and definitely is not a place for those fearful of height. In some places where it was necessary to lean over the edge to get a clear view of the river basin, it was simply safer to crawl on the stomach. This is afterall the site of many deaths, some intentional and some, not so much.

Here are some photos:  Antelope Canyon & Page 2016​  or  Antelope Canyon & Page Slideshow   

Links to other blogs of our Southwest trip:  

American Southwest 1: Grand Canyon

American Southwest 3: Monument Valley & Canyon de Chelly

( Antelope Canyon Glen Canyon Dam Horseshoe Bend Lake Powell Page slot canyon Mon, 23 May 2016 05:00:37 GMT
American Southwest 1: Grand Canyon When a former classmate Paul Mong proposed a photography-oriented tour of the Southwest (or the Grand Circle, as it is also known), it was tough to resist. Thanks to Paul's persistence, and meticulous organization, the tour finally came to fruition in May. Our good friend Eric Ching came all the way from Hong Kong for the 2-week trip. Sue and I were able to participate for only the first week. One week gave barely enough time to cover the southern half of Grand Circle (which encompasses Grand Canyon, Antelope Valley and Monument Valley). Eric and Paul then headed north to complete the second half of the Grand Circle from Moab to Zion.

Our trip was superb in every way - incredible scenery, excellent hikes, great reunion with old friends, and learning about an unfamiliar part of the country. Needless to say, we took lots of pictures. Even after an aggressive deletion of the mediocres and the duplicates, we have over 1400 photographs to edit. We will go through them in the next few weeks.

Below is our first segment.

Grand Canyon, South Rim - We arrived in late Saturday afternoon under miserable rainy weather. Sunset was out of the question; instead, we went to see an IMAX movie about Grand Canyon. The weather fortunately broke just in time on Sunday, as our schedule only allowed one day in the park.

For better or worse, Grand Canyon is one of the most commercially developed National Parks in the US. Can you think of another national park with a nearby IMAX theater? We do appreciate the free shuttle bus system. Some routes start at 4:30 am for the sunrise watchers and end at 10 pm for the dinner patrons. It was great to leave our cars idle for a day. More importantly, it cuts down greatly the vehicle traffic in the Park.

The highlight of the day was the South Kaibad trail, which zigzags down the canyon to the Colorado River about 5000 feet below the canyon rim. There were breathtaking views of the canyon at nearly every step. We could do only a small portion of this trail because of time constraint. We went down about 900 feet from the rim before turning back, for a roundtrip hike of approximately 3 miles. The hike was surprisingly tiring probably because of the high altitude (7000 feet). We spent the rest of the afternoon walking leisurely along the rim and ended our day watching and shooting sunset from Hopi Point. 

Here are selected photos from that Sunday:  Grand Canyon 2016​  or  Grand Canyon Slideshow   

Links to other blogs of our Southwest trip:  

American Southwest 2: Page & Antelope Canyon

American Southwest 3: Monument Valley & Canyon de Chelly

( Grand Canyon National Park South Kaibad trail Tue, 17 May 2016 05:56:35 GMT
Thanksgiving 2015 Thanksgiving, 2015   -   We had a terrific time back in Wareham. Cynthia/Kaku came down from Boston, and Steph/Andrew drove up from NYC with Brandon and Jonathan. Seeing our 2 little grandsons is a lot of fun. Both are growing in leaps and bounds. Brandon is getting caught up by the Star Wars hype, thanks to his cousins. Jonathan will turn 2 in a few weeks, and he just talks constantly putting 2 or 3 words together. Special thanks to Amy and Manni for putting up with all of us. It was also nice to see Jane, Bob, Pam and Charles though only so briefly. With us scattered on both coasts, every family gathering is precious. The trip was remarkably smooth. The weather cooperated, and even the holiday travels were a breeze.

Here are photos from the weekend: /  Thanksgiving 2015​  /  Boston Children Museum​   /

Click on the thumbnails to show pictures with captions and use the left & right arrows to navigate. Another click on the photo shows a larger photo. To download single or the entire set of photos, put mouse pointer over the picture and use the drop down menu. Email us for the password.

( Thanksgiving Wareham Sun, 06 Dec 2015 06:07:16 GMT
Whale Watching October 2015 - We went whale watching for the first time, drawn by news that the unusually warm water has brought a record number of humpback whales to Monterey Bay. These whales spend their winter in warm waters near the equator and travel thousands of miles north to feed on krill and anchovies along the California coast. The peak activities probably took place earlier in the summer. For fear that we may miss this historic year altogether, we finally found time to board a boat in Santa Cruz. The first half of the cruise was not promising, as we were seeing only a few whales at a great distance. Then our luck turned. With just about half an hour left, we had several amazing close encounters with these majestic creatures. A couple of whales swam underneath our boat, and we could actually smell their very pungent breath. Our only regret was that we did not get to see breaching (when a whale launches itself out of the water). Maybe next time.

( Humpback Whale Monterey Bay whale watching Thu, 15 Oct 2015 05:32:12 GMT
Eastern Sierra June 2015 - We spent the last weekend in June hiking in the Owens Valley region. The area lies east of the Sierra Neveda mountains and is flanked by the Sierra on the west and White Mountains and Inyo Mountains to the east. The valley floor ranges from 4000 to 7000 feet in elevation with mountains rising to 12-14,000 feet on both sides. We hiked at 8,000 to 10,000 feet at a leisurely pace, so the altitude did not bother us at all. Despite California's epic drought with the severe lack of snow from the winter, the trails were filled with wildflowers, beaver ponds, streams and waterfalls. We will surely visit this area again in the near future.

Here are photos from the weekend.  Eastern Sierra Hikes​  Click on the thumbnails to show pictures with captions and use the left & right arrows to navigate. Another click on the photo or using the slideshow feature shows a larger photo but without the caption. 

Flowers of the Eastern Sierra: Most of the flowers photos are posted in a separate gallery here.  Eastern Sierra Flowers  There were many to show, if you are interested. We identified some of them using Laird Blackwell's excellent book "Wildflowers of the Eastern Sierra" (with almost certainly some mistakes on our part). 


( Eastern Sierra Lundy Canyon Mono Lake Owens Valley Wildflowers Yosemite Sat, 11 Jul 2015 22:20:47 GMT
Visit to Maine & New York May 31, 2015 -  We just returned from a Memorial Day weekend gathering of the Gleason family followed by a short visit to New York City. Along the way, we also managed to see Cynthia and Kaku for a few hours in Boston. It was great to see everyone, and of course, to see the 2 growing little boys. Photos are posted below.

Maine:   Cruise around Southport Island;   Memorial Day Reunion;   Short hikes.

New York:   Brandon and Jonathan.

( Boothbay Brandon Jonathan Maine New York Southport Island Sun, 31 May 2015 23:05:45 GMT
Castle Rock State Park April 4, 2015 - We had a nice hike in this nearby park along a 5-mile loop that takes us to rock formations and nice vista. The Castle Rock Falls is down to a trickle because of drought. Still, there are plenty of wild flowers. Besides familiar ones, we ran into a new plant that we had to look up. Yerba Santa, or sacred herb, is a shrub that grows to 6 or 7 feet and gives off white-lavendar flowers. It was valued by native Americans for medicinal properties of its leaf. We also saw a nice display of Mule's Ears, one of Sue's favorite flowers. A blue-belly lizard (Western Fence Lizard) patiently posed for us, and we had a brief glimpse of a snake which we later identified as a California Mountain Kingsnake. 

To see photos with captions, please go to gallery Castle Rock.



( Castle Rock State Park Western Fence Lizard White Baby Blue Eyes Yerba Santa Sun, 05 Apr 2015 18:54:07 GMT
Pinnacles in March March 15, 2015 - Although Pinnacles National Park is only a 2-hour drive from us, we have not visited for several years, certainly not since it received national park designation. Spring is always a great time to come to the park with the wild flower blooming and without the summer heat. We left home early and were on the trail before 9 am. The weather was perfect making the nearly 6-mile trek up and down the mountain very enjoyable. There were wild flowers everywhere, the familiar poppies, lupines, blue dicks, goldfields, along with others. Our favorite is the Venus Thistle, a gorgeous native thistle that is not invasive like the imported varieties. It is also called cogwebby thistle, which you should be able to appreciate from our posted photos. We were also fortunate to have a good look at 2 California condors. These are large birds that were once extinct in the wild, down to a world total of 22 birds in 1987. Thanks to a successful breeding program in captivity, the population now numbers over 400. Pinnacles is one of its habitat. Over the past 10 years, we had sightings in about half of our trips.

To see more photos beyond the slideshow below, please go to our gallery - Pinnacles in March


( Blue Dicks California Condor Pinnacles National Park Venus thistle Wild flowers Sun, 29 Mar 2015 13:24:55 GMT
Costa Rica with Cynthia May 2014 -  The 3 of us had a fabulous time in the highlands of Costa Rica, visiting 2 volcanos (Poas and Arenal) and the cloud forests near Santa Elena and Monteverde. We hiked on trails both close to our lodging as well as near volcanos and in rain forests. We even ventured into rappelling down canyons and zip lining through the cloud forest. The best part was simply walking on hanging bridges to enjoy views of the cloud forest. Cynthia's charm and splendid Spanish helped us learn from the Ticos.  In our photos, you will see lush green grass, forests loaded with epiphytes, waterfalls, butterflies, hummingbirds, and a variety of other birds. Our best sightings were a pair of male and female Quetzals when hiking with a guide in the Monteverde cloud forest, and a good look of howler monkeys munching on avocados while we were on a hanging bridge. 

The slideshow on this page gives only a small sampling. To see more photos, many with annotations, please click on the links below. Each will open a page in a new tab. 

 Poas - Poas volcano, waterfalls, butterflies, hummingbirds.

 Arenal Volcano - Arenal volcano, rain forest & hanging bridges, rappelling.

 Monteverde - zipline, cloud forests, and more hanging bridges.

( Arenal Cloud forest Costa Rica Monteverde Poas Quetzal Toucan Toucanet Volcano Sat, 24 May 2014 21:31:56 GMT
What a Year ! We did not travel far, but what a year 2013 was! Cynthia graduated from UCSF and got married, and moved to Boston in June. Steph and Andrew have another precious addition to their family in December. All our children now live in the East coast. That only means that we now have to learn to love those long cross-country travels.

To see the caption of individual photos, please click on  2013 Memories. Use the Slideshow feature to see full-screen display of the photos.

( 2013 Review Tue, 28 Jan 2014 05:30:31 GMT
Better late than Never September 2013 - We have not posted here for sometime and decided to catch up. Listed below are trips and events over this past spring and summer. Of course, the main event was Cynthia's wedding, which brought together families from all over the world. We will not post much of any wedding photos here. You can instead see them on Cynthia and Kaku's Flickr site (under Cynku).

Clicking on the links will open the page in a new tab.

 San Diego, March 2013 - So's side trip during a meeting in San Diego waterfront and zoo.

 Terracotta Warriors - exhibit at the Asian Art Museum.

 Cynthia's Graduation - AOA awards at the Presidio and UCSF graduation at the Davies Symphony Hall.

 Cynthia's Wedding & other activities - a precious opportunity to spend time with families. 

 August in Yosemite - wonderful hiking & star-gazing in our favorite NP, fortunately just before the Rim Fire started.

 San Francisco Waterfront - Coit Tower, Embarcadero, piers, & the America's Cup.


( Alcatraz America's Cup Half Dome San Diego Terracotta Warriors Yosemite Sat, 14 Sep 2013 18:03:12 GMT
February in Yosemite 2/27/2013 - We had wanted to see Yosemite in winter and finally went up with the Conboys two weekends ago. In addition to having a really nice trip, we came across two unexpected bonuses. As soon as we arrived, we noticed vast portions of the main road blocked off for special event parking. As it turned out, the parking was reserved for watching a local phenomenon called Horsetail Fall firefall. You can read all about it in this week New York Times. On the second day, we joined a ranger-guided snowshoe walk. The Park Service provided the equipment, and Ranger Dick was terrific. This was our first time in snowshoes and we absolutely had a blast!

Additional pictures besides those in the slideshow are located in February in Yosemite.


( Badger Pass El Capitan National Park Yosemite Thu, 28 Feb 2013 05:46:49 GMT
January in Pacific Grove 2/1/2013 -  We took advantage of the nice weather and spent 2 days hiking in the Big Sur area 2 weeks ago. To minimize driving, we stayed overnight at Pacific Grove, a quiet seaside town adjacent to Carmel and Monterey. We had a great time visiting 3 state parks on this short trip: Point Lobos, Garrapata and Pfeiffer Big Sur.

( Big Sur Garrapata State Park Pacific Grove Point Lobos Sat, 02 Feb 2013 01:17:55 GMT
Happy New Year ! January 1, 2013 - Cheers to good health and happiness throughout 2013!


( Christmas New Year Tue, 01 Jan 2013 18:05:52 GMT
Thanksgiving in New York November 2012 - This is a first for us: we spent much of the Thanksgiving week in New York City. Besides Thanksgiving dinner at Steph and Andrew's, we had a great time seeing various sights in the City. The time with all our immediate and extended families is priceless.

Additional pictures besides those in the slide show are located in New York Thanksgiving 2012.

( Brandon New York City Thanksgiving Mon, 03 Dec 2012 07:07:40 GMT
Fall in Maine October 2012 - We had a wonderful time in Maine. Sue took 10 days off. So had meetings on the East Coast and tacked on a short trip flying and driving to Southport. Steph, Andrew and Brandon also joined us for a long weekend. With our family spread out on both coasts, every opportunity counts. Brandon, now 20 months old, is absolutely a joy to watch. Be sure to see the videos posted here. He was hilarious in "A Very Good Reader". The rest of the pictures beyond the slide show are located in Maine Oct 2012.

( Boothbay Freeport Loafing Rock Maine Southport Wild Acres Sun, 21 Oct 2012 23:05:02 GMT
Yosemite with Suk Hung & Ching Kam The US visit of my childhood friends gave us a rare opportunity to do something different. Eight of us spent a short but terrific few days in Yosemite.  We spent good portions of 3 days hiking and sightseeing. Though the Park may be missing some of its biggest attractions like roaring waterfalls and snow-capped mountains due to the dry weather, Half Dome, giant sequoias and an invigorating hike up the Mist Trail more than make up for a wonderful trip. Best of all, the get together and catching up with old friends were simply priceless.  The slide show below highlights some of the most photogenic moments. You can see more of the pictures at Yosemite Sep 2012. A few photos of an earlier trip with Suk Hung and Albert Tam to the Big Sur coast can be seen at Big Sur Sep 2012.   [Once you are at the thumbnail page, clicking on a thumbnail will take you to a page with captions. You can use the L & R arrow keys to navigate.]

( El Capitan Glacier Point Half Dome Mariposa Grove Vernal Falls Yosemite Sun, 30 Sep 2012 07:56:02 GMT
Brandon's Visit Sep 12, 2012 - We had four fun-filled days with Brandon last week. He enjoyed visiting animals at Hidden Villa but did not dare to touch any live animals. The big fake horse was preferable over real chickens. He also enjoyed eating berries right off the vine. Museum is now an easy word for him and gets him excited. He went to the Palo Alto Junior Museum/Zoo twice, first with Sue and then on Saturday with all four grandparents. He even had a great time running around the Stanford Cantor Museum.

What a fun age! Full of energy, inquisitive, and learning at an astonishing pace. He is remarkably articulate for a 18 month-old. He must have a vocabulary of about 100 words and is even putting pairs of words together. He repeats words taught to him like a parrot and would surprise us later using the same words in the right context. 

You can see the full collection in Brandon Sep 2012.


( Brandon Hidden Villa Thu, 13 Sep 2012 06:27:44 GMT
Yosemite High Country August 17 to 19, 2012 - We are fortunate that Yosemite National Park is close enough for us to go for just a long weekend. We stayed at White Wolf Lodge, elevation 8000 ft, in the high country (Tioga Road) region of the park. The name "Lodge" is perhaps misleading, for our lodging was a simple canvas tent without electricity. We had to walk outside to get to the bathroom. The Lodge does have a cozy dining room which serves decent food.

The weather was mostly cloudy, with drizzles at times, and was unusually cool for August. We had a fabulous time with new hikes that led to lakes and wildflowers. We came upon May Lake, site of a High Sierra Camp, and we learned about the other High Sierra Camps. These camps form a loop of 5 destinations that allow backcountry exploration without the burden of bringing a heavy backpack and are definitely worth trying in the future. 

For more pictures, some with captions, please visit Yosemite Aug 2012.

( Tuolumne Meadow White Wolf Yosemite Tue, 28 Aug 2012 06:05:20 GMT
Brandon at 16 mos  

June 24, 2012 - We are now back home, almost all caught up after a pleasant trip to the East Coast.

Below is a small collection of photos of Brandon.

For the full gallery of our entire trip, go to






( Brandon Sun, 24 Jun 2012 17:58:48 GMT
Bronx Zoo June 18, 2012 - We flew into NYC on the 15th to spend a week with Steph, Andrew and Brandon. Brandon is of course everyone's darling. He is now 16 month-old and is walking all over the place. He has gained quite a vocabulary and is never shy in saying "no" or "more". The slide show below highlights a delightful outing to the Bronx Zoo yesterday.

( Brandon Bronx Zoo Tue, 19 Jun 2012 02:47:53 GMT
Garrapata State Park June 9, 2012 - This is our first time to the park. It occupies about 2 miles of Pacific Ocean front and is only a few miles south of Carmel. We hiked the Soberanes Canyon Trail, which took us inland and pleasantly surprised us with a gorgeous display of wild flowers. We did not quite expect to see flowers peaking in June, but it did make sense considering the much cooler climate by the ocean. After the hike, we walked along the rocky shores, enjoyed our sandwich dinner, and then soaked in the sunset views.

( Flowers Garrapata Wed, 13 Jun 2012 20:46:25 GMT
Solar Eclipse May 20, 2012 - Sue and I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon enjoying the annular solar eclipse in our backyard. The weather was gorgeous with clear blue sky and comfortable temperature. The central path of the eclipse passed through Redding and Reno, about 200 miles N & NE of us. We did not get the full experience but, as you can see in the photo, the crescent sun provided a wonderful view. 

Photo: 6:31 pm, PDT.  Orion Eon 72, Thousand Oaks glass solar filter, Nikon D7000, EFL 430 mm @ F6

( Solar Eclipse 2012 Sat, 26 May 2012 19:04:23 GMT