Excited for a few friends about to head off and use the rest of this year to travel the world.
I told them I can’t think of a photo I regret taking while traveling.
But I do regret the photos I didn’t take. I always do.
I’ve tried photographing the Milky Way a few times and it never seems to go as planned. The first night we had to deal with some cloud cover right at sunset so I slept a few hours and started again around 4AM.
Texas Parks and Wildlife estimates that 80% of Americans have never seen the Milky Way. Big Bend is the darkest area in the lower 48 United States and is the largest of the 10 parks in the world that are classified as dark sky parks.
Big Bend takes the elimination of light pollution seriously and has taken numerous measures to upgrade the outdoor light sources throughout the park. In addition, surrounding towns have passed strict ordinances on light pollution sources.
Day or night, Big Bend offers scenery you can’t find anywhere else.
I can’t wait to go back.
Spread across more than 800 thousand acres, there’s a lot to see in Big Bend. The park’s primary attraction is hiking and backpacking. In reality, hiking and backpacking are just fancy terms for walking, and we did a lot of it.
When you pass through the visitor center at the park entrance, the rangers provide a nice park guide that we referenced often. Included in the guide were a dozen of the most popular trails, each rated by length of time/distance, level of difficulty and a description of what you can expect to see.
I knew I wanted to hike to The Window, it’s one of those most storied views in the park. It’s a relatively short hike, 4.5 miles from the campgrounds in the Chisos Basin with an elevation change of 500 feet. The hike itself was excellent, great views and much of the trail was covered from direct sunlight.
Our little group of hikers took plenty of time to rest, relax and take in the scenery. We weren’t in a rush so our leisurely pace allowed us to really enjoy our surroundings. Listening to the birds, guessing rock types and wondering how much longer kept us entertained and our minds busy.
The Window itself is a large rock canyon that cuts through the Chisos Mountains rim. Formed by drainage from the Basin to the Chihuahuan Desert, the canyon offers a spectacular view of the vast desert beyond.
The rocks are quite slick at the edge of the pour off, a scary fact considering the 220 foot drop off into the desert below. Be careful!
A front seemed to roll in just as we reached The Window. Luckily we didn’t catch any rain.
I’d like to spend more time in Big Bend in the near future, hopefully I can make it back to the park before it really starts to heat up, it is a desert after all.
There’s so much more to explore.
Part of the reason for heading out to Big Bend National Park was to just take my car out for a really long drive. Knowing we would likely face some difficulty reserving a campsite, we hoped our best chance would be with one of the primitive roadside camp sites offered by the park. No bathrooms, no running water and your vehicle has to make it over some rough roads to get to your site.
Right at home on the twists and turns, my Subaru WRX also felt great on the gravel and dirt roads all over the park. The WRX namesake was given thanks to Subaru’s history in the World Rally Cross races and that feeling is still unescapable.
Due to relatively low ground clearance, the WRX isn’t exactly known as an off-road monster compared to its bigger brother, the Outback. We wanted to make sure we would still have access to the deeper parts of the park, if needed, so my dad brought his 2013 model.
In Marathon, I found some 93 Octane gasoline, which is rare in Austin. Luckily, the newer WRX models can accept a range of octane thanks to it’s direct injection motor. The WRX is designed, or tuned, with high octane gasoline in mind and the lower octane varieties result in decreased performance and fuel economy.
While we could have been a little more frugal by taking a single vehicle, I knew there was also a chance I would stay at the park a day or two longer than my companions. Some folks may be less than enthused to hit the road again for the half-day return trip back home, that feeling escapes me and my WRX.
More from Big Bend to follow.
I’ve been wanting to visit Big Bend National Park for a long time. Last winter, around new years actually, I nearly made the trip but a friend convinced me to wait. A few days later, the temperatures dropped and the park froze. I doubt I would have been ready for that and my trip would have had been cut short.
As SXSW approached this year, I found myself struggling to set up my typical schedule of free parties, exciting new bands, and favorites artists that seem to come through year after year.
Impulsively, I told my dad how I wanted to drive out to Big Bend for a few days. As maybe I should have expected, he was skeptical. But his mind seemed to change when I asked him if he wanted to come too.
And so we started planning.
The month of March is the busiest time of year for Big Bend National Park. We had read that, been told that over the phone by park staff, but I still had doubts it would be, you know, full full. We arrived early afternoon midweek. The park was completely full. No campsites available.
Park Rangers assured us that we could find alternative camping at the Stillwell Ranch camp grounds, which sits just outside Big Bend. At Big Bend you can reserve campsites up to 24 hours in advance. Do that. Just call. Trust me, after 8-10 hours of driving, you’ll thank yourself that after spending all that time driving into the park, you have to drive back out to set up your camp.
Even after spending half a day traveling, once you get inside the park, the weariness of those long hours of driving disappears and the only thing you want to do is see everything. And the sun sets too fast. And you have to set your tent up in the dark.
More from Big Bend National Park to follow.
This is the first year in a long time that I chose to not revel all week in the madness of SXSW. I decided to head to west, with mountains and desert on my mind.
Here’s to hoping you and your most special someone had a relaxing weekend.
Whether it was a beautiful bouquet of red roses, a handful of colorful candy or a romantic evening dinner (or maybe it was just some delicious pizza!) valentine’s day is a celebration of love.
We would love to take your next portrait or photograph your next event.
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A young, aspiring model, Jade found out last minute that she was headed to a modeling conference the next day. The only hang up was she needed a set of photo prints for her portfolio to bring along.
After a flurry of messages on a Friday night, we scheduled a Saturday morning photoshoot.
Same day turn around for photo prints is possible and it definitely makes for quite an interesting day!
The last few months of 2015 were an exciting time in my life. I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many supportive friends and family here in Austin, Texas.
In 2016 Delfoto became an LLC with the State of Texas and is ready to take on new clients seeking photography services for their most special events.
We have covered everything from weddings, parties and concerts to private keynotes and media events. Additionally, we have experience with a variety of studio and environmental portraits for commercial use, engagements, milestone announcements, family greetings and holiday cards.
In November, I spent several weeks abroad with my girlfriend, my sister and her husband. It was the most fun I have ever had on a vacation.
Most of our time was spent traveling around the island of Bali, in Indonesia. We had all heard of this place, beautifully described in words and captured in stunning photographs.
We had the typical logistical questions about visas, currency, immunizations and of course, flight delays. But more importantly, we all wondered, “Why was this place so special? What endeared this island to so many around the world?”
And, when we finally arrived, “is this even real?”
Jatiluwih Rice Terrace