A Cloudy View

Visiting an old friend from college, I found he had fostered an exhaustive knowledge of the pacific northwest’s many parks in the years since I had seen him. Here in Northern Cascades National Park we prepared for one of the more beautiful hikes I have ever been on.

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Doorways

Quranic verses adorn the arches leading to Alauddin Khilji’s tomb in the Qutb complex of Delhi. The complex of buildings, tombs, and monuments is almost entirely of Islamic origin dating back to the time of the Mughal rulers of India.

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The Lonely Road

Outside the window on a short flight from Zanzibar to Arusha I noticed the very road we had decided wouldn’t be worth the drive. Tanzania’s roads leave a lot to be desired, the flight was well worth the extra cost.

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The Old Way

Deep in the Western Desert of Egypt, in one of the many ancient mud-brick cities, people still live life mostly unchanged. This family has operated their forge in this same location for generations. The father is pumping the bellows by hand, keeping the fire hot, so that his son may work uninterrupted.

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For Love of Water

The White-capped Redstart (Chaimarrornis leucocephalus) is only found in the high mountain ranges of Asia. They prefer to spend their time along rocky streams and waterfalls, especially during breeding season.

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White Mirror

The east side of Glacier National Park offers a much more solitary experience than the crowded west side. Grinnell Lake is just a short hike away from the main trailhead, but offers complete solitude in the winter months. A freak snowstorm the night before my hike out made for a wet and cold climb but the scenery made it worth it.

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The Eyes Have It

This Flap-necked Chameleon (Chamaeleo dilepis) has eyes that can both move and focus independently, providing it with a full range of view of its surroundings.

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Lehman’s Lucky Horse

The story goes that Absalom Lehman was riding one day and his horse fell through the ground revealing the beautiful cave system that now bears his name. Despite the dubious veracity of the story, the cave certainly provided Lehman with a good income over the years as he began giving tours not long after he discovered it in 1885. The caves are found in Great Basin National Park in Nevada. It is one of the Parks’ Service least visited parks.

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The Hypostle Hall

Walking amongst the 80 foot pillars of the hall one cannot help attempting to imagine the civilization that used this incredible structure. Construction began around 3300 years ago, a time and place far removed from our modern world. In ancient times the ceiling was closed and the vast interior likely lit by torch and candle.

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Second Chance for Cheetah

The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) needs quite a large area in which to hunt successfully. Unfortunately due to competition with other large predators in a relatively small area it does not do well in game reserves. Declining populations of cheetah in Africa have led many to set up cheetah rehabilitation centers to help injured or otherwise struggling cheetahs like the adult male pictured here. For more information about cheetah conservation please visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund website.

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An Accidental Sea

In 1905 irrigation canals from the Colorado River were overwhelmed and the resulting disaster gave us the Salton Sea. Now a major stopover for migratory birds, the sea is estimated to support thirty percent of the population of American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), pictured here.

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No Foreigners Allowed

Pushkar is said to be one of the oldest cities of India. In the Hindu mythology it is said that Brahma sat here when he created the world. The city is home to hundreds of temples, but some are off limits to foreigners. In the late hours of the day I was lucky enough to quickly snap this photo through the entrance of one such temple.

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Valley of Monuments

Monument Valley is featured in just about every old western and Wile E. Coyote cartoon, but this iconic landscape takes up a much smaller area of the american west than one would think, occupying just five square miles of southeast Utah. This picturesque landscape is part of the Navajo Nation and driving the seventeen mile loop you find many old settlements still in use.

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Young Zebra

Zebra need no real introduction. A common site throughout eastern sub-Saharan Africa they aren’t easily confused with another species. The Plains Zebra (Equus quagga) pictured here produce on average a foal a year. These young zebras are able to stand within fifteen minutes of birth and to suckle within the first hour. Being able to move on one’s own within such a short time is incredibly advantageous for an animal such as this, the plains of Africa are a very dangerous place. As you can see young Zebras like this one spend the first few months of life without perfect stripes, their famous marks are adorned with a furry red tinge.

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Rising Tetons

One of my favorite excuses to get up uncomfortably early is to try and take pictures in the changing light of the rising sun. Most of the time it’s really cold and you don’t get any really great photos (sunsets always being better for that) but everyone once in awhile you get to see something amazing. Grand Teton NP is a perfect place to wait and watch as much fewer people visit this park than its much more famous neighbor to the north, Yellowstone.

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A Long Gone Lama

A young monk looks back into the crowd as incense burners pass alongside. Tsongkhapa died way back in 1419, but before he did he founded the Gelug school of Tibetan buddhism. McLeod Ganj in Northern India is where the most famous member of the Gelug school, the Dalai Lama, calls his home. Every year on the anniversary of Tsongkhapa’s death the monks unroll a massive tapestry and chant mantras in his memory.

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The Greater and the Lesser

The Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) pictured here is the larger of two species of flamingos that spend some part of their year here in Lake Nakuru of central Kenya. The Lesser Flamingo, the smaller and less colorful of the two species, can sometimes be found in groups of up to two million individuals.

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Opportunistic Foxes

Primarily a nocturnal animal the desert kit fox (Vulpes macrotis arsipus) can sometimes be spotted in the early hours of the day. Unfortunately due to human activity they can now commonly found in busy areas such as this construction site in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. Considerable effort is made to protect these animals in California where they hold a special status. Neighboring states, however, have not put any laws into effect to ensure their protection.

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The Etosha Pan

A storm rolled out onto this “Great White Place” as the sun was setting over our safari in Etosha National Park. Located in northern Namibia this massive 4,800 square kilometer salt pan seems to go on forever.

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