Elephant rock was one of our stops on our third day of the road trip my dad and I went on. It was about an hour before we reached the high point of Missouri.  It was a really unique piece of landscape and reminded me a lot of places out west where theres a lot of bare rock and gigantic land forms. We began our hike in a forest, but it slowly wrapped around this big mass of rock that stuck out above the surface of the forest.  There were really cool views from up there and some sweet rock formations to climb around.  It was a fun place to do some interesting photography.  In some shots, because all you see are rocks, it is hard to even tell the scale of them or how large they were.  Hopefully with the one with my dad jumping across a gap between the rocks you can get a better scale of how big these giant rocks were. It was about midday and very sunny when we were shooting giving very harsh like, but as long as you shot with the sun, this brought out a lot of great, sharp texture from the rocks.  It also brought out some very vibrant colors both in the rock and with the nice clear sky, I was able to pull out some very deep blues. With these vibrant colors and harsh light and interesting rock, I took some time capturing some of the unique textures and colors found on the different rocks as you can see on some of these bottom shots. It was a really cool stop and just reminded me of the beauty of the earth.  I still dont really understand how or why these random, elephant sized rocks were just hanging out in this forest, but they were certainly a pleasant sight! 




These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 24-75mm f/2.8.











The last guest post from my dad on our last day/hike of the trip:

Our fourth high point in as many days was Mount Magazine in Arkansas.  Once again we were blessed with a beautiful day.  Starting in Harrison, we drove south through the Ozarks, seeing many cows, dilapidated houses and barns, and even a few elk!  We took a side trip to Alum Creek to hike down to the natural stone arch, which was very interesting.  On Mount Magazine, the hike was relatively brief to Signal Hill, the top of Arkansas.  There were no other humans in sight.  Wildlife included only insects.  We had heard about the Lodge and their good hamburgers, but even the good reviews did not prepare us for just how nice it was!  We then took a side trip down to the “edge of the ledge,” where dead and half-dead trees overlook a spectacular drop-off to the valley far below.  Mount Magazine marks my 33rd high point- 32 for Zach.  For now, our next will have to wait.  It was a great trip, spending lots of time with my son doing something that we both love!


These were shot with my Nikon D600 with a 24-75mm f/2.8 lens.



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Another guest post from my Dad:

After a very foggy Easter Sunday morning, the sun came out in the afternoon, and we had a very pleasant day of hiking.  Our first stop was Elephant Rocks State Park.  Those were very interesting and fun to climb around, but not the subject of this post.  From Elephant Rocks, we went to Taum Sauk Mountain, the high point in the state of Missouri.  Located in the St. Francois section of the Ozarks, Taum Sauk reaches 1,772 feet above sea level.  The trail from the parking lot is a very easy concrete trail, barely gaining any elevation.  In fact, out of the 32 high points I have now visited, Taum Sauk would have to be the flattest one of all.  So, we felt a more difficult hike was in order, and proceeded to take the three-mile loop to Mina Sauk Falls.  In places, the trail was quite rocky, and almost everywhere it was very wet from yesterday’s rain, not to mention poorly marked.  Along the way, however, we were treated to some beautiful Ozark vistas.  The waterfall was a nice reward for the hiking, and we could climb a lot of the rocks real close to the main drop.  Altogether, the falls has a drop of 132 feet, and was well worth the trip.  We were amazed at the clarity of the water!  On the way back, we were treated to a couple of herpetological treats- First, we saw a number of lizards sunning themselves in the late March sunshine.  I was surprised to see them at this latitude, altitude, and time of year, and they had a beautiful blue underside!  Secondly, back near the almost-level “summit” the spring peeper frogs were almost deafening in their jubilant song in a very shallow swampy area.  It was our third state high point in as many days!

Taum Sauk-05These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 24-75mm f/2.8.



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This is the second state high point we have hit on our Easter road trip.  Again I will have my dad write the commentary on our trip today:

We spent the night in Tupelo, Mississippi, and even saw Elvis Presley’s birthplace, home church, and the Hardware store where he bought his first guitar.  Then, it was back onto the Natchez Trace into the extreme northeast corner of the state to Woodall Mountain.  By the time we got there, it was raining.  Thinking back, this is the first time in our 30 state highpoint trips that we had rain (though I do remember some sleet on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire on a July day).  It did not bother us too much, however, as Woodall is essentially a drive-up mountain.  There were a number of communications towers at the summit, pine trees, and a large rock that unfortunately had the sign removed.  We signed the register, and for the second consecutive day we were the second “expedition” of the day to reach the summit.  At 806 feet above sea level, it was certainly higher than Driskill Mountain, but might not qualify as a “mountain” by some standards.  As usual, Mokey tried to get into as many pictures as possible.  For this trip, we hope to bag two more highpoints!



These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 24-75mm f/2.8 lens.







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Another we stop we made along the Natchez Trace Parkway was the Cypress Swamp.  We were hoping to see some gators, but all we saw were a bunch of floating logs, and no nostrils sticking out to distinguish a gator. It was still a really neat stop. We took a boardwalk across the swamp where we were able to walk amidst these huge, wide cypress trees that sprouted right out of the water.  The water was incredibly still and gave it a very glassy look that you could see direct reflections of the tree off of.  There were also places of very thick scum that floated on parts of the swamp. In some of the pictures you can see this scum and protruding from the scum were these nubby little trees that barely stuck a foot out of the swamp.  They are called bald cypress trees and may have been stunted in growth because of the lack of oxygen they receive.  Although we didn’t see any gators, we saw a little lizard scurrying through the leaves and under the bark and we also saw a little frog hiding away deep in a little hole in the ground. This stop was very different from our stop at the blacksmiths but equally cool and effective in breaking up our long drive.


These were shot with my Nikon D600 and 24-75mm f/2.8.


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Yesterday after our Louisianna hike, we drove our way East to Mississippi.  As soon as we got there, we hopped onto the Natchez Trace Trail, which is a scenic drive that will take you from Natchez, Mississippi all the way up to Nashville, Tennesee.  Along the trail, there were many little towns and attractions to visit. One stop we made was the Mississippi Craft Center. Outside the craft center there was a booth where some blacksmiths were doing metal work. They were really friendly guys and offered to show us some of the work they were doing and the process used to create some of their intricate designs. While we were there, they were in the process of building and forming some big screws. They had a few furnaces as you see in the photos which would be turned up to about 2900 degrees.  They would bury the metal in some of the coals there to make sure that it would heat up to a malleable state.  They would then use some tools to grab the bolt and bring it over to a work horse where they would take a 25-30 lb. hammer to slam it into its final form.  They only had a few seconds to do this before the metal would cool off to a state where it was no longer formable.  Using this process along with some different tools and molds is how they would create some of the pieces you see below. The rest of the craft center was a very modern looking building that housed some very beautiful artwork. It was really neat to look around and a great stop to break up our 5 hour drive up to Tupelo, Mississippi.

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These were shot with my Nikon D600 and 24-75mm f/2.8.


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Since I’m going on this trip with my dad, I thought it would be cool to have him tell you about some of our adventures since he’s such a great writer and has a great sense of humour and just to give you a different perspective.  Here are his thoughts on the first stop of our trip:

Today was a day, and a long weekend, that Zach and I had been looking forward to for a long time.  We got to resume one of our favorite activities- “high-pointing,” this time in the state of Louisiana.  After our night in Ruston (home to Louisiana Tech, Terry Bradshaw’s alma mater), we drove through a sparsely populated region in north-central Louisiana.  We parked next to the Mount Zion Presbyterian Church and cemetery off route 507, to begin the trail to the top of Driskill Mountain.  At 535 feet above sea level, it is the third lowest high point in the US.  (Trivia question- can you name the two shorter high points?)  It was a beautiful and peaceful Good Friday morning.  We hiked through a pine and hardwood forest, with some scattered wildflowers, to the sound of birds chirping.  It was certainly not a long or difficult hike.  The land is privately owned, but high-pointers are welcome, and the trail was well-marked.  At the summit, a new sign has been recently installed, along with a couple of new benches.  Signing the guest register, we were surprised to learn that we were NOT the first to the summit today…two guys from Reno, Nevada has been to the summit shortly after midnight!  For me, this marked my 30th state highpoint, while it was the 29th for Zach.  Our faithful companion “Mokey” has been with us for most of them.  Back at the church, we noted that some of the Driskill family, for which the mountain was named, were buried there in the cemetery.  The weather was perfect, and we moved on toward our next adventure.  (Trivia answer…Florida has the lowest high point, followed by Delaware.)

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These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 24-75mm f/2.8.


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I love airports! I think part of it is just the association it has with travel and discovery, and part of it is also just the cleanliness and modern features of an airport. It is like a mini city in there with restraints and shops and clothing stores.  They often have really modern architecture and art and also those moving sidewalks for you to lazily traverse your terminal. I know it might sound crazy but I love longer layovers, because I just love that opportunity to sit down at a little coffee shop or work station in the airport and do some work. I find so much inspiration watching all the different kinds of people walk by.  It;d be so interesting to know each one of their stories, such as where they came from and where they are going and who they are visiting and what they saw.  I love travelling with groups but i also love the opportunity to travel by myself just because I can just pop in some tunes on my iPod and just travel wherever I want as I wait for my flight and check out a bunch of little shops and just watch the people go by.  Some people sprint as they try to catch a connecting flight and others try to pass the hours away by reading a book or curling up in the corner trying to take a nap.  Anyways, today I hd the opportunity to go through an airport and do some traveling. I started in Columbus, flew to DC and then came back west to fly to Little Rock Arkansas.  It makes no sense when you look at the route on the map, but I didn’t care because it gave me more time to fly 10,000 feet above the earth. You get such a cool perspective up there and suddenly the earth looks so small.  It is incredible.  And then when you pop above the clouds, you see them in a whole new way! It appears as if you are flying above a huge cotton ball.  Sometimes I just imagine myself jumping out of the plain and just bouncing around on those big, soft, fluffy clouds. All of my traveling went smoothly though and am looking to some traveling during the next week with my dad.

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These were shot with my Nikon D600 with the 24-75 mm f/2.8.




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Savannah Georgia was just a quick stop along the way to break up our 17 hour drive back to Cedarville from Del Ray.  We had heard a lot of cool things about it and being that we were passing through a little after dinner time, we thought it would be worth checking out.  And it was! I think most of the guys would agree that we shied we could have spent more time there.  The town had a very old and historic feel to it with no building over 7 stories tall and the brick and cobblestone roads.  We also happened to land there on a very lively evening.  Right before we got there, the town had just finished up their Shamrock 5k so everyone was out donned in their crazy green clothes and out having a good time.  Everywhere we went was packed. One thing we loved was how open and airy everything was too.  There was live music being played out in the streets, people eating outside, and rooftop patio bars that people could look out onto the street from. One place we loved was the candy shop right next to our pizza place.  It felt like we were in Willy Wonkas chocolate factory.  They were making taffy right in front of us and we saw this whole system of how the taffy got made and transported to its place in the store using conveyor belts.  We also got a lot of free samples there.  We ended up eating at Vinnie Van GoGo’s pizza place. This was one of the coolest restraints I had been to.  It was one of those places that you could barely move in once you were inside because it was so tight.  They were tossing pizza dough and making the pizzas right in front of everyone.  I regrettably didn’t end up getting any good pictures in there because it was so tight and there was hardly any light in the place so you’ll just have to believe me that it was a pretty sweet place! Its something that you would more have to experience anyway because of the whole atmosphere of the town and its location.  After our pizza we walked around the town much, and since I was sick of carrying around my 30lb. camera bag, I just brought my camera with the 28-75 mm lens.  I completely forgot to even grab my tripod which is accessory number 1 when shooting at night.  So I had to really push the limits of my new cameras ISO and use makeshift tripods such as railings and stone pillars.  We were also kind of rushed so I wasn’t able to set up some shots that i wanted, but it is definitely a place I would like to return to someday to capture more of the old town feel!  Quite a contrast from Miami just a few nights ago.  After our brief visit in Savannah, we continued our drive all the way back north up to Ohio which took about 11 more hours.  We arrived at about 10 am, and we had lost about 45 degrees from what we had in Florida 😦 It was a great relaxing vacation though, and I am glad I rush ordered my D600 so that I had it for this break! There were a lot of great opportunities to use the extra power of it during the week.  I hope you enjoyed seeing some shots of our trip throughout the week!  Thanks for following along 🙂

ImageThese were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 28-75mm f/2.8.  As I mentioned earlier, I forgot my tripod, so I was shooting at 1600-3200 for most of these. And look at how little noise there is! Very happy with my new camera.






We pushed it off until our last morning at Del Ray, but we finally woke up before the sun in order to go to the beach to watch it rise over the Atlantic! It was gorgeous. It was so serene being on the coast that early in the morning.  It was before the town had waken up to go to work, and before the birds had come out to sing, and before cars were zooming by on the highway.  It was just us, the ocean, and the warm sunlight slowly peaking over the horizon. All we heard was the crashing of the waves against the shore, and as you can see, some of them crashed pretty hard.  We were standing right on a bank above where the ocean had chipped away at the loose sand and so we were about a foot and a half above the tide but every once and a while with the big waves, the water would come up and crash over the bank we were standing on.  One time the water even came up and swallowed my flip flops and if it weren’t for Justin quickly grabbing them before they got pulled into the sea, they would be half way to the bahamas by now. I was more worried about the salt water splashing up against my camera as it sat on its tripod. We had gotten there about a half hour before the sun rose so I had some time to set up my camera on the tripod and figure out my exposure.  I then just sat there with my remote shutter release and just snapped away, occasionally checking the exposure, and just watch the sunrise with everyone else. It was really neat seeing the transition of the day into night once again as the light from the sun filled the sky. People started waking up and going to work, the birds started chirping, and the noise of the crashing waves was joined by the motoring of cars as the passed by on the highway.

ImageThese were shot with my Nikon D600 at 28mm on my 28-75 2.8 at f/11 ISO 100 and 1/160s.