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Trip Report - Bryce Canyon, Zion, G.C. Parks & Sedona

Trip Report - Bryce Canyon, Zion, G.C. Parks & Sedona

Jun 19th, 2007, 06:57 PM
  #1  
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Trip Report - Bryce Canyon, Zion, G.C. Parks & Sedona

I must thank those who not only answered my questions but those of others that were relevant to my trip. While I'd hate to name names and omit some, there were several people who continuously answered questions. Special thanks to Dayle, dwooddon, Theweasel, USNR and utahtea.

Preamble
Planning of the trip started when I saw a picture of Bryce Canyon in one of my photography books. I decided I just had to go there. The trip then grew to include Zion Park (due to its proximity to Bryce Canyon) and Sedona that I had heard a lot about. I was then convinced that the drive from Zion to Sedona was too long for a one-day drive so the Grand Canyon South Rim was added.

The final itinerary was:
Bryce Canyon (2 days)
Zion (1 day)
Grand Canyon (part of 2 days)
Sedona (2 days)

Bryce Canyon was visited first because I originally expected to drive directly to Sedona and wanted to shorten the drive by leaving from Zion. Also, I wanted in-park lodging and getting those reservations was not easy. I couldn't get reservations for the required days if the order was reversed.

Personal
I'm 63 years of age and fairly active. For a month before the trip I added running and the Stair-Master to my regular exercise regimen. The reason I mention this is that the trip involved physical activity and payment of fees. All hikes selected were rated easy or easy-to-moderate.

Day 0 (June 4, 2007)
I arrived in Las Vegas on time around 2:40PM local time. The plan was to immediately pick up a rental car and leave for Bryce Canyon. Nothing seems to happen quickly. It took well over an hour to get my luggage and the car. Even though, had I not stopped several times to take some photographs, I probably would have gotten to Bryce Canyon in daylight. That would have been good.

On the way from Las Vegas I took Route 9 so as to be on the scenic route. This requires purchasing a Zion Park pass. Due to my age, I was able to purchase a Senior Lifetime National Parks Pass for 10 dollars. I had also read that this pass is accepted in place of the Red Rock Pass in the Sedona area. I asked how to display the pass and the Ranger at the Zion entrance gave me a rear mirror hang tag with a place to attached the plastic card. Isn't research great? I drove along Route 9, up 89, along 12 and down 63 into Bryce Canyon. A beautiful scenic drive even late in the day.

The entrance gate was unmanned at that time so I just drove right in. I had my lifetime Senior Pass anyway. I checked into Bryce Canyon Lodge and the instructions were "go to this parking lot and your room is in that building". Well, I drove to "this" parking lot and as it turns out it was the correct one. But I wasn't sure. Could see the lights from the building but in the dark didn't see the paved sidewalk 15 yards to my left. I walked over ground to the building and found my room. Unfortunately, there were four entrances and I walked out the wrong one and found myself in the woods. Eventually I ended up back in the parking lot. I took a suitcase and rolled it on the ground to my room. Of course I again exited by a wrong door and wandered in the woods until I found the parking lot. This time when I went to my room I noticed there was a stone wall outside the entrance that leads to the parking lot. The next morning I saw the paved sidewalk.

Myer is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 06:58 PM
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Day 1

Up early for sunrise at Bryce Point. Except for being cold and windy, the sunrise was spectacular. After watching this event for a while, I went to Inspiration Point. The lookout is about 75 yards from the parking lot and uphill. I walked and was winded. So much for extra training. That's what an 8,800 foot elevation will do.

On my way back to the car I heard a bit of noise to my right. I looked over and saw a deer walking. I immediately to a photo and then tried for a better angle. That scared it off.

I went back to my room, packed my backpack, put on my hiking boots (it was sunny, warm and a shorts day) and walked over to the rim (less that a 100 yards) and to Sunset Point (a couple of hundred yards to the right).

I decided to hike Navajo Loop (it's no longer a loop as the side leading the Wall Street is closed a quarter of a mile from the top due to a rock slide - they will be covering over the rocks this summer to make it passable) down and connected with the Queens Garden trail to go back up. The named Hoodoos are just the beginning of it. The more you look the more different shapes you can identify. I took a photo of what looked like an animal grazing with its owner behind it. I showed it to some people who asked where I saw that. It was directly in front of us. This is an excellent, easy hike and took a few hours.

I then decided to drive up the scenic park road and stop at the lookouts. In my opinion, past the Bryce Point turnoff, the only lookout different from any other is the Natural Bridge. It's very close to the road and truly fantastic. Since the sun faces you in the morning, it's best visited in mid afternoon when the sun is starting to go behind. Unless the plan is to walk the Bristlecone loop, I wouldn't bother going past the Natural Bridge. The best lookouts are Sunset Point (Navajo Loop trail head), Bryce Point and Inspiration Point.

In the afternoon I decided to visit Grosvenor Arch. It's about 20 miles to Kodachrome State Park and then another 10 miles on a dirt road. This road is impassable when wet. I found the road wasn't too bad and in most places I was able to drive 20-25 mph. Eventually I got to a little sign indicating Grosvenor Arch. There was parking for 3 cars (one pulled up right behind me), a picnic table and a 200 yard long concrete sidewalk. This amused me. I drove 10 miles on a dirt road and they have a concrete sidewalk. The Arch was truly impressive and worth the drive.

On the way back I stopped in Kodachrome Park. Not really much to see there. I decided to walk to the Shakespeare Arch. Once in the park, it was worth the walk. I also saw some other interesting-shaped rock formations. What looked like a caricature of a worm and also a clown. I guess the imagination was at work again.

I got back to Bryce about 6PM and went back over to Sunset Point. The Canyon was bathed in sun and it was still quite warm.

There was a sign indicating one side of the Navajo loop was only open for a quarter of a mile. Many people were going down that side and I also did. I was able to go right down to where the rock slide occurred. Some people said they had climbed over the rocks to the other side. Not me.

That evening I ate at one of the restaurants at Ruby's Inn just outside the park. Bryce Canyon is a bit isolated and there really isn't a town very close to the park (unlike Zion and Springdale).

On the way back into the park, the Ranger at the entrance mentioned that they expected a storm overnight and into the next day. Oh well, at least I got in one day.

Day 2
I woke up to much cooler temperatures. While there wasn't a storm, the roads looked a bit wet. I drove over to Bryce and then Inspiration Points. It started to drizzle, then got thicker and eventually turned white. Somebody forgot to tell them it's June. What was I going to do all day without even a tv set?

I went back to my room and by about 9:45 noticed the sky was getting much brighter. I pack my backpack, put on my boots (a jeans and sweatshirt day) and drove to Sunset Point (at that time I wasn't very confident in the weather so I decided to drive).

By the time I got there at about 10:30, the sky had turned very bright and there were some blue patches. People were starting their hikes.

I went down the Navajo Loop and then hiked the 3.5 mile Peek-A-Boo trail. This trail is terrific. It's very scenic and puts you in the middle of all the great rock formations. I highly recommend it. There were very few people on this trail and it's shared with horses so be careful what you walk in. Before reconnecting with the Queens Garden trail I went a quarter of a mile back up the closed side of the Navajo Loop until the rock slide blockage and then came back down and continued. This was a long day but the hikes were well worth it.

By about 4PM I was cold, tired and a few snow flakes began to fall. I was glad to be finishing. Rather than take the shuttle I walked the half mile from Sunrise Point to Sunset Point to get my car.

While most destinations are a "visit" I consider Bryce Canyon to be an "event". There's nothing else like it!

Myer is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 06:58 PM
  #3  
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Day 3
I got an early start and drove the 80 miles to Zion Park.

I arrived at the East Entrance to Zion park about 9:30AM and there were two cars in front of me. I parked at the Canyon Overlook parking area, put on my boots and lotion (sunny and hot - a shorts day) and began the hike. I immediately noticed that the trails in Zion are narrower, rockier and possibly a bit more steep. I just can't understand a husband, wife and children hiking these trails. While the trail isn't hanging over the edge of a cliff, they're not far. It wouldn't take much for one of the children to jump towards a butterfly and be involved in an accident.

The hike was scenic, not too long or difficult and ended with a beautiful view of the canyon. It was definitely much warmer than in Bryce.

After returning to my car, I continued thru the last tunnel and followed the signs indicating that a red sticker was required to drive a private car to the Lodge. It was great to be one of the people permitted to do something.

I got to the Lodge about noontime and didn't check in then. I walked across to the Emerald pools trailhead. I decided that since I'm doing "easy", I would start with the Lower Pools. The walk was nice but I wasn't impressed with the result. I continued up to the Middle Pool and this was a bit more satisfying. After a few minutes and some photos, I decided to go for it. The Upper Pool. The signs weren't really very good and a few of us went up the wrong way. We finally reached a point where a decision had to be made. Going back to the Middle Pool and starting over seemed like a good idea.

The Upper Pool really was worth the additional hike even though it was a hot climb. We were rewarded with a large pool and flowing stream. A lot of people were in the water in spite of the sign.

I took off my backpack, put it on a stone and walked around taking photos. After about 10 minutes I returned to my backpack only to find it unzipped and a squirrel eating one of my granola bars. There are signs all around the parks warning people not to feed the wildlife.

Apparently, the digestive systems of the various animals are geared to their specific diets. When fed food they're not accustomed to, it could remain in their stomach undigested and they die of starvation with a full stomach. Sounds far-fetched to me but could be true.

After descending from the Upper Emerald Pools I returned via the Grotto trail (no signs indicating Kayenta trail). Just an additional scenic walk thru the canyon.

I checked in at the Lodge reception and decided to visit the Weeping Rock (not much to see) and walk the Riverside Walk. The Riverside Walk is a very nice, scenic, easy walk. It ends at the start of the Narrows hike. I had already decided that walking in water with a camera was not for me. I took many photos of mountains and the stream. I think I got a little carried away.

That evening after dark, I decided to take a walk around the main lawn in front of the reception office. I heard some noise on the lawn and noticed two deer eating grass.

Day 4
In the morning I saw some very large turkeys(?) walking in the same area as the deer the previous evening. Before leaving the park I decided to walk the Riverside Walk one more time. This time in morning light. I passed another couple of deer eating.

After completing the Riverside Walk a second time, I stopped part way down to see a place called Menu Falls. It should have been more scenic but the observation deck built there is actually too close to the falls. There's an interesting story about the falls and its lack of visitors. Nobody knows about it and it's not publicized. For many years the Lodge restaurant menu had a photo of these falls on its cover. Many people asked about it and it became known as Menu Falls. It's located between shuttle stops and apparently has about 10 visitors per day.

I left for the Grand Canyon but stopped in the Page area as I had added a few sights to my agenda.

"The Best Dam View" is a turnoff (free) from Route 89 just after crossing the bridge that goes from one side of the Lake Powell Dam to the other. I guess it's really the Glen Canyon Dam. A very good view and a short 15 minute stop.

I continued on Route 89 for a couple of miles until I saw the sign indicating Horseshoe Bend (free). I walked over to the sign and read that it's a three-quarter mile walk. I should have put on my hiking boots since it's in soft sand and fairly level rocks. It was a hot walk that ended at a cliff with no barrier, fence, screen or bar. Just a cliff.

Cliffs aren't for me but I had to see it. It doesn't stretch out. It goes straight down. I lied down on my stomach and crawled to the edge. What a sight!!

I then doubled back a mile or so and went east on Route 98 past the Big Lake Trading Post and another mile or two in the direction of the power station until I saw the sign for Upper Antelope Canyon. Twenty-six dollars later, half a dozen of us were on an open truck for the 15 minute dirt road drive to Antelope Canyon. I remembered to take with my tripod and it was needed. I must have taken more than 30 photos. The mid-day sun bouncing off the canyon walls and the hanging dust was truly amazing.

The canyon is about 200 yards long and almost perfectly level from front to back. A very easy meandering walk and photo session. The curved walls and reflecting light made for quite a sight that should not be missed by anybody passing thru the area.

I then continued driving towards Cameron and the East Entrance to the Grand Canyon. I don't know whether it's because the late afternoon sun was facing me as I stopped at the lookouts, it's difficult to get a perspective of that giant hole unless you hike at least part way down into the Canyon or because it's just not a beautiful sight, but I just wasn't taken with the Grand Canyon. It rates well to the bottom of all the sights I visited on this trip. If I had a choice between the Grand Canyon and seeing the sights around Page, Page wins with its dramatic few sights (and I didn't even go to lake Powell). Of course if you're hiking or visiting all of the lookouts, you can keep busier at G.C.

I stayed in a small cabin at Bright Angel and even had a tv. It was a fairly nice room.

I went over to Hopi Point for sunset and that was really nice even though there were some low clouds.

Myer is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 06:59 PM
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Day 5
I got up early and walked over to the Rim just as the sun was coming up. This was a very impressive sight and I walk about a mile or so toward the east and watched the sun begin to light up parts of the Canyon.

As I left, I stopped at several lookouts to get a view with the morning sun. My original plan was to backtrack out the East entrance and continue via Cameron. However, I exited the South Entrance and continued toward Flagstaff.

Since I left the Grand Canyon a bit earlier than expected I got to Oak Creek Vista by early afternoon. I stopped to take in the spectacular views down the canyon and of the road snaking towards Sedona.

En route I stopped at West Fork. Because of my Senior Pass, the charge to enter the picnic grounds was $4 instead of $8. I hiked for over an hour and after crossing the Creek at least half a dozen times, decided to retrace my steps. This was a nice introduction to the Sedona area.

I drove into Sedona to check into my motel. While the setting is unbelievable with the Red Rock mountains on all sides, the actual town didn't appear to be more than a bunch of motels, restaurants that close at 9PM, art galleries and service and time-share vendors masquerading as tourist information offices.

I had reservations at the Best Western Inn of Sedona. It must have been renovated recently as it had the look and feel of a new motel. While very close to the "Y" and Route 89A, it's located up a small hill and set back from the busy traffic. My room was on the back side on the main level, which due to the drive uphill is actually on the third floor. The units on that floor have two doors. One leads to the parking lot and the other to a very large patio facing Chimney Rock and some other mountains. Units numbered 318-336 all have the same layout and view. It's also possible units 300-317 have a similar view but may face the highway as well as the mountains on the other side. An excellent full buffet breakfast was included. I would definitely recommend this motel.

After checking in, it was off to the Crescent Moon Picnic Area ($8 entrance, $4 with the Senior Pass) and Oak Creek and Cathedral Rock at sunset. The woman at the entrance gave incorrect instructions for the sunset view so I'm glad I was there early.

The sunset and reflections off the water were amazing in spite of the people swimming in the Creek. Again I got carried away taking photos every minute as the sun set. I resisted taking any photos of the four weddings taking place around me in view of Cathedral Rock.

Day 6
Buffet breakfast and off to my first hike a little after 8AM. I selected Boynton Canyon. Not long after the start I wisely decided to detour up the Vista Trail that leads to a scenic viewpoint right next to one of the Vortexes. That's where the Kachina Woman is located.

After enjoying the view for a while and taking some photos, I returned down to continue on the Boynton Canyon Trail. In retrospect, I should only have gone a little past the Enchantment Resort's property. I did a lot of walking in the woods with no additional views and not even a surprise at the end.

After having in a quick snack lunch, I decided to hike the Devil's Bridge trail which is also in the same area. Finding the trailhead, however, was no easy feat. I ended up at the guardhouse of a resort. The person manning the station obviously was accustomed to this happening and gave me instructions. To find the trailhead, you drive up Dry Oak Creek and turn into the area where the red Rock Pass vending machine is located. There's a trail board located there. To get to the trailhead you've got to drive along a 5 mile long dirt, rocky road that makes the dirt road going to Grosvenor Arch (see Bryce Canyon above) seem like a paved highway.

This trail is pretty easy and quite scenic. When approaching the Bridge you can veer off to the left to get views from below. Then you can climb about 40 feet of very steep rocky stairs to get to the top. After about 10 feet I decided I'd had enough of my camera smacking the stairs in front of me. I know my limitations.

It was now mid-afternoon and I decided it was time to visit the other side of Sedona. I drove over to the southern trailhead for Bell Rock Pathway. It's located directly in front of Bell Rock, a very scenic setting for a uniquely shaped mountain/rock. I saw some people hiking towards and up the rock. That's not what I had in mind. I then realized there's a difference between the Bell Rock trail and Bell Rock Pathway. I wanted the easier pathway. I started to walk and photograph the Rock as well as Courthouse Butte directly to the left.

Eventually I met some people and they mentioned they had seen a trail sign for the Llama trail. I had seen photos of this trail and was happy to find it. What I did not realize is that this trail is new (few if any footprints to follow), has no rock cairns (trail markers) and is shared by bikes whose wheel prints go off in all directions. After about a half hour I decided to find my way back. This took well over an hour since every trail I came across seem to go in and up.

That evening I went to the airport vista to watch the sunset reflections off the mountains. The Oak Creek crossing and Cathedral rock wins by a long shot.

Myer is offline  
Jun 19th, 2007, 07:00 PM
  #5  
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Day 7
Another early start to a day that had the best scenic hikes of my stay in Sedona.

I decided to drive back over to the Boynton Canyon area and hike the Fay Canyon trail. This turned out to be a very scenic morning hike. Much more enjoyable than Boynton Canyon.

After grabbing a quick snack lunch, I drove over to the South-East side and hike the Broken Arrow Trail. This was probably the most scenic of my Sedona hikes. There's a more or less parallel road maintained by the Pink Jeep Tours company. At one point I heard some jeeps and saw (and photographed) their attempt at terrorizing the customers on their roller-coaster ride. It was fun to watch.

After that I took a ride over to the Baldwin trail and walk about a half hour just to get in my last grabs at Cathedral Rock. By now it was getting late, very cloudy and started to drizzle a bit.

I went back to my room, started to pack and went out on the patio to take some amazing photos of Chimney Rock with the setting sun breaking thru the parting clouds.

This was my first hiking trip and other than the altitude, I was as prepared as I could have been. This was a great trip.

General Advice
I would suggest that anybody going on a trip similar to mine wear appropriate boots when hiking to reduce the risk of slipping/falling or suffering a twisted ankle. It's amazing some of the shoes you see on the hiking trails.

While hiking or driving, stop when you want to enjoy the scenery. It doesn't take much to drive off the road, or trip on a hiking trail. It could be a long way down.

Make every effort to hike with another person.

Carry a lot of water. It's not just to avoid dehydration but its also much more comfortable walking when your throat does not feel parched and full of sand.

I got quite carried away with photos which can be seen at:

www.travelwalks.com

Select the 2007 trip on the bottom right side of the page.
Myer is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 12:55 AM
  #6  
 
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Love the report, The first places are part of my plans for 2008, so I am just waiting now and soaking up any extra information having scoured this forum for the past few months. Not heard of menu falls before - will add it to the list.
Hilary
planning_ahead is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 03:58 AM
  #7  
 
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Wonderful, detailed report Myer. We just returned from the GC and Sedona (June 1-5) and are considering Zion and Bryce next year so I appreciate the level of info you provide.

We stayed at Enchantment in Sedona and hiked the Boynton Canyon Trail. The views, rock formations are worth the effort but the sun made for a tough hike at places along the trail buried in brush with no air flow. We started our hike around 8 am and were whipped by 11. We were led, by a couple we met along the trail, to the site of some Indian ruins hidden in a cove of rock that was also worthwhile.

Glad you enjoyed a wonderful trip. May I be so fortunate to have your spirit and energy at 63 (I'm for 44). You are an inspiration for my future.
AnnMarie_C is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 10:17 AM
  #8  
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Planning_Ahead,
Menu Falls is located between shuttle stops. The driver of the shuttle I was driving on was kind enough to drop me off there but I had to walk to the next lower stop to get back on.

AnnMarie_C,
I've been back a week and still exhausted. Probably from reviewing photos. I just looked at the photos on my web site and I've got to go back and remove some. Just too many. I got tired looking at them.
Myer is offline  
Jun 20th, 2007, 10:45 AM
  #9  
 
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Hi Myer,

Such a great report! Thanks! I'm glad you had a good time and that you took the opportunity with good weather to go out to Grosvenor Arch. It's a special one, isn't it? Glad you enjoyed the hiking too.

Did you see the wild turkeys in Zion? I always get a major kick out of them, they're just kind of goofy.

Now you're ready for Moab!
Dayle is online now  
Jun 20th, 2007, 11:49 AM
  #10  
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Dayle,
The picture of the turkey on my web site was taken on the front lawn at Zion not far from the shuttle stop. There were a few of them but not cooperating.

The night before I saw two deer eating in the same area. The photos taken at night just don't compare to those I took of deer during the day.

As soon as I get the energy, I'll filter thru my web site and remove many of the photos that are just too repetitive such as Cathedral Rock dupes, etc.

Thanks for your help.
Myer is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 04:41 AM
  #11  
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I bit the bullet last evening and went thru the photos on my web site. I remove about a quarter of them and now it's a little more viewable.

You can see the photos at:

www.travelwalks.com

Select the 2007 trip on the bottom right side.

In my report I failed to mention that I had 3 very good dinners in Sedona at Picassa (west on 89a) (gourmet salad and pizza), Oak Creek Brewery and Cowboy Club in Uptown.
Myer is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 05:13 AM
  #12  
 
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Stunning pics Myer, thanks so much for posting! You visited some of our all time favorite places.
The Antelope Canyon pics are especially good; we were there last summer and found it difficult to capture w/out other people in them.

Speaking of which, i love that you were pictured in some of your photos. Not only does it show scale, but otherwise they could just be gorgeous postcards! Wish you would have kept them all on line, no such thing as too many of that glorious part of the country!
ellen_griswold is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 05:35 AM
  #13  
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ellen,

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. I had trouble looking at them so there must have been too many duplicated photos.

I don't think I removed any of those from Antelope Canyon that were originally postedon the web site (took about 50 when there).
Myer is offline  
Jun 21st, 2007, 08:17 AM
  #14  
 
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topping ~

For those planning similar trips, take a look at myer's excellent pictures!
ellen_griswold is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 11:05 AM
  #15  
 
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Thanks, Myer, for a wonderful trip report and phenomenal photos!!! We are planning a similar trip in reverse for next spring. My daughter and I are both photo buffs, so I appreciate seeing your shots! I just got a Nikon Rebel XT, so we're anxious to take it for a spin!!! I read your post on another thread regarding photo tips - great advice!!!
verybuckeye is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 11:40 AM
  #16  
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verybuckeye,
I doubt you have a Nikon Rebel XT.

The Rebel XT is made by Canon.

Unless they've both merged, which I doubt.

In any event, if you're visiting Antelope Canyon make sure to take with a tripod and shutter release.
Myer is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 12:30 PM
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What a wonder trip report, thanks for enlightening my day. Sold me on a return trip to AZ.
bdawk is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 01:18 PM
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Ooops, Myer, you are correct - see, I TOLD you I just got it!!! (What a newbie... I am soooo embarrassed!!!)
verybuckeye is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 02:38 PM
  #19  
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buckeye,
So what is it? A Nikon or Canon.
Which lens do you have?
Myer is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 04:03 PM
  #20  
 
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Hee hee - it's a CANON Rebel XT. I have a Sigma 28-200 zoom lens. I used to shoot with a Minolta film SLR years ago (like in the 80's!!!), but as the camera aged it developed light leaks, so I went to little point and shoots (cheaper than a repair). But I decided I was ready to get back in to the SLR market, and just got my camera in the last few months. I won some local and state awards with my photography in the 80's, and now that my kids are old enought that I can watch the scenery instead of them every minute, I'm looking forward to getting back into some landscape photography. My DD is 15, and she has also got a great eye - she's taken some really nice compositions locally - we're looking forward to shooting the canyons etc! I saw your photo tips on another thread - definitely will take your advice!!!
verybuckeye is offline  

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