My latest travel article for the Fort Bliss Bugle is now up. HERE is the online version and the paper copy will be available throughout El Paso tomorrow morning. The bolded, italicized, indented paragraphs are from my original draft and NOT included in the online or hard copy version in The Bugle. Hope you enjoy it!Read More
Landscape Photographer / PhotoJournalist / Travel Writer
I'm just back from photographing Havasu Falls on the Havasupai Indian Reservation in the Grand Canyon. It was amazing and painful. More on that another time. Havasu Falls are just one in a series of falls in this remote area, but this one is the most famous. Here's a picture, one among many....
At the end of every mission I undertake, I'm somewhat surprised at my gall. Or maybe I'm just impressed with my inhibition to reject constraints from traveling alone. I mean, I'm a 48 year old woman with responsibilities.... 4 children and a husband, for example. But I never let the fact that I may have to explore alone prevent me from doing it. Sometimes it feels incredibly lonely, other times it feels incredibly liberating, but at the end of the day it always feels incredibly right........Read More
I've been away on another adventure so I'm late in posting my travel article for the Fort Bliss Bugle in El Paso, Texas. My last article was published over a week ago on the El Paso Holocaust Museum. It's an excellent exhibit, free to the public. Here's a link to the copy online since the paper copy is now out of print. Hope you like it!Read More
My travel article coming out in tomorrow's Fort Bliss Bugle on Fort Bliss and throughout El Paso is one that is very meaningful to me. The peace and solace I've gained over the last 7 months or so hiking through the mountains of El Paso have really changed me for the better. I hope you enjoy this week's article and find some motivation to get out there, too, if you aren't already! Here is the online version of the article.Read More
Maybe "rare" isn't the right word, but unusual certainly is. Last Thursday, 22 January, the southwestern Texas border city was hit with a substantial amount of snow. It doesn't stick around for long but while it was falling, it looked like a full-fledged New Jersey blizzard. I photographed some of the scenes from around El Paso, as this part of the country doesn't always see snow. Here is the snowy pictorial:Read More
My second travel article for the week is up in the 8 January 2015 edition of the Fort Bliss Bugle. Fort Bliss is within driving distance to a lot of spectacular places in the American Southwest, like the famous Antelope Slot Canyon. The link to the article is online here, or you can pick up a copy of the Fort Bliss Bugle on post.Read More
This is an experience I had on New Year's Eve in which I went against every safety rule I believe in, especially when traveling alone. Am I nuts, compassionate or just lucky he wasn't an ax murderer??Read More
It's hard to believe that 2014 is almost gone! I went through a lot this year both personally and professionally. I didn't accomplish all I wanted to, not by a long shot, but I pray in 2015 God will give me the opportunities to serve Him well in 2015. Here are some of my favorite shots from each month of 2014....
Hey, folks! My 2015 American Southwest Landscapes calendar is here just in time for the new year! Feel free to browse the pages of this beautifully photographed 12 month calendar below and let me know what you think.
Well, now I feel special! Yes, I've photographed the same Antelope Slot Canyon but haven't had a payday like that. Aussie photographer Peter Lik reportedly just sold a black and white shot of light streaming into the upper Antelope Slot Canyon in Page, Arizona for $6.5 million to a private collector. Here is his now famous shot:
Peter Lik has a reputation for being a self-promoter, a great salesman and the master of promotional hype but not everyone is impressed. Guardian newspaper art writer/critic Jonathan Jones calls the picture "hollow, cliched and tasteless black and white shot" resembling a "hackneyed poster in a posh hotel." Ouch. Jonathan Jones has other issues, apparently with photography itself, saying,
"Photography is not art. It's a technology. This record-setting picture typifies everything that goes wrong when photographers think they are artists. It is derivative, sentimental in its studied romanticism, and consequently in very poor taste. It looks like a posh poster you might find framed in a pretentious hotel room."
Whoa! Perhaps Jonathan Jones was traumatized by a photographer as a child but that's taking it a bit far. Say what you will about photography enhancement, but photography is indeed art, and photographers artists. There are varying levels of expertise but that doesn't take away from a photographer who is able to take a well composed image from RAW image to gallery allowing the viewer to see it as he saw it in his heart through the lens. Peter Lik's image is black and white, which is even a more primal statement than HDR or other forms of post-production photography.
But I digress. I say "Well played Mr. Lik!" Art is subjective and obviously someone really appreciates your interpretation of the Antelope Slot Canyon.
Visit my Arizona Gallery for my Antelope Slot Canyon images.
Last week's article in the Fort Bliss Bugle:
By Amy Proctor, Special to the Fort Bliss Bugle:
As an Army wife of more than 21 years, I’m always looking to make memories at each new duty station. Some wives call their new home their “Army base,” others their “home base,” but I refer to it as our “forward operating base,” or FOB. It is the new location from which to launch fresh adventures and to start yet another chapter in the pages of my family’s story.
As it turns out, Fort Bliss happens to be a great FOB. I was skeptical at first and had heard things here and there that weren’t flattering to the base. I rejected those critics, however, understanding that things are subjective and sometimes life is what you make of it, and I decided to see for myself what this part of the country has to offer. And I hit pay dirt.
Fort Bliss is just a day’s drive from some of the most spectacular spots on Earth. One of those just may be the most beautiful place in the United States. I’m talking about Zion National Park in Utah, often referred to as “the Promised Land.” It is jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Nestled in Springdale, Utah, Zion National Park is just under a 12-hour drive from El Paso and located in Utah’s southwest corner. That may sound like a long drive, but you’ll pass through some gorgeous scenery, including the Grand Canyon, so you may want to divide the trip up to see that iconic location as well. If not, you’ll nonetheless get some good quality time with your family.
If road trips aren’t for you, it is a short, inexpensive flight from El Paso International Airport to Las Vegas. With a round-trip ticket in coach costing between $212 and $250 with two to three hours in the air, depending on whether it’s a direct flight or with a stop through Phoenix, this is a great option for the single Soldier or unaccompanied family members looking to maximize the time in Zion. It’s a perfect trip for the next four-day weekend. Zion is only a two-hour drive from Las Vegas with a great midway stop at the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.
Why Zion National Park? Three million visitors a year is a hint: It’s spectacular! This national park claims some of America’s most breathtaking scenery with a wild array of highs and lows, mountains and valleys, colors and bizarre natural wonders. This is the sort of place that you’ll regret not visiting while stationed in this part of the country.
November through March may be the best time to visit. Summer months pack between one and two million tourists, and the crowds and weather are far more tolerable in the off-season. No automobiles are allowed in the park from April through weekends in November, so you must ride the shuttle bus. That means you don’t have the same freedom to drive into the park or go where you want to go until the off season.
Hotels are much easier to book November through March and nearly impossible during peak months. In fact, unless you book months in advance if you are visiting between June and September, don’t count on getting a hotel any closer than 35 minutes away in the town of Hurricane, because everything in Springdale is likely to be booked solid.
Entrance fees to the park are $25 per private vehicle, $12 per motorcycle and $12 for individuals (say if you’re walking into the park to hike) and are valid for seven full days. The national parks of Utah are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so if you enter after hours they put you on the honor system and hope you’ll pay the next day. I love the fact that they let you in at all hours because, let’s face it, these are your parks, America.
If you have military identification, you can request an Annual National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Pass at the entrance, which gives you free access to all national parks, forests and monuments anywhere in the U.S. This is a very valuable benefit to Soldiers and family members and you’ll find you will use it frequently!
Entrance through the southern gate of the park leads right into the famous Virgin River and onto Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. You could spend weeks exploring just this small area of the Scenic Drive. There, you’ll find the Emerald Pool Trails, the Grotto, Angel Landing, Weeping Rock and the Temple of Sinawava, “the Narrows,” and the Virgin River. Other parts of the park include the curvy, steep Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. This will take you meandering through Zion’s heights, through tunnels and amazing scenery, which in turn leads to the Checkboard Mesa and some weird rock formations, along with a good lot of wildlife. Automobiles are only allowed on this highway during the off season, which is another reason to consider going during those months.
Literally weeks could be spent exploring Zion National Park. It truly is a national treasure. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime places that anyone would want to explore, so your time stationed at Fort Bliss makes it a perfect FOB for the Soldier or military family.
Visit www.nps.gov/zion for more information about this amazing park.
My weekly article for The Fort Bliss Bugle posted this week. It came out early for Thanksgiving, of course. Here's the virtual copy!
By Amy Proctor, Special to the Fort Bliss Bugle:
The Franklin Mountains are arguably the most identifiable geographical feature in El Paso, spanning about 23 miles from the south-central corner of El Paso north into New Mexico. In it lies Franklin Mountains State Park, the largest urban park in the U.S., surpassing even New York City’s Central Park.
Well known for its many hiking trails, bike paths, camping areas and picnicking, Franklin Mountains State Park has been a popular spot for Soldiers and their families at Fort Bliss for many years. It presents an opportunity for them to escape the confines of the installation and explore a wide variety of activities that can be both rejuvenating and challenging.
Single Soldiers with a sense of adventure will be enticed by opportunities for mountain climbing with designated climbing areas in McKelligon Canyon as well as mountain biking trails throughout the park. Families with children can enjoy daylong or short hiking excursions meandering through the mountains. The Franklin Mountains State Park map given to visitors at the park’s entrance can help pinpoint the most appropriate hikes, from easy loops to strenuous climbs.
Those wishing to get away from it all need not fear hiking alone, as the park hosts several weekly events to accommodate them. Individuals can reserve a spot on the Women’s Beginner’s Hike, fitness challenges and guided mountain biking excursions, to name a few. This is a great way to experience the uniqueness of El Paso’s outdoor life with no excuses or fear … a readymade group will be there waiting to enjoy the adventure alongside those who have to go without family or friends. There is no fee to participate in these frequent group activities, except for the cost of park entrance, which is $5 per person over the age of 12.
A quick Internet search of the Franklin Mountains State Park will pull up the official Texas Parks and Wildlife Division’s website from which the Events page for Franklin Mountains can be found (http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/franklin-mountains/park_events). Upcoming activities hosted by the park are quite fun with a variety of holiday activities, such as the Thanksgiving Turkey Trail Trilogy, “T’was the Hike Before Christmas” and Jingle Dog Hikes, as well as holiday mine tours and mountain biking. Again, there are usually no fees to participate (occasional $3 activity fee depending on the activity) but an RSVP is required.
For those not looking to hike, bike or climb, the state park offers a place to relax, picnic and enjoy the great outdoors with its scenic vistas and vibrant colors.
Things to know:
– The main entrance into Franklin Mountains State Park-Tom May’s Unit is 20 minutes from Fort Bliss. There are two easy ways to find the park: Travel west on I-10 past the Sunland Park area taking the Transmountain Road exit. The park entrance will be 3.5 miles on the left. Traveling on US-54 East and making a left onto Woodrow Bean Transmountain Road will be the scenic route, meandering high through the mountain pass for 6.5 miles until the entrance is seen on the right.
– The entrance fee for Franklin Mountains State Park is $5 per person per day, with children 12 and under admitted free. Groups are $2. The Texas State Park Annual Pass is $70 and covers up to 15 people per vehicle of an annual pass holder. Passes can be purchased at the park entrance.
– The entrance station is usually unmanned Monday through Friday so visitors are on the “honor system” and envelopes are available at the booth for self-payment. The envelope can be deposited into the designated area.
– Bringing water is a must. There is no water or electricity provided within the park.
– Pets are permitted on leash only.
Call 566-6441 or visit http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/franklin-mountains for more information.