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Flagstaff to Winslow Arizona

The second day trip we took from our recent (Sept. 2021) weeklong visit to Sedona, AZ was to Flagstaff , Walnut Canyon National Monument, and Winslow. Belinda planned an itinerary that included the Museum of Northern Arizona, downtown Flagstaff, Walnut Canyon NM, and dinner at the Turquoise Room restaurant at the La Posada Hotel in Winslow.

Karl, Mary Anne, Barbara, Belinda, Mark, Phil at Oak Creek Vista Overlook Hwy 89A
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Fall trip ’21 Petit Jean State Park

Advance planning and scheduling of travel and activities around peak fall color in Missouri and Arkansas is always a little dicey. Weather plays a large role, and our fall weather seems to be arriving later each year. This year our fall weather and peak fall color was really late. As I write this on Nov. 16, we are just now experiencing peak fall color in Poplar Bluff- the latest we have seen it in our 33 years here. In retirement, normally you wouldn’t need to do advance scheduling for fall activities, you just go when the conditions develop. But this year we had some work scheduled on our house for the 2nd week of November, so we went ahead and scheduled our fall camping trips for the last week of October for southern Missouri and the first week of November for Arkansas. With that scenario we missed the peak color by about 1.5 weeks in Missouri and 2 weeks or more in Arkansas. Oh well, we still enjoyed our trips, but it makes you realize how many things, especially in nature, are fleeting, and then quickly move on.

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Fall trip ’21 Shannon and Carter County, MO

Although our typical fall season foliage color was late to arrive this year we decided that the last week of October was time to get out and do a little camping, hiking, sightseeing, exploring, photography, and make the best of the fall season. We camped three nights at Echo Bluff state park and used this as our base for day trips all over Shannon county, one of the most beautiful counties in southern Missouri. The feature image is from Alley Spring, located 6 miles west of Eminence, Missouri.

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Petrified Forest National Park

The featured image is Barbara’s shot of the Painted Desert on the north end of this park. We were amazed to find this national park so photogenic and diverse. In addition to the petrified tree logs concentrated in the southern end of the park, we found the Badlands of the Blue Mesa area, and the Painted Desert area in the north just as interesting and even more beautiful and photogenic.

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Sedona, Arizona

September 2021, First “Pelton Sibling” trip, Sedona, AZ.

While sitting around visiting, someone proposed that the three Pelton siblings and their spouses take a sibling trip once every year or so. I believe that was Belinda. After some discussion, we landed on Sedona primarily because Mary and Karl had reservations (again) in Sedona, and had been trying to make this trip happen for quite some time. Why it hadn’t happened as of yet is not my story to tell, but we were all in favor of making the trip. Belinda and Phil had been before and loved it, Mark and I had never been but knew we had it on our (long) list of must-visit places, and Mary and Karl, well, had been trying to get there for some time. We decided to all meet out there. We secured a lovely Airbnb and made our plans.

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Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

One of the day trips we took from our recent weeklong visit to Sedona, AZ was to Grand Canyon national park. Some of us in our group of six (Barbara and I and both of my sisters and their husbands) were repeat visitors, but this was the first time for others. We left Sedona fairly early and arrived at the south rim entrance to the NP at about 9:30 am. We drove straight to Yavapai Point and began our day in the canyon at the Yavapai point overlook and the Geology Museum. Its kind of hard to describe the feelings of the first time you walk up to the edge and peer out into this canyon, but I can remember my first time (1981) being stunned and catching my breath for about 30 seconds as I slowly took it all in. This is definitely a special place and we tried to experience as much of the south rim as possible in one day.

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Yellowstone NP 2020

Yellowstone NP is surely a special place. To be honest, as a landscape photographer I underestimated this park as a grand western photography destination. Wow! was I wrong. After assisting Joy with her move to Seattle (summer 2020) we had the opportunity to spend three days in America’s first national park and then 2 days in the Big Horn mountains east of Yellowstone. I didn’t anticipate how beautiful, colorful, and photogenic the hot springs, geysers, and other hydrothermal features would be and how much they add an otherworldly quality to the landscape. The park is a gorgeous high mountain ecosystem (most of the park is over 7500 ft. elev.) of crystal clear mountain streams, huge meadows, forested mountains, free roaming bison, elk, grizzly and black bear, and to boot has the majority of all the hot springs and geysers in the world.

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Wisconsin Tour

For our first trip after I retired last fall (2020) we wanted to go somewhere new; to a part of the country not too far away, but somewhere we had never been. We chose a fall tour in Wisconsin. We new a little bit about the natural attractions of Door county and Lake Michigan, and we had always heard about the Wisconsin Dells. So after a little research we planned a trip that we could do in seven days and included stops at Taliesin- the home and estate of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright near Spring Green, Devils Lake State Park and the Wisconsin Dells near Baraboo, and then a few days exploring Door county sites north of Green Bay. We timed the trip (mid October) with peak fall color and the featured image is from Peninsula State Park in Door county.

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Springtime in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We had been to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) several times over the last 30 years but only twice during spring. Both of these trips had been too late for peak wildflower and flowering dogwood season, so we decided to take a short camping and hiking trip in April (2021) to coincide with the peak wildflower bloom. Wow! we got lucky and hit the peak bloom times. We did a wonderful hike into one of the best stands of old growth forest in the entire park (along Albright Grove nature trail) and took the drive along the Little River and on thru the Cades Cove loop.

Lower to mid elevations of the park were just beginning to leaf out so we got to see that transition as the bare forest gray was turning to the soft green of new leaves and the red buds of maple trees.

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Spring Wildflowers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The richness of flora (trees, flowering shrubs, wildflowers, all things vegetation) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) and the surrounding southern Appalachian mountains is one of its most distinctive features. We have good wildflower populations in the upper south of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, but the southern Appalachian mountains take wildflower viewing to another level. We were lucky enough this past April to visit GSMNP for three days right at the peak of wildflower season. We saw wildflowers along the Little River, Cades Cove, Chimneys picnic area, and the Madron Bald trail, but we were amazed at the diversity and profusion along the Roaring Fork motor nature trail just south of the town of Gatlinburg. We spent an afternoon creeping (out of the car as much as in) along this winding road exclaiming and photographing as hard as we could. Almost all of our photography was with our iphones (my Apple iphone 7+ and Barbaras new iphone 12 max pro) and Barbara was really able to flex her compostional skills with the 3 lens of this amazing camera.