Through My Lens

Exploring the World Through Photography

Tag: USA

Bonsai Rock in Lake Tahoe: How to Find and Photograph the Bonsai Tree

If you have seen photos of Lake Tahoe then you have no doubt witnessed the famous Bonsai Tree that seems to grow out of a large rock. This picturesque site…

If you have seen photos of Lake Tahoe then you have no doubt witnessed the famous Bonsai Tree that seems to grow out of a large rock. This picturesque site is one that is very easy to get to but hard to find if you don’t know where to look. If you want to visit it, you can find out all the information below.

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Details

  • Half mile round trip
  • Parking Location: (Google Maps – Bonsai Rock and you will find it), it is approximately around this spot “NV-28, New Washoe City, NV 89704”

Getting There

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The easiest way to get there is to leave from Sand Harbor State Park and head South. In exactly one mile (watch the odometer) you will see a small turnout where you can park your car. From here you should be able to see the beach below and the tree, which is about a tenth of a mile back on the road.

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There are many paths to get down and some are steeper than others. I went during the winter and it was pretty slippery so I would recommend taking your time when you hike down.

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When you reach the bottom, you will be able to photograph the tree from a bunch of different angles. This is one of the unique things about this spot as most famous photo spots are only really viewed one way. Here are some pictures I took of the different angles.

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This spot is best viewed at sunset when the sun showers all sorts of colors on the rock from behind. I went in the winter during a storm, so I saw it when the snow was falling. It was cool for me but not great for photos. That being said I was one of the only people there so it is was worth it.

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After taking the photos you want, head back up one of the trails to the road and walk it carefully back to your car. All in all, this is a great spot in the Lake Tahoe and one that you really should go to for photography.

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What to Do in Key West: 15 Recommendations for a Fun Trip

Key West is a fantastic vacation destination in United State, one that is full of adventures to keep you explore during your trip. Even though the town itself is small,…

Key West is a fantastic vacation destination in United State, one that is full of adventures to keep you explore during your trip. Even though the town itself is small, it contains a bunch of great restaurants, museums, beaches and places of historic significance that will easily fill your days with activities. I got the chance to spend some time there a few weeks ago and here are my recommendations for what to do in the town of Key West, Florida.

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Activities

Visit the Southernmost Point

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No trip to Key West would be complete without visiting the Southernmost point in the continental United States. Of course this is a really busy tourist attraction though so I would recommend doing it early in the day if you don’t want to have to wait in line.

Rent mopeds

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If you want to spend a day touring around the city of Key West, do it in style by renting a moped. Mopeds are easy to drive around the island as the speed limit pretty much everywhere is 30 MPH and there is parking all over the city for them. I had never driven one before but it was easy and a really great way to explore the city.

Snorkel at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park

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This state park is home to a large fort that it gets its name from. You can explore the fort itself or you can head out to the beach to do some snorkeling. I found the snorkeling to be pretty good as there were a bunch of rocks out from the shore where you can see a decent amount of fish.

Tour Hemingway’s house

The famous writer has a history on the island as he had a house there with one of his wives. Now it is lived in by over 30 cats, and you can tour it if you want to learn more about it.

Visit the Lighthouse

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Built in 1825, this was the first lighthouse on the island and it used to have 15 lamps that would light it up at night. It was closed for rennovations when I went but you can climb it when it is open.

Explore Malory Square

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This area has all sorts of unique attractions like a store full of sea sponges, a place for key lime milkshakes and an aquarium. It is a popular tourist destination but it is still a good spot to walk around at while in the city. Be sure to check out the shipwreck museum while there as well.

Climb the tower at the Shipwreck Museum

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I loved my time at the Shipwreck Musem as it is full of history about the shipwrecks in the area as well as all of the items that they recovered from the ships that sunk. They have a large tower on top that you can climb and get a birds-eye view of the city itself though and it is a must do. You can read all about the shipwreck museum here.

Visit the Little White House

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This house has actually functioned as the White House during a few times in history. It is open for tours during the day if you want to learn about its history.

Go on a sunset boat cruise

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While boat cruises are touristy and plentiful on the island, it is still a great way to take in the sunset which Key West is known for. I hopped aboard one that had food and drinks and it was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours on the water.

See the sunrise from White Pier

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White Pier is one of the best places to see the sunrise on the island. I got up early one morning to head over the pier and check it out for myself. The colors were magnificent as the sun rose above the water and I highly recommend you set your alarm for an early wake up at least once while you are in the city.

Eat

While this is only a few of the many places on the island, it includes my favorite spots.

Key Lime Pie Company

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You can’t go to Key West without having a slice of Key Lime Pie and the Key Lime Pie Company is the best spot to do it at. The only sell a few things, but pie is one of them and it is awesome.

DJ Clam Shack lobster rolls

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While it is an expensive spot, this little shack makes one of the best lobster rolls I have ever had outside of Boston. It should be experienced at least once.

Drink at the smallest bar

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This bar lives up to its name, you can literally fit only a few people in it, but it is a huge tourist attraction that lots of people go to just to say they drank at the smallest bar.

Glazed Donuts

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Donuts are one of my favorite things to eat when I travel and glazed donuts in Key West is constantly voted one of the best in the United States. I tried pretty much every flavor they had to offer and I can say it is pretty hard to beat these donuts.

Cuban Coffee Queen

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This little shack is only a stone’s throw from the downtown area and it is one of the places I came back to multiple times while in Key West. It is a Cuban sandwich and coffee place and both the sandwiches and coffee are fantastic. It is one of the best places for a cheap meal in the city.

Get a drink at a bar from a James Bond movie

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Many people don’t know that a James Bond movie scene was filmed on Key West at the Barrelhead Bar. If you want to feel as close to James Bond as you possibly can then be sure to stop by and grab a drink while you are there. Shaken, not stirred of course.

As you can see Key West is full of great places to explore. These are just a few of my favorites, but be sure to leave yours in the comments as well.

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Tracy Arm Fjord: The Most Beautiful Part of the Inside Alaska Cruise

If you happen to be able to take the inside passage Alaska cruise then you should be able to cruise through the amazing Tracy Arm Fjord which for me was the…

If you happen to be able to take the inside passage Alaska cruise then you should be able to cruise through the amazing Tracy Arm Fjord which for me was the highlight of the entire 7 day trip. As far as I know this is one of the only ways to experience this amazing journey and it really is something that you will never forget. Here is all the information, but more importantly, lots of photos from my time cruising through it.

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Details

  • 4 hours of sail through it, 2 hours there and 2 hours back
  • The route is an out and back so you can see it both ways

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On the cruise that I was on we arrived into the Tracey Arm Fjord at 5AM in the morning. We all got up at around 4:45AM and found our way to the very top of the ship to grab a spot for the next few hours. It was freezing but the amazing views warmed us up. The top back of the ship is a great way to see it as you can walk to both sides and see all angles, all while avoiding the crowds of midship.

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Honestly, I don’t know much about this area other than to say that for 2 hours I was floating by one of the best views I have ever had in my life. We passed at least 40 waterfalls, saw hundreds of icebergs float by and saw valleys that rival Yosemite for their beauty.

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Each time we turned a corner the view got better and better and I would recommend viewing it heading in instead of heading out as the view continues to get better all the way to the end.

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At the end of the part you can sail there is a big glacier but depending on when you go you may not be able to see it. When we went we only saw it from afar as the water itself was frozen and had too many icebergs to safely cross.

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Even without getting all the way to the end though this is still one of the most amazing places I have ever been.

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Here are some of my favorite photos from my time cruising through here.

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Have you been? Did you see the glacier up close? Be sure to let me know in the comments.

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Juneau Alaksa City Guide: How to Explore Without Any Cruise Excursions

When I went on my Alaskan cruise I decided to try to do everything I could without excursions. This worked out really well for me except that I did give…

When I went on my Alaskan cruise I decided to try to do everything I could without excursions. This worked out really well for me except that I did give in and take the White Pass Railroad in Skagway. Juneau was one of the easiest cities to do this in though as it is really easy to get to its most famous attractions. Here is what I did on my time in the city.

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Mendenhall Glacier (3 hours) -$20 Round Trip

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As soon as I got off the boat I headed downtown and grabbed a bus for $10 each way to the Mendenhall Glacier. It is about 25 miles away and takes about 20-30 minutes to get there. When I was there I went on two small hikes and marveled at the glacier, it is a fantastic spot you must visit.

Red Dog Saloon (1 hour)

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When I arrived back to the downtown I went to Red Dog Saloon which was one of the old historic saloons from the early days of the city, complete with a loud piano entertainer playing Johnny Cash, sawdust on the floor and famous guns above the bar. I would recommend sitting down for a drink and an appetizer, something like the smoked salmon dip or the potato skins and just taking in the atmosphere which is always a blast.

Patsy Anne at Marine Park (10 minutes)

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After leaving the saloon we headed across the street to Marine Park where we visited Patsy Anne the golden statue of the deaf dog that used to greet ships in the harbor. It is said that rubbing its head provides luck so of course that is what we did.

Saint Nicholas Church (20 minutes)

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The next stop on my tour of the city took me to one of the oldest orthodox churches in the United States called Saint Nicholas. It is on the register of historic places for the USA and it has a unique architecture that you would probably not stop to see if you didn’t know it was famous. It is one of the only octagon shaped churches still in existence and it has services every week. We walked around and saw it for a few minutes and I would recommend stopping as it was atypical, before continuing the tour of Juneau.

Alaska Brewing Company (15 minutes)

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If you are a fan of the brewery you can take a shuttle from the downtown store to visit the brewery ten miles out-of-town for $20. If you just want to grab a souvenir then the store is a great place to stop in and pick something up. They had everything from key chains and taps to shirts.

Mount Roberts Tramway (2 hours)

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The last stop on my whirlwind tour of Juneau was to take the Mount Roberts Tramway up to the “top of the city.” From here you could see bald eagles in the trees, beautiful vistas of the surrounding mountains and walk miles of hiking trails. You can read my full experience here. The tram costs $33 dollars but if you have a few hours it is an amazing way to see the city.

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From there I headed back to my cruise ship and left the beautiful capital city of Alaska. I would love to come back here in the future and spend more time, but the above list should help you have a great time in Juneau for relatively cheap. Let me know what else you recommend in the comments.

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Skagway Alaksa City Guide: How to Explore Without Any Cruise Excursions

On the inside passage Alaska cruise, the last Alaskan town you will be heading to will most likely be Skagway. This town of less than 900 residents is a fun…

On the inside passage Alaska cruise, the last Alaskan town you will be heading to will most likely be Skagway. This town of less than 900 residents is a fun way to end as it is both historic and unique with its large downtown street full of storefronts and automobiles that look like they are from the early 1900’s. While I tried to do every stop on this cruise without excursions just to see how it was, I buckled here and road the famous White Pass Railroad. It was one of my favorite things I did on the cruise and I cannot recommend it more, you can read all about it here and see the rest of the things I did below.

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Visitor Center

When you arrive in downtown Skagway the main attraction that everyone wants to see is the visitor center which contains over 8,000 pieces of driftwood attached to its exterior. It is a sight to behold and not as tacky as I had anticipated it being.

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You can go inside as well if you want to learn more about the history of this town as they have a few small exhibits and public restroom inside.

Doughboy

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The next stop on my time in Skagway was a trip to Doughboy. These elephant ear pastries are a very popular attraction in the city and it is easy to see why. They are essentially a large circular piece of dough deep-fried then dipped in cinnamon and sugar. 

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I could have easily ate two of them as they are fantastic.

Skagway Brewery

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At the end of the Main Street there is a brewery called the Skagway Brewery which has five different types of beer made on the premises and lots of food. It is a great place to sit and relax with a drink and a meal while in the city. The people here are great as well and they told us about the history of the brewery which was in this same location over 100 years ago before it was stopped from prohibition. It is fun to see that it is back in the same spot it was over 100 years ago. 

Red Onion Saloon

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Much like Red Dog Saloon in Juneau, the Red Onion Saloon is a historic brothel from the beginning of the city that was turned into a saloon. It has bar food, tons of eclectic wall hangings and a museum dedicated to the lady of the night history in the area. It’s a fun spot to check out on the Main Street.

Shopping

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If you are into shopping there are many stores. I found this to be the cheapest place to buy souvenirs of Alaska while we were there and there was even a coupon book where you could get a free train whistle with any purchase, sign me up for that! 

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If you like jewelry then they have a lot of stores for that as well. I know nothing about jewelry though so I don’t have much to say on that.

Cemetery

Two miles outside of the city is a famous cemetery with lots of historic figures from the gold rush era buried there. I didn’t make it out there but I heard it is a fun spot to see.

White Pass Railroad

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Like I said above this is a fantastic excursion, read all about it here.

98 Show

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Lastly, there is a show in one of the bars that has been going for over a century. I saw a lot of signs about it but I didn’t get to see it myself.

All in all Skagway is a beautiful city in Alaska. It is one of my favorite that I went to for the way the history has been preserved here. Make sure you get off the boat and go exploring when you are in the area. Let me know what I left off in the comments.

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Arches National Park Photo Guide

Arches National Park is one of the most famous of Utah’s Might 5 (Capitol Reef, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands and Zion) and because of that it truly is a fantastic place…

Arches National Park is one of the most famous of Utah’s Might 5 (Capitol Reef, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands and Zion) and because of that it truly is a fantastic place to explore. You can spend weeks here and not see it all, but if you are looking for what to explore in the park I have created this guide for most of main stops. That way you can see a photo of the stop and organize what you want to see most with what time you have. So without further ado, Arches National Park.

Visitor Center

After passing the entry station you will arrive at the Visitors Center, which is a great place to get accustomed to the park and get maps and souvenirs. I stopped in to pick up a magnet and a map but that was about it.

Moab Fault

Moab Fault

After heading up the twisty road that leads you to the park, the first viewpoint you will see is for the Moab Fault. It is a great stop for a photo as it lets you look over what you just drove up as well as the city of Moab itself in the distance.

Park Avenue

Park Avenue

Next is Park Avenue on the left hand side. This stop takes you up close and personal with one of the larger canyons in the park. You can even hike from here through the canyon and out the other side if you feel so inclined.

La Sal Mountain Viewpoint

La Sal Mountain Viewpoint

This viewpoint provides a great vista of the Courthouse Towers area of the park, as well as La Sal Mountain in the distance.

Courthouse Towers Viewpoint

Courthouse Towers Viewpoint

From here you can see the Courthouse Towers across the road and this is also where the hike through Park Ave ends as well.

Petrified Dunes Viewpoint

Petrified Dunes Viewpoint

One of the more unique spots in the park, the petrified dunes are a section of hills that were once sand dunes but have now hardened up. They go for as far as the eye can see and the above picture doesn’t do it justice.

Balanced Rock

Balanced Rock

Right near the turn off for the Windows, you will see the Balanced Rock sticking out right in front of you. You can hike to it in a .1 mile hike and it is a pretty crazy rock that is worth the stop.

The Windows

Windows

This road leads to a lot of the parks best attractions, here they are:

Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden

I always think this area resembles people in the way the rocks jut out of the landscape. It is a short stop but is a unique geological area.

Parade of Elephants

Parade of Elephants

After parking near the Windows you can head left to see the Parade of Elephants and the Double Arch. The rock does resemble an elephant to me with its trunk sticking down to the ground, forming the arch. This is the same short hike you will take to see the Double Arch.

Double Arch

Double Arch

Double Arch is one of my favorite spots in the entire park. The way the two arches come together and form a triangle is amazing to see and you can actually climb up under the arches if you are feeling like the extra work. I love this spot, especially at sunset.

Turret Arch

Turret Arch

After taking in Double Arch and Parade of Elephants head over to turret arch, which is one of the crazier looking rocks. It does look like some type of crude castle or turret to me and it has one big middle arch and a small side arch. This is where you see many photos of the windows from the small arch but it is sketchy to climb up to and I would not recommend it.

South Windows

South Window

The less popular of the two, South Windows is a massive arch, but one that is not visible from the road so people often overlook it. When I was there North windows had 30 people at it and South had 0. They are both awesome.

North Windows

North Window

One of the most popular arches in the park is North Windows and it is a majestic arch for sure. It is easily seen from the road and features rough stairs that you can use to walk right into it. This is a fantastic spot to see the sunset from and I highly recommend it.

Delicate Arch Hike

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After leaving the Windows area you will proceed down to Delicate Arch and start the 3 mile round trip hike to the most famous spot in the entire park. It is amazing and it is worth the accolades it receives. I recommend heading there for sunrise as it is not very busy, but sunset is best for pictures and worst for crowds.

Delicate Arch Viewpoint

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If you don’t want to make the hike you can just drive to the viewpoint and walk 10 yards to see the arch from afar. It is not nearly as majestic though so I highly recommend you try to do the hike.

Salt Valley Overlook

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This stop is a great place for a panorama of the park itself. You can see for miles up here and it is beautiful.

Fiery Furnace

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The rocks jut out of the landscape here in a red hue, which is where the name comes from. This area is only able to be hiked with a permit or a guide though as it is very easy to get lost. You can look at it without a permit though if you would like.

Skyline Arch

Skyline Arch

A short .2 mile hike will take you up to this massive arch. It is beautiful, but when you have seen the others in the park it doesn’t seem as amazing.

Devils Garden

This trailhead will take you deep into the park to some of the more further away arches. I only saw the three most popular here though and here they are.

Tunnel Arch

Tunnel Arch

Right off the main trail sits this arch that does appear like to tunnel coming down from the top of the arch. You can only see it from afar but it is awesome.

Pine Tree Arch

Pine Tree Arch

I really liked this one as you can walk right up into it and it is part of a really big larger rock. A great arch that is less busy than the others.

Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch

The longest natural arch in the world, it has to be seen to be believed. It looks really thin as well so you never know how long it will be here. 

Sunset at Arches

Sunset at Arches

I just threw this in to give you a taste of the wonderful desert sunsets that you can see at Arches National Park and as further encouragement to get out and explore it.

So there it is, my photo guide to Arches National Park. Since there are over 2,000 arches in the park I am sure there are tons of other great ones I missed. Let me know in the comments what your favorite spot is.

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