Red Arrows 2016

Welcome back the Red Arrows

It had been 3 years since the Red Arrows were last in Oman, and there was definatly a buzz around the Shatti beach area as we approached the centre of the Air Display.

Rather fearing a large traffic jam at the end of the show, we chose to walk about 10 minutes to our meeting point with Mike & Wendy.

After moving down to the sea front, I met some other long time residents who I had not seen in literally in years.

Humid

The weather seemed very usualy for November, instead of clear bright skies, it was quite poor visibility not due to sand or cloud, but due to the very opressive humidity.

Some of the ground crew mingled wigh the crowd handing out posters and little flags to (mainly) yound children.

ra

The beach was pretty crowded by the time the display was due to start.

ra

At 15:00 we crowd watched and waited, but nothing - in fact the Red Arrows did not arrive for about another 5 minutes; I was beginning to wonder if the poor visibility was not a factor in this delay - but with very little warning or their arroach - the show had begun.

For the next 35 minutes the crowd went Ohh and Ahhh, as the display team put on a very impressive show.

The Pictures

rararararararararararara

As usual more images available

Quriyat revisited

With the return of some very dear friends we used the National Day weekend to return to one of our favorite sites namely the area around Quriyat.

It is close to get too - but offers quite a wide range of activities - which cathing up on the news as well as relaxing high on our agenda we sped off from the rather plush Al-Bustan Palace Hotel - which was suitably bedecked in Omani national colours.

The trip there was quiet and un-eventful (not often you say that driving in Oman) - and we stopped and had a cuppa at the sea-front. The odour of Goats mixing in a rather sickly sweet manner with that of the sea air.

As we were heading out to explore - we came across a nice place for some bird watching....

Osprey

Pandion haliaetus is a relativly common sight in Oman around the coast line, We spotted 2 during the day - but this one was a little easier to approach having just caught a nice looking fish.

What massive Talons !

I was aware that Ospresy have talons specially designed for grasping slippery fish - 2 toes forward and 2 toes back - but the physical size of their talons is quite frightening.

gt

Yes the Osprey is sitting on a small football goal.

gt

Varied birds

Not far from the Osprey on a small drying sand bank, a collections of Cororants, Herons and Turns were perched.

gt

I am not sure what spooked them a few minutes later but they soon scattered into the sky.

gt

Curlew

Standing most still was a curlew - and thanks to the extra eyes in the car - as I did not see it until I had been directed at it.

gt

As usual more images available

Oman, Islamic New Year

With the possibility of a 3 day weekend, we headed out for a days exploring towards the Sumail/Jebel Akhdar region of Oman.

The weather previously had been a little cooler - but today at noon it was still quite a warm 39C (106F-ish)

After taking a wrong turn, I then compounding the mistake by making another mistake - and amazingly we found ourselves by an old deserted village.

The people were still living close by - just not in the old part of town. So we set off to explore.

Izki old town

We parked next to a rather shiny and new looking mosque - which had a lovely car park - next to it seemed a natural entrance into the old town.

izki

After carefully stepping through the gap (I am always mindful of snakes in such quiet at possibly cool places), a wonderful street greeted us - alas quiet now, but it was easy to imagine a time not too past when this would have been a busy thoroughfare.

izki

Grand Tower

A few meters down the street we saw a rather grand tower - which rather beckoned us to explore.

izki

Alas time is not being kind to such buildings, and care was needed when walking around. On the roof rafters Arabic writing (Quran based I would guess, and some art patterns abounded).

izki

After we passed through the tower - we were greeted with am impressive gate - a double set of sturdy doors - presumably meaning something or someone of importance used to live there.

The artwork on the door was still very impressive.

izki

Well Well !!

Roughly in the middle of the town was the well, I dropped a small pebble in - but did not hear the splash of water.

Next to this another house slowly deteriorated - yet at the same time maintained an air of defiance - resisting the elements.

izki

Also designed to resist were the battlements of the village - still looking very formidable. izki

Old Town Mosque

The largest and possibly tallest part of the town, appeared to be an old Mosque. As I found another well (so you can wash prior to praying) that confirmed my suspicion.

Note the Islamic Crescent design on the doorpost.

izkiizkiizki

Mountain Time

We next popped up the Mountain izki

Last day in DC

Sadly our trip here is just about over - and we needed to do something during the day - before our 2100 flight back to Oman via Qatar.

As we could not get an extension to the room - hotels seems crazily busy and expensive at the moment in DC; We planned a quiet day - with no need for showering prior to the flight.

Boat trip

The river winds through DC and there are plenty of trips avaiable from next door to the Watergate building, in an area called Washington harbour.

zoozoo

Lincon memorial and the Washington Monument.

zoo

The main East coast railway bridge.

zoozoo

The type of boat that we were on.

zoo

Police !!

The USA seems to have lots of different police forces, we have seen

  • Secret Service (sorry no photos they are secret apart from the writing on their car,bike, vest,badge etc)
  • Municipal Police
  • Park Police
  • National Park Police
  • Navy Police
  • Highway Patrol
  • State Police

The list just goes on... anyway this bike is from the elite Washington State Park Police Service. No idea what they do ... break up squirrel fights ? The other Harley looked like it had been dropped a few times (it wasn't me honest).

zoo

Zu2

After an excellent lunch down by the waterfront - we headed back to the National Zoo - to try and see some of the animals that we had missed the first time.

zoo

Tiger

zoozoozoozoo

Lioness

The Lions were being very lazy - partly probably becuase of the heat (and because even wild they are rather lazy until hungry).

zoo

Wolf

South american - with the most amazingly long legs - that looked very much out of proportion.

zoozoo

Closing

The USA has been really fun, and we have both had a lovely time - seeing friends and family, as well as the many thinks that this amazing place has to offer.

In the words of Gen MacArthur "we shall return"...

More Photos

There are more photos available.

Laramie and Rocky Mountain National Park

Jail Time !

This jail facility was basically a work-house (in UK terms) - where naughty people were sent - and whilst they were serving their sentence they worked for the owners of the prison. It was also a silent prison - which literally meant "no-talking"!!

There were several volunteers dressed up - at various points - who gave you their insight as to prison life.

Excellent few hours there.

Dora the criminal ! explorer, on realising she was being sentanced.

laramie

Top quality state of the art transportation.

laramie

The Cells !!

laramie

The stockade. laramie

Union Pacific

Colorado Springs has a fantanstic railway line running past it - due to the gradient they have trains at the front and rear - and not just 1 power unit - several.

As I had spied not only the railway tracks, but a train approaching - we were able to drive within feet of the rails - and I waited for the train.

The driver - gave a momumental set of blasts (I think he was saying "hi", rather than "keep away").

The noise, rumble and wind - was overwhelming.

laramielaramie

Arapaho Wildlife reserve

Heading towards Denver we stopped to see some (more) wildlife.

This time - something new....

"Stop making a noise" !! laramie

These are White tailed prairie dogs not to be confused with the low-land black tail (and slightly bigger variety).

"He went the other way"....

laramie

A herd of pronghorn antelope stood by, almost saying "be careful - they are small but very bad tempered".

laramie

And then we saw what they meant !

laramie

We got the message - and quietly left....

Rocky Mountain Grand Lake

Dora, decided that the time was good for some boating - and it so happened that there was a boating shop close by.

After confusing the staff by using the words "pass on the port side" (which was rather worrying they did not know this) - we proceeded to have a great few hours on the lake. Looking at not only at Ospreys but some very expensive houses.

laramielaramielaramielaramielaramielaramie

As always more photos are available.

Grand Tetons (again)

This is what we agreed - and so the alarm was set for 0500, alas sleep prevailed and I crawled out of bed at around 0545, Dora the surprisingly happy explorer, was already up, awake and itching to get going.

The plan was to do some gentle/scenic stuff - and try and find that elusive Elk.

Ox Bow Bend

As you drive towards Yellowstone Park - after just entering Grand Teton Park from Moran Gate - you will pass a nice spot to take a photo - this is Ox Bow Lake.

Now the "real" phorographers know this - and from sunrise -1 hour they are already camped there.

We arrived with Sunrise still 10 minutes away - and I got out the car - and quickly got back in - added more clothing and then tried again.

On walking past literally 20 top of the line camera, all on Tri-Pods - with nice Lenses. I sat at the end of the line, feeling like a school kid who had been sent to school with a 2nd hand camera. I took a few pictures - and did not like the viewpoint - so I moved !! Yes feet beat Zoom lenses !!

Now standing by the river with a very pleasant Czek photographer I came up with a plan - of course I needed a different lense.

Dora - the stay in the warm car - explorer was happy to see me, and wished me luck as I went back to -2C.

gtgtgt

Keep your eyes open for Otter - as there were a family living close by.

Sun at last

With the sun rising, and the temp still just around 0c, we headed out to see some more sites, and to try and find the Elk.

gtgtgtgtgtgt

Alas this diving Duck was the only animal we had seen so far.

gt

The walk not only had great views of the mountains - but the fall colours were really shining through.

gtgtgt

Cable car time

Dora, seems to have a bit of a thing for riding cable cars - Malaysia, Switzerland and now USA.

We went into Jackson, and then headed to Teton Village which seems to exist simply for skiing.

Jumping into a $38M cable car - and zooming up the mountain was great fun - and the views were excellent. It was as one would expect COLD - something that some of the natives here seemed to be surprised about - lots of people went up in t-shirt and shorts - most lasted 8 minutes at the summit - before taking the next cable car down.

gtgtgtgtgtgt

Last drive through Teton

Not wanting to get caught in the Jackson traffic, I took a small road back into the National Park - which was very picturesque, we did try and see some wildlife - but it seems that we had used our quota up yesterday (Grizzly Bears cost double ha ha).

Then at a very non-descript site - we pulled in, saw some people with cameras obviously looking at something and .... Elk.... Mother and a calf (About the size of a Pony already).

gtgtgtgt

Game spotting around our cabin

Dora has been pretty goot at spotting some animals - and on the evening game drives we have done (I just pick a foresty road - and we try and not get lost), we had been successful - today also.

This Mule Deer was under 10 feet away.

gtgt

As usual more images available

Yellowstone - Lamar Valley

Yellowstone - Lamar Valley

We returned to Yellowstone this time with a little more of a plan that previously - we did some research the evening before whilst having some home-made soup in the cabin, and at this morning at 05:30 hopped out of bed - and we were rolling by 0600. When it was -2C.

American Hospitality

Before I recant some of the sites we saw, I think it is fitting to say a big thank you to the many people we met today - who were without exception as charming and hospitable as you could imagine.

The people who like us were trying to see wildlife, holidaymakers, people who wanted to look at some photos we had taken - or who thought my accent was "not from around here".

Drive Up to Thumb

The drive was dark, misty, cold, icy and frankly the only I kept seeing were Elk standing by the side of the road. As we were on a mission - I was trying to have a no stop policy - else the trip would take even longer - but some rules are meant to be broken.

ys2

A truely impressive animal. On the other side of the road from the Elk - the increasing temperature (-2c to -1c) was creating a 'smoke on the water' effect.

ys2

Be Bear aware !!

With sun starting to warm the mountains the fog was lifting, as we entered an area where we had hope to find Bear. Of course everyone want to see Bear (just as when I went to africa I wanted to see the Big-5).

We threaded our way around a mountain pass - and noticed a few stopped cars (always a give away)

Looking around I could not see what the fuss was about - the quite narrow road had a 10 feet rise to a gentle forested area... where I could see a large black blob moving. This turned out to be a Black Bear.

ys2ys2ys2ys2ys2ys2

As if to say "Good Morning" on the peak across the valley the mist finally lifted.

ys2

Antelope & Goats

Oman and the USA have more in common than they think - they both have Antelope and Goats !!

ys2ys2ys2ys2

Cute Bison

Yellowstone is absolutly brimming with Bison, but after yesterday I shall spare you countess images. Except this Bison - who looked like a 1300lb stuffed toy.

ys2

Lunch time

We ate by a small stream, and were amused as people fled due to (of course) a Bison walking past.

Dora the Bear Spotting Explorer was feeling happy with the bears as well as being cold.

Raptor surprise

We then spotted some raptors in the trees. ys2ys2

I think it is a Rough-legged Hawk - but open to better suggestions.

More Bears

As we returned home, we paused close to the site where we had previously seen the Black Bear in the morning.

Amazingly the bear was close by - and we spotted him, but not in such a good location for photos.

ys2

Dora was now very happy...

ys2

And finally

As we exited Grand Teton park, I spied something that was elk coloured but not elk size...

After meeting a really nice wildlife pro-photographer who was also looking for this animal - we saw the following.

The first image is what you may see...

ys2

If you do ... proceed carefully.

This was a Grizzly Bear !!

It had been radio-collared and tagged.

ys2

There are lots more images in the gallery.

Bison Deer and Cayote

Exploring Grant Teton day 2

After an excellent meal and a decent nights sleep - getting going in the morning seemed a little more difficult than normal.

There are lots of guides - some you pay for, and some are free - regarding where to visit in the Grand Teton National Park, and being basically mean (and poor) I had been going a bit of background data collecting - and had worked out where I thought we should go.

You could just pay one of the many Jackson Photo-Safari specalists about $160/head and safe yourself the hassle.

Am I going quackers ?

One thing that we have not focused on - is the amount of birdlife here, for some strange reason the feathered wildlife seems much more skittish than their 4-legged colleagues.

But at a rather gloomy looking watering hole I spotted a family of Mallards who were obliging.

bison1

Juilet (aka Dora the Explorer), then did a top class spot on a deer.

bison1bison1

This deer we walked up to within 30 meters or so. As we reminded ourselves of National park rules to keep 25m away from large animals, and 10m from smaller.

Ansel Adams

Mr Adams is one of the most famous photographers of the 20th Century, and his works especially in US National parks is rather the "Gold Standard" by which photos are sometimes measured.

One of his most famous images is of A Mormon Barn - which we also visited. Alas my modern technology is still beaten by his skill - but it was fun following in his footsteps.

bison1bison1bison1

Coyete

Just a little way down Mormon Row we came across a very obliging Coyete, actually he just passed us by very quickly and then carried on hunting.

bison1bison1bison1bison1

Bison

We now did a little bit of semi-off-road, not ploughing a field - but unless you were in a 4WD you would not get there.

We had seen Bison all around - but a little ahead there appead to be few close to a vehicle - so we approached slowly, not trying to upset the photographer (who it turns out is a US nationally recognised artist) - and to try and not upset the Bison also.

We started with 4 or 5 Bison - but within 30 minutes there were at least 50 milling around the two vehicles. I by this time was sharing Terry's pickup truck tail-gate - whilst poor Dora the rather worried explorer sat alone - with some VERY large animals literally in front of her.

Notice the dueling scar just above his eye.

bison1

Now who has not owned a dog that loved to roll in the dirt... so do Bison it seems.

Bison1bison1bison1

The really big male bison was occasionally fighting with other males - but most of the time a simple grunt was enough to put his opponents off.

bison1

Something more peaceful

As the sun had finally come out - we ambled down to a river where someone was fly-fishing - when we spotted an Elk trying to hide - actually he did a very good job of hiding as it took quite some time to see him.

bison1bison1bison1bison1

Heading to our Lodge

Juliet is becoming quite an expert Mule Deer spotter - and upon her cries of "Deer" (she does not like to get too technical about the type of deer) - we spied this small group of deer.

bison1bison1

There are many more images especially of the Bison available here

Grand Tetons

Hello Grand Tetons

It was a short drive from our log cabin to Jackson Hole, Wy. Whilst Jackson looked a very typical USA tourist town - as soon as we left it we were instantly back in the Wild West - or as Juliet likes to call it "Marlboro Country".

Bison & Antelope

Just past the National Elk Refuge we spotted a herd of Bison, along with some antelope.

!ys1ys1

Over the road the Grand teton mountain range kept popping out of the cloud and mist.

ys1ys1

We also managed to get out of the car to stretch our legs.

ys1ys1

Off-Road Excursion

Having found where the hotel was for that evening - as it was not showing on the GPS, we then did a little off-roading to see if we could see any more wildlife - alas no.

ys1ys1ys1

Hello Yellowstone

With 5 hours of time spare - we zipped up the road to YellowStone, passing the area which had caused the road to be closed. The damage from the fire was quite shocking, you could smell the charcoal/bbq smell, and in places small fires were still smouldering.

ys1ys1

Old Faithful

The area around this attraction looks like the car park of your favoite super-market when they are having a sale, it was quite shocking (and we are in off-season) It was easy to escape the crowds - just walk anywhere past the Old Faithful circle. They have seats for the crowds to watch when it erupts.

As we had some spare time we looked at many of the other geysers - the smell - rotten eggs !!

ys1ys1ys1

To kiil even more time - Dora the Explora, and I went to look at Old Faithful for a short walk - ha ha... Not sure if sitting around all day, or 7,000 ft of elevation was to blame - but it was hard work.

Lewis Waterfall

Lewis and Clark were some of the earliest explorers of the Rockies, so I was expecting a bigger waterfall for such a distinguished explorer. Little disappointed but it was a lovely sight.

ys1ys1ys1ys1

Deer Time

About 1 mile before of rather splendid log cabin, I spotted some deer. Who were quite obliging in letting me film them.

ys1ys1ys1ys1ys1ys1ys1

More Photos

There are more in the gallery

Thayne, Wy

Grand Canyon to Thayne, Wy

After having a smashing day out on the Grand Canyon, we spent the rest of the afternoon travelling North towards Salt Lake City, UT.

Our route co-incided with the route we had used to get to Las Vegas - so we had to drive over 20 miles on the same road !! The only duplication I think in this years trip so far.

The trip was quite easy - just a long way.

trip1

After a good evenings rest - and the best breakfast on the road since leaving Washington (Best Western, Layton,UT - thank you) we then headed closer to Jackson.

The scenary was great - the conditions with strong winds and rain less so.

We did plan on staying at Montpellier - famous for being robbed by Butch Cassidy it seems - alas if he returned today he would only find Thrift stores. We were so un-impressed we carried on to Thayne, Wy where we found a small cabin by a stream.

trip2

Testing out our warm clothing

Whilst overlooking Bear Lake - we decided it was timeto make sure we were not going to freeze to death - as the North Face fleeces were not keeping us warm.

jp1tmp1

Having convinced ourselves that we are not going to perish (and I will not be wearing shorts until we return to Virginia) - we carried on.

Bear Lake National Wildlife Reserve

Despite hoping to get to see lots of Wildlife in Yellowstone & Grand Tetons, took ourselves off to a National wildlife reserve at the top of Beak Lake.

Initially it was not looking promising - but we lucked on a few animals.

Pelican

Now just what a Pelican is doing in Wyoming I have no clue - but it was not alone. After 5 minutes of research this is actually an American white pelican.

PelicanPelican

Not the most aerodynamic of birds - but fun to watch when they were catching fish.

Raptor

Alas I an not 100% sure if this is, I think it is a Gyrfalcon or a Prarie Falcon. It was initially feeding just 20 meters from the dirt road - but I backed the car up a little to get a better view, and the bird flew away so it was aprox 50 meters away (this is the reason you buy full frame camera's with decent lenses).

Raptor

Northern Flicker

This took a little work to identify - but it is a type of Woodpecker.

gf1gf2

American Kestrel

Another long range picture

jp1

Cheecky Swallows

jp1

Elk

When it seemed like there was no hope for anthing large to spot - juliet noticed"2 cows" - I thought "Umm - not very cow shaped".... and just standing there were 2 elk.

jp1jp1

I'm no Turkey

As we were heading out of the reserve - I noticed a group of crows being scared off a dead rabbit.

This is a Turkey Vulture. jp1jp1