Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Wild, Wild West!

Well, not completely wild any more but as close to it as you can get here in 
San Diego County. Trust me!

It was a pleasure to spend a wonderful afternoon yesterday at the Warner-Carrillo Ranch House on the old Southern Emigrant Trail in the back country of San Diego's North County, map here. A place I've driven by many times on my way to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the quaint town of Borrego Springs, CA. Only today I was stopped in my tracks!

The sign read "Stagecoach Rides Here!" Really? Stagecoach rides? 
Now that peaked my attention and I just had to stop and find out more. 
And have a ride of course!

I was treated to a short, but reminiscent stagecoach ride around the property, a special event benefitting the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO), the institution responsible for protecting and preserving historic architecture and cultural resources of our region. In addition to the ride, there were staff dressed in period clothing and knowledgable volunteers available to share detailed and interesting historical facts about the people who lived there and the place they called home.

If you have never visited the area and have an interest in our county history, this is a must see. Stories about a land grant, The Garra Revolt, Kimbal-Wilson Store and much more.

Warner Ranch is a peaceful place. With stormy skies as a backdrop and green grasses waving in the breeze, the cottonwoods along a small creek behind the ranch house still grow strong in this time of drought and harbor many migrating bird species. Red-winged blackbirds, red-tailed hawks and many species in between went about their business as our stagecoach, driven by two competent cowpokes, took us along the creekside and fields east of the ranch.

The Warner-Carrillo Ranch property acted as a way station on both the historic Gila River Trail and the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoach line in addition to operating as a pioneering cattle ranch in past years. Currently the 43,000 acre property is owned by the Vista Irrigation District (VID) and is still a working ranch today. You can see forever without another house in sight. It looks like I imagine the wild west looked a hundred and fifty years ago with wide open spaces, free to roam.

I spoke with a representative of SOHO who informed me of the ongoing property improvements and about future stagecoach rides. If you want to experience your own wild west adventure be sure to make reservations here and plan an afternoon to see one of our counties best kept treasures.

(For even more information, the ranch house itself has gone through intensive restoration, a process well documented with pictures, which you can see here. You can also read a descriptive article about the history and restoration hereEarly images of the ranch and property can be seen in the Library of Congress archives here.) 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hello Family, Friends, Fans and Followers!

Didn't want you to miss out on the event coming up this weekend, April 18th!

Join me at the Valley Center Library from 2- 4 pm for an Artist Meet & Greet. I will have a few copies of my new book on sale and fifteen of my popular images on display. There will be light refreshments and good company present.

Hope you can join us! Here is your personal invite with all the details ....

Friday, December 26, 2014

Practice and Tolerant Subjects

Patience is one trait consistent with great photographers. 
Having a tolerant subject helps.

This is especially true in wildlife photography. 
Every animal offers up a challenge and it helps to stay focused 
and not give up. Eventually, just maybe, the reward will be worth it! 

It is equally as important to mention practice. Practice is mandatory.
So let me introduce you to the subjects I use to practice.

These are our rescue girls, Betty and Freckles. They are fairly tolerant so when the bow was tossed on the floor while opening gifts I couldn't help myself. 

A few things where working for me Christmas day. One, I had my iPhone handy, two, the girls are not strangers to me snapping off pictures and know how to beg with their eyes of course. Three, the ribbon was red! Oh, and add the amazing Snapseed app and it is easy to document life's moments!

I hope all of you who received new camera equipment get out and practice. Read your manual! Practice, practice, practice. My Mother always said, "Practice makes perfect." I have a long way to go and never expect to be perfect but it's fun to keep working on it!

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 25, 2014



Wishing all my followers a wonderful holiday season and 
best wishes for a Happy New Year.

This is the time I do my best and reach out to family, friends, 
acquaintances and those who follow my blog but haven't met yet. 
You are all appreciated even though we may not have had a conversation 
recently. Looking forward to a chance to catch up next year.  

We all lead busy schedules, none busier then this time of year. 
I wish you relaxation, joy, and a peaceful season. 

Siblings discuss plans for the holiday at Hallo Bay Bear Camp, Alaska

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bosque del Apache

You know sometimes you just can't get a thought out of your head?

Recently I have been thinking of Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in southern Socorro County, New Mexico and the fabulous photographic opportunities that await. So here is my post about the place.

In 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt founded our first wildlife refuge, Pelican Island, a three acre mangrove habitat, to protect egrets and other bird populations from extinction over plume hunting.

Now our Refuge System envelops over 150 million acres across the United States and territories. Its purpose is to maintain the biological integrity, diversity and environmental health of these natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans.

Today more than 560 national wildlife refuges attract approximately 46.5 million visitors each year offering activities such as wildlife-watching, hunting, fishing, photography, hiking, canoeing, kayaking and environmental education.

Bosque del Apache was established in 1939 providing a critical stopover for migrating waterfowl and is known for the thousands of sandhill cranes and snow geese who visit the refuge annually.

The 57,331-acre refuge is situated between the Chupadera Mountains to the west and the San Pascual Mountains to the east and harbors a wild stretch of the Rio Grande, a ribbon of cottonwood and willow trees critical for the existence of native wildlife.

My first trip to Bosque was in 2012. I could only squeeze in a week that December and the first couple days brought a spectacular storm through New Mexico making for dramatic skies and lots of great imagery. A definite plus for any nature photographer!

The image above, from my 2012 visit, was one of three which took the 2014 Grand Prize in New Mexico Magazine's photo competition. Click here to open a link for the article about my experience and for other images which took prizes in the contest.

This year I am planning my third trip to the refuge. Thinking about attending the Festival of the Cranes, an annual event which brings like minded nature lovers together under the crowded skies of a crane or geese lift-off!

WARNING, this video is noisy!

The video is just a sampling of what you will see in the sky as migrants make their way south. And, if that's not enough, below are a few of the other critters who make the refuge their home!

Thanks for looking! Please share if you like. I think it's time to get busy making 2014 plans! Hope to see you there.

Sincerely, Sandy :)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

"Caught in the Act"

I've been wanting to post for some time now but it keeps getting harder to sit down at the computer and do so. Really need to discipline myself better. Has anyone ever heard of a July resolution? 

I recently returned from shooting up Yellowstone way with some fun new images. This one I call "Caught in the Act." 

Traveling north leaving Grand Teton National Park you will be on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Pkwy which connects you to the southern boundary of Yellowstone National Park. In route you will pass over the Continential Divide on a couple different occasions.

Many times along the road you can spot wildlife and that is exactly what happened when this coyote darted across the road in pursuit. He turned only for a moment and was caught in the act. 

If you enjoyed this post and want to see more, enter your email in the box in the top right hand corner where it says Follow By Email then select Submit. Once a new story is added you will receive a message directly to your email account.

Thanks for your interest! Happy shooting!


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Dubois, Wyoming

For those of you traveling to Grand Teton National Park (GTNP) this summer and want to add a true cowboy, small town experience, don't miss the quaint western community of Dubois, Wyoming. (Population 971 from the 2010 census.) 

"Where real cowboys work and play." 

Dubois, (pronounced dew-boyz) is only a short, breathtaking drive east over the 9,695' Togwotee Pass on US Route 26 and well worth the trip. Whether you have a day or longer there are plenty of things to do for the whole family.

Spend time fly-fishing dry flies or nymphs for Browns, Rainbows and Cutthroat on the Wind River, a classic mountain stream that runs parallel to the highway with easy access. Or spend time in town at one of the yummy eateries, unique gift shops or friendly watering holes. Say hello to Bill, an icon of the old west and long time resident. Tell him I sent you.

However my favorite place to visit is the Silver Sage Gallery on Main Street ( Just park and ask anyone where you can find internationally known western artist Tom Lucas and equally renowned artist Gary Kelmig, owners of the establishment. Sit for a spell and listen to histories about the 14 artists represented by the gallery and shop the exceptional, exclusive work of sculptors, potters, jewelry makers and photographers. Take home a lasting memory of your visit.

If you are still looking for something to do, Friday night Dubois hosts a rowdy rodeo at the Clarence Allison Arena. Photograph the rodeo clowns, barrel racers, bull riding and cowboy characters honing their ranch style craft.

The Dubois Museum, a living history museum, is a great place to discover times gone by ( Make sure to ask about the summer interpretive program series and you may be lucky enough to tour Sheep Eater Indian bighorn sheep traps, teepee rings, petroglyph sites and tie hack ruins.

If it's wildlife viewing that brings you to town, start your journey at the National Bighorn Sheep Center ( where you can learn the biology of the species then wander the gift shop to bring home a bighorn inspired souvenir.

Looking for a way to stretch your legs? Find solitude hiking the granite domes or craggy 13,000' peaks of the Wind River Range. Or take an easy stroll through the town park for peace and quiet.

You will find a number of places to rest your head for a good nights sleep. There is a KOA and other RV parks in the area. Many historic ranches offer accommodations, horse pack trips and all inclusive vacations. Why not take the kids on an adventure they will never forget?

When you are ready to find out more information about Dubois visit to get started and to see a calendar of events. Or leave a comment/question and I will do my best to answer.

How about it? Have you planned your trip yet?