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Reine – Lofoten Islands

Landscape photo Reine in Autumn, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Autumn, Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

What a difference two months make can make to a scence.   The Lofoten Islands have become somewhat of a long term project of mine.  I was there 3 times in the last year alone and have a rough plan to be back again in July, as I haven’t been there during summer since 2006, so I need some better coverage of the islands during that time of year.  So far I’ve been there in: January, March, April, May, July, August, September, and October.  So I’ve still got a few months to fill in.  And one might think what difference does a month or two really make, but with a place in the far north, there are quite dramatic changes in scenery as the year passes on and I think all of it is interesting to see.

Reine in Winter, Lofoten Islands, Norway

Reine in Winter, Lofoten Islands, Norway.

Racetrack Playa – Death Valley

rare winter water fill dry lakebed of devils racetrack playa - death valley, california

Winter rains flood the playa at the southern end of the Devil’s Racetrack, Death Valley, California.  February 25-25, 2010

Prior to this recent trip I’d only twice been to Death Valley national park.  And on those two previous trips I was only in the ‘valley’ itself and not any of the more wild areas only accessible by dirt roads.  Based upon my prior trips, I had a total lack of understanding of the true size of the park, which in fact the largest US national park outside of Alaska.  Somehow looking at distance numbers on a map, 17 miles here, 27 miles there, doesn’t always properly translate to the true length of the journey.  Especially when it is on some of the most bone jarring, bolt loosening, tire shredding, knocking-cooler-over-and-spilling-water-all-over-my-bed, wash-boarded dirt roads I have ever driven.  You know the roads, the ones that are so full of stutter bumps that you have two choices:  Drive 5mph and arrive sometime in the next millennium or drive 50mph to ‘skim’ over the bumps while totally destroying your tires.   I really don’t know what is worse those though.  Being subjected to endless bumps for hours on end, but knowing that it’s not as bad as it feels and you should eventually arrive.  As opposed to just going for it to get it over with in a shorter amount of time with the constant clatter of rocks flying loose inside the wheel wells and then just holding your breath as you see some large washout appear that there is no way to slowdown for.   So driving nearly 70 miles of this in one day from the Eureka dunes in the far north of the park down to the Racetrack playa was a long day that I don’t look forward to repeating anytime soon, or at least not with my truck.  If someone else wants to drive, I’d be happy go along.

rare winter water fill dry lakebed of devils racetrack playa - death valley, california. February 2010

Normally the lake bed playa is totally bone dry, but some years in winter, a small lake will appear towards the southern end.  This is also the location of the moving rocks for which the Racetrack is most famous for.  Unfortunately the water and mud meant I couldn’t get near them, so I guess I do have to go back again.  Though I think it was interesting to see this somewhat rare event.

Dry mud patterns in devils racetrack playa dry lakebed, death valley, California

landscape photography, devils racetrack playa, death valley, california

Dry mud patterns in devils racetrack playa dry lakebed, death valley, California

travel and landscape photographer Cody Duncan stands on dry lake bed at Racetrack playa, Death Valley, California

Unstad – Lofoten

Snow covered beach, Unstad, Lofoten islands, Norway

Unstad beach, Lofoten islands, Norway.

An unrelenting storm had been hanging over the islands all day, but the weather on the islands can be quite localized, so I took a gamble that the north side might have some better weather, and indeed it did.  Emerging from the tunnel to Unstad, the snow had stopped and been divereted around the mountains that surround the village.  I wish I had arrived earlier as the day was already late and darkness – and more snow – was soon to come.