Out & About

Lemurs & Lenses

Monday, April 7th, 2014

What a great weekend we had! My mother-in-law and her husband came to visit so we took them to a place we’ve always wanted to see and only 30 minutes from our home called Safari West. If you’ve ever wanted to visit the Wine Country, this place is yet another reason to do so. Safari West is not a zoo, it’s a 400 acre preserve in the heart of Sonoma County that is home to several hundred animals and bird species native to Africa and South America, many of them endangered. Together with the kids and grandparents, we set out on a perfect spring day with sunny skies on a safari adventure! 

In anticipation of the visit, I rented a 18-200mm lens like I’ve done before to capture the animals in their habitats. It came with a hood and allowed me to zoom out to capture wide panoramas and zoom in to capture faces! 

lens rental

I love the idea of “try before you buy” so this was a great opportunity to take this versatile lens out for spin – I rent from Borrow Lenses and pick up at a local photography shop. This one is so great for vacationing outdoors when you take along your DSLR – the range of 18-200mm allows you to capture so much while on the go and without ever switching lenses.

The adventure begins on an all terrain vehicle (it felt a little like Jurassic Park) with an experienced guide and you ride all the way through the preserve up and down and into valleys where different animals live on a two hour tour. 

all terrain vehicles

 

guide in preserve

Some of the animals come up right next to the vehicle which is so cool but many of the animals are 20 to 100 feet away. Some habitats are enclosed (rhinos, cheetahs, monkeys) but many are not.

Antelopes and giraffes and zebras cross your path as you travel around, here’s a glimpse at a few of creatures captured on this beautiful preserve. There are hundreds of animals here, these are just a few favorite shots straight out of the camera using the borrowed lens.

lemur on branch

 

zebra in preserve

    

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The Valley of the Moon

Monday, September 30th, 2013

It was one of those weekends that combined evening hours spent with great friends in celebration of a birthday, and a day spent journeying to a farm in search of beautiful pumpkins and seasonal produce (the squash, the tomatoes, so good). I’ve realized stepping away from the computer on the weekends is pure delight, and it’s in those hours of ignoring the screens or smartphone that I feel like I’m really living. 

Last week, Matt and I stole away for a day to one of our favorite destinations in Sonoma County, the idyllic Valley of the Moon. The author Jack London lived in the territory – its name originates from the Native American Miwok tribe who referred to this special region nestled between mountains and hills as the “Valley of the Moon”.

I thought I’d share some snaps of what’s happening in the high season which begins in late September and lasts through late November. The harvest and crush are in full swing as each grape reaches the ripe and ready point. The tourists are arriving from all around the world to soak up the sunshine and indulge in the flavors of the region.

sonoma valley of the moon vineyard

The vineyards sprawl for miles and miles in Sonoma and Napa counties and grapes are planted strategically by terroir. There are a few wineries that (lucky for the us) plant rows of different varietals adjacent to each other in a small plot of land to show the difference between a merlot, a cabernet, a syrah, a zinfandel, a chardonnay, and a sauvignon blanc.

Every varietal is ready to be picked at a different time over the course of the harvest season. Each grape is distinct, down to its color, flavor, cluster, and even the characteristics of the leaves, yet they all thrive in this place we’re lucky to call our backyard. 

different varietals and leaves

   

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