We took a brief family vacation in Yosemite Park, late June 2018. The first day we walked the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoia trees and visited the Glacier Point overlook. The second day we hiked a loop up to Lower Yosemite Falls, then up to Vernal Falls via the Mist Trail. The third day we walked from Glacier Point down the Panorama Trail, past Illilouette Falls, Nevada Falls, and Vernal Falls; later we caught sunset from Tunnel View point. The final morning I snapped sunrise at Valley View, and later we visited Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite Chapel, Sentinel Bridge, and Valley View, before driving back to San Francisco. Hot and crowded, but beautiful!

Just back from a brief family vacation in Yosemite National Park. Somehow, I’d never managed to visit this gem of the park system, and have long been eager to do so.  John is interning in silicon valley this summer so it provided the perfect excuse for the rest of us to hop out there to spend three days in the park.  We were fortunate to have clear, sunny weather throughout – though it was hot (over 90° every day) and crowded.  It was nonetheless a great place for me to test a new batch of camera gear. Read on for the full story – and photos!2018-06-23-47044-2.jpg Continue reading “Yosemite”

Zion from sunrise to sunset

I had the great pleasure of spending 24 hours in Zion National Park, as a quick respite from the hustle and bustle of work life and a conference in Las Vegas.  (After a brief visit to Zion in 2014, I knew I needed to come back for more!)  I arrived at sunset on Monday and left at sunset on Tuesday, with the aim of doing several hikes and making the best of this photographer’s paradise.  It had snowed over the weekend, so the high cliffs were dusted white, but the weather for my visit portended clear blue skies, a frigid morning, and a warm sunny afternoon.  Read on, and check out the photo gallery. The photos are much more beautiful there!

David at Canyon Overlook, soon after sunrise.
David at Canyon Overlook, soon after sunrise.

Continue reading “Zion from sunrise to sunset”

Mystical India

Two lovely weeks touring northern India with Dartmouth Alumni Travel. Magical! More stories, and photos, in this blog post.

I’ve just returned from India, where Pam and I had the opportunity to host a Dartmouth Alumni Travel group for a two-week tour of the history, architecture, culture, and arts of northern India.   We joined a wonderful group of 12 interesting individuals, and an outstanding tour guide from Odysseys Unlimited, for a bustling tour of Delhi, Jaipur, Ranthambore, Agra, and Varanasi.  I think what struck me most about the agenda was its fascinating mix of the sights (palaces, temples, mosques, etc.) with the culture (villages, markets, families. religion) and arts (dance, music, weaving, pottery, jewelry, stonework, carpets, and even paper).  Read on for a summary of our journey, and for a sampling of the many photos!

Continue reading “Mystical India”

Alpine hike in Switzerland

I was in Zurich for meetings and managed to set aside a day for hiking in the high country to the east. Fresh snow and low clouds made for an eerily quite day in the mountains.

I was in Zurich for a day of meetings and decided it would be a great opportunity to go hiking in the beautiful mountains of Switzerland.  So, despite earlier stops in Dallas (for ACM CCS) and Delft (for ACM SenSys) I brought along my backpack, boots, and full winter hiking gear.  On Wednesday morning, after lots of helpful advice from my ETH colleagues, I boarded an eastbound train from Zurich.  Read on for the full story, and check out the photos. Continue reading “Alpine hike in Switzerland”

Delft, in The Netherlands

I enjoyed a couple of quick days in the historic district of Delft, The Netherlands, while attending the SafeThings workshop in advance of SenSys 2017.  Although it rained on and off, the picturesque streets and canals were a delight to explore.  I also ducked into the Old Church and New Church (both hundreds of years old), for a peek at their excellent exhibits.  I stayed in Hotel Johannes Vermeer, named after the famous painter, so I was especially interested in those exhibits.   Beautiful town!  See the photos; the one below is from my hotel room (which was a 4th-floor attic!).

The spire of Nieuwe Kerk, behind another church, as viewed from my hotel room in Delft.

Alta-Snowbird traverse

A glorious hike through the high country above Alta & Snowbird ski areas in the Wasatch Range of Utah.

I had the good fortune to be out in Utah to attend the MobiCom conference, held this year at the Snowbird ski resort.  Although late October is the shoulder season, I was nonetheless eager to get out hiking in the mountains above Snowbird.  Wow, was I ever lucky with the weather!  It snowed on the final day of the conference, leaving me to hike through a snowy wonderland on the day after.  See the photo gallery, and read on to hear more about the hike. Continue reading “Alta-Snowbird traverse”

Total eclipse

Total solar eclipse viewed from South Carolina.
Total solar eclipse viewed from South Carolina. See the gallery for hi-res photos.

We traveled to northwestern South Carolina to visit family and view the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse – and were totally impressed!  We launched a boat onto Lake Keowee so we could view the partial eclipse and, if needed, relocate to avoid any late-arriving clouds that might obscure our view of the total eclipse.  Darkness arrived suddenly as the moon crept into place, lasting a bit longer than two minutes.  At this point we experienced a 360-degree sunset.

Although I made no specific plans to do serious photography, I found my Nikon D500 with 300mm telephoto was  capable of capturing decent shots of the eclipse, hand-held.  Looking forward to the 2024 eclipse in New Hampshire!


Niagara Falls

The ACM Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services gave me an opportunity to spend a lovely week in Niagara Falls.  I had only visited there briefly, 32 years before, so it was wonderful to have time to explore the Falls from various angles and various times of day.  It’s a bit touristy, to be sure, but it’s tastefully done – and the falls are so stunningly spectacular that it is worth visiting again and again.

My photo gallery includes shots of each of the three waterfalls, from both the American and Canadian side, and in both early morning, late afternoon, and at night during the fireworks display.   And, even from the Maid of the Mist tourboat that snuggles right up into the misty spray of Horseshoe Falls.

David at Niagara's Horseshoe Falls, as viewed from the Canadian side.
David at Niagara’s Horseshoe Falls, as viewed from the Canadian side.

The conference also hosted a banquet dinner at Old Fort Niagara, about 30 minutes north of the falls on the shore of Lake Ontario. The weather was perfect, the sunset beautiful, and the historical re-enactments fascinating.  Snapped some fun photos and videos.  Worth a visit if you have a chance!

Demonstration of firing at Fort Niagara.
Demonstration of firing at Fort Niagara.

South Carolina

We’re just back from ten lovely days in South Carolina on the shores of Kiawah Island near Charleston.  With lots of family nearby and abundant greenspace around the island, I had plenty of interesting opportunities for photography.

  • A general photo collection, including wildlife, family, and the launch of Chinese lanterns on New Year’s Eve: [smugmug].
  • A surprise encounter with bottlenose dolphins in the straights next to Kiawah Island, while they were strand feeding:  [smugmug].
  • An attempt at dark-sky photography of the new crescent moon, Orion, and the Milky Way:  [smugmug].

    Christmas sunrise on Kiawah Island.
    Christmas sunrise on Kiawah Island.

Mount Si

The 'haystack' summit of Mount Si.
The ‘haystack’ summit of Mount Si.

I was in Seattle for a visit to the University of Washington, and decided to extend the trip for a day so I could take advantage of the wonderful hiking opportunities nearby.   Overwhelmed by the number and variety of hikes in range of Seattle, I settled on a classic choice: Mount Si.  According to the statistics on that site, I was probably the 99,999th person to hike the trail this year.  Still, on a drizzly Friday in the off season, I figured it couldn’t be too crowded.

I left Seattle before sunrise, drove through a light drizzle (which, I gather, is the norm for Seattle) and reached the trailhead around 8am.   With 3,100′ of gain in four miles, this is no little walk in the woods – but it’s actually comparable to my benchmark, the Glencliff trail on Mount Moosilauke.  In fact, Mount Si barely tops 4,000′, shorter than Moosilauke.

An eery rainforest of moss and epiphytes covers the lower elevations.
An eery rainforest of moss and epiphytes covers the lower elevations.

In the mist and drizzle, the low-elevation forest was was verdant.  Moss and epiphytes covered every branch, and trapped the mist so it could drip on me as I made my way up the trail. The trail is well-built and well-maintained, generally steady going.  Numerous switchbacks meant the trail was never very steep.

The air cooled as I climbed and I finally started seeing patches of fresh (though wet) snow at around 3,800′.  I popped out into a clearing, where a large black Raven awaited me.  Clearly he had been there earlier, when today’s three early hikers paused to snack and turn around, and he was hopeful that I brought more goodies.

Gray Jays are an ever-present companion at snack stops at higher elevation.
Gray Jays are an ever-present companion at snack stops at higher elevation.

Four or five Gray Jays quickly detected my presence and snuggled together on snow-covered branches, ready at a moment’s notice for a dropped raisin or bagel crumb.

Here there was consistent snow cover, just an inch or two, and rather slushy.  In the clouds now, the viewpoint offered me nothing – but at least the precipitation stopped.  I pressed on, up and over a rocky outcrop, toward the true summit – a sheer cap called the “haystack” (shown above).  Remarkably, though I climbed only another hundred feet, the snow became deeper and more firm, as much as 6-18″ deep in the sheltered spots. The snow line from recent weather must have been close to this elevation.

I turn back from the near-vertical gully filled with snow and ice, and lots of exposure.
I turn back from the near-vertical gully filled with snow and ice, and lots of exposure.

I followed old tracks, covered in this morning’s snow, around the base of the Haystack.  The footsteps disappeared at the base of a steep gully, where tiny avalanches caused golf-balls of snow to roll down toward me.  Gosh, this gully is steep, and extremely exposed. I picked a line and tentatively began to climb, but thought better of it after a dozen yards.  I retreated and picked another line.  Going upward was easy, kicking steps in the wet snowpack.  About halfway up, though, I reconsidered the exposure.  A slip here would mean a long slide down the gully, ricocheting off the boulders.  Hiking solo, and with few other hikers visiting the Haystack today, I decided it’d be best left for another day.


The trip down was a cruise, back and forth on the switchbacks.  I quickly left winter behind, and emerged again into a verdant rain forest, pausing often to attempt to capture this magical place in photographs. I can see why this mountain is so popular, and really need to return when the sky is clear.

Check out the full photo album.