New Adventure – Puzzle Me

Adventures become a venture – creating puzzles from my travel photos.

“This Was So Much Fun.”

Ever wonder what to do when you have company and it gets dark, and everyone’s on their cell phone except you?

Our son and his girlfriend came this weekend, and I set up a mat and got out a simple, 300 piece puzzle and started working on it. Soon all four of us were thoroughly engaged. 

My son said, “This was so much fun. I haven’t done a puzzle since I was a kid.”

First Three Puzzles

This picture of the Double Take Rose  from the Woodlake Rose Garden is now a puzzle.

His reaction inspired me to create some puzzles from a few of my photos and give them as gifts and also try to sell them.  It’s easy to do, and not too expensive. The price to purchase them is about the same as I’ve found in stores.

Puzzles come in several shapes and sizes.

Since I use my iPhone for taking photographs most of the time, I’m limited to creating small puzzles. Now I have a great excuse for sorting through all my photos and pulling out ones with better resolution. 

Sedona, AZ Bell and Courthouse Rocks

What Do You Think?

To purchase puzzles, click here.

How to Visit Yosemite National Park Like an Artist

The Sequoia Tourism Council encourages tourists visit the Scenic Mountain Loop, Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, for a long three-day weekend. Each park has its own interest. Those who love huge granite cliffs, and many water features might start with Yosemite. Tree lovers should start in Tulare County at Sequoia Park, the home of the biggest trees in the world.

How to Avoid the Crowds at Yosemite

The short answer is that during a great year like 2017, you probably can’t avoid crowds completely. To beat hoards of people, this last week of May is about the perfect time you will find to visit Yosemite until school is out.


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Yosemite National Park May 2017
Linda is an artist and Bob is a farmer.

Meet Linda Hengst and her husband Bob. Linda paints with oil, water-color, acrylics, using brushes, knives, on canvas and buildings. You name it. She just finished a new mural in Exeter, CA, famous for its beautiful murals.

Bob told me at one of her art shows, “If you love to paint, you have to paint. You can’t help yourself.” Bob is her life-long admirer and supporter.

Linda gets her ideas from nature, primarily from photographs.

Yosemite National Park May 2017
Bridal Veil Falls Scenic Lookout

When Linda invited me to go along with her on a photo shoot to find pictures to paint in Yosemite, I jumped at the chance. Getting to photograph a beautiful place is incentive enough, but to get inside the thinking of an artist – better still!

Native Californians, Linda and Bob, wanted to visit Yosemite on a weekday before school let out to take photographs. Does this make her an introverted artist like many are? Nah! She knew how few parking spaces there were in Yosemite! Poor Bob!

Having near record rainfalls this spring promises great pictures of the many falls in Yosemite. Crowds will follow. Below you can see the record rains of 1997.

The day we went it was about 75 degrees and sunny. Bob couldn’t find a parking spot in the scenic parking areas on either side of the road as we emerged from the long tunnel into our first view of Bridal Veil Falls.

The car was barely stopped when Linda popped out, confident that Bob would find a spot to park or pick her up. She began taking pictures immediately. At first, I waited in the back seat as Bob patiently pulled as far off the road as he could. As we sat waiting for a parking place, I shot pictures from the car. I loved the frame it created. It almost seemed that I was watching the scene on TV.

Yosemite National Park May 2017
Great photographers are advised to get out of the car to take their shots. They might miss this!

Settling into the Yosemite Valley Floor

Five minutes into our arrival Linda wanted to hike up to photograph Bridal Veil Falls with frigid water pounding over the granite cliffs misting her jacket, face and perfect hair. Bob did not want to do that. Linda brought extra clothes, a heavy raincoat, and pairs of shoes. She packed like a grandma, but had the enthusiasm of a second-grader.

Yosemite National Park May 2017
It looked like fun. I hope this guy packed like Linda.

Umm, getting to the trail meant wading. I don’t want all of you think I am a naysayer, but there is not a good way look like the heroine of this story. Without a willing partner, Linda opted regretfully out of hiking up for a Bridal Veil shower.

Yosemite National Park May 2017
“Stand here, Marsha,” Linda insisted “This is the best shot.”

Instead we took lots of shots of the falls from along the road. I tended to get caught up in details like a tree buds.

Yosemite National Park May 2017 Linda looked for the bigger picture. When I followed her advice, I got some exquisite shots.

Yosemite National Park May 2017
Wasn’t that worth it?

Trees made the perfect frame for the engorged falls. I would have been happier with a bluer sky, but as a painter, Linda could change that.

In Search of Dogwood Trees

Linda got very excited to see the dogwoods blooming. She wanted Bob to pull the car over every time she saw one. Bob pulled safely off the road often so she could take a picture.We probably saw 500 dogwood trees, not counting reflections.

Yosemite National Park May 2017She wanted me to stand up while the car was moving and take pictures of dogwood trees out of the sun roof. She stuck her miniature digital camera through the hole in the roof and clicked. Some of her pictures came out. I stayed securely imprisoned in my backseat seatbelt during the trip, Highway Patrol Person and Carol Sherritt.

Dogwood Trees Frame the Majestic Yosemite Hotel

Yosemite National Park May 2017

After about two hours of photo snapping, Bob calmly announced he could eat something. We headed towards the Ahwahnee Hotel, temporarily renamed the Majestic Yosemite. Bob checked out the dining room while we checked the ladies’ rest rooms for signs on the insides of the doors. Unlike in Australia, the doors had no signs. Very boring.

The hour and forty minute wait to order lunch did not appeal to any of us. So we ate outside to enjoy this view of the 1927 historic hotel. I took about an hour and forty minutes to get our tomato-basil soup and grilled cheese sandwich, but the wait could not have been more pleasant. We rated the food and service at about a B-.

Ahwahnee Hotel History

Yosemite National Park May 2017Beginning in 1925, the designer of the Bryce and Zion Canyon lodges, Gilbert Stanley Underwood, designed the massive 150,000 square foot hotel. Created entirely from materials not found in the protected park, trucks hauled in 1,000 tons of steel, 5,000 tons of stone, and 30,000 board feet of timber. Although James L. McLaughlin quoted the park a cost of $525,000 to build the first-class hotel, the last price tag came in at $1,250,000 in 1927 dollars or $17,050,282 today.

The hotel served as a Navy rest and relaxation hospital for naval personnel during World War II. Three hundred fifty men slept in the Great Lounge. Nearly 7,000 patients with over 90,000 service men and women coming to rest and relax.

After lunch, we followed the river on a short path to admire all the dogwood trees in bloom.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

Hiking Along the Merced River

While Bob may have napped in the car after lunch, Linda wanted to do one more hike to a bridge she remembered that had a perfect view of Yosemite Falls. We started off in that direction, her walking sticks clicking on the rocks against the clamor of the Merced River racing along in the opposite direction. We both stopped often to listen and take pictures. No one dared to photo bomb us and chance falling into the icy creek that rushed away on its watery journey.

Some hikers coming the opposite direction informed us that the bridge from which Linda wanted to take pictures of Yosemite Falls was not as close as she had hoped. They suggested we go forward another few minutes and look backward.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

I took a picture every few feet to make sure I did not miss the perfect shot.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

After we were sure we had the best pictures we could capture, we headed back to Bob. Linda made him walk the next trail, which was a short one with views of three falls, if you aimed correctly. Can you find them all?

Yosemite National Park May 2017

Linda, the most creative of the three of us, found a playmate.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

I thought Pock Mark was cute too, and I found him an extra eye that Linda did not like. Pock looked like he was eating a snake or maybe a giant rat.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

I wasn’t going to try to get it away from him!

The meadows retained some of the January rains. I wanted a reflection of the mountains. If you look carefully you can see the reflection of the falls on the lower left right by my name.

Yosemite National Park May 2017Some of the views defied my ability to come up with enough words to describe them. Grandeur and awe-inspiring sound trite, but what words would you use? Some people do not like to get people in their photographs, but my dad, a professional photographer in his retirement years, gave advice I try to always follow at least in one photo.

“When you take landscapes, you need something to show perspective. Always take a picture of someone wearing red.” Dad told me.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

Wherever the falls plummeted from the mountains we heard the intense power of the water crashing down the rocks even from a great distance.

Yosemite National Park May 2017

In places it looked like the water forced its way out of the tiny holes in the rocks.


Yosemite National Park May 2017

By the end of the day Linda was still revved. She did not want to leave.

“Oh look at the cute cap on Half Dome.”

I turned from heading toward the car where Bob waited to find her taking this shot. I hurried to take it, too, before the cap decided to move on.

At some point, Linda will create amazing paintings. As she clicked and chatted, I appreciated her enthusiastic search for the perfect photo spots, playfulness, inquisitiveness, and her eye for great photos.

If you don’t go to Yosemite with a Linda in your group, don’t despair. Great art awaits you at every turn. Just point and shoot.

Related Posts

A Drive to Sequoia National Park Views on the way to the park

Art Studios Come in All Shapes and Sizes See where Linda does her work.

Local Artist Renews Some of Linda’s artwork

What Can You Do On a Saturday Night in Woodlake? Views of the Woodlake Botanical Gardens, famous world-wide. The spring event, the Berry Festival, is scheduled May 27, 2017.

A Must See Oddball Shop Sightseeing along the way to Sequoia National Park

Related Products

We needed these to get to the trail! This would be handy, girls! It’s a best seller!

Water Filtration system – another best seller for hikers This backpack includes a rain cover!
Better Nature Photography Equipment This is cool. The secret is the top that unscrews to reveal a threaded head-a perfect home to steady your camera while you get that award-winning nature shot. I’d probably stay in the car, but a great photographer would not. This is for the greats! Be ready for wet weather.

Plucky, Hard-working Fences in the Backbone of America

No privacy here, but these fences work hard keeping your food from getting away. Where’s the beef? Right here near Woodlake, CA, behind these simple, durable fences.

Central CA agriculture fences100
leaning fences

Central CA agriculture fences101
a fenced in fence


Decorated fence
Decorated fence

horse fence
horse fence

fancy horse fence
fancy horse fence

prickly fence
prickly fence

Central CA agriculture fences109
antiques road show

fence on wheels
fence on wheels

rough fence
rough fence

For a peek into the history of fences, click here.

Check out more fences here.

Interview with Australian Photographer, Leanne Cole

Welcome to Just Write, a blog for newbies and fun bloggers, writers and photographers, where you do not have to be Patrick Problogger to have a great blog.

Leanne Cole became my blogging friend when I first snuck onto the internet in 2012. She visited my site religiously every day, and I never let a day go by before I visited her site too, even if I had to stay up into the wee hours of the morning. Photos, like the one above of a Melbourne bridge, take my breath away. With all the time she spends taking and processing her work, and her heavy teaching schedule, this fabulous artist had time for not only me but hundreds of bloggers, many of whom, like me, had 5 -10 likes on their posts. One of them was always Leanne’s little black and white rectangle.

The Interview

Leanne, welcome to my new blog. I’m so excited to interview you. You are famous in the blogging world with nearly 34,000 followers. You’ve always had time to comment on my blog and keep in touch personally, so now after four years, we’re close friends. As if you were not already busy, now you have a gorgeous online photography magazine called “Dynamic Range.” Congratulations on that major accomplishment! You have done so well. I’m honored to have you share with my readers how you’ve become so successful.

M.  First, how did you get started blogging and do you think that led to your success in photography?

L. I first started blogging in 2010. I was doing a lot of photography around cycling, and a friend suggested that I should start a blog. Seemed to be the thing to do at the time. I looked into it and started one on Blogspot. However, I found certain aspects there difficult and then a close friend introduced me to WordPress. I immediately started one there and had been using it for the last five and a half years.
     The second part of the question is a little tricky; I don’t know. I do know that it helped to find the inspiration to go out and take photos. It was amazing how it got me to continue striving for better. Perhaps they have gone hand in hand.

M. That makes sense, you highlight the careers of many other artists, and have opportunities for many of your readers to send in their photos. So you get a lot of outside input that inspires us all! Tell us a little about your blogging experience.

L. As I said, I’ve been blogging for awhile and if you count the first one last January was my six-year anniversary. I’ve found the experience to be very rewarding, and it has opened up some incredible opportunities for me. I have met some amazing people, both on the internet and in person. I have learned to write better, and take better photos. There is that constant wish not to disappoint people.

M. You’ve specialized in landscape photography on your blog. I was thrilled to meet you when you toured in the US last year How do you manage to blog and work full-time, and travel so much as well?

L. I like landscape photography and architecture. I like structures in my photos and like to see the hand of man in them. I don’t like straight out landscape photography if that makes sense. I like seeing other people’s, but I like more unless it involves water, I love photographing water.
I consider the blog as part of my job. It has to be done. Part of my success relies on it, so I have to keep it up. I don’t travel that much, not as much as I would like, but again, to me, it is all part of the job. I am a photographer and have to travel to get the images I want.  

M. I guess I meant landscape to include cityscapes as well. In my mind landscape means anything that is not portrait or candid shots of people. Your photographs are fabulous. What online courses available right now?

L. Thank you; I wish I could say I tire of hearing that, but I never do.
I teach photography, so do one on one photography sessions around Melbourne, though if someone wanted me to come to them and teach them, pay my airfare, etc., I probably wouldn’t say no.  LOL.  I also do Skype sessions and can teach people how to edit in Lightroom and Photoshop. I have also taught others how to use them cameras via Skype as well.

M. I’ll never forget our Skype lesson. It took me 10 minutes to figure you were saying “camera raw,” not camera roll.” I learned so much in such a short time. Having a personal tutor analyze my photographs helped me correct my problems without wading through everyone else’s issues. That being said, you probably get the some of the same challenges over and over. What quick advice do you have about taking pictures and using them on your blog?

L. Take photos that interest you, and of things you love. If you love what you are doing it will come through on your blog. Remember to resize your images, and watermark if you choose. Remember people hate watermarks so try not to make them intrusive.  

M. I love your watermarks. They are always a creative part of the picture. I used to love being imaginative with my watermarks to imitate yours. Now I spend a lot less time on them. What are the best opportunities that have come your way that you would attribute to blogging?

L I was given a fantastic trip to the USA last year because of one of my wonderful subscribers. We spent an incredible three weeks together. That has been the most amazing thing that has happened, but I have been asked to photograph some things that I wouldn’t have been able to without the blog. People being able to see my work and see that others like it as well is a great boost.  

M. That was a great trip. It was my chance to meet you for a few hours after you had been traveling for something like 30 hours straight. I felt so honored that you would stay up long enough to have a cup of coffee with me. What advice do you have for new bloggers?

L. Be you, do what you like and don’t give in to trends and such. Trends or fashionable things die, so you want to outlive them. If you enjoy what you do, then it is like a virus and becomes infectious others will want to join you.

M. That is great advice. Ourselves is all we have to offer, isn’t it? What else would you like to add that I haven’t asked you?

L. Oh I don’t know, I think we have just about covered everything. I do enjoy blogging and have found it to be a very rewarding experience. I have now changed everyone over to my self-hosted site, which I hope will mean a less confusing experience for my followers/subscribers. I have everything in one place, and that feels right at this time.

M. Leanne, it has been a privilege to know you all these years, and I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to address my readers and me. Most of all thank you for being my friend. Best of everything in all your future endeavors and continued success on your blog and with your many photography adventures.

L. Thank you Marsha and same to you, all the best with your new adventures too and perhaps we will catch up with one another again in the future.

M. I certainly hope so.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, after blogging for nearly six years, blogging has brought Leanne 1) a lot of pleasure, 2) a chance to travel, expenses paid, to distant places to do what she loves doing. 3) has improved her writing and photography skills. 4) Leanne advises you to do what you love to do and create your niche. 5) She is available for face to face classes as well as online tutoring.  

I hope you enjoyed this interview. Here are some pictures from Leanne’s galleries that I chose, with her permission, for you to enjoy.  I love how perfectly the buildings are aligned, and not skewed so that they all parts of the photo cannot be straight. She manages to get enormous buildings completely into the picture without sacrificing crispness. Please honor her copyright, and respect that she earns her living selling her photos.

Be sure to visit her site at Leanne Cole.


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Carol's cup of Irish coffee
Cup of Irish coffee

Thanks again for joining us here at Just Write for a cup of coffee and a great interview with our guest blogger, Leanne Cole. Don’t forget to give her blog a peek! 🙂 To be a guest on Just Write or read other interviews, click here.