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Potato Salad Hill



Potato Salad Hill, originally uploaded by tomkellyphoto.

No, this is not our orange Jeep. I do wish it was. This is no picnic. This is Potato Salad Hill during Easter Jeep Safari in Moab. This is where the term insanity was coined.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and just thinking the outcome will be different. That describes the guy in the really nice F-250 without lockers who just couldn’t figure out why he couldn’t make it up the near-vertical rock outcropping of Potato Salad Hill. His day ended when he bent a tie rod at a 45 degree angle – not good for the steering (talk about toe-in).

This driver was good. And he had good equipment. Earlier he had climbed straight up the middle with no effort at all. For the rocks on rider’s right are steep – super, super steep. And it’s impossible to keep all four down, as you can see here

He tried and tried for nearly an hour – nearly tipping more than once. He moved a tire an inch here and an inch there.

Wanna know another trick? Look closely at the winch, which is wrapped around the front axle. From the cockpit, he can control the winch to keep the nose lower. As he steps the Jeep up the rock, the articulation of the front suspension throws the nose up and back. A quick hit on the winch and the nose of the Jeep is a bit closer to terra firme.

Yes, in the end, he made it. As did most of the others.

Potato Salad Hill is, indeed, insanity. But it’s fun. Thousands camp out on the rocks to watch driver after driver tackle the hill. It’s good fun – no problems. Just watching man and machine tackle Mother Nature.

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Clouds Over the Castle in Capitol Reef



Clouds Over the Castle in Capitol Reef, originally uploaded by tomkellyphoto.

As many times as we’ve passed through Capitol Reef, we’ve never really stopped to spend time. So we decided to spend a night in Torrey, a tiny desert village on the western edge of the park.

Sadly, the light wasn’t too cooperative. Rain and overcast clouds most of the time kept the monuments from reflecting their traditional brilliant reds.

As we were leaving the park we made one final stop at the Visitor’s Center. Across the street, The Castle had a few touches of sun for just a short moment – with a line of clouds framing it in the sky.

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Wild Sunflowers in the Storm



Wild Sunflowers in the Storm, originally uploaded by tomkellyphoto.

This was an amazing evening last August in Silver Creek near Park City, Utah. Sadly, when I returned that evening, I just wasn’t excited about my photographs. In fact, I didn’t even process a single shot. I just stumbled across the photographs looking for another rainbow shot and had a different perspective. Turns out to be a pretty good shoot after all.

The scene is actually just a few hundred meters from our home, looking somewhat to the south just before sunset. The rainbow is splitting the dark sky from a blustery white cloud, with the sun painting the yellow of the wild sunflowers.

One of the challenges with the shot was the light was getting low and the wind was howling. This frame was f5.3 at 1/30th of a second. Somehow the flowers are reasonably sharp.

You can also visit this photograph’s home and leave a comment on Flickr.

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It’s the Cowboy Way

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It’s the cowboy way! Riders in the Sky perform on Pioneer Day in Layton, UT (Tom Kelly)

We have always loved cowboy bands, and no one does it better than Riders in the Sky. What a wonderful evening it was, under the stars and stormy skies, in the Ed Kenley Ampitheater in Layton, Utah, celebrating Pioneer Days.

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Lavender in the Desert

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Lavender fields stretch on for acres in the shadow of Utah’s Mt. Nebo. (c) 2009 Tom Kelly

It started as a perfectly productive Saturday morning, up early and getting ready for a hike. But a Facebook alert just before departure sent us in another direction – to Mona and a lavender festival. Yes, a festival of the violet herb on a farm south of Provo.

It was just strange enough to try. We didn’t know what to expect. And we had only a vague understanding of where it was. But as we approached the small village north of Nephi on I-15, we were struck with awe. In the midst of the Utah desert were brilliant fields of green set against the lavender hue of millions of small plants. You could almost smell the freshness from the highway.

The sea of lavender stretched to the horizon, with plants all lined up in rows. Children reached down to pick a personal bouquet.

Lavender is a color you would least expect in a desert landscape. And certainly not acres and acres. It was a sight to behold, and a scene we will take in again.

If you get a chance, visit Young Living Lavender Farms.

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Carole picks out a bouquet of lavender. (c) 2009 Tom Kelly

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A young girl sits alone in a field of lavender. (c) 2009 Tom Kelly

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Shooting for the Sky

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The lead and opposing solo of the Air Force Thunderbirds fly belly to belly, just feet apart. (c) 2009 Tom Kelly

There’s something mysterious about watching pilots put their aircraft into flat spins just a thousand feet above the deck, or an FA-18 kicking in the afternburners and accelerating skyward covering three miles of vertical in just a matter of seconds. Or F-16’s going canopy-to-canopy – just feet apart as as they scream down the flightline at over 300 MPH. Air shows, like the one at Hill Air Force every other June, captivate us as we turn our eyes to the sky.

SUNDANCE: Earth Days

We’ve all had those moments when we think back in time and say, ‘If only I had …’ There’s a pivotal point in Robert Stone’s environmental documentary Earth Days when one of the lead characters exclaims, ‘We’ve wasted 30 years.’ Whether it’s a valid point or not is debatable. But as you hear from nine leaders of the early environmental movement in the Sundance Film Festival’s closing premier, you are clearly struck with the thought, ‘What did I do to help? And, what can I do now?’

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Sundance: New Frontier Shorts

First of all, I’m a big believer of having respect for artists’ creativity. So I stayed for the full hour-and-a-half. And in the Q&A when several of those still remaining expressed great excitement about the three films, I appreciated knowing that there was some art form. But a day later, I’m still trying to figure out what we really saw at the New Frontier Shorts.