In the middle of our long drive from Halifax to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, we stopped at The Ovens, a beautiful coastal national park featuring a hiking trail along a series of sea caves. We then had a nice early dinner at a little German restaurant on the side of the road before heading into the cute seaside town of Lunenburg for a walk. Lunenburg is another of those towns that made me fall in love with the Canadian Maritimes and fantasize about moving there.
Fans of Locke and Key may recognize both The Ovens and Lunenberg as filming locations for the series, though our visit was long before the show aired. I seem to have a habit of visiting places before a TV show begins filming there–years ago I visited both Split and Dubrovnik in Croatia before Game of Thrones had begun filming in those cities.
These photos are from our drives along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, including hikes of Hawksbill Summit Trail and Bearfence Viewpoint Trail. Along the latter trail we missed the turn for the easier hike and ended up doing a difficult rock scramble though crevices and steep climbs. I’m sure the rock scramble on this trail is not a problem for experienced hikers, but for us it was a bit harrowing, especially since we were concerned about losing daylight before we made our way back down to the car.
These photos are from my visit to Mount Rushmore, including a drive along the scenic Iron Mountain Road. If you ever visit Mount Rushmore, I highly recommend first driving Iron Mountain Road from south to north. Complete with switchbacks, pigtail bridges, and single lane tunnels, it is a beautiful drive culminating in the final tunnel that frames Mount Rushmore as you drive through it. Along the way there are scenic lookouts, including one in which you can get your first look at Mount Rushmore from a distance across the valley.
As for Mount Rushmore itself, it is more impressive in person than photos would lead you to believe. It was late in the day by the time I got there so I only stayed long enough to take a few pics, though there is a hike around the monument if you have more time.
Click on any photo below to open a gallery.
A good look at the upper torso of Washington, which was never completed. The original intent was to carve all four presidents from head to waist.
My first view of Mount Rushmore in the distance from a scenic lookout on Iron Mountain Road.
Scenic lookout with Mount Rushmore visible in the distance (upper right).
The last tunnel on Iron Mountain Road beautifully frames Mount Rushmore.
The other end of this final tunnel on Iron Mountain Road frames Mount Rushmore.
These photos are from my drive along Needles Highway, a scenic, sometimes treacherous road winding through granite “needle” rock formations in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The road has a number of one-lane tunnels cut through the rock, wherein you have to be careful and make sure nobody is coming from the other direction before driving through them.
Needles Highway was the first leg of a grand loop scenic drive I took through Custer State Park that also included the Wildlife Loop and Iron Mountain Road before ending at Mount Rushmore. If you’re planning a trip to Rushmore, I highly recommend taking this loop if you have the time as the landscape is often spectacular.
Click on any photo below to open a gallery.
Needles Eye Rock
Looks like some sort of beast sitting at the top.
The final tunnel of the route when traveling north to south (single lane like the others).
Needles Eye Tunnel. All of the tunnels on this route are single lane, so you have to be careful when driving through.
I don’t often get to take long exposure shots while on vacation because it involves lugging around a tripod, but this beach was located just outside my cabin on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, so it was a perfect opportunity to set up the tripod and try out the neutral density filter I bought last year. These types of filters enable you to take long exposures during the day without blowing the highlights. I’m still getting the hang of it, but I like the effect here of smoothing the ocean and blurring the clouds while keeping the rocks in focus, almost like a painting.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted regularly, but now that I’ve finally finished culling and processing all of the photos from my Canadian Maritimes road trip (four months later!) I should be ready to resume more frequent posting. This photo is from the aforementioned Canada trip, snapped during my hike along the cliffs of Prince Edward Island. This is one of my favorite photos from the entire trip: a secluded beach, accessible only from the trail, that my wife and I had entirely to ourselves. Although we only spent two of our 12 days in Canada on Prince Edward Island, our visit there was among the most memorable of the entire trip.
For this hike I experimented with a polarizing filter for richer skies and colors. I had never used a filter on my Nikon in years past because I was concerned about putting cheaper glass in front of my good lens, but the photos taken with it turned out pretty well.