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  • Writer's pictureAlyce Bender

Monthly Review: December 2018

It seems this month has both dragged on as well as sped by. While it seems like December 1st was just yesterday, here I sit reviewing the month and going "Wow, that only happened last week? Seems much further in the past than that." Either way, the month is coming to the end as is 2018. With much going on in both, I am going to break them out separately so this will be just December's going ons.

The month started rather unusually as I was off road life and staying in Vegas from Thanksgiving until just a few days ago. Well, kind of. I still managed quite a bit of adventuring even while staying in one spot relatively.

That is the great thing about Vegas and part of why I love it so much. There is so much to do within just a few hour's drive, yet you can have all the creature comforts and opportunities that a big city provides. Not only was my husband able to come home for a visit, but my mom flew out as well. This gave me the perfect opportunity to explore Vegas through playing tour guide.

So a day trip to Death Valley, netted me a few good images. The forecast called for clouds, however, there ended up being a few too many at sunset for my taste as the sun wasn't able to fully color the sky. That being said, it was my first time out there and I already have reservations to camp for several days in February as it is such an amazing location.

Location note: Distances in Death Valley are extreme from almost any other park I have been to. So while yes, you can park right at the edge of Badwater Basin, you still have probably close to a mile of walking before you reach the salt pan shapes. For some reason I had no clue it was such a distance and that is something I usually pick up on from researching places before visiting. Yet, I missed that and, at least on this visit, paid for it by missing the best light. Don't let that happen to you! Plan on getting there 1.5-2 hours before sunset so you can walk out and find a good composition before the sun goes behind the mountains, casting the salt pan into shadow.

When my mom was visiting, we explored several of my favorite local areas: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Valley of Fire State Park. In both of these we did the driving loop and then picked one hike due to the time constraints.

From there, before my husband left, we took a drive to Monterey, California. Now, Monterey is an 8 hour drive from Las Vegas but its pretty highway drive with various landscapes so it wasn't too bad. The trip had a two fold purpose: to scout shooting locations for me and housing locations for us as that is where the government is most likely to send us this coming spring!

Of course, the day we had to explore, its overcast and rained much of the day without any great light. That didn't stop me from finding some of the area's cutest residents and creates I cant wait to photograph more of - seals and sea otters! There are also sea lions, elephant seals, and all sorts of other marine life in the form of whales and dolphins that inhabit the waters in the area. So be prepared for a plethora of pinniped pictures in the coming year!

Now I'm back on the road, starting the New Year in the middle of another adventure in the American Southwest. Watch for updates on Instagram and Facebook with those pictures as they develop.

Until next time, I wish you all a wonderful holiday and a happy new year!

Cheers, A. Bender

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