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Photo of The Day: Holiday Warmth of the Sonoran Desert

Camera: Canon 5D | Lens: EF24-105mm | Setting: f/6.3, 30 sec, ISO 1000

You don't have to be all that hardcore to be out in the Sonoran Desert in winter. During the day, the ol' mercury could easily rise to to a steamy 80 degrees. At night though, it's not uncommon for the shiver point to begin around 55 or 54 and bottom out at 35. You'll get just a light frost in the morning. It ought to be a crime.

It has some downsides. Like scorpions and a lot of . . .

One Thing Maps and Apps Can't Do For You

The forest road I picked out while combing the map at the kitchen table a week ahead of time looked like it would take us to a camp spot right above the West Fork of Oak Creek at about 6,700 feet under the pines and junipers. It always amazes me what a map will reveal. This time it showed tight bends and little space between the contour lines. Translate that to an abrupt and likely sublime view of the canyon below, one carved out of polished and peaceful sandstone and trimmed with the dying leaves of oaks and cottonwoods. The otherwise nondescript spot is down a long dirt road that eventually leads to nowhere resembling civilization. Sometimes this is a pretty good thing.

However, as everyone knows, you can't always get what you want. Then again, what is an outdoor adventure without a series of bummers to solve?

Photo of The Day: One Fine Moment Up The Hill From Sedona, Arizona

Camera: Canon 5D | Lens: EF24-105mm | Setting: f/4.5, 1/100, ISO 100

She found the tree with the right branch, but it took some time to find. As you can see, good, strong branches that are close enough to the ground yet far enough from the tree are few. But that's exactly what you need for a proper rope swing. My wife found the one that worked.

I lassoed the branch, tied off the webbing, tied a big figure eight on a bight . . .

Gallery: An Elemental Look into The Depths of Grand Canyon

Last school year, we hosted and became family with a 16-year old girl from Ukraine who wanted nothing more than to see Grand Canyon. I've written about her a few times already, but because this website increasingly gets more readers every day (and we're grateful for it), I feel like I need to preface this properly. Her name is Ania and she lived with us for almost a year (more). Today, Ania attends a university in Lithuania studying English and business. During her spring semester here, she took a guitar class and a photography class. Truthfully, she taught me a lot about photography. And I taught tried to teach her how to rock a C7 chord, but she resisted trimming her fingernails.

Photography class started with the history of image making, so it was weeks before she came home with a pinhole camera and a project to shoot. When the class moved on to 35mm cameras . . .

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