Lens-Artists Photo Challenge – Special Spot Shots

White Tank Mountain Regional Park, Arizona.

For the first photo challenge of 2020, Ann-Christine asks us to share images of a special place. Gee, that’s hard! I’ve done a lot of traveling for Journeys with Johnbo and have come to find there are many special places around this United States, and though I have not been outside of the Western Hemisphere (yet), I know there are many special places waiting for me to visit in the coming new decade.

Ann-Christine writes, “Now we are looking forward to seeing Your very special spot shots – maybe a room in your home, a garden, a mountain, a city, an exhibition, a lovely café…a place that is special to you!” You can read her entire challenge post here.

After some deliberation, I made a list in my mind of places I would return if given the opportunity. Natuwa Wildlife Refuge in Costa Rica for their beautiful Macaws and other wildlife that are temporarily or permanently unable to survive in the wild; Carlsbad Caverns for the otherworldly underground caverns in New Mexico; Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska for views of the shrinking glaciers; these places and many more are fitting destinations for anyone’s bucket list.

A decade ago, getting ready for retirement, we started exploring Arizona and discovered the beauty of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert. After choosing to winter in Buckeye, we explored the nearby desert parks. My wife and I have hiked many miles (for us oldsters, anyway), in the White Tank Mountain Regional Park.

I considered tallying up the miles I’ve hiked in the White Tank  Park, but it wouldn’t be accurate. My first years of hiking went un-logged. Suffice it to say that there is a short section of one trail I haven’t traveled, that due to the fact that it’s in a very difficult area. I’ve tried unsuccessfully several times to make that climb, but it has beaten me every time. In my defense, on the trail map, that section is labeled, “WARNING – Hazardous trail – 1.9 Miles…”Some of the far reaches of the longest trails I haven’t seen as my longest hike in the park is a bit over 9 miles (14.5 km).

I haven’t see the ends of the longest trails as they are not loops. For example, Goat Camp trail is 6.3 miles (10.1 km), double that number to see the entire trail and return to the starting point. So, though I haven’t explored every inch of this beautiful park, I have spent many hours walking or climbing while contemplating the wonderful desert views.

Looking at my Lightroom gallery of images, I have over 500 photographs captured in this desert park. For this challenge, I present a few of my favorite images that were converted to black-and-white for a photo contest that was sponsored by the park. Though I didn’t win first prize, three of my photos were selected for printing on canvas and they now hang in the library at the Nature Center in the park.

Thanks again to Ann-Christine for reminding me that it’s time to go hiking in one of my favorite places in Arizona. It surely is a special spot on this big blue planet.

John Steiner


  1. Great photos John. Even though I dislike deserts…got lost in the Dubai desert for the better part of a day. Quite unnerving so to speak with a broken down Jeep in a dune pan…

    • I can’t imagine being lost in the desert. That would be frightening, to say the least. We are careful to stick to marked trails and have only once wondered off a trail as it meandered through a wash. As a backup, we always have at least one GPS tracker app running on our phones.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. John, these are all gorgeous shots of a special place in your heart and mind. I can see why! Thank you for taking us – I had never heard the name before, but I guess many Americans have. And it makes me happy I sparked the thoughts of new hikes!

    • That name was totally new to me until we came to spend time in Arizona. It is a small range with an interesting history. Thank you for the compliment as well, and thanks for the challenge work you all do for us.

  3. Beautifully done John. I’m sending a link to your post to my brother who spends winters in AZ. Congratulations on having your images selected for hanging in the nature center!

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