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National park tips: Don't miss that other Grand Canyon. The one in Yellowstone.

Go ahead and sleep late, mountain-bound photographers (but you'll miss this)

Sleeping late is one of the great pleasures of a vacation -- unless you're a photographer.

If you're a photographer, you have a choice: Sleep late, miss those sunrise colors and spend the day feeling guilty; or get up in the dark, get out in the cold and maybe get a good picture -- if you've chosen a decent location and the weather cooperates.

On this rare morning in Canada's Banff National Park, all the variables lined up: I got up. I got out. I found the beauty spot that locals had recommended (Vermilion Lakes, just outside the town of Banff). And though the wind was bitter cold, the sky complied. So I put the tripod down, pointed at the vast, tilting slab known as Mt. Rundle and snapped. For the whole rest of the day, I felt no guilt. Plenty of fatigue, but no guilt.

You can always count on travel to teach you something -- but what? Travel is the substitute teacher who didn't get the lesson plan, the adjunct lecturer who goes off on Bukowski, the grad assistant who trashes your poetry, then hands out red velvet cupcakes. If only you'd had a clue what was coming, right?

I'm building this gallery from new and old adventures in the West and the world beyond. The photos are all mine. As for the attempted wisdom, it's all dead serious, except for that which isn't. 

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Twitter: @mrcsreynolds

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