The Handwriting Is On The Wall

rock art 2 BLOG

I’ve been to Moab, Utah region many times and have found with each visit that there is always something new to discover. Potash Road, as I found out during our October trip, is a must see and do. Just North of town near the entrance to Arches National Monument, a road crosses and follows the mighty Colorado River. Vertical red rock canyon walls are Mother Nature’s embellishment to a landscape that is an absolute world of art. Slow down and look a little closer and you’ll find that the Native Americans were inspired to follow suit. Rock Art is everywhere and mostly untouched for centuries except here and there where someone felt to compelled to destroy it.

tree tunnel FB

alex rock art BLOG

rock art 9 BLOG

rock art 3 BLOG

If you continue up the road beyond the pavement, you will find yourself skirting a number of tailings ponds, leftover from the cold war era uranium mines. You’ll want to make sure you have a high clearance vehicle, preferably four wheel drive because this is no place to have car problems. I didn’t even want to stop to take pictures for fear that we might start glowing in the dark. We continued on up the road and eventually ended up driving through a real life Hollywood movie set (read my recent post “The Accidental Paparazzi”) before climbing up to the entrance of Canyonlands National Park.

alex pillar BLOG

Mankind leaves an indelible imprint on the land, there is no way around it. Hopefully, we will learn from past mistakes and strive to make our mark on the world one that says we were a caring and respectful people. If we don’t….well, the handwriting is on the wall.

Alexander Supertramp And The Great Northwest – Part 4 ~ Whistler and Beyond

Goodbye Vancouver Island

Goodbye Vancouver Island

We left Vancouver Island on a full ferry, crossed the Straight of Georgia and connected with the Canadian mainland at Horseshoe Bay. Seeing Vancouver was on the trip checklist and we found ourselves on the winding four lane road heading directly into the city. Something didn’t feel right. Really seeing and experiencing Vancouver would require at least on overnight stay. Before we even got a glimpse of the skyline we grabbed an exit and came about back toward what we craved most, to get into the wild.

Hello Vancouver (almost)

Hello Vancouver (almost)

Arriving at Horseshoe Bay

Arriving at Horseshoe Bay

The Sea to Sky Highway followed the shore of the Howe Sound for 28 miles where we found ourselves being drawn into the parking lot of a tourist gondola at Squamish. We were in the land of Fjords and Glaciers and the idea of getting a birds eye view was irresistible. I grew up with Gondolas in the ski town of Vail, Colorado. In fact I was in high school in 1976 on the day that two of the cars fell to the ground. Details of three dead and nine critically injured were broadcast over the school intercom and every since that day I have been cautious about trams. The Sea to Sky Gondola was a good experience. Tammy and I had a car to ourselves on the ride up. We snapped “selfies”, gawked at the scenery and yawned to pop our ears as we quickly gained over 2400 vertical feet. After eating lunch on the observation deck, we strolled across a cable suspension bridge and through the forest, taking in our first up close views of the precipitous and glaciated coastal mountains.

Sea to Sky

Sea to Sky

tam on bridge 4 BLOG

There was a long line at the upper tram terminal for the ride down which we were able to circumvent as the lift attendants were in need of two for a car that was loading. We were kept company by a pair of grim faced women who said nothing the entire ride down and a family of four who I judgmentally guessed could not speak English. It turns out they were from Toronto and as Canadian as maple syrup. When we told them that we had driven from Colorado and we were heading 12 hours north to see Grizzly Bears, they asked “Why do you want to do that, Eh”. All in all, the day was incredible. After all of the tough times we had been through in the previous year, it was good to just feel like we were two kids on a date.

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A couple of hours later, we found ourselves driving through the villages of the Whistler Ski Area, contemplating a place to park for the night. It was interesting to see what Canada’s world class resort looked like, how it felt in comparison to Vail and the large Colorado resorts. It didn’t take much of that however and we found ourselves heading on down the road in search of “The Wild”. We ended up pulling into a rustic campground at sunset, parking Alexander Supertramp next to a picnic table and a river. For the first time on our journey, we had escaped civilization and the masses of humanity, we were finally alone.

Alexander Supertramp in the Wild

Alexander Supertramp in the Wild

“Nocturne”

The Way That You Wander Is The Way That You Choose

"A Perfect Night" oil on canvas 16x20

“I want to see these houses solid, I want them to feel like houses.  I don’t care about your drawings and your values-they are your affair.  They will be good if you make me sense the houses and they will be bad, however “good” they are, if you do not make the houses live.”  ~ Robert Henri

My fascination with log cabins and wilderness adventure surely began somewhere in my pre-teen years, for the first time in my life I searched for something in my identity that made me unique from my parents, sisters and friends.  Yesterday, I found within a box storing the remnants of my sentimental possessions, a book entitled “How To Build And Furnish A Log Cabin” by W. Ben Hunt.  The back cover was missing but otherwise it was in perfect condition, just as it was when I carefully studied it’s pages and dreamed of one day hoofing it into the wilderness and building a cabin of my own with my own two hands.

My romantic inclinations of building a solitary paradise in the wild likely started with the release of the 1969 movie “My Side Of The Mountain””, which was a loose adaptation of the 1959 novel by Jean Craighead George.  In brief, the story was about a Boy who finds inspiration in the words of Henry David Thoreau before running away to the mountains to live off the land, the animals and his journal being his only company.  I’m sure that the part of the story that grabbed my attention was how he built his home, he carved and burned for himself a cavernous sanctuary within the trunk of a giant Hemlock Tree.

And then in my mid teens there was the movie Jeremiah Johnson, my fantasy instantly renewed as Jeremiah put the finishing touches on his log fortress.  With these song lyrics that fire inside of me was rekindled.  “The way that you wander is the way that you choose, the day that you tarry is the day that you lose.  Sunshine or thunder, a man will always wonder.  Where the fair wind blows”.

As it turns out, the fair wind blew me in the direction of starting a family and building a career for the next couple of decades.  Then in my late 30’s, I read the amazing account of the life of Christopher McCandless in John Krakauer’s book “Into The Wild”.  The adventures of Alexander Supertramp and his short lived utopia in “Magic Bus” made me smile from ear to ear and in the end I find that I have personally come to the same conclusion as he, that “Happiness is only real when shared”.

So this is why I am compelled to paint the things that I do.  When I paint subjects that are close to my heart, the process ceases to be just an exercise and it becomes an expression of who I am.  Somehow, painting my adventurous memories and my dreams gives me the best of all worlds.  In this work, I can make my happiness live and I can share that happiness with others.

Not just a book - lost and found

Full Moon Skiing and Oil Painting, A Match Made in Heaven

Stairway to Heaven - alt text

"Stairway to Heaven" oil on canvas 18x24

I have been discovering that my skiing memories are one of my great sources of inspiration for artistic expression.  As a kid growing up in Vail, Colorado, my skiing counterparts and I lived for adventure on the mountain.  Each significant snowfall was like a permission slip from heaven to jump off the school bus at the village and spend the day seeking and jumping off of cornices and cliffs.  For me, it wasn’t like what you see in the Warren Miller Movies, some fearless (or insane) soul cascading down avalanche prone slopes and catching “big air” at break neck speed.    No, I was more cautious.  Each drop was carefully looked over and calculated as I understood that once I took flight, there was no turning back.  In the end I always overcame my fears and took that “leap of faith”.

Thirty years and a couple of surgeries have passed since those days of adventure but I continue to live much as I did back then.  Today, I find myself ready to take another leap of faith as I am about to click the publish button, sending this first blog post into the abyss.  There is a lot that I have yet to learn about what is on the other side of this cliff.  Yea, I’m a bit scared and uncertain and I know that there is no turning back.  But hey, that is what life is all about.  I hope to see you on the other side.  So here goes nothing…and….PUBLISH.