Lost Treasure From 2017

Every Which Way 2500

“More gold has been mined from the thoughts of men than has ever been taken from the earth” ~ Napoleon Hill

When I’m out and about exploring interesting and beautiful places with my camera in hand it is not unusual for me to slip into a kind of hypnotic trance and the subjects of my photographs seem to choose me rather than the other way around.  Over the course of a year I can acquire thousands and thousands of Raw images.  As you might imagine I spend hours upon hours scouring through digital files, looking for and developing the creme of the crop while the ones that aren’t quite so obviously great fall through the cracks become forgotten.

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Being the creature of habit that I am, as I become introspective about the year that was each December, I pull that imaginary shoe box full of “negatives” from the top shelf of my imaginary closet and I look through them one more time in hopes of discovering lost treasure.  The images in this post are just a few emerging stars from 2017, all taken in late summer at the Oregon coast.

There is always a specific reason that I click the shutter release when I do but sometimes it takes a second or third cutting to remember why.

Hidden Treasure 2500

Magic Momemt 2500

Gravity 2500

Time For A Re-Boot!

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Yes, the rumors of my demise are grossly exaggerated.  Two months have passed since my last post and I have a lot to share.  A three week, 4000 mile road trip to the Great Northwest consumed my August and September was spent getting back to work in Colorado.  Then without warning I’ve been temporarily sidelined by a condition known as Polymyalgia Rheumatica that brought on so much pain that I couldn’t even lift a camera.  I’m hopefully on the mend now.  A hefty daily dose of Prednisone relieving the symptoms while I await further evaluation and testing.

The thing is, in what seems like the blink of an eye I find myself re-examining my immediate ambitions and goals.    The Mantra above is really a get well card to myself complete with one of my favorite images from the Oregon coast (“Low Tide Long Walk” ~ Cannon Beach).   Little did I know when I shot it that it would become a symbolic reminder that every now and then you have to re-boot.

Monday Mantra ~ #43

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Well I blew it!  For 42 consecutive weeks I managed to post a Mantra each Monday without fail.  This week, I find myself trying to cover my tracks late on a Tuesday evening.  This is the season of travel and photography for me and I have come to realize that this will not be the last time that I’ll miss the deadline.  The good news is I’m going to have some really good work to share in the coming weeks and months.

I’m about to embark on what is becoming an annual sojourn to the great Northwest.  Images of Waterfalls, rainforests, beaches and mountains will soon fill my memory cards.  September and October will likely lead me into the mountains of Colorado to capture fall foliage and when all the leaves have fallen in Colorado I’ll head to the desert in Utah to catch the season’s last gasp.

Have a great week!

 

 

#Monday Mantra ~ Week #3

Freedom FB

Abundance truly is in the eye of the beholder. It isn’t something we can own or possess, it is a mindset of freedom. So I’m standing at the Rim of Schaffer Canyon within Canyonlands National Park and this fully equipped adventure RV pulls up right behind Alexander Supertramp. Big Wheels, three feet of clearance and two motorcycles strapped to the back, this rig was a zombie proof fortress on a Mercedes Chasis. Jealousy reared its ugly head within me. “Where are you from?”, I asked the Man and Woman as they climbed down from the lofty coach. “Germany” he replied with a heavy accent. “Are you going around the world?”, I asked. “Just the America’s, we started with Alaska and are going south to Patagonia” he informed me. We walked over to the viewpoint and looked down at the Shaffer Canyon Switchbacks. “Are you going down there?”, I continued to quiz him. “Not in that” he said, referring to his rig. “Vee vill go on za bikes”. His rig weighed 18000 pounds and he was concerned the the road would not hold.

My envy began to subside. We had driven up the switchbacks the previous day and had never felt so free as I did in the wild Colorado River Basin below. We had driven through an expansive swath of some of the most remote wilderness in the country with everything we needed to make that possible, what more could I want. Sure I admire the German couple and I could see that their abundance was in their freedom, not in their highly cool rig.

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German RV BLOG

Alexander Supertramp And The Great Northwest ~ Final Chapter

Atnarko BLOG

We awoke to the music of the Atnarko River, its rhythm throbbing with life. It’s a wonderful joy to wake up so excited about exploring a beautiful place that you’ve never been before. At first light, I ducked through the small camper doorway and scampered down the steps, Camera in hand and bear spray on my hip. Bears before breakfast? We only had one neighbor in the campground, a couple who we had met the previous evening. They were in a hard sided truck camper and pulled a trailer with a canoe and what looked like every camping gadget imaginable. I had beat them to the punch and I stood all alone on the banks of the river. The low morning sun streamed through the forest, illuminating the mist that hovered the surface of the water and the Salmon that spawned below. All alone, I stood there and marveled at being in one of the worlds most beautiful places without throngs of tourists.

Salmon Run

Salmon Run

Tagging Salmon

Tagging Salmon

During our four day visit to the Bella Coola Valley, we quickly became acquainted with a cast of characters whom we would bump into repeatedly while searching for Grizzlies. In no time at all, we were on a first name basis with the couple I previously mentioned, then there was the young couple from Vancouver and a German Couple who had been there for a week and had not seen a bear. We also got to know the river guides, the forestry agent and few other locals who completed our network and steered us toward places to go and things to see. From everything we gathered, it was determined that we were a week to ten days early for the full swing Salmon feeding season.

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Our Bear Guide, Fraser

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“Root Bear Float”

Ultimately, I didn’t find in Bella Coola what my mind was expecting, it was better. While we didn’t find Grizzlies around every bend but we did have encounters that we will always remember. We had discovered the absolute magnificence of a very remote coastal rainforest that is filled with glaciers, waterfalls and old growth forests. A Valley that rivals Yosemite, Yellowstone or Rocky Mountain National Park, only here you have a highway almost all to yourself. This is one of those places that you just know you will go back to.

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The long, long, long drive home to Colorado took us through Jasper and Banff where the smoke from Washington State Wild Fires was so thick that photography became a waste of time. While not quite as thick, the smoke persisted almost all the way back to Denver. We had been gone for 20 nights and had driven almost exactly 5000 miles. The summer of 2015 will always be remembered as the summer of Alexander Supertramp and the Great Northwest.

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Ft. Mcleod in Southern Alberta

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Smokey Sunset in Southern Alberta

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Sunset over the Bighorn River in Montana

The First Annual Father/Son Photo Expedition

Sagebrush Symphony

Sagebrush Symphony

As you can tell from my posts, I’ve been bitten hard by the photography bug and am having a bit of a challenge keeping up with all the editing. I seriously haven’t forgotten to finish my story about the trip to see Grizzly Bears, I’m just putting it on hold, taking advantage of the season to bank images of Autumn in Colorado. Last weekend, my two grown Sons and myself loaded our gear into the camper and headed out in search of nature’s seasonal grand finale. We didn’t even know where the journey would lead us. We would drive as far west and south as necessary to find ourselves surrounded by peak colors.

Darkness fell just as we reached the summit of Monarch Pass and we pondered camping there for the night until we realized how frigid the air temperature was. Onward we pushed past Gunnison to the shore of Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest body of water. The air temperature was so much more tolerable and we were staged for a night of astral photography. Blue Mesa sits generally in the center of Colorado. Far enough from city lights, and with a low horizon in all directions, the night sky there is stunning. After a quick spaghetti dinner we went to work.

Midnight at Blue Mesa BLOG

Midnight At Blue Mesa

Approaching Storm

Approaching Storm

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Sagebrush Moonrise

Night photography is a genre made ever so much more interesting by the latest camera technology. The newest full sensor cameras have ISO sensitivities that enable the camera to see things in the dark that the human eye cannot see. As we stood on the shore of the lake, dialing in camera settings and experimenting with the low light conditions, a dark mass of lightning producing clouds slowly edged closer to us from the west. To the naked eye, the setting was strangely sirene. In the review monitor of my camera, the setting was ominous. At some point I realized that it had been a while since the last flash of lightning and the big dark blob was now blocking out the stars to the west. The Boys and I deduced simultaneously that we better head back for the camper and we scurried with no time to spare. A wall of water and wind hit the sides of Alexander Supertramp (camper) just as we closed ourselves in. We laughed about our close call and talked about the adventures of the day.

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Mt. Sneffels

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“Colorado Pops”

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“In The Bank”

Michael, Luke and I resumed our quest for colorful leaves first thing in the morning. We drove west to Montrose, still disappointed by the post-peak fall foliage. We wondered if we were too late. Fortunately, not long after turning south once again, we began to notice ribbons and patches of yellow, gold, red and even a lot of green in the San Juan Mountains, we had arrived! Leaf Chasing is a lot like storm chasing. You never really know where you’ll end up. We followed the vivid luminous colors onto a dirt road on the Dallas Divide, climbing slowly but surely to the base of Mt. Sneffels. By the end of the day we had gathered images in the thousands and as the sun was setting, we found a high mountain meadow where we could set up camp.

campsite sunset BLOG

Dinner was incredible. Chopped garden vegetables, potatoes and apple sausage cooked in foil packets on the coals of the campfire. There were lots of smiles and laughs around the fire that night and we talked about making this trip the first of many, a new tradition. As the last light of the day vanished to the west, more stars than you can imagine appeared in the night sky. We doused the fire and went into the camper to get warm, prepare equipment and get bundled up for another night of Photography.

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Luke Skywalker

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moonlight ridge BLOG

I can’t handle the cold like I did when I was younger. I shivered in the October midnight air, even with three coats and a blanket over me. We were actually lucky that we weren’t dealing with snow on the ground, after all we were above 10,000 feet. By the time all was said and done, the first rays of the rising moon were hitting the tips of the mountain range in front of us and as the nocturnal golden hour progressed, the light of the Moon spilled down into the golden aspen forest. We were all snug in bed by 2am.

Sunday would lead us into the picturesque town of Ouray for a hearty breakfast, before making the five hour journey home to Denver.

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Alexander Supertramp And The Great NorthWest – Part 5 ~ The Hill

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The Hill

A person wanting to drive a vehicle to the coastal mountains of Canada has only three choices. We had already tread the well kept pavement of Highway 1 out of Vancouver to the interior and made our way north to Williams Lake. There is also Highway 16, the heavily travelled Yellowhead Highway to Prince Rupert which was a few hundred miles north of us. It was our intention all along to head West on Hwy. 20, the third alternative which would take us to our destination, Bella Coola and Grizzly Bears feeding on Salmon.

The Cariboo Chilcotin Coast is a huge swath of wilderness, perhaps the most remote area I’ve ever travelled to, including Alaska. Highway 20 is called the Freedom Highway, perhaps because if is over 300 miles with very few signs of civilization, or perhaps because a long stretch of it is free from pavement, guardrails, passing room and reasonable inclines. Soon after leaving Williams lake, I learned the hard way that even trying to do 50mph was unwise due to the likelihood of a Deer, Moose or Bear jumping out in front of us. At one point, after a brief distraction of some sort I looked up to see an elk as tall as my hood standing dead center with my trajectory. The loud scream of my locked tires sliding on pavement seemed to last forever and everything moved in slow motion. For an instant that seemed like an eternity, I accepted that our trip had been prematurely ended with the slaughter of a beautiful beast and the demise of Alexander Supertramp, what a bummer. Somehow, some way the giant creature vanished as quickly as he had appeared and we were continuing down the road like it never even happened.

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Nimpo Lake

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Alexander Supertramp at Nimpo Lake

We made it roughly halfway to Bella Coola before dusk and found a campsite at Nimpo Lake where we watched the sunset, ate dinner and went to bed. We went to sleep that night to the calming melody of a loon and the melancholy cry of a real life lone wolf, sounds that don’t exist where we come from. At sunrise, I stood on the shore and took in the beauty of the deep blue lake and the surrounding mountain ranges in the Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. A float plane taxi’d across the lake in the cool morning air then lifted into the azure blue sky for a morning of sightseeing. After a breakfast of instant oatmeal, we lowered the top of our mobile bungalow and headed down the road with a long trail of dust streaming in our wake.

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Tweedsmuir Air

The two thousand foot descent into the Bella Coola Valley is affectionately known as the Hill. Over two thousand miles into our journey and it had all boiled down to a one lane dirt road with 18% grades and spine tingling switchbacks. This section requires one foot on the brake, two hands on the wheel and an earful of advice on how to drive from your spouse. To be fair, I would not have been a happy passenger either. I was glad to be in control. To make matters worse, we had watched a number of youtube videos from “The Hill” and had worked ourselves into somewhat of an unnecessary anticipatory frenzy. Obviously we lived to see another day and I can now say that I drove “The Hill” twice, once down and once up.

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There’s a good reason this pic sucks!

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Switchback

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Freedom Highway

Just like with the Elk, when we arrived at the valley floor the paved highway resumed and it was the Hill never happened. Over the course of the next four days, we would become very familiar with the final twenty mile stretch of highway to the coast as we drove it daily in search of Grizzly Bears. But as we saw it for the first time there was a heightened level of appreciation for the mountains and glaciers and rivers. Before the sun set that first night we stood along the banks of the Atnarko River and waited for our first Bear sighting. Sure enough a 600 lb. Boar was “snorkeling” his way down current toward us and with Bear Spray and my camera in hand, I trembled as clumsily began taking pictures. Grizzly Bears feeding on Salmon..Check. We camped for the night along the River, cozy and warm within the confines of the hard and soft sided Alexander Supertramp. Every now and then the peaceful sound of the river would be interrupted with a ”Shhhhh…did you hear that? what was that?”

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“Who Sees Who?”

submarine blog

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“Power”

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“Atnarko Sunset”

Time Out For Gracie

Tammy and Gracie blog

“Nap Time”

This post was meant to be the next chapter of my chronicle about our recent adventures in British Columbia, however the pause button was hit hard this week. We adopted an Italian Greyhound. At the National Mill Dog Rescue in Colorado Springs, they called her Betsy. Nobody knows what they called her while she was caged for her entire six years of life, regarded as livestock, an asset on which the return was dwindling. She certainly would have been written off the books had NMDR not stepped in.

The moratorium on new pet acquisitions within our family evaporated in the blink of an eye. The last of our four beloved canines passed on (“went to college”) last year and I told my Wife we had to travel 30,000 miles before we brought a new dog home. Lets see, We’ll put last spring’s trip to Guatemala generously at 5000 miles and last months trip to the Northwest at 5000 miles. We made it a third of the way and besides, if Mama ain’t happy!….

When we brought home Betsy, now called Gracie, she was scared to death. In particular, opening and shutting doors, shuffling paper and darkness set her off into a trembling panic. Tammy showed her, perhaps for the first time what it was like to stand in the cool grass on a warm day, to have a bed that was her very own, to accept the soft touch of loving hands in a place that would become home.

If you aren’t familiar with “Iggy’s, you aren’t alone. I’m not sure that I had ever seen one before. She is highly intelligent and curious, watches TV as if the images are real people and she tests the perimeter of all enclosures like a Jurassic Park Raptor. She is lightning quick..”duh.. Greyhound”. They say that if they get loose outside, you may never find them and I believe it. Just trying to get to her to put a leash on can be like trying to corral a wild horse. Once and only once it left me looking and feeling like a Colorado Buffalo Defensive back on a really bad day, I won’t go through that humiliation again. You might also look at an “Iggy” and think that it looks like a baby fawn. Imagine how freaked out I was when I was all alone with her and she started howling like a wolf. I had no idea. Tammy did some reading and is hypothesizing that she has indeed become the alpha for which Gracie will forever howl to find in the future. “Recalculating”.

Three days in and things are looking up. Gracie and our two cats look like they will get along. Gracie is showing some promise of being a travel dog at some point in the future. More than anything, its good to see the smile on Tammy’s face, fulfilled for now with her passion for the animal kingdom.

Goodnight Gracie

Goodnight Gracie