Category Archives: Photographs

Alaska – Meeting our Deck-mates!

May 18th – Day 2 of our adventure!

BC coastline

BC coastline

Robert and I have become comfortably settled on our lounge chairs under the warm solarium heaters and taking in the peaceful and stunning views of the British Columbian coastline. This is the ultimate way to travel to Alaska. Great views, good company and large picnic basket of treats!

AM 18 ferry 10

British Coastline

Last night we began meeting our deck neighbors. They were a unique group of people. We had elderly couples moving to Alaska for retirement, a family of 12 musically talented kids on tour, students, more musicians, adventurous types from New Zealand to France and so forth. Everyone had a story.

 

Under the solarium

Under the solarium

First there was a man named Greg. He set up camp next to us on the first night and immediately began talking about his life, his past adventures and the new adventure he was about to start.  He became a big part of our ferry passage experience. Greg is a great and affable guy. I would love to tell you more about him, but I am saving the next post just for him.

Coastlines

Coastlines

In the café I met our deck mate Bob, a traveling ER Nurse and HAMM radio caller who was one his way to Homer, AK for a three month job assignment. Bob loves his job and is constantly moving about from one city to another working here and there as an ER nurse. He had even spent a year or so living and working in Hawaii while his daughter went to college. I instantly liked Bob. He was a very nice guy and we had many wonderful conversations over the next couple of days on a wide range of topics from travel to social issues. He was helpful enough to tell me all about some RV resources that I might find useful for future road trips and taught me the difference between Star side and Port Side! Which is very handy to know when the captain tells you that there is something of interest on port side to know what the heck port side is!

Oliver and Bob

Oliver and Bob

I also met Oliver, a traveling Frenchman and musician from the Paris area. He took to the family of touring musicians on the deck.  I watched him play his guitar with them a few times. The little boy from the family really liked him and would keep running up to him to show off what he was learning on his instrument. Oliver was really good with him! He also hung out with the girls from New Zealand – I didn’t speak with them much but not from not wanting too. With so many people I just didn’t get to make my way to them. Always missing one another.

Deck tents

Deck tents

We met an older couple who was drunk most of the trip. I don’t remember their names but the older man was a riot! He had a Mohawk with rattail and would repeat every question he asked several times. He talked a lot about his ex wife while his current and younger wife just sat and looked on like she wasn’t hearing anything. Several times he would offer his “Smooth” Brazilian rum. It was as smooth as a cactus plant! The couple was moving to Alaska because it was the man’s goal to return before he was 60 and he was achieving that goal with one day to spare! A few times I told him it was my birthday the day before. Each time he would ask “How old are you”. “34” I would reply and he would always respond “ I have kids older than you”. HAHA He thought Robert and I were a couple, though he would always make it known that it was not any business of his no matter how many times we told him we were only friends. He would ask questions I think just to ask and then forgot he asked them half way through our replies so the cycle would keep going. Must have been that “smooth” rum!  My favorite moment with the old man was when he asked if I met the pastor and I thought he was asking if I had met the bastard! What an awkward moment that was!

 

Coastline

Coastline

Finally there was a young Tlingit youth on hi way home from the lower 48. He was training as a mechanic near Portland, OR. Nice kid. We talked about the totem poles and he answered many questions that I had about how they were created. Impressive stuff, but more on that in a later post!

British Columbia Coastline

British Columbia Coastline

The passage today was good. We did have an hour or two in open water – thank goodness I wasn’t hung over. I don’t know how the Mr Mohawk with the “smooth” Brazilian rum fared in this portion of the trip. I was sober and not enjoying the rocking of the ship. I had to stay in the center of the ship and focus my mind on something other than the rocky movements to keep myself from getting seasick.  It was a short span and then the ship was back in the calmer more narrow channels of water.

 

Later in the day I actually saw whales off in the distance. I tried to tell people but everyone on the deck just looked at me and smiled like I was crazy or speaking in tongues. I don’t know, perhaps I was… There were whales in the distance, Killer whales in fact, but then the young boy from the musical family came over to correct me, actually he schooled me, about the whales not being whales. He said they were actually dolphins. I laughed and knowing not to argue with a 10 year old since they are usually smarter than the rest of us, I said “oh well, I am not from a sea area”. His responded “ well, I am from Minnesota”.  HA! Okay kid, point taken!

A few days later I learned from Bob that Killer Whales are not whales and they are actually a type of dolphin. Perhaps its time to change their names?

Robert

Robert

AM 18 ferry 4

Rocky Spruce Islands

Coastlines

Coastlines

AM 18 ferry 6

Evening

Am 18 ship 6

View of Solarium

 

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Simon

This was our Simon. My sweet loving “piglet” as I liked to call him.

About a week ago our family had to make the hard decision to put him to sleep. He was 15 years old, covered in cancerous tumors and having seizures. We know it was for the best, but never is it easy to say goodbye to a member of the family. His portrait, a gift for my mom, was one of the first I painted after years and years of not painting anything. I nicknamed him the Piglet because my mom kept him well fed and when he would run his white fur would become a brilliant pink from the exercise. My folks nicknamed him The Prince, because he did what he wanted in his last few years, house rules be damned!  If there was a spot on the couch it was his, if there was a need for a ‘cookie’ he got it, and if he wanted to get up at 2 am to go outside and enjoy his ‘domain’ from the porch he did.

Simon was a great dog. He was pit bull that was so naturally friendly and sweet he manage to change many people’s views about pit bulls. In his entire life there was maybe 3 people he did not like near his family, but everyone else was okay especially if they had a ‘cookie’ for him or just gave him attention. He loved his toys. His favorite was popped basketballs and a ginormous bone that he would run around the house with trying to temp my dad to play “where’s your bone”. He was great with kids, mostly because he learned early that kids are more generous with their food than us stingy adults. And he could clear the house with his endless supply of farts.. Oh My Lord could he shamelessly clear a house. He hated thunderstorms and fireworks, poor thing would shake like a leaf and cry. He often told on my nieces or our other dog, Maggie, when they did something wrong and he knew it! lol he was such a hall monitor. And because I would never give into his begging for my food he switched tactics and would look at my mom with his “I’m hungry mom and she won’t share” look while standing in front of me. Never worked but he did it every time. He was great dog.

He was the cutest little puppy and an important member of our family for for 15 years. We will miss you always, Simon, farts and all.

Simon

Simon 9×12 acrylic on canvas board

simon

Simon circa 2006

Simon and the ball

Simon and his Ball, 2011

Simon snuggling up on the couch Christmas of 2012


Mt St Helens National Volcano Monument

Work has taken me out to the West coast. While I was visiting the West my sweet loving nieces, having learned that I was only a hop, skip and jump away from Mt St Helen’s National Volcano Monument, requested that I go and take some photos for them. This was the first time either of my nieces have made a specific travel related request – besides “can you wait for us before going to Australia?” –  and in the spirit of supporting their own desires to travel and see the world I made and kept my promise.

Silver lake

Silver lake

The day started out as foggy and grey as any late Autumn day in the Pacific Northwest. In the morning, when I peered out the hotel window, my heart dropped and hopes of fantastic views quickly diminish; but I am stubborn and was determined to go for the sake of keeping a special promise.

This was my second attempt, the first was unsuccessful due to foggy damp weather and my father not knowing where to go. For my more successful attempt I took the Northern route, Rt 504. I was still unsure about the quality of views, but I knew that my nieces were counting on me and I reminded myself several times that I had NOTHING else to do. Views or not, this was much better than spending another day in the hotel room with nowhere to walk.

Feet!

Self portrait with Mt St Helen’s

In hindsight I should have just driven all the way to the Johnston Ridge Observatory, but I couldn’t help myself and stopped several times at several visitor centers along the way. Most of the centers, including the Johnston Ridge Observatory, were closed this late in the season; but I still found the informative plaques to be engaging.

St Helens VIII

Ridge trail

With each mile the sky and views became clearer and more stunning. At one point the scenery was too amazing for me not to pull over into the viewpoint pullout to take some photographs. It was here I met a lovely couple, the Schindlers, who had forgotten their camera at home and none of us could figure out how to work his camera phone. They had decided to get out of the house and have a little adventure of their own. I didn’t want them to leave the national monument without any photos, especially since the grayness from earlier had passed and the view was spectacular. The Schindlers wrote an email address down for me and Mrs Schindler gave me a warm hug before we parted ways.

SH XXI

Prior to reaching the J.R Observatory I turned onto a road to view Coldwater lake – one of the lakes formed by the 1980 eruption. I quickly found the trail that eventually led to a boardwalk walkway over the lake. The view was of course gorgeous. The water was smooth and clear as ice. Fortunately for me there were plenty of benches to perch myself and take in the landscape. I met another individual who once worked for the National Forrest Service and lived nearby when the 1980 eruption occur. We talked briefly about the eruption and how the Coldwater lake was formed and took about six years to transform from a murky muddy mess into the clean and peaceful body of water before me.

coldwater lake

Coldwater Lake

Finally, I set out for the final Observatory. As I am pulling out of the parking lot I see the Schindlers flagging me down. They wanted to warn me about the snow on the road and to be careful. So sweet! The road was not that bad, not for my car with brand new tires and 4WD. I was surprise to see so many people at the observatory. There didn’t seem to be as many on the road today. The air was colder than it was just a few miles away at the lake. The landscape was incredible! I am not sure, but I think I was maybe 3.5 straight miles away from Mt. St. Helen’s.

Shadow

Shadow fun on the ridge trail

I was told by many that Mt St Helen’s was amazing, I expected it to be “pretty” and “cool”, but this was beyond my imagination. I saw a paved walkway that went up to a higher viewpoint. so up I went. From there I noticed the walkway continued and became a dirt path. I continued following. Eventually I left the Observatory behind with its crowd of visitors and was walking along the mountain ridge with Mt St Helen’s on my right. I couldn’t stop myself, not yet at least. I must have walked about three miles out before I had to force myself to turn around. The sun was 45 minutes from setting and I didn’t have a flashlight with me to help navigate the trail at night, though I don’t think it would have been difficult.

St Helens Night

When I made it back to the observatory I noticed my phone had bars and that I could call my sister and speak with my nieces. I spoke with them as the sun went down, telling them about my day and making more promises to take them on adventures when they are older. My one niece asked “when I am, like 22, maybe I can call you and we could go some place. Can I?” . I assured them that they can ALWAYS call me and that we will go many places in the future. Love those sweet girls.

Night View

Night view

St Helens IX


The Badlands, South Dakota

Last week while I was driving West from a wind farm near Sioux Falls, South Dakota to the Washington coast for our next job, I passed by the Badlands for the first time in years.

The Badlands, located in Western South Dakota along I-90, are one of the most colorful and beautiful natural spaces in the American States. It took me two attempts to see this wonderful place the last time and it was painful to not have the time to stop for another visit this time around. You can briefly glimpse some of the eroded buttes from the interstate, but will not see enough to satisfy a craving.

Feeling a bit nostalgic about my earlier trip to the Badlands, and suddenly realizing that many of my photos from that visit are probably gone thanks to a cruel hard drive failure over two years ago, I decided to go through every photo file I had backed up and eventually through my Google Picasa account. Thankfully Picasa had a copy of every photo that I had posted on a former  blog of mine. Though I didn’t post everything, but I did post a few images and looking through those precious few I could feel myself back in the national park. It was a bright sunny day, the park had plenty of visitors but not too many, and I was in awe of everything that I saw.

While taking in the view from above there was a golden eagle, my first, soaring above the landscape. There were these giant silvery poofs that looked like prehistoric dandelions  all over the park. And of course there was the magnificent display of color in the rock formations from the various type of rock material packed together in tight layers. Each layer representing a different time in the long geological history of the region.

If you should ever go to this wonderland then you must go when the weather is lovely and the sky is blue to really appreciate the color. This is not a visit for bleak grey days. Its also a perfect place to bring a portable watercolor set.

 


Idaho Sunrise

On my way West to Washington for work and we stopped in Montpelier, Idaho for the night and I had a wonderful house adventure for my Rural Decay blog. Early the next morning I took this photo from the parking lot of the truck stop. There is hardly ever a bad view in the open West and the sunrises are extra gorgeous!


Memphis Portraits

Earlier today I was looking through some old photo albums on my desktop, happily remembering a trip taken to Memphis,TN during the Summer of 2008 with a former boyfriend, when I came across a few favorites images, those that had survived a 2010 hard drive crash – two are now hanging in a local library on display for the public. At the time of this trip I was madly in love and eager to show my then ‘new’ beau off to my dearest friends and share with him one of my favorite American Cities, a city that I once called home.

I had graduated from Memphis College of Art (MCA) in 2003 and can honestly say that my 3 years in Memphis were some of the best in my life, they inspired me to be the artist that I am today. Many people had warned me about the dangers of moving to Memphis, its often  tumultuous history leaves it with somewhat less than desirable reputation amongst some who thought that I was a naive mark; but I didn’t care. I visited the Mid Southern city years earlier and loved its energy. When I was looking to transfer to a different college I was thrilled to learn that Memphis had its own Art College and the rest is history.

I am always excited to visit my old stomping grounds and during this particular 2008 trip I took my former partner all over Memphis. Exposed him to Beale street, Graceland, art museums, rode the Main Street Trolley, ate some local fare – well he did, I’m the vegetarian and Memphis is definitely not known as the Veggie capital – and spent a memorable evening listening to some genuine juke joint blues.

These images below were my favorites because they were passing strangers, individuals that left an imprint and in their own way define the essence of an adventure. Contact is sometimes minimal but the impact is always strong and memorable.

The bartender at the juke joint, serving from a simple menu and enjoying the best perk of his job, the music.

The Blues Musician, playing his heart and soul out to a packed  and energetic joint.

Mike, a transient man passing through Memphis. when I spoke to him he was unsure where he intended to go

The Trolley Man. He was very much focused on his job.


Monument Rocks, Kansas

Monument Rocks (aka Chalk Pyramids) is a National Natural Landmark and is also listed as one of the 8 wonders of Kansas. The chalk formations are about  70 ft tall and estimated to be close to 80 million years old.

They are located along a dirt road that comes off of highway 83 about 25 miles south of Oakley, Kansas. Anyone interested in checking them out only has to look for a large visible sign pointing to the 6 mile dirt road that will lead them west to the landmark. The rock formations can be seen from the highway, so you will know that you are heading in the right direction should you venture down the narrow dirt road.  I strongly advise not going during or just after a rainstorm. The dirt road is not flat even drive, there are a few very deep dips that are prone to flooding. Also watch out for cattle.

The Monument Rocks are on private property and the land owners keep the landmark open to visitors with the expectation that visitors remain respectful and considerate during their visit. The surrounding land is used for cattle grazing, you will see evidence of their passing around the rocks.

The rocks were really very beautiful to explore! I was fortunate that I caught it at the time that I did with the stormy sky in the distance and few visitors to get in the way of a photograph. The whole region was once a apart of a prehistoric inland sea and these rocks are the most visible evidence of that sea, imagine what lays beneath the ground under layers and layers of soil!