Tag Archives: America

Belated Family Holidays and Island Dreams!

Island Dreams - Acrylic 2014

Island Dreams – Acrylic 2014

Hope everyone has recovered from the festive season! For me its been a busy month or so. I have been working a lot in the central states – which is good for future travel plans later in the year – but sadly I am missing some great family moments back home, like the Palecek Family After Holiday Holiday Party.  This year, because my family is large and growing, we decided to do a secret santa. I loved it! The holidays are expensive, I hate giving bad gifts and having to thoughtfully think about what to get twenty plus people will no doubt result in a bad gift.  This way I can focus my energy on the one person and make something wonderful for them.

ISland Dreams - detail - 2014

ISland Dreams – detail – 2014

I pulled my cousin Traci’s name from the drawing and my mind went completely blank, at first. What the heck am I gonna get for her?!? I love love love my cousin, but we have completely different taste on almost everything and she has all sorts of allergies and sensitivities to variety of materials that most people would not think about. Finally I decided that I would paint something for her. She bought her first house last year and the walls are still barren. I know she loves Hawaii, she visited years ago and dreams of returning someday soon. I didn’t paint her an actual landscape that could be found in Hawaii, but I created a simple island composition inspired by the millions of hawaiian beach landscapes photos I found on the internet.

ISland Dreams - detail - 2014

ISland Dreams – detail – 2014

I finished the painting in about 10 days. I would have liked to have spent more time working on the details but I needed to get the painting completed in time to ship back to New Jersey for the family party today!  Work has been busy and thus making it difficult to paint as much as I would like to, I was actually one of the few people thankful for the arctic freeze this week because it allowed me the time off from work to sit in my hotel room and paint.

Painting process

Painting process

Shipping the piece was an even bigger adventure! First I tried the post office, but the canvas was an odd oversize item that would not fit any of the packages they had available. I thought I would be allowed to create a box from materials, but learned that everything that I would need to do to ship this painting was considered a felony by the USPS. I couldn’t even use liquor boxes to make a box!! Next was Fed Ex in the local office max. They too did not have the box size I needed, but they at least had materials for me to create a very ugly burrito style box loaded with packing tape on either end. People shopping for office supplies would walk by and LAUGH at me. To be honest  I was laughing with them too! It was a pathetic looking box. I am sure I would have done better if I was allowed to use box cutters, but that was against store rules. I left actually worried that the package would not pass some kind of shipping code and get lost in the labyrinth of fed ex shipping trails.

Ugly box!

Ugly box!

Traci got the painting today – Thank you Fed Ex for not being suspicious of the ugly box and delivering it – and she loved it! Relief! But lets be honest, is anyone really ever going to tell their cousin that a painting they worked on just for them and their personal taste  that the painting sucks? 🙂

 

If you like what you see please visit my Etsy Shop PaleChick Studios!

Painting Process

Painting Process

Painting Process

Painting Process

Initial sketch

Initial sketch

 

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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

 


Alaska, The Beginning

Alaska sign

Traveling to Alaska was one of the most epic adventures I have ever tackled. It took me over a year to plan a month long  trip and was originally meant to be myself with three other people in a rented car tramping freely around the state. I can’t even give a number to how many times a route had to be changed or someone would drop out or to come to realization that one of my bucket list stops was not going to be possible during this trip. There were moments when I swore that I was never going to figure out the Alaska Marine Highway schedule – tip: skip the website and call the AMHS office!

AM 17 ferry shadow

My shadow!

In the end it was simply me, my friend Robert, my xterra – Teddy the Bean – and Alaska, my 49th state. It was perfect and better than planned!

the ferry

The columbia

The epic adventure began with a three thousand mile cross country trip from hometown, New Jersey to Seattle, Washington. Five days driving west, admiring the changing landscape, two mini Montana adventures and three friendly hitchhikers before arriving in Seattle to pick up Robert who was flying in from Florida. The first thing Robert said to me when I picked him up was “I hope you are prepared for this, I’m not!” That was when I knew that we were going to have a memorable adventure.

Robert

We made our way from Seattle to Bellingham – the I-5 bridge collapsed a few days after we crossed over it, scary – and spent a day collecting all the camping gear that we both procrastinated to purchase. Our plan was to board the ferry at the Bellingham terminal and enjoy three days of scenic views as we make our way to Juneau. Robert and I both thought it would be better and cheaper to camp under the solarium with other more adventurous travelers and it was the best idea!

Sunset 2

I first met Robert at a 2010 Travbuddy Iceland meet-up in Reykjavik. At the time I didn’t get much of a chance to get to know him, it was a large and rowdy meet up; but I instantly thought he was a really cool guy who clearly knew how to have some fun. He was the first person to accept my invitation to drive to and around Alaska and the only person who stayed when everyone else dropped out. Standing on the 8th deck with Robert and the rest of the solarium campers I knew that it was a blessing that everyone else dropped out. Not because the trip would be less amazing with the others, but I came to realize something that I had missed during past road trips with larger number of people. I realized that traveling with a larger group almost and unintentionally cuts you off from everyone else around you. Robert and I were able to mingle more with locals and other travelers because it was only two of us. We were more approachable and had more time to approach others. Additional people and then we might not have been quite as social. Not rudely anti-social, just more content with our group and maybe less aware of those around us. A smaller group allowed the freedom to make connections outside the group.

AM 17 solarium

The solarium

Robert and I met many new people on the ship, but I will save that for the next post.

 

AMH 17 ferry 1

The coast.

 

Bellingham 2

Bellingham terminal

AM 17 ferry sunset 3

AM 17 ferry sunset 1


Painting an Alaskan Postcard

I am still not prepared to post about my magnificent trip to Alaska this past Spring. There are so many notes to look through and photos that still to be work on, but I did come across one of the postcards I painted while aboard the Columbia on the Alaskan Marine Highway that I wanted to share.

Alaska by the Ferry

I painted a few postcards while on the ship, but, before I was smart enough to photograph any of them, fellow passengers took a genuine liking to my work and asked if they could buy them. Feeling a bit generous I opt to give them away for free. Originally I had planned to paint my own postcards throughout the trip and mail them home to friends and family, but there was so much going on that I never actually found the time to stop, sit and paint as I had fantasized. It was a lot of work to keep up with my travel journal on a daily basis, let alone paint the landscape. When my fellow passengers sincerely wanted to mail my Alaskan landscape watercolor sketches to their family I was more than happy to just give them the postcard. I did, however, get some good conversation in exchange and a reason beyond my personal enjoyment to paint some more.

One of my recipients was a young girl about the age of 13. She came from a large family of twleve kids and they would travel the country singing bluegrassy hymns at various fairs across the states. Her birthday was our final day on the ferry so I gave her not only a postcard I painted but a book of blank postcards for her to paint as well.

Another recipient was a woman from a group of people who came up to enjoy our 8th deck scenery. She was a bit intoxicated but affable. She and I had a enjoyable conversation about Alaska’s scenery and what we will miss most about the great state. She had forgotten to buy postcards for her family and wanted to mail mine if I would sell it to her. The idea of my artwork traveling through the mail was good enough for me!

The final recipient was a guy that I had a bit of a crush on through out the ferry passage. It took me several days to finally muster up the courage to speak with him and I had the brilliant idea of giving him my favorite postcard with my contact info on it.. too forward?? lol I hope not. no word from him yet, but who knows.

I don’t remember where the ship exactly was when I sketched this scene. I am suspecting, judging by the bright yellowing sunset, that we were between Juneau and Ketchikan when the days were still incredibly long. I sat on the 8th deck of the Columbia, admiring the passing mountains and islands covered with evergreens, felt inspired by the brilliant colors and jovial mood of the deck. It was a challenge to sit and paint with the wind whipping around. A few times I had to chase after my little paper cup of water before it blew into the water.

Part of my trip was to meet people and these little postcards did wonders in that category! Next time I make it to Alaska I will def make the time to stop, sit and paint. 🙂


Woman Artist: Hong Chun Zhang

HONG CHUN ZHANG  – Chinese American Painter/Drawer

Hong Chun Zhang was born in the Shenyang, China and currently resides in Kansas. Zhang grew up within an artistic family. Both of her parents were art professors and her two sisters are also successful artists. Zhang began her artistic studies with her twin sister, Bo, at a young age and both girls attended the high school attached to the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing. In 1996 Zhang moved to the United States to continue her education at the University of California in Davis, CA. She has remained in the United States ever since.

 

Zhang’s work often focuses on cultural identity and the connections she shares with her family. Her influences stem from her own experiences growing up in China, her family and her current home in the United States. In interviews she discusses the differences between working as an artist in China and in the United States. In China Zhang was exposed to cultural and traditional artistic techniques as a part of her artistic training, but in the United States she is less confined in her artistic subjects and concepts as well as access to materials not readily available in China. Through her work she finds ways to connect her dual cultural experiences that

Twins

Two thought provoking series, “Three Generations” and “The Long Hair”, has been bringing her plenty of recent attention and success in the art world.

The long Hair” series are divided into two categories. One is a series of beautiful and impeccable charcoal drawings of long gorgeous black hair. The drawings are larger than life in size and the image of hair very appealing. The drawings are hair portraits of Zhang and of her sisters. The drawings represent the connection between hair and culture, between her and her sisters, and the beauty of long hair. From a distance they appear to be photographic it is not until you come closer that you can appreciate and see the charming detail of charcoal. The images are drawn on large paper scroll, another connection to her creative heritage.

 

The other category of the “Long Hair” series focuses more on the repulsive side of hair, another cultural connection we have with hair, with a bit a sense of humor. Hair is seen as being beautiful when it is clean and existing only where we want it to. When an individual comes across a strand of hair in his or her food, clogging a sink, or on the floor it becomes something that is repulsive and unappealing.

In an interview with Leslie VonHolton, Zhang explains how she wanted to address the dual perspective and cultural connection with hair

“Somebody with long hair is beautiful, but when you see hair in your food or in your sink, it becomes very gross,” Zhang explained. “I wanted to address the repulsive aspect of hair. I also wanted the subtle surrealism and humor.”

 – Hong Chun Zhang

 

Grandmother’s cage

With the portrait series titled “Three Generations” Zhang focuses her attention on the connections with her mother and with her grandmother. The portraits depict the individual and generational connection each of the women have with their Chinese culture.  Zhang’s Grandmother is completely confined inside the birdcage with her feet bound, while her mother has a little more freedom but still limited by the mid century communist party. Zhang depicts herself outside the cage with a considerable amount of freedom compared to the first two generations, but still limited by present day ‘one child’ regulations.

 

What I love about Zhang’s work is how she balances the thoughtful perspective and ‘connection’ behind her work with some sense of humor and plenty of elegance. I came across her work not too long ago and she is already one of my favorite contemporary artists.

for more information please visit the links below:

Hong Chun Zhang – Zhang’s personal website. See more of her work.

B. Sakata Garo – Article about the Zhang sisters

Lawrence.com – Article by Leslie VonHolton

La Grange – University paper


Woman Artist: Mary Jackson and the Sweet Grass Basketry

Mary Jackson – African-American Sweet basketmaker (B.1945)

and Sweet Grass Baskets from the Low Country.

The history and tradition of sweet grass basketry dates back to the 17th century when enslaved West Africans were brought over to South Carolina to cultivate rice in the low country.

Originally the task of making the baskets were completed by the men and the baskets served two important purposes. The first being purely functional in helping with household chores and rice harvesting. The second purpose was a cultural connection to their ancestral homes across the Atlantic Ocean.

It was not until after the Civil War when the traditional roles of basket making switched from men to women. Since then the women have continually taught the craft from one generation onto the next. It takes a lot of time, patience and creativity to make a single basket. There are no patterns or many, if any, ‘how to’ books; and most basket makers today have a difficult time in explaining the full process. It’s a tradition that one grows up with, learning the skill from a very young age from the elders in the community. Currently the state of South Carolina has gone to great lengths to preserve the heritage of basket making in the low country and there is a community push to preserve the land and marshes where most of the grasses grow from commercial overdevelopment.

 

In the beginning the grasses used for the basket making was Bulrush and Palm, very similar to what the early displaced Africans were familiar with from their homeland. With changing purpose of the baskets from purely functional to more decorative and cultural objects for selling to tourists, Sweet grass became a more popular choice of grass to use as the primary material with other natural grasses for visual and decorative contrast. The sweet grass is cultivated from local swamps and marshes by the family and the finish products are sold from makeshift stands along Rt 17 – also known as Sweet Grass basket highway- in Mt Pleasant, SC.

 

The first of these basket stands was established in 1916 and since the 1930’s they have become a standard stop for tourists visiting the low country and wanting a piece of the local culture to take home with them. I am one of those “tourists” and since 2006 have been the proud owner of my own little basket. I was very curious about the stands and the women making the baskets as their husbands ran the stands and register. I love my little basket and it currently sits on my dresser holding my favorite bracelets.

Mary Jackson

Today of the most notable contemporary basket maker and recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts National Heritage Award, among many other awards, would be Mary Jackson.

Jackson was born in Mt Pleasant, SC – a community near Charleston- and is a descendant of the Gullah community. Despite the long tradition of basket making in her family and community, she did not begin creating her baskets until she was an adult in the early 1970’s and selling them in the 1980’s. Today she is a very accomplished sweet grass basket maker and her craft has become a full family affair with her making the baskets, her daughter working as an administrator for the family business and her husband and son gathering the grasses. Jackson has exhibited her work in museums across the country and is a cofounder of the Mount Pleasant Sweet Grass Basket Makers Association.

Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson is also an activist in preserving the lands where the grasses grow.Presently there is always a fear that overdevelopment of the land for commercial purposes. The grasses are native, but like other species, they are only able to grow in specific areas. The basket maker’s tradition and livelihood depends solely on the ability of gathering their grasses. If the land is not properly preserve we as a nation will loose a piece of heritage.

Mary Jackson

Please visit the below links to learn more about Mary Jackson and the Sweet grass tradition.

Mary Jackson Sites:

Craft in America – Wonderful Vid of Mary Jackson discussing the history of a Fanning basket and her new twist the an old favorite.

National Endowment for the Arts – Interview with Mary Jackson

Washington Post  – Article

Sweet Basket making Sites:

African American Charleston – Local history

Simply Baskets – History

Savannah Now – Article on the currents threat to Basket makers

Sweet Grass History – paper on the history and constraints to industry growth

Mount Pleasant  – More history.

Winnowing Hands


Woman Artist: Maria Martinez

Maria Martinez – Native American pottery maker (1887?-1980)

Maria Martinez, born Maria Antonia Montoya, of the San Ildefonso Pueblo, just outside of Santa Fe, NM, can be thanked for her successful efforts in reintroducing the craft of pottery to her people both as a means of creative expression and culture preservation.

Maria and Julian

The craft of Pottery making was fading away by the time Martinez was a young child. Women of the pueblo no longer needed to make functional pottery for their families because they had access to cheap tins and enamelware. Despite the waning popularity in the craft Martinez still loved to watch her aunt make pottery and over time developed a local reputation for her skills in pottery making the.

 

In 1908 the discovery of some ancient pottery pieces were found at an excavation site close to San Ildefonso Pueblo. Archeologist and museum director, Dr Edgar Lee Hewett, looking to commission some replicas of the ancient pottery pieces, asked Martinez for her expertise in reproducing similar pieces for his museum.

From the collection of the McNay House

From the collection of the McNay House

From this request began a husband wife collaboration that would last a lifetime. According to the Pueblo tradition Maria Martinez, the wife, would collect her materials, form the vessels and fire the clay. While her husband, Julian, would paint the vessels. The Martinezs were not the first in the region to create the popular black stoneware, but they did invent a technique of their own that would allow them to have both matt and glossy black finishes on the pottery. This new style would make them famous around the world and would grow into a strong family business.

Maria and Julian Martinez collaborated together until Julian’s death in 1948. Afterwards Maria worked closely with her son and daughter-in-law to continue the family business. Her Daughter-in-lay would help with the painting and firing of the pottery while her son would work on selling and marketing his mother’s work. Throughout her career Martinez would graciously share her knowledge with anyone wanting to learn and loved to talk with visitors.

From the Denver Art Museum

From the Denver Art Museum

Martinez passed away in 1980 and today her work can be seen in museums around the world.  I was fortunate to have seen her work first hand at least twice to my knowledge. Once in the Denver Art Museum and another time in the McNay house in San Antonio, TX.

You can learn more about Maria Martinez via her official website.

 

Please watch this YouTube vid of Maria martinez at work


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!