Coming or Going?



Coming or Going?

So, we’re all standing around in the evening near South Pond in Bosque del Apache NWR waiting for the Sand Cranes to return from whence they departed earlier in the day – way earlier!

We waited. And waited. And waited. But instead of the thousands that had taken off earlier, we had tens trickling back in. And then the train came by.



The sun set. The moon rose. And a few of the cranes graced the horizon


The Bridge

While I was in the process of preparing the trip plan for the journey East I received an email flyer from the University of New Mexico’s Taos Summer Writers Group. I’ve attended twice in past and once on the email list, forever on the email list. My last visit was in 2009 and even though I’ve examined the annual offerings since then it’s never quite fit my schedule.

This year proved different. I noticed that the way my plan was working out I’d be quite near Taos about the time the conference was in session. My schedule is easily modified so I scanned, the classes and workshops to see what might be of interest. I quickly determined that I’d not have time for a full week session so I concentrated on the weekend workshops. One, Travel Writing, facilitated by Stephen Benz, seemed a natural. I travel. I write (well, sort of) and I illustrate and I do most of this in this blog. This looked like a good reason to revisit Taos, the Conference, to reconnect with my friends Linda and Dan and to learn a little more about what I think I’m doing with the words I throw ’round. It had been an excellent adventure the two previous visits so why not?

I signed up.

Upon arrival I was amazed at how familiar the surroundings were. The face of Taos itself has changed since 2009 – there was no casino at the Taos Pueblo then and there are several new chain stores as well as a few new motels scattered here and there – but the Sage Brush Inn, where the conference is situated, and the conference area itself,  where the meetings and such are held, doesn’t seem to have changed by so much as a single slap of adobe mud.


To meander across desert and mountain for a thousand miles or so and arrive at a place that feels like coming home  – for a few days anyway – is all quite comforting to me. I’m beginning to get the same feeling recently when I see various photographic scenes from parks and cities around the country. In many cases  I have my version or a slight variation of those images. It always invokes comparison of course, but it also generates a degree of belonging with the area and inspires kinship with the unknown photographer.

Driving into town on Friday afternoon in a heavy rainstorm I crossed the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. It has been on my list of things to shoot ever since I laid eyes on it during my first visit in 2008. The concept was reinforced when I saw a shot of the Bridge that had been taken by well-known Canadian photographer, David du Chemin. I had scouted the thing in ’08 but last night decided to go back and check a bit further. Much to my chagrin I found that the Gorge near the Bridge now surrounded by high fencing topped with barbed wire. There is some construction underway but not nearly enough to call for these barriers. Nonetheless it seemed no way I was going to get what I came for. I do not care to do battle with barbed wire – and possibly the local constable.

The shot you see here was taken with my iPhone from the southeast side of the Gorge. The shot I need is from here but down the side of the Gorge about 150 feet. When I scouted in 2008 there were trails that would have taken me there. But with a fence in between….


There are lots of images around the country to capture so the Bridge is not sine qua non to a complete portfolio; but I want that shot. During lunch this afternoon I was speaking with Keith and Eva who live locally and they suggested a number of alternative approaches to climbing fences. One was to raft or kayak down to the Bridge another to drive south to a road that they know is hard by the Gorge and then hike back up to it. Keith also mentioned something about rappelling but I’m not really into extreme photography. Sounds like something my son would try (and think nothing of).

I’ll have to develop Plan B because I do not have time now to hang around and follow-up on the suggestions, most of which sound quite doable. But one thing for sure: I am not writing the shot off. I’ll be back.


Eastbound and Down

I arrived in Los Angeles late last October with the idea of spending a few weeks before heading south to Baja for the winter and then working my way back east and home to Virginia. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. And I’ve been in LA ever since. I’ve yet to change my voting registration and driver’s license but I’ve come to think of this beautiful place as home. For a died-in-the-wool Virginian that’s hard to believe – but it is what it is. Still, there are places back east I need to be in the near future – principally my daughter’s wedding in September – and people scattered between here and there I need to see so next week after dawdling lo these many months in the SoCal sun I begin the long trek eastward.

One of my projects, not that I’m burdened with many, is to visit and photograph each of our National Parks at least once. There are 59 all told and so far I’ve taken in 27. Nine of those by the way are in California, the state which is home to the largest number of national parks. The trip back will consume 37 days primarily because I intend visiting a few more along the way. Eleven in fact. This project gets tougher as the number increases simply because at some point it’s no longer possible to drive to my destination: there are parks in America Samoa, the Virgin Islands and Hawaii. And eight in Alaska!

I’ll figure it out.

For now I thought I’d share the itinerary in word and image:


  1. 10 July                       Depart Los Angeles, CA
  2. 10 – 12                       Mono Lake, CA
  3. 12                               South Lake Tahoe, CA
  4. 13                               Ely, NV – Layover Point
  5. 14                               Great Basin NP, Baker, NV
  6. 14 – 16                        Capitol Reef NP, Torrey, UT
  7. 16                               Natural Bridges National Monument, UT
  8. 16 – 17                        Blanding, UT – Layover Point
  9. 17                               Hovenweep National Monument, UT
  10. 17 – 18                        Mesa Verde NP, Cortez, CO
  11. 18 – 19                        Heron Lake State Park, NM
  12. 19 – 22                        Taos, NM – Summer Writer’s Conference
  13. 22 – 23                        Great Sand Dunes National Park, Alamosa, CO
  14. 23 – 25                        Black Canyon of Gunnison NP, Montrose, CO
  15. 25 – 27                        Rocky Mountain NP, Estes Park, CO
  16. 27 – 28                        Wind Cave NP, Custer, SD
  17. 28                                Badlands NP, SD – Stopover
  18. 28 – 29                        Jamestown, ND – Layover Point
  19. 29 – 31                        Voyageurs NP, International Falls, MN
  20. 31 July – 2 Aug            Isle Royale NP, Grand Portage, MN
  21. 2 – 3                             Ironwood, MI – Layover Point
  22. 3 – 4                             Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, MI
  23. 4 – 5                             Saginaw, MI – Layover Point
  24. 5 – 6                             Parma Heights, OH – Layover
  25. 6 – 7                             Cuyahoga Valley NP, Brecksville, OH
  26. 7 – 12                           Elizabethtown, KY – Layover
  27. 12 – 14                         Great Smoky Mountain NP, Gatlinburg, TN
  28. 14 – 16                         Triad, NC – Layover
  29. 16 – 17                         UVA, Charlottesville, VA
  30. 17 Aug                         Arrive Reston, VA

The trip covers a little over 6,000 miles and will consume about 115 driving hours. I’m won’t get to spend as much time in each of the parks as I’d like but I know I’ll get back to many of them over the next several years.

I’m looking forward to visiting my longtime friends and maybe to making a few new ones along the way. More about the wedding later. For now I’ll just say I’m probably looking forward to it as much as any father does when it comes to his one and only (and favorite) daughter. But I’ve known my future son-in-law now for half a dozen years or more and he’s a wonderful young man. I’m sure AnnaSummer will mold him into something workable. 🙂

And next winter?  Baja, of course.