Saturday, November 30, 2013

Yep, hanging upside down in my Jeep Cherokee


As I photographer, I wish I had taken a photo.  Me, upside down in my Jeep Cherokee, you know, the green, squarish kind.  I was cut out by a dear passerby, who even held me as I fell down so I didn't hurt my neck.  Zazi, my 12 year old lab, was fine, but she was hiding, and had to be called out of the mess.  I totaled the car; with only a scratch on my hand.  But there you have it, my car was gone.  Ice; the culprit.

So, after getting over the initial shock, a friend lent me her Subaru, so I had wheels for a month.  I lived 44 miles from work, over two mountain passes so needed the help for the commute.  Let's not talk about the PTSD that first year while behind the wheel, and anytime it snows, till this day.

I loved car camping with my Green Jeep.  I learned how to drive all sorts of 4WD backroads with this baby.

Silver lining

As I started to shop for a new vehicle with the help of family and friends, I decided to put the horse before the cart.  I knew I wanted a travel trailer, and since the opportunity for a new vehicle was presenting itself I saw the silver lining.  I need a tow vehicle.  Let's start there.

Of course, the car has to be red, and it has to be a later model Jeep Grand Cherokee.  I love the look of the body style in 2002-2006. So after going through a dozen vehicles, ( I live in paradise, Durango, Colorado, not exactly the used car capitol of the southwest), a friend called saying she saw my car in town.  I went to see it, took it in for an inspection and minutes later it was mine.

My sweet new ride, it's even sturdier than my green jeep, more power, more room.  And with a great set of beefy tires, I can drive it anywhere.  Well, almost anywhere.

Cherry Baby, in Utah, at a trailhead

Friday, November 29, 2013

Get Out and STAY Out with Your Camera and Your Camper

First Camp at Valley of the Gods, my new Rig.

My father loves to say Get Out and STAY Out.  I'm the second oldest of seven children and when we were young it was a running joke.  Of course he wanted us to Get Out…for a bit of peace and quiet.  I love that man.

Well, I think I learned to do so.  This year alone I traveled to six National Parks, Arches, Canyonlands, Redwoods, Yosemite, Zion and Capitol Reef.  Most of my trips out west are based in Durango Colorado, so I also Get Out and STAY Out in the Weminuche Wilderness, the San Juan National Forest, in Colorado,  the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, and Grand Gulch Wilderness Study area in Utah.  In the spring of 2013 I bought a travel trailer, an 18 foot trailer, I love it, so most long weekends I can be found in and around my favorite places, teaching photo workshops, and Chasing the Light of the Western United States and Beyond.  I park my camper at some amazing places, hike or bike or drive to locations I love, meet students in the field and back in my studio in Durango.  The camper allows me to charge my batteries each night, to connect my solar panel for boon docking, and to rest in a nice, warm, space.

The emphasis over the past two years has been the National Parks.  For years (13) I had a dog, Zazi, my black lab, she was my constant companion and hero.  I mostly photographed, backpacked and hiked with her in wilderness areas that allow dogs.  Since her passing I am on the mission to see and photograph all I can in our National Parks.  I will get another companion, but am taking some time.

This blog is to tell the story about photography, travel and preparation for the next stage of my life.  I'm 60 years old. I was a teacher at Bayonne High School in New Jersey for 21 years, followed by the last 18 years of building my art and photography business in Durango, Colorado.  I love to teach and currently I teach students of all ages to make art, and to learn digital photography.  Many of my students come to my studio for private lessons on using their digital cameras properly.  And a great deal of my time is spent on Photography Adventures, teaching participants to use their digital and film cameras to capture grand and intimate landscapes.  In April of 2013, we took a group of students to Monument Valley, and I taught lessons in composition, dealing with wind, capturing scenes in the right light, right place, right time of day.  June usually finds a group of us along the waterfalls in the San Juan Mountains, where I teach the proper use of shutter speed for water flow.  And July and August, you can find me up above 10,000 feet in the San Juans and Weminuche Wilderness, teaching Wildflower photography, and the elusive high altitude sunset.  And by the time the fall arrives in the Southwest, late September through early November, I can be found reporting on, and chasing colors all around Southern Colorado, Arizona, and Utah.

As I transition from a continued part time position as a graphic artist working for corporate America, to full time travel and adventure, I thought others might enjoy reading about the process of getting on the road.  From purchasing a small travel trailer, the right tow vehicle, renovations and learning the systems of the camper, to the current stage of planning and follow up of dreams, this blog will help me remember the things I've done and link to other blogs that help in my mission to Get out and STAY Out.

Click on these links to some of stories, maps and my photos of our National Parks, including a few that won recent photo contests.  Sit back and enjoy the ride!

Arches National Park
Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky
Canyonlands National Park, Needles District
Zion National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Redwoods National and State Parks
Yosemite National Park
Weminuche Wilderness
San Juan National Forest
Canyon of the Ancients National Monument
Grand Gulch Wilderness Study Area

And in 2014 I can be found in the Rainforests, photographing and teaching at Yellowstone National Park, Redwoods National Park, Olympic National Park and Jasper and Banff.  Come along for the ride!