I know there are many helpful resources out there to do this (time mgt 101 HA) but I just find that life is too full.
I have time to take the photos, I have time to review them even, which as many of you know take a lot of effort to cull out those that are kind of on the bad side – blurry, no composition, no ‘story’ showing [you know that story that sits right there waiting to be photographed]
But where is the time to write…my dilemma, or is it that I don’t know What to write because I haven’t done my usual traveling? There was a pandemic after all…and in fact we are still in one, but is that really why I haven’t been writing? because I have still been taking photos…
So I’ve decided to jump back on the horse and get back to writing my travel blog with or without’travel’ ?In the meantime here are some photos of what I’ve been taking around during the pandemic…
Ya know road trippin is for you when you hop in the truck and all you do is grin. Silly I know but Yes! Road Trip!!
It was just a short trip to Haines, Alaska from Valdez. It feels like it goes up and over and in reality, at least on a map, it is! The frost heave heading up to Tok, a small ‘meeting of roads’ town, had us bouncing like a 1/2 ton child on a trampoline. Unfortunately, it was my inquiry to learn about frost heave as we drove this ongoing rolling hill of a road that started the elocution lessons. The freezing of water in the soil causes it to heave up…”its watER” said the good keen man, I repeat “water [watah]”, “no try again, watER…” so I repeat in a bad American accent “watER…Yeah-no, I am a kiwi for goodness sake, and 20 years away from my home land, New Zealand, has not changed my accent too much. And so started the often ongoing elocution of watah into water, wish it was water into wine!! I needed some after that.
As the road moved so did the clouds, and amazing they were!
Crossing the boarder into Canada felt like coming home, not sure if it’s that I have family in Canada or if it’s the commonwealth connection, whatever is is, it was another reason to smile. Especially when the roadside brings so much bounty!
It’s grass eating time for the bears as they wake up from the winter. Although in the carnivores category Bears actually spend most of their time feeding on vegetation and insects. Although, Alaska and Canada bears do love their salmon when they are in.
When spring is out so are the cubs. These cubs and their mother were eating the fine roadside grass feast, the black bear was enjoying.
They say that bear cubs play as a means to learn how to protect themselves. Like many
Other animals each has a personality and these two sure did. One of these wanted to play long and hard, the other not so much.
Haines Junction, is exactly what it says a junction of two roads, the Alaska Highway and the Haines Highway. Those two highways bisect 2 Countries and 3 States, Alaska, Yukon and British Columbia.
Onward through Canada has ya looking out in awe at the beauty. Lakes Dezadeash and Kluane – stunning!
Road squirrels! Prairie dogs? Look! Was the exclamation coming from a good keen man. As we drove over the mountain pass toward Haines, many of these little creatures did imitations of meerkats, standing on their hind quarters.
Haines is a quaint seaport town, not a quiet sleep one but a bustling mini-meca of business and people from all over, thanks to the road and marine highway.
What to do while waiting for the ferry, with the boat? Mmm maybe a museum I say, “oh look there’s a Hammer Museum!” A good keen man states…I am sure the other breakfast eaters in the restaurant thought my laughter a bit on the odd side.
The sun was wonderful and the wait for the ferry was delicious! Although I think I relaxed more that man did ? he was to busy thinking about the arrival.
Goods received and after ensuring all is tied down we began the slow cruise back.
She’s a beauty, said a grinning good keen man.
The trip back to Valdez was pleasantly uneventful, with the obligatory elocution lessons over the frost heave after Tok. And like the way over the vistas are some of the best ever.
Ya know it’s funny how ‘we’ evolve. Not in the hominid sense, but in the evolution of what we see and experience as photographers.
I relate it to my evolution as a wine buff…taking my Introductory Sommelier then realizing “yeah I’m good right here…” I’m not going to be working in the ‘industry’ … or maybe…?”
I first saw photography or rather photographer evolution in this brilliant chap I met one fine winter day, while out freezing our butts off at an ice-climbing festival. So I blame him for me thinking about the ‘me’ evolution in photography.
Ace is a low-key, down-to-earth, talented, well-known, National Geographic Photographer, someone I felt a connection…probably with more than a bit of awe [grin] thrown in. I gave him my pounamu, as a thank you, because in New Zealand the pounamu is considered a sacred gift, and that is what I felt he gave me when he shared his photography tips and more importantly, his photography story.
He talked about how he moved through the various themes of photography…adventure sports then through other themes to finally his travel portraits.
It got me thinking about where I was with my photography… I’m still thinking about it…am I a landscape photographer? Not an underwater photo hound. Oh what about wildlife (I’m surrounded by it in Alaska) or maybe I am a travel photographer, as most of mine are taken as I travel..but I really love the impromptu portraits I have taken…
Whitianga, New Zealand
So I realized I still have not idea ‘What’ I want to focus on…then I realize as I look through some of my pics “ya know it’s ok”…I don’t need to be known for any one theme, I can just enjoy My evolution… wherever it will take me.
There is something stoic and passionate, raw yet peaceful about black and white photos.
Whether it is the layers of gray or the contrast between shapes and lines that appear so defined compared to color photos, or perhaps it’s that the lack of color, it is not there to distract the eye from other facets of the photo we may not perceive. Some think of it at an art form that takes away the distracting colors and lets the foundational portions of the photo (shape, form, lighting, texture) come to the forefront. Sometimes it’s the grainy image that brings my mind back to the beginnings of photography and its dense textures.
Traditional black and white photograpy was monochromatic, where there was different amount of light but not different hues. Where the photograph contains variations of one color. This was the only way there was back then before 1936 and the invention of color in photography. Exploration of the variety of black and white styles gives a different meaning of color, sepia (warm tones), cyan (cool tones)…just to name a few .
Today, black and white photography can be done the more traditional way and shoot in monochrome (most cameras, have this setting) or you can shoot in color and choose black and white in post-processing.
Black and white portaits let the focus be on the face and eyes instead of the colors that are there. It lets the smaller things, like freckles, show more than they may have in color format.
While not every photo you take will look better in black and white, many themes can look stunning in black and white. No matter what theme, it comes down to composition, mood, and personal perference. Landscape and looking for active skies or capturing architectural texture of the buildings, or travel photography to seal that moment in time in grayscale or sports shots.. all can thrive in black and white styles as their shape, form, textures and tones emerge to show us their full potential.
Although traveling is not a career for me [I actually like my current one] It is something that is in the heart, something in the mind and very probably something in the blood.
I have always loved it, had a fascination with it. The places, the process – the planning, the getting there and enjoying the ‘being there’ … wherever there may be this time. And I have been lucky to have the opportunity to have been traveling all my life. Thanks to parents that had it a part of their lives, now I do the same for my kids.
Most of us probably start to get excited as they plan to travel. Where to go? Sometimes where “not” to go makes the choice for you, with the world doing it’s best to be wild and unruly. Oh wait that would be us humans making the world an unwelcoming place at times. But you can still travel into the wild of the world and have a peaceful yet full on adventure trip.
So where to go? Somewhere you have been and are comfortable with? Somewhere that stretches the imagination and knowledge or somewhere that has no boundaries or expectations, or somewhere where the ‘Wild Things Are’? (yeah I loved that book as a kid). It could be other countries, oceans and mountains, inner city or your cousin’s backyard…that is what traveling is all about. It doesn’t really matter, we travel for many reasons. And all of them are typically good reasons.
So why do I travel? for the sheer love of it, even if I go for work or other obligations, there is still something exciting, potentially unexpected, a heightened awareness of going somewhere – traveling!
Traveling with a good keen man takes traveling in an altogether rather interesting direction most times.
First let me tell you What a good keen man is, then I can continue with chatting about traveling with one.
A good keen man was first described and is the title of a New Zealand book by Barry Crump. A rugged kiwi (New Zealander) who’s life was being in the native bush (old growth forest to you non-down-under folk).
I see him also as an “attitude about life” – living/ playing in the outdoors to it’s fullest, sometimes off the grid, sometimes enjoying the company of others on his journey’s. It is always with a mind and heart open to whatever to life will bring.
A good keen man is seen as an ordinary ‘bloke’ who enjoyed tossing the urban rat-race aside to ‘go-bush’…someone who can survive and thrive out there, someone who sees the small and large of it’s wonder and someone who needs to be outdoors because it is what makes them who they are. Could a good keen man be a female…absolutely, in fact I know several.
So back to traveling with a good keen man. It is always an experience. One, that more often than not, has the outdoors as a major participant – go figure.
Countries and oceans, mountains and beaches. From New Zealand to Alaska, the Caribbean’s Dutch Antilles to Australia and beyond. Islands with crystal waters and old growth forests. My travels are filled with wonder, painful muscles, fun & laughter, and grumbling about needing to have a rest day for the tired body.
It involves history & living in the amazing worlds moment…yet saying no to the 10 mile hike that started “just a short one”. Then there are the outstanding under ocean views which out-weigh the walking next to sewers in unexpected places, all with only minor grumblings about finding enough power to charge the cameras batteries. Traveling can be an excellent way to see if you can not just get along together but survive together in and out of the ‘bush’.
With that being said, It is easy to continue to smile, be grateful for each day because to quote my Dad… ‘I’m living the dream’ and I am doing it with MY good keen man and life couldn’t be much better than that.
New Zealand is a beautiful country with laid-back people who are full of life and friendly. So going home to New Zealand for me is a cathartic and more often than not a humorous one.
From the slang that is used “sweet as”, “she’ll be right” to “rattle ya dags” to the stunning vista’s everywhere…make me grin and start to breathe deeper of the clean air.
Where you can find a beach with so few people that you feel it is there just for you, or you enjoy a lunch in a delightful small town with a friend.
Going home actually feels like home, for me to explain it is easy yet hard…it’s like stepping off the airplane and drawing in that first breathe and saying “ahh” I am sure you have experienced that at some stage.
And when you leave it is a feeling of sadness and excitement, odd I know. Sadness because you’re leaving and you would rather stay but excitement because you are a kiwi and travel is somehow in the blood and it is what you do ~ you leave and then return, rejuvenate and absorb, laugh and enjoy and plan for the next trip.
What a wonderful world we live in…Alaska and Valdez in particular has a variety to sports adventures that far out weigh the number of people that live in this small community. To get here you can take a 35 minute flight from Anchorage or drive one of the most beautiful road trips you ever could do.
I had the opportunity this Winter to be able to capture some beautiful photos of this stunning landscape, as well as some of the amazing sports that this town offers. Valdez Ice Festival is a climbers dream, both rock and ice saw some action. With world class Canadian climbers Nathan Kutcher and Rebecca Lewis, and Ice and Rock Magazine Hayden Carpenter climbing, along with local Nick Weicht, photos were a fun adventure.
And then and then you have some fun…aerial silk performance art.
So our sail went on up the coast to the north end of Santa Catalina island to Two Harbors, the day was beautiful. Hot, sunny with gleaming blue water surrounding us after the morning fog broke.
My feeling that the cruising life was definitely something I enjoyed was reiterated as we sailed closer to the Two Harbors port. Like Avalon, we were met by cheerful harbor patrol boats, that took the anchorage fee, told us which hook to connect to then left us to tie up and relax after the very enjoyable sail…tis a hard life, it is Saturday after all, as Steely and the Whey to Go Admiral states…everyday :-). Which was another reason to define the cruising lifestyle as rather blissful…Every day is Saturday!
The dingy lowered and boat-bound crew loaded themselves and gear into it for an afternoon stroll through the little port shops, grab an ice-cream and a ramble over to the second harbor.
Yes, it actually is named Two Harbors for a reason, as the tip of Santa Catalina has a small stretch of land where two harbors divot into each other. What looked on a map to be a couple of miles walk turned out to be a shorter than expected…15 minutes of grueling sheer cliff faces! No not really, but it sounds better than a pleasant 5 minute meander over scorched brown dusty turf dotted with an occasional tree.
The land and heat were similar to the Southern end of
Catalina Island but the northern harbors were beautiful with no cars in sight, a few stores that blend into the small community, pelican’s and arctic tern’s dive-bombing to feast on the small fish that were spawning, and a meandering road heading off to the pacific edge of the island. Of course that was where some of the crew wandered, not all fearing another ‘Gillian’s Island’ adventure, soon part of the crew wandered back to the wee local bar, and others stayed put and photographed the birds in fascination – what a spectacle they were.
And so the camera SD card was filled … and lost due to a computer glitch…ahh the trials of a photographer [sigh].
Santa Cruz was the next port of call, the 10 hour sail had us leaving pre-dawn. The anchor was hauled, sails readied, course plotted and we were off. I had my role on the mighty sailing vessel…barista for the crew on watch.
In fact there were several roles doled out by the Cap’n and the Admiral …Best Mate, who asked Cap’n Steely enough questions of all the intricacies of the boat, it’s engines, its safety preparation, and electronics to fill a book filed away in his head, the Bosun who as soon as the anchor was dropped in any port of call tried to con as many of the crew as possible to jump off the mighty Whey-to-go – some like the coffee barista were rather dubious, deciding that jumping off a perfectly good vessel for fun was not
something she felt the need to participate in to get the full enjoyment of cruising life again. Then there was the cabin girl…who literally loved her spacious first class cabin, book, and the comforts associated with it so much, she came back to Alaska whiter than she arrived. Lastly, but not least, was the Operations Chief who ensured that the electronic devices needed to ensure correct direction, speed and all else that make the boat go where it should, was actually removed from the box, turned on, data entered and correct course plotted.
Santa Cruz, the largest of the Channel Islands at the top of the group. The sail around the North end to our planned anchorage appeared to be lacking in the excitement of a port with harbor patrols, other boats associated with the civilization of Avalon and Two harbors. Which mattered not too all, except the young bo’sun and cabin girl, for this meant there would be forced hikes and all the extensive exercise disliked by those of that age group.
The older Whey-to-Go crew looked forward to a chance to visit the historical Island and yes indeed, a couple of hours of wandering around. This was not quite the expected story of exploration and fun…remember the crew of the ‘Minnow’ and a four-hour tour? Well, with the first mate taking the lead saying…”oh just a bit further…check this out!…oh look…” and then striding off gallantly immediately after the crew had finally caught up to see what he was pointing at. So the Whey-to-Go crew and the Minnow had something in common…the 2 hour tour extended version.
What Santa Cruz did offer apart from the energetic excursion, was a wonderful look at a rare California commodity – a wilderness where a native fox lives, extraordinary sea caves, sandy beaches and coves that echoed long since passed histories of sheep and cattle ranchers, otter hunters, fishermen and smugglers. During the second world war it was used as an early outpost looking for ships and planes, and indeed became integral in the Cold War as a communications station of the Pacific, which is still in operation, although not at the same levels as it was in the 1950s and 1960s. This delightfully fascinating island now is part National Reserve and part owned by the Nature Conservancy which facilitates scientific research and education.
The next morning had the crew rousing for an early start, heading to Santa Barbara on the coast of California. Which from Santa Cruz was a short 20 mile morning jaunt. The ocean was full of life, with sea lions and dolphins, and the sky full of bird. Yes, this cruising boat life is a very pleasant one indeed.
Now Santa Barbara if you have not been there, is a rather hot bed of color, sounds and sights rolled into a county that has made the transition from a coastal beach community to modern city full of ethnic diversity, adobe color and architecture, and a blissful Mediterranean-style temperatures and beach life.
With a rich history in native American, Spanish, Mexican and Rancho periods of colonialism, the effects of a country that has been through two World Wars, all rolled into what to this day one of my favorite places, still has the term ‘quaint’ whispered in the ocean breezes.
Several of the Whey-to-Go crew departed the sailing adventure in Santa Barbara and headed back to a green and not so temperate climate, while the other’s continued onto what was an epic maiden cruising voyage. With Moro Bay, Monterey and San Francisco being ports of call.
Yes, I think I could say that the cruising life would be one I could easily step aboard for again, especially on the Whey-to-Go with it’s hospitable and wondrous Cap’n and Admiral who always is willing to put way-ward sailors to work.
Have you ever done something so much that you are kind of “okay that’s enough for a while”…I was like that about sailing. Now I have only lived on a boat, raced in boats and cruised on a boat for about 22yrs but I would not call myself a ‘lifer’, in that I MUST sail or life would be worse because of the lack of it…
I enjoyed each of them in and of themselves. Racing, I did many a year on a few boats that raced the once-a-week race night, plus the longer boat races, for me it is a bit of a been-there-loved-that but glad I am not doing now. I also enjoyed the day sails out and about for a couple of hours but in the end just got frustrated with “well let’s stay out for a bit long”…and 5 hours later you get to the dock. Living on a boat, in my case a 44ft monohull, was pretty easy. It could have been the two double staterooms, the shower stall w a seat, the monthly cost of living, the small but fully equipped kitchen or it could have been the blissful existence of just living on the water (something I still love).
Cruising was definitely were my heart lay for all those years yet it wasn’t what we did a lot of…sail from one point to another, on no strict schedule just enjoying the slow sail then thoroughly exploring the next port, meeting the locals, experiencing new smells, tastes and sounds.
With my recent experience of sailing around a few of the Channel Islands of California, my cruising smile was in place…the peace and quiet – esp with head in a book (not while on watch of course!), the sounds and smells of the sea, and just as heart warming was the ‘land-ho’ and heading ashore to check out the island, towns, and the people – the history, stories and atmosphere of it all.
First stop was Avalon on Santa Catalina, or just Catalina as it often gets shortened too, what a place of summer fun…a mixture of history, desert flora, people and places enjoying music, food & beverages and the company of others. To watch it, revel in it from the boat was a treat – the pleasure of having all the delights of home yet enjoying the overall views and atmosphere. Immersing one-self in it also was fabulous, the sights and smells, cacophony of sounds were a sensory delight. Avalon has a botanical garden of the like I have never been too – an amazing array of succulents, cacti and desert growing trees. At the end of the gardens was a view worth the 40 + minute scorching hot walk. A memorial to William Wrigley (yes the Wrigley of the gum and the field!!) was a beautifully tiled structure. The tile coming from the factory that Willian Jr established on the Island in 1927.