Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its fifth year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

April 23, 2017

AD & DAD—WESTERN WANDERABOUT: DAYS 1 & 2

... we flew out of rhode island before dawn and arrived in denver a bit past ten o'clock in the morning ... delta had transported us 600 miles in the amount of time it took hertz car rental to figure out how to bring a car to the front of their facility, but nevertheless we were on the road before noon ... we almost immediately changed our plans, deciding rather than taking i70 across colorado we'd instead cross the mountains on less traveled state highways ... me with three different gps apps on my phone, adrien with iphone, still, prompted by adrien's repeated, "i told you we should've brought the garmin," i ended up buying an old-fashioned paper map for navigating ... along the route we followed a many-miles long impound in a high western valley ...

... we made it to the black canyon of the gunnison while it was still light out ... i'd read about this great chasm when i was a child, but it's only been in the last twenty years that it's been made into one of america's most fascinating national parks ... only a few inches beyond the tips of my toes is one of the greatest vertical drops in north america, over 2,200 feet straight down ...

... it's called the "black canyon" because in many places the steep sides prevent sunlight from reaching the bottom for more than a few minutes each day ... adrien's smile fixed that ...

... the dark precambrian rock is over 1.7 billion years old ... (creationists, perhaps you should avoid this place) ... when the entire continental plate moved and massive cracks occurred in the gneiss and schist base rock, magmatic pegmatite intruded and formed the extensive lighter coloured bands ...

... the pegmatite intrusions have created giant phantasmagorical figures along the rock walls ... look at the trees at the top of the cliffs to get a sense of scale ...

... at one of the very few guard railings in the park i was quite comfortable taking pictures of adrien ... other times—i'll leave her to post the images—i became a bit freaked when she would lay down at the very edge of a great drop-off, "snap a picture of me, dad" ...

... as the sun touched the horizon the sandstone layers seemed to glow from within ...

... five times as steep as the more well-known "grand canyon," the black canyon of the gunnison is truly another of earth's most wondrous places ...

... the next day we headed north to intersect i70, the "fast route" to moab, utah ... halfway there, once again changing our plan, we decided to take the back road ... towards the deep gorge barely visible in the haze at the left center of the picture, that's where adrien steered the car ...

... we encountered eagles, a fox, kayakers and canoeists, a jet boat filled with tourists, and, as we got closer to moab, all sorts of strange species of jeeps ...

... down, down, down we descended into the jagged cut in the landscape carved by the colorado river ...

... at arches national park we hiked in away to view one of the massive naturally formed sandstone structures ... (this one, by the way, is not even close to being the longest span) ...

... mostly snapshots for me, but i'd noted this spot on the way in and made sure to stop as we headed out ...

... then, after a p&j lunch, it was up the highway to "pinnacle helicopters," where dacia had made all the arrangements and ben was ready to pilot us over the canyonlands in his helicopter ... 

... i've flown in a helicopter before, one much larger than this particular model ... still, seeing the look on adrien's face, i was quite excited ...

... up, up, up we ascended ...

... competence, in any endeavor, is a thing to behold, so i greatly enjoyed watching ben control and guide his machine ...

... over a third of a million acres has been legislated as a place for people to enjoy the outdoors ... almost two-thirds of the annual 400,000-700,000 annual visitors four-wheel, bike, hike, canoe, raft, and kayak the portion of the park visible in this photograph ... only a very few ever make it in to some of the more remote and difficult-to-access areas ... this is a "common use" area, yet there are many rules and laws protecting the environment ...

... great canyons cut through the landscape ...

... ben provided a most informative and entertaining narrative ...

... that look on her face, i've a feeling adrien's thought was, "hmmmm, i wonder if i can get dad to buy us one of these machines" ... truthfully, without a moments hesitation if i had the cash i'd do so, that's how much fun the flight was ...

... on top of the distant peaks it's still winter ...

... tougher segments of caprock slow the process of erosion ...

... so odd, when we got back i asked adrien, "we booked a half-hour flight, but it seemed to me like it was twice that" ... "nope, dad, was exactly thirty minutes" ... how incredibly wonderful ... !!! ...

... moab was filled with jeeps, it seems we'd arrived in the midst of the "51st annual jeep convention" ... wishing a bit that we could've stuck around for what i'm sure was going to be an evening of rather loud promenading along moab's main drag, we headed south to find a more reasonably priced motel ...

... our day ended in tiny monticello, utah, home of a golf course built on a reclaimed uranium mine and the very first morman "mini temple" ... i found a taco wagon parked along the side of the road—for me a real culinary delight ...

... two days, there's more to come ...


April 2, 2017

FIRST RIDE

... not counting a brief around-the-block excursion a couple of weeks ago, meant only to informally transition my motorcycle from "storage" to "on the road" status, today was my first motorcycle ride of the year ... 51°f, warm enough to enjoy riding even if the roads're still a complete mess of frost heaves and sand bars ... i stopped a the tracy's to visit, warm up a bit, and enjoy a cup of coffee ... when i left chad most graciously agreed to shoot my "official" first-ride-of-the-year portrait ...


... using just his cell phone he produced this cool poster ... in technical photographic terms that's called "talent" ...

... i then drove up the road a bit, did a bit of a 45° slide on some sand, then passed the house so he could get another picture of me riding ...


... tomorrow i'm going to mount the side boxes and go for a nice long ride ...

... other places it's flowers, green grass, or putting boots away for the year, but here in maine no snow on the road is what we call "springtime" ...

THE GREAT FLOOD OF 1987

... thirty years ago yesterday, per a request i'm reposting my pictures of the "great flood" of 1987 ... these are ektachrome 400 color slides scanned on a nikon coolscan Ved and dust spotted in photoshop ...

... here's the two-penny bridge about an hour or so before the flood crested ... at its highest the water rose about six inches closer to the bridge's footboards ...

 ... for those of you not familiar with the "last toll footbridge in the united states," this is what it looks like during the kennebec river's "normal" spring flow ...

... nowadays, with modern digital sensors, it would be easy to take pictures in low light like this ... in 1987, however, capturing these images with silver-based film was at the very edge of the photography envelope ... the slides were shot using a nikon f3 with nikkor 20mm and 105mm lenses (it's possible a couple of the long shots were with a tamron sp 300mm) ... i used ektachrome 400 slide film, and, as is evidenced by the movement showing in the water, a 1/15th-1/30th shutter speed put me at the limit of effectively hand-holding the camera ...

... i remember the frightening sound of the water ...

... the swaying of the bridge made walking very difficult when i went out to the center of the span to snap some pictures ... 

... it was so odd, looking at this scene and remembering that just up the road at our house on oak street, only a half-mile or so into town, there was no evidence this was taking place ...

... i wondered if the bridge supports would survive the torrent's tremendous force ...

... the ticonic falls were submerged 28 feet below the flood's angry surface ...

... all along the river houses became enveloped in the cold water ...

... had the water risen even a single foot a debris dam would've formed along the bottom of the railroad bridge and most likely the resulting force would have probably pushed the structure off its supports ...

... this began to happen at the bridge in fairfield ... by the end of the evening the strain gauge needles had bounced enough into the red zone that the engineers decided to speed up the timetable for replacing the old bridge ...

... the flood water pressed up beneath the bridge ...

... during the day it they kept it open as long as possible ...

... by the evening, however, it became clear it would be too dangerous to allow cars or pedestrians to cross ...

... the parking lot behind downtown fairfield became a lake ...

... further up along the river an entire section of town became submerged ...

... eventually it became too dark to take pictures ...

... the next day the cleanup began—it would take weeks, months, even, for some bridges, longer than that, before things would return to normal ...

... thirty years later, however, for those who witnessed and were affected by the great flood of 1987, when the spring rains come there's still many a watchful eye kept on the kennebec river ...