Realization

I hate going through negatives. I’m not much of an organizational person. However, I just received the best gift going through them. A realization that I have been working on a project without knowing it.

You know the realization. You like a certain type of image, a certain subject matter, and then you look though your shots and see a theme. You didn’t go out hunting for this type of image, but you found it anyway, and the theme just happened.

shoot-542In my case, I think I subconsciously knew I was doing it. So I was chasing the project before I knew what it was or what I was doing. But now it’s coming together.

It’s no secret I’m in love with the Inter-Mountain West. I moved 1,800 miles to be here and I consider that the smartest move of my life. I looked back through my negatives and realized, what I have going is a love story with the mountains.

By Wednesday, I’ll have a new pack, the last piece of gear I wanted before hiking and camping season. Since the high mountain passes start opening on Memorial Day, the timing is pretty good. I need to either get my Canon 7 CLA’d or get a backup body, and the repair guy needs to finish up with my Kodak Medalist, and then I can dedicate some serious time to the project. There’s going to be a lot of time under big skies and a lot of miles on foot and some on bicycle involved. And hundreds of frames, if I have my way.

shoot-543So I’m sharing this realization in an attempt to keep myself honest. I’ll need to work on it every possible moment I can. And if I tell folks about it, I have to go do it. So you should get some previews. These shots from a cheap plastic pano are the first step. The thrill of that realization should carry me the rest of the way.

Waiting

Spending a lot of time waiting and not particularly enjoying it. There’s a lot of “fixin to” going on now. Repairs, new camping gear, and checking on plans seems to be the new rut I’m in.

I suppose there is value to proper preparation and all that, but I’m getting a little tired of it.

The Medalist I dropped off for repairs a couple of months ago hasn’t been touched yet. It may not be touched for a month more. I’m kind of worried he’ll just decide he doesn’t want to fix it and tell me he can’t and to come pick it up. The new pack isn’t available in my size and desired capacity now. Parts are being shipped, and then I can replace the scratched ground glass in my 4×5, but shipping from the east coast seems to take forever. It feels like everything is just out of reach no matter how hard I pedal.

Really, I’m ready to get on with it already.

It’s marathon weekend. In spite of being sick, Steph is running anyway. After this weekend, we’re out of reasons to stay in Denver, though. Hopefully, weather will co-operate and we’re out and off and running. We may just do some day hiking out and back from a campsite just to get started and give the new tent a test run. A small amount of progress would be good, and might do wonders for my waning sanity.

shoot-539I have the feeling I’m going to get sick of waiting and just decide “the hell with it, let’s go!” one afternoon. Which will either be epic, or tragic, depending on luck. I miss being out and up and away. I’m getting twitchy.

Waiting is the hardest part. Or so said some singer in the 80s, so it must be true.

Lost time

I’ve been down with the roughest encounter with influenza B I’ve ever had in my life. Two weeks lost to feeling like crap all the time and hacking up a lung. Half the office has had it, and coughing echos through my apartment building as well. Nothing to do for it but just outlive it, so I have been working on little else. Fever dreams and a crushing weakness to cap it all off.

I’m feeling better. Steph, who came down with it as well, has turned the corner and is on her way to recovering. So now I’m trying to get it together to make up for lost time. Oddly enough, the film development backlog didn’t work itself out while I was sick. Nor did the horribly neglected scanning and cataloging project. Stupid elves or fairies or whoever was supposed to surprise me with getting everything done while I was bedridden didn’t actually do it. Fired, I tell you. They’re all fired.

The best thing about losing time is it inspires you to make up time. So this summer, I am going to start a project I have been putting off for a while. Steph and I are going to go camping often this summer, and the gear has been laid in to do it. We cashed in our REI dividend, and now have the nicest tent I have ever owned. I need to sort a new pack and some odds and ends, and we’re off. Trips to the Colorado National Monument, a return to the Lost Creek Wilderness, and an exploration of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison are in the offing this summer, among other places.

If everything co-operates, I want to ride the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota as well. Easier when camping it.

shoot-538The project is a love story with the American west, capturing it as well as I can. I’ve been pouring over maps, pulling out old lists, and finding new places. This project will take more years than I have to finish, but a thing worth doing is always hard and the best ones are impossible. So I’ve been turning it over in my mind and making choices. Yes to here, maybe to there, narrowing it down a bit.

As soon as the virus dies, I am going to hit the ground running  and see what I can do. Making up for lost time.

The public lands argument

The current advertising for the National Park system bills them as “America’s Best Idea.” I’m with Alan Spears on that, though. There are many American ideas better than the NPS. But public lands and National Parks are not a bad idea in any way. Which is why the unending attacks on their very existence puzzles me.

Much of this is just pure greed. The greedy want to transfer the ownership of Federal Lands to state governments under a “States Rights” argument. That alone should tell you what you need to know about this movement. “States Rights” arguments gave us the Civil War and the opposition to the Civil Rights movement.

shoot-534Colorado has many fine state parks, but state land is a good example of what will happen if greed wins and federal land is transferred. BLM land is usually used for grazing, with hunting and camping also available. It has the least restrictions on it I’ve ever seen. As far as I know, the rules for being on BLM land are: camp off the water so the wild creatures can drink, use fire responsibly, and if you’re going to park your vehicle for more than two weeks let them know, otherwise they send out a search party too soon. The equivalent state land is off-limits, not that you’d want to go on it anyway. Most if it I’ve seen is being used by fracking operations. Utah has done this with just about all its state land already and so wants the Federal land to do the same with. Never mind the fact that the state can’t afford to administer those lands if they got them.

There are people like the Bundys who want that Federal land. They interpret the Constitution’s Enclave Clause and Property Clause in a way that is insane. They’d be easy to dismiss but for the fact they are armed terrorists.

shoot-535Some people are ignorant on the role of these lands. Without sufficient aquifers, there’s not enough drinking water for the cities out here, and water is already pretty tight. Between rapid growth and climate change, it’s not likely to get better anytime soon. But they’re not seeing that, only seeing unused space.

So the opposition to public lands is made up of greed, ignorance, and terror. How are these people getting so much traction? Why are we listening to them at all?

 

Alan Spears opinion piece on the NPS as “Greatest Idea”