“I go to nature to be soothed, healed and have my senses put in order.”– John Burroughs
This is a difficult and harrowing time for so many people. I worry about my family and friends every day. This worry has led me to daily deep contemplation about how I use social media and this blog in particular. I try to use this blog to uplift and bring a small bit of joy to the readers. I do not want to add more despair to the world. I tell a few stories and show photos and do my best to illustrate that this world isn't solely sorrow and suffering and sadness. There is however, even in the best of times, much suffering in our world. The virus and the racial injustice and the environmental degradation just put an exclamation point on it.
The other day on my daily walk I thought, "Life essentially consists of loss, grieving and recovery."
In my life I have suffered breathtakingly deep losses, extended periods of grieving and, thankfully, blessed healing and recovery. The thought of writing about these losses as a process of redemption overwhelms me. I have chosen a different path to find solace. I immerse myself in nature and then share.
I know, if you have lived very long, that you too have experienced breathtaking losses. The longer we live the more they pile up. I often find myself these days thinking about my lost loved ones and dead best friends...perhaps that is the way of old age. I remember my 90 year old uncle telling me he didn't want to live so long - it was too hard to lose everyone. I understand and, I'm guessing, you do too. And now this terrible virus which has already claimed at least 130,000 lives and the grim numbers still grow.
Also, now, we see the ongoing tragic effects of racism in our country. I grew up in the 1960's and saw much civil unrest and this reminds me all too much of 1968. My heart breaks daily and I cannot understand why we are still dealing with these clear issues of right and wrong.
Another of my favorite quotes is; "What defines us is how well we rise after falling".
If falling is loss and we all fall... the question then becomes, "so how well do you rise?"
These days when I feel my heart breaking I fall back on the one thing I know will bring me solace and comfort and hope and healing...nature. I believe that without my loving family and nature I would not have been able to cope with the losses of this life and, candidly, I wouldn't be here.
As you know, I have taken to the road the last several years and that, in turn, has taken me to photography. Now, of course with the damn virus, is a difficult time to hit the road and take photos. Instead, I decided to share two old photos a day on my Twitter account. Besides my backyard it's about as much nature as I'm getting these days. Simply looking through the photos helps me catch my breath and injects a bit of joy into my days. That was my goal in my last post as well. So, perhaps, you might sense a theme.
I am always a bit bemused by seeing which photos get the most attention because rarely are they my favorites. Awhile back my online friend, Chris LaTray posted a magnificent photo that ended up with somewhere near a thousand "likes". And while it was certainly a stunning photo - I wanted to say, "Hey! Have you seen his other stuff?!". It's an old story - often what is popular is not necessarily the best. I always use the McDonald's metaphor - selling billions of burgers doesn't exactly make it fine dining, does it?
Regardless, I thought I'd share what others seem to like. And, in order to lighten our load I offer these revisits from days gone by in hopes that it may bring you a tiny bit of relief from these difficult days.
The following photo, which actually is one of my favorites, garnered some attention. It is of Imperial Point, on the north rim of the Grand Canyon, taken on a late afternoon in July 2018 while on a photo walk with my pal, Liz Kylin.
I admit I was very surprised about this next one being popular - at all. I was all alone with old baby Nikon and took this photo of the Chihuahuan Desert in Big Bend National Park, Texas in spring of 2015. It seems very ordinary to me...
The next one is from one of my many trips to Red Rock Canyon State Park here in California near the old ghost town of Cantil.
Next is a photo of Half Dome in September 2017.
My Casita, my little home away from home, a quiet and chilly night at Red Rock.
Here's old Route 66 near Essex, CA
This is near Johannesburg, CA and one I have framed in my office - it captures a bit of the West of my life...
I took a gazillion photos of Fajada Butte in Chaco with my iphone and shared one - it's a deeply moving place...
Funny enough I realized recently I don't have very many photos of my "home" National Park -Joshua Tree. I've had two trips canceled by the idiots running the government and have also been a bit disgusted by the crowds... but, here's one from a trip a few years back that Lilly was on... Gonna get out there this Fall...
The website "Visit Colorado" picked up this photo of Cliff Palace.
And lastly, to show you how you really can't explain tastes... this one was actually liked...it's a geezer in the High Uinta Mountains of Utah.
Welp, that's it! Thanks for riding along on our trip down memory lane.
I've been making a few photos of our wild Orange County backyard and I hope to have you visit with me back there real soon - at least virtually.
Stay safe. Take care of one another...
I have started multiple blog posts - mostly about the move that Lupe and I made at the end of January and the ensuing nightmares but, in light of the current worldwide crisis, all that seems like minor bullshit. Suffice it to say, don't believe everything your real estate agent tells you. The good news is that I am going to start creating a California native backyard since our property is so large. I also will keep my citrus and avocado trees which was the advice of the native landscape consultant. If we can get through this pandemic I am actually very excited about making our little parcel of land a wild haven - in the midst of suburbia. I also LOVE our new neighborhood. So, all's well that ends well and I look forward to entertaining family and friends and you soon!
I also want to complain here about canceling trips and the lack of baseball but then, come on, we are currently all healthy and that is what is important today.
My thinking on this blog post is that it will be a bit of a stream of consciousness while we are shut in and trying to avoid the horrors that we are seeing right now, for example, in Italy and even in New York City. There is a reason many of us geezers suffer from anxiety and are overly careful - we've seen what the world can do...even in the best times. So, on that negative note let me just say that I hope that everyone reading this can find some joy and hope in each day going forward and that we navigate this difficult time with grace and cool and good fortune. It would be grand if my few words and photos could provide some respite from the mess of the world right now. I believe writing these posts will do exactly that for me. The other night I had a Zoom meeting with my friends from Insight LA and it is crucial we continue to reach out and connect...here's my attempt to do just that...
There is so much fear and worry out there right now...try to remember to breathe.
I've been revisiting some of my old photos and trips and I thought I'd start by sharing a few of those. Perhaps, this will provide a tiny bit of succor from the self-quarantining ennui. I've been throwing them up again on Twitter and that's been fun, too. Thanks for letting me share. Through these words and photos I hope to send out a bit of love during this harrowing time. I'm not sure how else to go about it.
This first photo is from a trip I took to Pinnacles National Park back in 2015. I took this photo on the Bear Gulch trail and was practically alone for the entire hike. That has changed in the last few years as the National Park status has elevated awareness of the Park.
The next photo is of the Smith River in September 2016. I got up very early each day to take photos in this spot in Jedediah Smith State Park.
This next one was taken on an early morning drive along Highway 89 between Sedona and Flagstaff in Oak Creek Canyon. It remains one of my personal favorites over the last few years.
Here is a photo of nearby Santiago Canyon where I used to ride my Triumph Thunderbird regularly.
This next photo is framed and sits above our dining room table. It is of the train track, trestle, beach and pier at Gaviota, north of Santa Barbara. It is a place that I return year after year and have grown to love despite the sometimes gale force winds.
And here is another of my favorite California spots - it's a sunset view of Mugu Rock from Thornhill Broome Beach which is north of Malibu but feels million miles away from everywhere...
Now this is one of my favorite photos from my home away from home in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.
The next photo is of a fiery sunset in Yosemite National Park in September of 2017. This was a meaningful trip as it was the last time I went with my long time pal, Jack, who passed away last year. How blessed I was to be able to spend that few days with him.
Here is another from that trip. It's from a misty and quiet morning along the magnificent Merced River.
One last one. This is an iPhone photo of Quitobaquito on the Mexican border in Arizona. It is currently being ravaged and perhaps entirely ruined by a needless wall. Enjoy this image...it's one of the most special places in all of the West.
I have a dream I'd like to tell you about as I end this blog post. It's a simple dream but it seems awfully challenging these days. My dream is this...that everyone who reads these posts regularly and is a friend who shares my love for the land will meet me one day on the road in one of these remarkable places. I'll make the fire for us to sit around and talk about how we all survived the terrible pandemic of 2020. And how, after surviving it, we feel a little more grateful for all that we have and have had. And how life seems a bit sweeter than before.
Much love to all. I'll be back in a few weeks with a few more words and photos.
This will mostly be a journal of my travels. I may include other items that interest me. Feel free to join in.