the journal

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Oregon Photos – Round 1

Filed Under Uncategorized

I spent nine days in Oregon this month, most of that time spent outdoors. Here are some of the photos I took on the trip:

I also have an album of butterflies I was lucky enough to photograph.  You can find those photos at my other site, bugshutterbug.com.


Valley of Fire State Park 2007 – Gallery

Filed Under galleries, local travel, photography, Uncategorized

After looking at the photos in this gallery, you might be surprised to hear that they were taken just an hour or so from Las Vegas. Valley of Fire State Park is usually lost in the shadow of the less natural activities in Sin City. When I went in the spring of 2007, I found myself alone quite frequently. But while exploring an ancient land painted in reds and oranges – without a casino in sight – I was not complaining.


The Bookham Pattern

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Do you ever wish for that perfect day? A day where you can block out your day with moments of peace, relaxation, productivity, and growth in spirit, mind, and body? There’s a relatively new blog that’s compiling the daily routines of famous people. For instance, we learn that Ben Franklin believed that “every part of my business should have its allotted time.” Writer Franz Kafka seems to have been a major procrastinator.

One routine that resonated with me was one imagined by C.S. Louis in his memoir, Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life:

We now settled into a routine which has ever since served in my mind as an archetype, so that what I still mean when I speak of a “normal” day (and lament that normal days are so rare) is a day of the Bookham pattern. For if I could please myself I would always live as I lived there. I would choose always to breakfast at exactly eight and to be at my desk by nine, there to read or write till one. If a cup of good tea or coffee could be brought me about eleven, so much the better. A step or so out of doors for a pint of beer would not do quite so well; for a man does not want to drink alone and if you meet a friend in the taproom the break is likely to be extended beyond its ten minutes. At one precisely lunch should be on the table; and by two at the latest I would be on the road. Not, except at rare intervals, with a friend. Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; and talking leads almost inevitably to smoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned. The only friend to walk with is one (such as I found, during the holidays, in Arthur) who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared. The return from the walk, and the arrival of tea, should be exactly coincident, and not later than a quarter past four. Tea should be taken in solitude, as I took it as Bookham on those (happily numerous) occasions when Mrs. Kirkpatrick was out; the Knock himself disdained this meal. For eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably. Of course not all books are suitable for mealtime reading. It would be a kind of blasphemy to read poetry at table. What one wants is a gossipy, formless book which can be opened anywhere. The ones I learned so to use at Bookham were Boswell, and a translation of Herodotus, and Lang’s History of English Literature. Tristram Shandy, Elia and the Anatomy of Melancholy are all good for the same purpose. At five a man should be at work again, and at it till seven. Then, at the evening meal and after, comes the time for talk, or, failing that, for lighter reading; and unless you are making a night of it with your cronies (and at Bookham I had none) there is no reason why you should ever be in bed later than eleven. But when is a man to write his letters? You forget that I am describing the happy life I led with Kirk or the ideal life I would live now if I could. And it is essential of the happy life that a man would have almost no mail and never dread the postman’s knock.


Photo Similarities

Filed Under local travel, photography, Uncategorized

I was perusing one of my favorite blogs and came upon a photo that looked strikingly like a photo I took in 2003. Before discovering the photo, I had spent the morning reading a handful of posts about copyright laws and photographer’s rights, and so I immediately thought that my photo was stolen. It turns out that my photo hadn’t been uploaded anywhere (until now) and started to feel a bit embarrassed of my reaction to the photo: Dozens of people probably have photographed from the same vantage point since the Red Line station opened in 2000.

Metro Red Line - Hollywood Metro Red Line - Hollywood

Still, the similarities of the two photos are a bit creepy. Abby’s photo (above left) was taken in October, 2006. My photo (above right) was taken in December, 2003. Great shot, Abby. I think your angle is spot on.  The curves of the metal frame the image much better than in mine.


Collecting Travel Guides

Filed Under retrotravels.net, Uncategorized

Satchel GuidebookHow many stores can your nose recognize? Back when Amazon was just located in South America, I spent my weekends in musty old used bookstores looking for copies of National Geographic magazines and maps.  When I get an old book and carefully open its foxed pages, I always think about those summer days reading the magazines in the back of a shop.

Like many National Geographic collectors, there would come a day when the wife/parents/landlord couldn’t accept the piles of yellow-bordered soft covers and they would need to be ditched.  It was my parents that caused my collection to end up in front of the local library.  I had amassed a collection of every issue from April 1997 (the current issue at the time) all the way back to 1932.  Although a box or two of the old ones escaped donation, I still think about how cool it would be to have bookshelves filled with those golden global guides.

Now I’ve moved onto other musty guides: travel guidebooks from the turn of the century.  I have a modest collection (under 100) that takes up a few shelves in my apartment.  I’m pretty sure my place smells like a used bookstore because of them, but I don’t mind.  It’s the smell of my teens, a time when I could only dream of travel.

Scott Brown, editor of Fine Books & Collections magazine, has recently written a great article over at AbeBooks.com straight-forwardly entitled Collecting Travel Guides. In the article, he hits upon the history some of the elderly forefathers of travel guides – Baedeker, Cook, Locke, Fodor – and shows some of the more sought-after ephemera including a “Biedermeier” Baedeker from 1852 which is currently available for sale on AbeBooks for a measely US$4,370.00.  I can hear you grabbing for your credit card now.

I chuckled a little at a line from the article:

“As always in book collecting, condition affects the price, but since guidebooks were intended to be used while traveling, collectors tend to be more forgiving of wear.”

I think I’m more forgiving than most.  Check out the article here when you get a free moment.


Cabot Straight, Nova Scotia

Filed Under international travel, photography, Uncategorized

There are a group of Nova Scotians who proudly live in the northern Highlands of Cape Breton.  They are the descendants of the Scots who arrived hundreds of years ago.  My friend from nearby Asby Bay said that two families living in Meat Cove, the northern-most land of Nova Scotia, have been feuding for years.  She told me of a story where the feuding was so violent, the Canadian National Guard had to be dispatched by helicopter to break it up.

The image below shows Cabot Straight, the tip of Cape Breton, and the town pf Capstick.  The clouds hung over the strip of land like a halo. If you look closely, you can see Newfoundland on the far left.

Click on the photo to load a zoom-able image.


Trip Report: Nova Scotia

Filed Under international travel, photography, Uncategorized

I visited a friend in Nova Scotia for a week earlier this month. The excuse to visit her and her Canadian providence was to teach her high school art class a little about photography. She could have simply asked if I wanted to go up there to take our her trash and I’d probably had said “yes”, but it was fun to share some of my photography tips and tricks with her class.

The area she lived in – Cape Breton Highlands – is unbelievably beautiful. Wildflowers were in bloom, the pristine forests were alive with wildlife. I saw moose, coyotes, egrets, geese, rabbits, snakes, eagles, toads… I went on a couple hikes and admired how they were so clean and without graffiti or trash, an unfortunate occurrence here in Southern California.

If you want to save money, you should go to Nova Scotia instead of Scotland. After all, Nova Scotia literally translates to “New Scotland”. The people speak English with a Canadian/Gaelic accent. Even street signs along the Cabot Trail, the main highway snaking up the eastern coast of Cape Breton Island, are in both English and Gaelic.

I enjoyed the graciousness of my host and those who lived in the area. The people I met in the highlands of Cape Brenton had family in the area for many generations. I was staying in a cabin with a friend on the property her family settled on some 200 years earlier. The graveyard on the old property had over 100 tombstones, all related in some way to my friend. Her great great great grandfather who came over from Scotland was buried there.

All the sleepy towns in the area were beautiful, with their cottage-like houses painted either white or a bright color. A local told me that since the weather changes so often and usually involved wind and rain, they use protective boat paint to cover their homes – which probably comes in colors with names like “Ocean Blue”, “Fire Truck Red” or “Banana Yellow”. With the contrast of their well-manicured lawns, the brown rocky shoreline and the blue ocean, it was easy to take “postcard perfect” photos. Here are a few:

Ingonish Coast, Nova Scotia
Meat Cove Moose Shed
Aspy Bay, Nova Scotia
Aspy Bay, Nova Scotia
Cape Breton Highlands NP
Pleasant Bay, Nova Scotia
Lobster Cages of Neils Harbor
Wildflowers of Nova Scotia
Aspy Bay United Church
Aspy Bay Graveyard, Nova Scotia
Mushroom on Moss
Moose Mom With Calf
Nova Scotian Toad

I’ll post more photos, as well as a few other things (maps, journal scans, etc.) from my trip, in  the coming weeks.


Good Quote

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Have you ever read a quote that stopped you in your tracks? A quote that made you look up from the text and ponder it a bit? I found one of those quotes today while reading an article on Outside Online.

“I’ve tried to make the rest of my life good enough that even if the physics theories don’t work out, it wasn’t a waste of time.”

This quote is from Garrett Lisi, an adventurer with a Ph.D. in theoretical physics. He’s as intrepid as any backpacker I’ve met, but most backpackers I’ve met haven’t come up with a theory on everything that has been gathering attention.

The quote made me wonder how many people think that Garrett has lost his mind and that his priorities are in the wrong place. I for one think that he’s got life right and we should all take notes. He seems to understand what is elementally important in life.


Don’t Upset Mother!

Filed Under local travel, photography, Uncategorized

My Parents and I had fun making this shot at Badwater in Death Valley National Park on Christmas Day, 2005. Keep in mind that my Mom is about 5’2″, my Dad (center) is 6′ and I’m 6’4″.

Don't Upset Mother!