After a month-long road trip in 2005 I realized I’d been to 47 of our 48 contiguous states. If I’d known this I would have driven the two hours north. This minor annoyance haunted my travels for several years. Then in 2009, a few months into my two-year road trip, I finally arrived in my 48th state – North Dakota. Many friends remarked “This obsession with visiting North Dakota is a little strange. There’s nothing there.” For me the only reply was “It’s there.”
This is my triumph…
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Rifle Falls State Park, Colorado
Jagged EDGES plunge upward from Crater Lake, a small memory of Mount Mazama. Phantom Ship Island gets its name from its ghost ship like appearance, especially in fog.
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
What mysteries hide behind this old glass window?
Our National Treasures…
There are nearly 400 treasured units maintained and preserved by the National Park Service. Among these include national parks, monuments, preserves, recreation areas, lakes and seashores, rivers, trails and parkways. Also included are various historic and archaeological units including landmarks, memorials and battlefields. While national forests are maintained by the US Department of Agriculture I include them in my national park category because I treasure them as such. It has been my goal to visit each of these units both of the National Park Service and forest. I lost count at 56, even so I know I have a very long way to go. Here are just a few samples of our national treasures.
Mormon Row, Grand Teton National Park, WY
Whte Sands National Monument, NM
Lake Kentuky, Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, KY
Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA
Rocky Mountains National Park, CO
Coronado National Forest, AZ
Canyon de Chelly National Monument, AZ
Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
Crater Lake National Park, OR
Millbrook Village, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, NJ, PA
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, FL
Mesa Verde National Park, CO
Serpent Mound, National Historic Landmark, OH
Lewis Falls, Yellowstone National Park, WY
Colonial National Historic Park, VA
Death Valley National Park, CA
Saguaro National Park, AZ
Acadia National Park, ME
Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
Badland National Park, SD
Blue Ridge National Parkway, NC, VA
Parks listed in order top to bottom:
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, Kentucky & Tennessee
Lassen National Volcanic Park, California
Coronado National Forest, Arizona
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, New Jersey & Pennsylvania
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, Florida
Serpent Mound, National Historic Landmark, Ohio
Colonial National Historic Park, Virginia
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Death Valley National Park, California
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Acadia National Park, Maine
Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Blue Ridge National Parkway, North Carolina & Virginia
Landscapes are not only my focus in photography but also in my geography research. While photography focuses on wide sweeping landscapes geography looks at the broader landscape as well as singular elements and their connection to the broader landscape topic.
Yellowstone National Park, while not nearly the largest, is certainly a massive park. In square miles it’s nearly three times the size of Rhode Island. My first visit put all those square miles I read on paper into perspective.
We approached the gate in the early evening, still daylight, when the ranger warned that we may not have time to get to the closest campground before it filled. “What? How is that possible”. He explained it was 50 miles to the closest campground. Again, “What?” My mind couldn’t wrap itself around that number. He further warned if we didn’t get a campsite not only would we have driven 50 miles for nothing we’d have to drive back the 50 miles to the exit and another 50 miles back to Cody. Well we didn’t chance it and found a lovely cabin only about 20 miles outside the park.
This put these 3400+ square miles into perspective but the next few days would show me how vast and varied the Yellowstone landscape really is. It is one of the most amazing places I’ve visited in the lower 48 and one of my three favorite national parks along with the Teton’s and Glacier.
Ansel Adams is my favorite photographer and as good as he is even he could not capture the true vastness and sense of amazement of our national parks. Photos can entice us to visit but you will never feel that sense of wonder unless you are fully present, looking on its beauty with your own eyes.
It’s about 10 miles from Norris Basin in the forefront to the Gallatin Range in the back.
And here is my attempt at an Ansel type image…
Swarm of Bikers
The idea of a swarm is not something I would run to my camera for but I am determined to participate. This photo was taken in July 2007 somewhere in West Virginia. I was on a week-long bike trip and we’re not talking motorized bikes. We started in Decatur, Indiana and ended in Fayetteville, West Virginia, over 450 miles of bike riding. And no, I would NOT be one of those riding. I was driving the service van. We traveled down scenic US Route 60 from Charleston to near Fayetteville, waterfalls everywhere. The beauty was so stunning that I repeated the drive in 2009. This fun week ended with white water rafting down the New River Gorge.
This moment will never pass again, these small water droplets will be in this place and time only for this instant. The photo on the left shot with a medium f-stop & shutter speed, the right a larger f-stop & faster shutter speed.
f stop – f/11; shutter speed – 1/6 sec.
f stop – f/4; shutter speed – 1/80 sec.
Dunn’s Falls Water Park, Mississippi
Trail 2, Clifty Falls State Park, Indiana