Several folks have expressed concerns about our well being, and I thought it would be best to assure you that we are carrying on quite well, thank you very much. I haven’t posted for a couple of days, but we’ve actually been quite busy. I’ll catch up with some Postcards shortly but wanted to give this short update.
While we were in Cannon Beach, Oregon, the smoke moved in with quite a vengeance. And it stayed with it throughout our visit to McMinnville in the Willamette Valley. But other than keeping us from seeing a lot of the beautiful Oregonian scenery, it hasn’t slowed us down much. Tonight (Sunday 9/13) we are in Bend, Oregon. While still in the smoke a bit, we aren’t anywhere near the flames. Rest assured that while we probably passed within 25-30 miles of some of the fires, there is really little danger here unless you are actually close to the fire. The rest is mostly an aggravating, stinky fog, and pretty easy to fix with the right white balance setting in Lightroom! 😉
Monday 9/14 we head to Elko, Nevada where the forecast is for sunny skies, with perhaps a little sun but temperatures in the low 90s during the day. We can put our long pants and sweaters away for a few days!
There are some places you can go where the secret to making decent photographs is simply being willing to stop the car. The Palouse region of eastern Washington state was such a place for me.
I tend to steer clear of photographic icons for the simple reason that it is hard to do anything original there. That plus the fact that standing at an overlook with a bunch of other photographers isn’t my idea of a good time. But on this road trip we are concentrating on doing our own thing.
We only had two nights devoted to the Palouse, staying in the town of Pullman, WA. When we arrived at our hotel we were informed that a group of National Guard personnel were due to arrive the following day to assist with testing of University of Washington students because the campus – surprise, surprise – had become a hotbed of Covid cases. Swell – so much for distancing.
We limited our public stops in Pullman to two mostly empty restaurants and a grocery store. We drove the first evening on mostly deserted back roads, got the car filthy dirty but saw some nice scenery. The second day we awoke to the forecasted high winds and dust storms, so that limited our activities that day. But in 200+ miles of driving around the area we went from places we weren’t willing to get out of the car to places that were clear as a bell, just windy as heck.
One of the meccas for photographers is Steptoe Butte, a high spot overlooking the undulating valleys. We had planned to go there but nixed the idea due to the high winds and dust. So instead we did the sensible thing and sought out a small local restaurant with excellent food and wine. The photos can wait for a return visit!
I think I did a pretty decent job of finding “my own” version of the Palouse region. I have hundreds more shots but this is a sample of my initial favorites.
Kathy & I departed this morning for what we expect to be an 8,000 +/- mile journey to the Oregon coast, visiting Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana before making the big turn through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and Utah before heading back through Colorado and home. With any luck there will be a Monte sighting along the way. 😉
We’re doing a few things differently this trip than we’ve ever done before. First, and the biggest departure for us, is that we have made zero hotel reservations beyond the first night. I’ve always been an ‘anal’ planner, preferring to have all my I’s dotted and T’s crossed, weeks and sometimes months before we leave home. We wanted to make this trip as flexible as possible, and figured that we shouldn’t have trouble finding a place to sleep as long as we keep the “requirements” to a minimum.
The second departure – for me – is that this is the longest trip we’ve taken with the least amount of camera gear. I have my X-T4 and my 3 zoom lenses – the sweet 16-80, the 55-200 and the 10-24. And it is all in a shoulder bag! I have always ended up with at least one backpack, sometimes two. This time the backpack holds our computers and peripherals, but not camera gear. Nice!
So stay tuned for some “Postcards” from the road, plus some hopefully interesting photos – and stories – along the way!
Over this past weekend I was telling our oldest son Scott about our plans for an upcoming road trip. He asked “why?” Meanwhile, our youngest son Kevin is at the beach for two weeks.
If you don’t experience or understand the desire to travel, you just don’t have the travel bug. Scott is a homebody and father, and chooses to stay home. Kevin is an avid traveler and cruise fan like me & Kathy. Nobody is cruising these days, so Kevin followed our lead and went to the beach for a change of scenery. In his job he has a bunch of vacation time that he needs to use by the end of the year, and the clock was ticking!
Our plans are to head to the Pacific Northwest shortly, although in addition to all the Covid stuff we are now looking at the spread of wildfires all over the west. Fortunately our plans are very flexible, and once our Subie is loaded up with a full tank of gas we can go just about anywhere!
The travel bug doesn’t wait – the clock is still ticking and we have 18 states to go to get to 50. With a little luck and a lot of driving we’ll pick up another 5.
Years ago I hung out with a bunch of guys who were pilots. Some of them owned their own planes – small homebuilt planes or private planes like a Piper Colt or Ercoupe. I actually got my own private pilot license, although I haven’t actually driven a plane in about 30 years. Photography is a very economical hobby compared to flying! But I still like planes, especially big noisy ones. 😉
One day a bunch of us were talking about going to the annual EAA Fly-In in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. For a week at the end of July, the EAA “AirVenture” as it is now called, is the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration®. Kathy was understandably skeptical about the idea of spending a week at an airport with a bunch of airplane geeks, so she asked, “is there anything to see there besides airplanes?” One of the guys looked up and said to her in all seriousness, “well yeah, there’s parts!” 🙂
We didn’t see many airplane parts on our western road trip, but we did see lots of planes. We visited the static displays at Scott Field in Illinois and Ellsworth AFB in South Dakota. There are a few photos here, but for those who need to see more, I’ve posted a gallery of airplane photos on my Adobe Portfolio site.
I hardly ever see film anywhere any more. So I was a bit surprised to see this at a gift shop at Wall Drug. I didn’t check the expiration date. I wonder if they also sell Kodak mailers for processing? 😉
Our original plan was to stop at the visitor center at for a stamp in Kathy’s Passport book, take a few photos and move on. But even though the weather was iffy when we got there, the scenery was so captivating that we decided to stick around until dark. And we’re glad we did!
The visitor center is situated at a rest stop along I-94 and is one of the few interstate rest areas where you can actually see bison. We didn’t see any at the rest stop, but did see a lot of them in the park, both up close and from a distance. The best way to see the park is to drive the loop road, which is what we ended up doing.
A portion of the loop road through the park was closed due to some aerial spraying being done, but the road was open enough to get some good views from within the park. “Prairie Dog Town” was a lot of fun, with hundreds of the cute little critters popping their heads out of their holes to peek at us. We got a little “up close and personal” to some bison that wandered through a parking area right behind our car. I was very glad to be in the car and not out wandering around with my camera!
Our visit could have been longer had we gotten there earlier or if the weather had been better, but it was longer than we intended, and that is a testament to being open to change and flexible in our plans. It was a worthwhile detour, for sure!
One of the “must visit” places on our recent trip through North Dakota was a place called The Enchanted Highway. The Roadside America website gives this brief overview, and you can visit the link for more details:
“Thirty miles south of the nearest major highway, the town of Regent was dying, and Gary Greff decided someone had to do something about it.
A metal sculptor and retired school teacher, Gary started the work in 1990. His master plan was to create ten giant sculptures, one every few miles along Regency-Gladstone Road, paired with picnic areas and playground equipment. All the sculptures face north, toward the oncoming traffic from the interstate. Seven have been completed.
An additional sculpture towers along I-94, essentially an artistic billboard enticing travelers to exit and head south to Regent. Geese in Flight went up in 2001, next to the Gladstone exit — and it is claimed to be the World’s Largest Outdoor Sculpture.”
Our visit occurred on one of the nastiest (relatively in North Dakota terms!) of our trip. We started off in the morning with rain and 35 degrees, went through 3-4 inches of snow at 31-32 degrees, then finally ended up in Rapid City where it had warmed to a welcome 40 degrees with light drizzle. You can see the progression of rain to snow in the photos, as the snow increased as we went south on the route.
It’s easy to see the mud that we found at all of the pulloffs, so I made good use of my “car-pod” to make the photos, only getting out of the car where I could do so without tracking through the muck.
These photos are a few of the highlights of our visit. I’ve created a separate gallery on my Adobe Portfolio page for anyone who just needs to see more of The Enchanted Highway!
I’ll be the first to admit that we didn’t come anywhere close to doing Montana justice. We basically cut enough of the corner between Wyoming and North Dakota to count it as a “visit” (even still, it was 300 miles!) but purposely decided ahead of time that it was a state we would revisit later to explore in more detail.
Our visit was essentially limited to a stop at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. It was a cold, wet day with the precipitation fluctuating between rain and snow, and my photos reflect that. While I’m sure that sunny weather like we saw for most of our trip would have made it more beautiful, the gloomy weather made for appropriate conditions at a place that has such a dark role in American history.