Posts tagged “photography

Erosion

Posted on 4 August 2017

I’ve learned I can simultaneously expand with wonder and implode with despair. It’s a hard thing, working in a beautiful place and knowing it’s degraded, its soils are crumbling, rolling into the lake, leaving scars of absence. It’s also a hard thing to be degraded, to be regarded either too hard or too little, so like the soil you run away and scars mark your retreat. Walking back to my tent-room after tracking down documents, I’m greeted by a man who shakes my hand and then refuses to let go, he grips harder and I yank away and shuddering, hurry off. He knows exactly to where and I don’t like that. I have to work, or I don’t have to but I want to,…

A Year of Washington Hikes

Posted on 11 December 2016

A beautiful thing about living in Washington is the myriad hiking possibilities. One can head to enormous mountains, temperate rainforest, beach, or dry canyons – there are endless options. Living in Seattle means I can enjoy the cultural city life without giving up on outdoor activities. In fact, outdoor recreation is emphasized more here than in many more rural places I’ve lived. This year, I both cross-country skied and snow shoed for the first time, hiked quite a bit, camped several times, and collected mushrooms and berries. The following is a summary of the hikes I took this year – hopefully they’ll give you some ideas, whether you live nearby or are visiting. Paradise, Mount Rainier Hiked in February. Variable distance. This one requires…

To Be Light

Posted on 30 May 2016

It’s 5am and we’re speeding down the mostly empty road, our electric scooter’s headlight cutting a path through the dark. Intermittently, motor scooters speed by with a polite warning honk. I crouch lower behind Ben, shivering in the wind, while widening my eyes in search of our turnoff. We found the correct location, scouted out on our wanderings a couple of days before. The temple we had planned on entering was locked, so we scaled a stupa across the way. Sitting on a ledge, we fiddled with our cameras and shivered as the black gave way to grey, illuminating the clouds overhead. The sky turned grey-blue, then patches of pink flared. To our left, hot air balloons appeared from behind one of the larger…

Another Lens

Posted on 18 April 2016

I tried to focus on Mandalay Fort, across the moat by which I stood. I couldn’t. I pulled the camera strap off from around my neck and switched to manual focus. Back on. I still couldn’t focus. The lens made uncomfortable clicks and skipped, the image relayed to my eye by little mirrors jumped from one kind of blurry to another. And thus I learned my go-to lens was broken. Luckily I had two others. Both are great in particular situations, but not quite as broadly versatile as my damaged lens. Disappointed, I buried the broken lens in my pack, swapping out its seat on the camera for the prime lens. Now I had one distance at which to gaze at the world through…

Sun and Shadow

Posted on 24 March 2016

Alright, I’ll try to walk you through this dusty, lovely, sandy terrain. Even at this morning hour, the sun is high and sharp. I alternate between squinting and widening my eyes. There is a temple to take in every way you turn. We got up and had the standard Myanmar hostel breakfast: egg (fried or scrambled), toast with butter and jam, fruit (banana or papaya or an orange), tea, and coffee (the instant kind, some with milk and sugar added – Birdy brand was my favorite). Then, the smiley receptionist, his teeth spread so wide I couldn’t help but like him, showed us to our electric motorbike. I gripped Ben tightly from behind and we wobbled our way out onto the road, picking up…

Take it Away, Mandalay

Posted on 7 February 2016

Stepping out of the airport, onto the grey pavement, into the yellow sun, following our shared taxi driver—what else is there like this? Every time I blinked, my eyes were swallowing something new. As we rushed over the highway toward Mandalay, I looked around in every direction. The buildings grew taller and taller, and vehicles became traffic, which became more chaotic. I loved it. At once I could connect sights with familiar places and drink in everything as all new. After dumping our bags in our hotel room, I was raring to explore the city that evening on foot. Darkness fell, but only after we explored the blocks surrounding our hotel – up to the fortress and down along the streets. We ate dinner…

The Crowded Wild

Posted on 21 September 2015

The photos may convey an untamed wilderness, but that’s not really the case – at least in these spots. On the Fourth of July, hoards of people descended upon Yellowstone’s lodges, its sprawling parking lots, its shops. With our car packed full to the windows with the last items of our prolonged cross-country move, we navigated our way through the park, winding around RVs, trying to see what we could, while we were there. I can’t begrudge the other people, who were doing something similar to what we were – though I will project negative energies at those who strolled off the walkway in places clearly labeled Sensitive Ground, Stay on the Trail. A national park is a funny thing. Wilderness preserved and displayed in this…

The Shock of What’s Real

Posted on 7 September 2015

The magnificent Grand Tetons faced us on the road and I faced them right back, unwilling to look away. As we crossed into the national park, a moose balefully stared at the crowds huddling along the banks of the river, in whose cold water the moose was sheltered. I looked around balefully too, shying away from the hot dog toting crowds. I wanted to get out and camp in the mountains’ shadow, not sit under the eaves of a park convenience store. Feeling mildly claustrophobic, we drove past the already-full tent-only campsite, aiming for another at the far north of the park. A more serene scene greeted us: a spot on the edge of the campground, bordered by a lake and hedged in by…

Disappear into Earth

Posted on 31 August 2015

When I travel, I revel in the crazy encounters, in the soft souls that hold me for a time. And sometimes, I revel in their absence. Wyoming. It’s vast. The sky pools overhead and the hills undulate on and on and on, spotted with scrub, never quite hiding how far the landscape can stretch. For all the millions of people in this country, it still has its empty places. I peered out of the car windows, looking for prairie dogs. We stopped in a small town, population less than a hundred. A visitor information office sat sentry, housing maps for the nearby national forest. We were given our directions, and water from the house out back, from an enthusiastic and helpful lady. I pet…

Poems, Mountains

Posted on 16 August 2015

We exited Rocky Mountain National Park, snow splotches fading in our eyes, winding down the road toward Wyoming. I had a red eye flight out of Seattle. Equipped with my not-at-all stuffed to the gills backpack (truly, it wasn’t), I sat on the bus, off to the airport, chatting animatedly with the bus driver who asked where I was going. I told him about my upcoming road trip, my home-in-the-making, and he told me about his job, how long he’d been a bus driver, previous travels, and his desire to get out somewhere soon, over the holiday weekend maybe, Canada maybe. Do it, I said. Just go. Never has going been a bad idea. I trod into the Denver airport at around 2am but…