Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Travel Has Taught Me…

…that you don’t have to go far to get a completely different perspective. Last week, temperatures were in the 30s (F) and the fog in the Willamette Valley was so thick you couldn’t see three feet in front of you. But just over the mountains, just an hour’s drive away, the sun was shining on the coast and temperatures were pushing 60 degrees Fahrenheit!

…that sustaining life on our planet is a matter of delicate balance. I hadn’t been to the coast in a week. The day after our last visit, a tsunami generated by the volcanic eruption near Tonga hit the Pacific Coast of Oregon, carving cliffs on the shore and depositing piles of driftwood.

…that the Earth’s beauty is vast and easily accessible. Look up, look down, look deeply, look broadly. Colors and patterns and exquisite details are everywhere.

…that finding treasure is within reach, the moment you set out from your habitual routine. Moving during a pandemic makes building community difficult, but by stepping out of my little apartment and making intentional connections with local groups, I have found some precious new friends.

Thank you to Amy for hosting this week’s challenge and sharing some fabulous photos from her world travels. Click HERE to see her post and learn how to participate.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Memorable Events

Ann-Christine’s challenge this week tells of memorable events from her travels through the Sahara desert in Morocco, illustrated with stunning photos. I encourage you to visit HER POST and see for yourself. My most memorable travels in the last decade have been domestic roads trips to National Parks. On one trip, I visited 11 federally protected sites – parks, monuments, and forests. They are chronicled in the page listed below my banner heading called “An American Adventure”. Here are a few of my favorite shots from that journey.

“Roads were made for journeys, not destinations.” – Confucius

“Once a year, go somewhere you have never
been before.” – Dalai Lama

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Interesting Objects

“Remember, the object only reflects a feeling that came from a human. It holds a story from where it came from,
but it’s not alive.” ― Kim Neville

Patti invites us this week to share photos of “Interesting Objects”. I went on a photo hike this morning in the fog up a hill covered with mossy trees with that subject in my mind. I found many interesting things, but I came to make the distinction that what I was photographing was not Objects but Beings. Each mushroom and lichen and spiderweb and bark pattern was exquisite and interesting…and alive. So, I went into my photo archives to find Human-created objects that I’ve discovered on my walks.

I photographed these pendants I found in a Bayside boutique because I love the way the wrapped wire looks like trees. I wanted to show the design to my middle daughter, who makes jewelry.

Owning a beach house gives you the opportunity to show your affection for the sea. I liked this whimsical decoration above one garage in Santa Cruz, CA.

My daughter’s partner is a Bigfoot fan. I had to capture a shot of this chainsaw statue outside of my hotel in Mt. Shasta, CA for him.

This little rock was resting on a bench at the top of St. Joseph’s Hill in Los Gatos, CA. My siblings and I climbed the hill together to mark the anniversary of our mother’s death. She donated to the Mid-Peninsula Open Space District that protects this land. I loved finding this human’s message on that meaningful day.

The things that humans create are not Beings, but they certainly can be created from a place of awe and affection for the Beings that share our planet. I suppose it’s really that interconnection and respect that I find draws me to objects and makes them interesting to me.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Along Back Country Roads

Roads go ever ever on
Under cloud and under star
Yet feet that wandering have gone
Turn at last to home afar.

― J.R.R. Tolkien

Far off the major highways, in deep woods and high mountain forests, lie some of my favorite back country roads.

Paved roads in remote places in the American West lead to canyons and deserts where the human population is minimal and natural landscapes stand out.

Sometimes a back country road is a little more than your vehicle can handle. Use caution!

My very favorite back country road is the gravel lane where my mailbox stands. I’m grateful to have a home far from the heavy thoroughfares where noise and stress oppress the environment.

Thank you to the Lens-Artists guest hosts this week, Wandering Dawgs, for inviting us to share our back road adventures. Happy travelling, all, and safe home again!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Getting Away

When this old world starts getting me down
And people are just too much for me to face
…”

Not being a city girl, I have never escaped the hustling crowd by climbing the stairs to find solitude “Up on the Roof”, like the Carole King/Gerry Goffin song describes. I prefer to travel to and explore places of natural quiet where there is (ideally) no human presence. Wilderness is my favorite Get Away. I am heading out tomorrow to Strawberry Mountain Wilderness in the Mahleur National Forest on my very first backpacking trip. I will not be tethered to a powered vehicle or a “civilized” infrastructure for three whole days. I will be relying on my own two feet and the company of a few experienced hikers. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for more than 40 years!

I have done day hikes in designated Wilderness before, but never an overnight. It is extremely important that our group Leave No Trace of our visit. Keeping wild spaces as pristine as possible ensures that conservation and spiritual values are not compromised.

If we lose the ability to get away from the impact of human domination, we may lose sight of humility and perspective altogether.

Thank you to this week’s hosts, Rusha and Bert of Oh the Places We See.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: California Picks

 

“There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.”
— Edward Abbey

For this week’s photo challenge, Tina invites us each to pick our own theme. Having just returned from three months in California journeying with my family of origin through my mother’s hospice care and death, I have new photos to share and a complex perspective.

A jewel in the sparkling allure of California to me is my siblings who live there. I reconnected with them in an intense situation and discovered that they are exceptional human beings…and they really do like me, after all!Our days together were full of the poignant joys of life: memories, change, and resilience. We hiked the mountains, beaches, and urban green spaces to keep a grounded perspective. The natural surroundings in California are breathtaking, but the impact of humans is often completely overwhelming. While I was there, record-breaking temperatures, catastrophic wildfires, and the Covid-19 virus often prohibited us from leaving the confines of our protective shelters. How ironic that the things that make California a popular place to live also create the populations that make California unlivable. Finding a sustainable balance is the never-ending challenge here.

“It was a splendid population – for all the slow, sleepy, sluggish-brained sloths stayed at home – you never find that sort of people among pioneers – you cannot build pioneers out of that sort of material. It was that population that gave to California a name for getting up astounding enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this day – and when she projects a new surprise the grave world smiles as usual and says, “Well, that is California all over.”
― Mark Twain

How to live gracefully on this planet, in a human body, with all the complex interactions going on all around me, continues to be the challenge that I strive to meet. Grace is an attitude of balance and mercy, I think…but I’m still pondering it. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: All Wet

“A normal lake is knowable. A Great Lake can hold all the mysteries of an ocean, and then some.”
― Dan Egan, The Death and Life of the Great Lakes

“A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.” ― Henry David Thoreau

“A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.” William Wordsworth

When Tina invited me to delve into my photo archives for a look at something All Wet, I immediately thought of Lake Michigan.

This truly Great Lake is an old friend. I have visited its shores while living in Illinois and Wisconsin and while vacationing in Michigan and Indiana. I have been to the northernmost shore and the southernmost. It always impresses me with its size.

Four generations of my family have submerged themselves in its waters. I knew it as a playground when I was a little girl. I worked in a museum on its shores half a century later and came to know more of its power and importance. 

I find it unfathomable in every sense because there’s so much to know and imagine about its history, its living presence, and its intricate and moody details. I will leave you with a gallery of images to peak your curiosity. 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Going Back

“There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better;
Some have gone but some remain.”
~ ‘In My Life’ by The Beatles

During this time of staying “Safer At Home”, I have begun a photo project converting snapshots in my family albums to digital files so that I can share them online with my loved ones, most of whom live on the West Coast while I live in Wisconsin. Scanning these precious images, I keep returning to a very special vacation spot that has been in the family for four generations.

We call it simply The Cottage. It’s a beach house built on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan some time in the 1940s by my father’s parents. My father first brought my mother there when they were courting as college students at Harvard/Radcliffe in the mid 1950s. I spent long weekends and extended weeks there in the summers while I was growing up. Here are some images from the party we had for my third birthday.

I last visited The Cottage with my mother, my sister and brother, my husband, and my four children in 2007, following my oldest daughter’s college graduation. 

To me, The Cottage will always be about the feeling of summer freedom. Walking right out the front door onto the beach at any time, free to explore the sand, the water, the endless horizon, the numerous bits of driftwood and stone, I felt that my life was my own to create. We built sand castles, buried each other up to our chins in sand, jumped waves, collected “glassies”, scared seagulls, threw balls and Frisbees, and lit campfires. I wanted my children to have that same freedom.

We also challenged ourselves to bigger adventures, like canoeing down the White River and riding over the huge dunes, and treated ourselves to local summer pleasures, like root beer and ice cream. 

Freedom and fun are the summer hopes of many children. In the present climate, these are threatened. But these are not frivolous dreams, these are the experiences that demand and build real growth. The ability to make choices and the motivation to make choices for joy must be modeled for the next generations. Limiting choices to staying insular, to keeping things as they are out of fear, is a dangerous example to give our children.

I fervently wish for this global pandemic to teach us the moral lessons we need to learn about continuing exploration and adaptation while treating all living things with compassion and wisdom. May each of you be safe and healthy while you look forward to freedom and fun.

Thank you, John, for hosting this week’s challenge and inviting us to go back into our travels, to remember fondly and to learn.

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A Window with a View

Amy of The World is a Book is the host for this week’s photo challenge. She writes: “This week, we invite you to explore ‘A Window With A View’. Share with us photos you’ve captured through windows.” Some of the views she shares on her post take my breath away!

In my part of the world, this is a typical January view. It’s good to be on the inside looking out!

The moving window of a car is a difficult opening through which to photograph, but I’ve seen some of the most spectacular sights through those windows. 

Telluride, Colorado

Near Hovenweep National Monument, Utah

Windows high above a vista provide a good frame for a landscape shot.

Wyalusing State Park, Wisconsin

From the spire of the Basilica on Holy Hill, Wisconsin

And sometimes, the view from the window is not as important as the contemplation within.

Whether you are inspired from within or without, may you have new windows of perspective in this New Year!

Lens-Artist Challenge: My Travels

I met Steve eight months after I was widowed. In the tumult of grief and transition, he offered me something that was transformational – a chance to go camping. My husband and four kids and I did not camp together. I hadn’t been camping for years, but I consider myself a lifetime Girl Scout. Getting back into the outdoors, practicing self-reliance and adaptability, and surrounding myself with the beauty and non-judgmental, non-moral embrace of Nature was just what I needed to consider Life worthwhile again. Steve’s style of camping has a distinct difference from mine: his motto is not “Be Prepared”. His motto is “Be Open”. My instinct to make lists and consult maps was challenged at the very outset. We spent the first hour of one of our early trips parked at the curb outside my house in a deep philosophical discussion of what it means to be on an adventure. 

Steve also introduced me to the wonder of the National Forests of the U.S.A. There is no fee for camping in the National Forests, but there are Leave No Trace rules. A world of freedom opened up for us when I discovered we could easily make camp, cook, clean up, sleep and deal with personal waste (!) outside of crowded developed campsites.

We have, however, depended on either his former Toyota or my late husband’s Honda to transport all our gear.I would love to be able to experience the freedom of going into even more remote wilderness areas, either with a 4-wheel drive vehicle with higher clearance or a backpack. (The latter would be more realistic if I were ten years younger and in better shape…)

We have enjoyed the diversity, the grandeur, and the autonomy of places not dominated by human impact. I find those sacred spaces truly inspiring… and extremely photogenic.

(I had to include that last photo just to prove I’m not kidding about the Girl Scout bit…)
I thank Amy for sharing her inspirational Travel stories and for inviting us into this Travel Challenge.