It’s great having a few choices of nature trails near my house. They’re no steep mountain trails, but they still provide a necessary respite from cars and people. The trails around the lake at Parvin State Park are some of my favorite and most frequently traveled. This trail still can surprise me with its beauty as the spring flower bloom and hang over the path. I have to duck more often but it smells so amazing and it gives the trail a whole new identity for a while.
After waking in the dark and driving the sinuous roads that lead through the mountains of the Olympic Range I found myself walking quickly up a steep path in the early morning light. The sun had yet to cross the peaks, and it was chilly for August. After some switchbacks and open trail walking I made it to my destination. The top of Hurricane Ridge is expansive and majestic. Jagged mountains surrounded me while rolling meadows lay at my feet. Olympic marmots whistled to each other while everything else was silent above the clouds as the sun showed its face and washed over me as I sat in awe for an hour or more taking in the incredible power of nature.
There’s a reason I always go out around sunset just to see what I can see. Especially when I’m in new places I like to be out around sunset to watch the sky change. Sometimes I get really lucky and come across beautiful little places like this river in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where the sun dropped behind the many arched bridges along the water. It was a silent and peaceful evening along the banks, where steps dropped down so I could sit and enjoy the beauty of central PA. I’m going back this weekend, and I can only hope for something nearly as nice.
Rocky Mountain National Park has some of the most amazing views from all over the park roads and, of course, from the trails. To give you an idea, this was the view from the access road to our campground. Watching the light change throughout the day as we came in and out was mind blowing. From the morning glow to the sunset hues to the towering dark figures in the night, it was a place I never wanted to leave. We had a gorgeous view from our tent and they just kept getting better wherever we went. Sometimes a regular-sized photo won’t do it justice. It’s hard to know where to point a camera here.
Seeing views like this in New Jersey is something unexpected but always welcome. The beautiful views from High Point State Park are unmatched in the state in my opinion. They call it Skylands for a reason. Hiking up the steep ridge in the morning fog to find a view of the sun coming up over the smoky mountains northwest New Jersey was an amazing feeling. I could have stayed there all day, but as the sun got higher I moved on. The views persisted, but never rivaled those few moments of peaceful, silent beauty at this overlook.
Hiking part of the AT in Virginia was a short but transformative experience. I didn’t quite get to do what I had hoped, but just being out there among the community of hikers and immersed in the lush nature of central Virginia was enough to show me that it’s something I really want to do. There is enough solitude and conversation to be had at any given point that it seems almost impossible that they coexist so easily. While I wish I’d done it already, I’ve regained my enthusiasm to thru hike in the not-so-distant future.
Ever since I was young I’ve been easily distracted by things. I’d stare out the window, wishing I could go outside, or just spend time thinking about what I want to do later instead of focusing on right now. I still spend a lot of time thinking/planning things I can do or wishing I was somewhere else where I could be doing those things. I have been able to focus my energy on a few specific goals lately, and I feel like it’s been going really well. It’s nice to set my sights on something and feel like I’m actively taking steps to achieve it.
One morning last year I woke up in an AT shelter in North Jersey before sunrise and then had a transcendent morning of hiking through High Point State Park as the sky changed colors all around me. From the vantage point higher than anything in New Jersey I could see rolling mountains all around and a sky bigger than I knew New Jersey ever had. Watching from the overlook tower while the cool morning breeze dried the sweat on my face, I was involuntarily smiling the whole time. It was one of my favorite moments.
Walking through Cambridge I simultaneously feel smarter and completely unintelligent. To be surrounded by such storied buildings of intellect can do that to a person. Hallowed halls aside, it’s a beautiful place with a great trail along the water in view of bridges and the modest Boston skyline. Strolling along here really helps me clear my head and brings back memories to wandering those streets aimlessly with friends years ago. I understand why it’s such a popular place to live.
Morning in the midwest had such epic beginnings when the sunrise began nearly an hour before our star crossed the horizon. The pillowy clouds stretched on for miles in the sky, carrying the soft morning glow from around the curve of the earth and lighting our pre-dawn drives. The great expanses that make up the middle of the country are quiet except for the occasional roar of tractor trailers on the interstate and the thoughts in our heads as we watch the day unfold.
Every year Millville, NJ has an air show at the historic airport. It’s a big draw for local residents and a lot of people in the area. On the good years, the USAF Thunderbirds are there to put on a flight show. I’ve always lived pretty close to the airport so it’s easy to see them doing their test flights a couple days before the event. Even these are really impressive to watch from far below. The expert pilots fly in formation and zig zag around one another, giving us a free show from our backyards.
Being up before sunrise has an energy that is invigorating. There is potential to the day while you wait for the sun to break the horizon. Staring at snow-covered mountains towering in every direction around you in the blue tones of early morning is magical. And when the first warm glow hits the peak of the tallest point, it radiates with life-affirming color while it slowly swallows up the darkness and ushers in the morning.
The desert has a lot of great scenes of stark difference. The clear blue sky is a beautiful backdrop against the rolling hills of sand in Death Valley. There is rarely a cloud seen and no shade to be found. Walking across the dunes at times felt endless and surreal. The views seemed like paintings or stepping inside the most amazing landscape photo. Looking back it’s a lot more pleasing that taking each step and sinking back another.
When you look too closely at something you can form a skewed image in your mind about what it is. When you back up it’s sometimes difficult to comprehend what you’re really seeing now that you have the full picture. Context makes all the difference. We expect things to stay the same forever, but they change so frequently and rapidly that our minds don’t have the capacity to adjust. We hold on to old ideas and anything that is comfortable to keep us safe. Denying that things have changed only means that you, yourself, have not changed. The world cannot be slowed.
Due to my being very sick over the past weekend and having to travel for work, I haven’t been able to post any new photos and I’ve been slow getting this one posted. I actually haven’t had any desire to take new photos with how I’ve felt, so I went back into the archives and pulled out this one from the roof of the Divine Lorraine in Philadelphia. This was one of the most beautiful sunset I’ve ever seen, partially because of the colors and clouds but also because I was sitting on top of this gorgeous old relic of a building in center city Philly looking west over the whole town along with a handful of other adventurers who found their way up there on a warm autumn night. Perfection.
To continue the animal trend from yesterday, I really liked this close crop of the bird with awesome hair. There are so many species of animals out there that I’ve never seen or even thought of that seeing ones like this makes me want to find more. After the collections of wildlife I’ve seen in this country alone I can only imagine what I’d find if I were to get to Africa or Asia or Australia. They are goals for later, but for now I’ll keep searching out the eclectic mix of creatures we have right here.
I come back to photos from the Omaha Zoo quite often. As much as I enjoy seeing the animals playing and running outside I still think they should be able to exist in their own natural habitat. Unless it’s set up as a sanctuary for displaced or endangered animals and not a for-profit organization I don’t think I’ll be visiting them anymore.
Going to a good museum is always an inspiring experience for me. When I leave I feel a renewed sense of drive to create interesting and creative work. It seems that just seeing a collection of amazing work by talented artists helps me see the world in a different way again. I like finding shapes like this that create interesting negative space and line illusions. This is the outside of the Cleveland Art Museum. Fittingly, the outside was just as inspiring as the inside for me.
Anyone reading this probably already knows that Utah is my favorite place to visit. The National Parks are astounding, but the view from any given drive on a backroad, state highway, or even an Interstate can leave you speechless from the unmatched beauty that rises up all around you. The red rocks paired with the often blue sky seem to exist in perfect harmony and play off one another, creating the most rich, brilliant versions of either color that you will encounter in nature. Everything else seems just a little more dull after crossing the figurative state line.
The landscape of southern Utah is so varied that it’s hard to identify at times. This shot is from somewhere near Buckskin Gulch near the Arizona border. Watching the road curve ahead into the distance is always exciting, especially with views like this. We took several dirt roads to get where we were going as you often have to in the backcountry of this area. They are often washboarded or covered with soft sand so travel becomes a gamble. We made it in and out of every one without incident somehow.
Traveling has always been something I have loved to do since I’ve had the autonomy to do it. I have traveled by car almost exclusively until recently when I got this job. Now I’ve been flying pretty frequently, and while it isn’t my favorite thing to do, I do get to see the country from a great new vantage point. I’ve seen some amazing sunrises and sunsets as well as the cities, mountains, rivers, and farmland that make up the american landscape.
My latest workplace is Seattle, and I got to check some places out in between doing random tasks. The race this weekend is at Seattle Center, where the Space Needle sits in the middle of it all. There is so much in that area, and it’s all worth seeing. The best part of being in town was seeing friends and just hanging out at a bar talking. Sometimes instead of trying to do it all it feels good to just kick back with good people.
Last night, for the first time in a couple of months, I got to spend some time in Philadelphia. It’s still my favorite city; I just wish it was closer to the Rockies! It was a perfect night for a walk around the city and along the river. It was fun discovering the new walking area that’s been added underneath the Ben Franklin Bridge. They have made some nice improvements that continue to make Old City/Northern Liberties a great place to hang out and walk around. I feel I’ve been properly welcomed home now.
The Shark River area of Everglades National Park was a small area that was amazingly dense with wildlife. Besides a ton of gators, turtles, fish, and small birds I saw this gorgeous heron sitting just off the side of the slough. She stood there on the tree for a few minutes before spreading its majestic wings and soaring off to another perch. I was amazed at the amount of wildlife I came across in the short time I spent there. I can’t wait to visit again and spend more time in the backcountry.