Welcome to the simple words from my wandering photographic mind.
On May 4th I loaded what I could into the back of the Red Jeep, camera gear and fishing gear plus other odds and ends I thought I might need for a trip with no return ticket. When oppurtunity calls I've leaned that it is best to say yes and take the chance no matter how big the risk, living life with out taking risks is a life not truly lived in my opinion. On the evening of the 4th I stood by a fire with some of my closest friends, we laughed and sat we're we had so many nights before but the weight of my exodus bore weight on our shoulders shoulders. The following morning I said good bye, fueled the Jeep and began the long roll West. With fresh thoughts of leaving my dog, family and friends behind I pushed the pedal down trying to put space between all of what I had just left behind, the Jeep felt heavy but we ran fast looking to chase the setting sun for 2,000 some-odd miles to Idaho. Waking up the morning I left I knew that the trip West was going to have flaws on the road, gut feeling. 6 hours in somewhere in western PA bad engine troubles stuck, $100 and couple hours later I was back on the road but I knew the grasp of the east was trying to make me question my actions. 13 hours later on the road more engine troubles, Elkheart IN I limped into town for the night.. After burning away most of the next day getting my Jeep repaired I found myself back on the road, I wanted to cover more ground and get to where I was going. Naturally though mother nature decided to lay down one of the heaviest early spring storms the mid west has ever seen.
It's been a little over a month now since I've found myself in a small town in Idaho. It still strikes me everyday how different this place is from the small home town I left behind. Now that I've settled in, the 40 hour long drive across the country staggered with engine trouble and one snow storm of historic proportions seems like a distant memory but will not be forgotten anytime soon.
I think for the first time since I've been here today does not have me charging off in one direction or another, no work or epic adventure today.. Heavy rains have slowed my pace and held me inside, much needed time to sit down write emails and work on my site. The rain today reminds me of being back home looking out the window past my computer waiting for the skies to clear with my red dog Sage asleep at my feet, sadly here there is no red dog asleep at my feet.. It has taken some serious getting use to not having my dog around and more often then not having one sided conversations with her.
Since unloading my Jeep the day after I landed I've worked, roamed or fished everyday. Sleep comes easy at night and the mornings show up fast, hard frosts covered my deck up until a week ago but it seems that summer is starting to show up in the Rockies. The mountains that I look at every morning when I wake up are quickly loosing their snow but weather and temperatures quickly change around here. I've learned so far that even if there is not a cloud in the sky cold rains can blow in on a moments notice and a rain coat is carried everywhere.
Yesterday found me shooting and fishing on the Madison River in Montana running a 13 mile float, it was a good day, good shots were taken and big fish were found. Our day stared out with clear skies and light winds, that changed drastically about half way through the day. Shortly after the east coaster got on the oars sheets of rains came down bearing with them 35 knot winds and some heavy lightning. Naturally I had never rowed a drift boat in winds like that.. The Madison is a heavy river as it is, a river that requires forward thinking and full attention, the big winds yesterday day kept me on my toes to say the least. After all said and done I was told that the situation was handled very well, a little luck and some grace under pressure can go a long way.
Above, Images from yesterday.
I'm still trying to wrap my mind around how this place works between the people and the environment it can be a hard place to read for someone that is from the other side of the country but I've survived the learning curve so far. Each day out here brings something new and often places I have not yet crossed, my nature to roam is at home out here, the ability to take off and head in any directions I please while always crossing places I have not seen is comforting in some strange way. On a regular basis questions come from people I cross and still from friends back home, "how long are you going to stay out here?" The answer is I'm really not sure but I know I'll be here for awhile and if anyone wants to come find me they are more then welcome. Without question their are aspects of the east I truly miss but it would have been easy not to leave what I knew, I stand by what I believe in that life is boring if you don't take chances a place bets on a risk. A few I know questioned my sanity after telling them where I was headed, I'd be lying if I said I didn't question it myself but when it comes down to it you gotta listen to your gut.
Wheels have once again touch down and again I find myself sitting at my desk on a rainy afternoon in New Jersey with my dog Sage asleep at my feet. Nine days ago I shot down south to spend time with my grandfather, dive, fish, drink some rum with old friends and hopefully relax for a minute. All except the relaxing aspect were covered although I did make one major scientific finding while on my travels, drinking rum and being in salt water is in fact the cure to the common cold.
Part way through my trip I passed a line to my godparents that have a small house on a island further up the island chain in the Turks and Caicos, they gave an offer to me sometime last month that I was always welcome to come stay, sure enough they got a phone call.. So with $50 in my pocket to cover the little fairy boat ride back and forth to North Caicos I was off. Fly rod, camera gear and a tooth brush, pack light and travel fast, I was on another adventure to a place I'd never been. As soon as I hit North Caicos I knew it was where I needed to be. Having spent much time on Providencales as a child growing up I will always hold onto a memory of small dirt roads, no phone lines and a community of people where everyone knew who you were, seeing North Caicos for the first time I found myself walking through my childhood memories seeing what I saw when I was younger. Sadly Provo has now been overcome with tourists that pay no respect to the beauty that stood before, empty beaches I knew as a child now are covered with foot prints and drunk people burn on the beach by noon, so for sometime I've had it in my head that another island must be found, I knew it was out there. (To be Noted: I do not hate tourists and frankly I tend to have a lot of fun with them but tourism has in fact forever changed the face of a place I use to know) Back on track... Hoping in an old truck of my godparents we headed for their little home on the water, took us half hour to get to their place , in that time I saw 3 cars, my kind of place.
The bugs, sand flies to be specific, where pretty brutal as we sat on a porch my godfather built himself right above the water, we sat and drank cold beers and swated flies but in that moment in time everything was exactly as it needed to be. The silence of the island was almost over powering at first... As on Provo especially on a weekend the thundersome sound of jets come and go though the day, on North the was nothing, no serien's, no heavy wheels on the road, just the sound of a light breeze passing through the native brush and small waves lapping against the "Muddy Waters."
Once in awhile I find myself in a situation where I don't want to pick up my camera bag for fearing that it might ruin the moment. Sitting on the deck that night with good people, bad flies and cold beers I sat and I watched, I let the world turn and I let it go.. Dinner by candle light and good red wine carried us through the evening, my godfather played his ukulele while we sat in the warm Caribbean air after dinner, we solved world problems we'll never recall the answers to and told stories of how we got to where we have all landed in life, bed time came early on the quiet island.
Waking up to the sound of wild dogs barking across the island led me back to my camera bag in the early morning light, a good photo had been brewing since the night before, more often then not my images get built up out of the depth of my imagination after seeing a possible location for a shoot, Layout, Contrast and Light all work together in my head until I can see the image that I'm after. Few things are more satisfying then to see an image in my head and create a final product to match as I saw it. Below, "Good Morning from Fish Camp"
In the early light over glass water I could hear Bones tailing in the distance, soon I was off and standing alone on a vast flat surrounded by true beauty. Got one really nice fish to hand and had a shot at a couple others, one is better then none. So now with the rain driving against my window in New Jersey and my dog twitching through dog dreams at my feet I think of another far away place that time has left behind and wonder when I will return.
Early last week I found myself scrambling in a last minute dash to pack my bag, grab my camera gear and hop on a small plane to head south and see my grandfather. Pack fast and travel light and always know where your passport is, key points for one that wanders as often as I do.
The runway at the air port was covered in a heavy dusting of snow, a line boy working at the pumps asked if we were taking off with apprensive eyes. We grabbed our gear closed the door and down the snow covered runway we went, that was a first. Tired and stressed out I missed a good chance for a photo running down the runway but so it goes, can't get them all. After 8 hours in the air and two fuel stops; with the last of the days light we made our final approach into Provo.
Clearing customs quickly and dropping our gear at the house after a long day drinks with good friends and family on the rock seemed as though it was the right thing to do. Was only on island for a very short period of time but the point of trip was clear and defined, family is important my friends, don't forget where you came from and the reason why you are here. Over the years I found myself listening to the stories my grandfather told so many times, how he landed on a small island in a single engine plane with his wife my grandmother, the people they met along the way and a simpler time that it seemed to be back then. With a long life in his eyes and a slow pace to his step we remind him about the stories of the past, still he smiles and laughs.
It's a hard act to watch but we've all heard the stories about others and crossed our fingers it wouldn't be us telling them at a later date. Be strong for those around you, more often then not I think it's those around you that appear the least effected need the most support.
The trip was fast, constant movement, stressful.. Through it all I found the time to wander out onto my favorite bonefishing flats for a generally just an hour or so but key time to clear my head and look for tailing Bones. Looking out to my flat I could see there were no recent tracks in the mud which made me pleased, often durning the winter months tourists will get tipped off and local flats will get crushed. With fly rod in hand and camera tow I set off. Stoked to be back on the waters that so often find themselves into my thoughts I saw some good fish that first afternoon hooking 2 and landing 1, plenty good for me.
After a few days on island we once again set the compass north and headed home, time well spent, time that was needed to be spent. Now back in Jersey thoughts of the rock and the reasons why I found myself there ring fresh but answers to the questions posed still seem distant.
So folks.. Sorry for the lack of words that I haven't posted on here in some time but following "Super Storm" Sandy life has gotten a little hectic and the time for words has not been on the table. During the storm I lost 1/4 of my roof and much of the interior of my house so thus I've been a little distracted, thankfully though I still have a house. Heart goes out to those who lost everything.
On other NEWS, my gallery in Summit had it's opening night last Thursday night and it was a great success!!
Anyway the Gallery is located at Mondo Summit on the 2nd floor, 426 Sprigfield Ave, Summit NJ 07902. The Building is open 7 days a week and runs general working hours, 8am to 5pm. I am often not in the gallery but currently I'm trying to make it in on Wednesdays for people to "meet the artist"
If you would like to meet me and have me show you the work that I have up for this show feel free to shoot me a line and i'll be more then happy to meet you there!
1st Thursday of every month 6pm to 9pm we are having openings on the second floor where you can meet myself and the other artists. Come by for some munchies and chance to sit down with myself and the others, depending on the month I will be offering lectures about my travels and various other topics.
Any questions feel free to give me a ring and look forward to seeing you there!
More words will follow on shortly.
As I've stated in the past I've always held the opinion that the woods of Maine are darker then that of any other woods I have crossed. For some reason the woods in Maine hold some primal essence to them that looms in the back of my mind when the afternoon shadows grow rapidly and I try to keep a mental picture of more of less where I am all the while running a rowdy young bird dog. That being said, aside from the ominious feeling I often get from the woods in the north there are few places I would rather hunt. In the past I've always found myself in the woods of Maine hunting with someone but this trip was different, I was running solo, just me and my dog Sage.
The first day of my trip the sun held high and the air was warm, we pushed the woods into areas I had been through in the past, walking through an area I knew my father had hunted for years with a dog I grew up with gave me a simple ease of mind. I passed an old Apple tree that I knew well, the tree in my memory was large a full of life, my father and I placed the ashes of his favorite bird dog under that tree when I was younger. 10 years since I'd crossed that tree and the ashes of Peaty, the tree now was tired and life had faded, I took the time to move a heavy moss covered stone to mark the place where my dads bird dog rested. Now a little older I have my own bird dog and run the same grounds that he pushed solo in the past. In a mark that my father's old dog approved me and my young setter running through his cover we found Woodcock though out the grounds surrounding the old apple tree.
The following day of the trip the cabin was cold when I woke up and a heavy rain was beating against the camp, I looked at Sage and collectively we decided that maybe we ought to cook a good breakfast and take our time getting out the door. The rain past in the middle of the day sometime and Sage and I geared up for another afternoon in the woods, I've never really liked hunting with out the sun up north, when the sun is out its generally pretty hard to get too turned around as long as you think about what direction your moving, when the sun is hidden by clouds all the woods look the same and very easily with two turns you find yourself wondering from which way you came. Sage and I landed back at the camp around dark, both soaked to the bone and worn out, we were happy to see the warm light of the cabin through the woods. Feeding and tending to my bird dog after a long hunt is always the first priority, trying to get warm and dry took a close second. A warm fire and a hot dinner were on my mind, quickly I had a large fire throwing heat across the living room of the camp and Sage and I were pretty content. My pants, boots and gloves were hung in front of the fire waiting for tomorrow to come and Sage quickly feel sound asleep in front of the fire before I had even gotten my socks off. After dinner with my dog asleep at my feet I found myself nodding out in the quiet cabin around 9 o'clock, a little different then the norm but well welcomed none the less.
My room was cold that night even with the fire but I slept well, the sunrise splashing the foot of my bed woke Sage up and she was ready to go, It was a cold brisk morning with a light frost but the sun was out, I made a fast breakfast and Sage and I were once again out the door. In a short time I found Sage holding point and I knocked down a Woodcock that flew as I approached, Sage and I were moving well, it was a good start. We pushed through the dense woods covered with a heavy blanket of soft moss and rotten wood breaking under step. Small brooks and strange sounds in the distance distract the mind of the game at hand. Always walking and talking to my dog, my companion, listening to her bell and tracking her movement waiting for the bell to go silent telling me she's holding point and waiting for me to find her. Sage being a dark red it can be hard to find her in the dense brush, holding fast fast without a twitch I find her, "Wo Sage" is all I say and move in to flush what she's found. The thunderous eruption of a grouse lets lose somewhere behind me, in a flash the bird is gone through the heavy cover and never even seen. Sage is pissed there is no dead bird for her to find but that is the way of the game and she knows that's the way it works, I'll make it up to her on the next bird I tell her. Pushing father into the woods we are doing what we love, both of us in a sense doing what we were born and breed to do. Although sharing the time in the field with friends and family is always enjoyed and never taken for granted I did enjoy the time alone in those woods of Maine running the Red dog and getting a little lost in both mind and body.
Now back in Jersey safe and sound my dog once again asleep at my feet under my desk on a dark rainy fall afternoon we are home again but the thoughts of miles put under boots and paw still sit on my mind, like most trips it went by too fast but it was a good trip none the less. The scratches on my hands and arms remind me the time we put in, the birds we found, the ones I shot and also what the future may hold for trips like that one. In the end all those trips land in the same place of my memory bank, lessons learned, stories made and always a little more appreciation of what my father taught me at such a young age.