Image #248 – South Dakota

Downtown Deadwood today

Downtown Deadwood today

Okay, quick! What’s the first thing you think of when someone says, “South Dakota”?  Deadwood?  Well, maybe so if you are an HBO enthusiast… or a weekend gambler … or part of a motorcycle club.

As fate would have it I have been staying in Deadwood for the past three nights, using it as a base to visit Devil’s Tower (in NE Wyoming) and the Mount Rushmore area.  I am a fan of the “Deadwood” series on HBO and while I did not purposefully set out to stay in Deadwood because of that, it was kind of fun to see the site of the Gem Saloon, the Bullock Hardware store and more. The “Deadwood” series was, sadly, short-lived. It ran three seasons and portrayed, at least somewhat accurately, the founding and early years of Deadwood, the town. Surely Deadwood’s greatest claim to fame is the fact that Wild Bill Hickcock was murdered here, shot in the back while playing cards.  It is commemorated to this day and referenced throughout the town.

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For anyone who followed the series “Deadwood” you will undoubtedly remember the raw portrayal of a wild west town. The street scenes were particularly vivid with dozens of extras who all seemed to have some commonality — a sad sense of urgency, a mild degree of paranoia, and a taste for the “earthier” things in life.  Remarkably many of those characters still seem to be here, dressed in more modern clothing but with the same look.  Deadwood is mainly a gambling town, with casinos in every storefront.  We arrived on Saturday and the town was in full swing. It was packed and while many did seem to be enjoying themselves there were many others who were exceptionally sad. Sunday morning brought an exodus and new peace.  Families replaced the gamblers and the town resembled a Disney theme park.  All in all a curious place to be…another part of the adventure.  ❧

Image #247 – Off the Grid — Drifting in Clouds

Image #247

Highway 130 near Laramie, WY. Thunderheads form over the Wyoming hills.

I’ve been off the grid for a while.  The past sixteen days were spent in Trinidad, California (thank you Bunny and Ed!).  Remarkably laid-back, Trinidad is a seductive kind of place. The ambiance of Trinidad/Arcata/Eureka just sucks you in and soon the rest of the world slips away. The ocean, the redwoods and sequoia, the wild bursts of wildflowers and ocean fogs all contribute to its mystery.  I have a backlog of photos to share.  Stay tuned.

I’ve been on the road for about six weeks and turned back eastwards on May 29th. I passed through Lassen Volcanic N.P. in California, across the Nevada desert, back up into the Rockies and across the Snowy Mountain Range highway, which was closed under six feet of snow when I passed by in early May.  Now all the snow is melting and the rivers are swollen downstream. In Saratoga, Wyoming the town was sandbagged against the rising North Platte River.

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North Platte River rising in Saratoga, Wyoming. The river crested at the top of the sandbags and then receded.

I stopped and spoke with some National Guard troops who had been helping the community fill and pile sandbags. The told me the worst was over and the town was spared.  I thanked them for their good work and wished I had added, “It’s good to have you home.”

As we came out of the Snowy Range and down into the town of Laramie I watched thunderheads form, great huge thunderheads that made the great huge hills in front of them seem very small.  They were forming in the north and would  move on to pummel north Wyoming and the Dakotas but my trip back into Denver was sunny and smooth.  All is well with Tango and Alice. ❧

Image #236 – Wild Horses

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Near Green River, Wyoming there is a road called Wild Horse Scenic Loop. The Wyoming Travel and Tourism website describes it this way:

Here, on the mesa-like summit of White Mountain, the Pilot Butte Wild Horse Scenic Loop Tour skitters roughly 23 miles along good, gravel-base roads. Travel this route and along the way you gain not only many chances to spy roans, blacks, paints, appaloosas and sorrels, but panoramic views of the Wyoming Range to the west, the Wind River Range to the northeast and the Uinta Range to the south.

The website also notes that there are 800-1000 wild horses on the 392,000 acre White Mountain Management Area.  I only traveled about half of the loop but I did see some horses, about 6 or 8.  It is comforting to know that horses run free in parts of this country.  Quite naturally they are a little skittish of humans but I was able to get close enough to snap a picture of this young one. ❧

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A Little Help from my Friends

This is a blog from Chris Condello, a young fellow I have been following for some time. He has reached out through his words and pictures but this blog reveals how hard his life can be. Please send good thoughts his way. He is a fragile thread in this weaving we call life but the tapestry is better with him in it.

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The following post was not easy to write… before the emails and comments start I have to say that I am alright… I won’t be accepting comments on this particular post… Read it for what it is… A deeply personal piece of art… Enjoy…

TulipSnowfall “Snow on my Dreams of Spring” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA – Yesterday… Snow fell from the mid-April skies… Last night… The temperature fell to 21F… Snow is truly falling on my dreams of spring…

PlumChurch “Plum Blossom in a Neighborhoods Bottom” – Second Presbyterian Church of Wilkinsburg – Hay Street – Wilkinsburg, PA – Took a walk through one of the neighborhood food forests the other day… It had to be a quick walk because it decided to start raining the moment I walked out the door… This garden was a project done by a local artist/resident and a few non-profits… And I honestly don’t…

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Image #220 – Flight pictures

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Frequent visitors by now will have figured out that I take many pictures and only a small percentage reach this blog. I try to be discriminating but sometimes, I think, I may apply too high a standard. The picture above is a case in point. This was captured about a week ago. I was at a nearby park and saw these pretty birds “working” the area around the fence. The markings on this bird are quite distinctive but my reference resources are limited so I don’t know what kind of bird it is. Please, anyone, feel free to help me out.

When I sorted the pictures that night I lingered on this photo for quite a while because it is so dramatic. Birds are such awesome creatures of agility and I love pictures that capture their moves. I was going to post it but then thought better of it because it wasn’t “good enough.”

And then a fellow blogger — Bird Canada — posted a blog about flight and said, “in fact, a good picture can reveal things that go [by]  too quickly if you are looking at it at normal speed (even after the fact on a video).”  I immediately thought about this photo.  Yes, it isn’t as sharp as I would like but it is a good picture because of what it reveals. It has caught this bird springing straight into the air from the fence, with his wings tucked and extended all at the same time.  In the next moment, which I and the camera completely missed, he dove straight down in fast pursuit of a tasty morsel.

So, thanks Pierre for  your wonderful photo-essay.  Photographing birds in flight is not easy but even the less than perfect picture can be pleasing. ❧

Image #217 – No entry

SAMSUNG CSCThese windows on an old Florida farm house caught my eye and imagination recently. There was a time when there were dozens of dilapidated, clapboard farm houses all across the Florida landscape but they are rapidly disappearing in the “new” Florida.  I’ve photographed this particular house twice now.  It’s still standing but doesn’t have much longer.  To see more pictures from this shoot visit my Flickr set “Old Florida Farm Houses.” ❧