Friday, August 29, 2014

The Photo Bin - August 2014

It's fun, once again, to have content for the Photo Bin. The recent run of blog posts here has been picture heavy, but that's what you get when a new camera arrives and an expedition is undertaken. There's been lots to look at, but still a few odds-and-ends have managed to fall to the Bin.

Craig, Montana exists for but a single purpose; to sustain those who fish the Missouri. The main drag is just a of couple blocks long and has three fly shops, a breakfast/sandwich take-out joint, a nice, rustic restaurant, and a lodge house. It would all dry up and blow away but for the river. Behind the lodge house there's a bar and I never caught its name. It's a locals' watering hole, as far as I can tell, for that's all we encountered during our late night incursions. Admitted, we were there well after the out-of-towners, the sports, had retired to their beds.

The tricos come off early, you know.

In the heart of the place, there's Headhunters. It's the smallest of Craig's three fly shops, but it projects a funky vibe and an energy that's infectious. Good people. It also served as my communications central. My friend Jess McGlothlin had clued me in. "Cell service is sketchy but you can get it in spots... sit on the white bench on the porch and you're good to go." Thanks, Jess!

Further north (way further north - British Columbia north), Elk River Guiding Company owner Paul Samycia keeps a healthy fly supply in the truck as we head out to chase some cutthroat and bulls.

And why wouldn't you keep a truck full of flies with waters like these around? My buddy Mac tests Wigwam's shoreline structure amid the splendor of freestone and fir.

The week-and-a-little kicking around British Columbia, Alberta, and Montana was a blast, due in large part to the company of good folk. Left to right: Jay, Chad, Todd, Mac, and Chris. Thanks, boys, for a fine adventure.

Closer to home, the hummingbirds swarmed everywhere. I had a ball trying to capture their kamikaze antics and twittering attacks. I nicked a number of shots that were technically better, but this image speaks to me best of the attitude of these pugnacious little buzzbombs. Aerial warfare.

Finally, on a sad note, we judged our neighborhood's annual sunflower contest on Sunday. The finale (a day in which we, as a group, wander from house to house where we measure every entry and, more importantly, take pause for a bit of "refreshment" at each stop) is normally held in July, when the sunflowers are at their peak. But schedules and weather pushed it late into August and the contestants were worse for the late summer wear. Drooping and pitiful. The flowers were bad too.

Our sunflowers never really got started as I was in charge of the garden during Mary's June/July recuperation from hip surgery (and you know who wears the green thumb around here). Between the bugs, the birds, and the benign neglect, they hadn't a chance.

Rich and Sheila's were also a no-show, but they were more creative in their non-entry.

What is a Photo Bin?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Glacier National Park

If Nikon or Canon (or anyone else, for that matter) could effectively replicate the transformative filter that exists between our eyes and our brains, they’d sweep the photography market.

Glacier National Park was stunning, but the lingering haze from summer fires on Montana's western slopes, as well as in nearby British Columbia, proved too much for the cameras. My mind’s eye was able to discount the obscurity, assimilate and enhance the distant saw-toothed shadows, and knit together an image that told the story of grand expanses, jagged mountains, and the untold millennia of slow glacial craftsmanship. The SLR, however, got lost in the smoke.

So while what came home on the SD cards was terribly disappointing, I'll still offer a handful of shots in the hopes that your eye/brain interface, and your imagination, can cobble together a suitable impression for yourself. Some day I'll return to bluebird skies and unlimited visibility, peel away the filters, and be truly engulfed by Glacier's spectacle.

And on that day, once again, I suspect that the cameras will struggle to keep up.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Directions For Use

Don’t aim directly at him at first. Point the spray about fifteen feet out and three off the ground, between you and the bear, so if he comes he has to come through the cloud.

Having the bear spray on my belt makes me feel badass, but the bravado melts away quickly as Todd gives me tips on how to use it. I know that the chances of pulling the trigger are slim, but the fact that I’m carrying it at all is sobering.

You’ve got seven seconds worth of spray, but don’t blow it all in one blast. Shoot two or three seconds, then pause.

That’s assuming, of course, that I can get the canister off my hip and flip free the safety while ol’e griz is sizing me up. Assuming I can move at all. I idly wonder how bears might react to the smell of freshly soiled shorts, but decide not to ask.

After that first blast, watch the bear, then the cloud. Be ready to adjust for wind or any other atmospheric conditions before spraying again.

So let me get this straight. Strategically position the first blast. Precisely time the duration of each dispersal. Monitor and assess the large, threatening carnivore’s reactions and the meteorological movements of the gaseous deployed deterrent and adjust application in equally measured portions according to these varying factors.

Fuck it. I’m just gonna spray Todd and run like hell.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Road to Craig

Friday, August 22, 2014

North Fork of the Blackfoot, MT

Note: Look for more upcoming content related to our ten days of wandering around British Columbia, Alberta, and Montana at Hatch Magazine.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Communications Breakdown

“Let’s meet back here at 9:00, just before dark,” Todd shouted over his shoulder as he dropped onto the path at the end of the backcountry bridge and disappeared down Wigwam. Mac and I followed, but turned upstream instead. The sun still sat high overhead so we had plenty of time before rendezvous.

But after a mile or so of fast, skinny riffles with scant holding water, we threw in the towel, found an old wildlife trail perched above the river, and bushwhacked our way back to the bridge. A hot day, by Canadian standards, we dropped the waders and penguined our way around the truck for a while; had a bite, a beer, and a quick nap, then tried to decide what to do next. There were still a few hours before Todd was expected.

“Let’s take Todd's truck and drive down that old service road to the turnout just above the canyon floor,” Mac suggested. “Shouldn’t take more than a half-hour to get there. We can fish that switchback for an hour or so and get back here by 9:00”

Seemed a good idea, but...

“What if Todd comes back early?” I wasn’t quite sure how he’d react to find that we’d left him stranded in the British Columbian outback.

Mac thought a minute, and then smiled. “I know. We can leave a note on the windshield.”

Now I’d heard, and gone along with, some pretty hairbrained ideas over the previous several days, but this took the cake. Really? Leave a note on the windshield?

“That’s the dumbest thing I've ever heard, Mac, and you know it.”

“It’s just gonna blow off when we turn on the wipers to clear the dust as we drive.”

--- o ---

Note: Look for more upcoming content related to our ten days of wandering around British Columbia, Alberta, and Montana at Hatch Magazine. Special thanks to the fine folks of Fernie, BC for their terrific hospitality. We sure had a blast. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Warm Waters of Home

There’s a new body-scrubbing puff in my shower this morning. I notice it as I let the warm waters wash away ten days of road dust and it makes me realize, yet again, how little I really need to make me happy. It helps me remember how much I love home.

A silly little shower puff.

Excuse me a moment. There’s some soap in my eye.

It is, of course, more than the puff. It’s the feel of my own bed and the mold of my pillow. It’s the warmth of my wife beside me. It’s the rollicking, goofy joy of the dogs as I come in the doorway. Where have you been? Where have you been? I’m SO happy to see you!

It’s the pile of cool mail that waits on my desk; a friend’s new book, the first honest-to-goodness check for my scribblings, the deed to the ten acres of woodland next door – our additional buffer from the intruding world and an another tether to home.

It’s the garden that needs weeding and the hillside that needs mulch and the driveway that needs stone. It’s the blowdown that needs splitting so that it’s ready for winter burning. It’s the truck that needs its annual cleanup, the redbuds that need replanting, and the chimney that needs work. It’s their needs, I suppose, that I need.

And there are stories to be told. It seems so long since that was true, whatever the reason. But after ten days chasing trout in British Columbia, Alberta, and Montana, I’ve brought home a few. So keep an eye here for the next week or so, as I test my notes and my memory and my photography skills. But don’t worry. Where they fail, as they inevitably do, I’ll just make shit up. It’s more fun that way, anyway.

But not today, so indulge me a bit. For the moment, I’m simply going to stand here and let the warm waters of home wash over me.

And enjoy my new puff.