Meet Up

Surely this is Olympus?

Surely this is Olympus?

Today was full of nostalgia.  It started off with a visit with friends.  One of those friends is a young woman I’ve known for 23 years now–since she was 7.  I didn’t realize I’d known her for 23 years until we sat down and figured it out over breakfast.  But there I was, flipping back and forth in my mind between the 7 year-old Karen the day I met her and the 30 year old wife and mother sharing breakfast with me.

Karen and Chris

Karen and Chris

It was the first time I met her new daughter, just born in March.  She’s a happy baby.  Smiling and cooing and doing cute baby things.  I will have photos from today eventually, but I need to get them downloaded and post-processed first and I forgot my card reader–I’ll have to find one tomorrow.

Since I don’t have new photos to post, I thought I would take a trip down memory lane from the last time I saw my friend and her husband.  It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 years since I last saw them.  We went hiking with them in Montana when Pat and I were out for a visit.

IMG_8111One of the things Pat and I did while we were in Montana was take a helicopter ride over Glacier National Park with some other dear friends who accompanied us on part of the trip.  We flew over the mountains, above the clouds that surrounded the peaks.  I think of these photos whenever my young friend talks about her job.  She’s a paramedic and flies on life flights over the same mountains I paid to see.

I sometimes visualize her in an emergency medical chopper over these same mountains.  I am part jealous and part afraid.  Such beautiful sights so often, and to get paid to see it to boot!  On the other hand, it seems like such a dangerous thing to do, rushing out into this unforgiving landscape in a tiny helicopter to try to save someone.  I am impressed all over again every time I think about it.

Sun breaks through

Reconnecting with this friend and her extended family (4 generations were at breakfast together) reminded me how wonderful family is.  I found myself missing my own family as well as this adoptive family I was able to spend the morning with immediately upon leaving.

I started winding through history, remembering cute things Karen and her twin sister and younger brother did when I spent 2 summers babysitting them.  I also remembered all the hard times having this group of people in my life helped me through.

I managed to slip back into the present moment enough to enjoy one of the nicest parts about meeting the whole family:  getting to watch Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Great-grandma and Great-grand dad all making faces at the newest addition to the family.  They were all adorable in their face making approaches.

No--we are not climbing that

Leave No Trace

The realization that from at least the time we’re in the 3rd grade we have an instinctive need to be noticed and recognized and that need only seems to grow as we become adults has me thinking.

Is that what everything we do is really all about?  From whining about loud music at 6:15AM to flying solo in a hang glider off a mountain launch to taking pictures and posting them on the web.  Is it really all about the same thing?

How do we make a mark.  How do we matter.  How does the life we live add up to something that was worthwhile.

Far away, in a beautiful place called Montana, a young woman I think of as a “surrogate” daughter (as in, she’s someone else’s child, but I would like to claim her and her twin sister for my own) is in the middle of creating a new life–literally.  Just over half way through her first pregnancy, she is glowing so much it’s evident even in mobile phone photos and posts on FB.

Watching her grow with this new life inside her via the internet gives whole new meaning to virtual reality.  I am reminded of our visit there about this time of year a couple of years ago.  I pull out the old photos and pick out a few with fall colors that fit my mood.

Having retouched the photos a bit to make them look a little more like I remember the place, I find myself wondering if this will be my contribution to the world.  Pictures that make people smile politely and say, “that’s nice.”  Is this the best I can do when it comes to making my own mark?

I have dreamt of riding my bike (alternately motorized and not, depending on which year I was dreaming in) across the US, of through-hiking the whole of the Appalachian Trail, of writing daring and evocative fiction, of starting a community garden and teaching inner city children how to grow their own food.  I have dreamt of things I have no skills to do and of solving problems I know virtually nothing about.  But when it comes to leaving my mark, instead of raising my hand, I seem to lift my feet.  I want to move, to see, to do.  And the only evidence I leave behind is my footprints.

Do the mountains and trees know I’ve been there appreciating them?  Does the sun set with a little extra punch?

In the end, we are all nomads–we’re all just visiting.  Maybe it’s ok if, like good houseguests, once the laundry has been washed, it’s as if we were never there.

Snow Surprise

Because I am taking a learn to row class 5 days a week and recovering from said rowing class the other 2 days a week, I have not been doing a lot of shooting lately.  As such, I have returned to my photos from our 2010 trip to Glacier National Park.

We stayed at Glacier Park Lodge a couple of nights at the end of our stay in the park.  Getting to the lodge is not difficult.  It’s an easy drive from West Glacier.  What is less easy is the long drive up the East side of the park to St. Mary’s Lake.

The memory of one early morning drive up the East side of the park still haunts me.  Montana has a “fence out” rule about livestock–if you don’t want them on your property, put up a fence.  Otherwise, they’re free to range.  While I don’t know enough about the advantages and disadvantages of this approach to argue for or against, I do know that it resulted in two dead horses spread across the road at about 7AM one morning.  As we drove past, my stomach lurched and I hoped they died quickly.  We were debating who one is supposed to call when there are two dead horses on the road when, a couple miles down the road, we passed a front loader headed at full speed toward the gory scene.  I had to look away.  The thought of the horses being scooped up in a front loader was a little too much for me.

But, on to happier thoughts.  When we awakened our first morning in the lodge, we discovered an unexpected snow had moved in overnight.  While Pat slept in, I wandered around the lodge looking for photo ops.

A red jammer was parked in front of the lodge loading up a group of senior citizens for a tour.  I perched up on a walkway above the scene and started shooting this historic vehicle.  About then, the snow started sliding off the roof of the hotel in enormous chunks.  One tiny lady (the top of her head is just visible through the window of an open jammer door if you look closely in the photo) got pummeled repeatedly by chunks of snow before someone ran over and shielded her.  I felt a little guilty standing there shooting, but I was quite out of reach.

When Pat got up, we drove to the small town nearby (Browning) in the Blackfeet Indian reservation (and yes, it is called “Indian” and not “Native American” there for whatever reason) where we found a trading post that sold rubber boots.  Pat bought a pair and we proceeded to go take an easy walk around a lake before driving up to St. Mary’s.

On the way to St. Mary’s, we encountered many cows on the road.  We also had to pull over so I could shoot some of the scenery with snow.  It might have been unseasonably cold, but it was beautiful.