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Cade's Cove

Cade's Cove

Cade's Cove is the most visited area of the Smokies and has been preserved to look much the way it did in the 1800's when it was home to a small mountain community whose settlers came mostly from Virginia, North Carolina and upper east Tennessee. Cades Cove has original pioneer homesteads, barns, businesses, pasture and farmland and an abundance of wildlife including deer, fox, coyotes, and black bears.



Savannah - Tybee Island

Savannah - Tybee Island

The Savannah - Tybee Island area of coastal Georgia is one of the most diverse and photogenic areas of Georgia and the Deep South. Within a few miles is the beach at Tybee Island on the Atlantic and the pier as well (great for sunrise shots), the Tybee Island lighthouse, Fort Pulaski (beautifully restored and maintained Civil War fort), Bonaventure Cemetery (considered one of the most beautiful in America with splashy azalea displays and beautifully carved monuments), the historic squares of Savannah, River Street in Savannah, Wormsloe Plantation and more. The perfect time to visit - mid-March through early-April. It's a favorite destination and I never tire of returning.

Colorado - Utah Fall 2012

Colorado - Utah Fall 2012

My annual fall pilgrammage to Colorado took on a couple of new dimensions for 2012; first, instead of this being my usual "solo" trip, I acted as "location consultant" for the Colorado portion of LightChase Photography Tour Company's "Colorado-Utah Fall 2012" tour and secondly, a "Whitman's Sampler" (LightChase president's description) of Utah national parks was added to the tour.

At the last minute, because of earlier than normal leaf color changes in the aspen forests of Colorado, we completely changed the itinerary to start in Colorado and end in Utah rather than starting in Utah and Colorado. And, it was an excellent decision and we enjoyed outstanding aspen color throughout the tour.

Colorado tour location highpoints included: Aspen, Marble, Kebler Pass, Crested Butte, Ohio Pass, Cimarron Valley, True Grit (Kate's) Meadow, Red Mountain Pass area, various Ouray County roads and the Mt. Wilson overlook near Telluride.

Our Utah itineray included Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks as well as Dixie National Forest . My favorite - Canyonlands. The view from the "Green River Overlook" is "other-worldly" and let me imagine I was on the surface of Mars.

Enjoy the journey.

Southern Utah - Northern Arizona - November 2011

Southern Utah - Northern Arizona - November 2011

The trip to the national parks of southern Utah, Bryce and Zion, and the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona was originally a "throw-a-way" trip taking back seat to a planned fly-fishing outing at my favorite location, Lee's Ferry on the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam. My original plan was to fly into Durango, CO and meet up with a long-time friend, drive to Lee's Ferry for a grand fishing trip then on to Zion National Park to meet up with LightChase Photography's tour of southern Utah and northern Arizona. The "perfect" plan. But, like all "perfect" plans this one ran into an unplanned obstacle - my friend from Durango had to make a change in his plans that took him to Hawaii instead. What a sacrifice. And, I thought of him the morning it was 3 degrees at Bryce National Park, and the morning it was 11 and the wind was a steady 40 mph. Kona showed a high of 82 with gentle tradewinds.

Losing the fishing portion of my grand plan was tough enough but focusing on the photo tour elements more than made up for any fishing shortfall. I had been to both Zion and Bryce before and thoroughly disliked both. Not because they were a physical disappointment but because of the crowds in the summertime when I had first visited both. I remembered wall-to-wall people, traffic jams, shuttle buses, 45 minute waits to eat and endless tour buses disgorging herds of people.

What I found this time was magnificant natural beauty, almost no people, no lines, and a thoroughly rewarding and revealing experience. New friends were made, new experiences were had and a new perspective was put into place.

Colorado - Crested Butte & San Juan Basins - July 2010

Colorado - Crested Butte & San Juan Basins - July 2010

Along with a group of friends I spent not nearly enough time in several of the high mountain basins of the San Juan and Elk Mountain ranges of Colorado in July 2010. The trip was officially a tour with LightChase Photography but I managed to "weasel" a special role by acting as "location consultant" for the tour.

It was clearly a case of careful manipulation that,once again, proved that old age, experience, and guile will overcome youth and enthusiasm. Clearly, Mark Rasmussen (owner of LightChase Photography) was naive about dealing with seasoned veterans (another name for old guys) when he asked me to put together a tour that I would like friends to experience, photograph and enjoy. Let the fun begin!

What I put together included locations I have previously enjoyed (Paradise Basin, American Basin, Silver Basin, Yankee Boy Basin, "Secret" Basin, and Governor Basin) along with a location that I have long wanted to visit - Porphyry Basin and Bullion King Lake.

Our photo experience began in Crested Butte which is nestled between the Elk Mountains and the West Elk Mountains. Crested Butte enjoys the reputation of being "The Wildflower Capital of Colorado" and it continues to earn that reputation. After enjoying and photographing select locations in the Crested Butte area for a couple of days we journeyed over Ohio Pass, past "The Castles" and along the shores of Blue Mesa Lake until we ended up in the Cimarron River valley on our way to our eventual destination, Ouray.

Once in Ouray, our real adventure began. We left the driving to our destinations in the hands of the experts of San Juan Jeep Tours and one of their supremely skilled drivers, Brian Simpson. Brian not only handled the driving chores flawlessly but also added to our daily excursions with his thorough and interesting historical narrative about the San Juan region.

Our destinations included a sunrise trip to Molas Lake, a sunset shoot at Dallas Divide, a fantastic day at American Basin after passing over rugged Cinnamon Pass, a journey to Porphyry Basin and Bullion King Lake and all its waterfalls and little streams, "Secret" Basin where we experienced a lot of unexpected visitors, the seldom-visited Silver Basin which features two turquoise-colored lakes, a dramatic backwall and a living rock glacier, Governor Basin (where I "chickened out" in driving a rental SUV the previous year - excellent decision, by the way) which, to me seems as mysterious as Machu Picchu. Governor is, however, much higher by over 4,000 feet, than the mountain-top in Peru. Finally, our tour ended with a trip to the famous but overly popular Yankee Boy Basin where the crowds can be avoided by traveling to the upper reaches of the basin at the Blue Lakes trailhead. The pinnacle of our experience was a trip to the summit of Red Mountain #3 where we were literally "On Top of the World". I hope you enjoy our photographic journey.


Maine Lighthouses and Acadia National Park - August 2010

Maine Lighthouses and Acadia National Park - August 2010

Our trip to Maine turned into one about lighthouses and lobsters with a couple of unexpected (and, unwanted) adventures added.

First, a word about the lobsters - I managed to eat lobster for all but one meal of our ten day tour of the Maine coast and Acadia National Park. No excuses; it had to be done. There was steamed lobster, fried lobster, whole Maine lobster, lobster bisque, lazy man's lobster, lobster roll, lobster au gratin, lobster bake, lobster tail, stuffed lobster (sounds like me), and lobster scrambled eggs. This almost sounds like a knock off of Bubba in "Forrest Gump" and the shrimp scene (he listed 21 different preparations). Then, add seven days of New England clam chowder and fresh Maine blueberry pie every day and some sort of record has to have been established. I even tried the Maine Blueberry Ale - not even close to the Durango Blueberry Ale. They thought it was special to pour smashed blueberries in the beer - NOT!

Sunrises, sunsets, drenching (and nearly drowning) rogue waves, soaked clothes and camera gear, rock everywhere, a 4 am departure (and others) to photograph the first rays of sunlight to hit the US on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park and you have the perfect photo tour.

Highlights of the trip included being whacked by a couple of rogue waves estimated to be over 60 feet high at Pemaquid Point Lighthouse. I almost lost all my camera gear on that one and only a valiant and dangerous effort by our leader, Mark Rasmussen, prevented my entire camera backpack from resting forever in Davey Jones Locker. Instead, Davey Jones Locker ended up in my backpack and I didn't finish cleaning the salt water off and out of my equipment until 1:15 am!

Then, there was the ferry boat trip from New Harbor to Monhegan Island in a storm described as a "tropical depression". We were told the seas were "only about 6 feet". Halfway through the twelve mile trip, the swells were estimated at 12 - 13 feet by the first mate on the ferry. It was a constant battle with sea sickeness throughout the trip; unfortunately, the sea won. Without exaggeration, it was the scariest boat trip of my life. When I was able to remember, word for word, Gordon Lightfoot's, "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" ("Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes to hours...") and all the dialogue in "The Perfect Storm" I realized that I am, forever, a mountain boy.

And, finally, the best part was doing all this with friends old and new. Our group came from Georgia, Illinois, Ohio and Missouri and we endured and thoroughly enjoyed the tour of Maine in good spirits and a common sense of adventure. I look forward to traveling with all of them on another photo adventure. Thanks Mark, Don ("The Weasel"), Jimmy, John, Carla, Marti ("Mrs. Cougar"), and Paul. You are all good sports, great photographers and fine friends.



Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just up the road a piece and is easily visited from our home in North Georgia. The park has a couple of unique distinctions: it is the most biologically diverse area in the world - more plant and animal species have been catalogued here than anywhere else and it is the most visited of our national parks. That is readily apparent throughout the fall foliage season where bumper to bumper traffic is common and hotel rooms are literally impossible to get without reservations having been made many months in advance.

The Smokies are a photographers paradise with spectacular sunrises and sunsets, wildflowers in the spring and autumn foliage displays to rival New England. Waterfalls and streams abound throughout the park and black bear are commonly seen. Pioneer cabins, cantilevered barns, grist mills and other structures have been restored and are of great interest.




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