Boyd & Kathy Turner Photo

Journal

Stories and pictures about our travels, our photography and the outdoors.

 

Everybody out of the water!!!!
The fleet waits.jpg

Remember when you went to the public pool when you were a kid? Didn't you hate it when the lifeguard made everyone get out of the pool? In Port Orford, Oregon, all the fishing boats have to get out of the ocean. There really isn't a port, just a big wharf where the boats can be lifted out of the water and put on wheeled dollies. This makes for some interesting views of fishing boats. It just isn't that often you see an ocean-going fishing boat completely out of the water. These fishermen have to pull their boats whenever they are not fishing. I guess the good news is that maintenance has to be easier. On the day we were here, a winter storm was predicted to be coming ashore, so it looked like everybody was out of the water. Lots of interesting details to look at while we ate our lunch on the seawall, which appeared to be a whole lot nicer place than the port office.

(Click on the thumbnails for a larger version)

Boyd TurnerComment
Complicated Dam photos
The Pit River in northeastern California spills over the Pit 4 Dam.

The Pit River in northeastern California spills over the Pit 4 Dam.

What is it about water flowing over dams? We have a long complicated relationship with dams, especially along the Pit River. Really complicated. Complicated like an evening soap opera plot. Complicated like a classic love/hate triangle. Complicated like the fine print on a form at the doctor's office. Complicated in ways we still don't really understand. Suffice it to say, we find ourselves attracted to dams flowing water when we are out making photos. Recently, the Pit 4 Dam was spilling water as we were out looking at the proverbial "stuff".  We had to stop and make some pictures. Color pictures. Abstract pictures. Monotone pictures. Simple pictures. Complicated pictures. Way tooooo many pictures. There was much groaning at the computer monitor when we saw how many pictures. So we winnowed them down to a smaller number. Hope you enjoy them, we do, but the reasons are complicated.

Boyd Turner Comments
Taking the road most traveled...
Redbud along the road most traveled

Redbud along the road most traveled

Does this sound familiar? You travel the same road frequently. You notice something cool, or interesting but you never stop. Why don't you stop? Because you have to get someplace else. We finally stopped at one of these spots. This particular spot has beautiful redbud blossoms in the spring against gray rock. Unfortunately last fall a truck tipped over at this very location. The truck ended up being a hazardous material incident when stuff leaked onto the ground. The hazmat had to be dug up.  This resulted in the best clump of redbud being dug up. So this year we told ourselves: "We are going to stop here when the redbud blooms before they ruin this spot any more." And so we did. Turns out besides the redbud, there are other interesting plants there as well. And well worth the stop. (If you click on the thumbnails below you should be able to see them in a larger format, depending on your viewing device.)


Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?

Or maybe you prefer the colors of the water or the earth?

 

Originally we had planned to post this immediately after we wrote it. Then the wind storm came and blew down trees, stripped roofs off houses and made a mess in the area we live. The wind painted the area with misery and trouble for about 48 hours. So it seemed a little insensitive to post this on the heels of such an event. But now that people have had a chance to get the electricity on and some time to clean up, we thought it was time to share these. Hopefully it will bring some joy.

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What you doin' up there?

Click on the photo for a larger version...

Giraffes. Everyone knows what a giraffe looks like. But have you ever seen one up close? There is only one word to describe the face of a giraffe - goofy. But you cannot deny they are tall. Some can be 19 feet tall allowing them to stand above the whistling thorn acacia and see what is around them. But being tall has disadvantages too. A giraffe baby has a 5 to 6 foot drop into the world. Guess they are tougher than they look.

Boyd TurnerComment
Winter at Last

Snow has come to the higher elevations. This is a big deal around here. Last year there was no snow. The result was a lot of wildfire in August. (See the page on the Siege of 2014 by clicking the link at the top of this page.) But this fall is different than last fall. Last year we had 0.86 inches of rain go through our rain bucket in November and December. This year with three weeks to go in December the rain bucket has measured 3.08 inches. That's more than 3.5 times what we had last year. Besides the water, storms mean clouds. Photographers love clouds, especially around sunset and sunrise. The accompanying photo was taken this week from the Twin Bridges area of the Lassen National Forest and shows Mt. Lassen emerging from the clouds of a clearing storm.

Hopefully, there will be lots more storms this winter with lots of opportunities for pictures, and water.

Mt. Lassen emerges from a clearing storm at sunset.

Boyd TurnerComment
Do you smell that smell?

This is not about that Lynyrd Skynyrd song. No, it's about what we often say shortly after we step outside the plane or the airport in a new place. When we landed in Arusha, Tanzania, we were barely out of the aircraft door when my nose started crinkling. Wood smoke. Pretty strong too. That seems odd, I thought. Don't know what I expected to smell when I arrived in Africa, but it wasn't the smell of Southern California during a rash of Santa Ana wind fires. Turns out everyone cooks on wood and charcoal. Real charcoal, not briquets, but partially burned wood that someone within walking distance made in their back yard.

This was much different then getting off a plane in Costa Rica. The door opened and we strolled out into the tropical air lush with the aromas of vegetation and wet things. Not sure what kind of things but they were wet.

And it is not just third-world countries. There was the smell of walking through the airport/train station at Schipol in Amsterdam. Perfume. Bright, flowery, expensive scents not wafting from the duty free shops but from expensively dressed people - mostly speaking French. This was a 180-degree turn from past experiences with French speakers in the national parks of the western US.

Then Amsterdam itself. You can probably guess the aroma. Dope - in sudden, strong, overpowering gusts of nasal stimulation. And so randomly too. Sometimes in front of a "coffee shop", sometimes just walking down the street along the canals. Who knew Amsterdam would smell similar to Puerto Vallerta? We got off a cruise ship one evening in Puerto Vallarta to take a few pictures near sunset. We walked one block and suddenly  - yep, the smell of burning cannabis. Great (and yes that is a sarcastic great). I hate that particular smell.

Sometimes we smell things that are intimately related to our photography and we wish we could add them to the picture. The sweet fragrance of a grove of oranges in full bloom for instance. Or maybe the smell of sage after a summer thunderstorm in the Great Basin. Or recently in Africa, the metallic tang of fresh blood at the site of a hyena kill. All of them link back to pictures in our heads. At least for me, when I get lucky and make a really memorable image I find it often has a memory of a particular smell that goes with it. And sometimes the smell affects the photo too. So, do you smell that smell?

Boyd


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A new website?

Yes there are  a LOT of Africa photos. But then a trip to Africa generates a lot of opportunities for photos and videos. We worked and winnowed and edited and discussed and somehow got down to the roughly 80 pictures you can see on the website as I post this. There were a lot of good photos that we haven't included for a variety of reasons: too graphic, too much like another photo, too much this or that.

When we got close to having our selects, we also decided to overhaul this website and give it a fresh feel. We like the new layout and hope you do too. We aren't sure how long it will stay this way. But soon the urge to go make new images will become overwhelming and we will have to create something new to put up here.

But for now, enjoy the galleries from our Africa adventure. Also expect some stories to be added here about our trip and what we learned. Additionally, we will be making a video of our Africa trip, but before that, a nap....

Yawning cheetah.jpg
Boyd TurnerComment
Waiting on the crowd

Boyd, the platform and getting ready for the shot

Hurry up and wait. I used to be a professional at it. I never did like it. I still don't like it. But sometimes you have to wait for an opportunity to take a photograph. I didn't have to wait for this lady, but off-camera 3 bus loads of tourists from a country not known for their large interpersonal bubbles are unloading and descending to the platform like wildebeests after the last scrap of grass at the end of the drought. See the metal posts holding up the platform? They are about to start vibrating like a tuning fork. The solid platform is about to become a bowl of Jello. No problem if you want a quick snap of someone standing in front of a waterfall. But I wanted smooth flowing water and crispy rock. That means a long exposure and a very still camera. Just as I get everything set, the first of the horde descends and pretty soon as I look thru my camera the view is jiggling. That platform is about as steady as a crab boat in the Bering Sea. But being trained at hurry up and wait I implement my training. The good news about where we are: the buses have to move on to get to some where else. That means the horde probably has only 15 minutes here. I can wait them out. I am a former professional at waiting. And after about 20 minutes the instagram shots were done, the vibrations were slowly going away and I sidled back to my spot. This other image is the result. Pretty sure no one on the 3 buses got this shot. Guess it pays to have been a professional at hurry up and wait.   Boyd

Boyd TurnerComment
Abstract Landscapes

Can a landscape photo be abstract? Dictionary.com has this definition of abstract: "thought of apart from concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances: an abstract idea." Is a photograph of something that exists then abstract? Look at these photographs and see what you think:

Without getting too deep here, we like the way a camera and lens can isolate elements of a larger scene. Sometimes it is just about lines or shapes or colors or textures. Or maybe just sleep deprivation.

Boyd TurnerComment
Memories

Our trip was full of variety - from quiet bird watching hikes in isolated forests, to raucous partygoers in Times Square and everything in-between.  We even heard the President speak in person.  We saw 211 different bird species, took 4,000+ photos, traveled 10,760 miles while visiting: cities, statues, forts, archaeological sites, state parks, national parks, cemeteries, national wildlife refuges, lighthouses, national forests, and the emotionally powerful new 911 Museum in NY.

The weather was blessedly cooperative; the “Hat Creek bubble” (renowned in local fire folklore - see 7/28/13 post below) protecting us from four severe thunderstorms.  Our truck electrical issue, which plagued us for several thousand miles, was relatively minor and we have now accepted the fact that vehicle repairs are a requisite on such long trips.

But our fondest memories are ones of family and friends…visiting relatives in Houston, attending graduation with family at West Point, and playing tourist in DC and New York with our kids.  Thanks to all of you for keeping track of us, giving sightseeing suggestions, and checking on us to make sure we had not strayed too far off of our non-defined course.

Boyd TurnerComment
Surprises

Half the fun of traveling is stumbling onto unexpected surprises.  While seeing iconic places, such as Niagara Falls, Statue of Liberty, etc. are enjoyable; it felt as if we had already “experienced” them through years of exposure to their photographs.

It was the unanticipated happenings that were most enjoyable.  Moments such as the hundreds of fireflies blinking at us from the swamps in Louisiana; a huge thunderstorm billowing over us with its winds causing the tall green grasses of the rolling hills at Little Big Horn to dance; the appearance of 2 yearling moose at our campground who unpredictably encountered a black bear wandering onto the scene from the opposite direction, with them trying to decide who was most intimidating (surprisingly it was NOT us watching humans); the dank, dangerous, and claustrophobic feeling of an underground copper mine when the lights went out; driving by the 390.4 inch (that’s over 30 feet) record snow depth sign in Keweenaw County, Michigan; having a spectacular sunset suddenly explode out of an overcast sky in Utah; amusement at the realtors signs in New Orleans which specified if the property for sale was “haunted” or “not haunted” (seriously!), sitting in a prairie dog town watching the inhabitants amusing antics.

Even though we were gone for almost 60 days, we still felt like we rushed through some areas. I guess that just means there are more surprises waiting for us.

Boyd TurnerComment
People

I was a little nervous about traveling in big cities – what if we got lost and found ourselves in the “wrong part of town”?  Turns out my concerns were unfounded, even when we did, inevitably, find ourselves lost in the wrong part of town.

Locals and other tourists alike were friendly, helping out when we were “misplaced”, looking for an address, or having other minor problems.  We could “feel” the friendliness of the SE, with their warm smiles, friendly “hi-y’all”, (pronounced as one, two syllable word), and asking if we needed help before we even inquired.  We were even surprised by New Yorker’s relatively frequent eye contact, often accompanied by a greeting, with their strong accent divulging their local residency.  DC however - not so much.  We nominate it as the unfriendliest town we visited.

As we travel we are continually impressed with the cultural diversity, which makes up the people of this country.  We visited a copper mine where miners spoke over 30 different languages.  We walked in big east-coast cities and can’t even begin to name the languages we heard.  We learned that Cajun’s spoke French in public schools until a 1921 revision in Louisiana’s State Constitution required speaking English.  We visited many battlefields where people of varied backgrounds and ethnicities fought on both sides and against each other.  All of them Americans.  

Travelling through 23 states we got a pretty good sample of people across the country. Certainly there were a few bad grapes but mostly the bunch was pretty good. It made us optimistic for the future, although some states really need better driver’s education.

Boyd TurnerComment
Mississippi River Adventurer

“Itasca State Park in Minnesota contains the head of the Mississippi River.” That sounds interesting I told Kathy. So we went there. While we are standing waiting for a chance to take some pictures of the sign and the lake outlet where the Mississippi begins we notice a guy with a touring bicycle loaded with gear. He’s trying to take selfies and obviously getting a little agitated. So as we often do, we offer to take a picture for him. He is grateful and a conversation ensues. Turns out the guy is named Steve and is starting the following day to ride his bicycle the length of the Mississippi River. Steve is not a young man. As we talk it also becomes clear that Steve is not a life-time cyclist. He is on a mission. He is raising funds for a group that supports people with bone-marrow disease. And he is amped-up. His energy is infectious and he is obviously emotional about being at the start of a 2-month adventure. Imagine being of retirement age and riding your bicycle by yourself from Minnesota to the end of the road at Venice, Louisiana. In the summer. If you want to see more of Steve’s adventure including a blog, photos (we took the photos at the headwaters), and a live tracker visit Steve’s website: www.marrowquest.org

Boyd TurnerComment
Sunrises and sunsets

When a new wildland firefighter started whining (and eventually they all start whining), one of the more experienced hands would ask them: “Didn’t you join up for the sunrises and sunsets?”

And yes the sunrises and sunsets were often spectacular and over places few people got to see. During this trip we have had some sunrises and sunsets too. Here our some our favorite examples – so far.

Boyd TurnerComment
An American week

Start with a day at Kitty Hawk, where the Wright Brothers proved man could fly. Move on to the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. Stand beside the Space Shuttle Discovery and examine her battle scars from space. Travel to the US Military Academy at West Point and watch 1,000 young men and women receive their college degrees from the Commander in Chief, then immediately take a vow to protect our country as officers in a time of war. Take the train down the Hudson River to New York City. Stand in the museum and see the twisted steel from the twin towers. Look up at the new Freedom tower, 1,776 feet above the twin pits of the 9/11 Memorial. Float over to Ellis Island where tens of thousands came to our shores for the first time. And stand beside Lady Liberty, who challenges us, and the rest of the world, to live up to our promise and birthright of freedom. That is an American week.

Boyd TurnerComment
The checklist blues

(Sung to a slow blues rhythm)

I’ve gots 142 birds

but that’s not enough for youz

You want somethin’ new

I’ve gots the checklist blues

 

I took you to the east

I found you 4 birds blue

You want something’ new

I’ve gots the checklist blues

 

We went through the south

the red birds we did see

You want somethin’ new

I’ve gots the checklist blues

 

In the great north we survived the storm

for a boreal owl to see

You want somethin’ new

I’ve gots the checklist blues

 

four thousand miles

and only 142

you want somethin’ new

I’ve gots the checklist blues

Boyd TurnerComment
Water

From New Orleans to Washington DC, we followed within about 50 miles of the coastline and everywhere we turned there was water:  seeps, sloughs, bays, estuaries, inlets, streams, rivers, creeks, brooks, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, swamps, marshes, wetlands, bayous, sounds, ocean, lagoons, branches, … 

There was so much water that the air was thick with the stuff:  mist, dew, fog, and it condensed on our skin and other surfaces with very little provocation.  It even fell from the sky as rain and hail. 

One can’t help but notice that the southeast has so much water and meanwhile so much of the rest of the country is water-starved. This is just another example of the physical differences across regions. But we wonder how it colors the perceptions of the people who live here and have never been west of the Mississippi. No wonder drought in the west isn’t a big story here.

The Interstate – Part 2


In a previous post I commented on the Mississippi River being the early version of the interstate highway. Lots of people say “Don’t travel on the interstate it all looks the same.” Mostly these people haven’t travelled very far on the interstate. I-40 in northern Arizona certainly looks different with its wide-open spaces and endless sky then the tree-lined tunnel of I-95 in South Carolina (see photo). And the road surface varies from silky smooth to some of the worst pavement we have driven on anywhere. And when it comes to covering distance in a vehicle there really is no other option than the interstate.

That being said, when we can, we like to get off the big interstates. Rural America does look a lot alike in some ways: small communities interspersed with generally open space (even in the east), schools with football stadiums and ball fields, lots of little businesses, all linked together with roads and an occasional railroad. This is a lot like northeastern California in many ways. We’ve travelled a long ways but we still feel close to home. Oh – and if you want to know the worst roads: I-40 east of Flagstaff and US-90 in southern Louisiana win the ribbon for roughest.

Boyd

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