I drove to Longview yesterday, and on the way home I shot a photo of one of my very favorite buildings, the Longview Community Church by Lake Sacajawea.
It is a very historic church with some wonderful architecture, and some of my favorite sounds are the hymns its belltower chimes out to the neighborhood every hour on the hour, publicly praising the Lord.
But the church is not well-lit at night, and on a rainy night it seemed to have a sort of mysterious ambiance to it. I think it looks even more so in black and white. What do you think?
Yesterday I took a day trip to one of the more charming and quiet places I’ve visited in recent memory.
Puget Island, Washington is home to about 800 people who all seem to enjoy a very calm lifestyle, away from the bustle of the city but close enough to populated areas that one can easily make the trip. Puget Island is located just south of Cathlamet, Washington and is home to scores of people of Scandinavian heritage who settled the island.
The island is located in a unique area where the Columbia River splits into two channels. Because of this, the only two ways onto the island by vehicle are via State Route 409 south from Cathlamet and over the Julia Butler Hansen Bridge, or by the county-owned ferry Wahkiakum, which shuttles people and their cars across the Columbia River’s south channel to and from Westport, Oregon.
I drove onto the island and parked my car just off the ferry terminal, where I stopped and chatted with an older woman who was walking her dog. She told me I would enjoy a bike ride across the island, especially around the areas that had some dairy farms on the island’s west side. She wouldn’t be wrong.
The starting point of my ride was the ferry terminal, at which point State Route 409 begins. Note the “Welcome to Washington” sign — this is as far south in this portion of Washington as one can go on land.
I attached my GoPro to my bicycle and began to ride the roads that traverse the island. Here are some still shots from the trip:
All told, I rode 27.2 miles across nearly every road on the island, including a trip over the Julia Butler Hansen Bridge for a bit of some incline training. Over the course of the ride, I was surprised at the number of cars — or lack thereof — that passed me on the left. My spirits were lifted by the drivers of the cars that passed in the opposite direction, as nearly every single person gave a friendly wave.
The scenery was gorgeous, and the weather was beautiful. Blue skies, hills with evergreen trees on the horizon and a historic community that one can tell takes visible pride in its heritage made for a very inspirational ride. The island is home to vacation houses, dairy farms and a small refuge for the endangered Columbian white-tailed deer.
Speaking of deer, I passed a few that were calmly grazing in people’s yards and walking along the road. They didn’t seem to be scared of me.
If you search the Internet for information about Puget Island, you’re not likely to find too much other than a few websites — and I get a feeling that might be alright with the fine folks that live there. I truly believe Puget Island is one of the Northwest’s hidden gems that lies just off the beaten path, as not many people who come from outside the area would deviate from State Route 409, which takes cars between the more well-traveled State Route 4 and the ferry.
Thanks, Puget Island, for a wonderful afternoon and a joyous excursion! I will be back to visit again soon.
There’s so much history in Kansas City, Mo., that I couldn’t help shooting photos of selected spots in the city while trying to maintain a historic or at least vintage type of aesthetic.
A few friends and I took the three-hour trip north yesterday, and while I shot roughly 50 photos, I tended to like five the most. The first is the city as viewed from the Liberty Memorial, the next two were shot inside Union Station and the remaining two were shot downtown.
The Southwest Missouri Veterans Day Parade made its way through downtown Springfield on Saturday morning with veterans, their families and members of an appreciative public paying tribute to the generations of military servicemembers participating.
I took on the assignment of photographing the parade for my job, and I really only had an hour to shoot it, so I decided to walk up and down the route in hopes of capturing some scenes I might not ordinarily shoot.
I snapped photos of the U.S. flag coming by as a young boy in a miniature Air Force flight suit took his hat off; the Missouri State University Band as they rounded the corner from South Avenue onto Park Central Square, and the people in the crowd as they waved and saluted.
As I walked along Park Central East near Big Whiskey’s, I saw three elderly men in formation who were holding up the American flag, the Prisoners of War/Missing in Action flag and another flag. Behind them were members of the Hillcrest High School Junior ROTC marching and shouting a cadence. I walked ahead a little bit and noticed that the three men in formation were down to two.
I stopped in time to look directly in front of where I was shooting. One of the elderly men carrying his flag had stepped out of formation and had grasped a side railing, clearly in some form of distress. I didn’t know if it was a medical episode or if he was simply tired; however, his breathing seemed somewhat labored.
The Hillcrest students were marching by, and an Army sergeant in dress uniform stopped to help and ask if he was okay. I began to walk back and hurriedly snapped the photo you see above.
I wanted to walk up and ask the man if he needed any help, but after turning around and walking a few steps, I turned back his direction and did not see him again. The photograph I snapped of him is the only visual evidence I have of that man, and it was an incredibly stark moment in what was otherwise a joyous occasion to celebrate the service of our nation’s veterans.
As I continued to photograph the parade, my mind kept going back to the man who stepped out of formation. The image of him no longer being able to carry the flag through the parade brought a tear to my eyes as I lifted the camera in front of my face numerous times simply to mask it from the public.
I don’t know the name of the man who could march no longer, but I’d be willing to bet that he likely knew that the frailties that beset him would render him unable to carry the flag the duration of the parade.
But frailties be damned, he carried it anyway, as far and as long as he could. He just could not make it to the end.
There is something remarkably emotional and strong about that, and there’s also something gripping about the fact he could not. It was as if the action of him stepping out of formation represented the veterans of this nation’s earlier wars slipping away — they survived the war and share stories of their service, but they can only remain with us for only so long.
That’s why, a day and a half after shooting that image, I can’t forget it.
And I don’t want you to forget it either as we go forward into Veterans Day.
I heard about the Glade Top Trail for the first time this week courtesy of Jennifer Davidson’s report on KSMU about a trip she took to see the autumn colors.
My friend Aaron and I hopped in the car today and decided to take a trip of our own out to the trail after church. After roughly an hour and 20 minutes of driving from Springfield, we found the entrance to the trail and instantly began to climb upward.
The winding 23-mile gravel road, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, offers dramatic sweeping views of areas below at multiple points along the ride. At this time of year, it is awash in red, amber and yellow as the leaves on the thousands of trees the trail passes prepare for their annual descent to the ground below.
Please note that we drove south from Ava using the north entrance to the trail.
I invite you to take a visual journey as we saw it in our trip today. A camera can never do the views from the human eye justice — but we can sure try, and try I did. I hope you enjoy the album!
I took a few days off over the weekend, and they were much-needed. I took a drive down to Louisiana to visit family and clear my mind after a few weeks of frantically trying to no avail to plan my future (long story).
Here are a few photos from the trip. Some I’ve shared on Instagram, but I don’t like sharing square photos, so here they are in their original form + a few others.
These were all shot with my LG Nexus 4 in HDR mode.
Rain clouds pushed to the east and opened up the sky just in time for the sun to set, bringing forth a beautiful light show this evening.
I shot these photos with my phone — the first one while sitting at a red light at the intersection of Battlefield Road and Kansas Expressway, and the final three one minute apart from each other near the Springfield-Republic border.
I was also playing this song as I drove there:
I was blessed to live most of my life in an area that hosts a wide range of scenery, from the coast to the Cascades. I grew up in the shadow of Mount St. Helens, the volcano that erupted in 1980.
In the winter and early spring, the mountain is all but inaccessible to the casual tourist — but more adventurous folk can still get climbing passes and enjoy an unparalleled view of southwest Washington and northwest Oregon. But yesterday, I was indeed a casual tourist, so I took the rental car up State Route 504 as far east as I could go.
The Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center and Johnston Ridge Observatory don’t open until late May, so SR 504 was closed at the Hummocks Trail. Snow lined both sides of the road, but the highway was clear, making it an easy drive. There weren’t too many people up there, so I was able to pull my car to the side of the road in many places I wouldn’t normally be able to, in order to get a good shot.
I traveled with a friend to the Oregon coast for the weekend. We’re still here as of the time of this writing, FYI — but yesterday was great. The weather was dark to start the day, but the clouds broke and the beach was teeming with people on Spring Break.
So we decided to go to a few places where people weren’t so plentiful. We hit up Ecola State Park, a part of Fort Stevens State Park that wasn’t too busy, and finally Seaside, where we chilled for the evening and watched Gonzaga lose in the NCAA tournament. But hey, Oregon won!
Picher, Oklahoma is America’s newest ghost town.
The abandoned mining town in the far northeast corner of Oklahoma, close to the Kansas and Missouri borders, is on the verge of complete collapse on account of acidic mining water turning Tar Creek red and eating away at the earth underneath the surface.
Most of the buildings are now destroyed, and the landscape is dominated by drab gray hills known as “chat piles,” or mining waste. Very few people remain.
I last visited Picher in late 2008 on my way back to Springfield from Wichita, and I saw a town in great decline. Several people still lived in the town, not having yet accepted a government buyout of their property. Not five years ago, the town still boasted a bank, small museum and a few other buildings — as well as many homes.
But what mining could not do, a tornado did in early 2008. Eight people in Picher were killed when a twister roared through the community, destroying many homes and buildings. The fine folks of Picher had seen enough. (Not all of them though, apparently: A Wired article from 2010 has some insight about those who absolutely refused to leave.)
Today, my friend Spencer and I visited the town and saw a landscape different than what I had seen four years ago. Only a few buildings remain, with concrete pads now visible where homes that sheltered families once stood. The houses that do remain are either scrawled with a rather eerie “KEEP OUT” command or are simply on the verge of collapse.
I had the chance to snap some photos and document a few moments in time of this still-decaying town. Time and neglect has taken its toll on Picher, and it won’t be long before everything in that corner of the world is just a memory.