Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Bookend Sunsets

I may have to just bite the bullet and buy a brand new camera, but I am not officially on the hunt for a good used one first, and we'll see if anything pops up before I have to actually and reluctantly part with good money.
Two of my cameras will not turn on, and the one I have left leaves black spots and fog spots on many of my pictures.
In short, I am hitting "Delete" far too much in order to erase far too many junky pictures.
And so it was with both surprise and delight that I saw the picture above, that I took on a late evening walk with Kory.
Nature pictures are very forgiving.  I remember thinking while living in Juneau that I could drop my camera to the ground and still take a good picture as it fell.  Such was the unlimited natural beauty of the place.
And so it also goes on late fall evenings as the sun is setting in the desert.
The blandness of fall in the Snake River Plain - now that summer is gone and now that I am waiting impatiently for snow - recedes when the sky is filled with color and when the land is filled with shadows.
I have photographed this same trail (that looks as though it leads directly to the buttes but actually does not) but on this particular evening I looked at it again as if for the first time.
It was a beautiful night and the entire world in front of me looked beautiful..................

Random Big Butte picture................
And more sunset pictures................
The weekend came and went, and although Big Butte received a light dusting of snow, and although there is much snow in the mountains to the west and north of us, Atomic City has yet to see its first snow flake.
There is child like delight at the thought of snow, and I am impatient.
On a very cold and raw day over the weekend, in between bouts of drizzling rain, I wandered a muddy trail with my dog who was beginning to pace impatiently inside the house.
Uninspired by the cold and wind and lack of snow, I reluctantly layered a sweat shirt over my long sleeved t, and then layered a jacket over the sweat shirt, and then pulled a wool hat over my head, shivering involuntarily at the thought of a nasty and grey day.
OK Baby Girl - let's go.................
I continued to be uninspired as Kory and I reached the trail and I set her free from her leash, so that she could run.
I stood unmoving in the cold for a few moments watching my dog.
She always runs over to the same post, pees close to it, and then does a momentary dance before running down the trail in search of the bones that she knows are hidden in the long grass beside a fence.
Slowly I walked the trail, and with each step my feet squished slightly in the rain-softened ground.
Glancing over to make sure that my dog was doing OK, I looked up at the sky.
It was grey, but blue was trying valiantly to break through.
Glancing at the vast swath of open land in front of me, the green grass and yellow sage brush of September had been replaced with the familiar monochromatic beige of the desert.
Glancing to the north I realized that there was snow in the mountains.  
Very good...................
Kory and I reached the end of the trail at the far end in back of town, but instead of picking up one more short trail that would take us back to gravel roads, I turned and walked back the way I had come, not yet ready to return to my quiet town.
After a minute I looked back and realized that Kory was still wandering away from me on BLM land.
The magic word that I inadvertently found and that always works to get my dogs' attention, and she happily turned and ran at full speed back towards me.
I stood smiling at her, and waited for her to reach me.
Good girl!
I leaned down and touched her face, and then rubbed one of her ears in the way that I used to do with Jamie, and in the way that I now do with Kory.
She likes it as well................
By the time we arrived back at our starting point I looked up at the sky, pleased to realize that on this day the sun was stronger than the clouds, and that although it was still cold it was actually going to be a nice day after all.................
Kory and I waded through the long, dry grass of one field and headed towards the old silos.
They are unused and have laid dormant for what looks like many years.
As I approached them I admired them.  Their shape.  Their color.  Their straight line formation, as though I were looking at soldiers standing silently in formation.
They stand in unison, stoically watching over the desert floor, and they speak to me in the same way that old, rusty mining equipment spoke to me in Alaska, as old barns spoke to me in Tennessee, and as Aztec-like rock formations spoke to me in Wyoming................
And they speak to my dog as well.
Walking across the open field I watched as my dog wandered along the fence line that was a barrier between her and the silos.
She was studying them.
I could see it in her face.  In her posture.
And I stood watching her, curious to see what she would do..............
Like the stealthy running and jumping machine that she is, Kory easily cleared the fence and effortlessly climbed part way up the roof line of the silo.
I watched her for a moment as she surveyed the world from her high perch enjoying the sight of her, and then called my dog to return to me.
Too many parts of the roofs of these silos were caving in.
I wanted her down...................
Concentrating on my pup I had not even realized just how quickly the sky had cleared.
We had started our walk in watery clouds.
An hour later we had only blue sky.
Unexpectedly it had turned into a very cool, very sunny and outstandingly beautiful day...............
Heading around to the front of the silos...................
Walking late the next evening
In the summer the sun sets far to the north of us.
Through fall and winter the sun sets directly over my world, and directly over the buttes
This is my time of year.............
A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.........John Steinbeck, The Grapes Of Wrath 


  1. Thanks for sharing your journey with the world. Such a great story a fun read. If you dont mind, I have a question. I have a job offer working for a mine near Juneau, I'm wondering what your feeling are today about Alaska? I read you left due to your job, so outside of that, how was Juneau? People nice? Friendly? My salary would be great , but I'm more concerned about living there. I have visited and it seems nice, but to hard to judge after only 7 days. Any help would be great. Thanks again for writing this blog.

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  3. Joel, sorry that you did not get a chance to email me before I took my email address down. Just don't feel comfortable keeping it up on this page. The short answer to your question is that Juneau is geographically beautiful, there are virtually unlimited outdoor recreational opportunities, there are some good and bad people there, as there is in all places. The long answer (of course) is more complicated. Best to leave it at that.