Recent PostsOff the Beaten Path: Pueblos of the Southwest (or Who Ruined the Neighborhood?) Wandering Eye: Make It About Today Wandering Eye: Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Started Wandering Eye: Dark Skies Country OBP: Who Will You Meet in the Great Outdoors? OBP: Revisiting the New (Old) East Austin Wandering Eye: The One Day Getaway Wandering Eye: Where past and present collide OBP: Nola redux Wandering Eye: Vancouver
Off the Beaten Path (OBP) is my paean to the art of short-term and short-distance travel. And, as a travel photographer, my expression of choice is captioned visual imagery - a photolog or brief photo essay.
Additional photos are found via my Instagram page: Incite Photography - IG
You're always welcome to come along for the ride.
Wukoki PuebloSweet smelling late afternoon rain bursts. Well past the mutton sandwiches for sale. Imagine the mastery of self-preservation needed in a place where the earth openly shuns you. - Wukoki ("Big House") Pueblo ruins
International Dark Sky Park - Wupakti National MonumentPueblos. Ancient estates, prehistoric architecture, multi-family homes; all carefully constructed and later abandoned. With no after dark light pollution, constellations are readily visible, countable.
Puebloan high riseThree stories but no written accounts. Rock shelters with the (pre-modern) convenience of natural climate control. With each day an emergence. Early Navajo saw enemy, foreigner, Anasazi. Nalakihu PuebloNalakihu - "House outside the village" or "House standing alone" . Outside of the protection of the citadel walls but a stone's throw from village life. More questions than answers.
Man plans and the god(s) laugh. Last year, I took the first steps backwards towards my beginning. You see I had originally set out to build a life, a vocation, my visual expression piece by carefully placed piece, each revealing more of the overall picture. Shooting events, architecture and interiors, food, urban landscapes, fine art, and nature wasn't a slapdash approach but instead aspects that touch on and tells the story of our everyday lives. Travel photography being the intersection of them all.
It's coming together... one day... I still need to build up my... Then there was no more reason for delay. 'No time like the present' became a daily reality.
Fast forward to now and I barely recognize my old life, self, and way of moving through our big blue marble. Make no mistake, I'm still focused and flawed, this isn't an I-achieved-enlightenment-that-I-sell-for-only-79.99 type of story, just my opportunity to share bits of my journey. Opening up more: to imperfection, to discomfort, to the re-affirmation that our experiences are indeed unique and meant to be shared, not sublimated or morphed into easily digestible memes and like-bait.
Where am I now? Almost daily I ask myself the same question; sometimes it's a practical query considering how often my (digital) nomad lifestyle has me hopping from city to city. But just as likely, it's a gut-check. Where is my focus? Going into the Memorial Day weekend, honestly, a bit scattered and anxious. Solution? The great outdoors and an 'unplugged' getaway and a shared warm beverage and new connections.
What next? Savoring, working diligently towards unlearning and releasing myself from self-imposed limitations. You're welcome to come along.
Jackson Demo SP.1Entrance to Cal Fire's Jackson Demonstration State Forest where "demonstration trails have been developed with trail guides to inform visitors about the ecology, history and management of the redwood forest". Glow sticks to hang from tent guylines. A little trick I learned from friends. "I grew up in a forest. It's like a room. It's protected. Like a cathedral... it is a place between heaven and earth." Anselm Kiefer Primarily for meditation, but heat ranks is a close second. Brought my own tinder in the form dryer lint in a used paper towel roll. Kindling takes a little more work to find.
Chiracahua National Monument
San Simeon Beach
Contrary to our usual way of perceiving the world, you really can see more in the dark. Away from the city clutter and far from de bruit of the 24-hour news cycle, I found myself standing in a freezing parking lot looking up at the stars which were, frankly, out-glamming the flora and fauna of the day. (Note: after hearing the raucous coyote football game going on in the woods, I chose a less isolated area to shoot in.)
The expansiveness was humbling. Knowing that I was actually seeing a 3 dimensional tableau with thousands of points of light and having that register in my brain were two different things. It was distracting and hard to know where to focus and this was just one arc of the visible sky. But stillness and patience and alertness were rewarded with clarity and the occasional captured shooting star (or airplane). Then there was the unexpected feeling of reassurance that comes with the reminder that we too are part of the larger expanse being from and of one of these little pinpricks of light.
Boundaries - real and manmade - in the natural world are only obstacles until we find a way to transverse them. Ocean, land, sky, and space, one by one we've traveled farther than we thought possible often risking the wrath, or disappointment, of those left behind. On an earth this small and interdependent, insularity is no longer an option if it ever truly was. So, we voyage onwards foregoing everything from minor comforts to hard won safety and security. Brief road trip and lengthy excursion alike re-affirm a fundamental desire and need to explore, better ourselves, and make connections beyond our sphere. For me, traveling will always be the search for those brilliant guideposts best seen in the dark.
Enchanted Rock SP-005Information pavillion at base of Summit Trail leading to Enchanted Rock Enchanted Rock SP-008One of several North American batholiths including Georgia's Stone Mountain and California's Sierra Nevada (Half Dome) Enchanted Rock SP-020 Enchanted Rock SP-025 Enchanted Rock SP-049Mini car sized boulders on top of Enchanted Rock Enchanted Rock SP-112View from Scenic View Trail at sunset. Enchanted Rock SP-141 Enchanted Rock SP-144Evening star EnchantedRock astro -005Star field above Enchanted Rock with Milky Way visible to the naked eye. EnchantedRock astro -006Light pollution is intentionally limited in Dark Shy designated parks and reserves. Enchanted Rock SP-149A lone coyote roamed near the campsites at night but kept its distance. Enchanted Rock SP-159Camp site had a covered picnic area with a table for four. Close access to parking from across a small bridge. Enchanted Rock SP-176Interpretive Loop Trail Enchanted Rock SP-191
One of the better aspects of being an itinerant photographer (a.k.a. digital nomad or location-independent entrepreneur) by trade is that every person you meet is friend-potential. Or, at the very least, impression or education-potential. From the sporting-goods retail associate who can recount a seemingly mundane camping trip with the specificity of a screenwriter to the 'framily' celebrating a tot's first s'more in the park.
Lately, I've become a professional hanger-on, in the best sense of the word. Because time spent on extensive researching is time missed capturing the moments I've journeyed for, I joined meetup.com and follow this other online sites with ready-made event calendars full of local goings-on. Never watched pétanque played? Want to shoot reactions to the smelly Corpse Flower? In our DIY culture, someone has already thought to go and invite strangers along for the trip.
Lucky for me, I've found a national group that matches my wanderlust and need to amble and document the great outdoors. Outdoor Afro has chapters in 31 American cities from Los Angeles to Miami, New Haven to Anchorage. With support from organizations like the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation, each chapter grows with each new member who spreads the word inviting friends and family to reconnect offline and get their 'nature' on.
No Afro is required and all meetups are inclusive further fostering a holistic connection to community and health. My most recent foray connected me to the Central TX chapter and the subtle charms of the Laguna Gloria - Driscoll Villa and Grounds. Coming at the end of a rather turbulent week, getting lost in the trees with a group of vibrant diverse knowledgable health-conscious fellow human beings was a reminder of what's important. That we are all connected, we all depend on the same resources - earth, air, fire, water.
And, as Benjamin Franklin said, "Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang seperately."
Tom Friedman, artist Detail of aluminum packages used in statue creation. Carlette and Robert hold hands during Laguna Gloria stroll. Deja stops under the pavillion. Outdoor Afro group at Laguna Gloria Artist: Nancy Holt Catherine plays underneath artist John Grade's installation
Barring field trips to the Capitol building and downtown Austin's LBJ Library and Museum in school, there wasn't much of a connection to the city north of Town Lake - now Lady Bird Lake I hear - when we were coming up. Now, as a recently re-minted digital nomad with bi-coastal bases in Los Angeles and Austin, I am making the acquaintance of the Austin I never really knew.
Much like the half-grown children of field trip classmates, it all looks somewhat familiar but I still find myself pleasantly, and frequently (thank you GPS), lost with a venegence after an almost 3 decade removal. Artisanal cafes, trendy pubs, and modern condos have sprouted up in neighborhoods of established families, houses of worship, mom and pop marts, and historical sites that previously epitomized the area.
The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center's roots in East Austin date back to the early 20th century. As a repository for information on Black settlers' history and contributions in the region, their main collection centers on Juneteenth (6/19/1865) - the date that enslaved Texans finally learned of their emancipation. An added bonus is the interpretive walk that culmanates in the commemorative sculpture garden between the parking lot and museum entrance. Standing on the small round viewing platform, I could imagine how Black men, women, and children might have experienced the day they heard that their humanity and natural freeborn state was codified by the Emancipation Proclamation.
Nestled less than one mile away, the French Legation Museum is well-maintained compact and more a garden retreat than extensive collection as the 'museum' moniker suggests. Even though the initial Franco-Texan partnership was limited to the state's 9 years as a republic and the property changed hands more than once once the French decamped, the South remembers in the hands of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas - the museum and grounds' caretakers. Subtle reminders abound with the hedge maze style, pétanque court, and Tricolore raised opposite the state flag. Even at a leisurely self-guided pace, I covered everything in about 45 minutes.
Post-legation additions incude this longhorn sculpture and two others to the right of the main house's front porch. 50s era hedge rows added.
Detached kitchen with cistern. Gift store in background right. Donated sculptures vary in size, style, and period. Legation main house. Daily docent led tours once per hour.
While I'm confident that there's still enough of the 'old' Austin to go around - especially considering the dedication of the multiple local and state level historical societies - Austin continues to grow outwards and upwards (if the skyline is any indicator). As an infrequent guest, I'm still charmed by the hybrid nature of the college town cum governmental and tech hub that it's been since the 70s. Just "Keep Austin Weird" as they say and we'll all keep coming back.
When a really cheap (Jetblue) airfare met a same-day return restriction, I had two choices. Re-visit the closest destination where time spent would go the furthest or go for the absolutely unknown but curtail exploration. Solution, a one-day getaway in San Francisco.
Deserted military batteries and walking trails inside San Francisco's Presidio park. Deserted military batteries and walking trails inside San Francisco's Presidio park. Deserted military batteries and walking trails inside San Francisco's Presidio park.
Destination: The Presidio, Battery East, and Crissy Field
See the Golden Gate Bridge (wait for the fog to clear, it's there trust me), walk on top of the batteries and along the cliff side trails, glimpse Alcatraz (from the freeman's perspective), take in the city skyline, or try your hand at pier fishing. Set aside 3 - 4 hours to just whet your curiosity.
(top two) Walk along the (frigid) expanse of the bridge itself or enjoy from a remove. (bottom four) The Mission District today. (top two) Walk along the (frigid) expanse of the bridge itself or enjoy from a remove. (bottom four) The Mission District today. (top two) Walk along the (frigid) expanse of the bridge itself or enjoy from a remove. (bottom four) The Mission District today. (top two) Walk along the (frigid) expanse of the bridge itself or enjoy from a remove. (bottom four) The Mission District today. (top two) Walk along the (frigid) expanse of the bridge itself or enjoy from a remove. (bottom four) The Mission District today.
Destination: The Mission District
Do walk over to the Mission San Francisco de Asís, more commonly known as Mission Dolores. In addition to being San Francisco's oldest surviving building, the adobe Franciscan mission is one of 21 along the California Mission Trail, sits next to its own basilica, and maintains one of the few remaining cemeteries in the city. But you can be forgiven for not knowing any of that because even the locals aren't particularly aware of the gem in their midst.
While the Mission District still mostly looks like a well-preserved set from "The Streets of San Francisco" gentrification has taken root, at least according to a newly minted transplant at the local vegetarian cantina. But who knows whether the papered public post and neighborhood market will survive the rising tide of the boutiquerie. Leave 3 hours to perambulate.
Unassuming on the outside but with several surprises lying within. Open for self guided tours daily of both the original mission and basilica. Check online schedule for guided and large group options. Unassuming on the outside but with several surprises lying within. Open for self guided tours daily of both the original mission and basilica. Check online schedule for guided and large group options. Unassuming on the outside but with several surprises lying within. Open for self guided tours daily of both the original mission and basilica. Check online schedule for guided and large group options. Unassuming on the outside but with several surprises lying within. Open for self guided tours daily of both the original mission and basilica. Check online schedule for guided and large group options. Unassuming on the outside but with several surprises lying within. Open for self guided tours daily of both the original mission and basilica. Check online schedule for guided and large group options. The inscription says "in prayerful memory of our faithful Indians". Natives and newcomers alike were buried within the cemetery's walls and spared re-interment outside of the city. Recently canonized, Saint Junípero Serra's shadow extends to Baja California with nine missions erected under his supervision.
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