CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - July 2015
Cloudland remote Cabin Cam July 29 - my lovey bride at Multnomah Falls, Colombia River Gorge, Oregon - we had the place to ourselves!
JOURNAL UPDATE NOTE July 29th - we are nearing the end of a long western road trip (a work trip, with a few fun times too!) and I will begin to post a few notes from the trip here over the next few days. I posted a few quick notes today.
07/01/15 - Another colorful moonset early this morning, although it was much brighter due to there being less forest fire smoke from Canada in the air than yesterday. Kind of warm and muggy. The entire family made a quick fitness hike out to the main road and back - didn't see a single critter!
07/03/15 Not much weather overnight, but we got to see some very interesting weather from the back deck yesterday evening. We stood and watched a number of dark, intense cloud formations moving across in front of us, some with obvious rotation. A number of them tried their best to form funnel clouds, some dropping down into the Buffalo River canyon about two miles upstream from our cabin. Dozens of them formed a little bit, dropped down out of the main cloud bank, then rose back up again. None of them got organized enough to cause any damage, but it sure was fun watching them!
I remain in lock-down book mode, and won't be going anywhere until I'm done - there will be some fireworks here when that happens! In the mean time we hope all of you have a great and safe holiday weekend!
Fireworks from Cloudland just before sunsert (July 3)
07/05/15 We've had an interesting week here at the cabin. The 4th of July topped out at 74 degrees (it's down in the 60's tonight). It's been cool and rainy and quite pleasant most days. We got to see an amazing rainbow and other light and storm-cloud shows march across the sky in front of us. And wind, LOTS of wind!
We've had a few bugs too. LOTS AND LOTS of bugs. In fact so many bugs in the cabin that we had to kind of abandon ship yesterday. We closed everything up and set off bug bombs in every room. Then my lovely bride spent the afternoon over in her studio painting while I was over in the print room working on the book. The puppies hung around outside not knowing exactly which direction to look for the next play time. Before it was time to go back in and clear the cabin, we were forced to drive to Ponca and have ice cream at the Lost Valley Store (the dogs made us do it so they could have a ride).
We never got a drop of rain today, but we've seen the reports of major flooding north of Jasper, up in Carroll County, and also along the Mulberry River and Paris area - FIVE INCHES of rain in two hours in some places! We hope everyone made it through without incident. We're OK with rain levels here for a while.
I've made some progress on the book, but am still in the writing process - always the worst part for me. I'll go in spurts - sometimes getting a blast of inspiration and sit down to write for hours; other times spending the entire day staring at the black computer screen. The clock is ticking, and my time is almost up. It won't be long now, I hope.
One note about the rainbow photo above from Friday night. About an hour after I shot that picture, the lit up with man-made fireworks - turns out the rainbow had been directly above one of the farms over on that ridgetop. Both displays were impressive!
OK, back to work. It is JULY already?
07/10/15 The Milky Way is beginning to peek out from behind some bright clouds tonight - GREAT to see it up and alive again! We have high water on the river still - I can hear it roaring on along. This time of year it will run down quickly with all the vegetation sucking it up.
I'm on the last step of the book project and trying to upload it to the printer's server. We have a very slow internet upload speed out here, and a flaky one at that, and so far I've been trying to get the first of seven files uploaded for the past ten hours and still no luck. I should be able to upload all of the files in about 25 hours, but the signal keeps dropping. So I am ALMOST done with the book, although it may take me a week to get the files uploaded. We thought about visiting a library somewhere that might have faster wifi, but so far have not located anywhere that I could go to upload the files.
We've pretty much been on book lockdown all week - in fact I've not been off the mountain but once for a couple of hours in the past two weeks. My poor wife - first I make her look through a couple of million slides (twice), then I make her (and her mom too) read every single word of the book - she likes to read each sentence backwards and is able to spot typos better that way. Then she gives me corrections and I turn around and give her another 208 pages to proofread again. We've been doing this all week, but eventually we have to find an ending point and we reached it today. Pam's dad has been a great help too - he's been driving over to pack up our business book orders for UPS while I remain hidden in front of a computer.
A WATCHED POT NEVER BOILS! I should know that, but still I keep looking at my upload page to see if the first file is ever going to make it. I went to plan B and split the book up into 10-page sections - 21 files instead of 10. The upload time would still be the same, but I may be able to get the smaller files transferred before an upload error happens. I'm 80% done with the first one and am holding my breath.
Putting this new book together has been a lot of fun - revisiting all of the places I traveled to and the hikes required and some of the issues I had trying to get good pictures. I remember once driving 600 miles just to shoot a sunrise, only it was cloudy; then I drove 400 miles to another state that day to shoot a sunset. The front cover of the book - I'll post it tomorrow - was taken from a small lake in Oregon, couple miles hike from the road. When I got there the mosquitoes were SO BAD! I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and had no bug dope with me, so rather than hike back to the van I decided to stay at the lake and wait on some great light I was expecting to happen. But the bugs nearly ate me alive - in fact I ended up wading out into the lake up to about my neck to keep the bugs off me. It sure was COLD at that altitude! I was able to wait it out until after sunset, when the wind died down and a perfect reflection of Mt. Hood happened on the water - with some pretty terrific sky and mountain color - it was well worth the wait.
HOT DOG! I just got the first 11 pages of the book uploaded, YIPPIE COYOTE! By the way, there is a photo of a coyote rolling in snow in the new book - he is giving me a very funny look but I think was having fun - I bet he just got his first file uploaded too!
OK, I've got the next 10 pages starting to upload, and I need to go make a few test photos of the Milky Way...(2nd file upload failed but I'm trying it again.)
In the meantime, while going over to the print room in the dark just now, I came upon a large BLACK snake in the middle of the path. Funny, but this BLACK snake was very easy to see in the DARK - how is that possible? He stood out quite well against the lighter-color stones he was crawling on. Nice snake - I hope he goes after some little furry critters tonight...
Oh, and here is the cover of the new book - Mt. Hood at sunset from Mirror Lake, Oregon. I get itchy all over remembering all those mosquitoe bites every time I see this photo, but I sill love the LIGHT...
07/11/15 Quick morning update, 8am. I was able to get about half of the book uploaded during the night and this morning, and I'm getting ready to take a pill and sleep for a few hours, then drive into town to deliver the rest of the book files to have them uploaded by our print broker in Elkins - I should have done that yesterday!
I spent a good bit of time out on the back deck tracking the progress of the clearing sky and rising Milky Way - the clouds finally retreated and the sky cleared and the Milky Way stood straight up from the southern horizon all the way directly up and over our cabin (you can see the last of the cloud bank in the photo). There was a Cloudland Moment. While I was out there taking this picture - my eyes had adjusted to the darkness so I could see the stars pretty well - a pack of coyotes down in the canyon below began to yip and holler. Their yelps of joy echoed throughout the wilderness, and it was a great feeling to be standing there in the middle of all the glory!
When not out on the deck looking at the stars, I was inside checking on the file uploads, and sometimes I would go crawl onto the floor of the living room and snooze for a little while. Turns out we had a bunking party with me and the puppies. In fact there were times I could hardly get up off the floor since I was pinned down by them - they like to get close! Wilson is nearly 60 pounds now, and while Mia is only half that, she makes up for it in HEAT - she is one hot dog for sure and will make a great winter snuggler.
07/15/15 We had a SPECTACULAR nighttime photo workshop this week! Clear skies and cooler temps, and only a few snakes. This was a workshop that had been originally scheduled for the week we got the tropical storm last month (and had to postpone as a result), so we were thrilled to have such great clear skies all night.
A couple of notes from the workshop. First moment was while we were standing in a cemetery about 3 or 4 am shooting a scene that included headstones, the historic Boxley Baptist Church & Community Center, and the Milky Way standing tall directly above. It was quite a surreal scene to begin with (you know, standing in a cemetery at night), but the stark beauty of the incredible Milky Way combined with the old church and headstones were almost overwhelming - yet very serine and calming at the same time. We all stood there in awe and wonder.
And then a beam of light appeared from behind us and lit up the headstones that were spread out right in front of us. This light also projected the shadow of a tree onto the side of the white church. And then just as quickly as it appeared, the light and shadow were gone. It wasn't until later on that we realized none of us knew where that light had come from. At first we assumed it was a passing car, but there was only one vehicle through the valley while we were there, and it came from the opposite direction at a different time. Also if it were a passing vehicle that lit the scene up, the shadow would have been blurred, not sharp as it turned out to be. Sooooo, it now appears that we were privy to a very special moment - perhaps even a Divine moment. You see, that tree shadow formed a cross on the side of the church!
This is the current Print Of The Week - only available for a few days
The second moment was when everyone had waded out into water right in front of a thundering waterfall. The Milky Way was rising directly behind that waterfall, and I was on the other side of the river and had set up a big light to "lightpaint" the waterfall so it could be seen in the photo. You can't imagine how FAST the Milky Way moves across the sky, especially when you are trying to take a picture of it in the middle of the night! Anyway, the light I was using was too bright, and I needed some sort of diffusion cloth to dim it down a little. The roar of the waterfall was too loud for me to communicate with the other members of the group, so I used a radio to ask if anyone had something white that I could put over the light. A couple minutes later a white cloth was delivered to me. Turns out that one of our students took off her SHIRT! I ended up not using her shirt (I used a gray shirt that I was wearing instead), but we all really appreciated how willing the young lady was to help make our picture a success!
We ended up photographing five different epic locations during this workshop (really NICE locations during the day, but EPIC at night!), and I think everyone got some pretty darn terrific photos of each. We ended up getting only a couple hours sleep each night and I suspect everyone had a tough day yesterday just trying to get home and rest up - I sure did! I hit the road early this morning and am in Bentonville getting some work done on the Photomobile. Tomorrow I'm on the road again to restock the Hastings store in Russellville. It is pretty hot and muggy in the Ozarks right now - I think we need a little bit of rain to cool things off, but I have a feeling most places could use a few weeks to dry out and get back to normal after all the flooding...
07/17/15 While on an early-morning hike with the pups this morning I came upon a small black gum leaf that had gently come down from above and landed in the middle of the path. I noted it, but didn't really pay too much attention until on the way back. The sun had risen by then, and this leaf was backlit by the sunshine and was lit up like crazy! So this signals the beginning of autumn in the Ozarks. Well, not really, but I like to think so - seems to make the day so much cooler with that frame of mind! I took the leaf for a little ride to my studio where I took it's portrait for you to see the brilliant color.
Yesterday afternoon I was up at the warehouse moving a bunch of heavy books into my jeep for delivery to the Hastings bookstore in Russellville. One time when I came out the door with an arm load of books, I looked up and realized I was being watched. A young lady was standing right in front of the jeep! I figured she was friendly since there was a tripod slung over her shoulder. "I'm lost and have been wandering around now for (she looks at the iphone in her hand) 4.8 miles - do you have any water?" The trail to Hawksbill Crag is 1.5 miles, plus about 1.0 miles to our property, so I figured she had been wandering around an extra couple of miles - bushwhacking through the jungle in this heat. I gave her a bottle of water, completed loading the jeep, then drove her down to the cabin for more water - she was dehydrated and needed lots of water! Two things in particular that I LOVE about my old jeep are the heated steering wheel (you just can't imagine how wonderful this is in the winter - especially when I've been out handling metal cameras without gloves), and the "air conditioned" seats (actually the seats suck air, don't actually produce cool air - it feels GREAT when you are hot and sweaty). So as we drove off to give her a ride back to the trailhead, I reached over to switch on her ventilated seat, and turned the jeep AC on high.
She was from Louisiana and I think running out of water had taken its toll. She had also hiked down to the Glory Hole in the morning. She was concerned that her husband (back at a rental cabin) might be worried about her, so was glad to have a ride back to the trailhead. She thanked me and I drove away towards Russellville. When I reached over to switch off her air-conditioned seat that I was so proud of, I realized that I had hit the wrong button when I turned it on - I had turned on the HEATED seat!!! If you happen to know this young lady, please tell her I'M SORRY!
The more I get ahead it seams, the farther behind I slide. Now that we are done with the first phase of the three big publishing projects for this year, I thought I might get to nap a time or two. But more and more deadlines keep popping up - my list got longer and longer while I languished over in the print room working on the book. But that's OK - I figure I've got 35 years to get everything done - that will be our 50th wedding anniversary - my goal for life. I'm not too worried about what will happen after that, although I bet my lovely bride will turn me in for a new model!
I dug out the camera and took a few pictures of the Milky Way in back of the cabin - oh my, it was BEAUTIFUL!
07/18/15 I have no idea what they are. We've been hearing some pretty strange critters out there in the darkness the past couple of nights, early morning too. They almost sound like a pack of coyotes, but they are different, more musical and animated. Sounds like they are just across the narrow canyon, below Beagle Point Bluff. This morning they were down along the river - must be working their way up - I wonder if they can climb the old ladder?
And the EMERALD spiders are out in full force tonight! These are the guys that sparkle like beautiful jewels as you hike along through the forest. You can only see them if you have a flashlight close to your eyes, like a headlamp. As your light moves across them their emerald eyes really light up and sparkle! Upon closer inspection they are about a quarter inch long (the spiders, not their eyes). Walk down the trail and there are hundreds of these sparkling jewels looking back at ya!
It's kind of warm outside tonight, but easy breezes make it pleasant. The Milky Way is already up again - another clear night. Last night after I took my sleeping pill I grabbed a camera and went out onto the back deck. I posted a photo of the results late last night - I probably should learn not to go out into the night after I've had medicine, and especially not to post pictures! I used two different cameras for the "zooming" Milky Way - it's kind of fun playing around with this sort of thing since you can see the results immediately - even if your eyes are a little blurry.
We had a SPECTCULAR light show at dawn on the 21st!
07/29/15 Sorry for being absent without leave this past week. We have been on the road working and are almost back home. I'll make a few posts about our trip in the coming days, and hope to add a few photos. One little tidbit from the trip - I had one of the most epic hikes of my life early one morning in KANSAS! Temps have ranged from 37 to 98, with many very hot days (no surprise to folks in Arkansas - but the humidity has been low so easier to deal with). During the trip we FINALLY got to visit the Colombia River Gorge, a trip I've been planning to make ever since we got married 14 years ago (sorry it took me so long honey!). I've been through the gorge many times since 1980 when I went out to photograph an erupting Mt. St. Helens, but never stopped to take pictures of the waterfalls, duh!
During our trip we've had cousin Joseph staying at the cabin and dealing with the heat and bugs; but new to us this time we've had others processing book orders so we could stay current with all orders. Amber has been processing and shipping orders of autographed guidebooks to individuals who order from our online store; and Pam's dad has been packing up wholesale book orders and getting them shipped out to dealers. These days it takes a village to keep up with our messes while we are on the road! All puppies are with us and having a blast, although there have been many of times when both of us were working and could not take them on hikes, but we're trying to makeup for that when we're not working - happy campers all so far...
I'll write more about the trip later...