Monthly Archives: July 2017

The future

… is taking shape and a whole new dimension is being added to my shooting with the arrival of “Knot Yacht” this afternoon. I have been in love with the beauty of nature since I was a kid and of all the photography I have done, wildlife photography has always been my favorite subject matter. I love the aerial work, abstract, and to a certain extent landscape shooting, but my passion is wildlife … I get the thrill of the hunt and the excitement of the shooting … not only do I not have to clean and eat my “kill”, but we both get to walk away and live another day.

“The future” shot is one I took from a boat in Northern Wisconsin a couple of years ago; I got upwind of a flock of Canada Geese that were near the downwind shore, cut the engine and drifted into them. They had no choice but to fly past me and I got dozens of shots like this one. Can’t do it from the shore, have to be out there. The second shot is of Knot Yacht, just after we hooked it up to my SUV and we made the trip home. With the camo paint job I should be able to get pretty close to my prey either by drifting into them or using the silent electric motor and hunkering down in the boat. Next I’m going to make some gimbled camera mounts and install them on the “KY” … Going to be studying manuals for everything for a few days and launch it on Friday … Willow lake in Prescott a likely choice and then the fun begins.  Looked at some big bad boats today too and thinking there may be other changes coming later this year.

Have a beautiful day … it is your choice … always.

Cheers

Ted

 

Sleep sweetly now that the gates of the crimson night are closed,

and leave tomorrow’s struggle for tomorrow;

The earth is peaceful, only the stars and still moon are abroad, and they wage no war.

 

Max Ehrmann

It raged

… one of the most intense storms of the season rolled through early afternoon today and it was grand. The power was out for a while which meant that there was nothing else to do, but lie on the couch, snooze and enjoy the forces of nature … and I did. A beautiful river developed in the back yard and it carved a deep bed in the rock/gravel out there. It abated after a while and before dark One got her outing, but she does not enjoy getting her paws wet so that didn’t last very long.

I got an early morning flight in and was back on the ground by 7AM; the air was clean and visibility the best it has been in a couple of months … we flew through a few showers in Long Canyon and enjoyed a beautiful and uncrowded sky. Tomorrow morning it is down to Glendale to pick up the “Knot Yacht” and if we have much more rain I may need it to get home. I had planned to stop at Lake Pleasant, but Davis at Cabela’s told me that the two main harbors had been taken out in a storm a couple of weeks ago … winds gusting to 80+ kts and 7 to 9 foot rollers tore Lake Pleasant Marina apart and sunk some large houseboats. Initial launch will have to wait till later in the week and perhaps on Willow or Watson Lake in Prescott. Should be fun.

 

I took this shot in Half Moon Bay when visiting Ted and Sus last year and the surf was running around twenty feet. I love shooting the surf, the ocean and anything and everything associated with it. On my to do list as I look forward to the fall and into the winter storm season.

A wrap for the day … a good one and hope yours was too … a new day to live coming up and methinks it will be a very good day, at least that is the plan.

Smiles

Ted

 

The growing grain and the placid sky have a kind of voice; and though you are

alone, the boundlessness of the universe is with you.

 

Max Ehrmann

Meandering

… with no clear vision of where I am going tonight … I do try to be accurate in what I write and thanks to everyone who receives these missives, when I stray I can count on receiving illuminating instruction and am grateful for that. This morning I heard from my friend Rich who spent his entire working career at Lowell Observatory and was a key player in many exciting projects up there. Rich is also a person who ferrets out the history of an area and is a student/teacher of history. Following is what he wrote me about the photo from last night:

“Ted,

Close, but no cigar.  That is the Waterline Road.  What I know of it comes from Henry Giclas, a local kid who managed to put in a distinguished, 75 year career at Lowell Observatory.  Henry’s father had worked on construction of the dome for the big, 40 inch reflecting telescope in 1909 – 10.  His other job back then was overseeing Flagstaff’s water supply.  They drilled several shallow wells in the Inner Basin of the SF Peaks to tap the Spring snow-melt.  The road in the picture is the Waterline Road alongside the pipeline bringing that water to Flag.  There are two tunnels along the route and your shot shows both.  We all love that fresh, clear city water we get in the spring, but about a decade or so back the city decided to bottle it and sell it instead.  The local uproar stopped the project.  More recently the Schultz Fire (aftermath is very visible in your shot) damaged that pipeline and it needed considerable repair.  I think it is back in service now.

A particular sore point for me is that the maps label that long ridge in the left foreground “Schultz Peak,” and the one above it in the horseshoe of peaks as “Doyle Peak.”  This is a map error courtesy of USGS.  Doyle is traditionally the west end of the ridge that extends between Fremont and Agassiz, and Schultz is the one the map calls “Doyle.”  The ridge in the foreground has no traditional name.  This sort of thing happens more often than you might suppose and usually it doesn’t matter much, but here it does.  In the late 1920’s Lowell built an observatory enclosure on top of Schultz Peak to investigate the advantages of observing from high altitude.  It was the highest observatory in the world until the Swiss built one atop the Jungfrau.  There is a body of research based on observations from Schultz Peak, and in fact the structure is still there.  One unique feature of the site is that the polar axle of the telescope was supported by a pair of Bristlecone Pines that were cut at the proper angle to align the axle with the Pole.  Just try that today!

Lowell is still a player in to the world’s highest non-space observatory.  It is SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy), a 2.5 meter telescope peering through a hole in the side of a Boeing 747.”

Thank you Rich! I learn a lot from you. In reply to my request to use his insight, he replied “I re-read it and my nose didn’t seem to grow so sure – use it”

My brother in law, Ace Hagebak, aka Beaumont R. Hagebak, PhD has begun writing a near daily blog of a paragraph or two detailing his life as a retired Professor, College Dean, Public Servant and more living alone in a log cabin in the woods of Northern Georgia. Here is a sample of his writing, it is at once homey and easy with a warmth that puts you at ease :

SMALL TOWNS

You know the old joke: “That town was so small that they put the city limits signs on the same pole”.  Waleska, Georgia,  is just a bit larger than that.  It’s the town closest to my log cabin in the woods.  I choose to live in or near small towns.  Something about the rural lifestyle appeals to me.  Maybe it’s the friendliness, the willingness to share, the unlocked doors, the quiet evenings, the wildlife to be seen and enjoyed.

I was once told by a college student from New York City that I was not doing right by my three sons because the town we lived in was small.  Exposure to what he called “the real world” was the only way to raise children.  Somehow, we all did just fine.  Rich, full lives, filled with friends of every description.  Life has not always been easy for each of us, but life is never always easy for anyone, whether it’s lived in a small town or a huge city.

Cities have their charms, sure.  Activities of all kinds attract us, unbelievable options are available day and night, services of all kinds are right nearby when we need or want them.  There’s the freedom that anonymity can bring.  But for some of us, rural communities offer so much more.  Big lifetime words, like peace and contentment.  Nature’s doorstep is our doorstep, too.  And  there are always people who won’t look the other way when a neighbor needs help.  You’re known.

Today our work often defines our locations and our life styles.  Young people, in particular, leave their rural homes for employment in large cities.  Small towns suffer as farms grow larger and farm people who once patronized local shops are forced to move away.  But the special joys of small town living don’t disappear.  And our small towns wait for those who love them to return.

If you would like to be added to his list, please send him an email at: hagebak@gmail.com

Finally the photo tonight is taken from my “Observation Deck” and a quiet view of Uptown, part of west Sedona and the Colorado Plateau. With the top portion in the clouds, the SF Peaks are on right horizon just above and to the right of Wilson Mountain in Sedona; going left you can see Sitgreaves and Bill Williams Mountain. It was a beautiful fall day and a treat to be in the air. My last Bon Iver album just finished, so I’ll wrap it too.

I had an interesting meeting with my doc in Flagstaff yesterday and doing a four week holding pattern before doing any treatments for my hip (body parts do have issues when you damage them and/or extend beyond reasonable warranty periods) and I got to thinking; if I do have the hip replaced, and I am able to secure the discarded body part, I could have it cremated and scatter my own ashes :+) About now, I can see Corky rolling her eyes and in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, exclaim “I don’t know why anyone likes you Ted!” Oh well, I am who I am and I like me … and I miss her ever present humor and delight in our life together.

Have a beautiful day, smile and share your joy … as has been the case since humans first inhabited this planet, we need all the joy we can get. Back on Monday … I really do like that idea though :+)

Cheers,

Ted

 

A bird flies through the sky, and I fly with it. I am each pearl of moisture sparkling in the sun.

I lie lazy on the clouds. And I acknowledge my kinship with each winged thing.

I see all as one, and nothing repels me, as this new day climbs noiselessly out of the valley of the night.

Peace lies over the world and over the world of my soul.

Max Ehrmann

Memories

… I found this image of the SF Peaks which I took last November as I was going through the portfolio tonight looking for an image that fit my mood. Had lunch with a friend at the Lumberyard in Flagstaff today and quite a few trains came rolling through and it brought back memories of the times when we were kids and my Dad would take one of us along with him on his travels giving speeches around the country … Dad was a train guy and it was a terrific way to travel … later when traveling from my basic training at Parks AFB in Pleasanton, CA to my tech school at Lowry AFB in Aurora, CO, I traveled by train and the Sierra and Rockies had a dusting of snow on them that looked very much like this. On my cross country trip in January 2006 I traveled by train from Penn Station in NYC to NoCal on the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago and thence on the California Zephyr, a train I had been on a number of times previously and again the snow through the Sierra as well as a major winter storm that hit while we traversing the Sierra. Think it is about time to jump on a train for a few days … the train is the destination and sights like this are part of the experience. The Southwest Chief goes through Flagstaff … maybe just get on and ride it to Chicago and then grab the next train back :+)

This is a shot of the SF Peaks taken from the SE looking towards the NW. I think that the road that runs along the lower reaches of the slope is Schultz Pass road, not sure … Rich?

Down to Phoenix and Fountain Hills tomorrow and hoping for some more rain storms on the way down and back, I love this weather.

I hope your day is filled with challenges and that you are up to them … a beautiful thing to live and accomplish something that brings a smile at days end.

Cheers

Ted

 

For was this right that I should eat and live by that another through his toil had earned?

But one good hope then fed my hungry soul:

That I should live by what my hands could do.

 

Max Ehrmann

have to confess

… it was almost 4AM when I found my way to the bedroom and I slept in until almost 8A and it has been kind of a funky day today … cutting stones, carving wax and designing some multi-purpose pieces. Work on a bunch of photos and whilst going through uploads and deleting the stuff that needs to be gone ( a photographers prescribed burn) I came on a series of shots I took of part of the Crow Mafia in our neighborhood spending time in my favorite tree. The shots are really nothing that could be evolved into a normal wildlife photograph, but if you look at them from the artists perspective there were some wonderful possibilities … like this one and I like the curly branches too. Fun to mess around like this. There is a slight color cast in the image as I didn’t like it when I converted it to B&W, so reverted it and saved this.

Busy day underway so will cut this short so I can grab a few more hours of sleep … then there is the prospect of at least six shots of espresso as soon as I roll out. For espresso I am currently using a premium Kona coffee bean from Greenwell Farms. Consistently this is one of the best premium coffees you will ever experience. Want terrific coffee every day? Roast your own and the place to contact and buy your beans and supplies is Jon Burman at: http://burmancoffee.com Once you start, you will never go back to store bought stuff. You will also save money as the premium Columbian beans are less than $7.00 per pound … and they are fresh!!! I do not drink coffee that has been roasted more than a few weeks before I grind it and drink it.

Have a beautiful day … what a treat to wake in the morning knowing you are still here … share a smile with those you meet and greet … they have made it too :+)

Cheers

Ted

 

And in this journey over a thousand hills and valleys called life, he is wisest who

is patient where the way is hard, has faith when he does not understand, and carries

into the dark places the light of a cheerful heart.

 

Max Ehrmann

Drawing red lines

There is generally a meaning of finality with the term drawing a red line and with the USFS it is no exception. Instead of words they use aerial bombardment laying down redlines of fire retardant where they want to stop fire and not permit it to cross that line. I took this photo this morning and I was north of Hwy 69 looking to the SW, west of Mayer and the fire was the Goodwin Fire. You can see the redline laid down at the base and near the base of the mountains and some homes  just on the non-fire side of the line that were saved from destruction by that red line of retardant … pretty cool stuff.

Most of the planes that they use for the aerial bombardment carry 5,000 gallons or less; there are three DC-10’s that carry around 10,000 gallons and I got to see one in action a few weeks ago when it was dropping  on a fire near Bumblebee … so cool watching a large jet like that doing low level drops. There is also a 747 that has been customized for dropping retardant and it can carry almost 20,000 gallons and do either one long drop or eight separate drops. I would love to see that one in action too and it should cut the cost substantially since you can do so much more on one flight. Unfortunately it does not seem to be recognized by the USFS as they are in the process of reducing the amount of retardant to a max of 5,000 gallons … like ??? (more polite than the three letters I was thinking of). Here is a link where the issue is discussed: https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/debate-over-jumbo-bomber-wildfires-rage-west-154635190.html      Wonder if it is lobbying by the manufacturer of smaller aircraft, because it sure doesn’t seem to make sense. Kinda like that EPA study showing that the use of sheets of plastic over piles they plan to burn effectively reduces the smoke to almost nil, but it seems that for whatever reason the FS won’t be doing that anytime soon. Anyhow check it out and let’s hope that we soon see 747’s at low level doing drops. So these are red lines that are drawn and which have consequences … positive ones.

Just walked in the door from the Goo Goo Dolls concert at the Comerica in Phoenix … fun time and excellent show. Interesting story, when I bought the tickets on line, both rows 13 and 14 in Section 4 (center) had seats 1 & 2 available. Because of superstitions associated with the number 13, I chose seats 1 & 2 in row 14. Well, a guy who had to be 7’ tall sat in row 13, seat 1 … yeah, and the guy didn’t sit down once during the concert. I considered doing surgery by cutting his legs off, but opted instead to stand the entire concert too, and stand partially out in the aisle so I could see … it turned out 13 was bad luck, but for a reason I could not have guessed.

Beautiful new week underway, smile and share your joy!

Ted

 

Whatever else you do or forbear;

Impose upon yourself the task of happiness;

And now and then abandon yourself

To the joy of laughter.

 

Max Ehrmann

Sticking it

… a common phrase when describing the landings of gymnasts and this Great Blue Heron has certainly stuck his landing too. I’ve got about 20 shots in this landing sequence of which most are prior to this first contact with the earth; this shot shows the incredible focus he has on making the landing and the strength of outstretched wings providing braking power like landing flaps on aircraft … I always love the feel when I am riding in a commercial jet as they lower the gear and deploy the flaps … feels like they have hit the brakes and ditto here. His body is canted back and the legs are starting to absorb the energy of landing and coming to a complete stop. A fun shot.

I flew this morning, but this time there was a lot of water vapor in the sky, some smoke and some ozone so that by the time I got to 12,000’ the landscape was getting hazed out. Spent some time cruising around Kendrick peak as they have lifted the TFR which had a floor of 12,000’. Got some neat shots which I am sharing with the FS. Also got a link from Brian to a video that Scott (Prescott National Forest) did regarding the prescribed burn which was aborted last Saturday and he discusses the purpose of that fire and what can be accomplished by a fire like that. It is worth a listen and hope you will take the time to view it. https://vimeo.com/224802541 Nice job Scott!

My boat was loaded on a truck today and is officially making the journey to Arizona from Minnesota. Every boat needs a name and I have settled on a name for this one and it is a descriptive name … “Not Yacht” and I will be painting the name on her when she arrives … in matching camo of course. Really excited about this and the shots I will be able to get from water level.

Seems strange, but it is into the weekend for me and I’ll be back Monday morning … some more flying on tap, outings with One, going to a Goo Goo Dolls concert at the Comerica Theater in Phoenix on Sunday and I think perhaps a trip down to Phoenix on Friday too … maybe. Life is good, it is also fleeting so enjoy it and the company of others whilst you are breathing … and smile … you are alive and that is terrific!

Cheers

Ted

 

The green of all the fields is mine, the stars, the night, the wind at play,

A peaceful heart, while quietly

I go my way

 

Max Ehrmann

 

With a smile

… five years ago a friend gave Corky a beautiful floral arrangement  and as always, I took some time to shoot it, but in this case it was a wee late in the life cycle and I missed the beautiful blooms as originally gifted. Still, when I took a look at the arrangement, the beauty that had been was still very obvious and spent blooms were departing with a smile … life had been beautiful and now that it was time to leave the departure was done with grace and a smile that remained and transformed the blooms into a thing of beauty. I have known a lot of people like that too … and though gone, a smile creeps across my face as I remember them and their interaction with my life. A good reason to start each day with a smile so that those who remain after our passing will remember our lives with fondness and a smile … a beauty that continues forever and forever after that as we continue the journey.

 

 

Beautiful rain again today and I’m going to put an early wrap on this so that I can climb out into a beautifully clean atmosphere tomorrow morning; the sky will be blue, the forests a rich green and as I climb to a perch 15,000’ in the air all will be well with visibility extending into Utah and Colorado … I hope.

Have a beautiful day and smile

Cheers

Ted

 

Give me to gladly go my way and say no word of mine own woe;

But let me smile each day.

Give me the strength to do my task I ask; and that I shall not rue

The toiler’s grimy mask.

Give one loved hand to me, and leave the eve, all undisturbed as we

Our strength of souls retrieve.

And lastly give sweet sleep. Closed sight, no fright that fears will o’er me creep;

And now a sweet goodnight.

Forever and

… forever beyond that … a rainbow in the distance over the Painted Desert, low clouds embracing the NW faces of the San Francisco Peaks and the lower volcanic cones trailing to the NNW. I took this shot near days end last September 30th from an altitude of 12,633’ MSL which coincidentally is the vertical elevation of Humphreys Peak, which is just behind me on the right side. I love that area of northern Arizona and look forward to having air quality like this up there again. Today the air quality was nice as the rains cleansed the sky … maybe later this week I’ll try a flight up there again.

A quiet day and late afternoon I headed up to the airport to do some work on Mariah and change the oil and filter … a nice breeze and temperature within reason; thence home and took One out for her hunt. I watched “The Magic of Belle Island” again and thoroughly enjoyed it … love movies like that.

Time to wrap the day … it was a good one and hope yours was too. Enjoy the moment and cherish the love, family and friends you have … there is nothing else that matters.

Cheers

Ted

 

A bird flies through the sky, and I fly with it. I am each pearl of moisture sparkling in the sun.

I lie lazy on the clouds. And I acknowledge my kinship with each winged thing.

I see all as one, and nothing repels me, as this new day climbs noiselessly out of the valley of the night.

Peace lies over the world and over the world of my soul.

 

Max Ehrmann

The way it is

… I took this shot this morning shortly after takeoff as I headed up to Mormon Lake to see if I could get some shots of herds of elk that are reputed to doing their annual gathering. Even though I flew relatively low around the lake I did not see any elk, but I did see a lot of White Face Heifers, Black Angus and similar creatures. It is not so comfortable for me to fly at low altitude as all my instincts are those of a glider guider … we get high and stay high … provided we can. From a higher altitude though things on the ground would have been pretty well hazed out as smoke continues to dominate the sky as far as you can see in every direction. Lots of fire in the state and elsewhere.

In the lower left of the image SR 179 is traveling north and at the first traffic circle, continuing straight takes you up Schnebly Hill Road, turning left takes you by Tlaquepaque and then it turns right and you are going by Creekside and the other restaurants, then you get to the Y and turning left brings you into West Sedona; directly above the Y is Uptown and SR 89A continues up to the right and heads up canyon. The San Francisco Peaks silhouette is directly above Wilson Mountain.

Saturday I was invited out on a Prescribed Fire that was going to burn off about 4,000 acres of grassland; about five miles east of I-17 down Dugas Road. We got there early and there were crews of about fifty people, a helicopter and lots of equipment. This area has not seen fire in over twenty years and there are a lot of invasive grasses and trees that have altered the original grassland nature of the area. One of the primary native grasses is Tabosa which is a very important forage grass for wildlife and also cattle. Burning it at this time of year, just before the monsoons sends its root structure into a very active state which coupled with the rains from the monsoons makes it take off and dominate other forms of grass and foliage which is not beneficial to the area. Burn it too late and you damage or kill the plant and ditto too early. Along with this, the fire would take out other vegetation which has no business in the grasslands like Junipers … they suck 25 or more gallons of water a day from the soil which doesn’t leave water for the Tabosa and other grasses. Life underground is like warfare and it is survival for the toughest life forms. Being a grass fire, it would have been relatively fast moving and lasted about a day.

The planning that goes into these fires is extensive and being a prescribed fire it requires approval from the EPA/ADEQ which authorized the fire only under specific circumstances that had to exist at the time they lit it. There was also a checklist with many other items all of which had to exist before they initiated it. A morning briefing was held and all aspects of the plan were discussed including the weather and possible effects from high wind outflows from predicted storms later in the day. Whilst we were doing the briefing, ash from the Brooklyn peak wildfire only 15 miles to the south of us was raining down on us. This is a lightning caused fire which in the span of about two days ripped through over 35,000 acres, traveling over six miles and burning 18,000 acres over night when fires are supposed to lay down and be quiet. When you are out there and discussing a fire such as this and things that can go wrong, you get a real appreciation for what these people go through ,,, a sudden change in wind direction from storm outflow and you can be toast … literally!

While doing the briefing the Fire Manager felt that with the Brooklyn wildfire so close to us and with the smoke it was generating and the potential hazards to personnel, that the fire would be a no go and called it off. Once you start these fires you don’t just turn them off and he made a great decision … likely the burn which had also been planned for last year will be coming up next year … just not this year. After crews were dispersed to go help on other fires, we checked out the Brooklyn Fire and a few other things before Brian dropped me off at my vehicle. A great and illuminating morning.

I talked to Brian later in the day and he told me about an event that happened a few hours after I left. He and another fire manager had gone back to the briefing area we had been at in the morning and while standing out there talking about the fires, a huge lightning bolt erupted from a cloud and hit the ridge just above where they were standing. Just the one enormous bolt and it did not start a fire … I joked with him that the Almighty, was telling him that he made the right decision that morning and that when it was time he would take care of it himself! I also explored a few other alternatives, but we won’t go into those here. Funny! Fire, is after all a natural part of the ecosystem and nature can better determine when and where than humans.

As for where I stand on fire, I believe in letting natural wildfires burn their natural course, whether it be one acre or a hundred thousand acres; I think that prescribed fires have a place, but that the impact on humans is an important consideration and that was taken into account yesterday; not sure all fire managers would have made the same decision, but it was refreshing to see the fire called off after a considerable amount of time and money had been invested in it. Then there are the managed fires, what I now call the fake wildfires, and examples of them are the Boundary Fire, last year the Jack Fire and the Mormon fire … I’ll talk about them another night, but they are not true wildfires or natural in any sense of the word.

A beautiful week is underway and I’m listening to rain coming down … the air is being cleansed … fires are laying down and perhaps for the first time in weeks we may have a few days of smoke free air … maybe not, but we can always hope.

Cheers

Ted

 

And in this journey over a thousand hills and valleys called life, he is wisest who

is patient where the way is hard, has faith when he does not understand, and carries

into the dark places the light of a cheerful heart.

 

Max Ehrmann