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I was pretty unsure of how I wanted to see the eclipse. I first had plans to pick a random field northeast of Cheyenne, WY to watch in relative solitude, with only my buddy, Scott Homan, but reports that the area might be cloudy deterred us from making the trek. Saturday we decided this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we should take the time to go into totality. I had been thinking that since the eclipse was at noon, the eclipse would not photograph well in most landscapes. I thought photographing people looking at the phenomenon would be more interesting, so we picked a spot where we thought there would be at least some other people watching, Alliance, Nebraska.
We took Sunday afternoon to slowly make our way up into Nebraska, driving through Pawnee National Grasslands. I’m not sure how it’s a national public land because it’s filled with oil rigs, grazing cattle, and wind turbines, but it does have its own kind of beauty.
The sky is huge out there in comparison to Boulder where the mountains block the view of much of the sky. We were ok with leaving the confusing grasslands when got off the maze of gravel roads onto highway 71.
This sign off of HW71 caught my attention. I had to turn around to take the shot
We drove into Scottsbluff, amazed with the bluffs that surround the town in Nebraska (not a place you think of having a variety of landscapes). Two Scotts ate dinner in Scottsbluff. On the drive, Scott Homan found that Carhenge was only a few miles north of Alliance, and I thought, there’s no other place for us to go! We drove in the dark from Scottsbluff on more dirt roads towards Alliance, found a field with a downed gate, pulled the car in and set up camp for the night.
We woke up to an amazingly wet and foggy morning.
The sleepy town of Alliance was very alive with Eclipse travelers, the activity looking quite out of place. There were several locals looking to make some cash from this one time opportunity, hosting viewing parties in their yards. But it was obvious the only place for the Scotts was Carhenge.
Scott acquired a pair of solar glasses and we watched the moon creep into the circumference of the sun.
The interesting spectacle of Carhenge! Definitely glad we wound up here!
In planning to focus on shooting the people watching the eclipse, and the eclipse being at around noon, I brought my Flashpoint Streaklight 360 Barebulb Flash to overpower the mid-day sun. Well, less over power and more fill in all the obvious shadows. It’s a style I had wanted to try for a while. I’ve mentioned it before, I think, but this is definitely one of my favorite strobes and works flawlessly in the Flashpoint R2 wireless system.
The inevitable crystal worshipers
The Aliens, of course
For the 15 minutes or so before the totality, the light turned this very eery grey, and my insides starting tingling like the feeling right before a huge storm hits.
The moment the sky turned dark, the crowd gasped, and the photojournalists clicked away
There was a 360º sunset, definitely one of the things I was not expecting.
Then the moment everyone had been waiting for, some for the majority of their lives!
The light came back to a dull grey, people hugged each other and talked excitedly, expressing the magical experience they just had that words didn’t really do justice for.
Alright, this…this. I wish I had a video of this. A short, fat, middle aged man with a shoulder satchel pulled these unicorns out of his bag and lovingly placed each of the figures onto the bumper of the car, took out a nice camera, and shot the unicorns. Just as gingerly as he placed them, he picked them up, returned them to his satchel, and walked off into the crowd. He did it with the nonchalance of taking a tourist photo with his wife and children. I looked around to see if anyone else saw this happen, and no one else seemed to notice.
I’m definitely happy that Scott and I finally decided to make the trek to Nebraska to see Totality. Incredible experience. I’m psyched we went to a place with people and found Carhenge. Now, I need to come up with an amazing idea for shooting the next one in 2024!
I met Michelle and Sylvan in Bend, OR this summer and shot them highlining in Smith Rock. Michelle is from Colorado and was excited to come back and visit. She hit me up and wanted to do some acro yoga shots. I had been wanting to shoot in the Boulder Bandstand for a while and thought it a perfect opportunity.
City of Boulder workers were working on the lights when we got there and were super gracious, even changing the color of the lights to what I thought looked best. I had two shots in mind, so I didn’t really vary too much from my vision. Pretty happy with the results!
As you probably gathered from my previous posts, I took a road trip around the Pacific Northwest last month. It was awesome to get into an area of the country I absolutely love.
I landed at 12:40am in Seattle. I didn’t want to pay for a hotel and the first shuttle to Whidbey Island wasn’t till 6:50am, so I found a “quiet” corner, blew up my Klymit Ozone sleeping pad, donned my sleeping mask, and tried to get a few hours of sleep between the security announcements over the speakers. My uncle graciously let me borrow his Ford Taurus to drive for my two-week trip – not exactly the adventure mobile, but it worked. I crossed from Whidbey to Port Townsend and drove US101 to Forks, WA, stopping at Lake Crescent along the way.
From Forks, I drove to the coast, to La Push, home to the Quileute Tribe and beautiful beaches. I walked around Beach 1 for a bit before searching for a place to camp.
I was told by a young girl working at the RV park that I could car camp at Beach 2, where I found a relatively flat spot, made dinner, then walked the 3/4 mile to the beach through the rainforest just after sunset. The colors were going off when I got there.
In the morning, I kept driving down US101 towards Astoria, Oregon, and got sidetracked by a sign that simply said, “Big Tree”. It was a short easy hike through the rainforest, then there it was, a really big tree.
There really wasn’t anything else there.
I drove through Astoria and searched for waterfalls nearby. Youngs Creek Falls came up, near the Lewis and Clark Historical Fort Clatsop. Another short, easy hike down to the river revealed this falls.
I planned my road trip completely separately from the knowledge that my family was going to be in Portland for a conference. I met up with my mom, dad, sister and two nephews for dinner, then my sister and I went climbing the next day at Broughton Bluff, near the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge. We first stopped at the Wahkeena Falls and Multnomah Falls. Definitely a beautiful place, even with the hundreds of tourists. The climbing at Broughton was short, but fun and stout (I only climbed trad, but I took a pretty awkward fall on 5.9, watched a strong climber struggle on 5.8, and took a knee shaking fall on two lobes of a .2 on a 5.10a I’d watched an old timer climber aid up).
After a few days in Portland, I made my way to Bend, a city many compare to Boulder, CO. The access to adventure is great, but I wasn’t swept off my feet by the city. Boulder still is the only place I’ve ever felt at home.
I met up with my longtime friend, Allison Osantowske, and she took her visiting mother and me up to the Cascade Lakes, past Mount Bachelor. This is Sparks Lake, a beautiful spot.
I drove to Pacific City with Allison and crew to try surfing for the first time, incredibly hard. I made my way back to Bend to try and find someone to climb with in Smith Rock. I got to Smith just at sunset as it was pouring down rain. I waited it out and the rain cleared. The almost full moon came out, and I took this 12-minute exposure well after dark.
I woke up in the morning to more rain, so I skipped Smith and went back into Bend to shoot some acro yoga with Dani Whitehead. I met Michelle and Sylvan who invited me to shoot Highlining in Smith the next day. I had planned on driving roughly half way to Index, WA that night to find climbing partners in the morning. But I elected to stay and shoot highlining, then drive 7 hours straight to Everette, WA. Thankfully, Mark came with us and I was able to climb one, very hard, 11d route at Easy’s Playhouse.
I ran back to my car from the top of the Red Wall in (I think) an impressive 15 minutes, trying not to push gaping tourists off the trail. I had started climbing past my planned leaving time, so I was getting on the road later than I wanted. I drove up US 97 through northern Oregon to Yakima. I was stopped twice for extended periods because of construction, but only stopped and got out of the car once in the 7 hrs to take photos of this derelict gas station.
The landscape of eastern Washington was so far different than what everyone thinks of the PNW.
I wish I could have spent more time in Eastern Washington, but my trip was winding to a close. Leavenworth seemed like a really interesting place surrounded by extremely beautiful mountains, lakes, and awesome climbing. Stevens Pass definitely made me want to come back and ski.
I spent a couple days in Seattle then headed back to Whidbey Island to spend time with two sets of aunts and uncles and return the car. I always love traveling, and I haven’t done a trip like this around the US before. Would love to do more.