Sunday, October 31, 2021

Attitude Adjustment

The western view from Park Point, the height of land in Mesa Verde

8,500 feet, 30 degrees and blowing a gale

I've learned a lot about myself the last five days. I am, in short, a quivering vessel of nerves. What I've attributed to being disciplined and results oriented may be something more. On the journey from anxiousness to anxiety I’m speeding north at 90mph.

I’m so anxious to get to point B that my pulse soars to 11 on scale of 1 to 10 before I hit the road. I pack my gear so quickly that I regularly forget something. I could stock a haberdashery with the garments I’ve left in hotel rooms the last fifty years. On Thursday evening when I unpacked at our guest house in Oak Creek Canyon I didn't have the power supply for my laptop. I'd left it in my hotel room in Flagstaff. Thankfully, housekeeping turned it in to the front desk and I was able to pick it up Friday morning. But it was nerve wracking and cost me two hours I can't afford to lose

Manifestations of my impatience are many. I could publish a coffee table book of the photographs I could have taken if I’d found the brake pedal. Even more times I haven’t stopped at the store that’s on my way to the buy the milk or AAA batteries that I know we need. Apparently, I’d prefer to make a special trip. The milk and battery thing actually happened Friday morning after my self-inflicted jaunt to Flagstaff. I’m not sure I’m trainable.

If recognizing your demons is half the battle, I recognize my demons.

There’s always something eating at me. I gnashed teeth for three months before I pulled the trigger on my new mirrorless camera kit, didn’t I? Would I have deserved it less if I’d bought it in the first place?

Today’s matter o the moment is getting TSA Pre-checks on our Santa Fe to LaGuardia tickets. Since I can’t see it in print I’m not confident that we’ll be in the short line that dark Wednesday morning in December. The United agent in Bangalore, don't get me started, who took our Global Entry info assures me we’re all set. I’m doubtful. And, I’ll agonize till I know.

All of this leads to an attitude adjustment that I embraced on Thursday. My life change includes the willingness to go with flow, to say yes more readily and to be less rigid with the obligatory components of my life, namely a daily Instagram post, a weekly blog and bi-monthly contribution to Shadow and Light magazine. Oh, and four hours of cardio and three of upper body work every week.

Already the new more submissive paradigm had me having a beer with lunch on the patio of the Indian Garden Store in Oak Creek Canyon on Friday. I haven’t had a midday libation since 2014. And I extended my visit to Sedona for another day simply because folks wanted me to stay till Sunday. Those adjustments were pleasurable and I felt good about them.

But the flip side is that I’m writing this stupid blog at 10:45 Sunday night. So, I didn't have Sunday in Taos to write my blog, process photographs from Mesa Verde, Hovenweep and the Navajo Nation or workout. And I didn't post to Instagram for two days, the first such failure in 15 years.

This more fluid lifestyle is going to take some getting used to. I don’t know where and how discipline and commitment will coexist with flexibility and pleasure. I haven't found the balance so far.

This stream of consciousness is brought to you by the images within, images that have nothing whatsoever to so with the text.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Route of the Silver KIngs

The Evansville Mine #1

Evansville with a slag heap and Prospect Mountain in the distance.

With my interest piqued by my first visit to Leadville in August I returned last week to partake of the mining museum and to add to my portfolio of photographs of Leadville’s abandoned mines. In Leadville’s heyday from 1879 to 1893 there were 2,800 patented claims, 1,600 prospects and 1,300 shafts. It was, in short, a big deal. The boom had a short but epic life and the opera ended with a whimper when the US Treasury stopped buying prodigious amounts of silver to back up its Silver Certificates. Then the value of silver didn’t support the high cost of extracting the mineral. The silver’s still there, pilgrim. You just can’t afford to extract it. The singing may have stopped in 1893 but the last diehard kept at it till 1999.

The remains of the Berndell and Witherall Smelter. Mount Massive looms to the west.

In 1879 there were 17 smelters. None stand today but the immense slag heap created by the Berndell and Witherall La Plata smelter testifies to the breadth and depth of a decade of pillage and plunder.

Hopemore Mine and Mount Evans.

Upper Oro Mine on Breece Hill.

Upper Oro and Blue Sky.

As I drove the Route of the Silver Kings I tried to identify and photographs the mines I missed in August. Given Leadville’s storied past I had expected to find the definitive map of the mines. Instead, thanks to a docent at the mining museum, I was armed with a suspect hand drawn sheet which was definitely not to scale. Couple that with the fact that almost none of the mines had signs. So, I’ve identified the mines with a high degree of uncertainty. Sometimes nailed it. Other time it’s a wild ass guess.

I am please to report that for the first time ever I have three subjects for my Telling Stories byline in Shadow and Light magazine. Last week I wrote about the lowly corral. And I have a story percolating about Mary Colter, the iconic architect of the Southwest and boom and bust Leadville is also a contender.

It's an embarrassment of riches. I guess I'll know which one wins the sweepstakes when I know it. I have a week to figure it out.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Don't fence me in

A crude Cowboy built corral with Mount San Antonio looming to the north.

The cattle chute to nowhere

Looking west toward the Cruces Basin Wilderness

One of evocative western icons is the lowly corral. I’ve never met a corral I didn’t love. The ones strewn across the high desert of New Mexico are usually made of the materials readily at hand and, as such, are crude affairs that bend and yaw with age and the unsparing elements at 7,500 feet. This individual represents that cheap and resourceful ethos. Make it cheap, fast, and lasting. Make it easy to repair by a cowboy or shepherd with nothing but nothing but pliers, wire cutters and a length of wire, barbed or otherwise. The corral in this tale sits akimbo on the west side of my beloved US 285, a two-lane road that cuts a diagonal route across New Mexico from West Texas and into Colorado. The soft-shouldered form of volcanic San Antonio Mountain lies just beyond. Beyond Mount San Antone, sometimes called Mount Baldy, a sign says, “Welcome to Beautiful Colorado.” I will be so greeted this morning as I drive north to Leadville. 

Framed by barbed wire

Empty in the big empty

This tidbit is a warm-up for my November-December article in Shadow and Light magazine. That’s unless I’m deterred by the proceeds of my photo safari to Leadville’s silver mines.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Low hanging fruit

El Salto from the El Salto neighborhood of Arroyo Seco. 

For several weeks in late September through mid-October Taoseños are flushed with a bounty of rich autumn hues and the epic skies for which northern Mew Mexico is famous. It’s also the time in which capturing the wonder in my favored black and white may be a losing battle. At this time of year you could drop your camera and a get a pretty picture of New Mexico’s fall splendor. But it’s hard, if not impossible, to get a transcendent photograph.

El Salto from Highway 150.

Heart of Stone with El Salto on your right. This is from Valverde Common in downtown Taos.

The Immel's aspen stand.

A more abstract conception of the abandoned cottage next to Casa Immel. This one at least strives to be "art."

A little black and white for what ails you. 

So, with that modest preamble here are some Kodachrome moments that are postcards from El Norte durante el otoño. If the damn leaves would just fall. I could get back to my monochromatic mistress.

In the meantime, you get what you get.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

A man of few words

El Salto from State Road 150 in Arroyo Seco.

A splash of early morning sun on the Hacienda de Los Martinez

My amigo Dado Lucena of Socorro. 

Aspen detail with shallow depth of field.

As the sun falls.

Soft as a rose petal

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks learning to use my new Sony a7r llla. The ‘a’ means it’s the latest version of the camera. Most of my remaining gray cells have been committed to understanding the mechanics of the camera. I was less driven my imagery than technology. Still, I shot enough to proclaim the switch from Canon to be a success or at least to be very promising. Any qualms I had about a mirrorless unit not standing up to the DSLR have been assuaged and I’m ready to hit the bricks and to reignite my creative fire.