I had a blog, once. Freshman year of college, 2007. It was an ongoing assignment for a class. I did the bare minimum. Seems like an eternity ago.
My purpose behind this blog is to broadcast and chronicle my imagery and insight onto the great world wide web. Depending who you ask, the internet is one week older than I am.
images are shot on an iphone5, iphone6, nikond3100, sonya6500, djiphantom4, and djiphantom4pro
grammatical errors come with the territory
Post #1: May 15th 2019
MY WINTER IN YELLOWSTONE
This last winter (2018-2019) I guided trips into Yellowstone. Snowmobiles and snow-coaches are the only forms of motorized travel in the park during the winter. Visitors have to be guided by commercial operators during the winter months. Mainly, I led snowmobile trips form the Southern entrance to Old Faithful Geyser Basin, at least 42 miles, possibly further if time allowed, and then back the same 42 miles. In a snow storm, its easy for those same miles to look completely different.
Snow-coach version 1: Big Foots
Snow-coach version 2: Mat-Trax
The snowmobile fleet. 600cc 4-stroke ski-doo grand touring editions. Yellowstone has emissions and sound requirements for over the snow vehicles that meet BAT standards. BAT stands for best available technology. The amount of machines parked here is rumored around 160. Thankfully, counting them wasn’t apart of my job description.
Boardwalk of West Thumb Geyser Basin. Essentially, the first big geothermal area next to the main roadway from the South entrance, roughly 22 miles inside the park. A unique basin due to its close proximity to the shores of Yellowstone lake. The lake is roughy 136 square miles with other 141 miles of shoreline. It’s also the largest high elevation lake in North America with an average elevation of 7700ft above sea level.
Depending on conditions, a keen observer might notice the clouds of steam to the North when stopped at Kepler cascades. That steam signals the proximity of Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin. One looks South when viewing the cascades so it’s interesting to see if anyone looks this way.
Post#2*: May 18th, 2019 *lots of reading ahead
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Recently, as in a month ago, I had a friend from high school reach out about a speech I gave as a part of a S.L.A.M (simulated live action melodrama) event our high school put on every spring. Essentially, the event was designed to illustrate the lasting impacts of what drinking and driving can have in a small community like ours.
I was selected to participate in the event as a “ghost” or so I vaguely remember off the top of my head. This was back in May of 2007. Anyway, we were tasked with writing a letter to our parents from the view of us being deceased. That being said, it was a heavy event. Despite all that, my friend who reached out about the speech told me that he always remembers that day in the gym and the message of my words.
Being surrounded by all the gloom of that event over the course of three days, I couldn’t stop thinking of all the brighter sides of life despite all the baloney we deal with on a daily basis.
My friend asked me if I had a copy of the speech and I said I did at one time, but over the course of 12 years I wasn’t sure if it was still around. I looked high and low with no luck thinking the sacred text was lost. The mind is a powerful thing though and it occurred to me to look in my old college binders that I knew I still had and revisit some of those old writings just for the sake of it. I’ve always liked looking back in time at old school work for the snapshot in time it provides. Sometimes, its hard to realize the authors voice was once your own.
Anyway, I opened up my English 101 binder from Freshman year of college and low and behold, there it was. Three sheets of college ruled binder paper, stuffed into the sleeve on the left hand side, the only proper place for loose leaf papers.
I Facebook messaged my friend and relayed the find. I opened Google Docs and put my keyboard through its paces, transcribing the handwritten scribble verbatim, like a war correspondent, short of a cigarette dangling from my mouth.
Below is that transcript. I wanted to put it out there digitally because I’ve had a few people ask about it and if left an influence on them, maybe it’ll do the same for someone else.
SLAM Letter: May, 2007
Dear Mother & Father,
I’m writing this letter to you as an expression of myself that I would like you all to remember me by.
Throughout my life I’ve learned a lot from my family and I thank them for being such great teachers. Even though these learning experiences may not have been the most enjoyable times, I’ve always come out of them with a great appreciation for how pure and beautiful life really is. No matter what troubles us in our material lives, the fact is we are still creatures with primitive instincts trying to coexist with other creatures on this place we call earth. At the end of the day we all go home to people we share a common bond with. No matter what we will always have these special people either in memory of in life. It's what we take from these special people that makes us stronger.
I look around today and notice that even though we are all the same, for some reason people all have something to prove. All my life I’ve tried to never pass a judging eye and to let everyone be. To be is to exist and if someone feels that the actions and attitudes of another are not standard to their beliefs they are telling those people to not exist. For one person to feel above another is the biggest problem in our world today. People are so involved in such small realities of their own lives, they are blind to the bigger picture.
I want to make a reference to the golden rule, but over the years it’s almost become cliche. For peace and happiness to coexist people need to rid themselves of hatred and judgement based on the beliefs society has imposed upon us. For one to treat others as they wish to be treated is the key to it all. However, it’s not just the key that unlocks the solution. The lock which is the problem has smaller parts to it. The mechanics or the details of the lock shouldn’t be overlooked. It's the small things that most greatly impact the final product. Most people agree with the golden rule but it seems to only come into play in certain situations.
People need to realize that even a simple hello to a stranger or holding the door for someone you don’t know are the building blocks of a person's character. One must put themselves into another's shoes to realize that things aren’t always what they seem to be. We shouldn't be so quick to judge and know that everyone is different. Tolerance is key and societal beliefs hinder us from fully reaching tolerance, but if one has the determination to question it all and speak their mind, they can bring power to the individual we all secretly have inside.
For my parents and everyone else, the lives we live are the most beautiful thing we are privileged with. To live is not a right but an act and if you ever feel like all hope is lost, take a look around and open all your senses and soak everything in. It’s all worth it and too precious to not take advantage of it. Actions speak louder than words, so don't waste your time grieving over me, spend your time doing something because of me.
If you’ve read this far, thank you. A very text heavy post, I know, but something I wanted to share. I wish I could say I’ve followed this scripture devoutly since its creation, but some of the years after high school and into my early 20's had their darker sides. I’ve changed a lot since then and feel like my compass is calibrated back in line with the message of this speech and the timeliness of this speech reemerging in my life only shows that the universe works in mysterious ways.
Part of creating this blog is an attempt to express my self more creatively and proficiently through the written word. Its amazing what you forget when life doesn’t demand written papers any more.
Post#3: May 24th, 2019
PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES
This spring my girlfriend and I went on a trip that would take me the furthest away from home I’ve ever been. One 4 hour drive, one 3.5 hour plane ride, one 9.5 hour plane ride, and one 12 hour plane ride just to arrive at our final destination of Cape Town, South Africa.
Before I continue, a bit of advice. If you’ve never been on a long plane ride and are in anyway shape or size larger than your average person (average American man is 5 feet, 7.6 inches tall, sorry for leaving out other genders and ethnicities) pay the extra money for extra leg room and choose an isle seat. Getting through my flight from Cape Town to Frankfurt, a solid 12 hours, was on par with the effort of the 300 spartans during the battle of Thermopylae. At 6’4" and 225lbs, economy class isn’t quite my ball game.
As we approached Cape Town and I looked out the window of the plane, a sea of clouds engulfed the land below. Suddenly, rocky peaks jutted through the clouds and the landscape began to reveal its self.
When we arrived in Cape Town it finally felt like our vacation had officially begun.
The next day we journeyed to Stellenbosch, amazing wine country East of Cape Town. My girlfriend has an old friend who’s South African and she was visiting the area for a few weddings and the upcoming easter holiday. We were welcomed with open arms by our friends, boyfriends family and enjoyed an amazing feast at their friends home and vineyard.
I was put to the test this day by the owner of the home we were invited to for lunch. After hearing I was a bit of an “outdoorsman” he implied that I surely should be the one to carve all the prepared meat for our meal. The edible fate of a prime rib, two chickens, and a pork tenderloin was now in my hands. No such thing as a free lunch, I suppose. After brandishing two serious knives, I dug in. No one booed or told me to “please leave” so I can only assume I did alright. You’re welcome, America.
We traveled back to Cape Town, roughly about an hour drive and caught our first glimpse of a “shanty town” off the main highway.
*click on images above to enlarge.
Seeing these towns made my mind wander and contemplate the history of the apartheid and the still present influence of that time. It’s a strange thing to feel guilty for the actions of others because you share a similar skin color with those perpetrators. However, it’s amazing how a simple visual instant can make your greatly appreciate what you have.
The next day we laced up our hiking boots and Uber’ed to the base of our objective. Table Mountain. I’d like to find another city with such a spectacular back drop as Table Mountain is to Cape Town, but based on no empirical evidence, I don’t think another such place exists.
As we hiked up there were a lot of folks hiking back down. We’d purchased tickets for a ride back down on the cable car at the top of the mountain, but heard due to high winds, the cable car was closed. After we took in the views from the top, we started hiking back down. It may be hard to tell but these steps aren’t of average size. It was one of the first times in my life I felt like the steps were suited for a person of stature like my self. However, after Tana broke her legs a few years ago, going down mountains isn’t as comfortable as it used to be for her. Shortly after this photo, Tana stopped and checked her phone for the status of the cable car. It was open. I had just gotten done saying how I was semi-glad we wouldn’t have to down load on a sketchy cable car that was precariously perched on the edge of a cliff. Sketchy cable car it was.
I forgot we explored the harbor of Cape Town before all of this, but timeline be damned. Anyway, the harbor area is amazing and full of history. As best I can recollect, they literally had to blast away the rock, quarry style, to build the harbor. The presence of a rich mariner history lingers everywhere and I found my thoughts and imagination wondering to what it must of been like hundreds of years ago. Pirates of the Caribbean mixed with a little bit of Hook is the best words can do for what my imagination conjured up.
*click on a photo to enlarge
The next day we met up with our friends and loaded up in the car. The goal for the day was to drive from Cape Town and go down and around Cape Peninsula, seeing the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. We also planned for a short stop to check out a colony of African Penguins.
*click on photo to enlarge
African Penguins, Chacma Baboons, Diaz Beach (See Bartolomeu Diaz) and Cape Point
After journeying around Cape Point we loaded up once again in the rental car and drove to Plettenberg Bay, driving along the Garden Route highway, roughly 6 hours towards the Eastern Cape.
The beaches of Plettenberg bay might be the most spectacular I’ve ever seen. Long and smooth with rocky peaks as back drops in the far distance. There’s one main hotel in the center of the bay that used to be a whaling out post for much of its history. It wasn’t until the 60’s or 70’s that the current hotel was built. We enjoyed our time in Plett, getting away from the action of Cape Town, eating Bobotie Pizza (South African dish, look it up), enjoying morning coffee and walking along the expansive beaches. We also went swimming in the ocean which took me back to my younger days of family trips to Mexico and spending what felt like sunup to sundown, boogie boarding in the shorebreak waves. I did my best to catch a few rides, using classic body surfing techniques.
One of our last days in Plett, we scheduled a little safari drive at a game reserve semi-close to town. It was awesome to see the animals up close and personal. We lucked out in that it was feeding day for the predators, usually fed twice a week, so our safari guide felt comfortable pulling right up to next to the wild dogs, cheetahs and solo lioness.
But during the taxi ride in it was drizzly and overcast so there was some awesome mist/fog hanging in the air and as we rounded a hedge row, we were greeted by a lumbering herd of elephants. It was pretty damn majestical and really put it in perspective just how giant those creatures really are.
Unfortunately, we didn’t really think to take any photos of the encounter as we’d surely see them again on the drive, right? Not the case. Every night the elephants sleep in a heavily wooded area close to the lodge because the big creatures like to be hidden in the tall trees at night and also think the owners/operators of the lodge like to keep a close watch on them in case there were ever poachers looking to cash in. So when we saw them, they’d just been let out of the tall tree’d pasture and were heading out across the open pastures.
We did get to see one elephant chomping on some trees after the herd had made their way down into a deep ravine full of shade and forage where they generally hung out during the day so that was pretty cool. Its amazing how those things can disappear in the landscape.
We saw a giraffe from a distance, across the ravine. It was hard to spot it because it was standing so still. Again, big creatures can blend in amazingly well.
Overall, it was a great experience and I couldn’t stop thinking about my winter in Yellowstone essentially doing the same thing, guiding folks through wild lands and now here I was, the tourist with the camera, moving closer to the driver seat to better hear what our guide had to say.
The bottom middle photo might of been my most favorite from the whole trip. Somehow, I think that animal is out of a Lord of the Rings novel or something.
Sorry folks, thats all the photos I can upload right now. Currently, having macbook issues and my computers in the shop. Stay tuned for the rest of my shots from the game drive and our last adventure to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
South Africa Cont’d
Wanted to circle back and wrap up the South Africa post for you. Didn’t mean to leave you hanging, but my trusty MacbookPro of 4 years or so, died. Fried logic board. Not something an amateur computer mechanic such as my self has the capacity to replace. It was a refurbished ebay buy, so I figure I got my moneys worth.
Anywho, I’ve upgraded to a trendy iMac desktop setup as I’ve realized my vision of crushing edits and pumping out content at coffee shops was never quite my style, even though I told my self a portable computer made sense. Enough about computers. Back to Africa….
In the shuffle of computers some images have been reorganized and its a heck of a process to relocate all of them, but these were a few more form the safari drive.
Word on the street is they fed the predators twice a week. Notice the cheetah’s chomping on a delicious looking spinal column, freshly tossed into its enclosure. This allowed us to get up close and personal while the predators were transfixed on their meal. Wild to see creatures like these up close. Not necessarily in the wildest of confines, but you can tell just by the way they look back at you that theres a little more going on upstairs and if you didn’t play your cards right, you’d be serving up the fresh spinal column.
As our time in Plett came to an end, we caught a short flight back to Cape Town to spend our last day. We booked tickets to go tour Robben Island in the morning before we flew out that afternoon.
At the time, the idea of Robben Island being designated a World Heritage Site didn’t really hold any weight in my mind. I had only noticed that term because it was written on this cool photo op spot.
Fast forward until a few weeks ago and all I can remember is watching an instance of a lady telling a young child what a World Heritage Sight meant. As I typed that last sentence out, my memory came back to me. It was a Friday. I was at the Alpine public library listening to a fascinating talk by the Gears, a married couple of formally trained archeologists who write novels from their interpretations of findings and artifacts at sites all across the world. Hell of a Friday night, I know. Anyway, Kathleen O’Neal Gear was talking about an ancient city site around St. Louis Missouri that was believed to be insanely huge back in the day and how it’s consider a World Heritage Site because, in the simplest of terms, it affected the entire world. As Kathleen finished saying that, my mind instantly went to the above image.
I’m not going to spend the time to construct a thesis for you on how exactly Robben Island went about changing the world because there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
I will say at the start of the tour you walk through a building that has a timeline along the walls that essentially starts back at the 1400’s with the Chinese sailors who utilized the island. Essentially, from that point on different nations controlled the island and the adjacent main land. The islands seen its fair share of marauders, pirates, merchants, explorers, prisoners, and disease.
Lepers used to be housed on the island. Most of the buildings the lepers lived in were burned to the ground after they stopped the practice of exile, but there’s one church still standing form those times. It’s fully locked up and really makes your mind conjure up some vivid ideas of what it looks like inside.
In more modern times, Robben Islands associated with the South African apartheid and Nelson Mandela. The focal point of the tour was walking past the cell Mandela was housed in. He was incarcerated for 27 years, spending 18 of those years on Robben Island. Can’t find the photos of it, but the prisoners were forced to work at a limestone quarry every day. Power tools and heavy equipment weren’t apart of the conversation, so prisoners literally picked away at the limestone.
When Mandela returned to visit Robben Island later in life, he stopped at the entrance to the quarry and stared for a long time. He eventually picked up a different stone, think granite-like, and set it down near the entrance. All the other ex-prisoners that were visiting with him did the same and now theres a mound of stones that sits near at the entrance of the quarry. Realizing that each rock in the mound symbolized the time spent there by individual prisoners was eye opening. Those times and memories will always stand the test of time for those persons, just like those rocks will most likely still be there long after we’re all gone.
Enough typing. Picture time.
I don’t think there’s a better time to visit Robben Island than at the end of the trip. It was hard to not be lost in thought for the 45minute boat ride back to Cape Town. And it’s hard to not step off that boat onto the docks of Cape Town harbor without a deep appreciation for our everyday freedoms we take for granted as people of this world.
Stay tuned for my next post.
Post#4: June 14th, 2019
THERE’S MORE THAN JUST THE TETONS
Wyoming. A place many people don’t think actually exists. Some t-shirt designers believe Wyoming is for squares. Others think we still ride horses to get where we need to go. Often times, people say I’ve only driven through it, either across I-80 or perhaps en route to the famous parks on the outskirts of Jackson Hole.
I was born in Jackson, Wyoming. St. Johns Hospital to be exact, but spent my upbringing in a quant little town called Wilson, before the mom’s took over. I used to eat chocolate chip pancakes and drink hot cocoa at Nora’s Fish Creek Inn before my taste buds matured and now I only order the Huevos Rancheros, which are the best I’ve ever had, and trust me, I’m always on the look out for a challenger.
Let’s get back on track.. Wyoming. So one could say growing up in Wilson and Jackson isn’t really Wyoming and that I have no solid ground to stand on. I guess it all depends what you believe “Wyoming” to stand for. Let’s lay out some facts.
Wyoming became a state in 1890.
It was the 44th state in the union. (4 is my lucky number)
It’s the least populated state in the nation. (577,737 in 2018)
Wikipedia says it’s the 10th largest state by area. However, Oregon which is 9th, is composed of 95% land and the rest water, i.e. lakes. Wyoming is about 99% land so I’ll say we take the number 9 spot.
We were the first state to allow women's suffrage which actually started in the 1860’s 30 years prior to state hood. I believe that was a point of contention on it not becoming a state sooner, but look that up and let me know if I’m wrong.
There are 23 counties in the state.
And last but not least, there’s more than just the Tetons.
This spring I signed up for the Wyoming Energy Summit in hopes of drumming up some potential drone business. The summit took place in Gillette, county seat of Campbell County.
Supposedly, 40% of America’s coal comes from this one county. In 2018 alone, over 283,262,560 tons of coal were produced in this county. Mind blowing.
I pause to imagine some “Wyoming” folks muttering under their breaths in disgust that we’re still using fossil fuels and wondering why the worlds not covered in wind farms yet. And yet, others may be sipping Mountain Dew, polishing their guns and signing along to Toby Keiths “Red Solo Cup”. All of which I’ve done, except for sing along to that song.
You know what else is going on in Campbell County, Wyoming right now?
Have you ever heard of that? Do you know what it is? Has any local media you consume mentioned anything about it? I hope you answered yes to all these questions and you’re ready to click off this page and get back to scrolling social media.
In the off chance you’re still here, feeling in the dark on what exactly the XPRIZE is and why its in Campbell County Wyoming of all places, see the bold numbers above.
The XPRIZE is offering millions of dollars (20, I believe) to the motivated folks who find ways “to develop breakthrough technologies that will convert CO₂ emissions from power plants and industrial facilities into valuable products like building materials, alternative fuels and other items that we use every day.”
Fast forward to mid-May and I found my self working a corporate event at Jackson Lake Lodge. That event was called CO2NNECT. A gathering of roughly 250 people from all across the globe and of different professional fields. It was an assembly of industry and thought leaders with the aim of addressing the issue of CO2 emissions and the need for carbon sequestration as the worlds power demands grow.
There’s a quote I’ll never forget from a book called, Power Hungry by Robert Bryce. “The world would need to find an alternative energy source that has the energy equivalent of the output of 22 Saudi Arabia’s, a day.” Mind blowing.
So to make it seem like I’m actually steering this ship towards a destination, let’s connect the dots.
I traveled across the state to attend a conference specific to the state, in a place known for its industry. I then found my self at an event about changing industry practices on a global basis at a place thats known for its pristine environment and scenery. Seems like a bit of a yin and yang thing going on.
Wyoming to me has always represented a place of balance. Majestic landscapes that melt peoples minds and instill the values of conservation and preservation, while just down the road you have industry. Industry that fuels our cars, builds our homes, feeds our families, and not just for the few folks that live in the state, but for a hell of a lot of other Americans.
We can have our cake and eat it, too.
Here’s another example of balance. While I sat at the conference in Gillette, I plotted my route for an evening mission to America’s first national monument. Devils Tower, named by white explorers from an expedition in 1875, but not a monument util 1906. Numerous Native American tribes consider the place sacred and have different names and beliefs about its’ creation, but the most common name seems to involve a Bear and a Lodge.
I packed the camera and hopped in the truck shortly after the conference. Snow storms and pounding rain occupied short stretches of the drive, but my weather app said the weather was supposed to clear about an hour before sunset.
As the tower comes into view it’s hard to capture the scale of the it in a photo. There’s almost a presence to it. You can feel it there, dominating the landscape, kind of like the Tetons.
I took my time on the drive in, stopping to eat up the closer vantages and wanting to absorb the feeling of the place instead of wheeling straight to the base.
I started walking around the tower, counter-clockwise, on the trail that circumnavigates it. I didn’t actually realize this until I was about a quarter of the way around and hadn’t made a plan for what I was going to do. Hell, the loop can’t be that big so I just kept going. It’s only a mile and some change around the tower so nothing to sweat.
As I moseyed around the tower, constantly looking up, I had to remind my self to look at the trail now and then. Being alone there for the sunset/dusk hour was perfect. I imagined Indians camping in the surrounding forests and warrior braves scaling the tower. Every now and then I’d pass prayer flags and garments left as offerings by nameless Native Americans. Part of me felt like a trespasser. Like I hadn’t earned the privilege to be there.
I think when people lose sight of history, sacred places become more like attractions for the masses and the respect for that place is lost. I’m glad I felt like a trespasser here because it made me respect it more. Just like leading tours in Yellowstone, some people are fascinated with the history and the story of its creation, where others are more concerned with what’s for lunch.
That was a whirlwind of a post, but thanks for sticking with me if you’re reading this. Hope you enjoyed and maybe learned something.
Until next time.
Post#5: June 25th, 2019
Bob Loblaws Law Blog
I’ve decided to change it up and throw you a bit a curveball for this next post.
For the next 30days (29now) I’m trying to make a vlog style video every day. It’s going to be a hell of a process seeing how busy I am with other things, but thats the beauty of it. It’s amazing what we can do when we push our selves.
Anyway, this blog post won’t really be much of a blog post in the traditional sense, but more of a link to my day 1 vlog I posted last night.
Checkout my YouTube page and stay tuned for more 30day video challenge uploads!
*props to anyone who gets the reference of this post’s title*