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  1. #1
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Travelogue - Lake Powell

    I am riding in the back of a Navajo woman’s pickup truck.

    She is driving me through the desert in the northwest corner of the Navajo reservation, near Lake Powell, Arizona.

    Allow me to tell you the rest of the story of how I arrived here.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Travelogue - Lake Powell-pickup1.jpg  
    Walter Rick Long
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  2. #2
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    This is the beginning of my Lake Powell Travelogue from President's Day weekend this past February. I am posting it here to encourage myself to finish it If I know people are waiting it may encourage me to finish writing it

    I'll post updates as I write them. It gets a little verbose but I hope someone will stick through and read it

    Here's a map so you can follow along:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Travelogue - Lake Powell-lake-powell-trip.jpg  
    Walter Rick Long
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  3. #3
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    It is overcast this morning. It isn’t often that I awake to cloudy skies in Phoenix, but this morning we are blanketed in grey. Friends from the east coast arrived last evening, expecting sunny skies no doubt. Though we are apologetic for the overcast day, they hear nothing of it. 65 degrees and cloudy beats 25 degrees and sunny where they are from. Occasionally, I am reminded of just how much I love the weather out here.

    We are mid-way through a remodeling project at home. At stake are the futures of two recently-erected stone columns that we have decided to make in our kitchen. 8 feet in height, they reach from floor to ceiling. And you either love them or hate them. I say “stone” columns, what I am referring to is “faux” stone, a kind of concrete molded into shapes that lend themselves easily to home projects, such as this one. Cheaper and easier to install than real stone, they were an easy decision for our newest kitchen upgrade. Whether or not they will be voted down remains to be seen.

    “I just don’t know,” says my partner of the bold pair of custom columns. “We’ll see.” It was not easy building stone columns. If you’ve not been through the hassle of applying mortar mix to the back of concrete stones, slapping them on a frame and praying to god that they don’t slip overnight; grouting the spaces between the stones a day later with grout that may be the wrong color, wiping it from your face and getting it in your hair; don’t. Use the phone book and find someone who knows what they are doing. We have been working on these columns for 2 weeks, and I am ready for a vacation.

    I was hoping for gorgeous weather this morning, the day of my trip up north. But grey skies in Phoenix are not the largest of my concerns. The forecast for Page, Arizona and Lake Powell has turned from sunny and clear to rainy and snow. “What are you going to do?” my partner asks, with a concerned look in her eyes. “It’s only a 40% chance,” I say. “I am still going to go.”

    “You could always go to Joshua Tree,” her friend chimes in. Joshua Tree National Park is an enticement inside the California border. It has been on my To-Do List for years. I admit to myself that Joshua Tree sounds like a feasible option in light of the recent weather development. Her friends are already concerned that they are forcing me out of the house. I am not about to cancel my trip. But I must admit that making the drive west to California has been the backup trip all along in my mind. “No, I want to go,” I say. “If it’s horrible, I’ll just day trip further away from the weather until I get to sunny skies.” This seems to satisfy everyone’s worries. At least on the exterior.

    I pack my pickup truck under the blanket sky and wonder if my girlfriend and her friends are right. The forecast for Joshua Tree National Park in southern California is sunny and clear. Rain and snow await me in northern Arizona. It isn’t too late for me to change my mind.

    I bid my last farewells, hop in the truck and decide to set out for snow and the upper reaches of Arizona state.
    __________________________________________________ ___________________________

    In Flagstaff, it is cold. Windy and cold. I am half way to my destination and the weather has not improved. I don’t want to admit that I was secretly planning to use Flagstaff as a weather barometer for the rest of my trip. I conveniently change my mind about that.

    Lunch is in a Sizzler just off the I40. I haven’t been in a Sizzler since I lived on the east coast. I munch selections from the salad bar and wonder what awaits me further north. Flagstaff is the midway point to the north. It is still rather cool, and I am debating my plans for the day. I want to get to Page before sunset, to catch the setting sun’s rays before the rain rolls in for the weekend. Though ugly here, I hope the weather up north is better.

    I pay the check and pull back onto the highway. It is still 2 to 3 hours to Page and the Lake Powell area. If I am to get there at sunset, I still have 5 hours to go. As I merge into traffic, I am beginning to change my mind. If it’s dark and dreary in Page, I don’t want to hurry up and get there just to sit in a hotel and curse at the weather. If it’s going to be raining there, why not do something fun while I’m here? As I pull onto Interstate 40, I pass a sign for Walnut Canyon. Juggling the options in my mind, I make myself a promise to make it to Page before sunset.

    I pass the exit for Page and continue east toward Walnut Canyon.
    Walter Rick Long
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  4. #4
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    The sky is showing signs of clearing as I descend the steep set of stairs. I pass people on their way up taking pictures and I wonder if they are using their photography as an excuse to catch their breath. I am on the staircase that drops a 180 feet into Walnut Canyon. It is a long way down, but it is a longer way back up by the looks on their faces.

    I wonder if I was foolish to pack all this photography equipment into the canyon. I get many looks as I descend the stairs. Tripod in hand, a huge photo backpack weighing on my back. I have loaded the Mamiya with black and white film. I have color film too if it proves to be sunny. If it’s going to be flat and colorless, I am going to make the best of it. T-max is my film of choice. Not too punchy, not too flat. As a color landscape photographer I have been ignoring my black and white film for years now. I shoot color almost exclusively, except for the random black and white “conversion” done digitally in my computer. This day will be the beginning of my return to black and white, I have decided. With 2 film backs for the Mamiya I am able to carry both black and white and color film with me on treks. This advantage is one of the reasons I have been using my medium format rig almost exclusively for the last year. Before that, it was all 35mm. My Nikon gear still rides with me in my backpack, but I doubt that it will get any use today. Increasingly, I am focusing on my medium format work and leaving the 35mm for things I cannot do with the 645. I hope someday to rely exclusively on the medium format and have my 35mm system mainly for back-up; and for when Mamiya proves to be too heavy to carry long distances.

    I reach the bottom of the long staircase and turn around to gaze back up at the ledge above me. A sign is planted at the bottom of the staircase facing the opposite direction: “Long way up! Easy does it!” I wonder again if I am a fool for carrying this much gear into the canyon on a cloudy day. I turn around toward the canyon and follow a paved path around a bend. I look up and notice a thin streak of blue in the sky and wonder which direction that is in.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________

    There is something about ruins I find captivating. Archaeological ruins were something not found in the mountains of Virginia. They were “part of the west,” a mystery that I decided someday I would discover. How valuable it must be, to find a set of ruins, to stumble upon a thing of the past!

    As an Arizonan now, I find myself nearly tripping over them on every path I take. It is not quite that they are less special than before. Yet finding them over and over again, how does one set of ruins remain unique? On a trail in Sedona, there are ruins that you stumble upon as you reach the end of a canyon hike. They are not protected by walls or fences, simply a sign in front that reads: “It is a federal crime to destroy any archaeological ruin.” Apparently it works, they are as well preserved given their vulnerability to passersby.

    As I round the first corner of the Walnut Canyon trail, ruins lay before me. They are tucked neatly into the corner of a shelf that makes up one layer of the canyon’s geology. As I turn around and gaze, I see that there are similar ruins tucked into the corners of this layer of history all through the canyon. It seems nary an inch is not taken up by some dwelling or wall. It occurs to me that this was once a city. Full of people, just like our cities are today. They all had jobs to do. They had relationships, had children. They had meaning in life, I presume. Just like we. Or perhaps even more than we? I look up at the stone wall in front of me. How did they do that? I think of our own stone columns at home, and wonder how these indigenous people accomplished this. Did they use mud? What holds these stones in place? We used bags of grout and mortar, made in a factory and shipped to home supply stores where we buy it off a shelf. I look up and see hand prints in their mud, where their mortar mixture was pushed into place. Amazing. Their own mortar and brick work has lasted the ages, out here in the elements resisting the wind and rain, the snow and sun. I wonder if our own stone work will fare as well at home, subject only to grease fires and the occasional knock from a vacuum cleaner. I look at the handprint for a minute. In my mind’s eye I see a hand pushing it there, long lanky muscles wrapped in brown skin and black hair. I imagine he wears a loin cloth and sandles, shaping the wet mud with hands that knew exactly how to do it. I can see around him too, the rest of the village, people working and moving, life happening all around. I wonder if that’s how it was here. I start to have feelings of longing for this past that I have no memory of.

    I continue on the paved path through the canyon. A placard at the next set of ruins shows me that my imagination was accurate about how they dressed. They wore loin clothes around their waists, both men and women. Both sexes wore jewelry. Burial sites were found with human remains showing piercings through the ears and nose. How odd, I think, that they exhibited the same jewelry style as we, the 21st century people so proud of our taste and trends. How old our fashion trends are!

    I pull out the big camera and start setting up to take some shots. The lighting is not great here, nor are the compositions. But I begin firing off a few, mainly to record the time. A couple passes by slowly as I shoot, taking portraits of each other in the middle of my composition. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, I think to myself. I wait patiently as they take their photography.

    “Taking some professional shots I see!” says the man of my professional-looking settup. “You never know!” I say honestly, shrugging my shoulders. “That’s right, isn’t it?!” he laughs, as they move on. One thing I have learned in my photography is never expect the best. The best comes to you when you are not expecting it, in the form of a rainbow, a sunset, or a secret out-of-the-way ruin that has alluded most other hikers. Always prepare for the worst, be it a rainy day, over-exposed rolls of film, or... grey skies on your vacation.
    ________________________________
    The trail takes me through several of the ancient dwellings as well as through the story of the lives of the Sinagua people. These people were given the name “sin aqua” later for the Spanish words for “without water.” Their civilization in this area has been traced back as far as 600 AD when farming families lived on the plateau around the canyon. Around 1100, the volcano we now call Sunset Crater erupted. It is around this time that the plateau inhabitants moved into the cliffs of Walnut Canyon. Their civilization in the canyon dates back to about 1120 AD, with no trace found after 1400 AD.

    Many of their dwellings were blown apart by relic hunters dynamiting their walls in the late 1800's. President Woodrow Wilson established the canyon as a national monument in November 1915, thereby ending the destruction by fortune seekers and opening the canyon up to explorers looking for things to do on cloudy days on their way up north to Lake Powell.
    __________________________________________________ __

    I make it around the trail loop and back to the base of the stairs. I glance up at the canyon shelf above me, and again at the growing streak of blue in the sky. That’s north, I think to myself. Maybe this vacation’s weather will work itself out after all. Only 3 hours left to the city of Page. I pass the sign as I begin my ascent back to the ledge. “Long way up! Easy does it!”
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Travelogue - Lake Powell-walnut-doorway1.jpg   Travelogue - Lake Powell-walnut-inside1.jpg  
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    Walter Rick Long
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  5. #5
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    The snow-capped San Francisco Peaks wiz by on my left as I speed north on highway 89. My spirits are lifting as the clouds before me open up to reveal beautiful blue skies and ample sunlight. The sun’s rays passing through the remaining clouds capture my attention as my pickup clips off the miles to Lake Powell.

    My visit to Walnut Canyon has not taken too much time. I will keep my earlier promise to myself to make it to Page before sunset. The map shows me about to pass Sunset Crater which means the city of Page is only 2 hours beyond that. Yes, I will make it on time.

    Sunset Crater. I have not yet had the time to explore the road leading from Sunset Crater through the Wupatki National Monument. At about 20 miles in length, the loop road takes you past another point of interest on the map: Painted Desert Overlook, it says. While I have hiked the area around the volcano, I have not driven the rest of the loop toward Wupatki Monument and Painted Desert.

    The turnoff for Sunset Crater looms closer, and I find myself wondering if I have enough time to make it around the 20 mile loop and still get to Page before sunset. Page could be covered in clouds, after all. Wouldn’t it be a waste not to use this beautiful, clear weather to my advantage? 20 miles doesn’t seem that far, given that I am missing a stretch of 89 by taking the detour. Last minute decision - I wheel the truck into the turn lane and take the loop road past Sunset Crater. Page will still be there when I am done.
    ______________________________________

    Sunset Crater rises 1000 feet above the surrounding plain, teasing the adventurous hiker with walls that are forbidden from being climbed. The volcano erupted last in 1100, sending local residents scurrying for the shelter of Walnut Canyon, several miles to the south. The surrounding land is dappled with the black rock of volcano guts, hard and menacing and unappealing to the photographic eye. The volcano itself however is a thing of beauty, its black walls giving way to the color of life as small trees plant themselves and take hold. The volcano is tall, standing high above the plane; but stands a distant second to the towering San Francisco Peaks only a few miles to the west.

    The road past the volcano is tight and quick, the kind of road they build Lamborghinis for. My pickup handles the curves well enough; I fly through the gears trying to keep pace with the local traffic.

    I come to a stretch of road that leads beautifully in toward the painted desert. This must be the “vista” I saw on the map. I find a pullout at the right location and snap pictures of the road leading off into the desert. The wind howls around me as I wait for the shutter to fire.

    In a few more miles, I come to the Wupatki Monument. Dang, there is no ruin you can see from the road. I will have to pull off to do some exploring. Yet a quick look at the time tells me no - only a few more hours of daylight remain and I am still off track from my Lake Powell destination. My drive around Sunset Crater has been fun, and pretty, but it has cost me in time. Oh when will I stop second guessing my better judgement?! I pass the many entrances to the ruins and finish the scenic loop back to 89 north.

    I will really have to drive now.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Travelogue - Lake Powell-loop-road.jpg   Travelogue - Lake Powell-sunset-crater.jpg   Travelogue - Lake Powell-road.jpg  
    Walter Rick Long
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  6. #6
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    That's it for now. Real verbose, I know Congrats to anyone who stuck with it! I actually make it to Lake Powell eventually, believe it or not. I'll post more soon. Just happy to get some of it finally posted
    Walter Rick Long
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  7. #7
    ...just believe natatbeach's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    It only took you about 40 minutes to write the last one

    enjoyed reading...more pics please(love the saturation in the sky pics...)

    will look for the next installment of your journey----

    do you have pic of the columns---set up a survey on here we can all vote....
    still not sure the "path" I painted on our concrete is a winner in the hubby's eyes---since he said the same thing as your g.f. "we'll see"---

    "Ye of little faith" I say to them!!!! It's not our fault they can't see our vision----
    or that our creativity sometimes impairs us from seeing what they see.

    smooches
    "I was not trying to be shocking, or to be a pioneer.
    I wasn't trying to change society, or to be ahead of my time.
    I didn't think of myself as liberated, and I don't believe that I did anything important.
    I was just myself. I didn't know any other way to be, or any other way to live."
    .
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  8. #8
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Hey Nat

    Actually, I was cutting and pasting from a Word document. But of course, I had to edit as I went!

    The columns are staying - at least for now! I hated the idea, but she wanted stone columns so we built them... now she hates them. Hey, it's a woman's job to change her mind, right?!

    I thought your paint job looked pretty cool! Tell Larry to have some artist love!

    Thanks,
    Rick
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  9. #9
    ...just believe natatbeach's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Quote Originally Posted by walterick
    Hey Nat

    I hated the idea, but she wanted stone columns so we built them... now she hates them.

    I thought your paint job looked pretty cool! Tell Larry to have some artist love!
    go figure it was her idea...that's funny---I guess it is our jobs to change our minds often---and your jobs to just love us anyway
    "I was not trying to be shocking, or to be a pioneer.
    I wasn't trying to change society, or to be ahead of my time.
    I didn't think of myself as liberated, and I don't believe that I did anything important.
    I was just myself. I didn't know any other way to be, or any other way to live."
    .
    Bettie Page

    My Temp site...

  10. #10
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Yes... if you ever want practice in love and patience try dating a woman while remodeling her house for her We're about 6 months into picking a paint color for the planter wall out back and about 1 month into picking a bathroom color
    Walter Rick Long
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  11. #11
    ...just believe natatbeach's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Quote Originally Posted by walterick
    if you ever want practice in love and patience try ....
    leaving Natalie alone at home with all the tools unpacked and a brcik patio she hates:idea:

    I am about half way done ripping out one section of a brick patio that the idiot that lived here lay down on dirt without anything under it...then in the spots where he decided to change the jack on jack pattern (not a real pattern in my opinion) he didn't cut smaller pieces to fit in instead he --used get this---white gravel with a mix of sand and dirt to fill---duh!!!!! :mad2:

    So I have been pulling up and hauling off bricks for two hours and every third or fourth brick the bricks are either falling appart or not brick just this gravel crap....

    I call Larry up because I took a piece of wood that was still in good condition from another ugly project he put together and he's freasking out a little bit ---he he he... anyway it's going to look nice when I'm done...----I'll stop chiut chatting on your thread don't want to break the continuity of it...sorry...
    "I was not trying to be shocking, or to be a pioneer.
    I wasn't trying to change society, or to be ahead of my time.
    I didn't think of myself as liberated, and I don't believe that I did anything important.
    I was just myself. I didn't know any other way to be, or any other way to live."
    .
    Bettie Page

    My Temp site...

  12. #12
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Great story rick!!! and fond memories!!!! You wouldn't believe how many times I've travelled those roads, wishing I'd had a camera!!!! I have a sister that was born in Page (Wah Weap, actually...) hehe...she now lives in "Alaska" brr....go figure! hehe...
    I look forward to the continuing saga!!! hehe
    Ken
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  13. #13
    has-been... another view's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Ahh, the solo road trip. A thing of beauty... Keep up with the writing, I'm ready for more!

    But Sizzler? Now that you're culinarily inspired, I'm waiting to see what happens on the next road trip. :biggrin5:

  14. #14
    Liz
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Wow! You're really quite the traveler. I enjoyed reading your travel essay. I found it good and quite interesting. I read all of it, some parts faster than others. The pictures are good too, Rick, but not enough of them. I'm waiting for more.

    Liz

  15. #15
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Quote Originally Posted by natatbeach
    ----I'll stop chit chatting on your thread don't want to break the continuity of it...sorry...
    I bated you with that "love and patience" line don't worry

    Hurry up and get all your projects done before the new wears off! In another year or so you'll be dreading working on that place!
    Walter Rick Long
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  16. #16
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Thanks guys! Glad a few people made it through

    Liz, you're right, I should be putting more pictures in there. Seeing as I don't have many more, I should stop typing so much to make it seem like there are more photos

    Ken, it is beautiful country up there! I can't wait to go back. As you'll (eventually) read, the real estate up there is in the dirt. I saw a fixer-upper for sale for $60,000 Would love to buy a condo in Page for renting and vacations.

    Steve - I know I committed a cardinal sin by going to Sizzler. But it was so tempting as I hand't seen one in years. Next time, something local, I promise
    Walter Rick Long
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  17. #17
    nature/wildlife co-moderator paulnj's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    I am not reading that much, so put more image in it .
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  18. #18
    sqrt -1 greghalliday's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Walnut Canyon was surprisingly cool to me the first time I went there. Basically it was a side trip on my way back home from an ACLS class in Flagstaff. The ruins on the main trail are nice, but I hear that if you can get permission to do some bushwhacking around in the canyon, there are many more spectacular ruins to be seen. Also, if you like ruins, try Grand Gulch in SE Utah. It has kind of been "discovered" as of the past few years and I think that now you need a permit to enter the area, but nowhere else is there such a concentration of well preserved Ancestral Puebloan ruins to be found anywhere in the U.S.

    Look on a map. Take a few years to explore the San Rafael Swell area of Utah (basically everything from east of I-15 to the LaSals and south of I-70 to the Grand Canyon. It is my second favorite place on Earth (the Wasatch mountains being first of course). This is high desert REMOTE wandering at it absolute best.

  19. #19
    sqrt -1 greghalliday's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Oh, I forgot. As soon as I can get my old scanner hooked up, I will post a picture of an area near my current residence (notice I don't call it "home") called Three Turkey Ruins. Everyone has seen the pictures of White House Ruins in Canyon de Chelly. Let me promise you that Three Turkey is better preserved, larger, and in a much more spectacular setting. And it will likely remain unspoiled given the fact that it is in absolute B.F.E. If you want to go see it, let me know.

  20. #20
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Greg, thanks for the recommendations. I would love to find some new spots to play in. And when you get that picture scanned, send it to me I'd love to see it

    Thanks
    Rick
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  21. #21
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    An old fashion Travelogue, Nice! Travelogues were my introduction to photography. When I was a kid my grandfather would take me to the high school to see the travelogues that the rotory club put on. we'd sit on old wood chairs and watch the slide show from far off places and listen to the tales of history and adventure.

    thanks for reviving this memory. and I eagerly await the rest of your story.

  22. #22
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Thanks Brian. That's a nice story you just shared.

    I look forward to writing the rest of it
    Walter Rick Long
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  23. #23
    Learning more with every "click" mjs1973's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    I finally made the time to sit down and read your travelogue Rick, and I'm glad I did. It makes me want to do it myself. One day this spring I went and sat next to a pond and waited for the sun to come up. Then entire time I was sitting there, I was thinking about how I would describe, in writing, what I was seeing and feeling. I had the enitre story written in my head. When I got home, I started typing it out with the intention of creating a thread like this. It just wasn't the same as it was while I was sitting next to the pond. I never did finish it, and those vivid memories are now all but gone. Oh, I still remember the day, but the sounds, sights and most importantly, the things that were going through my mind at that time that made it such a great moment for me, are now all but gone. Next time I get the idea to do that, I'll take a notebook or a small tape recorder with me.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us in this format. It's an inspiration for me to make an effort to do it in the future.

    Ready for more now!
    Mike

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    "I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view."
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  24. #24
    Member ladybugamanda's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Great story, great pictures!!! I grew up in Payson - Hwy 87 - between Phx and Payson is very scenic. We are planning a road trip to Payson, the Grand Canyon and points in between this summer.

  25. #25
    Viewfinder and Off-Topic Co-Mod walterick's Avatar
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    Re: Travelogue - Lake Powell

    Mike,

    I'm glad you found the time to sit and read it. I like even better that it inspired you Believe you me, I was writing it in my head as it was happening too. And it took lots of effort to get myself to sit down and write it out after the trip. It can be very difficult to put thoughts into similar-feeling words on paper. Your idea of carrying a recorder is a good one. I may borrow that idea next trip.

    I took that trip in February, and 4 months later I haven't even gotten to Lake Powell yet
    Walter Rick Long
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