Monday, March 26, 2018

What are you missing when you travel?

Horseshoe Bend
Over the years, as I've traveled and visited so many iconic locations, I've often wondered how one place became so famous and popular while others are virtually unknown. 

That question came to mind once again as I traveled though the southwest of the U.S. this past year.   I planned a stop at Horseshoe Bend because I'd seen so many photos of it and just knew it was a place I had to visit at least once in my life. 

I do have to admit that it didn't disappoint... other than maybe getting there only to discover I had to work my way around a few hundred people taking selfies for my chance to take my own photo of this iconic location.  I could have stood there for hours watching the river and the clouds, waiting to see if the light would put on a great show at sunset that night, but a huge thunderstorm was moving in from the north and the more the wind kicked up, the more dangerous it got standing on the edge of a 1000 foot cliff, so I settled for the shots I'd gotten and made my way back to the car.

It was on that walk back to the car that the question came back to mind.  How did this spot become so popular with the masses while another cool location, less than 30 minutes away, was virtually unknown. Earlier that day I had made a stop at that spot while on my way to Horseshoe Bend, but I only stopped there because I had discovered it while planning my trip using Google Earth, not because I'd ever heard of it before or even seen photos from there.

Goosenecks State Park
If Horseshoe Bend became famous for the near 360 degree bend in the river and the fact that you could see that entire bend from one spot,  Goosenecks State Park should be three times more popular because from there, you can see the river make that same change in direction three times while standing in one spot.  The crazy part?  I was there for over an hour taking photos, and I was the only person there for all but maybe 10 minutes of that time. 

It was a reminder to me that no matter where you travel, don't always assume that the best locations and views are going to be found on sign posts by the side of the freeway.  All those signs do is lead the crowds to a specific viewpoint and most people are happy to just follow those signs from place to place, jump out of their cars, snap a quick photo, and dive back into their cars and on to the next designated photo opp.  If you slow down, take some time to explore, you might just discover places that are as interesting and possibly even move beautiful than the tourist stop.  Another advantage of getting off the beaten path, is that you could possibly have one of those spots all to yourself for long periods of time, and you can just relax and soak it all in, and isn't that one of the best parts about traveling the world?

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Dreaming in Pieces

This post is going to be something a little more personal than I usually tend to share, but luckily I don't think more than a few people ever read my posts anyway so it's a good way to just put some thoughts and feelings down in writing for me.

Growing up, there were many times things were tense in our house, and many where I was afraid of my dad to the point where I spent a lot of time locked away in my room to avoid any run-ins with him.  But even with that being said, my dad wasn't always a scary guy and I have some great memories of times spent with him doing things that were fun together.  One of my best and favorite memories over the years though, were those hours we would spend together around the dining room table, putting together one of the many puzzles we worked on over the years.  We didn't always talk a lot while working on them, but I really cherished those moments where we would sit there putting something fun and challenging together.  I never lost that love of working on puzzles and daydreamed so many times about taking photos for puzzle companies, hoping that I could maybe do something one day that would help bring another kid that kind of happiness in doing something with their parent(s) and / or family.  I would look at puzzles in the store and just know that I could take photos at least as good as I saw on many of the boxes.  I even went as far as writing to a number of puzzle companies about 20 years ago, trying to find out how someone would even go about submitting photos for them.   Most companies never bothered to reply, and a few that did.....  said they already had enough photos, thank you very much.   I was severely disappointed, but every year or so, would find myself searching the internet for ways to see one of my photos on a puzzle.

It was hard to even find a company that would make a one-off puzzle that I could just have personally, for any kind of reasonable fee.  The companies that did offer something reasonable, only made puzzles of 50 or 100 pieces.  Nothing even close to what I'd hoped for.  So.... the dream kind of faded into the background but never went away.  Every time I would break out a new puzzle to work on ... I would find myself daydreaming about that again, and searching the internet again.

Then early this year (2016), I found an ad on a stock photo site, from a company looking for photos submissions for puzzles.  There was a VERY short window of time to submit photos for consideration, maybe 48-72 hours if I remember right, and I rushed home to look through my current photo collection to see what if anything I might have that fit what they were looking for.  I submitted a couple of photos but only one really sounded like it might have a shot, and then I waited.  If I'm being honest, I never expected to hear anything back, but I was happy to just have given it a shot if nothing else.  About a month later, I received an email from that company, asking me for a higher resolution of one of those photos, and a few other questions about the details of it.  That alone was exciting for me because it meant they might actually be interested in it, but I still didn't want to get my hopes up.

Then maybe two weeks after that email, I got notification that they had purchased the photo for publication.  I was so excited that they picked a photo and began to watch all the puzzle sites I could find to see if it actually made it out into the stores.  Months went by though, and I could never find it out there and after about 4 or 5 months, I started to think maybe it didn't make the cut after they ran it by whoever had the final say on what gets made into a puzzle.  Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.... and then about 10 days ago, just on a whim after a conversation with a good friend of mine about the status of the puzzle, I did another search.

I don't know if I can even put into words the feelings that rushed through me when suddenly, at the top of the search, there it was.  My puzzle, on the market, and real.  I think I was stunned at first, and then not sure I was seeing it right.... lol.   I pulled up the photo of the box, zoomed in, and sure enough... that was my shot!  Childhood memories, daydreams, thoughts of me dad, feelings from those nights working on puzzles with him.... all came flooding back through me.  They still do when I think about it if I'm being honest.  I know it's silly, and it's just a puzzle....  but for me it was so much more, even more than I thought it would be.

I do have to admit I got a little giddy, and posted the photo of the box on Facebook in all my excitement....  and it was amazing to see how many friends congratulated me.  I don't know how many actually understood what this puzzle meant to me....  maybe most didn't, but it was still nice that they forgave my excitement about it.  Heck, I was actually shocked how many wanted to buy one.  At that point in time, I had only found it for sale in one place in Australia, and they didn't ship to the United States.

A short while later though, another friend send me a message, excited to tell me that she'd found it for sale in England.  I ordered a few of them, some for friends asking me if I could get them one, and a couple for me. One to put together, and one to keep sealed and stored away.  

If anyone somehow actually read this, and you are still here reading... please pretend I'm not a total goof if we ever talk about this post ....   and if by chance, you actually enjoy putting puzzles together as much as I do, and you would like to do me the huge honor of putting together a puzzle that has one of my photos on it.....  you can order one from the link below.  It's cheap, and shipping is free.  In fact, I think if you order using the link here, instead of going directly to the website, you get it for a small discount.

Please click here if you would like to purchase the puzzle!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Hannah Covered Bridge

This was a very cool bridge that reminded me a lot of the second bridge on this trip, Stayton-Jordan Bridge, but this one was still in use and in much better shape.  

Just walking across the bridge with the open sides made for some really nice views of the creek and is a good possible candidate to go back and visit again for fall colors.

This was one of the first bridges that actually had potential for nice photos from each side without much to really distract from the views... other than the street signs that were at every bridge on the trip of course.

There was access to the creek below, but not really good enough to get some great photos.  You could also see that it was a place kids had come to with paint cans in hand as there was a bit of graffiti under the bridge which made any photos from down there pretty much a waste of time.

These last two shots might be my favorites from this stop.

From Interstate 5, exit 238 and travel east to Jefferson. Turn right on South Main Street and continue until the street becomes Jefferson-Scio Drive. Continue east into Scio and turn left onto Highway 226. Follow Highway 226 approximately six miles west to Camp Morrison Drive and turn right (south). 

Latitude: 44°42'43.3"N
Longitude: 122°43'07.3"W

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Shimanek Covered Bridge

I've been looking into the history on some of these bridges over the last week, and I have to say it's really interesting to read about how many of these covered bridges are not the first to be sitting in their current locations.  I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that so many of the original bridges had been destroyed by fire or flooding over the years.

This was the first non-white painted bridge on the trip, and I have to admit it was kind of nice to see the red paint as we came around the corner and got our first look at it.

The bridge is 130 feet long, and the current structure was completed in 1966, replacing a similar structure that was severely damaged by the Columbus Day Storm of 1962,  It is the fifth bridge at this location. The bridge that stood here before this one had been built in 1927, while the original is thought to have been built in 1861. The current bridge doesn't follow the usual open-sided structure as most of the Oregon bridges and instead has unique rounded portals in the sides.

This is the longest covered bridge in Linn County and the newest, after a county crew renovated the structure in 2002, repairing damage caused by a flood in 1996.

Another feature of this bridge that was a little different than most of the other bridges on this trip, is that this bridge used 4 rods at each truss instead of the three that were usually used in the other bridges.  You can see those here.

Photo Notes:  This bridge sits on a pretty busy road, but it's in a nice location that offers some possible opportunities for future shots with fall colors around the bridge.  There is also a small farm with old equipment just off the road that could also offer some cool shots with nicer skies.
I tried to get a nice shot with one of the old wagons in this shot to show the possibilities.

Truss Type: Howe
Bridge Length (ft): 130
Year Built: 1966

Location:  Latitude: 44°42'56.2"N Longitude: 122°48'15.5"W

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Stayton-Jordan Bridge

The Stayton-Jordan Bridge was the second bridge on the trip, and was a quick sign that not all bridges this trip were going to be what I was picturing in my head before the trip.  The first surprise was that this bridge was not only no longer in service, but it had been moved to a park and was now a pedestrian only bridge.

The second surprise was that it had also been rebuilt due to the old bridge being lost to a fire back in 1994.  This would be a theme that would come up more than a few times over the long weekend... which added to my plan to take notes on all the different bridges we visited, and mark which were worth visiting again, and which ones might actually be a great location for Fall photos at some future date.

This bridge was actually in pretty good shape since it was rebuilt not that long ago, and the park setting might lead to having some nice fall colors around, but the fact that it is no longer in use, kind of took away something from it being a great location for a future photo shoot.

The original bridge was build in 1937 over Thomas Creek, in Linn County.  It was dismantled and moved to Stayton in 1985, before the Marine Corp stepped in and agreed to help move it to it's current location in the park.

This was the first full-sized covered bridge in Oregon to be dismantled, moved, and reassembled.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Gallon House Bridge

Okay, so it took me a little longer to get back to this project than I had first planned, but I'm thinking there might only be one or two people even checking this site anymore anyway.... lol

The first bridge on the list for the weekend was the Gallon House Bridge in Marion County Oregon.   It is a wooden covered bridge spanning Abiqua Creek and was built in 1916.  According to a sign just to the left of the bridge, it is Oregon's oldest operational covered bridge in service today. The 84-foot long bridge got its name when it was used as a meeting place for bootleggers and moonshiners during prohibition.

Since the weather wasn't exactly great for photography, I had to work around the harsh light and cloudless sky to try to get some decent photos of all of the bridges on this trip. It took a little work to even out the harsh shadows in all of the photos you are going to see here, but hopefully they still managed to make the bridges look as good as possible for the conditions.  One option was to shoot this bridge in IR ...  but unfortunately I made a novice mistake on this trip, and not only forgot to charge the battery in my IR camera, I also didn't bring the charger with me..... so needless to say, this was the only IR shot I got the entire weekend.  I'm still kicking myself for that stupid mistake.  *sigh*

Gallon House Bridge is about 2 miles north-northwest of the city of Silverton, just west of Oregon Route 214 on Gallon House Road.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Covered Bridges of Oregon

A couple of years ago, I was on a trip back from a weekend of shooting waterfalls in Oregon, when I came around a corner and drove right past a very cool looking covered bridge.  I was totally surprised to see one here on the west coast, because for some reason, I was under the impression the only covered bridges left in America were all back east in small towns.

So imagine my surprise when I got home and looked into the history of that bridge, only to discover a listing of 53 covered bridges in Oregon!  Well, needless to say that discovery led to a lot of reading up on those bridges and to the beginning of a plan on how I could take a long weekend and see and photograph as many of those bridges as possible.  I put together a route that looked like it would take the least amount of time and loaded all that information into my GPS... and then waiting for the right time to put the plan into action.

I mentioned the trip a number of times to a fellow photographer, and she loved the idea and mentioned that she'd love to go with if I did it.  Well, that time finally came at the end of July of this year, and we hit the road for 3+ days of covered bridge fun.  

The weather didn't cooperate (of course) and instead of having nice cloudy skies for nicer light all day long, there wasn't a cloud to be seen ...  which only leads to very harsh light and photos that are so-so at best.  We wanted to make the best of it though and if nothing else, at least scout out as many of those bridges as possible, and to make notes on which would be worth a return trip.  I knew we could probably cross a good number of these bridges off the list and they would be one-and-done .... but the hope was to find a handful that would offer the possibility of great fall colors and better photo opportunities in the future, and to maybe return and try again when the weather offered better conditions for photography.

 I'm thinking this could be a good place to at least share photos of each of those bridges and impressions from the first visit to each.  Plus it gives me a place to document which ones I'd like to return to, in case I lose my notes somewhere before then.  Hopefully some of these photos and notes might help you pick a few bridges you wouldn't mind visiting yourself if you're into photography as well.

I will try to post a few each week until I get though all 50 that were visited on this trip.  Stayed tuned if you're interested...