Taken from one of the beaches across the street from the hotel. Jennifer and I spent some time getting affiliated with the local area the day we arrived. Note to everyone… don’t travel to Hawaii in the middle of the night. Takeoff from the west coast of the US mainland after sunrise and arrive in Oahu midday. Much better timing than arriving there at 6AM.
After a few bottles of wine and some shots at the campsite, Drew, Christa, Jennifer and I all agreed that we needed to do some sort of hiking before the sun went down. If you don’t hike, why the hell did you bother camping in the first place? You could have just sat in your backyard and accomplished the same thing. So hike we did. There was a nearby hill that promised to offer a pretty good view if we could get to the top so we set out to reach the top of it and we weren’t going to fuck about. So we went direct… straight up the side of hill.
This is a picture of a friend of mine in Iraq not long before the two of us departed the country about six months before the final departure of all American troops from the country. That entire melodrama was one of the most divisive subjects in American politics and in the American population at large for almost a decade. More than 4,000 American troops, over 16,000 Iraq police and security forces, and over 1,000 government contractors died. An accurate accounting of civilian deaths is impossible in any practical sense, but most sources agree that it was at least 100,000. Depressing. And for what? Overthrowing Saddam Hussein? Establishing a democratic foothold in the Middle East? Oil? Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons? I doubt anyone can provide an actual answer other than a blanket “yes”. This isn’t to imply that we accomplished nothing aside from death and destruction. No, there are definitely pockets of positive effects… a functional (though contentious) representative government, improved infrastructure here and there, Mesopotamian marshland restoration… but, ultimately, we undertook a task we were not prepared for and are now paying for it with a diminished global reputation, a humbled economy and a reduction in our personal liberties. Let’s hope American involvement in Afghanistan comes to a swift end so we can put this entire chapter of our history behind us and rebuild America… stronger, unified and on a solid moral foundation. We can do better… and we will.
I recently did some camping at Mount Charleston. Not exactly roughing it, but it did afford the opportunity to capture this image. No tripod, no remote shutter release, 15-second exposure, mild post-processing. If this is what you can get 30 miles from my house, imagine what is visible at Great Basin National Park. I need to make that happen.
The take away: every single one of those dots is a giant ball of gas similar to our own sun. You already know that. Eventually most of those stars will explode spewing heavy atoms such as carbon, iron, selenium, gold, silver… and so on… into the universe from which other things can be made. That is everything up to and including planets and even you. You may already have your head wrapped around that or this may seem absolutely incredible. It’s not. It’s the truth. This universe was not designed with us in mind, we are not special. We are merely “a speck on a speck orbiting a speck” and it is in this limited, miniscule, insignificant environment that our brains evolved. Yes, the brain functions extremely well in this environment, but it is also completely throttled by that environment. We are specialized to survive on Earth and it is this specialization that has narrowed our minds and made us think that we are special. Again, we are not.
We must escape the infancy of our existence if we hope to survive. We must learn to look further than the confines of this Earth, beyond the confines of our individual existences and finally come together in our shared humanity if we are ever to become a great race. If we don’t, we will meet extinction like so many creatures before us and so many more creatures after us.
(I feel like there is something of a thesis here… not a unique one, mind you, but a thesis nonetheless. Sadly I don’t have the time nor the literary skill set to do it justice. Maybe one day.)
On May 31st I had the opportunity to get back into an airplane. A friend of mine rents a Piper Cherokee from another pilot we know and he needed a few landings before heading off to Alabama for a few months. So he, Jennifer and I went flying. This image was taken by Jennifer from the backseat as I was circling my house at about 1,500′ AGL.
This little house was this bird’s spot. He spent most of his time inside the place poking his head in and out apparently looking for his mate who was out doing her bird-thing… whatever that might have been. Every now and again, though, she’d stop back by, look inside and then run off again. Odd mating thing going on or were they already a pair? I caught this picture right before he popped back inside where he stayed for a good half hour.
Kolob Reservoir just outside of Zion National Park in southern Utah. A small earthen dam has created this out-of-the-way “lake” here down the road from my family’s small cabin. It was particularly serene in the morning so I grabbed a picture of it. Mild post-processing… color balance, saturation, sharpening, et cetera.