There is a rapture on the lonely shore;
There is society, where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more...

-Lord Byron

16 October 2014

Moose in the morning

6am seems to come earlier and earlier for me as the years pass by. Yet 6am it was as I unzipped my tent and shivered at the frosty air outside. There is nothing more refreshing than waking up outside Yellowstone. As I stretch and start quietly packing up my gear for the day, large rocks seem to be slowly moving in the not too far distance.

I squint my eyes for a closer look...
"I need coffee..."

This thought permeates my brain as I shrug off the "slow moving rocks". I then start to notice cars and a few people pointing to the same rock formations. I think it strange to have such hustle and bustle this early in the morning, so I walk over to be a little closer....
A family of moose are making their way towards the campground as they slowly enjoy their morning breakfast of mountain grass. The size of these animals is incredible. I find myself being drawn closer to them, but am fully aware of the potential for aggressive behavior.

Just as I make my way to what I think will be a safe and secure spot, a young moose surprisingly leaves the herd and runs full tilt through the campground!

Luckily he doesn't trample any tents ( and the unknowing sleepers they hold ).

Ah, the beauty of the animals here.

13 October 2014

The Alpine Loop

It was only 9am on a Friday, yet I was already exasperated. Perhaps my short temper came through in the multitude of emails, as the next thing I know the boss tells all of us that we are getting Monday off. Regardless of the reason why, I'll certainly take a three day weekend and enjoy Columbus Day.

With perfect October Utah weather, I head back to one of my favorite places at this time of year, Utah's Alpine Loop.
A fresh dusting of snow is on the peaks, a starkly amazing contrast to the changing leaves. In another lifetime, I used to bring my young girlfriend's son, only a toddler, up here along with her older son and daughter. We would pile up leaves and they would happily run through the pile as I'd take pictures.
The girl and I were lovers in a dangerous time. We would listen to the Barenaked Ladies repeatedly, smile affectionately at each other, lay on the couch in each other's arms as the children would quietly play.

As the months went by, she would work the weekends as I would entertain the children by hiking up in these mountains. I would bring the roll of film to the store afterwards to be developed. One hour later, we held our memories in our hands.

Yet the relationship was turning blue, much like the Corrs song.
Near the end, we sat on opposite ends of the couch. The playful sounds of the children were no longer to be heard. The music was ending.

All good things must end, as they say. It was time that we slowed down for awhile. Like Everclear.

Good thing for the mountains and my memories, which remind me of both the great and the ugly.

12 October 2014

Autumn leaves fall to the hunt

The bright autumnal leaves float with reckless abandon as the car drives along the dusty road. Nothing but pumpkin patches and row after glorious row of grape vines, both ready for the seasonal harvest.

The car pulls off to the side of road, and the man excitedly jumps into the overgrown grassy field. The blue skies and cool temperatures from the nearby lake are what great novellas aspire to create in the mind.

He rests upon the wood vineyard fence.
The silence is rudely broken with the first shotgun blast, followed by repeated shots. Birds caw and emerge from the nearby woods.

The man is confused, then frightened. He ducks for cover, then runs back to the car to avoid further tragedy.

He forgets that Fall for some is also the Hunting season.

11 October 2014

Watkins Glen in the Fall

My first attempt to hike Watkins Glen was in March of this year. The snow and ice prevented me from getting into the canyon, but the beauty from above was certainly something to behold.

A couple of months later I returned, but the spring runoff was out of control, and the canyon was closed due to intense flooding.

Fingers crossed for good luck, I was hoping that my third trip would be successful, and it seemed that Autumn was my lucky season.
Over more than a millenia, water and ice have fractured the earth to create this marvel. Stone steps lead you into the bowels of the earth and the water below that continues to shape Watkins Glen.
Stone bridges get you from one side to the other, waterfalls of various strength and intensity cascade down from above. I chose to not avoid the droplets, letting them shower me with happiness.
The colors of Fall are everywhere, most predominately in the trees that line the brim of the canyon walls. Protectors of the inhabitants that walk below, they drop their leaves in twinkling fashion to the slow moving river, saying goodbye as they swirl down.
Hiking up the stone steps to the South Rim trail above, I find the solitude one craves when hiking. Empty shelters and moss covered spools are found in between the shafts of light that make their way to the ground.
Back down I eventually go, further into the Glen where you see deeper chasms that hold bigger waterfalls and glacially carved circular pools.
As Nature always seem to do, my mood and spirit is lifted to pure ecstasy by the time I'm done hiking through the beautiful trails of Watkins Glen.

08 October 2014

being back at St. Winners

I always have a sense of trepidation when returning to a previous project that I've been involved with in Kenya. You never know if the work you did was sustained throughout your absence for a year by the school itself, or perhaps theft or vandalism destroyed your hard work.

Last year Build.Create.Kenya's first humanitarian trip to Kenya focused on the St.Winners primary school. We completed a library, water storage shed, skylights, and overall painting and beautification of the school.

As we returned and walked into the hallway of the school, the first classroom saw me and literally erupted in joyful screams ( they had no idea we were coming). For those that were with us this year for their first time, they described the scene through teary eyes as one of the single most emotional experiences they had ever had.
The school looked better than ever, and with the increased student enrollment from our work last year, the Headmaster of the school was able to rent a plot next to the one they owned and have it hold three more classrooms, full of students inside.

The house plants were still alive and growing, being well tended after. The paint looked new, the library had students in it as St. Winners had more students than space. The partnership between BCK and St. Winners is a true success and we look forward to continue growing together.

On our last day in Kenya, we returned to say goodbye to the school. A couple of our volunteers wanted to spend more time with the children here. As we arrived, Winnie, the headmaster, lovingly offered us some food. We sat in her little office and politely accepted our plate of rice and beans.
The library was directly behind the office, a small open window with iron bars allows the students to watch us. I was sitting against this wall when I feel a small tap on my shoulder....

"How are You?"
Those simple words having meaning that is hard to describe. I grab my phone, and take a few pictures of them, then decide to film a little exchange we had before I leave Kenya for another year.

With the library shelves in the background, I remember this small but powerful moment I had with the people that I hold close to my heart.