Other Roads

Our trip to the Kootenay region of British Columbia hit a snag, and roads led us

elsewhere.

I found the four elements arranged themselves nicely,

anyway.

Fire, earth, air, water – we felt them all, sometimes

painfully.

The heat was oppressive and we had a bad meal or two. But smile-inducing surprises

found us.

And visual delights?

I found them.

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Pastels soothe the eyes and in the distance, power giants loom, but delicately.

We were there, and

Yes, you’re here.

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Here is an arrangement of images, reflecting various arrangements of the four elements, as seen on my trip through central and eastern Washington State.

 

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First Photo:  A rural road in Douglas County, central Washington State. There were 849 farms in the county at last US Dept. of Agriculture census in 2012. The average age of the farms’ principle operators was 59, and farms produced $327,190,000 in wheat. (Earth)

Second: Trail marker at Ohme Gardens, Wenatchee.

Third: Rushing water at Deception Falls, Cascade Mountains, near Skykomish. (Water)

Fourth: Detail of the Tumwater Pipeline Bridge. In the 1890’s the bridge supported a wooden pipe carrying water to power the Great Northern Railroad as it climbed Stevens Pass. Now it is repurposed as part of the Tumwater Pipeline trail. (Earth)

Fifth: A field of Yarrow behind barbed wire outside the ghost town of Govan, Lincoln County. (Earth)

Sixth: “Amber waves of grain” – and green, Lincoln County. (Earth)

Seventh: More wheat fields outside Govan. (Earth)

Eighth: An old windmill in a wheat field, at 60 mph. (Air)

Ninth: Shingle siding on the old Govan Schoolhouse, built in 1905. The small town has slowly faded over the years and is now marked by a grain elevator and shipping terminal.  The steeple came down two years ago; there are many photos of the two room schoolhouse online, with the steeple intact.  (Earth)

Tenth: Plants press against an old window at a general store, Riverside. (Earth)

Eleventh: Lungwort lichen (Lobaria pulmonaria) on a tree at Sweet Creek Falls, between the old mining towns of Ione and Metalline, in Washington’s northeast corner. (Earth)

Twelfth: The Tye River eases over rock at Deception Falls, about 13 miles west of Stevens Pass. Nearby, on January 6, 1893 the last rail spike was set to connect Seattle to St. Paul, Minnesota, and through to the east coast.  Echoes of revolvers and the shouts of men on a winter night marked the achievement of over 1800 miles of track laid down across the West. Twenty-four years earlier the first transcontinental railroad had been completed in Utah; the privately financed GN was now the northernmost rail line in the states. Nearby Stevens Pass is named for its discoverer, John Frank Stevens, who engineered the Great Northern Railroad and later was chief engineer of the Panama Canal. (Water)

Thirteenth: Water roars through a narrow passage at Deception Falls. (Water)

Fourteenth: An old tree root, probably Western redcedar, at Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee. (Earth)

Fifteenth: Forest fire damage in the Colville National Forest, seen from Boulder Creek Road at 60 mph. The Stickpin Fire of 2015 originated with a lightning strike on August 11th. By early September the National Guard, helicopters, and crews from distant locations were on the scene working to contain the fire. It was just 36% contained on September 8th, almost a month after it began, The fire was one of many across the region that year. Three firefighters lost their lives on August 19th when fire enveloped their vehicle in a separate fire east of here. By that time, 600 square miles were burning across Washington. The road this photo was taken from was closed, people miles away wore face masks outdoors, and evacuation orders were issued for some areas.

–  From the Barreca Vineyard blog: “The valleys filled with smoke, the ghosts of dead forests from the mountains around us. We wore breathing masks outside. Ash rained down on buildings, cars, the garden… Fire camps sprung up in Colville and Kettle Falls. You would see helicopters and planes flying here and there to fight the fires.”

By the end of October the 73,392 acre conflagration was 82% contained.  The Incident Commander planned ongoing patrols and mop-up repair work. Today, fireweed blooms among blackened pine trees.  (Fire)

Sixteenth: The Tumwater Pipeline strut work casts shadows that would make an engineer happy, though now they fall on a flat trail bed instead of a rounded wooden pipeline. (Earth)

Seventeenth: Another view of forest fire damage in the Colville National Forest.  (Fire)

Eighteenth: An unidentified wildflower in a vacant lot by an auto parts store, Omak. If you have any idea what it is, let me know!  (Earth)

Nineteenth: Hay bales ready for pick up outside Curlew. (Earth)

Twentieth: Looking up into a wheat field planted hard by the road in Lincoln County. (Earth)

Twenty-first: Summertime on the road, eastern Washington. (Air)

** There is an admitted arbitrariness to these elemental assignments. And let’s not forget spirit, an element that may weave through it all.

 

 

 

 

 


45 comments

    • Those rivets sure have collected a lot of lichens over the years – that piece of support was irresistible. The blurred-in-places forest photo is a crop of a larger photo, and is dramatized in processing with extra contrast & clarity and deeper blacks & shadows, plus dehazing, all in LR. I enjoy experimenting with pictures taken from the passenger seat at high speeds. I used a 45mm fixed lens, f4.5, 1/160s. Sometimes I pan the camera a bit as well. Your comment about looking twice is good to hear, thanks.

  1. A real treasure trove, Lynn. Here are some things I like about some of these photos, but I really like them all. First: delicacy of color and lines. Third: the glow. Fourth: colors, shapes. Ninth: colors, composition. Tenth: tones, composition. Eleventh, twelfth, fourteenth: colors, composition. (Sorry—my words are boring; your photos are not.) Eighteenth: shallow DOF, colors. Many of these photos have a lovely sense of spaciousness. Can’t wait for your next trip or your next roundup of non-trip photos, whichever comes first.

    • A treasure trove, cool! Because I did work a fair amount on all this. 🙂 I have a good lens to thank for the clarity. I picked up one I’d not used in a while and had it on the camera for almost the whole trip. It’s a fast, sharp, 45mm f1.8 prime (Olympus). I’m liking it. Re the color, I think Olympus does a decent job, but sometimes I throw a film effect on there too, from LR or from CEP. And I play with luminosity and saturation on individual colors, in LR.
      The water’s glow is partly from reducing clarity and highlights in LR, but it was pretty nice light anyway. The 4th I think of as a Linda picture. And the ninth for sure (it’s cropped). The light was rough on the schoolhouse (10:30am was the earliest we could get there, on a glaring day); most of those photos are disappointing. I was pleased with the lichen and the root, after working on them a bit. Ask your guy about foliose lichens – I think they’re my favs.
      The 18th is one I’d do better on if I could go back; I had to process it too much. It was fun to find gorgeous (to me) plants in the trash-strewn lot by the auto parts store, while Joe borrowed an onboard diagnostic tool to figure out why a dash light went on – always something!
      As for spaciousness, there’s plenty of that to go around in the eastern half of Washington! It’s a big reason why I love going over the mountains. I’m not sure what’s next – and isn’t that nice?

    • That’s interesting, because most of them are fairly abstracted, or could have been taken a number of places, but mix those in with a few that show the bigger view and I guess you have a sense of it. I had so many photos from the trip and didn’t have the energy to process them all, so I decided to choose some that zeroed in on details instead of the ones that show a town, a mountain, etc. I think I’ll post some of the more conventional views next, and maybe keep to this pattern the next time I travel. Thinking about it, and happy for your input…

  2. I paused at image number four, studied it; pondered ‘what is this?’ and then connected the dots when the second image /#16 came into view… ‘Ah-Ha!’… with all of those lines and shadows and perspective, I spent more time on that one….

    The scars from the forest fire remind me of how fragile our planet is, and how fast something magnificent can turn into a graveyard… I fear we are losing that fragile balance.

    Today I stopped to photograph that vine-shrouded car. It’s a ‘coralito’ vine and would be stunning if it should burst into bloom!

    • Funny – that old bridge has its share of lichens, and they were colorful.
      Re forest fires in the West, this is the problem in a nutshell, from a book review by Leland Buck:

      “To insinuate that fire was not a destructive force before 1910 is historically incorrect. However, fire usually played a much more measured role in our forests, burning more often and less intensely, cleaning the forest of bio-debris and fuels, enriching soils, and strengthening the forest as habitat for a great variety of plants and animals. The fire season of 1910, which has since been known as the “Big Burn” because it consumed 3 million acres of forest in the Northern Rockies, was a turning point in American wildfire policy that set us on an expensive and sisyphean path to try to protect forested lands from the destructive force of wildfire.
      Because we’ve not let fires burn, it is now a fact that there is an accumulation of fuel in the forests.”

      http://treesource.org/news/lands/book-review-land-on-fire-the-new-reality-of-wildfire-in-the-west-by-gary-ferguson/

      Read it if you get the chance. Fire in the West is very complicated, as I’m sure any natural phenomenon in any location can be. Yes, we’re losing balance in so many ways. Glad you were able to photograph that car! Smiles for you!

      • I read this before I ‘clocked out’ for the week and weekend.. Thanks so much – it was interesting… Someone also mentioned how many more trees have died from lack of rain for so many years…. I hope that the climate stabilizes and the rain patterns go back to norm – – – what is norm?!

  3. I like the way you bracketed the images with the first and last road photos. I like the fire scars, too. My experience with the burned prairie, and my new knowledge about the importance of fire even for the forest has changed my view of such things. A lightning fire is nature’s way of helping to keep things in balance: a truth too often forgotten or ignored. It takes forests longer to recover, but recover they do.

    The yarrow’s appealing, too. The plant itself is lovely, and your treatment of it only increased its appeal.

    • I’m thinking the next time I take a trip, maybe I’ll do a similar post – bracketed with traveling images, and many that are more abstract between. Then I can follow up with the more place-specific ones in another post. A different way of setting the scene, maybe.

      Please see my comment to Lisa, above, re fires. The book, “Land on Fire” that just came out about fire in the West looks very good. I should have written a bit more about the subject above. I remember seeing a purposely set fire in the Florida scrub while in process – fascinating, and so very compelling. The aftermath, as you have so beautifully illustrated in your blog, can also be very beautiful. A worthy subject!

      As for the yarrow, did you know what a “universal” plant it is? Grows across Asia, Europe, N. America…used a lot in medicine, too. The traditional method of using the I Ching was with yarrow stalks – that goes way back. I have a lot of respect for that plant. I would have liked to have seen the barbed wire in focus too for that shot, but if I’d gotten everything in focus, maybe I still would prefer the barbed wire out of focus. (I have an ongoing interest in things behind fences or scrims…)
      Thank you Linda!

  4. #2 &3 marvelous abstracts. #4 love the amazing contrast of flowers and barb wire…. me, I’ve been doing the 3-4 hour commute (depending on summer traffic) almost daily… the house is getting emptier up north! Whew!!! O_o

      • I need to take a breather every now and then. It’s starting to feel really REAL right about now! Even took some time off for a short beach hike today. May not take time to post until the dust settles.

      • I think I read the “Big Burn” quite some time ago. Just ordered it from the library. I’m thinking it could use another look (read). We meandered up into the wilderness beyond our house a couple of weeks ago and went through a section that was a huge wildfire back in 2002.

      • Sorry to bombard with comments, but I somehow accidentally tripped across this Oregon Public Broadcasting site about the wildfire I mentioned in the previous comment. We lived roughly 30-40 miles (as the crow flies) from those fires back then and I could see occasional flames and smoke. it was pretty impressive. NOW…. we’ll be living where the Biscuit fire was pretty much in our backyard… though still some 15 miles (by crow) up in the hills beyond us. We drove through part of the area about a week ago. It was a bit spooky.

  5. There are so many beautiful images in this post, Lynn. I love the theme that runs through it, and there is definitely an ethereal feeling that is common among them. This was quite a fruitful excursion!

    • It didn’t feel exactly ethereal, but I know what you mean – that’s a feeling I enjoy and carry with me, I think, and a reason I eventually moved away from NYC, as much as I love it. It was a ctually a difficult trip, but yes, fruitful all the same. I think we’ll be in the city in October – maybe we can meet. You pick a restaurant!

    • I was pleased with that one, and pleased that the camera/lens managed to get some good photos out a tinted windshield at a good speed! 🙂 How nice to hear your comment on a clear vision, thank you, Otto. Glad you had an enjoyable holiday!

  6. I started to list the ones I particularly liked for various reasons but discovered I had omitted so few the list made little sense! I’ll settle for 5,10 and 20. Of course, tomorrow the choice could well be different!

  7. A beautiful way to look at the surroundings. You beautifully attached the element theme with each image. The one I like most is 14th. It appears as if an owl in staring at me. The forest fire also gives a feeling of sadness, especially the 17th. It looks like we people have knowingly destroyed the nature.

  8. Another great collection of images. I especially like the barbed-wire and grasses shot. And also the hillside of grass and burned logs/trees. But there are many other very fine photographs too. You had a very productive trip!


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