Wild Mosaic! Yellowstone National Park. 2021.
“Tell me what you yearn for and I shall tell you who you are. We are what we reach for, the idealized image that drives our wandering.”
Simple words evoke feelings, moods, a place, or a need. Since I started my photo blog in October 2020, words such as appreciation, gratitude, flow, elevation, and gradient have captured my feelings about life, travels, adventures, and everyday situations.
For the past six weeks I just have not been able to get out with my camera. Not only longer adventures, but even mornings out in my home county, down in the Skagit, or up in the Cascades. Over that time, I have realized just how much of a need I have to get out, to surround myself with beauty and wilderness, and to continuously drink in the wonders of this world.
Road to the Beartooth Mountainss! Montana.
Today’s word is anticipation. Anticipation II to be exact, as I wrote about “Evocation & Anticipation” in June of last year on a spring trip to Yellowstone National Park. It is no coincidence that this “anticipation” is also about Yellowstone, as, if plans hold up, I will get a quick trip there in the next few weeks. It will not be much time, a two-day drive, two days (sunup to sundown) in the park, and then back home. But it is really not about the destination. My adventure starts the moment I pull out of my driveway. It ends only when I enter my final trip miles and close my logbook in the dark with the sounds of my dog barking at me from the living room -- Where have you been? What did you see? Why are you still in the car? The trip there and back, no matter what the end point, is always just as fascinating and wonderful as the time in the park.
West Summit, at 10, 47 feet of elevation, is the highest point on the Beartooth Highway. 2020
I could go somewhere closer. But everyone has their favorite places, and after so many weeks at home, I need to go somewhere that will refresh my soul. To really get away. For me, that equals large-scale wilderness and wildlife, and that, outside of British Columbia and Alaska, means Yellowstone. There are far too few places where you can see bears, wolves, elk, foxes, and otters – all often in the same landscape and sometimes even in a single frame.
When I close my eyes, and the travel bug is upon me, I see Yellowstone. That is the idealized image that most often drives my wandering. When I sing lullabies to my granddaughter, they are about bears, wolves, pikas, goats, and sheep. Last year, I drew my vison of being in the wild on the baby-room wall. It is not Yellowstone, but it has its makings! Climbing bears, paddling pikas, mountains, sheep, and a tent in the trees. A visual and a promise to show her all the wonderful places that surround us.
Top of the Mountain! Beartooth Mountains, Montana. 2020
The park has been my go-to-place for so many years. Well over a dozen visits starting when Stephanie and I were first married and on our first trip to see the west together. Several family trips to watch and learn about wolves and continue our national parks tour. Recently, trips just with Stephanie in all seasons, and more often now, when two schedules do not match up, solo trips to keep my spirits elevated and my connection with nature strong. Two years ago, I was in and around Yellowstone in winter, spring, and fall. Last year, we were there just before the flooding, and have not been back since. Anticipation!
Fierce Creatures! Yellowstone National Park. 2021.
It only takes a few days to recharge the spirit, camping in the truck with my sleeping bag and an open window, and spending quality time behind the lens. After that, I am happy, even needing, to come back home. But that wanderlust does not give up, and after getting home it is not long before I am again anticipating the next trip.
Lamar Coyote. Yellowstone National Park. 2020.
Stephanie once asked me how long I could stay away? While I was in Alaska for over a month, that was an anomaly. When my daughter was in middle school, and we were new to the west, Danna and I enjoyed almost two entire summers camping and on the road.
High Desert Light! Yellowstone National Park. 2021
But when on my own the answer to that has been proven many times – a week is my max. After that, I miss my family, my dog, bathrooms, showers, and my bed. With Steph along and meeting up with friends and family in amazing places, that would be the best of all worlds. And then, I could be gone a long-long time.
“Wander a whole summer if you can. Time will not be taken from the sum of life.”
A few years ago, I met up with some photographers in Yellowstone. One was talking about Nature First, an organization promoting responsible nature photography. They created a core set of principles that communicate how to have a sustainable and minimal impact that helps preserve some of our most beautiful locations. After looking them over, I immediately became a member! Here is the link to a short video on responsible nature photography.