Meanwhile, back at the ranch…


The latest issue of the Rocky Mountain Land Library newsletter is out. I’m grateful to the staff for selecting one of my photos for the banner image. This shot was taken during my October visit to the ranch. You may have noticed that many of the photos I’ve posted on social media over the past several weeks have a South Park, Colorado tag. All of those images are from the Buffalo Peaks Ranch, future home of the RMLL. It’s a beautiful parcel of land in a mesmerizing corner of the West; the scenery and the silence are stunning.

Though I was only there for a single afternoon, this place really got its hooks in me. I hope to stay longer on future visits to the ranch, and I hope those trips will become more frequent. I’m especially keen on spending some time there in the dark of night; I was excited to learn that one of the buildings will house an astronomy library and a small observatory.

I am also very happy to announce that my book collection will one day reside at the RMLL. That provision is going to be added to my will now that my offer to donate the books has been graciously accepted.

Download your copy of the newsletter by visiting www.landlibrary.org .
Click the “Land Library Newsletters” tab at the top of the page, then select the “Winter 2015/2016 Newsletter” link. Also, be sure to read the articles and watch the videos that appeared in the media this year. I hope many of you will follow and support this project.

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Do It Again

Tex94post

Christmas Day, 1994. This is the photo that started it all. Over the next several years and several thousand miles, I would accumulate 53 such pictures…48 states, the District of Columbia and four Canadian provinces (I’ve been to a fifth province, but was unable to find an “Ontario” sign). Years later, for reasons unknown, I had grown to loathe photographs of this car with the top in the up position. It just didn’t look right to me. I realized that, going forward, I didn’t want to shoot another photo of the Pontiac unless the top was down. And, I decided to replace the 43 inferior images with some new top-down shots.

Looking over the collection, it was clear that I would need several years to accomplish this overhaul; of the 53 original photos, 43 would need to be redone. In those 43 scenes, the top was up due to rain, snow, bitter cold, oppressive heat, or simply due to the fact that, back then, I didn’t care. A lot of miles will have to be covered in order to get the pictures I want, but I’m certainly not complaining…I’m happy with any excuse to tour the continent yet again. During October’s long journey, I was able to cross seven more states off of the reshoot list. Let’s start with Texas…

tx1

This border crossing has changed a little over the last 21 years…the old buildings in the distance have been razed, a rusty trash barrel has been placed in front of the stone Texas monument (considering the large amount of garbage on the side of the road, it appears that no one is actually using the barrel), the New Mexico portion of the highway has been widened to four lanes, vehicle traffic has increased substantially (oil service trucks heading down the ranch roads) and, sadly, this cool vintage right-of-way marker has been removed. On the day I arrived, a trucker decided to use this spot to park and take a nap. I wasn’t too keen on the revised scenery, so, for my updated Texas photo, I opted for a different arrangement…

TX

One thing that all of the old photos have in common is that they were shot in front of state line signs. It was during the first of the reshoots that I realized there was a better solution: small-town post offices. Shooting at the state line was usually problematic. Border signs are rarely posted along minor roads; they’re reserved for highways. In addition to the hazard of the increased traffic on these highways, it was often difficult to park near the signs due to the presence of guardrails, bridges, ditches or simply due to the complete absence of a shoulder, meaning that some percentage of my vehicle was parked on or near the travel lane. At the post office, however, parking is usually a breeze, especially after hours, and the town and state names are both identified. Plus, each state has many cool post offices to choose from…

Tie Siding, Wyoming…

WY

Pep, New Mexico…

NM

Kenton, Oklahoma…

OK

Manter, Kansas…

KS

Salisbury, Missouri…

MO

In Colorado, I was enjoying a Sunday drive through scenic Pleasant Valley with my friend Sarah when we spied this tiny post office across the street from a wayward cow. All of my state photos up to this point (with the exception of New York) have been self-portraits. But on this day, I had an excellent photographer riding in my passenger seat…

co2

So I asked Sarah to take my official Colorado portrait…

CO

Fifteen of the old photos have now been redone, giving me a total of 25 acceptable images. You can view the whole collection through this link to an album in my Google Photos account.

28 states and provinces remain on the reshoot list. Then, of course, I still have to visit Alaska and all of eastern and northern Canada. One step at a time.