Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bath Ranch

 A house at the Bath Ranch site west of Laramie.  February 2012.
(Click photos to make bigger)

I've always wanted to poke around the historic Bath Ranch site at the intersection of Herrick Lane and Interstate 80.  The beautiful stone barn is especially enticing, but the ranch is privately owned, and I never climbed over the fence to check it out until earlier this month when I drove past on a bleak snowy day that settled on the site in a way that I couldn't resist; the gate was locked but not posted, so I climbed over.  

The ranch was built in about 1875 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  There are two residences there, along with the barn, some outbuildings. and old trucks, cars, and tractors.  The Bath Bros. are still an active outfit, and according to their website they run about 900 head of cattle and breed horses, which appear in Cheyenne's Frontier Days, where they were ridden in a parade by the governor and his wife, and in other events and rodeos.

 An abandoned Chevy truck.

 Same truck, from the inside, with the stone barn in view.

House and outbuildings.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Bei in June 2007 (age 5+), checking out  butterflies at Blair, near Laramie.  
Butterfly-eye view.
(Click to make larger)

For a month or so in the summer, the Miller Moths invade Laramie and flutter erratically around the house.  It's a little annoying, but for my daughter Bei, perhaps a little more than annoying.  She wrote the following essay for a 5th grade class assignment in which they were asked to write about "one animal you don't like."


By:  Bei

What is one animal you don't like?  The animal I don't like is moths.  I will tell you why I don't like moths.  I don't like moths because they hide in my bed, they love light, and they move oddly.

First, I don't like moths because they like hiding in my bed.  I will pull back the covers and there they are.  Before we can catch them they fly to a different place in my bed.  By the time we catch them it is too late to read anymore.

The second reason I don't like moths is because they love light.  When you are in a car they gather around the car windows because of the light in the car.  When I am reading they will flutter in my lamp. When they fly in the lamps it makes a thumping sound.  

The last reason I don't like moths is because of the way they move.  When they fly they go fast.  When they fly it is almost like they are jumping.  Also, when they walk they rock back and forth.  It looks so weird and creeps me out.

Those are the reasons why I don't like moths.  Do you think you could tell me what animal you do not like?  Thank you for listening to what animal I don't like.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Wee Blow

Blowing snow makes the high tension wires sing south of Laramie.  
(Click to make bigger)

It's a wee bit windy here in Laramie this morning, as it is wont to be.  It's common to see 60+ mph winds in the forecast and recorded on the gauges, especially up at Vedauwoo east of town or at Arlington west of here, but 70 mph is rare and 80 mph gets everyone talking.  It was windy yesterday, and it got worse last night.  The REALLY high wind isn't supposed to blow in until later today.  The roads have been closed for over 2 days, which means no newspapers (they come from Cheyenne I think) and a dwindling supply of dairy products at our local Safeway store, which has a hard time managing their stock even when the roads are open.  

Meanwhile, I see on Facebook, that my friend Sam Lightner, who is in famously windy Patagonia on a climbing trip, is reporting that he "can't believe how calm it is today...there isn't even a baby farting out there."  He should just come to Laramie and attempt to reach the summit of the Nautilus.  It might be impossible without a compressor and a drill (climber make joke).

Laramie is nestled among "superb" wind resources, depending on your point of view.

Trucks waiting for the road to open at the Petro Truck Stop in West Laramie (2009 photo).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bosler Library

 The Bosler (Wyoming) Public Library, 2007.
(Click images to make bigger)

Like many photographers in Laramie, I love visiting Bosler, the near ghost town about 15 miles north of here. I've gone there for years, first shooting photos on film and then digitally after I made the switch.  The few residents, Doc being the most famous, have resulted in many iterations of No Trespassing signs over the years, warning people like me away from certain parts of town, but I've never been hassled as I photograph the comings and goings of old cars and furniture and the slow decay of the buildings that are scattered around in the prairie.  Years ago, when my Dad was in town visiting, I took him to Bosler and we ran into Doc in his cluttered shop, smoking cigarettes and working on his website business, a bottle of "mouthwash for smokers" on the table beside him.  He was enthusiastic, and my Dad enjoyed the experience.  Since then, I've never run into him, but the signs tell me he's there, keeping an eye on things.  

I'd love to see  photos from Bosler when it was vibrant.  According to a website put together by Gary Speck, Bosler was originally a supply depot for the Diamond Ranch, owned by Frank Bosler in the early 1900s.  It grew during the early part of the last century to over 250 people, according to Speck's site, but then began a rapid decline after I-80 was built, diverting most of the traffic that provided business there.  When I first moved to Laramie in the late 80s I knew Ann(e) Bosler and her parents, who were related to the Bosler Boslers, but have long since lost track.  They may still live here.

I'll put up some other Bosler photos from time to time.  

Bosler Public Library, 2007.

Monday, February 13, 2012


My daughter, Bei, waiting for her Dad to take a picture so we can go see the damn movie! (not her words)
(Click to make larger)

Laramie enjoyed a lovely and unexpected snowstorm last night.  The forecast called for an inch, but we had a solid 6" in our yard this morning, and it's still filtering out of a grey sky, though we aren't supposed to get much more today.  It was also a storm without wind, at least in town, which in case you don't live here, is highly unusual.  Bei and I went to see Hugo last night at the Wyo, where tickets on Sunday night are $3.  Hard to beat that.  It started dumping just as we left the house, so I grabbed my camera, cranked the ISO to 1600, and took a few photos.  I'd hoped to get the classic Wyo Theater with a long line of moviegoers in front, but alas, we were a few minutes too early and I decided to cease my torture of Bei after taking a couple of her in the theater lights.  

I took a couple of winter photos on Saturday out in the Laramie Basin, before this most recent snow dump.  It's stark out there in the winter, but beautiful when it is whitewashed.

Fence, Herrick Lane, Laramie Basin.

Snow fence, Herrick Lane, Laramie Basin

Friday, February 10, 2012

Oaxaca -- Religious Iconography

Church room, Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico.  2007.
(Click images to make bigger)

Perhaps because I'm a skeptical agnostic I'm fascinated by religious iconography, and I find myself photographing it wherever I go.  Mexico is fantastic for this.  Catholicism, with all of its symbols, is strong, and signs of it are everywhere.  In 2007 I spent a week visiting Oaxaca, in southern Mexico.  I just heard on the radio today, that there are travel warnings for Americans in place again for much of Northern Mexico, but that Oaxaca is considered relatively safe from the violence of the drug wars, along with some of the Mexican resort destinations.  If you haven't been to Oaxaca, put it on your list.  The city itself is a thriving center for the arts, with a huge number of high quality galleries, and good restaurants to go with them.  The surrounding countryside is dotted with interesting villages centered around gorgeous old cathedrals, and there are opportunities to hike through spectacular mountainous terrain and deep limestone gorges.  Plus, they make mescal in this part of Mexico.  If you didn't know, tequila is a small subset of mescal, and aficionados can offer mescal tastings that will leave you not caring whether the last one you tried was any good or not.  But getting back to religious icons--I'll post up a few images from the Oaxaca area, and perhaps add images from other countries from time to time since I have so many of them.

Cathedral at Mitla, outside of Oaxaca.


Cathedral at Mitla.

Graffiti in the City of Oaxaca.

Crosses, City of Oaxaca.

Window display, City of Oaxaca.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More Laramie Refinery

Building ruin at the Midwest Refinery in Laramie, 2012
(Click photos to make larger)

I continue to obsess about photographing the refinery ruin on Laramie's West Side.  The site, which I blogged about a few weeks ago, is destined for cleanup beginning next summer, and I want to spend some time there before it becomes a reclaimed field.  I've also poked around on the net trying to find out more about it.  As it turns out, it was only used as an oil refinery from about 1920-1932.  After that it was used for other things (yttrium?).  The UW Heritage Center has some photos in its collection of the site and of people that worked there (I'll post one below) from the Ludwig-Svenson collection.  

From a photography standpoint, the site has great potential that I haven't figured out how to realize.  I plan to make regular visits to see what evolves.  Sometimes getting one good photo of a place requires going there 10 times to experiment, slowly moving towards some image that you don't see until the 11th trip.  Maybe that will happen here.  In the meantime, it's a fun place to explore and a good excuse to be out with the camera in the winter.

The other day when I was there, a group of about four kids, probably junior high school age, showed up and were climbing around in the ruins, unperturbed by the guy with his camera or the protruding rebar.  I simultaneously imagined how much I would have enjoyed this unambiguously dangerous place as a kid and how much I hoped as a parent that my daughter Bei would never do that.  

Workers at the Laramie Midwest Refinery, 1928.  From the Ludwig-Svenson collection at the UW Heritage Center.   I wonder if any of  their children still live in Laramie?  This was 84 years ago.

Art or graffiti?  I'd say the former.

Floor of main building, Laramie refinery.

Graffiti or art?  Main building.

Refinery art.  No doubt about it.

Ruins, Laramie refinery.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dreaming of Spring Break

Hurricane Wash in the Escalante Canyons, Utah, 2010.

It's early February and, as happens every year, my thoughts are turning away from skiing (despite the new foot of snow in the mountains) and towards the Utah desert.  Because I'm locked into spring teaching, my big opportunity to head south comes in a little over a month with our Spring Break. Ellen, Bei and I have made a family tradition of March backpacking trips--most recently in Grand Gulch or the Escalante canyons. Each year, as Bei gets older, we hike a little farther, but are still modest in our aspirations.  One of the great thing about the canyons is that you don't need to cover much ground.  The fun is in the exploring--dropping packs, setting up camp, and fanning out to look for hidden secrets.  In Grand Gulch ruins abound, and it is endlessly fascinating to try to find them.  In the Escalante, the canyons are exquisite ribbons of green cut into a sea of orange slickrock, and one doesn't need to move very far to enjoy them.  

This year, we may be joined by another family--friends from here in Laramie.  I need to figure out where we should go--so much desert, so little time.

Bei, Cedar Mesa, 2007.

Bei, Peekaboo Canyon, Escalante, 2008.

Bei, Turkey Pen ruin, Grand Gulch, 2009.

Bei in Coyote Gulch (Escalante) in 2010.

Bei, Bullet Canyon (Grand Gulch), 2011.