Friday, June 29, 2012

Shoshoni, Wyoming and a Bra

View through a hole in the back of an abandoned building in Shoshoni, Wyoming.
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Many of us in Wyoming know about Shoshoni because of Yellowstone Drug, now defunct, but once famous for handmade milkshakes.  With the demise of that business, the abandonment of the old downtown is nearly complete, but when I stopped there this week, a tattooed man from Casper and his young daughter were busy renovating.  "We've been working on it for a few years," he told me.  "I love Shoshoni...I'd love to see more artists move here."  When I asked him what his plan was, he said that he intended to reopen the store as a milkshake place "in a couple of years."  

So there's hope.  

According to Wikipedia, "in some years Shoshoni is the driest town in the Mountain Time Zone," which might partly explain why it's not as populous as it once was.  Established in 1905 on the railroad as a mining town, Shoshoni boomed briefly and then declined.  Millionaire Charles Henry King lived here and built the building that would become Yellowstone Drug.  Surprisingly (Wikipedia again), King was the paternal grandfather of President Gerald Ford, who was born in his Omaha house, where King had moved after leaving Shoshoni.  Shoshoni was also the birthplace of Isabel Jewell, a Hollywood actress who appeared in many films, including Gone with the Wind (a fitting title for a Wyoming girl).  

Apparently, many of the classic downtown buildings that line the east side of the street were damaged by fire.  I walked around back to have a look and discovered the bra.  I'll check in again the next time I'm through, hopefully with a milkshake in hand.

There are some old photos online at this site.

Gambles Department Store, Shoshoni.

Poem and art, Shoshoni.

Window display, Shoshoni.

Window display, Shoshoni.

Store and wall painting, Shoshoni.

Friday, June 22, 2012

From the Archives: Shanghai

Street scene, Shanghai China. August 2005
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Morning on the Bund, Shanghai. China, August, 2005.

I have images on my hard drive that have never seen the light of day--at least not in the U.S.  In August 2005, we moved to China for a year and spent the first month of that time in Shanghai learning about how to teach English before heading to Yunnan, where the air is cleaner and cooler. I had just made the switch from film to digital for that trip, and with a new 6 Mp Nikon D70 in hand, I walked the streets of Shanghai.  The two images above are perhaps my favorites from that huge city.  The top one was a street grab that I've always liked, but never shown or published.  The bottom image was from an early morning trip to the famous Bund.  It was published in a magazine in China called M Style after I returned to the U.S.  

It's hot in Wyoming now, but it NEVER gets as hot as Shanghai in the summer.  Still, I miss the excitement of being in China in the summer, heat, humidity and all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Coca Cola sign near Oaxaca, Mexico.
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Soda has been in the news lately, with Bloomberg's move to attempt a ban on enormous drinks sizes in New York City to slow the obesity epidemic.  I have to admit that his effort seems random and unlikely to make any difference, though I appreciate that the problem is getting air time as a result.  The bigger issue is the ubiquitous marketing--especially to kids.  Thankfully, Bei doesn't like "fizzy drinks," so we haven't had to fight that fight in our house, but many of her friends are already into the soda.  I used to drink Coca Cola in my youth, before I discovered the pleasures of coffee, but now I rarely touch the stuff.

An exception though, is the comfort of an ice cold soda during international travel, when water can be more problematic and less available, ironically.  I remember on my first international trip--in the 1980s to climb in the Andes--how nice it was to find orange Fanta for sale from little shacks along trails high in the mountains.  Or how refreshing a truly cold Coke tastes in steamy Bangkok when it's still too early for an ice cold beer.  

Although Coca Cola and it's ilk are found the world over, there are also odd local variants on soda. In Oaxaca, there were advertisements for Manzanita soda (without rival!).  Somewhere overseas (I can't remember where), I tried a local soda, alarmingly yellow, that tasted like bubble gum.  I spit it out, and moved on.  In Peru, soda was often sold by street vendors in plastic bags with a straw.

Perhaps at our core we're all like hummingbirds--irresistibly attracted to sugar water and the bright red signs advertising it.  But unlike hummingbirds, we don't have little wings to flap hundreds of times per minute to burn off the extra calories.  I guess I'll have another cup of coffee. 

Manzanita, without rival.  Oaxaca, Mexico.

Hand made advertisement, Western Kazakhstan.

Sprite, melon market, Urumqi, Xinjiang, China.

Coca Cola at a field day, Kukanga School, rural Uganda.

Coca Cola umbrella, Kampala, Uganda.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

B&W Magazine: What to submit?

Every year, B&W Magazine, a showcase for "fine art" photography (I've always thought that calling your art "fine" is like a restaurant advertising "fine dining"--a little suspect), has a Single Image Competition.   Winners are published in a special issue of the magazine that I always enjoy.  I'm agonizing a little about what to submit this year; the three images below are my top choices, though I may add one to the list.  What do you think?  Leave a comment if you are so inclined!

Click on any image to view a larger version...

Image #1

Image #2

Image #3

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Canyoneering: Egypt III

Jim Akers, descending into "the bowels of the Navajo sandstone" in Egypt 3.
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The road to Egypt is rough, and it crosses strange sections of fine salty powder that rises high into the air as you drive through them, even on windless days, and coats your car with white dust.  Along the way to the Egypt trailhead (for Fence Canyon) it skirts the heads of at least four slot canyons—Egypt 1 through Egypt 4, with the 4th being the most gnarly (rated X for long exposed stemming sections).  We’d chosen Egypt 3 as the warm-up canyon for our spring trip and left our camp near the Hole in the Rock Road early.  Tom’sCanyoneering Guide describes Egypt 3 like this:
“Hast thou a large thirst for slot canyons?  Here you go.  Miles of slots.  Long sections requiring sideways shuffling.  A journey of wonder through the bowels of the Navajo sandstone.  Bring a rope and a harness, and you can finish with a short rappel into a pothole and a quick wade or swim.”
Egypt was indeed a great warm up—not too hard, but beautiful, with a few tight spots and very little water in this dry year, except for one wet pothole and a fetid cesspool at the very end, which we all waded through, stinking up our already stinky shoes.  The crux of the day was probably the walk back to the car in the hot sun, across a few miles of slickrock.  A great day all in all.  Highly recommended unless you have a "large frame."

Looking into a fork of Egypt3 along the short approach.

The gang looking down into the Egypt3 drainage.  Our goal is the long slot at the bottom.

Larry Scritchfield enjoying some optional stemming early in the canyon.

Larry descending deeper into Egypt 3.

Jim Akers climbing out of a shallow pothole.

Working through easy slots.  

The wet way through a water-filled pothole.  Jerry Scritchfield and Jane Addis go for the wade.

Larry pioneering the dry technical way around the pothole.

Don Reyes testing a higher path.

Jim Akers--more narrow canyon.

Nice little rattlesnake in the narrow canyon.  

Mike Reyes near the end of the canyon.

Mike and Don Reyes, hiking across slickrock on the long hot walk back to the cars.

Routefinding along the canyon on the return to the cars.