Mother Nature is the artist. I just collect the memories…

Rants and Raves

The Morning After

Man, it’s days like today when I almost wish I didn’t have a regular job.  Days like this are made for photographers, custom-built for stunning imagery.  Days like this…I have to work.  And since I have to work, I can’t go out shooting and capturing these perfect combinations of light, atmosphere, and drama.  So…I grab my camera for a couple of very quick snapshots from the front porch before heading off to work…

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What Happened?!?

Where the hell did Autumn go?!?!  Last week it was 90*F, yesterday it snowed.  Today it is freezing out.  Last week I had the A/C running to keep me from overheating, today I have the heater running.  Right about now I could use a little Global Warming…

Anyhow…Fall colors are shot.  The trees that started to change have frozen and turned brown.  The green trees are spotted with frost spots, and half the aspens have lost their leaves.  No colors this year.  But wait…

'69 Plymouth Road Runner

'69 Plymouth Road Runner

The Owen’s Valley Cruisers were in town this week.  Their Fall Colors Car Show is always a treat.  Unfortunately, I work Saturdays and can’t get to the Shine and Show proper.  But I can make it to the Cruiser Meet Up on Friday Evening…

'55 Chevy Nomad

'55 Chevy Nomad

Early 1940's Chevy Truck

Early 1940's Chevy Truck

1930's Flaming Ford

1930's Flaming Ford

The Heartbeat of America

The Heartbeat of America

Ford Custom Deluxe

Ford Custom Deluxe

Chevy a Go-Go

Chevy a Go-Go

I also went up Pine Creek Canyon the other day.  The goal was to get sunrise shots and Alpenglow on a spectacular granite peak…but it snowed on us, and blocked out the alpenglow.  Oh well…

B&W Granite Peak1

Snowy Peaks

Sunrise Snowstorm

Gable Cascade

That’s it.  I’m freezing my ass off.  I need to get out and get some shots of the snow covered peaks after last night’s storms.  But it’s cold.  Brrr…  I know…I’m a wuss…

Thanks for taking the time to look!!

Where’d you get your license!?!

Well…some of you know and some of you don’t.  Some might have been able to discern through my posts that the past month has been incredibly stressful and frustrating for me.  I haven’t really talked about it until now because, well, frankly…because I wasn’t sure how everything was going to work out.  But it’s coming to an end, so I can let it all hang out…

Early this year, I picked up a car that I have wanted for a very, VERY long time.  When I was in High School back in the ’80’s(I know…ancuient history, right?), sports coupes were all the rage.  Well…after I graduated in ’91, I desperately wanted to get my hands on a Chevy Beretta GT…but never had the opportunity and the money at the same time.

Earlier this year, I came across an incredible deal.  1993 Chevy Beretta GT…in my price range.  The guy was asking more than I had, but after looking at the car…I offered him every penny of cash I had, and he came down in his price to hook me up.  I LOVE this car…

Side and Back

Side and Front

This car is the BOMB!  75,000 miles on a freshly rebuilt V6 engine.  New radiator, thermostat, water pump, and hoses.  Brand new AC unit and compressor.  Aluminum Alloy wheels with brand new Toyo Touring tires, and everything a 30-something kid could hope for in a sports coupe.  I got my car.  And my daughter was thrilled because it is blue!

Flash forward to May 2, 2009, approximately 9:30 pm…

My good friend John and I decided to go cruising for snakes.  We went to a deserted road I knew about 100 miles from home, where I had recently found a Desert Rosy Boa.  The night started off good with a beautiful little Mojave Glossy Snake that was a baby from last season.  This was a lifer for me…it was gonna be a good night.

We drove to the top of the road, flipped aound and headed back down.  I saw a beautiful Sidewinder on the left side of the road, so I pulled all the way over, getting my driver’s side off the road and into the dirt, right up against a berm and some sagebrush.  John and I got out to photograph the Sidewinder.

Let me set the scene…

The area I am parked is at the top of a gentle downhill slope that is arrow straight for roughly 2 miles from my car to the highway.  ARROW straight, with nothing to block the view from where we were all the way to the highway.  From where we were parked, I could count the people going in to the convenience store 2 miles away, or the number of cars in the Rest Area on the other side of the street.  There are no trees, only desert scrub brush and cactus.  There are no sudden dips or turns, just a straight line with an even, gentle slope.

I am laying on my belly in front of the snake getting some decent pictures, and I hear a car coming.  I stand up, and this car seems to be coming straight at us, about a mile away.  I call to john, and he stands up and we watch this car.  Now…my car is running, headlights on.  John and I both have camping headlights on our heads, illuminated, and this car keeps coming straight for us.

We get out from in front of my car, and as we are jumping up and down screaming at this car to stop, slow down, or ANYTHING…shee veers entirely off the road, runs over John’s foot, and smacks my car, driver’s side headlight to driver’s side headlight.  My car go flying back in to the middle of the road about 40 feet back, ripping blacktop up out of the road as she knocked me out of the recessed shoulder and back in to the road.

And I can hear the rattlesnake buzzing like crazy…luckily he wasn’t hit.  Unluckily, he was very angery, very close, and very well hidden.  Have I mentioned that I usually wear sandals when road cruising?  They are good luck for finding rattlesnakes, but don’t help much when an angry, hidden rattlesnake strikes from a bush after a car accident…

This is my car:

My Car1

My Car2

Actually not too bad, considering she hit me at 55mph, and knocked my car back roughly 40 feet or more.  Some body damage, but no leaking fluids, and the engine still running.  I even drove it the 2 miles to the gas station.  Heck I even drove it from my house to the body shop in town for an estimate.  It drives great…didn’t even knock the alignment out of whack. 

Here’s her car:

2009 Pontiac Vibe1

2009 Pontiac Vibe2

This fiberglass P.O.S. exploded on impact, sending pieces of plastic and fiberglass everywhere, and raining green and red liquid all over the place.  This car is destroyed.  Take that, Bitch!

The problem is…she smashed my headlight, so my wiring harness is frazzled…comlpetely shattered.  No healights.  No taillights.  No blinkers.  No brakelights.  Illegal to drive it. 

Now…I can’t find parts.  I recieved a generous settlement check from her insurance company, and have spent the past month scouring the Western United States for parts but…can’t find any.  Found some in Wisconsin, but the shipping would be twice the cost of the parts.

So I took my settlement check, and I am getting a beat-around pickup truck.  It’s a decent little Nissan Pickup…low miles for an ’87, and some minor repairable issues, but it runs like a champ, and can get me and my kid around until I can get the parts for my car to be fixed.  Plus…I need a 4wd pickup anyhow.  I mean…the Beretta is a great car, but frankly…I won’t drive her on dirt roads, and she just can’t get me to a lot of the places I want to go.  The pickup can.  And the price is right.  I can get it and beat the shit out of it until I either fix the Beretta, or break down and get a new car next year.

So…that’s it.  My stress, my life.  I miss my Beretta.  But at least I’m picking up some wheels this afternoon.  Not ideal, for sure but…it will work.  And I’ll fix the Beretta.  Slowly…but surely…

Thanks for bearing with me!!

Afternoon Strollin’…and a bit of a rant…

I’m in a shitty mood.  People piss me off, my car situation still isn’t squared away, and I HATE being played for a fool.  All you people that think you’re so smart with your games and your lies…just realize that you aren’t getting anything over on me.  Y’all can say and do whatever the fuck you want to make yourself feel better.  Just don’t be foolish enough to think I believe your bullshit…

Anyhow…whenever I egt stressed or angry…I grab the camera and take a walk.  So I took a stroll through town this afternoon to see what was goin’ on…

Park Pond

The pond at the Town Park had lots of algea blooming…but very little active wildlife…

Stormy Church

And of course…any time there is cloud coverage behind the church on Main St., it makes a great subject.

Otherwise…there wasn’t a whole lot going on today…

How to Road Cruise

According to my handy-dandy little statistics monitor provided wonderfully by, I can see what search terms and phrases people are using to look for(or at least stumble across) my little slice of life, here.  One recent term to have popped up is “how to road cruise”.  Well…I don’t have anything like that here…but that can change…

Road cruising is easy.  In it’s most basic form it is driving slowly on paved back roads after dark, looking for snakes and other wildlife.  It really is that simple.  But there a few things you should know…

First…not everywhere is a productive cruising location.  My area happens to be incredibly productive for road cruising, so I’m lucky.  But if you don’t find anything the first few times you try…don’t give up.  You have a better chance of finding them if you’re out cruising, than if you’re watching TV in the living room…

Timing is everything.  Time of day, time of year, moon phase…these things play an important role.  What type of snakes are you hoping to find?  Diurnal?  Nocturnal?  Crepuscular? 

I cover the bases and start cruising in the early evening, when I have a reasonable chance of finding a diurnal snake basking in the last rays of sun, like a Coachwhip, Racer, Patchnose, or Garter.  You might also be surprised by a young rattlesnake, kingsnake, gophersnake…depends on where you live.

In the hours just after sunset, you have your best chances of finding your crepuscular snakes like kingsnakes, gophersnakes, glossysnakes…things like that. 

After dark, you find your more nocturnal species like longnose, nightsnakes,
groundsnakes, shovelnose, rubber and rosy boas…the really secretive ones.

The reason you see snakes crossing the road in the spring and fall is for warmth and thermoregulation.  They use the blacktop as a radiant heat source, and warm up for the evening’s hunt, or to aid in digestion after a meal.  That means, in the summer, when the air temperature stays warm longer into the night…you see fewer snakes.  They no longer need the road to thermoregulate, so you see fewer of them.  You might still occasionally run into a few throughout the night, but that is generally just a snake on the move that happens to be crossing a road.  It’s more luck than anything else…

So…here’s what you need…

A reliable car with good headlights.  Cruising is slow, and you don’t go far, but you can cruise for hours at a time.  And if your headlights are crap, you may not see smaller snakes.  Wash your windshield, too.  Nothing worse than squinting through some mooshed bugs to try and see a snake.

Field guide.  You want to know what it is your seeing, right?  Get a good field guide for your area.  Stebbins makes good field guides, and the Audobon Society has a field guide for North America.  It’s a good guide, but the taxonomical information is outdated.  C’est la vie.

Hooks and/or tongs.  If you plan on moving venomous critters out of the road, plan on using hooks and tongs.  Don’t try to be Steve Irwin.  If you never touch a venomous critter, you won’t get bit.

Required permits and/or licenses.  Most states require some sort of hunting or fishing license for the collection of reptiles and amphibians, just like any other animal.  Check yuor local regulations to make sure you aren’t unknowingly busting any laws by bringing home that pretty little Brown snake.

A positive attitude.  Listen…yuo aren’t gonna find snakes every time you go out.  It’sd that simple.  If you expect to, you will be disappointed.  Take a good camera with a flash, and an open mind.  I have gotten some wonderful landscape and flower shots while I was roadcruising.  Be open to the possibilities and techniques you need, and you’ll find stuff to take photos of.

And who knows…you may even find a snake or two…

Good Luck and Happy Herpin’!!

A Smoker’s Rant

I smoke.  I know…it’s bad for my health.  I’ve heard it before, and I’m sure I’ll hear it again.  Hell, it’s written right on the side of my pack of smokes, and I can read the warnings all I want.  But guess what…I LIKE smoking.

I don’t smoke inside my house or inside buildings.  I don’t smoke around my daughter.  I stand away from doors and windows of public buildings, and I try to be inobtrusive with my filthy habit.

So do non-smokers really need to tell me how bad it is for me?  Do you REALLY think I don’t know that?  Better yet…do you REALLY think I give a shit how YOU feel about MY habit? 

I don’t.  So stop telling me.

Does my smoking outdoors offend you so much that you must go out of your way to mention it?  Does it smell so bad that you must come closer to me in order to mention it?  If I’m walking down the street, do you really need to protect your children from the evil, bad guy smoking a cigarrette?

Listen…I don’t force you to smoke, so stop trying to force me to quit.  I go out of my way to avoid poisoning YOU with MY bad habit, so don’t walk up to me and get close to me to bitch about it.  That doesn’t make any damn sense.

As of right now…smoking is not a crime.  I know some of you think it should be…but it isn’t.  So leave me alone.  Let me stand in my cold corner, puffing on a smoke, freezing my fingers for a 5 minute break.  Let me inhale deeply, and feel the acrid sting of the smoke as it fills my lungs.  Let me feel the poisonous toxins of tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide as they course through my veins, enhancing my addiction, and slowly, but ever so surely, killing me.

What do you care?  They are my lungs and my veins so really…what do you care?

Mind your business.  I’ve heard it all, and frankly, if I don’t know your name and where you live…I don’t care how you feel.  So just mind your business…

Somebody once said to me, “Didn’t your mom ever tell you smoking was bad for your health?”  Well…yes…she did.  She told me something else, too…”Mind yer business”.  Try it sometime…