100 Days of National Parks: Day 53 – Moonshine Jug, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Moonshine Jug

Moonshine Jug

Moonshine Jug
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A lot of times when I wander through the remnants of old homesteads or buildings, like this broken-down barn in John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, I like to come up with stories for the people that used to live and work the land.  I imagine what the buildings looked like before they were abandoned, imagined the lives of the people who built them.  In some cases, I seize on small pieces of left-behind scrap, a book left to rot, a chair that’s been claimed as a nest for squirrels, or a lone green glass jug, glittering in the fading light of the afternoon sun.

Continue reading “100 Days of National Parks: Day 53 – Moonshine Jug, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument”

Taking a John-Day in John Day

Sometimes you just need to take a day for yourself, get in the car, and drive until you can’t drive anymore. After a week filled with a lot of emotional and personal frustrations, I headed down to the Portland Saturday Market excited to get out and sell some more photos, only to find all the vendor spots taken and myself left out of the Market for the day. It was a beautiful morning though, the sun casting beautiful morning light along the waterfront in downtown Portland, and I seized the opportunity to head out and look for some areas of Oregon I’d never taken the chance to explore before. I loaded up with all the essentials; half a dozen Blue Star Donuts and enough candy and snack food to last me a week, and set off eastward.

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Sometimes you just need to take a day for yourself, get in the car, and drive until you can’t drive anymore.  After a week filled with a lot of emotional and personal frustrations, I headed down to the Portland Saturday Market excited to get out and sell some more photos, only to find all the vendor spots taken and myself left out of the Market for the day.  It was a beautiful morning though, the sun casting beautiful morning light along the waterfront in downtown Portland, and I seized the opportunity to head out and look for some areas of Oregon I’d never taken the chance to explore before.  I loaded up with all the essentials; half a dozen Blue Star Donuts and enough candy and snack food to last me a week, and set off eastward.

Continue reading “Taking a John-Day in John Day”

100 Days of National Parks: Day 19 – Cliff Palace Ruins, Mesa Verde

Walking through the Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado, it’s impossible not to feel transported to a different era, and to marvel at the mystery of the Ancestral Puebloan people and their mysterious disappearance centuries ago.

I’ve always been fascinated by ruins and abandoned places, relics of a bygone age that time has long since forgotten. There’s so much memory in these vestiges of civilization, so much that we can learn about the way people lived before us. I love to wander through old buildings, to think about what the world was like back then, to imagine what it will look like when we’re gone. It’s a morbid fascination, but one that I’ve carried with me since childhood.

Mesa Verde is probably one of the triggers for that fascination. I recall taking trips with my family to visit the Anasazi sites here and at Canyon De Chelly to the south. I have indistinct memories of climbing into Kivas and up replica wooden ladders leading to more cliffside ruins. I find when I return to these places as an adult, those memories never fully line up with the reality of what I see, and I find myself questioning the nature of memory itself, and how fleeting and misleading it can be. The permanence of these ruins is so diametrically opposed to the immaterial nature of our memories, which makes their preservation all the more necessary to our understanding of where we came from.

Cliff Palace Ruins

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Walking through the Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado, it’s impossible not to feel transported to a different era, and to marvel at the mystery of the Ancestral Puebloan people and their mysterious disappearance centuries ago.

I’ve always been fascinated by ruins and abandoned places, relics of a bygone age that time has long since forgotten.  There’s so much memory in these vestiges of civilization, so much that we can learn about the way people lived before us.  I love to wander through old buildings, to think about what the world was like back then, to imagine what it will look like when we’re gone.  It’s a morbid fascination, but one that I’ve carried with me since childhood.

Mesa Verde is probably one of the triggers for that fascination.  I recall taking trips with my family to visit the Anasazi sites here and at Canyon De Chelly to the south.  I have indistinct memories of climbing into Kivas and up replica wooden ladders leading to more cliffside ruins.  I find when I return to these places as an adult, those memories never fully line up with the reality of what I see, and I find myself questioning the nature of memory itself, and how fleeting and misleading it can be.  The permanence of these ruins is so diametrically opposed to the immaterial nature of our memories, which makes their preservation all the more necessary to our understanding of where we came from.

Bordeaux Ghost Town

I find that it’s often the greatest explorations that happen on the spur of the moment, without preplanning or research. Simply getting into the car or stepping out onto the trail without knowing what you’re going to find can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have. Often, I forget the simple joy of these unplanned wanderings, the emotional high that I can get just from setting out and driving through the woods, looking for something interesting.


I find that it’s often the greatest explorations that happen on the spur of the moment, without preplanning or research.  Simply getting into the car or stepping out onto the trail without knowing what you’re going to find can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have.  Often, I forget the simple joy of these unplanned wanderings, the emotional high that I can get just from setting out and driving through the woods, looking for something interesting.

Continue reading “Bordeaux Ghost Town”