Monday, September 23, 2013

Lander Wyoming

Lander is a wonderful small town at the confluence of Highways 287 and 789 kind of midway between Jackson and Casper Wyoming, a city Jackie has been wanting to see,  but we were beat and decided to spend the night in Lander along the way, a really good choice.

This is the view from the rise in the highway leading into town.  There is not much behind me, and the vast forbidding mountainous wilderness ahead.  Not so long ago this was all there was for 50 miles in any direction and getting anywhere took courage and strength.  Lucky for us there was a good Mexican restaurant in town, and no shortage of bars.  The one below was also a micro-brewery to the left and the little wooden attached structure to the right was an ice cream stand.  What more could you ask for.

Why there's someone ordering a scoop right now.  Before we left town, we stopped in the Lander Art Center and saw the well seen paintings of someone who seemed to understand the emptiness that surrounds this place.

Loved the paintings, bought the poster, had some coffee and left town traveling east toward Casper.  I know I didn't take enough pictures of Lander, but I guess when you are just passing through, its just what catches your eye, and I did walk through town and that's all I saw (on the sunny side of the street anyway). 
As we left town, we passed through the suburbs...

and a few miles further down the road, a book seller who realizes that if you are going to make it out here, you have to diversify!!!

Don't even ask.  I showed this photo to a friend who loved it and asked about the person running the shop.  I felt badly that I had no idea.  I was so thrilled with the photo, and we did need to move on, that I never even thought of checking it out.  And I am a person who haunts used book stores.  


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Idaho at last or is that 4th from last....

I have never really mentioned it before, but I retired early a few years back, not because I was particularly old or disliked my job as a forensic psychologist, which was actually more interesting than most, and impressed the hell out of other people, making me the life of the party where people couldn't get enough of my pulp fiction sagas of the blood and gore depravity of the criminally insane, a generally innocuous and mundane group who required a certain degree of creative fabrication on my part to breathe a menacing level of evil into them.  No, I left this enviable position because I was becoming bored, irritable and twitchy, sitting behind a desk in a state mental institute when there was a whole country out there that existed only in maps and photographs by Walker Evans and Edward Weston and Stephen Shore and Danny Lyon et al, that was calling out to me and which I feared may no longer be there if I waited much longer.  I needed to see  America, more particularly the lower 48 states into which I had been born and to take pictures of what I saw, which is what this blog has been about.  I was at first depressed and dismayed to find that the America I dreamed about no longer existed and thought I had missed my chance.  But slowly my eyes opened to the America left to me to see and document, and so I have.  I went in search of America, and I found it!!!

On August 19, 2013, we flew into Boise, rented a car, and headed east on Highway 20 along the southern quarter of the state, past the smoldering aftermath of the massive Sun Valley forest fire to begin our journey thought Idaho (Wyoming already visited), and Montana, the  45th and 46th states in out quest.  Since we didn't stay in Boise initially, my only photo from there was this one taken at the airport.

Someone else's photo idea, but I couldn't have said it better.  As I mentioned we got the car and headed east on the 20 to spend out first night in Idaho Falls.

A number of years ago, we were traveling were traveling along Highway 50 along the Great Basin in Mid Nevada, a road called the loneliest highway in America.  It may well be, but over the years, our ambles through Nebraska, Wyoming, Texas, Montana and now Idaho, have brought us upon many roads that are equally desolate and vastly devoid of life that might challenge that title.  Highway 20 was certainly one.  The first town on the map about 40 miles from anywhere was Hill City.  I was an abandoned collection of 5 or 6 commercial structures, all empty and back lit, so I couldn't get any satisfying photo of what was there, but I was not too disappointed since they not that old or of any great historical interest.  In fact the only structure well lit was this phone booth, although the dangling wire did not bode well for its availability in an emergency.  So be informed that for all intents and purposes, Hill City does not exist.  Nor does dependable cell phone service, so have a full tank and plenty of water, good advice for travel through much of the mid west.

As we drove between Hill City and Fairfield, the next dot on the map, there was little evidence of civilization, but at one point we came across these now abandoned markers of human activity in close proximity to each other indicating a town, but there were no signs or markings indicative of where we were.

The next dot on the map was Fairfield, 40 miles down the way, a moderately substantial town where you could buy groceries and gas, have a beer or two, mail a letter and get a hamburger, shake and some pretty good onion rings.  I don't usually take pictures of food, although I sometimes think I should, and in the case of great pizza in unlikely locations, I do, but in this case, you will have to take my word for it.

That's Jackie, ordering a hamburger, vanilla shake, and onion rings.  They were all were pretty good, and better that we expected at this point.

Main Street, Fairfield...

And as a collector of examples of great American Architecture, how could I pass up a photo of this gas station at the edge of town.
Leaving town, our last stop before heading to Idaho Falls, where we are to spend the night, was the Craters of the Moon National Monument which was a vast field of the charred, cindered, black ashen remains of ancient volcanic activity incongruously in the middle of this otherwise golden, sunlit, pastoral landscape which the next photo by Jackie shows me trying to grapple with.  I am not good with landscapes.

Photo by Jackie, of me trying futilely to capture the vastness and incomprehensibility of this prehistoric natural wonder beyond comprehension. 

A vast, black, other worldly place the can not be contained in a photo.  So the best I could do was to fall back on tried and true devices to organize things in the short time we were there, but to no avail.  If you get the chance to get there, you won't be sorry.  On to Idaho Falls.