Anything but emptiness

I’m not sure I’ve ever started a blog post shortly after any sort of tragedy. My heart goes out to Christchurch and the victims of the recent massacre. 

When I visited New Zealand in 2017, I was at the same time impressed — enough that I knew I’d want to go back — and dejected, because I didn’t know when I’d be able to do that, or more specifically, that I’d be able to do so before replanting in Charleston. I ended up finding good fares in late 2018, though, and after much contemplation of how best to use my time, planned two weeks squarely on the South Island. You might expect that the first description I’d write about the place is that two weeks isn’t enough, and that’d be entirely correct. Two weeks, it turns out, is wholly insufficient for a 1700 km one-way journey in a land I had anticipated to be emptier than the North Island before I  traveled there, largely because in every sense of the word it is anything but empty.

Anything empty-33

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Anything but emptiness

Because Sunrises are too Hard

N.B.: this post is actually about photography. I deliberated before posting it as I didn’t want to turn the narrative into a rant, but after giving it some thought, I think it is important to mention that photography takes patience and motivation — which sometimes still aren’t enough to yield the desired result. The natural world is incredible whether I have a photograph to prove it or not; the world of my mind sometimes favors the nostalgia that proof offers. The post below is the original post. 

Talk about tongue-in-cheek. The last time I wrote about this topic, I explained that it takes a certain odd individual to prefer sunrise to sunset:

Sunrises, on the other hand, demand effort — to stay awake, to get up, to suffer through the rest of the day and week. And even then, it’s a crapshoot as to whether the sky will alight with the right clouds to reveal a colorful sunrise.

They’re harder to predict (no clues when the sky is dark), involve extra effort rather than just schedule rearranging, and conditions (e.g. temperature) can be less favorable. This, then, is why when I drove an hour to go see today’s sunrise, I took only one picture. Even the exposure settings attest to how dark it was: ISO1600, 1/40 s, f/8. Perhaps the only thing more frustrating than a missed photographic opportunity — difficulty of capture be damned — is a lost memory card, and given that the latter didn’t happen this weekend and my penchant for early sun movements, one might wonder just how this one didn’t come to be.

Hendersonville cabin-6

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Because Sunrises are too Hard

Along the Diagonal

A recent camping trip took me just off the I-26 diagonal in the Upstate. The intention was to see hawks migrating along the Atlantic Flyway, but the hawks had their own intentions: in two hours of observations, we saw only a handful of the birds.

Hawks-Jones Gap-1

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Along the Diagonal

Home sweet… memories.

Of all the places I’ve visited, Puget Sound has been the one that continues to give me goosebumps each time I look at friends’ pictures. Since 2007, when I interned in Renton, WA for three months, I’ve taken three trips to the area to visit friends and pay homage to an emotional sink (and source, actually) — Mt. Rainier. A winter visit had always been on my bucket list for that mountain, and with Bosch taking Good Friday off, I jetted out to Sea-Tac on the eve of a misty, mild April Thursday and planned an itinerary to MRNP, the Columbia River Highway, and to meet with a “few” friends still incarcerated in the Seattle area.

Arguably the single most identifiable object — when visible — in the Seattle skyline is Mt. Rainier. It towers above the city (roughly 14,000 feet above the city and surrounding areas), and on a clear day dominates the skyline from any place that offers a view to the southeast. Kerry Park is always a pleasant spot, but I wanted to try something new and so went with Danny Seidman ( to Magnolia Park on a cloudless Saturday morning. I hadn’t expected two April days to be so sunny, but suffice to say the weather absolutely cooperated with me while I was there. The colors in the sky aren’t as vivid as they’d be with some cloud cover, but I finally got a shot with both Rainier and a WSDOT ferry. I don’t think I could ask for a more representative picture of Seattle!

After taking a nap, I met up with two friends — Joshua Lee ( and Trevor Blanarik — to head toward the Columbia River Gorge to shoot waterfalls. We settled on Punch Bowl Falls, a 2 mile trek on a maintained trail into the heart of waterfall country. After water flowed over the top of my boots, I decided that it wouldn’t get any worse and waded in. 50 °F water is quite cold to say the least, and I’d conclude that it’s not necessary to wade in to get a picture of the falls. ;-)

With that 4 mile round-trip hike completed and my boots soaking, the whirlwind weekend was mostly finished. We headed back to Seattle for some awesome pizza at the Big Time Brewery, and afterwards I slept soundly (a whopping six hours; two more than the previous two nights) until my 9:30 flight out of the city. By then, clouds had set in.

Since I posted a shot of Mt. Rainier [from what I erroneously called Elbe] in a previous post, I’ll wrap this up with a shot from the same location but at a different time of day and year.

It’s not easy going back. Many of my friends have moved out there, and it’s tough to get everyone’s schedules to match and spend time with all of them; trying to take in the natural beauty of the area is a trial of patience not typically helped by weather like what I had this particular weekend. I’ve never been quite so enamored with a place before, and I still can’t quite place my finger on what specifically about the Puget Sound that draws me back with such magnetism. Nonetheless — the pull is there, and it’s always an absolutely electrifying experience to be out among the mountains and their ancient history and to catch up with old friends who have grown accustomed to the bounty there. Until next time.

Home sweet… memories.