Picture Rocks National Lakeshore Adventure

The goal, Spray Falls.

I am now a weekend warrior… The type of person I have been trying to avoid becoming for a long time. Well, it happened. And it is not something I am use to or like. Having to plan what I am doing for a weekend and only a weekend is not fun. The typical trip, the kind I have become accustomed to, has had a firm start date, soft end date, and an itinerary that was roughly broken up into weeks instead of hours. Now, with the whole cube, 7 day vacation, salary, and no window thing, time is more important, and thus, more planned.  Weekends are short. So more planning has to be done to maximize the adventure. The short-lived adventure. Last weekend involved getting out of work a half hour after closing time (typical) followed by a 4 hour drive with a few stops on the way up to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. A hidden gem in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Or maybe not so hidden jugging by the number of Asian tourists running around with selfie sticks!


Made it to a trailhead by a little after midnight and crashed there for the night in my amazing comfortable camper suburban. Rolled out of the suburban to a beautifully crisp fall morning. Drove down to the campsites and prepared the camera gear for the hike. Preparing is still not easy even thought you would think I’d have it down by now. 1 Tripod, 2 Camera Bodies, 3 Lenses, 1 Microphone for video, a Polarizing Filter, Extra Batteries, Extra Cards, Cleaning Cloths and a half a Nalgene of Water. Just enough for 6 miles but not overkill.


The trail passes exposed layers of limestone rock in a beautiful mixed forest of cedar and massive white pine. The trail was a mix of sand and hard soil where a newly laid wolf track was just inside the Wilderness border within the park. I have been around wildlife enough where I was not all that worried about it but it is still an uneasy feeling in the back of your mind hiking alone without any protection! The three mile walk to the falls in not for the faint of heart. Especially for those who are afraid of heights as there are many sections where your feet are inches from a massive drop into Lake Superior.

Eventually I made it to Spray Falls which is a roughly 70 foot waterfall emptying into Lake Superior.



I also make my way to Minors Falls which was a easy 1.2 mile round trip hike on a trail that is like a tourist highway. A gorgeous stand of equally spaced trees line both sides of the tourist highway which was very parkesque. The falls were really pretty but to get the shot involved following the dozens of other tourists over the walls viewing platform and down to the base of the falls. Good thing there were no rangers there because I didn’t want a ticket!



Other notable falls were Munising Falls and Wagner Falls.  The trip was a waterfall success but the Northern lights were a big fail. They were out but the cloud cover prevented the spectacular view I was hoping for. Just a reason to go back I guess.






It’s Double Rainbow! What does it mean?

web-3813 Today has to be one of the most memorable and most exciting mornings I have had out here in the Tetons. This summer has been ridiculously busy with work, which means on my few and far between days off, I have been sleeping in doing laundry and having no social life. That is okay though because I will be traveling for the next 6+ months so I need to bank all the cash I can. Anyways, today was badass. It is pretty much impossible to explain or show in photos how exciting of a morning it was but I am going to try.

It all started with me not being able to sleep because of some antibiotics I am on for a sinus infection that moved into my eye from neglecting it all summer. Oops. I decided to get up and see what I could round up for the day and I headed a few miles down the road from my trailer when the sky broke loose. I stomped on the gas, flew into a pullout, scrambled for my camera, tripod, and gear and began taking shots as fast as I could. It was an amazing sunrise, best I have seen in a long, long time. I wanted to rush down to the Moulton Barn for some shots but got distracted by a large heard of bison. I remembered an awesome shot my friend Tom Mangelsen had taken last fall of some moose at sunset and thought I would try for a similar effect with the bison. I hung out with them for over an hour getting stills and a time-lapse which I hope to post soon. I was not quite done with the bison but a rainbow started to appear to the south. I threw my gear into my truck and raced down to the Moulton Barn to capture the images that follow. When I got to the barn it was a DOUBLE RAINBOW and all I could think about was getting the shot, and that goofy youtube video of the guy crying over the double rainbow. I had no time to cry, I had to get to work. I have been waiting three years for this particular phenomenon to transpire and today was my lucky day!








Fly Fishing Escapades

fishMost fishermen would say I was crazy for not taking advantage of the best trout rivers in the world. Well I finally changed that this year. After a poor attempt at fly fishing last year, I was a little discouraged but gave it a go again this year and had a blast. I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing so I headed over to Dornans in Moose, Wy to get some information on what to be using and they hooked it up. I bought my resident licenses, about 8 flies, and picked up a 2013 issue of the Wyoming Fishing Regulations and headed out to catch dinner.
Time was limited because I had a half day tour in the afternoon but still wanted to get out for a few hours. After a late start, about 9:30am, I was on the water behind the Gros Ventre Campground. Needless to say, my casting abilities were sub par but the fish did not seem to mind. I landed a nice little 10 inch Cutthroat Trout right off the bat. I took a photo and the released it. As soon as it started to swim off I was mad at myself for not making it dinner. If the next one was decent size it would be. It was a dandy, at least a 14 incher. I pulled it up on shore, removed the hook and while I was taking a photo it jumped out of my hand and flopped down to the river. I caught a few more small fish that I let go but then got a hard hit. I was determined to eat this one. As soon as I got it to shore I grabbed a baseball sized river rock and smacked it on the head. I thought, “this one is not going to get away.” Unfortunately it was a little small but it still ate well. The next one was about a 15 incher. After a hit to the head it was to be dinner as well.
After two hours and 10 or so fish later I decided I liked the whole trout fishing thing but I had to go home and get them cleaned up and marinating. I cleaned them in the river and returned home. Some crushed up cherries and pomegranate juice is what I soaked them in for a few hours while I was at work. I did not get home until about 11 and cooked them in a pan on the stove… Delicious.


Moose Attack in Death Canyon!

site-9008I have been back in the Tetons for about two weeks now and it has been a great two week period. I have already guided many Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park tours, put on about 400 miles on my enduro (mostly in the backcountry), went to a magazine release (JH Style) for a magazine I have photos and an article about Tom Mangelson published, seen many great friends, and done a few hikes with the biggest being up Death Canyon.
Death Canyon is in the southern part of Grand Teton National Park and is a very popular hike for locals but the name seems to keep some tourists away. To my knowledge it did not get its name from someone dying up there. I packed enough supplies for a four to five mile hike, both in and out, but things often change here in the mountains. I should have known. I left at about 8:30am before most people get to the trailhead and after about two miles of walking up and down hills, past Phelps Lake, and up into the canyon, I ran into a young bull moose who had no intentions of moving off the trail. I was only about 30 feet from him and just sat there watching and taking a few lousy photos with my phone. He was a little bothered by me and kept moving along the trail but unfortunately not off it. I followed him right to another larger bull moose who had an attitude. After about twenty minutes of watching them I had enough and saw my opportunity to sneak between them and continue on my hike. Just when I got between the big bull and the small bull the big bull stopped grazing and started on a dead run at me. I turned around and ran like a little girl and hid behind a big pine tree. Luckily the big bull was not interested in me and went after the young bull chasing it around for a while. Eventually I saw my gap and made it past.

Continuing on, I wanted to give the moose time to wander away from the trail and I kept wanting to see what was around the next corner. Before I knew it I was six miles back with a six mile trek out and, I was out of water. There was a nice stream running through the canyon but there were a lot of marmots and I did not want to drink their poopy water and get a disease so, I got to as high of elevation I could and got water there. There were more marmots than I have ever seen just below where I got my water. Now, it is three days later and I am still not sick. I guess drinking all that Central American water has made my stomach pretty tough. Anyways, I finally made it out of the canyon at about four o’clock and went right home to get a beer before I had to go to a meeting with a friend to discuss a new business venture. It was a great day and I should know by now that my hikes are always longer than I originally plan and should be prepared. Maybe next time.









Worst Thing About Travel

site-5642The worst thing about travel is the travel… the time between adventures and experiences. All the seat time is definitely the worst part of it all. Interesting things can been seen while in route but when driving in a snowstorm or a downpour like what has been going on here out west over the last few days. It’s not that exciting. I have been fortunate enough to have a couple breaks in the weather to enjoy some great site like Massacre Rocks State park which I snuck into from a rest station off the interstate, or Shoshone Falls, a beautiful waterfall along the Snake River, of the gorgeous Glenn Canyon here in Oregon along the Columbia River which the Snake drains into. There really have not been many brown signs (interesting sights) that I have skipped if they were off I-84. From fish hatcheries to waterfalls I have stopped at them all. Usually quick stops but sometimes longer hikes were the result. Most people would cringe if they saw what my cameras have already been through just 48 hours into a month long road trip of Americas West! The weather sealing will definitely be tested.

The plan it to hang here in Oregon to visit my buddy Rip Caswell, a fantastic sculptor who went to Churchill photographing polar bears with me. After that I am heading south to visit my good buddy John who I haven’t seen since he started LanguageConvo, an on line spanish course one on one with a Latin American instructor, because it is taking up all of his time. From there I am going south. That’s all I know. Redwood forest would be a pretty awesome park to spend some time and Yosemite waterfalls would be nice to photograph with the snow but nothing in set in stone. The Subaru is showing sings of letting me down so that might be an adventure in itself getting her back in working condition.

The longest stretch of National Park-less land is behind me and from here out hopefully the days will consist of 150 or less driving miles per day verses the 400 or so I have been doing the last couple. It is awful spending that much time in the drivers seat. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!


Moose in North America (Alces alces)

Bull Shiras Moose in Jackson Hole, Wy

Shiras Moose in Jackson Hole, Wy

In North America we have four different subspecies of moose throughout the northern United States and Canada. Populations of Moose spread from the Pacific Coast to the Atlantic Coast and from the Arctic all the way down to small isolated populations in southern Colorado and Utah. The word moose comes from the Algonquin word “Mooswa” meaning “animal that strips bark off trees.” In winter when food sources are limited moose eat bark and other woody materials to help get them through harsh winters. Moose are the largest members of the deer family with A.a. gigas found in Alaska being the largest subspecies and largest deer on earth. Even though moose can weigh up to a ton they can run at 35mph and swim at 6mph. Because they look lethargic people think they are relatively harmless but they injure many people each year. I have seen a moose chase a person around a tree for getting too close. There was a interesting article in the Huffington Post entitled Assume Every Moose is a Serial Killer just to raise awarement that they are dangerous animals. That title basically sums it up. The following is a little description of each of the four types of moose we have here in North America. If you want to see maps of their demographics or read more about them click on the lime green links.

The first species of moose that was discovered in North America was A.a. americana subspecies. This species was discovered in 1822 and after a period of intense hunting, more regulation has attributed to steady population growth. Population of A.a. americana are as much as 330,000 in the maritime provinces and northeastern states.

The next subspecies to be discovered in North America is A.a. gigas. Gigas is a Greek work meaning giant which is fitting because it is the largest of all moose. This subspecies was distinguished in 1899 and is found mainly in Alaska. Populations of A.a. gigas is as much as 220,000 animals. A.a. gigas can get nearly double the size of the Shiras moose we have here in Wyoming.

The Shiras moose or A.a. shirasi is the smallest subspecies and is found in the western states including Colorado and Utah where isolated populations exist. The Shiras moose has by far the smallest population numbers at only 25,000 animals. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem population numbers have been in decline since the fires of 1988 when nearly a third of Yellowstone National Park went up in flames. Because of the fires, a lot of the food sources the moose depended on were destroyed for many rears resulting in a higher than average winter die off. Also since the wolves have been reintroduced in 1994 the populations of moose have been in decline. A wolf or even a pack of wolves would find it difficult to take down a full grown moose but a moose calf is not a challenge. In recent years moose have been birthing only one calf per year to try and improve success where in years past two calves were not uncommon. Prior to 1900 moose never use to be in Jackson Hole. Since we removed all wolves for about 100 years the moose were able to move back into the area. Now that they are back, it would not be surprising if we loose our Jackson Hole moose population in the nearer future.

A subspecies that was differentiated last has the largest population numbers. There are roughly 410,000 A.a. andersoni which was discovered in 1950. They range across most of Canada with small populations dipping down into the mid-western states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, and North Dakota. There are very few moose in Wisconsin (probably less that 100) but in Minnesota there are as many as 8,000 animals.

Those are the four types of moose you might run into wandering across the northern part of North America. Populations of moose are pretty healthy in most the region now with tighter regulation on hunting. With the reintroduction of wolves and other ecological changes, populations are dwindling in some areas but rising in others but overall populations are healthy.


Make Money Spending Money!

slide_cardsPeople basically throwing money away is something that is tough for me to handle. I try to educate as many people as possible about how to make money while spending money but some people just do not get it. I am not going to say I have things completely figured out but I do get hundreds and hundreds of dollars back each year from rewards on credit cards. Use credit cards INSTEAD of cash! One of my favorite credit cards paid me 500 dollars for spending 3,000 dollars in the first three months. I also pay NOTHING to pull money out of any ATM ANYWHERE in the world. Picking the right credit/ debit card is an important money saving decision and can result in a pretty good payday for using it to get things your are going to buy anyways.

As far as rewards go there are many different rewards companies offer including cash back, gift cards, airline miles or cash back on merchandise in a specific store. I have friends that are hung up on racking airline miles for one or two points a mile (essentially 1-2% cash back) when they could easily get themselves a card that pays one to five points per dollar depending on rewards for that quarter (1-5% back). Typically, the things you buy that pay 5% back are things you buy a lot of like gas, groceries, drugstores, restaurants, etc. Here are the cards I recommend.

Chase Freedom Credit Card – This is by far the best card out there and the only one I would use if I didn’t travel so much. The card pays you 10 cents for every transaction and one to five cents per dollar you spend there after. This means if you go buy a bolt for 16 cents and you use your card your are only paying 6 cents! Or if you go to McDonalds and order one thing off the dollar menu it is turns into the 90 cent menu! Thats a 10% savings! Also for this quarter the chase freedom card pays 5 cents additional for every dollar spend at gas stations, drugstores, and Starbucks! So instead of paying $3 per gallon on gas I only pay $2.85 per gallon! And I get 10 cents just for deciding to use it!

Chase Safire Preferred This is my go to card while out of the country and even while in it. It is a phenomenal traveling card because you do not get charged foreign traction fees. Foreign transaction fees really add up while traveling especially at 4%. Also if I need to cancel a trip that I booked with the card I get reimbursed. If I rent a car they cover the collision insurance. Rewards are not the best but not bad. 1% one everything except 2% back on restaurants, airfare, hotels, rental cars, taxis, and cruises. One of my favorite things is when I call them for any reason I do not get a recording! It’s a real person! Unfortunately this card costs me $95 a year but since I spent $3,000 on it in the first three months on rent and other living expenses I got $500 back! That should cover me for a few years.

Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking – This is a good card for every day life and traveling alike. It is a card that will reimburse you for taking money out of any ATM anywhere in the world. This means if the ATM company charges you $2 or $3 dollars to take out cash, Charles Schwab Bank reimburses your at the end of the month. You also do not get charged a currency conversion fee or foreign transaction fee like most other cards. This is really a great thing because I know a lot of people who travel a lot and get charged $15 dollars to take money out so they take out their maximum allowed each time. Walking around with that much cash in some of the places I travel is a poor decision but luckily I can just take out enough for a day or two and not have as much of a risk.

I have a few other cards but they are nothing special and I travel with them just as backups in case I get robbed. Now using credit cards can get people intro trouble. If you are going to use a credit card for everything you have to see the credit card as a debit card. This means only buy things that you have the money to pay for. It cannot be seen as a way of accessing money you do not have. That is a dangerous and irresponsible way of using the card. Use it responsibly and you will get thousands and thousands of dollars back over the upcoming years just as I have.

Of the three cards listed here I highly recommend getting the Chase Freedom and the Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking. One last example on the Chase Freedom Credit Card. If I bought 50 dollars of regular priced gas and used my Chase Freedom card I would only pay $47.40 where if I were to use an airline card at 1 mile per dollar I would essentially be paying $49.50 or at 2 miles per dollar I would pay $49. You gotta ask yourself: Do you want a 5% discount on gas or do you want to use cash and pay full price? Happy buying!



Last week I returned from a trip with some fellow artists to go and photograph arctic animals. We were searching for arctic fox, polar bears, and caribou. unfortunately there were no arctic fox or caribou around to put on a show for us. The caribou moved through the area about a month before we got there and the arctic fox are pretty illusive in general. We were pleasantly surprised to find a bunch of red fox both in the red and cross color phase. That will be a later post. This post is about the polar bears. Many people think that they are vicious and dangerous animals but as far as I can tell they are comparable to a black bear. A black bear is really nothing to fear. It’s more like an overgrown raccoon. The last person to be killed by a polar bear in Churchill or around was 1983 and in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) in the last two years we lost four people to grizzly. And it is not because of animal population numbers. In the GYE there are about 1,000 grizzly and there are 900-1200 polar bears that pass in or around the small ocean side town of Churchill as they move from their summer to winter range. We went at the time when they were beginning their migration out to the ice sheets. Each day we saw about half a dozen polar bears. We were lucky enough to have one come right up to the car and it even jumped up on our rental to check out if we had any food for him. Of course we did not but someone must have been feeding him based on his behavior. He grabbed the door handle and tried to open the door on my friends vehicle right in front of me and my buddy Mike. Here are some of the bear shots I took on that trip. Enjoy!


Fall in the Tetons

It has been a great fall in the Tetons and Yellowstone this year. The color change was slightly disappointing but there were some pretty awesome sunsets and wildlife photo opportunities that I was able to take advantage of. Last year I just spent pretty much every day looking for bear but this year I spread myself out fairly evenly between all the wildlife. From elk to beaver, even pika and flowers were on my radar. Here are a few shots from the last two weeks or so in the area. Enjoy!


Photos while working at Jackson Hole Wildlife Safars

I have been having some really good photography opportunities while working at Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris over the last two weeks. Here are some images while at work, and some that were out of work.
Cubs of 610 playing above.
Bison in Antelope Flats during a good lightning storm below.

Northern Lights could be seen a few days ago due to a pretty intense solar storm.
During a tour last week I we got really lucky and had this bison swim right across the river in front of us. It was really neat to see and something I have wanted to see and photograph for some time. Right place, right time.

And of course the big a beautiful Yellowstone Lake above.
It is nice the black bears are starting to make an appearance again. This cub was digging for grubs with its sibling and mom right next to the road a few days ago. Roadside bears are becoming more and more frequent here in Jackson Hole because it is almost like a refuge from the big bores that want to kill them.
And last but not least, above is a great horned owl. Largest owl here in the Tetons. I have no idea how someone spotted this 50 yards off the road in low light. It was an amazing spot.