Not This Year

The Mt. Washburn fire lookout tower – Canyon Junction, Wyoming

It doesn’t seem possible that as much time has flown by as it has, but here we are. While exploring Yellowstone National Park, Cindy and I hiked up to the Mount Washburn fire lookout tower back in 2014 (2014!!! Jeez, it seems like yesterday!), and had a marvelous time doing so. As hikes go, it’s not terrible – unless you’re out-of-shape flatlanders, which we were at the time. The views from the trail are beautiful both on the way up and down, there are lot of critters to view both up close and through binoculars, not a lot of fellow hikers on the trail, wonderfully crisp air, and an absolutely spectacular 360° panorama at the top.

However, the Mt. Washburn trail is closed this entire year, due to the following road construction:

Tower-Roosevelt to Canyon Junction

Improvements: This segment of road remains largely unchanged since the last improvements in the 1930s. This construction project will widen the road and provide additional/improved pullouts; create a larger, safer parking area at Tower Fall General Store; and improve the trail and overlook for Tower Fall. To fund this project, the park received a grant through the Nationally Significant Federal Lands Program and will match it with fee dollars collected in the park.

Access: The road between Tower-Roosevelt and Canyon Junction will be completely closed for the 2021 season, which includes Tower Fall Campground and Tower Fall General Store. There will be no access to hiking trails in the closure, including Mount Washburn, Calcite Springs Overlook, and Tower Fall. From early November through March, Tower Fall and trails in the vicinity will be open for skis and snowshoes, snow-permitting (follow all closure signage posted at Tower-Roosevelt). The anticipated completion date for this project is May 2022.

The National Park Service

We hope to hike this trail again in the future, but it’ll have to wait until road access is reopened.


Photo info:
The view from the fire lookout tower
Mt. Washburn, Canyon Junction
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
September 2014
Voigtländer Heliar 15/4.5 ASPH lens
Sony NEX-5N digital camera

Making Adjustments

Wedding photo prep – Washington, DC

Like many scores of other people during the early spring – when the DC cherry blossoms have burst into spectacular bloom – this couple had scheduled a series of early morning wedding portraits with their photographer. And – you guessed it – on this particularly chilly April morning, there were hundreds of other couples and families getting similar portraits taken for their upcoming weddings, engagement announcements, annual Easter festivities, family reunions, multi-generation gatherings, etc. Counting all of the involved parties, their support groups, and the pro photographers they hired – plus all of the non-involved individuals (like myself) that were just there to enjoy the spectacle – there were literally thousands of people tightly milling about in all of the prime photo locations.

I don’t think that the bride-and-groom-to-be had any idea that it would be such a zoo, and they tried to make the best of it since they were already committed to the event. I took photos of them because I was already standing there when they showed up and just thrust themselves into my framing, without so much as an apology.


Photo info:
Wedding subjects prepping for their portrait
The Tidal Basin on the National Mall
Washington, DC
April 2015
Kodak Portra 400
Leica Summilux 50/1.4 ASPH lens
Leica M3 35mm film camera

Black Hole of Calcutta

The basement where I worked – Gaithersburg, Maryland

People like to trash federal government workers all the time as being underworked and overpaid, undeserving of even the smallest things… like basic office supplies, clean and healthy working conditions, safe drinking water, a living wage, and many other aspects that we all take for granted in an office-based work environment. But they have no idea just how difficult some of those federal government agencies are to work in, like my former employer.

This is the basement hallway in the 60-year old building where my cubicle was located for the last six years of my career before I retired. If the image looks dark, that’s because it was; budget cuts at the time were so extreme that only two lights illuminated the entire length, from one end of the long building to the other. Many of the offices on this hallway – most of which were crammed to four times (or more) of their designed capacity with cubicles – had similar levels of illumination in them; i.e., almost nothing. Of course there were no windows.

Sound levels were so loud that they were just below the OSHA levels for required ear protection. The plumbing broke at least once or twice per year, flooding most of the hallway and offices with raw sewage, which required the replacement of everything that it touched. The drinking fountains were unusable for months at a time; sometimes because high levels of lead were discovered in them, sometimes because they were saturated with other contaminants.

We didn’t have a break room, and had no place where we could wash dishes or utensils if we brought our own lunch. Trash – even food waste – was only collected twice per week, which got rank and attracted vermin. The janitorial service was laughable.

I could go on and on. I only continued working in such bad conditions because I was so close to retirement.


Photo info:
Basement hallway where I worked
Gaithersburg, Maryland
April 2013
Apple iPhone 4S