On November 9th, 2016, my wife of 2 months and I set out on an adventure from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania into the great American west - and back again. Our quest was to find a choice location we could someday call home should our stars align, but we made no definitive plans for a daily itinerary other than to maximize our aliveness and scout the USA in an extemporaneous fashion. Winter can be a tricky travel time. It's cold. Landscapes are no longer adorned by foliage and its livening chromatic display. Wildlife activity plummets. The chilling stillness of this season is inescapable by both earth and creature. Winter does, however, boast its merits. As long as temperatures stay low your car becomes a rolling refrigerator. The presence of spiders, ticks, snakes, poisonous florals, and many other 'dangerous' citizens of nature is highly diminished. Air holds less moisture, thus crisper skies abound with light that shines as if all the atmosphere was a flawless diamond.
Who Am I?
That's a question I've been trying to answer my whole life. It's not that I can't recite a whole mess of information about myself, linearly displaying the general facts that comprise my being. Like, my name is Andrew. I was born in eighty six. The distance between my head and the soles of my feet is approximately seventy three inches [sixfootone]. But that's all the boring stuff - and does it really answer the question at hand? The true answer to who I am lies in every single one of these pictures - and in all the now washed away footsteps I've pressed into the Earth. I hold dear my memories of being so alive that the only thing that could have killed me was disbelief - and I definitely hold dear the echos of many soul-evolving, mind-sharpening conversations I've had with whoever wherever. It's really these images and tales of a life thoroughly and passionately examined that remind me of who I am and how I became as such. So, who am I?
Risen from the floor of the Pacific Ocean, the magmatic realm of Galapagos perfectly exemplifies life’s deadliest game - survival of the fittest. Popularized by Charles Darwin & Captain Robert Fitzroy’s 1835 voyage of the HMS Beagle, Galapagos is most famously known for its giant tortoises - but there is a story more colossal than those beasts and more compelling than Darwin’s findings alone. And it’s more meaningful than evolution. It’s a fleeting whisper of an enchanted history, replete with the captivating citizens of both culture and nature. It is GALAPAGOS. Come and see.
The first time that I boarded an airplane with a bona fide woman and flew overseas was en route to the land of Ataturk - a famous 20th century Turkish revolutionary who unarguably ushered social and economic prosperity to his nation succeeding the fall of the Ottoman Empire. We had the opportunity to view a multitude of geographic and cultural locales in Ataturk’s realm - including the hidden Kavrun Yaylasi - an isolated vale in Turkey’s fertile northeast region. Populated by a few hundred villagers and the passing adventurer, Kavrun is a mountainous paradise we discovered by chancing a questionable road I spied on a map. Come see the richness of Anatolia and beyond.
No matter where you are in Costa Rica, wildlife will find you. The Howlers will howl your heart into an electric beating frenzy long before you see them. The Capuchins will feign their friendship in a heist for food - and if you're particularly unlucky they'll attempt to urinate or defecate on you. But they'll make your laughter rise as well. The legendary Quetzals will redefine avian beauty. The options with wildlife are endless in Costa Rica. While I observed and photographed only a minuscule collection of creatures, they are all worth a good look. Come and see the land where Pura Vida reigns!
One of the most charming facets of French living is the intentional time given to simple things - to proper meals, to gardening, to leisure. I am also profoundly connected to the Rhone-Alpes region and its serrated summits. I had a friend who once traveled there separate from me, and through our common experience in Chamonix, we forged an eternal bond. She now resides there permanently as a prayer on the wind and as a fertilizer in the mountain meadows. Hers is an echo to return to the mountains - to pursue that which challenges you - and to give thanks for all the tiny things. The simple things. It’s a full circle story. Come and see.
The earliest encounter I had with anything Portuguese was the greasiest, most sugary baked treat in the world. Named malasadas, it translates as an ambrosial fried stomach ache. I happened to be in small town in Cape Cod with an art and fishing problem - Provincetown, Massachusetts. I used to travel to the Cape often with the Emmons family when I was younger. Though they are a hardy family hailing from Nordic origin, the Emmons' eldest son was ironically married in Portugal many years after my first encounter with malasadas. And so I gallivanted to Portugal to taste, to see, to smell, and to celebrate! My heart was stolen by that country - held prisoner by its dramatic coastlines, its fresher than fresh seafood, and its unruffled attitude.
I love people most of the time - and the ones I struggle to love are probably the ones that need love the most. While I am very imperfect, I imperfectly love my companions, my kin, and my neighbor. I love the people I have chanced upon the road, upon the trail, in the air, on the water. They are markers of doing, of action and growth, and their influence is more than inconsequential. I also love the person I have not yet met - the stranger - the unknown soul engaged in the same competition to survive that I am and you are. We are both that stranger. And our stories are no more meaningful than one another’s. Nor are they less heartbreaking or more triumphant. Come see the neighbor you don't yet know and celebrate our connected individuality.
I was thousands of feet above the Kalalau Valley poised on a knife-ridge in rapidly shifting swarms of rain and mist. Unnerved by the immensity of my orientation high on a dangerously soggy, lonesome peninsula in the Kauaiian sky, I advanced as no mountain goat bounding, but as a slow and steady agent of deliberate movement. Considering the melding of poor visibility and tremendous height it would be incredibly easy to slip away forever, especially when one eye is closed and the other is glued to the camera! Luckily I stood firm as each minute paraded a different meteorological theater passed my eyesight - gusty whiteout blindness transformed into a shredded landscape painted with emerald, cerulean, and cinnamon - sensational hues that were yet dwarfed by the dance of the rainbows overhead. Come see my photographic poetry of the Hawaiian landscape!
The first time my feet touched the dusty soil of the American west was in the gateway town of Fort Collins, Colorado. Eager to climb a mountain, get lost in the wilderness, and osmose into starways that would fill my ocular pockets with the richness of celestial diamonds, I adventured with tenacity during that virgin trip to the west. Since my most epic journey eight Julys ago, I have often wandered back to Colorado and her various treasures. The Front Range where a traveler first encounters the rising foothills of the Rockies is nothing like the Western Slope where deep canyons and martian reds run far beneath the mesa and the aspen. The lyrics famously sung by Robert Plant, "There's a feeling I get when I look to the west - and my spirit is crying for leaving," perfectly sum up my attitude toward Colorado.
My grandparents lived in South Carolina for the majority of my childhood, and although many memories are fragmented, I remember robust alligators, lively churches, Spanish Moss dangling like reaching fingers from lanky Live Oak branches, and an air of propriety and good form. There are many swamps in South Carolina that anybody could fall in love or fright with - brimming with the ever-encroaching orchestral moans of insects, the eminence of green and brown clashing against one another, and the lurking presence of pre-historic beasts that are both agile and terrible. And absolutely beautiful. Though I love the wildness that hides in dark groves in South Carolina, I also love the culture of Charleston. It is quaint and teeming with history and all that is oceanic. Come lose yourself in the romance of the south.
I was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Our once thriving Moravian community established in the 18th century is a mid-Atlantic potpourri of every nation, race, and tongue. Often I become unsettled and yearn to find places far and wide from Bethlehem for the simple pleasure of experiencing something new. However, every single time I return I am reminded of the luxury I have had to live in Pennsylvania. PA, as we most often refer to our commonwealth, consists largely of rolling farmlands and thickly wooded forests. There are many relics that yet litter our landscapes - farm houses constructed in years gone, colonial quarters made of stone, and the aging machines of steel and coal industry. Go to Glen Onoko if you ever find yourself in Pennsylvania. Come see my home.
The Lehigh Valley
The nestled valley in Pennsylvania riddled with dramatic colonial history and relics of 20th century industrial dominance includes the towns of Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton. A location perfect for those who cannot survive without four seasons, this temperate biome offers Christmassy winters, vernal months of brilliant color and mind-blowing re-emergence, all-American, sweat-dripping summers that fade into humidity free autumn days - a season of racing cumulus skies reeking with the stench of ever-burning wood. The Lehigh Valley is an oasis of economic, ethnic, and natural diversity in Pennsylvania's ever creeping countryside.
Saucon Valley CC
While country clubs offer a wide range of both social and athletic activity, I find myself most comfortable lost somewhere on vast stretches of a green golf course. It is there between the emotional draw of a historic game and the infinite, all-consuming nature that makes the Links a certain home to me. It's in the rush of the match, the screech of the raptor, the verdant swathe of silence, and the powerline-free skies... I've been a visitor to Saucon Valley CC over the decades and I've scarcely experienced a more attractive and settling open space. No matter how far I scour the planet for natural charm I earnestly remember that Saucon Valley could be the most beautiful location in the world at any given moment.
While migrating through the west coast many years ago I was able to observe a stark contrast from southern locales to north territories - California has no water, Washington has an extreme abundance. So much in fact that there are ecologically classified rain forests on Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Though the Olympics are not intimidatingly large mountains, they are covered in terrifyingly dense forests - whose Sitka Spruce can grow upward of 300 feet. The beaches on the Olympic Peninsula will silence you. They are graveyards of driftwood, bearing members of spruce and hemlock so massive that you shrink in the magnitude of the coast. And it is a pioneer's coast - one that reaches far north without house or road or civilized scar for some time.
Buried deep in the dry basement of America, California is a unique and pristine oasis. It's southwestern Mexican flavor is choice for taste bud elation, while divers beaches extending far through exotic oceanic scenes conquer the heart of Californian activity. You'll find classic palm-tree bordered beaches in the deep south, while the wild northern coastlines emerge like geological beasts towering over the blue pacific waters. Though the true beauty of California rests in its easy living. The sunshine is truly beyond abundant, maddening almost. The lifestyle is generally healthy and in motion. I have barely scratched the surface of capturing photographic elements that define the vastness of California's unique style. So ever will I return. But mostly for the Mexican cuisine. Lay back and come see the land of sunshine.
Hours after I wound up in Wyoming for the first time I was cooking frog legs in a cave and battling a wildfire accelerated by fungal gall. And again in another year I returned while riding my bicycle and hammock-camping from northern Montana through the blissful oblivion of western Wyoming. Then Wyoming beckoned me again the succeeding summer, and my mother and I took an entirely radical tour of Yellowstone and the Tetons together. And she hammock-camped, too! That's why we go to Wyoming - because it makes you do amazing things - like my mother sleeping in a hammock. Wyoming is also marked by the most quintessential alpine environment you could possibly imagine - a land of fir, spruce, pine, bear, bison, elk, eagle, massive mountains, and deep waters. It is a mountain man's paradise.
I have vague memories of a Christmas Eve in the late 80s intensely staring out a window and searching the sky while my parents exclaimed that Santa's sleigh had just been spotted. The great room we were in carried the perfume of burnt wood, while the general air within and without the home was stained with pine and birch and all alpine scents refreshing. We spent that Christmas over the river and through the wood at my grandmother's home in New Hampshire. Since then, Cape Cod, the Adirondacks, the Maine coast, and sundry other New England destinations have become homes away from home for me - quaint havens to rediscover quiet times; wild & craggy lands boasting summit and challenge.
This is an entire collection of misfit pictures from New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and a few other places. While I love these images, I don't have enough from each location to designate an individual gallery. Being a Pennsylvanian has made me an oft visitor of New York and New Jersey, but not frequent enough since I have taken to photography. Pictures from other lesser-visited locations have been lucky acquisitions on the thoroughfare of adventure.
The land of the red rock is breathtaking and confounding. It is simply too much to attempt to understand - the terrain of Utah and the magnificent sculpting that has occurred there. I have again and again returned to Utah - largely to the southwest where the canyons run deepest and the natural reds and oranges of ailing sandstone meld with an azure sky in an intense clash of color. And there is history. Plentiful history. In the natives. In Mormon culture. Carved in stones. You can sense a special presence in the grand basin that is Utah. In addition to its geological characters, the most delicious burger I have ever eaten in my life is in Springdale, only miles from Zion National Park. It's the Murder Burger, spicy & true.
The Wild Things
I'll admit right away that I'm an animal lover. There's hardly a greater sense of wonder fulfilled than in the moment you consciously watch the unfolding of faunal nature. I have a long list of the animals that I MUST photograph before I die, but I'm so very thankful for the ones I've already had an opportunity to hunt and capture. The best part about hunting wildlife as a photographer is that when you're looking down the barrel of your lens and you engage your shutter's trigger there is no blood, there is no life loss - a captive gets taken yet walks away in the same moment. It's a living paradox, and it's one of the many joys of tracking down the wild things.
CATS & DOGS
Man's best friends and furry feline companions give our lives a sprinkling of love, joy, and inescapable frustration [frustration that is totally worth it]. One second our pets are the quintessence of cuteness, and the next they are vindictive little a-holes whose bodily functions become weapons of spite. Regardless, cats and dogs remain as trophy sidekicks and are worth every second of the relationship. Come and see adorable critters that might just remind you of your own.
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