My life has taken me to many part of the United States and to a fair number of other places, and for one reason or another, I’ve lived in eleven states, a Canadian Province and a US territory in the western Pacific. I’ve lived in more than half of those eleven states on more than one occasion and I’ve made many cross-country driving trips and probably an equal number of cross-country flights.
Unfortunately, I didn’t always have a camera available, and often failed to take the time to stop for pictures when I did have a camera. I’ve learned though, that memories are often closely tied to the photographs I’ve taken, and I’ve learned to take the time time to stop for pictures when I see something that interests me.
As a child, my parent’s moves in search of greener pastures took me from Florida to Southern California, western North Carolina and to the Ozarks of northern Arkansas. I owe much of my interest in geography and photography to my mother whose Kodak Twin Lens Reflex accompanied us on camping trips to Yosemite and Sequoia in the Sierra Nevada and to Fallsvale Campground in the San Bernardino Mountains. My first camera was a an old folding camera that my grandfather donated to me when I was twelve.
I joined the Navy right after graduating from high school in Yellville, Arkansas and soon bought a cheap, used 35 mm rangefinder which I found very dissapointing. That was followed by a series of Instamatics which I loaded with slide films because it was cheaper than print film when you included the processing and because I envisioned showing my pictures to small groups of family and friends.
The Navy took me back to California where I’d lived as a young child and again in my mid-teens, but to San Diego and San Francisco instead of the Los Angeles area where those earlier years were spent. The Navy also tooks me to Hawaii for 18 months, to the Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Bangkok, Guam, and off the coast of Vietnam on several occasions. The pictures I’ve posted from those places are part of a much larger collections of slides that were scanned many years later (except those from Guam which were acquired much more recently).
I bought my first “good” camera, an Asahi-Pentax SLR in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, I sold it to a buddy just before I completed my four-year enlistment because I thought I was going back to Japan on my last deployment on a ship out of Long Beach, California. Unfortunately, I only made it as far as Hawaii before I was abruptly given orders to return to San Francisco to be separated. My early Hawaii pictures were taken with that camera.
I started flying lessons while stationed in Hawaii and continued my training in California after being separated. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy another camera until about three years after my separation. During that time, I missed opportunities to document cross-country flights throughout Southern California, and a long cross-country flight from Van Nuys to Flippen, Arkansas and back. I also missed opportunies to take more pictures in Hawaii when I returned there eight months after my separation from the Navy, including during flights around Oahu and to Maui and back along with hiking trips in Oahu’s Koolau Range and drives around the island.
After returning to California to complete a Flight Instructor’s Certificate, I decided to enroll in a couple of courses at Los Angeles Pierce College in Woodland Hills, and over time, became interested in pursuing a degree in physical geography. It wasn’t until I’d been back in school for almost two years that I got around to investing in another used rangefinder camera. Although this one turned out to be a little better than my first rangefinder, I wasn’t very happy with it either. But, at least it didn’t have light leaks!
The need to buy a better camera was ameliorated when I me my first wife because she owned a SLR, a Pentax K1000. We were married after I’d started my Sophomore Year at California State University, Northridge. That camera was used to take pictures on numerous field trips with the Geography and Geology departments at CSUN, during a honeymoon trip to the Grand Canyon in a friend’s Cessna 150, a subsequent driving trip to North Carolina and Florida, during a three-day trip down the Colorado River through Marble Canyon and part of the Grand Canyon (part of a six-week summer field course), and while I was pursuing graduate degrees at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and the University of Iowa.
Shortly after transferring from Iowa to the University of Georgia in Athens, I decided to buy a Pentax ME, and that camera was used for more than 10 years before it’s meter quit working and I fell back to the K1000.
The ME followed me from completing my PhD at Georgia through a six-year teaching job at Radford University and a year or two beyond. The K1000 picked up the slack near the beginning of the following 13 years that I spent working as a Geographic Information System (GIS) Specialist for environmental and engineering consulting companies in Redding, California, Charlotte and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina and Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and I still have it even though it hasn’t seen any use since the Spring of 2005.
I purchased my first digital camera in 2002, a Kodak Easyshare point-and-shoot, but lost it to a thief in early 2004. By that time, I had recently met my current wife, who also had a digital camera. Both of those cameras were used to document a trip from Clarksville, Tennessee, where I moved that Fall to teach at Austin Peay State Univesity. This trip took us to Spokane, Washington and back and included visits to the Badlands and Black Hills of South Dakota, a drive across Wyoming’s Wind River Range, two visits to different parts of Yellowstone National Park, a stop in Jackson, Wyoming, a drive through the Uncompagre National Monument near Grand Junction, Colorado, and a drive to the top of Pike’s Peak.
Shortly after the 2005 trip, I bought a Kodak Z40 which was my near constant companion until it was lost in a move from the Navy Lodge at Jacksonville Naval Air Station to our current home in May, 2012. It has now been replaced by a Canon PowerShot SX40HS, which I’m just leaning to use.
Since 2004, my wife and I have taken Caribbean cruises with stops in Cozumel, Costa Maya and Playa del Carmen in Mexico, and to Grand Cayman. Another upcoming cruise will take us to the Bahamas, St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and Sint Maarten. My new camera will be getting a workout.
We moved to Jacksonville in February, 2012 after spending 16 months in Guam where I worked as a GIS Specialist at Andersen Air Force Base. I’m now working as a GIS Project Manager at NAS Jacksonville, and looking forward to retirement when I plan to revisit some of my favorite places with a travel trailer and my darling wife, and to visit, and photograph, some of the places we’ve not seen.
Since arriving in Jacksonville, we've been able to revisit the Okefenokee Swamp a couple of times, take a cruise to the eastern Caribbean, and take another cruise out of Seattle over the Inside Passage to Alaska (followed by a driving trip across central and southern Washington including stops at Mt. Rainier, Palouse Falls, Clarkston, the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Baker, and the Olympic Peninsula).