Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ant Basin, Idaho

The Bear Lake Valley is bordered by National Forests on two sides.  Recently my friend, Jim Parker showed me some high country on the west side of the valley that was new to me.  Since then, I drove back to the same area with my wife, Linda, and again with another friend, Bruce Grayum.

My favorite location on this drive is a ridge in the Ant Basin area (Caribou County).  It is an open T shaped rocky knob with an amazing view toward the next valley to the west.  There were thousands of Indian paintbrush in bloom; hundreds of times more than I have seen anywhere else.  I believe that the eroding rock of the mountaintop created soil that must be ideal for paintbrush.

There were plenty of other wildflowers too, like this lupine.  All of these photos were taken in a small area at the top of the T.  On the third visit I intended to shoot more on a flower covered hillside at one end of the T, but the paintbrush were fading and a thunderstorm chased us away.

Most of the paintbrush were orange or red, but I did find one sulphur paintbrush.

This shows how the flowers were growing in pockets of soil between the rocks.

The roads to Ant Basin are dirt and rock, with some mud after rainstorms.  They are narrow and steep in places, and the climb is about 2300 feet above the Bear Lake Valley.  The rocky knob is not a good place to be in a thunderstorm.

The Indian paintbrush were a wonderful backdrop for other flowers like these lupine.

We saw a variety of wildflowers along the roads as well, and they changed with the elevation.  There was also wildlife including deer, hawks, and one uncooperative weasel.

I haven’t explored anywhere near all the roads in our nearby National Forests.  I need to get out more.

Please note that my photos are copyrighted and should not be used without permission.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Steptoe Butte Revisited

I visited Steptoe Butte in 2013 on my annual camping trip with Bruce Gregory and Steve Johnson, and liked it enough to revisit with my wife, Linda, this May.  This post is about 6 weeks late because I’ve been on another annual camping trip.  Having fun gets in the way of timely posts.

The view from Steptoe Butte varies from month to month as new crops are planted and others are harvested.  On this visit, we saw patterns created by combinations of bare ground and growing crops.  The air was quite hazy, so these photos have been processed to increase clarity and contrast.

We stayed fairly late, so we were treated to some great sidelight touching beautiful farms nestled in green valleys.

The Palouse region of Washington is a remarkable area of gently rolling farmland.  We enjoyed photographing it from below (see previous posts) and Steptoe Butte gave us an entirely different view from above.  Large curvy fields became wonderful abstracts when viewed from here.

Since we were shooting across the tops of the fields, the best abstracts were usually fairly narrow, so I have cropped them.  But this image had two complementary abstracts that I think look pretty good together.

Sometimes I wonder if the farmers arrange their fields just for the benefit of photographers.  The view of these curvy fields from Steptoe Butte is just phenomenal, and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Palouse.

However, I did have one complaint.  Steptoe Butte is a state park, and whoever is in charge of this place should be ashamed of the poor condition of the park.  We were there on the Memorial Day weekend, so it was crowded, and the garbage cans were overflowing and the restrooms unusable.  There are potholes big enough to swallow a Toyota.  Come on, Washington, you can do better than that.

Please note that my photos are copyrighted and must not be used without my permission.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Minidoka Pilgrimage

I’m on my 45th camping trip, in our 35th year with Bruce Gregory and Stephen Johnson, and we traveled to the Minidoka Japanese internment camp in Idaho, also called Camp Hunt.  We are all interested in western history, and since I had been there a few years ago I knew they would enjoy it.  It turned out to be an amazing experience.

When we arrived we found out that there were two special events in progress.  Former internees and their descendants were there by the busloads for an annual pilgrimage, and a new baseball field was being dedicated.  There were about 250 people present to remember the past, discuss the possibilities of this injustice happening again to other ethnic groups, and to look to the future of the camp.  Many came from the Seattle area, where a large number of internees originated in World War II.

Baseball was important to many of the 9000 people who were forced to live there, and the restoration of one of the fourteen ball fields was completed as a field-in-a-day project on May 28th and dedicated during our visit on June 26th.

 Several people there wore Camp Hunt baseball shirts.

Minidoka is run by the National Park Service, and at one time there was very little left of the site, but now parts of it are being restored.  There are still a few concrete slabs from original structures, and now buildings that were removed from the camp when it was closed are being located and moved back.  A guard tower replica has been constructed and interpretive signs have been put in place.  So, the National Park Service and Friends of Minidoka are working together to build a site that will help people understand the injustice that occurred here.

For now, artifacts from Minidoka are on display at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument visitor’s center, which is 38 miles away.  I hope that someday soon an on-site visitor’s center will be completed.

A highlight of the visit for me was the placing of origami peace cranes on a barbed wire rack.  People wrote their thoughts and dedications on the cranes before tying them to the rack.

The day was a moving experience for everyone there, and I feel that we stumbled on an important piece of Idaho history.

See my blog post about Topaz for a brief explanation of internment camps.

Remember to ask permission before using my copyrighted photos for any purpose.