Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A Road Trip to Arkansas: Just What the Soul Required

It's easy to put off doing what you love, there is no necessity for the body or for your financial state. There is always time to do it tomorrow, always room to assume there will be a tomorrow. I have been talking about shooting the fall foliage in Arkansas for many years and have consistently missed it.

This year,  I lost my job, it seemed appropriate to go and finally shoot autumn in Arkansas. You either have money and no time or time and a lack of funds. There is also the doubt and apprehension that seems to follow you when you do what you want and not necessarily what convention says you should.

I described the ride as melancholy: so many ghosts on highway 30 going east. Several times I would have preferred turning around and coming home, feeling a bit isolated and lonely. I pressed on and what I experienced was that blissful moment of being out there. Freedom is never more evident than the feeling on the road and solitude welcomes great insight.

I've been intent on living on the continent and not necessarily in one state, that's my goal. The apprehension I felt making the break is the muscle that has atrophied with time. It's foreign for someone that has been responsible for a family, a single dad for the last 14 years, to be somewhat emancipated, even if for just a day or so.

I'm always looking for someone to say you're failing, not being responsible. I have an eighteen year old son that insists I get out there and supports me breaking away.  I'm not sure which of us is growing more at this point, all I know is it's a natural progression for both of us despite my feelings of discomfort.

I used to think I'd be a wildlife photographer and yet I didn't think I wanted to be alone for periods of time doing my job. Now everything is questionable- I am open to what ever destiny makes itself known. I am learning more about myself outside the constraints of fear and apprehension.

I realized yesterday, it was exactly what I needed. When we get off the treadmill, we realize the apparatus that surrounds us. The distance between places to go, people to meet, things to discover seems less. You realize the anesthetic we use to keep us feeling comfortable, at ease; waking from that anesthesia is a little unnerving.

With the feeling of being refreshed and renewed, ideas flood my mind, options and opportunities seem more available. Today I went and bought painting supplies, a new palette which will be a clean slate for the next series of paintings.

I feel open and available to create. When you are running in the static of daily life, sometimes the best you can do is jump off and realize adventure is just a drive away. Freedom is truly not only in our grasp but by choice.

Jump in, the water is fine!!!

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More posts and photos about the trip.





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Friday, November 11, 2016

Highway 30 East: A Traveler Haunted by Ghosts

Memory lane, A long poignant journey

It was a long ride to Lake Catherine in Northwest Arkansas. I was very melancholy most of the way. Having the hours of time to myself allowed me to remember several eras of my life that passed on the same highway.

When I first came to Texas, the only sunny day of three days driving from New Jersey was in Little Rock, Arkansas. I remember watching the highway pass by, the hawks on fences, the future unknown ahead of me and home too far behind.

There was an unfamiliarity about the highway that made it an adventure. I enjoyed the new landscape, the long open road and the fleeting freedom of having no responsibilities; I was only18.

Over the last few decades I’ve driven this way to Beavers’ Bend, a trip the whole family enjoyed. I was in my twenties, we would bring our huskies, go fishing, my stepfather was always so excited about getting away, it was a special place for all of us.

I remember hot chocolate and autumn weekends in a small cabin. My oldest was twelve, before all the adolescent drama and crisis, we had so much fun, made so many memories.

Another trip, my brother and his new wife joined us with their niece. We stayed in Hot Springs on the spur of the moment decision. It was a time when we did things, we went places, we were all together.

I drove by the Crater of Diamonds and I thought for a moment of stopping to visit. I couldn’t bare the idea of being there without my son. It was one of the most recent trips where we fished for trout and visited several caverns in the area; I felt his absence.

All those hours on this same highway: Interstate 30 heading east. All the conversations, the laughter and all the stupid arguments I can’t even recall now. There are so many ghosts on this highway and I am haunted.

Now I’m alone, everyone is involved in their own lives, my oldest is out of town, my youngest is working. I am lonely and yet I seek a moment, call it a time out. I feel like I am playing hooky from my life, I’m unemployed, even with the freelance work, I feel like should be out there looking but this time is necessary.

The next chapter of my life is waiting to be explored, maybe I just need to gather my thoughts, gather my treasures, it’s a melancholy feeling but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. For now, I just need to write it down…

Sunday, November 6, 2016

A New Journey: The Ups and Downs of Solitude

I'm literally starting a new chapter, as I'm beginning to write on a daily basis. I have talked about the in-betweens of life and yet I have never been so much at the end of one and start of another, than right this moment.

My son is 18, he is eager to walk the path alone, I will be there for every step but at the same time I must remain camouflaged in the background or risk his feeling of doubt. He is testing his wings and soon he'll learn the truth about flying-a future post.

I am in the process of finding myself in a bit of free fall myself. I started last year with a two and a half hour drive to Tyler and I felt pride that I could do it alone. Going alone is not completely comfortable to me but it's beginning to feel more normal.

After that minor trip, I have made a bunch of day trips including bluebonnets of Ennis, The Heard, Hagerman National Wildlife and just recently miles of open space in the middle of Colorado. It is getting to be more and more second nature but still it's easy to procrastinate.

I am about to do something I've been talking about for years, although it was always assumed a family trip, now it will be just me. I plan on getting up to Northwest Arkansas to capture the autumn foliage at its' peak.

I have been following the forecasts on a weekly  basis and it looks like it's getting to be the perfect time to go. I plan on shooting waterfalls, water and of course the interaction of fall foliage.

I am excited about the opportunity to tell more stories about living outside the box, finding my inner child and realizing that freedom is the open road. Once you know this reality, the fact that adventure waits only for your time and money to make it possible, it's hard not to go and find that new discovery.

I look forward to bringing more food, wine, landscapes, seascapes and people to this page. I also plan on getting out on the kayak again and perhaps exploring what solitude brings to the kayaker. I hope you'll join me on this journey.

Please get on my mailing list, I would love to share these stories to a larger audience and especially an audience I have begun to know personally, even if it is just comments back and forth. I look forward to more interaction and sharing in the future...Stay tuned and lets get out there.


I am planning on sending a free ebook for the first 1000 people. It's going to be full of pictures and stuff not on the site.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Forest, the hills, far away: The journey begins

I remember science kits in steel boxes, my first introduction to Geology, Chemistry and Biology. I would read library books about animals and places around the world.  I studied science made simple books that I would read through in a week with ravenous curiosity.

I can still remember the distinct smell of paper, something I think children today miss with sterile electronic devices replacing paper.  There is something beautiful about printed words, about a designed cover and the sound of turning pages.

One particular book I remember being excited about was the Naturalist Explorer. A friend of the family got it for my brother and I and I was hooked.

We used to go to Camp Coventry with a college science class and there we were immersed in nature. We would spend hours walking along the edge of small ponds looking for frogs and snakes that jumped into the water.

On one occasion we were fortunate enough to listen to Leonard Lee Rue, a naturalist hero of mine, he spoke of his travels around the world. We watched videos on a screen in the middle of the Kittatinny Mountains and later walked in the dark up to our campsites.

My love of nature has only grown. I still search intently for movement in shallow water.  The song of birds and the silence in a forest awakens my passion and relaxes me like nothing else can. I don’t believe there is a better sound on earth than the sound of rain as it hits the top of trees.

After years of photographing and writing on the side, I have finally begun the slow plunge into writing full time, a traveler, a lover of everything nature. I hope I can bring stories to people, places that inspire and restore the soul. I look forward to this journey and hope many of my subscribers will join my path….Into the Forest and over the hills, far away.

This collection of images is from my third visit to the Heard Museum in Mckinney. It was like walking through a hidden landscape. A hidden secret kingdom so close to home-did I mention there were dinosaurs. See previous link https://niume.com/pages/post/?postID=117999

To get on my growing mail list please check out http://artbygordon.com/?page_id=4
I'll add your email address to the list and planning on sending out a free ebook for the holidays.
I look forward to connecting with all my readers. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

In Between the Towering Giants

This morning I drove through the mountains, down steep inclines and around sharp curves, it was hard to watch the road with all of the spectacular views. Every turn was another rising peak and colorful changing foliage.

On the other side of the lush green mountains near Pagosa Springs the landscape becomes a flat open bowl of sand. After getting a bit turned around, missing 285 North, I ended up having to back track and was anxious to get back to the mountains. 

The cool blue peaks enticed me and I found myself not stopping to take many pictures until I came  across Russel Lakes State Wildlife area. What struck me was how desolate it was, the wind blew across the sand and there was nothing else, the only company was white butterflies that flocked along the roadside weeds.

I enjoyed the solitude and the drama of the huge landscape that surrounded me. There was a well surrounded by large willows that didn't seem to fit the landscape and the blue mountains in the distance, it was really a beautiful place, a foothill to the mountains ahead of me. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Road to Rocky Mountain National Park

After four days in Pagosa Springs, I was excited to get on the road, to explore the 5 plus hours of amazing scenery ahead of me. I left early to allow for time to spend in Rocky Mountain National Park but the 5 hours turned to 11 very quickly with the many stops along the way.

The light was just right in the morning as it painted the landscape with saturated colors. The further north I went the more the landscape changed, rich yellow aspens and golden mosses with few maples and oaks just starting to turn orange.

Near Wolf Creek Pass, I had to stop every few minutes because the light and colors had changed so noticeably. It was one of those moments where I was in perpetual awe. Any feeling of lack of sleep I had in waking up at 6:30 was gone, I was full of energy and eager to see the next turn.

The first place I stopped to hike was Treasure Falls. I didn't hike the whole trail, just enough to feel the cool breeze and smell the damp air. Water was rushing down from high mountain cliff. I definitely plan on painting the waterfalls and getting back to the original idea of painting water with all its delicate intricacies.

The trail was steep and I was uncomfortable hiking too deep into the trail, if I had an accident no one would know where I was. Instead I photographed the lower area of the falls and continued on the road to the National Park, it was going to be a very long day of driving.

The lighting kept improving as the sun burned off the clouds. I was seeing more yellows and reds as whole mountain sides were lit with yellow and orange maples and oaks. When I finally drove out of the green and heavily forested mountains I was driving between two ranges on a very flat expanse, I could not wait to get back to the mountains but the whole character changed from lots of trees to more rocks and sand.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A solo trip to Colorado

I've always loved Colorado, I've driven through it on the way to California and have enjoyed skiing several of its peaks and yet I've never truly experienced the state.

Last week I flew into Denver, tried desperately to avoid toll road E470, navigated the dark roads at night trying to find the Holiday Inn Express only to find the one I wanted was in Golden Colorado 36 minutes away. I learned about excessive baggage fees and reserving a hotel room while not directly speaking to the hotel, big travel lessons.

That first night, I was exhausted, I don't get to fly much, it's something you need to get used to. The car to the airport, the shuttle to the gate, security check, barefoot and awkward, flight to a strange airport, train to the rental car, shuttle to the rental car offsite and finally driving at night.

The next day I must say I was a bit overwhelmed but ready to get out of Denver. It's a gritty city, lots of interesting people walking, riding bikes, skateboards-but I was eager to get to the mountains. You could see them all around and I was excited about getting lost in them.

My initial plan was to visit the zoo, the aquarium and the cave of the winds but you need to be flexible. I planned on seeing them on the way back but Rocky Mountain National Park got the best of me, no complaints.

My first stop was Castle Rock, I was able to take a short hike up a mountain under the view of a large square structure of stone. I intended on getting as far as I could without committing to a full hike. I had no water, still feeling a bit of the altitude and just curious more than driven to see the peak. Instead I walked along two of the trails and just enjoyed being alone on a hiking trail.

Back on the road, my next stop was Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods. I've been through the area when I drove to California when I was eighteen but what I missed than I more than made up for this time. Huge sandstone Figures dwarf the groups of people walking along the roads that weave between the Sandstone Gods.

The blue sky vibrates against the rich orange sandstone and the yellow wildflowers surround the landscape. It was a bit warmer than I was comfortable with, I'm in Colorado, what happened to the cool mountain air? I would soon find my autumn oasis-I would eventually need a hoody to get through the rest of my trip. For now enjoy the Garden of the Gods and Castle Rock-more of the trip to come. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 17, 2016


I was desperate for that feeling of solitude, an intense need for being completely surrounded by nature. I went to Colorado to visit a friend in Pagosa Springs. I got what I needed.

There are stages of solitude and I experienced each one on this trip. First there is an ache for silence, the need to be separated from everyone, everything, to think and imagine without interruption.

When you finally achieve what you sought for so long, there’s a feeling like hitting a brick wall. The abrupt silence is unnerving. You feel yourself awake, aware and yet it’s a bit detached and awkward.

I drove through the gritty streets of Denver, feeling a bit lost. Honestly, I was lost.
You are overwhelming to yourself, there’s just you and miles of empty road. You watch the world like an outsider, everyone is involved, together, connected and you are detached.
After that initial awkwardness and separation, there is this feeling of amazing freedom. My senses aware of all my surroundings, my excitement of the summit of Pikes Peak looming in the distance, a realization, I am alone and am in love being alone.

Music sounds better, memories seem clearer, you start to realize this beautiful life you have left and it feels as much melancholy as liberation and freedom. The silence brings out ideas, disrupts words caught in the stream of day to day.

Colors and images seem brighter, things make sense, after hours of reveling in the excitement of just being,  you realize the people you miss. A change takes place, you start noticing people together, couples, families and you feel a bit absent, no one to share ideas with.

There’s a lack of voices, of ears to hear your thoughts, of eyes to capture inflection and suddenly you long for interaction. After hours of driving, enjoying the amazing country and the hum of the highway, I arrived at my friends house-immersed in the sounds of family, of kids playing, of what’s for dinner and where are we going, I got exactly what I needed.
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