Top ten lists–I thought I’d do one–My Top Ten Favorite Photos from 2018.
In 2018 I’ve been to Mexico, twice, France, Italy, Malta, Ghana, Indonesia, and several cities in the United States. I’ve shot hours of footage and taken thousands of photos.
So, when I decided to post my top ten favorite photos from 2018, it sounded like a good idea. However, when I started to review the photos, not so much. There were more than ten good ones. I spent a few hours just reviewing them. How would I choose. How could I choose.
It took way too long. And, I’m sure that I left some of the best ones on the table. I’m also sure that there were some photographs that were better, for whatever reason, than the ten I selected. However, I’m emotionally connected, in one way or another, to these ten.
So, here they are–my ten favorite photos from 2018. They may or may not be my be my best. I could have posted more–probably should have posted more. But, you don’t have that much time.
I hope you enjoy these ten, and, please, have a prosperous and
Happy New Year.
Women work the rice paddies of Bali, Indonesia.
A young girl rests during nap time at the Comfort School of Kpetoe, Ghana.
A nun kneels in prayer during mass in Ho, Ghana.
A young boy does his number drills at the Comfort School in Kpetoe, Ghana.
Mother and son, Shelly and Rylan share a moment together.
Ryan and Meggan check social media on a bench in Malta.
Father and daughter, Jimmy and Z.
A young girl celebrates dia de los muertos with painted face and costume in Mexico City.
A woman banana vendor prepares her bananas for sale at the local market in Bali, Indonesia.
A shopkeeper in Bali, Indonesia pauses for a moment’s rest in Bali, Indonesia.
A group of ex-pats, on assignment in Paris, we met each day at a sidewalk cafe near Montmartre to commiserate, and she came among us.
At first, we didn’t notice.
“I’ll have the foie gras,” my friend said. “I’ll have the croque-monsieur,” my other friend said.
“I’ll have the jambon-beurre,” I said. “I don’t have much time, today,” I said.
“Come on,” they said. “A French meal is a cultural experience.”.
We laughed. They said this every day. Three-hour lunches were not uncommon. I would often sit and watch the afternoon light soften into postcard Paris evenings.
“Alms,” she said, her voice soft, barely audible above the noise of traffic and street musicians.
My friends did not hear, or pretended not to hear. They continued their tales of exploits and conquests, stories not yet written, not yet published.
“Alms, she said again, closer.
I lost the train of conversation as I watched her slowly shuffle over the cobblestone, her cup held out, rattling the few coins she had collected, her cane tapping out of rhythm.
“Votre nourriture, les messieurs.” A waiter placed our food on the table and hurried away.
“Allez-vous en,” my friend said, “Go away.”
“Je ne parle pas français,” my other friend said, as if not speaking french would relieve us of guilt.
The woman looked up. She looked at me. She was old and bent, crippled, and dirty.
“Homeless,” my friend said.
“Smelly,” my other friend said.
Our eyes met. Suddenly, I could not tell how old she was.
“What is your name?” I asked, not sure why.
“Angelique,” she said. Her eyes sparkled. “It means…God’s messenger.” Her voice was light, airy, tinged with a french accent, but with no hint of age.
“Do you have a message for me?”
“Oui,” she said.
“What is it?” I asked, feeling this moment held deep meaning.
She kept my gaze, then her eyes traveled down over my Columbia shirt and pants and she looked at the cobblestones. It was as if the full moon had set. I could no longer see her eyes.
“Alms,” she said softly. “L’aumône pour les pauvres.”
The moment was gone.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, maybe some great insight from deity, delivered through Angelique, God’s messenger. Perhaps an answer to the perplexing question of what I should really do with my life. I don’t know. I did not receive the grand message I was hoping for.
The old woman held out her cup, expectantly.
I took a coin from my pocket and dropped it in. It clinked against the other coins. She looked up again.
“Merci beaucoup,” she said. “Dieu vous protège.” Once again, her eyes were bright, blue. I nodded and she ambled away, clinking and tapping.
“I think Paris should do a better job with the homeless population,” my friend said.
“I agree,” my other friend said.
“Alms,” I heard her softly say. “L’aumône pour les pauvres.”
Addae opened his eyes. Dim light was filtering through shutters but the sun was not yet up. His little sister, Echo, was sleeping quietly on a mat beside him. He could hear noise outside. Momma and Lale, Addae’s older sister, were preparing the morning meal. Poppa would already be out gleaning grain in the fields, but would return in time to eat before catching a tro tro into the city for work.
Addea jumped up and ran from the hut. He loved to run. He would run everywhere. This morning was no exception. He looked at the sky. It was pink.
He ran faster.
He would wash himself at the village well and race back before the sun touched his hut. Addae’s name meant Morning Sun. Momma said he earned that name by making her wait all night for delivery.
Addae arrived at the well only to find that Raziya and her mother were already there. Raziyah was two months older than Addae. She was fast, for a girl, but Addae would never concede that she could out run him. He must have slept too long.
“Greetings, Addae.” Raziya’s mother smiled at him.
Addae bowed his head. “Good morning, Auntie. Hope you slept well.” Addae was still breathing hard, making it difficult to speak the greeting. Raziya smiled. Addae frowned.
Raziya’s mother drew a pitcher of water from the well and poured it in a bucket. “Does the morning sun withhold its smile from our humble village?” Raziya held the bucket for her mother.
“No, Auntie.” Addae grimaced.
“That is not much better. Come closer, Addae.”
Addae approached Raziya’s mother. Raziya scowled.
“Today is an important day. You must look your best.”
“Bow your head.”
Raziya’s mother poured cool water over Addae’s head and torso. He sputtered, scrubbing his head, then his chest with his hands. He wiped the water and sleep from his eyes and smiled for the first time. Raziya and her mother smiled back.
“I thank you for your kindness.”
Raziya watched Addae as her mother once again dipped the pitcher in the well. Addae looked up as morning rays touched tree tops.” He must hurry, he thought. “God’s blessings, Auntie.”
“God’s blessings, Addae.”
Addae sprinted from the well, down a dusty path. He wove between huts with great speed. When he rounded a corner and came upon his own hut, he stopped, abruptly. Something was different.
He looked to the sky. In spite of not being first to the well he had raced the sun and had won. Morning rays had not yet touched his hut.
“Momma? Poppa?” he called.
No one answered.
The charcoal fire was burning, serpentine smoke snaking in the gentle morning breeze, and there were cakes on the fire. The clay oven was lit and bread was baking, but neither Momma, Lale or Echo were close by.
Addae entered the hut.
Momma? Lale? Echo?
He heard something outside and ran out of the hut.
Addae jumped. Momma, Poppa, Lale and Echo were all there smiling and laughing as the morning sun washed over them. Addae laughed too.
“Greetings, my son, and birthday wishes,” Poppa said.
“Greetings, Poppa, and thank you,” Addae replied.
“We have a gift for you.”
“A gift?” He could see no gift.
“For your birthday,” Echo said, as Poppa drew a bundle wrapped in brown paper from behind his back. Addae’s eyes grew big and Poppa laughed. The paper crinkled as Addae took the package from Poppa.
Addae beamed then tore into the package. When the paper fell away, he held up a brilliant blue, long sleeved polo shirt with three stripes on it and the word, Adidas.
“Put it on,” Momma said.
“It is Adidas,” Poppa said. “It will make you fast.”
“Addaedas,” Echo said. “like you.”
Addae put the shirt on over his naked chest and they all laughed. It was much too big.
“He will grow into it,” Lale said.
“He will grow out of it,” Momma said.
Poppa smiled. “Run, Addae. Run, before the morning sun climbs too high.”
Behind the scenes
The boy in the photograph was very proud of his Adidas shirt. He told us it made him fast. He received it for his birthday. His parents bought it at a store in Accra which sold used clothing donated from the United States. In Lubumbashi, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I saw one child with a Los Angeles Lakers jersey . I live near Lone Peak High School in Cedar Hills, Utah and was surprised to see a boy in Sierra Leone wearing a Lone Peak High School jersey.
I have been to Africa many times. It is a continent of contrasts not free from turmoil or strife. Yet, in my travels throughout the continent, I have been blessed by many people of kindness, faith and love. The story above is based on a visit to the village of Yamoransah, Ghana. There I met a family I grew to admire in a very short period of time. Their lives are much different from my own. Yet, we share a common desire, to see our children grow up in the light of the morning sun.
It seemed like I’d been walking for hours. I couldn’t tell. I lost track of time, long ago. There were signs that others had been here before me, tracks in the salt, but I was alone.
I thought I heard something and stopped to listen. Were my ears playing tricks on me, inventing sounds in the stillness that weren’t there? I couldn’t tell.
My pounding heart was the only sound. All else was stillness. Oppressive, silence.
I was alone.
I began again, and the muffled shuffle of my shoes in the salt beat eighth notes to the sixteenth notes of my heart.
I was thirsty. I needed water.
I had run out . Yet, I could see it on the surface of the salt, shimmering, teasing, taunting. The closer I got the farther it seemed to be.
If I could just make it to the mountains.
Splashes, suddenly. The sound was refreshing. My steps disturbed a sea of glass. The mirage had not retreated. It was real. The surface stretched for miles. My footsteps sent expanding ripples across the glassy mirror, distorting the sky below me.
I took two more steps and stumbled. The salt gave way to mud beneath it and my shoes remained behind. I fell to my knees and my pants sucked up water, wet coolness, rising slowly up my thighs. I watched the khaki darken with curiosity, as if my clothes were trying to suck waning life back into my body.
Somewhere inside my head I sensed, maybe even knew, I should not drink this water. It renewed these salt plains. But it was so blue, so clear, and the need was so great. My lips were cracked and my tongue was dry.
I could not resist.
I cupped my hands and scooped up the water. It felt cool on my skin, wet. I opened my mouth and slurped it in. Again, in my head, I knew. I should not have done this.
I was consumed by greed and the reaction was violent. I sputtered and spit. My throat burned. When the brine reached my stomach I retched.
Falling forward, my body pushed a large wave across the glass and I broke the surface. The water was not deep. Just enough to cover my face. Salt surrounded me and I looked upon my body, reflecting through the glassy side of a mirror.
When these waters withdraw, others will find evidence that I have been, preserved by salt.
The Bonneville Salt Flats near the Bonneville Speedway as seen from the air.
Wind blown lifeless vegetation hints at soil beneath the Bonneville Salt Flats.
A thin sheet of glass like water mirrors the surrounding mountains of the Bonneville Salt Flats.
The setting sun turns the white salt golden on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Tire tracks mar the salt near the Bonneville Speedway. Drive at your own risk.
In many areas of the Bonneville Salt Flats, the layer of salt covering the earth is very thin and in need of replenishing.
A thin sheet of water covers the Bonneville Salt Flats, replenishing the layer or salt for which the speedway is famous.
In spite of harsh conditions, life will not be denied to the salty plants of the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Turning donuts in the salt is the perfect circular activity on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Seasonal water covers the Bonneville Salt Flats replenishing the salty surface.
The setting sun glistens on the water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats forms a near perfect mirror for the surrounding mountains.
A distant rocky mountain reflects on water covering the Bonneville Salt Flats.
It can be difficult to determine where the earth ends and the sky begins in the perfect reflections of the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Water covering miles and miles of the Bonneville Salt Flats is only a few inches deep.
Baked by sun and blasted salt, the road surface leading to Bonneville Speedway is in constant need of repair.
Mountains rise out of the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Windstorms, dust storms, sand storms and salt storms can be common occurrences in Western Utah hear the Bonneville Salt Flats.
A lonely road leading to the Bonneville Speedway crosses the submerged salt flats.
The setting sun turns the white salt golden on the Bonneville Salt Flats, as seen from above.
The Bonneville Speedway on the Bonneville Salt Flats used to be thirteen miles long. Now it is only seven. It is not known if the cause of the shrinking salt is due to the depletion of the aquifer as a result of nearby mining, or, from seasonal heavy rains. Nevertheless, the land speed records which have been set in years past must now be accomplished in shorter distances, as time may be running out on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
I enjoy watching the Olympics. I’m especially pleased to see the Olympics in Brazil. I was able to visit Brazil just prior to World Cup. It was a crazy, cultural and colorful experience. I witnessed strikes, mobs, gunfire and incredibly beautiful and colorful scenery. The food was amazing. I ate things I had never heard of. I met friendly people and heard styles of music that were filled with life and celebration. My experience in Brazil was amazing.
My friends in Brazil would not take me to the Favelas. They said it was too dangerous. They didn’t want me to get hurt, or robbed. They didn’t want me to see the poverty, overcrowding, pollution and social problems associated with the Favelas.
Nevertheless, the problems were there. I could feel it in the city. I could feel it in the tension among people. It was present in the bus strikes, the police strikes, the metro strikes. It was seeping out of the Favelas.
We were eating lunch at a restaurant near the harbor. Suddenly the lights in the restaurant went out. The restaurant owner told us we had to leave. They were closing. The mobs were coming. The police were on strike and the mobs were looting and robbing.
We had to go.
Now, the Olympics are in Rio and the world celebrates the games. However, many Brazilians, proud of their country and culture, are excluded from the celebration. They can’t afford it.
Hopefully, these games will be a celebration of the the Olympic spirit which inspires all of us, regardless of country and culture. And, hopefully, that same spirit will help to elevate the quality of life in Brazil and shed light on problems which afflict us all, not just those in Brazil. Perhaps these games will move an immensely complicated people to search for answers to the growing social ills that color the lives of a very colorful country.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Recife, Brazil Temple
The sun sets on a broadcast radio tower in Recife, Brazil.
A bright red leaf in Recife, Brazil.
Bright colors are a part of the Brazilian landscape, ever for graffiti taggers.
A Brazilian Voegol Airlines 737 sits in the rain while we wait for the storm to clear.
At 35,000 feet, the rising sun strikes our aircraft wing before lighting the Amazon rainforest.
Don’t miss seeing the beautiful gardens and arboretum in Curitiba, Brazil.
Even bus stops offer a bit of high-tech refuge from the elements in Curitiba, Brazil.
In downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, classic architecture mixes with modern contemporary, even with streetlights.
Is it a warning or a reminder?
Sao Paulo high rises illustrate the modernity of contemporary Brazil.
The the phone booths in Brazil are colorful.
Surrounded by the wealth and design of Sao Paulo, Favelas represent the contrast of incredible poverty in the modern world.
Over crowded and polluted, this Sao Paulo Favela is one of the most dangerous places in Brazil.
This 19th century light house welcomes sailors to the Recife, Brazil harbor.
While beautiful, and colorful, Brazilian bays, beaches and rivers are dangerously polluted.
The setting Brazilian sun glistens on the waters of recife, harbor.
A father and son fish the waters of Recife, Brazil.
The setting sun illuminates the clouds over Atlantic Ocean near Recife, Brazil.
Colorful riverfront shops and apartments grace the shores of Recife, Brazil.
Net fisherman ply their trade in the bay of Recife, Brazil.
Recife, Brazil sunset.
Recife, Brazil sunset.
Recife, Brazil sunset.
Sao Paulo Brazil has a colorful mix of ethnicities.
This indigenous street vendor is happy to make a sale in Olinda, Brazil.
Product placement? Or just an ad for Adidas?
Brazilian boys wait for the right moment to jump in to the Beberibe River, in Recife, Brazil.
Watch out for sharks and don’t go in the water in Brazil.
Even though the beaches in Brazil are beautiful, they are extremely dangerous.
The quaint and colorful main street of Olinda, Brazil.
The marketplace of Olinda, Brazil is a quaint and colorful experience.
Fatima scowled as she handed a steaming cup of mint tea to her sister. Jamila accepted the tea as Fatima settled her bones on the river bulkhead.
“I am not so old as you, sister,” Jamila said, sipping her tea. The tea fragrance carried them back to fall harvest in their mountain village. As young girls, Fatima and Jamila had worked long hours in their father’s fields.
Now, fall was gone and the damp winters of Rabat pained Fatima’s arthritis. They sat in silence, sipping their tea as the green black waters of Bou Regreg sludged past.
“I do not know why we still come here,” Jamila said.
“Because our husbands do not like it,” Fatima replied and they laughed. There are few satisfying rebellions for a Muslim woman and Fatima and Jamila practiced them often.
“What did the doctor say?” Jamila ventured.
“Youssef is too stubborn to tell me,” Fatima said. She savored a sip of tea. “But I know.”
“How do you know this?” Jamila realized when she asked the question that she shouldn’t have asked the question. Her cheeks colored and Fatima laughed.
“You are too modest, little sister.”
A gusty breeze fluttered the silks of Jamila’s hijab and she drew the scarf tight under her chin. “Mamma had a remedy for such things,” Jamila said, not looking at her sister.
“I know,” Fatima said. “I have been mixing the herbs with his breakfast meal for weeks.
“You have?” Jamila looked up at her sister, eyes wide.
“What our men don’t know…,” and the sisters giggled as girls.
“Has it helped?” Jamila asked and the women laughed again.
“Shush,” Fatima said. “The Imam will see us laughing.”
“As will the All-Seeing-Eye.”
Fatima shivered in the moist river air as the culture of silence settled on the women. She sipped her tea as a lone seagull squawked above.
“How does Saïd at University?”
“Good. Good. He’ll be home in another month.” Jamila watched a fisherman rowing a worn wooden boat against the current. “And how is Asmae and the babies?”
“The babies are noisy, and hungry,” Fatima smiled. “I love having them here. Asmae says that Hakim wants her to come home.”
“It is too soon.”
“That is what I tell her.”
“She must rest, and feed her little ones.”
“So says the Prophet.”
Jamila took a sip of her mint tea and frowned. “My tea grows cold.”
“As do my old bones.”
Fatima and Jamila both twisted their bodies and stood up as old women. When the Adhan call to prayer echoed across the river they looked up to the minaret.
“The Muezzin is in good voice today.”
“He always sounds good on those days when we aren’t required to be there.” The sisters exchanged guilty smirks.
“You bring the tea.”
They smiled and embraced.
The mournful Muezzin’s call echoed across the cobblestones as the sisters plodded toward home.
On assignment, I flew in to Rabat, Morocco, on a private jet. As our team proceeded through customs, the agents held us up.
What were we planning to do?
What were we planning to film?
Where would we be going?
Moroccan media is tightly controlled and monitored by the Government. King Mohammed VI takes a personal interest in the message of his country. Foreigners can’t be trusted to portray an accurate or truthful picture of life in Morocco.
Rabat is the capitol city of The Kingdom of Morocco. Casablanca, made famous by the movie, is the country’s largest city. For more than a thousand years, the Western Kingdom of Morocco, or Marrakesh, was a powerful African dynasty.
Morocco is one of only three countries which have both a Mediterranean and Atlantic coast. From the 16th through 19th centuries, Barbary Pirates attacked ships and traded slaves along the Berber Coasts of Morocco, Algiers, Tunisia and Libya. In 1805, the United States executed a marginally successful military action against members of the Ottoman Empire in an effort to destroy the pirates and free American slaves. With European colonialism seeking to dominate much of Africa, political and economic tensions grew during the latter part of the 19th century. Moroccan independence essentially ended when France signed a treaty designating Morocco as a French protectorate in 1912. The French governed Morocco until 1956 when Sultan Mohammed V successfully negotiated Moroccan independence.
With Mohammed V’s succession to the throne, the spirit of independence and the power of the Monarchy re-emerged in Morocco. Mohammed V ruled for just 5 years. His son, Hassan II, became king upon his father’s death. Hassan II died in 1999 and his son, Mohammed VI, ascended to the throne.
As King, Mohammed VI has implemented progressive changes in Morocco, adopting a new constitution reducing the overall powers of the Monarchy while implementing a Parliamentary government with an appointed Prime Minister. Yet, Mohammed VI still wields tremendous power and controls much of the country’s resources. He personally owns the country’s phosphate mines, which account for 75% of the world’s reserves and he has a net worth greater than the Queen of England.
According to the World Health Organization, poverty remains high in Morocco. While Mohammed VI has placed modest emphasis on reducing the widening gap between rich and poor, civil rights abuses, government corruption and economic distress account for an increasingly disaffected populous. On the world stage, The United Nations has criticized Morocco for military action and occupation of a Western Saharan region populated by the indigenous Sahwari people who claim Western Sahara belongs to them.
As we stood in the customs office, the agents explained that we could not bring our equipment into their country. We must return our equipment to the airplane or we would not be allowed to enter. So, we shlepped our heavy black pelican cases back out on to the tarmac and stowed them on the plane.
I keep a camera in my backpack.
Politics and customs agents aside, a highlight of my visit to Morocco was eating lunch at a traditional restaurant which required ritual hand washing before eating. I held my hands over a beautiful ceramic basin as the Maitre d’ poured warm water from a hand painted glazed pitcher. Another waiter provided a warm towel to dry with. I don’t remember much about the food, but, as we were leaving the restaurant, the Maitre d’ repeated the washing experience by pouring warm rose water over our hands. The scent was strong and pleasing and stayed with me throughout the day.
Now, when I catch the scent of roses, I am transported back to that tiny restaurant in Rabat. I hear the call to prayer echoing across the ancient city and I want to reach in my backpack and check to see if my camera is still there.
Two women pause for a moment of reflection on the banks of the Bou Regreg River in Rabat, Morocco.
In the 10th century, guards of the Almohads could look out over the mouth of the River Bou Regreg from the parapets of the Kasbah of the Udayas and watch for invading armies.
In Rabat, Morocco, beautiful gardens have been restored to their former ancient beauty inside the Kasbah of the Udayas.
There are several ways out of the Kasbah of the Udayas in Rabat, Morocco.
The Moroccan flag flies over the palace grounds of Mohammed VI, King of Morocco.
Back alley shops are common in Rabat, Morocco, where Mom and Pop wait for customers.
Built in the 10th Century A.D.,cannons of the Kasbah of the Udayas in Rabat, Morocco would fire on Barbary pirates as they sailed up the Bou Regreg River.
An alley market in Rabat, Morocco boasts a wide variety of merchandise.
A lone man watches the waters of Bou Regreg river for signs of fish, while empty boats rest on the opposite shore.
The town of Salé rises across the river Bou Regreg from the capitol of Rabat, Morocco.
Military police guard the palace of King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
Birds carve out ideal homes in the ancient Hassan Tower of Rabat, Morocco.
Imperial symbols adorn the marble floors of the Mausoleum of Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco.
Friends? Brothers? Men of Morocco.
Moslem women rest on stone benches outside the Palace of Mohammed VI in Rabat, Morocco.
A Moroccan woman rests on the painted iron grate overlooking the tower of Hassan in Rabat, Morocco.
Two Moroccan men discuss the matters of state, outside the palace of Mohammed VI in Rabat, Morocco.
10th century Moslem influences inform the architecture and staff of the Mausoleum of Mohammed V and the Palace of Mohammed VI.
The official flag of the Kingdom of Morocco.
Built of red sandstone in the 10th century, Hassan Tower in Rabat, Morocco, was intended to be the tallest minaret in the world.
Signs and flags everywhere indicate that the official name of the country is The Kingdom of Morocco.
The official flag of Morocco flies over stone pillars, remnants of the walls of Hassan Tower, in the palace court of Mohammed VI, King of Morocco.
The 10th century minaret of Hassan Tower rises above stone pillar remnants in Rabat, Morocco.
The Mausoleum of Mohammed V is the resting place of the late King of Morocco, along with his two sons, King Hassan II and Prince Abdallah.
An official Palace Guard on horseback in traditional costume guards the official residence of King Mohammed VI.
An aged Moroccan woman conducts business by cell phone in Rabat, Morocco.
Ceremonial Palace Guards in traditional costume, stand watch on horseback over the official residence of King Mohammed VI.
I enjoy the four seasons, I really do, especially Vivaldi’s. When it comes to the weather, I like it warm. Hot. Rarely is it ever too hot. I live in Utah. This week, Thanksgiving week, it is supposed to snow. Don’t get me wrong, I like snow. I even like to shovel snow. I just don’t like the cold that comes with the snow. I would enjoy the four seasons more in Aruba, where the average high temperature in November is 86ºƒ and the low temperature is 71ºƒ. Gentle breezes blow all year round and the temperature never varies by more than a few degrees.
I’ve been to Aruba.
I want to go back.
As our family gathers for the holidays, I give thanks for the warmth of home, family, food and abundant blessings. However, as the snow begins to fly, I will turn my electric blanket up and dream of warm Caribbean waters, tropical breezes and the white sands of Aruba. And, I will return, at least in my blog.
Pleasant shade trees abound on Rodgers Beach, Aruba.
The cool sand feels great at sunset in Aruba.
A couple watch the sunset at Palm Beach, Aruba.
A couple stroll along the beach in Aruba.
Anne sitting in a beach chair at Palm Beach, Aruba.
Consistent winds bend Arubian palms trees all year round.
At the southern tip of the island, Baby Beach has a number of pleasant palapas for shade.
Sunset at Palm Beach, Aruba.
The souther tip of Aruba features some deserted but rugged beaches.
A cool drink in the hot sun is never too far away in Aruba.
The sands of time seem to stop while relaxing in Aruba.
Fresh water showers have surfboard style in Aruba.
Come sail away…
Strong surf carves numerous rock bridges on the south shore of Aruba.
A secluded cove makes for a nice place to relax on the south side of the island.
There are moments in life which transcend expectation, which transcend time. And there are places in life which transcend those moments. Transcendent experience is something to hope for, even, to seek after. Yet, the fleeting nature of transcendence reveals an existential quality of mortality.
Transcendence can not be achieved, it can only be experienced. And, the experience of transcendence comes when least expected.
It may be that transcendence is only possible when the imposition of expectation has been removed. Perhaps, in those moments, there is a void which only grace can fill. As grace reveals divinity, divinity reveals truth. Truth transcends the moment and our understanding of existence, who we are, where we come from, what our purpose is, becomes clear, or, if not clear, at least implied. In transcendent moments, inspired questions transform the heart. The sacred nature of transcendent transformation ennobles the soul.
Capitol Reef is such a place–a place of transcendent transformation; transcendent because it exceeds expectation; transformative because it is slowly, yet contagiously transforming.
I have , purposely, waxed philosophic. Indeed, the loftiness of the ideas expressed can not compare to the actual grandeur of visiting Capitol Reef, however briefly I was there. In geologic terms, any time that I could spend there, however long that might be, would be brief. Nevertheless,the time I spent in the park was transcendent.
It is impossible to capture the essence of the place, nevertheless, the majesty of the rocks cried out for something beyond the ordinary. So, forgive, if you will, my HDR sensibilities. While the images presented may lean toward hyper-reality, the actual experience of moments in Capitol Reef transcends the ordinary and claims the extraordinary.
Besides that, it was a lot of fun 🙂
Chimney Rock from a distance, Capitol Reef.
Capitol Reef rock formation on the trail to Hickman Bridge.
Chimney Rock in HDR
Freemont River cut, Capitol Reef National Park.
Davy and Anne at Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef.
Davy and Anne at Hickman Bridge, Capitol Reef.
The road through Grand Valley, Capitol Reef.
Wind Gate, Capitol Reef.
Chimney Rock, Capitol Reef.
In the distance, Capitol Dome rises above the sentinels of Capitol Reef.
Wide shot of Capitol Reef rock formation on the trail to Hickman Bridge.
It takes a while for things to change.
Patience and faith, they say.
I can’t wait. I won’t, I say.
Deep time puts the age of Earth at four-and-one-half billion years.
I sense immense distance in Earth’s span, yet the years mean nothing in comprehending the patterns of death and life and death again which deposit layers of yesterdays upon tomorrows, until all that remains is this moment.
I stand in a place where the evidence of change surrounds me, yet actual change can not be seen.
Perhaps these rocks crumble to dirt,
for a million, maybe a billion years, for me to walk this path.
Red dirt sticks to my shoes and I carry it with me in defiance of the law of long waits.
I am here. Now.
The wind soughs and the rocks speak in whispers. I stand still and listen. The words do not bring me comfort. Change is as the rocks.
I look up at the sandstone sentinels and the sky stretches out before me.
I am small, insignificant, tenuous.
I look down and a silver stream glints below towering canyon walls. My heart skips a beat and I step back from the ledge. I have climbed much higher than I realize.
My breath catches as my son scales the cliffs below me. The rocks he climbs are hard broken. I call out not to walk those rocks, they may crumble. He has not yet reached the precipice on which I stand and must choose his path. I squint in harsh sunlight and see myself in his approaching shadow.
I feel old.
I see in him that I am old,
old in that my body is not what it once was;
not so old, in that the elements which make up my frame have not yet been scattered by hot winds relentlessly carving through stone.
My son will climb much higher than I have steps remaining. Yet, I still have steps remaining.
And the Gods said, “Let it be so.” And they watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed. For even the Gods must watch and wait.
In the vast continuum of eternity, patience and faith take time.
So I am learning.
Wistfully, I lift a handful of dust and toss it to the sky. The wind accepts my offering.
My time has come. I have touched the rock of ages and must not linger.
In deep time,
the changes I hope for are carving the canyons of my soul.
Looking up at Hickman Bridge.
Red dirt gives way to azure skies.
Worn ragged by the forces of nature, this rock came to rest at the bottom of a cliff as a wrecked ship rests on the sea bottom.
Among the aging sandstone some forms of live thrive, others pass out of existence.
Towering sentinels of Capitol Reef.
Evidence indicates that in a flash flood, Grand Wash is not the place to be.
Very little water and harsh conditions favor plants which learn to adapt.
Davy scales the cliffs near Hickman Bridge bowl.
Morning sun rises over Hickman Bridge.
Named after Joseph Hickman, Hickman natural bridge is 133 feet long and 125 feet high.
Weather sandstone makes for interesting trail markers on the Hickman Bridge trail in Capitol Reef.
The Freemont river cuts a valley just below Capitol Dome.
Anne and Davy stand below 125 foot high Hickman Bridge.
Capitol Dome, Capitol Reef National Park.
Red dirt still glows just after sunset in Capitol Reef National Park.
Moon sets over Capitol Reef National Park.
The Big Dipper rises above Grand Wash Wind Gate in Capitol Reef.
Stars above Grand Wash Capitol Reef.
View of Chimney Rock Capitol Reef.
Capitol Reef National Park.
Verdant valleys contrast the sandstone cliffs of Capitol Reef National Park.
Trees provide welcome shade at the Fuita Campground in Capitol Reef National Park.
Apple orchards thrive in the valleys of Capitol Reef National Park.
Apple orchards thrive in the valleys of Capitol Reef.