2010 TRAVELS - YEAR IN REVIEW

The following is a recap of my 2010 travels. I didn't follow quite the same rythmn as in 2009, but still managed a fairly good mix of domestic and international trips:

In March, I flew to Amman, Jordan, rented a car and had an excellent solo trip in that friendly country. I started in Madaba, home to several biblical sites as well as spectacular early Christian Mosaic work.

I had intended to do an overnighter in Jerusalem on the Israeli side, but my trip happened to coincide with the Israeli decision to expropriate East Jerusalem Arab residents to make room for modern housing. Violent protests ensued and the border was sealed. So much for Jerusalem this time. The best I could manage was a trip along the north end of the Dead Sea before leaving for Petra. I spent 3 full days in Petra, getting up at the crack of dawn each day to be first inside the site. Each day I walked for hours, covering long distances inside this extraordinary Nabatean city and exploring many of its smaller sites.

The Siq became a familiar fixture to me as I walked it a total of 8 times over the 3 day period.


It's hard not te be awed the first time you come out of the narrow 1-mile long Siq and discover the massive facade of the Treasury:


There is a multitude of temples and old dwellings peppered throughout the site.


One striking component of Petra is the beautiful and very unique sandstone. Here is just one example among many:


Twice a week, the site reopens its doors in the evening for Petra by Night. The staff lights up candles in front of the Treasury and visitors sit on the ground to admire the show:


From Petra I drove down to Wadi Rum and spent 3 days at a remote Bedouin camp in the desert. I hiked a full day and visited two more days by 4WD with a private guide. This allowed me to stop whenever I wanted and my guide introduced me to several of his relatives living in remote places.

There was a fairly nice bloom carpeting the desert floor.


After the harsh conditions of the desert, I decided to have a little R&R in Aqaba and along the small portion of Red Sea down to the Saudi border. It was a big contrast to the Bedouin life only 40 miles away.

I drove back north along the Dead Sea, with the firm intention of wading up Wadi Mujib. This turned out to be a big disappointment as I had planned on knee-high water but there was a lot more than that and t would have been very risky to take my camera equipment without a dry bag. Instead I return to Madaba and just enjoyed the wi-fi at the hotel, and some nice restaurants.

In April, I took a short spring wildflower trip to the Carrizo Plain and the high desert. It wasn't a great wildflower season in my book, but still very enjoyable:




I was also able to do some macro shooting of wildflowers, with the benefit of a reflector, in a field just minutes from my house in Southern California:


In May, I took an extended trip to three of the Hawaiian islands, spending a week on Maui and Molokai and another week on the Big Island. On Maui, I drove Haleakala to do some afternoon shooting inside the crater, which I had never done before. Unfortunately, I was buffeted by huge winds and was unable to complete the hike I had planned.


I spent a couple of days on the road to Hana, revisiting places I knew and discovering new ones. I spent a lot of time photographing flowers and ferns.


I drove down to Lahaina and caught the ferry to Molokai. I picked up my car in Kanaukakai and drove north to Ilima Davis' very nice Hale Malu. The next day I had a great visit and dinner with Dewitt Jones, one of my inspirational role models.

My visit to the Kalaupapa Leprosy settlement on the North shore took a surprising turn. I had originally planned to do the 6-mile round trip from the top to visit the park with an advanced permit, but strong rains, followed by floods, had taken down an already precarious portion of the trail two months before and the Park Service was still working on it. My hopes that it would be rebuilt in time were dead on arrival and I had to scramble to charter a small plane to fly me down. I finally found a pilot coming from Honolulu to stop and pick me up at the Molokai airport for the 5-minute flight down to Kalaupapa airport. This set me back a cool $250 but the compulsory tour of the leper colony was included, so I did pretty well given the circumstances.

It was raining and visibility was limited. Fortunately, the rain stopped long enough and I was able to take some dramatic shots of the north shore cliffs, the highest in the world.


During two of the three evenings I spent on the island, I photographed the old royal grove of King Kamehameha the 5th, just west of Kaunakakai. I was fortunate to have short periods of good light, which I took advantage of in these two pictures that I subsequently painted over digitally:





I dedicated a full day to the south shore road and Halawa Valley. This is a stunningly beautiful road, with small but beautfiful sandy beaches and sheer cliffs toward the end.


At Halawa , I met with Kalani Pruett, owner of the Molokai Flower Farm. Kalani let me photograph his grove extensively and I took some commercial shots for his web site.


One other major goal of my Molokai shoot was to photographthe kamakou Nature Conservancy Preserve. Unfortunately, the road was washed out and I was unable to reach the preserve; That will be for another trip.

I returned to Maui and spent more time on the north coast. I had a serendipitous time shooting long exposures of the Kanae Peninsula after dark, alone on the lava with waves crashing around me:


I caught a flight to the Big Island, where I met with my friend Charles Wood, owner of the Earth & Light Galery in Ivins, UT and his wife Kathy.

We had rented a house in Kapoho, on the southeast coast of the Big Island and we used it as a base to photograph a number of locations on the Hilo side:




I visited my friend Brad Lewis, aka Volcano Man, on two ocasions at his house in Volcano. As the lava had been rising high inside the crater, I took the opportunity to take some night shots of Kilauea.


There was also a fairly steady lava flow entering the waves near Kalapana; unfortunately, it was outside the boundary of the National Park and the county had restricted access so no joy here.

Charles and I drove north to Waipio Valley, where I shot this jungle scene which I subsequently painted digitally.



We drove to Mauna Kea to photograph the craters:


and finished the day shooting from the observatory:


Also in May, I received my second Benjamin Franklin Award at Book Expo America in New York City for the publishing of Greg Vaughn's excellent "Photographing Oregon" book. In this era of constant award ceremonies, the Ben Franklin remains widely recognized as the highest honor in the industry.
Photographing Oregon by Greg Vaughn

In June, QT Luong and I traveled to Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands in Channel Islands Nat'l Park, in search of wildflowers and interesting coastline shots.





In early July, I took an impromptu trip to Zion to hike and rappel down the upper portion of the left fork of North Creek, better known as the Subway, for which permits are hard to come by in summer. My friend Tyler, his girlfriend Anna, and I had a ball doing the descent:


In late July, I was a guest speaker at PhotoFest 2010 along with an eminent roster of photographers: Jack Dykinga, Tom Till, Rob Sheppard, James Kay, Larry Lindahl, David Safir, and others. This was a wonderful event both for the attendees and for us speakers. We had four very busy days and there was little time to shoot. I had hope for a moonrise shot behind Cathedral Rock but the weather did not cooperate and I ended up with this one:


In August, Patricia and I traveled to Indonesia to spent some time at my son Clément, who owns a fruit plantation on Java. Clément has built an extraordinary house and it was our first time there:




We traveled to Yogyakarta with my daughter-in-law Susmy and my grandson Alex, stopping at Borobudur:



We wrapped up the trip with a little R&R in Ubud, on Bali.




In September, I again joined forces with Ron Flickinger (with whom I shot in South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana in 2009) for a fall color trip to Norway. Full credit goes to Ron for picking up the best possible dates for a mix of lowland and high Alpine scenery. We were able to use fishermen's cabins and mountain huts that closed right after we left.










In December, I flew to Mali to explore the architecture and customs of the Dogon people. First, I flew to Mopti and took an overnight pirogue to Djenné where I shot the Great Mosque, entirely built in adobe, on market day.


Malian children are extremely friendly and love to have their picture taken.




From Djenné, I took a bush taxi to Sengha, the largest village in Dogon country and the gateway to specatacular animist villages and ancient cliff dwellings, abandonned by the Telem ethic group around the 10th century. I hiked approximately 50 miles from village to village with my Dogon guide Amono, sleeping on rooftops at night. The heart of Dogon country is located along the hundred-mile long, 1,500-foot high Bandiagara escarpment. Each day, I hiked from plain to plateau and down again, through narrow canyons, traversing interesting villages and meeting immensely friendly people along the way. It helped that the majority of the adults spoke French.

All Dogon villages have these wonderful little pointy roofs:


Old men spend their days at the "Case à palabres" where they act as judges to resolve conflicts:


while women crush the millet:


While walking in the plain, I would also encounter Peul shepherds:


I was stunned at how the canyons were reminiscent of the American Southwest, especially with the abandonned cliffs dwellings of the Telem:
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