In January of 2016 I was sitting on a bar stool in Dekalb, Illinois, next to a friend. We were having a lively conversation about how much we both wanted to travel and see more of the world than just our small Midwestern town. Up to that point I had seen very little of the United States and even less of the rest of the world, although I had always told myself that one day I would. By the time we left our bar stools that evening we had a napkin that held the nascent plans of an epic road trip of the American west. This itinerary had it all from Dallas to Los Angeles, from Vegas to Seattle, the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, you name it we were going to see it.
A few months later when the time came to leave, circumstances and finances determined my friend wouldn't be able to go. I had to decide if I was going to go alone or call it off. Eight and half weeks, twelve thousand miles, and twenty three states later I knew I had made the right decision. Two weeks after that I was back on the road, six weeks later I had visited all of the continental U.S. states in one summer, solo. The day after arriving home I was on a flight to Alaska and two months later I landed in Hawaii making it all fifty states in one year.
That summer changed who I was as a person. Prior to that year I was, like most average people, floating aimlessly day to day. Not depressed but not really living either. Being exposed to all of that grandeur and beauty awakened a deep desire within me to really know and protect the wild spirit of this world.
Since that year I have visited nearly every U.S. National Park (as of this writing all but four), revisiting all fifty states again in the process. I've traveled to American Samoa in the South Pacific and Iceland in the North Atlantic. I've stood on the Equator in South America and Africa in less than one month. Road tripped on nearly every major road in the United States and driven north through the Canadian Rockies to Alaska. I've explored via car, boat, float plane, bush plane, helicopter, and miles and miles on foot. I've worked three seasons as a National Park Ranger, joining the ranks of the green and gray in protecting and preserving our nation's wild heritage.
The wild lands have become a home to me. I have become comfortable with the dark skies of mountain nights, the eerie silence of old growth forests, the oppressive heat of red rock desert, and the startling cold of an arctic plunge. I have rediscovered a love of wildlife that had, somehow, fell dormant between the "Ranger Rick" magazines of my childhood and the grunge-era of my teenage years. That initial trip in 2016, helped me rediscover the core of who I always really was and who I was always meant to be.
During these travels I have also rediscovered a dormant love of photography. I had briefly minored in photography in college during the days of film. I even had a dark room for a time in my parent's basement. As the world transitioned to digital, I felt the need to take up a pencil and brush and transitioned to more traditional art forms. When I started my travels I carried my cell phone and a higher-end point-and-click camera, finally transitioning to a DSLR in 2017. When I worked for Yellowstone National Park, in 2019, I finally bought my first telephoto lens and my forays into wildlife photography began in earnest.
The most common subjects of my photos are of the Ursine variety, but my favorite moments are the unexpected ones. The times when you round a bend in the trail to see a porcupine or an owl in the tree directly in front of you, or you get a fleeting glimpse of a cat with no time for a shot.
One day, I hope to capture those special fleeting moments with my lens as well as my heart and, when that day comes, I hope to share them with you here.
Thank you for looking.