Tough to believe I've already been back in Alaska for 3 weeks now. I am still editing through the thousands of images from Australia, which will keep me busy for a while. This was the last frame I took on the beach at the Great Ocean Road, 12 Apostles. I'd gone out that evening with feelings of frustration and indignation and chose to channel that energy into the powerful crashing waves. I walked around a corner and down the beach, set up and shot until the tide was moving in and I had to retreat or be trapped and forced to climb up onto the rocks to avoid being carried out to sea. Once I had reached a safe point, I turned around and took one last photo, leaving the shutter open for ten minutes. This is the end result of all that moving energy condensed into a single frame. During that time, I looked back and noticed the crashing waves had washed away my footprints where I’d just walked back from. This is one of the most significant and metaphoric images from my trip. To me, it says that we cannot go back to where we’ve come from. Regardless of what lies ahead, we can only move forward. Love trumps fear. In the end, love wins. What do you interpret from this photograph?
The Road Less Traveled
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” (Robert Frost)
There are perhaps no other words that have resonated with me as strongly as the last lines of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”, which I first read during an English literature class in high school. Immediately, I took those words to heart and they became a metaphor for my life.
I drove 3,000 kilometers to find this stretch of road rolling along a rugged coastline, a road less traveled for an image that was in my mind’s eye before arriving in Australia. This was taken in Flinders-Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island. I’d found this location a couple days earlier; I only needed to wait for the perfect light. My final evening on the island I was exploring the Remarkable Rocks, pictured here in the far distance, when I saw a break in the clouds. I raced back to the van and drove to this spot, set up my camera on a tripod and drove past several times, using a remote to shoot dozens of frames before I captured the perfect shot to convey my message.
It always makes me smile inside when friends wish me a good vacation before departing on an extended journey. I push myself to the limits when traveling, both mentally and physically, to catch the perfect situation and create something unique, to maximize the time and light given to me and not let opportunities pass by. You could easily say I’m somewhat obsessive/compulsive, which often works to my advantage. It is anything but a vacation, it is a labor of love and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My goal is to create a life filled with adventure and beautiful moments to share with the world, a life I do not need to take a vacation from. To me, there is nothing more exciting than traveling internationally on a limited budget, making the most of what is presented and taking nothing for granted. It’s always an emotional journey for me when I go someplace new, a chance to dig a little deeper into my soul and find what I am truly capable of, what I can learn and what I have to give. Looking back, I love every minute, the good times along with the not so good and believe me, there are many challenges along the way. Even the darling little Outback town, which shall remain unnamed, whose fuel stations didn’t stay open past 7 pm, forcing me to spend the night in a motel room infested with hundreds of biting insects just to escape the brutal heat until I could fill my tank the following morning, even that experience brings fond memories. At the time I was a bit frustrated but now I can smile because, in the end, it’s all part of the same beautiful story. There was also the time I left my camera battery charger, extension cord and converter plugged in at my campsite in Wilson’s Promontory, not realizing this until I was several hours away. Thanks to the lovely couple I’d met just before leaving and given a business card to, my belongings were turned in to the visitor center staff and mailed to a friend’s home near Adelaide, where they were waiting for me the following week.
Leading up to this trip, I devoted an enormous amount of time and energy preparing, researching destinations, and planning my route. I often neglected time with friends while, coincidentally, my guitar sat in the corner gently weeping (note to self – write a song about that, unless it’s been done…). It was more than just booking accommodations and choosing places to visit, it involved preparing myself – body and mind - for what lie ahead. I arrived with boundless inspiration and a host of ideas, some of which came to fruition while others did not. One truly does not know what to expect from a new destination, what opportunities will be present and what the quality and pattern of light will be, until you find yourself there. You learn as you go and always leave something for next time, something you didn’t capture. Still, there is nothing like visiting a destination for the first time, seeing it through new eyes. In all, I spent close to three weeks living out of a camper van, exploring a part of the world that was completely new to me. Looking back, it feels much longer than it was, having experienced so much in that time. I met a bloke in the Blue Mountains a few nights ago who said something to the effect of: “I reckon you’ve seen more of Australia than most Australians. Good on ya, mate!” It was this congenial disposition, aside from the beauty and photographic opportunities, that made my journey so wonderful, so, in closing, I would like to thank the people of Australia for the gracious hospitality, for making this Alaskan feel more than just welcome, you made me feel as if I were a fellow Aussie. I can’t help it if I’ve picked up on some of your dialect & lingo (i.e., “bloke”). Saying goodbye doesn’t feel right, instead I will use the Hindi phrase “Phir mélange” which means: “Until we meet again.” We will meet again, I promise you that.
There’s a big, beautiful world waiting out there. I encourage you to explore, to go out and talk to strangers, to be an ambassador of peace. Take it from me; I just covered more than 6,000 kilometers (3,600 miles) on a road less traveled and in the end, that made all the difference.
Phir mélange, Australia.
I made it out early to catch one last Aussie sunrise over Coogee Beach, Coogee NSW before leaving Australia today. I am going to miss this beautiful country. I cannot thank you all enough for your gracious hospitality. It's probably the lack of sleep that's making me a bit maudlin/emotional, but it is with a heavy heart that I must depart and begin the long flight home.
PS - Good thing I picked up this new waterproof tripod from Sirui USA before I left...
Sydney, Australia. Your typical city involved in a typical daydream. Any trip here wouldn’t be complete without seeing the famous Sydney Opera House. I’m back to where it all began, one more wakeup at Coogee Beachside Accommodation and I begin the long journey home. Guess I’ll hang it up and see what tomorrow brings.
Goodnight from Oz, one last time.
Waiting for the clouds to part and swatting flies with my Baby Taylor (Taylor Guitars) in the outback - I took this selfie in the Flinders Ranges a couple mornings ago. Today is the final leg of my journey back to Sydney. I'm in the Blue Mountains, not far from my destination. I've got a room at the Coogee Beachside Accommodation for the evening and I fly out tomorrow. I am going to miss this wonderful country, my little camper van and the open road. It's a good life...
As anticipated, the Flinders Ranges were absolutely spectacular, if only a bit warm for this Alaskan traveler. I spent a night camped in the outback with nobody else around for a change. The forecast at Wilpena Pound Resort - Flinders Ranges, SA was calling for 37˙C, which translates into nearly 100˙F, so I reckon it was time to get moving back to Sydney, I‘ve covered very than 1,000 km’s since yesterday - more than halfway along!
I arrived in a little outback town late in the evening yesterday to find all the fuel stations closed. The next stop was 260 km’s and it was questionable whether I had enough fuel to make it, so I decided to get a motel room with AC and take a break from the heat. I’d been baking in the van the previous two nights and hadn’t slept much, so I was truly looking forward to a night of good rest until I was greeted by hundreds of tiny, biting flies all over the ceiling and at least one giant, flying cockroach on the wall. I ended up rolling out my sleeping bag on top of the covers (I wasn’t about to crawl in with the insects) and had to don my bug-net top to keep the flies off of me while I slept, very intermittently.
I hope to make it as far as the Blue Mountains today and should have a short run into Sydney tomorrow, where I have one more night in Coogee Beach before catching my flight home on Tuesday (it is 12:30pm on Sunday, Nov. 20 here).
As always, thank you for following along.
Went for a little walkabout this morning before leaving Mount Remarkable National Park, abundant wildlife and even more insects. Good thing I brought bug-net clothing, too bad I left it in the van.
I'm on my way north to the Flinders Ranges for one night and then I start making my way back to Sydney tomorrow. It's really starting to hit me that this journey is drawing to a close. As always, thank you for following along.
My first night on Kangaroo Island I found myself sitting at a picnic table in the caravan park, editing through photos on my laptop when I heard the most god-awful guttural grunt that I can only describe as some sort of demon pig sound. I grabbed my flashlight and had a look around but saw nothing, though the noise continued. It wasn’t until the following evening that I discovered what was making this terrifying sound, it was the infamous “drop bear” that I’d only recently learned about. To my surprise, when I aimed my light into the trees and saw where it was coming from, at first it appeared to be a harmless, cuddly koala when in fact, it was a drop bear. Never in a million years could I have ever imagined that noise emanating from a koala -apparently they are koalas by day and drop bears by night.
After shooting out near the coast my final evening on the island and returning to the caravan park well after sundown, I parked the van, stepped out and was immediately greeted by the chilling grunt of a drop bear, directly above my campsite. Not wanting to miss this opportunity, I set up my 400mm telephoto lens with a flash and LumiQuest Pocket Bounce diffuser and began capturing images of the beast, glowing red eyes and all. If you should find yourself in Australia, beware after that what appears to be a cute, teddy-bear-like creature during the day will transform into the dreaded drop bear after sundown.
Disclaimer: most of the information in this post is accurate, including the beastly sound that koalas make at night. From what I understand, koalas can be quite vicious when cornered but otherwise, they are relatively calm-mannered marsupials, probably because they spend much of their time in the trees high on eucalyptus oil from the gum tree leaves they feed on.
On that note, I am on my way north from Adelaide to Mount Remarkable and the Flinders Ranges for the next couple of nights before making my way back to Sydney. I’ve been in country two weeks now with just under one week left. As anticipated, this journey has gone by quickly but when I look back on all the places I’ve visited, the wonderful people I’ve met along the way and the images I’ve created (even the drop bear), it feels like a lifetime.
Say hello to my little mate, Joey! He looks like he's had a couple already, while mom seems a bit more concerned about my presence.
Farewell, Kangaroo Island! It's been a wonderful stay and once the winds finally subsided, I got out to capture some wonderful images. Thank you for your wonderful hospitality, breathtaking scenery, and abundant wildlife. Mark my words, I will be back...
Trust me, you have not seen cute until you've seen a pint-sized koala. I spent part of the morning with the local marsupials near the holiday park where I am staying on Authentic Kangaroo Island. One thing is for certain; they are absolutely not in any hurry, ever...
As they say in Oz, "It's bloody windy down here, mate!" The wind has been blowing steadily the past couple of days, bringing some rain with it. Hopefully it will calm down a bit, as forecasted, so I can get out and do some more exploring. Here is my classic Kangaroo Island brekkie (yes, I really do love the Vegemite)
"Can't you hear, can't you hear that thunder?
You better run, you better take cover, yeah."
Shortly after arriving to Kangaroo Island Australia today, I was greeted by one of the most brilliant and powerful storms I have ever experienced. Skies like these are rare in Alaska, so I fired off as many frames as I could before my gear was being pelted by beach sand and salt spray.
I made it back to the van just before the heavy bombardment of hail began.
I should have arrived at my campsite by now, I am still in the town of Penneshaw and have a couple hours of driving ahead of me to reach the west end of the island, but the purpose is to share my experiences, and this was a beautiful moment. Once again it is the journey, not the destination, that tells the story.
G'day all! Currently aboard the ferry out to Kangaroo Island. Yesterday was a long day of driving and I am looking forward to being on the island for the next 3 days. I don't have much down time to edit or write but I have a lot to share. Wifi is spotty here, I usually have to find a cafe that offers wifi with a purchase to update my Facebook page, website, and Instagram, check emails and map out my next driving route. After my time on the island, I will drive up to Adelaide for a couple days to visit a friend and take a break from being on the road. From there, I will either head north into the Flinders Ranges to get a taste of the outback or, depending on the weather forecast and what my intuition tells me, I may venture back down to the Great Ocean Road for the remainder of my journey. Right now, the ocean is calling me back...
I took a much-needed day off of the road yesterday, did some yoga and a bit of laundry. I've had a painful cramp in my left calf since the flight down here, thankfully that released and I am feeling much better. I've got a long drive today up to Deep Creek National Park and out to Kangaroo Island tomorrow.
Daybreak comes early in this part of the world, and the days are getting longer. As exhausting as it is, I just can't pass up beautiful light and opportunities like this. I was out to catch the sunrise, now it's time for a rest, a good stretch, and then get ready to explore the Twelve Apostles later today. I have one more day on the Great Ocean Road, 12 Apostles before heading north to Deep Creek National Park and out to Kangaroo Island on Friday (Thursday for those of you in the US). As always, thank you for following along.
Good morning from the Great Ocean Road, Australia. I can now add koalas to the ever-growing list of animals I have photographed in the wild. Feeling a bit more rested today as I continue my journey and no, I did not leave anything behind at my campsite today.
No great story comes without some bit of adversity, this I know. Today was a classic example. I arrived in Australia just four days ago, early in the morning of November 3. I could have easily slept when I got to my hostel, I was exhausted, but it was a beautiful day and I was staying a mere five minutes from the beach, I wanted to get out and soak up the vibe.
That night I got decent rest and was up early to catch the sunrise the following day. Soon afterward, I picked up my camper van, grabbed some groceries and somehow found my way out of Sydney in heavy traffic while adjusting to driving on the other side of the road. I drove to Jervis Bay and met up with a mate I crossed paths with in India three years ago. We camped and went for a good hike the next morning and had a swim in the ocean before I was on my way to the next destination. Since then, I’ve covered well over 1,000 km’s with the van. I was up at 5 am today to make use of all the available light I had at Wilson’s Promontory. The images I captured certainly made the drive down there worthwhile, and I will likely return someday and spend more time, it was spectacular.
In my haste to edit photos, pack up and hit the road today, I left my AC power adaptor, extension cord, camera battery charger and a battery plugged in at my site in the Tidal River Campground, all of which I desperately need. I realized this when I was nearing Melbourne, three hours later. In a state of semi-panic, I found a shopping center and located an electronics store, who then put me in touch with a camera store in the next town who had a charger that isn’t the same as the one I’d brought, but it would will for now. I also called the visitor center back at Wilson’s Promontory and thankfully, they’d found everything I left behind and are going to mail it to my friend in Adelaide, whom I will be visiting next week. After a while, I was able to look back and laugh it off. It cost me a few hours, a little extra money and some frustration, but it’s going to be fine. In the end, there is always a lesson. I need to slow down, I need to breathe, I need to rest.
The next few days will be spent covering a much smaller area and should give me a chance to slow my pace a bit. Tonight, I am going to rest, my body is telling me I need it. Goodnight from the Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Australia. This place is powerful, and humbling.