Think Before You Shoot

Mount Rainier National Park

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It is killing me. 

“Stay on the trail.”

What part of this is hard to understand? 

Wildflowers, photographed while standing on the trail.

Wildflowers, photographed while standing on the trail.

When the Olympia Camera Club wanted an education board for the Thurston County Fair, I shot my hand up.  "I'll do one. And I know what I want to be the subject." After seeing the images of people trampling the Southern California poppy super bloom, I want to help spread a photographer’s “leave no trace” ethic.

Little did I realize just how stupid people can be. 

There is an epidemic of photographers, doing idiotic, unnecessary things.  

“Does this photo make me look stupid?” None of these people are standing on the trail.

“Does this photo make me look stupid?” None of these people are standing on the trail.

This ridiculous behavior turns me into "The Snarky Traveler."  I just don't get it. 

When my friends from California came for a visit, we decided to take the drive to see the meadows and wildflowers on Mount Rainier.  I haven't been to Paradise, and I read that there was a super bloom of wildflowers that rivaled the poppy bloom of Southern California.  

Looking towards Mount Adams, while standing on the trail.

Looking towards Mount Adams, while standing on the trail.

It was a beautiful day and a pleasant drive.   The road was clear, and the parking lot was full.  The mountain was beautiful, and there were people everywhere. 

Including, people walking off the trails and into the meadows. 

When you leave the parking lot and approach the trailhead, there is a big sign. "Protect Fragile Meadows and Stay on Trails.”

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As you walk along the trails, there are signs. 

"Please stay on the trail."

And no boots signs. 

"Meadow restoration Please stay on the trail.”

And even cute little no walking person signs. 

I can not tell you how many people I saw walking off the trails, but it was stupefying. 

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I was able to hold myself together, but my law-abiding and wildflower loving travel partner (a.k.a. husband Keith) lost his composure and let loose on a guy holding a large black camera. This photographer walked through the meadow, right up to us, and he almost tripped on a "Stay on the Trail" sign.

"Do you speak English? Can you read? I love these meadows. Do you not understand that you are killing the wildflowers? Do you think you are so exceptional that you don’t need to follow the rules? There is no reason to go off the trail.  Are you better than everyone else and the rules don't apply to you? The signs apply to everyone. There is a reason for all the signs that say "stay on the trail!'" 

I don't think that the photographer had a clue. 

Really?

Really?

It's very discouraging to see all the user made trails along the mountainside. I took plenty of photographs, and I took them while staying on the trail.

But what can I do? 

What’s a person to do? Mount Rainier is so beautiful.

What’s a person to do? Mount Rainier is so beautiful.

Punching people in the nose for standing in the meadows will only crush more wildflowers.  Talking to people is frustrating, and they ignore you.  Logic doesn't seem to work either.  You don't need a doctorate in Botany to see the damage throughout the mountain. And I’m sure no one gets a ticket for killing meadow vegetation.

"Uh... Who me? I was only taking a photo." 

If you go to the Photography Exhibit room at the Thurston County Fair, you might pass a posterboard with small photos showing photographers being irresponsible.  The subject title is "Think Before You Shoot." 

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Here’s the message:

  • Consider nature over photography.

  • Educate yourself about the rules for the area. 

  • Reflect on the possible harm of your actions.

  • Don’t call birds, don’t chase wildlife, light up the night, or cut vegetation. 

  • Leave no trace. 

  • “I will not harm my subject.” A photographer’s credo. 

  • Keep wild places wild. 

  • Encourage other photographers to follow the rules.

The display board at the county fair isn't much, but it is something I can do. 

Oh, I can also write my blog, and hope that the flowers can bloom again next year. 

A selfie of us standing on the trail at Paradise.

A selfie of us standing on the trail at Paradise.

No wildflowers were harmed in the making of this blog. Thank you Anne and Paul for a fun hike together (despite the idiots trampling the meadows.)

Sri Lanka Rail Tale


Sri Lanka Railway from Columbo to Weligama, Ella to Nuwara Eliya, and Nuwara Eliya to Kandy.

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I am home now, but this is one of my backlog blogs from my trip to Sri Lanka.

While visiting family in Sri Lanka, I was fortunate to experience the timeless experience of riding on a historic train system.

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My skilled and resourceful traveling partner (a.k.a. husband, Keith) and I, like using public transportation. In Sri Lanka, we took advantage of a unique transportation opportunity. We made several rides on the network of trains that still ramble across the tropical countryside.

Rail transport in Sri Lanka was conceived in the 1850s to develop and unify Sri Lanka. Service began in 1864, with the construction of the Main Line from Colombo to Ambepussa 54 kilometers (34 mi) to the east. During the first half of the 20th century, a tram system operated in Colombo, carrying commuters within the city. The Sri Lanka rail network was introduced by the British colonial government in 1864 to transport tea and coffee from the hill country to Colombo.

There is still a touch of colonialism.

The story of my railway walkabout is very visual.

After a few photos of my first ride, I was hooked and had to capture the historic mixing; the new with the old, tourists with natives, the jungle with development, the moving with the standing still.

There was no announcement. Find the sign to know where the train stopped.

There was no announcement. Find the sign to know where the train stopped.

What appeared to be local people crowded onto the less expensive and less reliable commercial trains. https://www.seat61.com/SriLanka.htm

The Sri Lanka trains are an intercity network connecting major population centers and commuter rail serving Colombo commuters, with most services run by Sri Lanka Railways, known initially as Ceylon Government Railways, as the nation's railway and primary operator. The railway now moves 300,000 passengers daily on 324 trains between 320 stations across the country. At the peak of 1,900 meters (6,200 ft), Sri Lanka has the highest broad-gauge railway in the world.

When I processed the photos I tooknand made them black and white, I was excited to see how well they expressed the historic value of the sights and sounds I found during our train rides.

And what a ride!

Quiet now, but wait for the tourist train to arrive.

Quiet now, but wait for the tourist train to arrive.

When we rode the rail, we were among most tourists. We knew what to expec and anticipated that things could get rough. “This isn’t the place to be polite. Push to get on, otherwise you my be left at the station” was the advice we received.

So we pushed our way onto the trains and stood where we could.

The train passengers were mostly tourists, packed in, pushy, and there was no respect for personal space.

We sat with a family standing next to us in the isles, staring at us, making sad faces, asking us about where we were getting off, all hoping we were getting off at the next stop.

I watched the scenery out the window. I earned this seat.

Local train. No assigned seats in this car.

Local train. No assigned seats in this car.

Most of the train passengers are tourists, crowded with visitors packed in like sardines, going someplace, going no place, going along for the ride. But, there were trains and cars that catered to local travelers.

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Waiting for a seat, people hovered, and it wasn't pretty. There is a high demand for seats with a historical view of the countryside. Crowded, we had to push our way onto the train. I am standing in the doorway and I could easily be nudged off the moving train if the passengers swayed the wrong direction with the lunge of the train. I moved back offering someone else the privilege of hanging out the door of the moving train.

No Disneyland rules on this railway. Hang out of the doors and windows all you like.

No Disneyland rules on this railway. Hang out of the doors and windows all you like.

It can be a long train ride, even if you have a window seat.

It can be a long train ride, even if you have a window seat.

The beauty of these big hunks of forged iron moving along the tracks. Some sit on the sidelines abandoned and rusting in place.

Tourists by the hundreds get off the train at the Ella Station.

Tourists by the hundreds get off the train at the Ella Station.

The all day ride was only a few US dollars, and I wonder how long Sri Lanka will allow tourists to travel so cheaply. I was fortunate to ride the Sri Lank rail, and I hope that it continues to offer a unique authentic tourist experience.

Rummage A-Ramble On

What if our stuff could talk!

I think I heard Led Zeppelin at this year’s annual Bainbridge Island Rotary Rummage sale.

A-ramble on, and now's the time, the time is now

Sing my song, I'm goin' 'round the world, I gotta find my girl
On my way, I've been this way ten years to the day

Ramble on, gotta find the queen of all my dreams

Got no time to for spreadin' roots, the time has come to be gone
And though our health we drank a thousand times
it's time to ramble on.

You can listen to Ramble On by Led Zeppelin on YouTube. https://youtu.be/a3HemKGDavw while you read my blog.

Clothing tables at the Annual Bainbridge Island Rotary Rummage Sale.

Clothing tables at the Annual Bainbridge Island Rotary Rummage Sale.

Just over a year ago, we downsized from our four bedroom 2200 square feet and three car garage home, down to a 1,080 square food townhouse condominium. Giving things away was a very emotional experience for me.

I am still trying to heal from my loss.

So, as part of my personal recovery therapy from “The Great Purge,” I attended the annual Bainbridge Island Rotary Auction and Rummage Sale. It was is a perfect walkabout to continue my move toward losing my attachment to things physical.

Boy Scouts? No, just a cosy collection of camping gear.

Boy Scouts? No, just a cosy collection of camping gear.

What a visual experience! I was amazed at the amount of stuff, and then there were the strangeness of so many items. All items someone purchased new with good intentions, used, maybe re-used, and now were selling at the Queen Mother of rummage sales.

This is the perfect place for the man-cave chairs. The worn spots are part of the “charm.”

This is the perfect place for the man-cave chairs. The worn spots are part of the “charm.”

My sister told me stories about the crazy things people donate to the Rotary for the sale, so I checked out their website. Their homepage spoke to me:

A swarm of chairs.

A swarm of chairs.

“Hello! My name is Rockie. I am a 37-year-old rocking chair. Until last June, I was the guardian of a room first used as a bedroom for children, and then as a comfortable retreat for house guests and a temporary storage space for items my owners said were destined for a mystical event called the Bainbridge Island Rotary Auction & Rummage Sale. I loved the years I spent waiting for the children to come home from school and use me for everything from a messy clothes rack to the preferred location for secret conversations with their friends. I also liked the occasional guests who always remarked on my comfort and beauty. However, what interested me most was welcoming other pieces of furniture, clothing, musical instruments, dishes, books, and other items my owners didn’t need any more into my space where they waited, sometimes for months, for a trip to the Auction & Rummage Sale. To be honest, I envied them when they left because I had outlived my usefulness to my owners, and wanted a new adventure.”

A passel of pink pots.

A passel of pink pots.

A gaggle of green goodies.

A gaggle of green goodies.

Colors? We got your camp chair covered.

Colors? We got your camp chair covered.

Can you keep things forever and have the items maintain their relevance, efficacy, and usefulness?

A menagerie of miscellaneous mowers. At the end of the day, they were all gone.

A menagerie of miscellaneous mowers. At the end of the day, they were all gone.

An army of action figures.

An army of action figures.

What happens to toys when children grow up? Where does an action figure go when the action is over?

What happens when it is time to move on?

Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

“Daddy, When I went away to college, what happened to teddy?” Answer: Rotary Rummage.

“Daddy, When I went away to college, what happened to teddy?” Answer: Rotary Rummage.

“So that’s where my lunch box went.” I had one just like the orange one. Now I don’t take a lunch to work and I don’t need a lunchbox.

“So that’s where my lunch box went.” I had one just like the orange one. Now I don’t take a lunch to work and I don’t need a lunchbox.

A full wet darkroom is available, if you have the space for it and want the smell and the mess. I’ll stick to digital photography.

A full wet darkroom is available, if you have the space for it and want the smell and the mess. I’ll stick to digital photography.

When one door closes, another door opens, even if it doesn’t have a door knob.

When one door closes, another door opens, even if it doesn’t have a door knob.

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I try to maintain a “Rule of Buying Stuff.” If I can’t do it, eat it or wear it, I don’t need to spend money on it. I know my focus - having time and money to travel.

This was so much fun to see everyone’s used things, I did allow myself to purchase something in the category of “wear it.”

One of the tricks to rummage sale shopping, is to avoid looking like you bought your clothes at a rummage sale.

I took home a bag of clothing from the bulk clothing area, two sweaters, two exercise bras, three t-shirts, and a pair of skinny jeans, all for only $12.00.

I’ll see if I can avoid the rummage sale ‘look,’ because “the less I spend, the more I travel.” Every dollar spent is one less dollar for my next walkabout.

To maintain balance, I loaded three bags full of my old clothing that I am going to donate to a good cause.

The tidiness guru Marie Kondo, In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, writes, “I can think of no greater happiness in life than to be surrounded only by the things I love.” Things are just things. “The stuff of life isn’t stuff at all.”

But, I can still hear the music.

It could be that they were playing classic rock at the rummage sale. Or this stuff is talking to me. “Gonna work my way all around the world.”

I guess I'll keep on ramblin', I'm gonna
Sing my song/Sh-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah, I've gotta find my baby
I'm gonna ramble on, sing my song
Gonna work my way all around the world
Baby, baby/Ramble on, yeah!

Sooner or later, everything that comes into our life will leave our our life. It’s only stuff.

Sooner or later, everything that comes into our life will leave our our life. It’s only stuff.

Thank you Susan, Ken, and Kenneth for hosting us for the weekend.