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Thursday, June 19, 2014

30 Scenics in 30 Days

"30 Scenics in 30 Days" was an aimless thought: I was standing on the bank of Lake Lucille; struck by the peacefulness of the moment. I challenged myself at that moment to capture a moment in time - a view - and freeze it. 

I'm blessed with beautiful surroundings. Too often I plow through life head down and whining. Once a day for 30 days I challenged myself to take a time out. Not recyle old pictures and moments - but find something each day to involve me physically, mentally and or spiritually.

Halfway through, the romanticism of the project has faded. Not a criticism of the work, but of the motivation. Had the recommendation to watch: "The Way" (2010 Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez). The movie is coming to life after the fact...and I more appreciate the story about loss and "who am I?" Tom chooses a path (understated metaphor), and plows through both head on. Dealing with the pain and loss physically. Through the journey he finds a place of acceptance, peace, and understanding.

"30 Scenics in 30 Days" is testing my resiliency and understanding. Resiliency to keep going through the actions to capture a moment. That is a physical commitment. The weather has attacked on both fronts, making it difficult to find opportunities. It has been said that: "Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity." Physically I'm just not getting lucky...

Understanding is a mental roadblock. I said the weather was attacking both fronts. Looking past the clouds is mentally demanding. Finding something to move me physically, mentally, and spiritually is a challenge...without going to a dark place. 

Therein lies the challenge we all face everyday: choose a path and then push through the clouds and stay committed to that path. Enjoy and appreciate the challenge of the journey.

I am now in the last week of my challenge, yet feel as if I just started. Looking back I've realized that (almost) every "picture" has come from places close to home, or along my daily path. Most didn't take much effort - just a commitment: to "look with my eyes and feel with my heart." 

I did hit a speed bump halfway through where it felt like work. It would have been easy to give in - I had every excuse - but gratefully I pushed through. I believe every day we have a reason - even a good excuse -  to give up on something. Nobody would judge us...but what about the man in the glass?

Since I was a teen, I had a picture of a poem: "The Man in the Glass." My parents gave it to me and it always hung by my door as the last thing I saw as I went about my day. (Some days I didn't look very hard at it :) When I got older it always hung by my office door...most people never noticed it. Here it is: 

"The Man in the Glass"
By Dale Wimbrow

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for a day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what that man has to say.

For it isn’t your father, or mother, or wife 
Whose judgment upon you must pass
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.

He’s the fellow to please – never mind all the rest
For he’s with you, clear to the end
And you’ve passed your most difficult, dangerous test
If the man in the glass is your friend.

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of years
And get pats on the back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

Today is day 30. The mission was "30 Scenics in 30 Days." It has been 30 days and there are more than 30 Scenics; mission accomplished...Man in the Glass is happy too.

The project, simple in structure; has been anything but simple. When I slow down and breathe; when I take in a moment, and swirl it around in my mind...that's complex. Emotions are not one-dimensional.

Jim Valvano, dying of cancer, gave one of the most memorable speeches of all time at the ESPY's. For me the speech is summed up in this segment:

..."To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special."

Tears are not a weakness. I stood on the The Butte, staring off at the glacier, and teared up...not out of sadness, but overcome with the moment. Being vulnerable brings it's own strength. My friend Michele shared this on her Facebook and it stuck with me: "love is giving someone the power to destroy you, but trusting them not too."

That is not weakness. That is knowing who you are, what you stand for, and accepting what happens to you. To unconditionally put yourself into someone's hands. Unconditionally applies even after those hands let you down. I know that is where I too often have failed. At those moments I whip out the scorecard and make a tally. Taking a time-out, and reflecting on what we can do differently (regardless of assumed fault) is a road less travelled. 

If your goal is to be "better" than the guy next to you as a measure of happiness and success; then you will also be chasing someone else's "life" minus their experiences. This moment is the moment you are meant to be in; what are you doing with your moment? I'm still figuring that out. I am heads up every day for a moment, and not letting them pass me with my head down. There is something every day worth slowing down for.

"30 Scenics in 30 Days" was never about the pictures. Some are only "beautiful" to me. They were part of a moment that I experienced. I stuck with it long enough to make it a part of each day. (Not to be confused with being easy.) I take time out to think each day, and for me pictures create a quiet place to go...

Here are some of the places I went...

6/3 - Lake Lucille
Took a trip to Lake Lucille with Dave to test his boat motor. I was holding the boat while he parked the truck. (Typical Jeff job). 

6/4 - The Butte
Planned an evening hike with the kids. Took the "easy side," but over 200 stairs AFTER ascending 600 feet doesn't count as easy. We moaned and groaned our way to the summit. It was a little breezy up top. I got some guy to take our picture and I think it's one of my favorites of all time. 

6/5 - Hatchers Pass
had a window of time in the morning and the kids were either at work or sleeping still (it is summer break). I couldn't do a lot of hiking by myself but did park and walk the Little Su rock by rock for a few miles. Took time for a selfie in front of the Valley and a panoramic.

6/6 - Pioneer Peak Trailhead 
Took a scout hike of Pioneer Peak with Chad and our boys. Got to about 3,000 feet to the just below the ridgeline. Definitely going to take a whole day but with some work I see the Peak (just under 7000ft) in our future. Trees thinned out above 2000 ft and we got some good pics...

6/6 - Eklutna Tail Race
Stopped to do some fishing since it was on our way back from Pioneer Peak. Saw one fish roll, but saw no other action and called it a night.

6/7 - Knik River, Knik River Bridge
did not feel up to anything today. The weather was overcast, I had to work, and did not have time for much. Went to an old faithful and took a new perspective. Hands down my favorite views in Alaska are coming across the Palmer Hay Flats and Knik River Bridge. This was my first time getting down under the bridge. I hiked along the river for a bit and under the overpass. Like a typical overpass it was tagged with graffiti but nonetheless was cool. Although overcast and unspectacular it was a great moment.

6/8 - Knik Arm, Mile 14 KGB
Had no plans but was feeling restless so grabbed Kendra and went to this popular "viewing" area with Seamus. Wanting a new perspective, we walked down to the beach. The tide was out and it was quiet and peaceful. May have to come back for a sunset view.

6/9 - Willow, Talkeetna Range
The weather is seriously encroaching on my scenic mission. Took a ride out with Layne to see some property and took a picture of this view from the back of the house. Although overcast and rainy the clouds blocking the range made it a neat shot.

6/11 - Mat Su Regional

This day was nothing about views, although fresh snow on 2 popular peaks was a fitting scene. Calli and I were driving to Mat Su Regional to see our newest niece. Calli was also mourning the sudden loss of a close friend. The collision of life, and death; beginning, and ending. It was a blessed day, and a time to reflect on the blessings in our life.

6/12 - The Back Deck
Enjoying a cup of coffee on the back deck. The best view is the one you don't have to travel too. This was a good morning to just relax and breathe for a minute.

6/13 - Mirror Lake
pass Mirror Lake everyday on my commute but have never stopped. Today I decided to stop and check it out. I would imagine on a nice clear summer day the view would be amazing... advantage was it was deserted and I was able to walk around and reflect for awhile (no pun intended).

6/14- Head Down & Whining
"Head down and whining." I remember this statement earlier...symbolic of the highs and lows of life. I find myself in a rut - and in classic whiny mode - it's the weathers fault. The fact is I am struggling to find inspiration or motivation. That is a piss poor excuse but for 2 days I've given in - and given up. Time to suck it up and dig deeper... Each day is a choice. I can see the sky pushing through the clouds in this picture.

6/17 - Reflections Lake
Pass this everyday on my drive to work. The sun came back out and I had to pull off before work. I walked around the lake for a half hour and just enjoyed the quietness. It was a great way to start the day and get back on the scenic mission.

6/18 - The Valley...
You never know what your gonna get from one day to the next...true of the weather and life. My favorite view coming home...when the valley opens up coming down the Glenn Highway. Today it was shrouded in clouds and feeling like winter.

6/19 - Head in the Clouds
Trolling for a view...just stared at the clouds, half cursing / half praying they would disappear...then just took a moment and appreciated the present state. Said a prayer and moved along...

6/20 - Matanuska River
Was blessed to catch a few awesome views today...this was my favorite and an unexpected "throwback." Did not plan it but going through my pictures I realized I had an identical picture - just a different season. I added a collage of the 2 pics at the bottom...

6/21 - Wasilla Lake
Summer Solstice has been one off favorite Alaska experiences. It has typically been a day for BBQ, Fire, Beer and Friends...typical AK hang out. Staying up late with the Sun still high in the sky. Typically would have taken a picture at midnight of the sky...but with a storm this weekend, and everyone going in different directions, just took a walk around Wasilla Lake. I don't often go to Wasilla Lake as it sits in the middle of Wasilla and it's a fixture anywhere you go in town. One of those views you take for granted...today was not beautiful but the lake was empty, and I was able to take a nice quiet walk in the rain.

6/21 Fireweed, Mile 14 KGB - 11:30pm
Decided late to go for a drive. Grabbed Kendra and Kace and we decided to just drive...and ended up driving all the way to Port Mackenzie and looking at the bright lights of Anchorage. On the way we had to stop at an old favorite along Mile 14 of KGB and got a shot of the Alaska State Flower, the Fireweed. Fitting shot on solstice - very Alaskan moment.

6/22 - Point Mackenzie 12:15am
Our drive ended when the road ended. It was cool looking at the lights of Anchorage across the water; as the longest day of the year faded out.

6/23 - Pioneer Peak
Pioneer Peak just dominates the Mat Su background. It always feels like it's right on top of you. We recently hiked up to just below the ridgeline (on the backside) and plan to accomplish reaching the 6,398 ft summit...everyday I pass it I look forward to standing on top.

6/24 - Blast from the (23 years) Past
This family is responsible for my love and affection for the 49ers. 23 years is a long time, but how awesome to see people who were such a big part of my life while living in Germany. Sorry Jon couldn't make it up (yet) but great memories all the same...even 23 years can feel like yesterday.

6/24 - Rained Out / Movie Night
Fried up some halibut and watched "The Lego Movie." Great moment and great movie. 

6/25 - Sacred Heart Cemetary
This gate always catches my eye cruising down Fairview Loop. Today I decided to pull over and check it out. It was raining pretty hard, so I didn't take a walk through...definitely will have to come back.

6/25 - Alaska Wild Flowers
Fireweed (also the state flower) is my favorite summer sight. It's literally everywhere, but comes and goes very quickly... 

Definitely a wet, wet, wet day. Good day to look a little closer, and appreciate the little things. Especially those things you normal look right past.

6/26 - "Throwback Thursday"
Rained out today so I spent some time looking through an old "scenic" album. Shoshone Falls, in Twin Falls, Idaho; was a popular area while I was in college there. On a trip through Idaho I stopped there to show the kids...I was looking at this picture and immediately thought of the picture we had just taken of Kendra and Kace on Solstice. Reflected on how much had changed in 7 years, and how quickly it had gone by...

6/27 - Rainbow over the flats...
Caught a break in the midst of all the rain. Driving to work was lucky enough to catch a pic of this rainbow stretching across the Knik River onto the flats. 

6/28 - Cottonwood Lake
Was helping Chad clear some trees of a lot to turn into firewood. I realized we must be close to Cottonwood Lake, and were actually right on it. The homeowner let me go out on her dock and get some pics. We had been out here in the canoe before and I always get a kick out of the mini light house (left corner). 

7/1 - Glenn Highway
Went for a rainy road trip up the Glenn Highway. Amazing views around every turn, it's one of my favorite drives. Spent a couple hours this evening by myself driving north. I pulled over when I could to enjoy and explore the river banks. 

7/2 - Lake Lucille...full circle
Went back to where I took my first picture on Day 1. I say time is cruel, and it goes too fast. I look back over "30 Days," and I see a lot of time. I see some time that even got away from me. We have so much time...especially when we keep our head's up.