Sunday, May 24, 2015

Travels as a kid.....

Frankly, I don't know why I'm thinking of this topic this morning. Maybe it was because I saw something on Facebook that triggered an old memory. But for some reason, I started to think about a particular kidhood memory.

Now, my dad LOVED to travel, and his preferred method was to drive. When I was too young to join him, he and my two older brothers often travelled to see various family-related places in Colorado or New Mexico. When I was 8, we took our first "family" trip in a rented cab-over camper, visiting the "Grand Loop": Grand Canyon, Zion and Bryce. How we got five people in that thing for a weeklong trip, and never KILLED each other, I will never know. But for me, as a kid, the memory of being in the part of the camper that cantilevered over the cab, seeing the open road in front of me, or crawling through the pass-through from the camper to the truck cab - those were strong memories, and ones that I wish I could forge now with my own kids.

After my dad's mom passed in 1970, she left him a large sum of money. She too liked to travel by car and see things, so it was only fitting that my dad went out and purchased a motorhome. We had rented a particular brand called Cortez on a short trip in 1970, so dad went and purchased a used model, a 19-footer (big at the time). I look at photos of it now and think to myself (again) how did we take trips in that thing with all five of us and NOT kill each other! The motorhome was boxy, heavy, had a small Ford truck engine that was NOT suitable for a vehicle that weight, had a 4-speed - and we LOVED it! My dad even commented on how much he enjoyed driving it, and he drove a Thunderbird at the time. He could sit behind the big steering wheel, with the huge front and side windows, and drive for 8-10 hours without fatigue, and enjoy the open road in front of him.

I have many fond memories of the few trips we took in the Cortez. The biggest and most adventurous one was our family trip all the way to Minnesota to see my mom's brother. I was 11, and my mom and I flew to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, to meet up with dad and my brothers. We stayed near the Tetons, went up to Yellowstone where we stayed a couple of days, then on to the Custer Battlefield, across into South Dakota to stay with a cousin of my mom's, then into Minnesota. Dad did most of the driving, with mom occasionally helping him, and my oldest brother Donald, who was 18, driving us across the Missouri River. I have memories of frequent hot dog dinners, scrambled egg breakfasts, KOA Kampgrounds, snow in Yellowstone, how cool it was for being summer, and hours and hours of sitting in the double-wide front seat with either my mom, or my brother Jim, watching the highway pass underneath. 

I wish I had the discretionary income not to buy a new motorhome, but to find one of those nearly 50-year old motorhomes and restore it, and then pack up the kids and go. Retrace (to the best of my ability) that long family trip, and enjoy being with the kids. Of course, there'd be fishing along the way, and plenty of photographic opportunities. But just being out there alone would be fun.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

What was so special about WWII?

It's Memorial Day weekend, and as I scan Facebook and Twitter, I see many references to what this weekend means for so many people. Overwhelmingly it's about remembering those who gave the ultimate sacrifice - their very lives - for some cause. This is a time for us as a country to give that collective thank you to all those men - and women - who gave their lives.

But when I look at the wars the United States has engaged in, particularly in the last 100+ years, I find that there are more instances when those lives were sacrificed for something that really was not quite justified. We look at the 2003 Iraq war now with jaded vision, thinking that we should have not gone in there after all. We view our longest active war  - in Afghanistan - almost to the point that we really don't think about it anymore. The Vietnam War was hugely unpopular, and only today do we truly thank those men and women for their service - perhaps out of guilt more than gratitude. Korea is called "The Forgotten War", and technically, it's not over. And the United States was drawn into WWI in Europe, and in doing so, ended that war quickly. So, which war - to me - made the difference? 

Without any doubt, it was WWII. 

While we went into Iraq based on faulty or misrepresented intelligence, there was absolutely no misrepresentation as to our reasons to go into WWII. Granted, there are historical revisionists and conspiracy theorists who will say that Roosevelt KNEW the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor, and he allowed that in order to get the USA into the conflict. Perhaps, but there is no concrete evidence to suggest and confirm that he was complicit in that. But even if he WERE complicit, who could blame  him?

Europe was under the domination of a regime that eliminated the voices of dissention. It was controlled by a set of men bent on complete European, Russian, African and middle-eastern domination - a new "Empire". They had exterminated millions of Jews. The only country standing up to them was the United Kingdom - England mainly. Adolf Hitler was a dictator of the highest degree, and his goals, his hatred, his twisted view of things, made it necessary for the United States to intervene there. Ironically, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the USA declared war ONLY on Japan. Due to their alliance with Germany, Germany declared war on the USA. Had they not, things could have been vastly different. What would have this world become if Germany had prevailed? 

And let's look at Japan. At that time, Japan was seeking domination of the western Pacific, China and southeast Asia, primarily for raw materials. But they too saw themselves as an Empire, and wished to control these areas under brutal military rule. There was a viciousness in the common Japanese soldier, something that our Army, Marines and Navy found out quite quickly after the fall of the US-held Philippines and the tragic "March to Bataan". Our battles in the southwest Pacific on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima and Okinawa showed us that we were fighting a different type of soldier with a different view of battle. It was horrible. And when it was done, our troops had difficulty in adjusting. But they were united in understanding the reason for fighting the Imperial troops of Japan. And what would the Pacific be like now if Japan had won? In a sense, Japan did, since we buy Japanese cars and for years, the best audio and televisions came from Japan.

WWII was really the ONLY war in the last 100 years that was not ambiguous, or provided any "gray" - it was simple black and white. Our propaganda machine titled Germany and Japan as "The Evil Axis", and in a sense, they truly were.

So on this Memorial Day, yes, we honor all those - even from unpopular wars - who gave their lives. But I particularly wish to remember and honor those who fought in a war that literally saved the world. 

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Carpe diem....

I can't think of anyone who hasn't seen "Dead Poet's Society" that wouldn't be able to quote the famous line spoken by Robin Williams' character - "Carpe Diem - sieze the day". Years ago I took that lesson to heart as a life philosophy, although altered slightly now to this....

Live your life with no regrets
Take opportunities as they are presented to you
Don't let yourself miss out on something that could be good

I can think of many occasions in my personal life where I took this life philosophy to heart. And I remember where it was that I embraced this life philosophy.  

It was 1994, my dad and I were on our last big photography trip together, and on this one night we were in Moab, Utah, just outside Arches National Park. I really wanted to go out and photograph the famous Delicate Arch at sunset. Dad chose not to join me, so I drove to the parking lot, pulled out all my camera gear, and began the mile-and-a-half hike to the arch. About a third of the way in the trail took a long ascent, and my nearly 50-pound bag of gear and 10 pound tripod began to wear on me. I was about to turn back when I thought "I may never get out here for a long time, and I'll regret not having gone out there." So, I kept on, and was rewarded with a beautiful scene: the sun had already gone off the arch, which disappointed me. But the light that bathed the natural amphitheater in a soft pink light made the few images I took exciting. I ended up thanking myself for "forcing" myself to make the hike.  

Since then I have had many instances of opportunities presented - both in my personal and professional life - and I have grasped them. Over my career I've been offered new positions or responsibilities, and I took them. After I was laid off from my employer of 30 years, I took a position within my profession (printing), but in sales - a financial risk and something I'd never done - but I didn't let that stop me. And for 13 months, I felt I was succeeding. Now, I have a new opportunity (ironically with my former employer) to do something new and exciting. I was given a new opportunity, and I have embraced it. 

In my life I've made life choices based on this new philosophy. Many years ago I met my wife, but was hesitant to date her because she was a single mom. But I kept bumping into her, and began to think I might be missing out on something. So, I seized an opportunity, and after 15 years and two kids, I have no regrets.

I fully and firmly believe that when opportunities present themselves to you - take them. Grab a hold of them. Embrace them. These are the times when we grow as people, as human beings.

CARPE DIEM - Sieze the Day!

The reason I sing.....

I saw a couple of posts today on Facebook, and for some reason, in my mind they were linked. One was from a choral music friend of mine about how we need to teach singing in schools again. And the other was from another Facebook friend, wishing her mom an early Mother's Day.

For me, Mother's Day these days is about Lorrie being a great mom to the kids. Her mom and dad's anniversary is this weekend, and they always go out of town. And my own mom is 91, and her dementia is so advanced that she doesn't know who I am anymore.  

And yet, when I read those two posts today, the overwhelming thought I had was that I was taught singing by my mom. She was a singer, and had sung at our church in Glendale long before she married. She was a soprano, and to hear her sing as she washed dishes, or folded laundry, or even as she did her daily devotionals, was a normal part of the life of our house. But more than that, she taught me to sing by the loving way she'd sing to me every night as a child from her mother's beat up and well-used hymnbook. I grew up listening to her soft, clear voice singing such wonderful hymns as "He Comes to the Garden Alone", or "How Great Thou Art", or "Old Rugged Cross".  While most mothers sing lullabies, she sang hymns. And because of that, I started to sing. And I HAVE been singing for over 45 years.  

So, this Mother's Day - well, I can't truly wish her a Happy Mother's Day. But I can continue that gift she gave me - singing.  

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Revisiting M*A*S*H

I was my son's age (14) when I started to watch the TV show "M*A*S*H" in 1975.  It was the series' 4th season, just after Blake and Trapper were gone.  We were introduced to B.J. Hunnicutt and Col. Potter.  My parents and I watched the show every Monday night in it's 9 PM time slot, and I would get home from school and watch the reruns at 4:30 from the San Diego channel.  I learned lines, jabs, quick witticisms, and loved Hawkeye's often Groucho Marx-ish humor.  When Burns left, and the character of Winchester came on, the humor changed, because it wasn't filled with the stupidity of the Burns character.  Much of the slapstick that had been part of the show during Burns' time, left with the character.  Winchester was more formidable.  As the show continued, I found the humor was forced, storylines not very clever, and by the time the show ended, I was disappointed, but not sad.  I had always felt the decline started with the introduction of the Winchester character, even though he was smart, intelligent and sophisticated. But I missed the wacky humor that had been so much a staple of the first 5 seasons.  

However, in watching two episodes today on Netflix, I found something else, something I'd seen, but not really absorbed. The two episodes were "Fallen Idol" and "Images".  In "Fallen Idol", Hawkeye encourages the young and innocent Radar O'Reilly to go to Seoul to, well, get things taken care of. In doing so, Radar is wounded, and Hawkeye feels a great sense of guilt. He gets very drunk, and during surgery has to leave to throw up.  Radar, who's recovering in post-op, talks to and somewhat scolds Hawkeye for getting drunk, and says that a lot of people (mainly Radar himself) look up to Hawkeye. And in Hawkeye's leaving surgery, he let a lot of people down.  The scene is tense, because Hawkeye blows up at Radar, and says several unkind things.  

Now, I'd seen this episode many times, and really, it was not one of my favorites.  But today I saw it differently: I saw it as a wonderful study of character, and more importantly, character development. At the end of the episode, the two close friends reconcile, and while they're over at the local watering hole, Hawkeye trades his beer with Radar's soda.  I really found myself watching the episode intently, because it was such a wonderful job of acting for those two.  Radar "grew  up" in front of my eyes. The episode was written and directed by Alan Alda himself.  

The other episode was called "Images", and it followed "Fallen Idol" chronologically. Over the length of the series, and due to the influence of both Alan Alda (a well known feminist) and Loretta Swit (who played Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan"), the character of Houlihan evolved, and the often caustic relationship between she and Hawkeye changed as well.  She was fleshed out more as a woman and as a person.  She dumps Frank Burns for someone else, and he leaves at the end of season 5.  Upon her return from her honeymoon in the first episode of season 6, she confides in Hawkeye and B.J. about something that happened during her honeymoon.  "Hot Lips" is gone.  Margaret is now her name. And in these early episodes of season 6 we see the dynamic between Margaret and Hawkeye change.  In "Images", we see this relationship take a significant step towards that friendship that the two eventually will have. This episode, like "Fallen Idol", was directed and written by Alda, and he briefly explores the evolution between Hawkeye and Margaret from adversaries to friends.

There is a touching scene where Margaret is in the mess tent, and overhears that a small dog that she's been secretly feeding was killed.  She starts to cry, and leaves the mess tent, running into Hawkeye. He senses that she's troubled and offers to help, but she refuses, escaping to her tent. He follows her in, and soon she breaks down. It is a wonderful moment that gives us a sense that Margaret is a real and complex person, and Hawkeye is beginning to understand and appreciate that. Just like the episode with Hawkeye and Radar, this was one that had layers, wonderful acting, and a depth that went beyond the humor.  These episodes both explored key relationships between the characters. That was something Alda wanted to do, and we see season 6 as key to when we really learned who these people were.

Now as I watch M*A*S*H, I can watch it for what it became - a sitcom that had wonderful drama, and real characters.  Yes, it was funny with Burns and Blake, and Trapper as Hawkeye's buddy.  But the introduction of stable and complex B.J. Hunnicutt, and then Winchester, elevated the series into something very unique.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Travels with Father - our trip along The Grand Loop

One of my longtime goals has been to share the stories about the travels I did with my father.  I wrote an introduction back in November of 2013, and you can read that here. I've shared our 1985 trip to Sequoia, King's Canyon and Yosemite, and now here is the journal from our 1986 trip.  Enjoy....

Travels with Father – 1986, Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon

It had seemed to me that the year since our trip together in 1985 had been good.  I was in my 3rd year of full employment at Westamerica Graphics, and the wedding season had been busy with weddings.  I had been shooting weddings now in addition to assisting, so the income was greater.  I had purchased a Volvo turbo station wagon to haul all the lights, background and camera bags that I took to every wedding.  Still living at home, I had a good amount of income.  So this time, I wanted to take a more ambitious trip. 

Dad had been retired now for over 11 years, and our relationship had improved greatly.  I was not yet spending time with him in the darkroom (that would not happen for a few more years), but I was doing a great deal of photography that I would show to him for his commentary and critique.  I was beginning to have a more creative eye, and appreciated his viewpoint and instruction.  As was his method of “teaching”, his criticism was constructive, more of “why don’t you try this next time” rather than “you should have done this”.  My confidence as a photographer was growing.

I teamed up with dad to lay out a trip that would somewhat recreate what our family had done in 1969: the “grand loop” as it’s called.  A trip through the three major national parks on the Colorado Plateau: Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon.  However, we decided to alter the trip slightly, adding the Valley of Fire north of Las Vegas on our way to Zion, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon instead of the South Rim.  I believe we planned a full 10-day trip, because I seem to remember a great deal of time spent in each location. 

As was our custom, a great deal of preparation was made for the trip.  We packed enough clothes for the several days on the road.  We packed both dry and cold food for lunches and snacks.  I made sure that the Volvo had good tires, an oil change, and was in good shape for the nearly 2000 miles we’d drive.  And film.  Plenty of film.  All 35mm slide film.  Kodachrome.  Dad had always liked Kodachrome over its sister Ektachrome because of its red-bias.  We tended to do most of our photography in the mid-day and late afternoons when light is warmer.  So, with ourselves all set, we got up early the next morning, packed up the Volvo, said goodbye to mom, and headed out.

Getting out of the LA Basin was easier back then.  Since the I-15 from the 91 to the Cajon Pass did not exist yet, we had to go through Riverside to the 215, and head north from there.  But even with all that, the traffic was non-existent, and we were zooming up the pass in less than an hour from leaving home.  Our first intended stop was Boulder, the city that is closest to Hoover Dam, and where we stayed the first night on our family trip back in ’69.  However, when we arrived, all hotel accommodations were full.  At least, we thought.  Dad planned the trips to the AAA guidebook, and always booked our rooms in advance.  He did not do so in Boulder, and we did not bother to locate any other rooms there.  It was still early enough in the afternoon that we continued driving to Henderson, where we found a room easily. 

Early morning photography, image by Cliff Prothero
It was up early the next morning, because we wanted to get to the Valley of Fire at sunrise.  I had been there during our trip in ’69, and have vague memories of it.  I knew that dad, Don and Jim had gotten “stuck” there during the big family trip of 1971, but other than that, I had little exposure to it.  We entered in by coming north out of Henderson, skirting the western edge of Lake Mead, and entering the park from the east.  The sunrise was to our backs, rendering all of the red rock in very brilliant tones.  We parked, and started to explore, taking out the cameras.

A word about our equipment here would be in order.  Dad had always been a Nikon man, having a Nikon F during the trip in 1971, and now was using a Nikon F2.  He had an assortment of lenses, but he loved to work with zoom lenses so he could “compose” his shot by zooming in or out.  I had purchased a Canon F1 the year before, and like dad, preferred a zoom lens to help in photographic composition.  I also had a 28mm wide angle, which I liked to use for certain compositions.  To this day I remember how well balanced and solid that Canon F1 was.  We both had tripods, but we both hand-held our cameras except for low-light shots.

Valley of Fire is a beautiful place to photograph in both the early morning and late evening when the light angles are low.  It also has very interesting rock formations that allow the photographer to create very interesting shots, using the natural composition of nature.  I found myself walking around, spending a great deal of time looking at detail and shadow, looking for geometrical shapes.  The weather was pleasant and I did not feel the need to dress too warmly.  We spent a couple of hours there, until our stomachs reminded us that we had not yet eaten breakfast.

We left the park by the eastern road, heading north through Overton and up to I-15, where we turned north to Mesquite.  We drove into the sleepy town (before the casinos had been constructed on the highway), and stopped at a cafĂ© for breakfast.  It was Sunday morning, and I was surprised at all the locals there who were obviously not in church.  I was also surprised at all the cigarette smoke and smoking.  There was no “non-smoking” section here, and it reeked of tobacco.  There were also a few nickel slot machines that were getting quite a bit of brisk business.  Mesquite was the last town along the I-15 corridor in Nevada before you hit the northwestern corner of Arizona, so I was not too surprised at the gambling.  I had an excellent pancake breakfast, despite the acrid smoke.  We soon left sleepy Mesquite, and headed up the I-15 through the corner of Arizona and up into Utah.

I have certain vivid memories of this trip of the landscapes we saw.  I am sure that I had seen them during our trip in ’69, but only being 8 years old at the time, they did not make that much of an impression.  They did now.  The drive through the Virgin River Gorge was spectacular, and to this day it still is awe-inspiring.  Soon we were on the Colorado Plateau, driving through St. George and up to the turn-off for Zion.  The drive was pleasant and un-crowded.  Of
Zion, image by Cliff Prothero
course, it was the first week of October when all of the summer travelers were gone, so it was naturally un-crowded.  We pulled into the town of Springdale, which is the town at the gates to Zion National Park.  Dad had made reservations at an inn called the Bumblebee Inn.  It was mid-day, and we knew we’d be early to check in, but we wanted to anyway.  When we go to the inn it was deserted.  Not as in decrepit and decaying, but no one there.  The office was closed with a note stating that the proprietor was at home watching the Mormon Annual Assembly on TV.  That’s when I realized we were in Mormon country.  There was a note that lodgers should just go down to the rooms, find one of the cleaning staff (who were non-Mormon I assumed), and select a room.  We did so, finding a cleaning lady who let us into a room on the upper floor, right near the stairs where I parked the car, making it easy for us to unload gear.  It was a very nice, very big room with a balcony that overlooked a “stockade” in back. 

This stockade was interesting.  It looked like a movie set that had been built
Image by Cliff Prothero
and stocked with carriages, traps, wagons, stagecoaches, and other vintage items of the “old west”.  I went to explore, but found I could not get in. However, there were gaps in the fencing which allowed me to point my lens through and get some interesting shots.  It turned out that we were the only guests in the inn, which surprised me a bit.  But as we traveled on during this trip, it became apparent that early October was not the preferred travel time for most folk, which suited dad and I very well.

We left our room and drove into the park, stopping at the visitor center for a bit, where I bought a book of David Muench photographs – the first of many of his books that I have, and the first exposure (no pun intended) to this master of landscape photography.  We drove further into Zion, stopping occasionally to take the brief hikes to the various places in the canyon and do photography.  We practically had the place to ourselves, such was the lack of other visitors.  It became very common in our future trips that we’d have places to ourselves.  In the early afternoon we stopped for lunch in a picnic ground near the Zion Lodge.  It was here that we continued our long and unhappy relationship with yellow jackets – those pesky and aggressive wasps that like food.  We put a cup of juice at the far end of our picnic table which drew them away from the rest of our lunch.  Whenever we’d run up against them we’d do this.  Nowadays, I’ll take a slice of lunch meat and toss that away from the table, and I have seen them go after that, literally tearing small pieces out to consume.  After our lunch and more photo time, we returned to Springdale later in the day, had dinner, and retired for the night.  Dad tended to like to go to bed early, so it was early dinners (like at 5 PM), followed by some TV or reading, and then lights out at 9 PM. 
Image by Cliff Prothero

The next day was clear and brisk, and we drove into Zion for more photography and exploration.  We drove up to the end and parked at the Narrows parking lot, where we hiked the paved trail to its end.  The temptation to go on up the Narrows was great, but I wasn't too adventurous yet.  We soon found ourselves having spent a great deal of time in photography and exploration, but we had to go on our way to our next stop, Bryce Canyon

We left the canyon, drove up the switchbacks to the tunnels that led you into the upper reaches of the canyon, where we stopped at the roadside to photograph a stand of red-leafed maples, and the checkerboard mesa.  Then it was on east to Carmel Junction, where we turned north to go up to the turn off to Bryce.  The road was wide open, 2 lanes, and smooth.  The next thing I knew I was going 70 mph, and as we went over the crest of a hill I could see a car parked on the side of the road a couple of hundred yards ahead.  My suspicion was that it was Utah Highway Patrol, and I started to slow.  As we approached it my suspicions were correct, and it was a UHP Mustang.  As I passed, it pulled out, and followed me several yards back.  Unlike the CHP, which rides your tail, this guy was so far back that I wondered if he was really after me.  So, I pulled over, and he did too.  As he approached my window I pulled my wallet and registration out.  He was quite polite, and issued a ticket with dispatch.  I was soon on my way, and vowed to be a little more cautious on my drive. 

Soon we were at Bryce, and checked into the Ruby Inn – the only hotel in the
Enjoying the pond, image by Cliff Prothero
immediate area at the time.  We had a pleasant room, with a small duck pond just outside the door.  We took a drive into the park, going to the main amphitheater stop and taking time to do some photography.  The weather was beginning to look iffy, with clouds beginning to form.  We returned to the inn, and I spent some quiet time on a picnic table next to the pond.  We went to the diner there in the inn, and returned to the room for the night. 

During the course of the night the storm rolled in, and when we woke the next morning the grounds were wet with rainwater.  Dad and I had decided the night before to get up very early for the sunrise, and drive the park road to the south end of the park, where we could get a view of the entire amphitheater.  We got up in the dark, dressed warmly, and drove off.  The road climbed in elevation as we drove, and we ended up at the parking lot with snow all around.  Fresh
Image by Cliff PRothero
snow.  We walked along the trail on the rim just as the sun was coming over the peaks to the east.  We looked to see the morning sun creep along the face of the amphitheater, and took several photographs.  It was very cold – not freezing, but in the 40’s.  The sun bathed the face of the amphitheater, causing the formations to glow and cast dramatic shadows.  We stayed there for several minutes, enjoying the experience until the sun was fully up and the light was not as dramatic.  We went back to the car, then back to the hotel to check out. 

The drive from Bryce west to the main highway, then south through Carmel Junction, down to Kanab, and then to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon still is one of my all-time favorites.  The day was clear, the roads open (and I stayed at or under the speed limit), and the country was glorious in the post rain sunshine.  I remember passing farms and small towns, and seeing the beauty of the area with a great sense of happiness.    The climb up the road to the top of the Kaibab Plateau was stunning.  By the time we reached Jacob Lake we were in the forest, surrounded by ponderosa pines.  The drive continued south out of Jacob Lake, and into areas with broad mountain meadows and aspen trees.  And something else that we would learn is part of traveling in the fall: road construction.  We had to wait for a while, and then be escorted for a bit while the Arizona Dept. of Highways did its pre-winter road work.  But the drive was still beautiful, and soon we were at the gates for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Image by Cliff Prothero
As we drove past the gates and on down, dad became even more quiet than usual, and then pointed out a clearing where several years before him, along with my brothers Donald and Jim, had witnessed a massive accident.  They had been following a logging truck in our motor home, when some idiot in a car pulling a small trailer passed him and was in the process of passing the logging truck, when a car came from the other direction.  The driver of the car pulling the trailer veered into the logging truck, which flew off the road, sailing into the trees, clearing the path that he was now pointing out to me.  The logging truck’s full load of logs continued with the momentum, flattening the cab with the driver inside.  He was trapped for nearly 2 hours before rescue crews could get there to help.  He was dead before he was extracted.  The driver of the car that caused the accident stayed at the scene, and dad recalls the driver fainting when he realized the driver of the logging truck was dead.  After our family had returned from that trip I recall us getting a phone call from the district attorney of the county, getting a deposition from dad as the primary witness.

Our cabin, image by Cliff Prothero
The drive to the rim was wonderful, and when we arrived at the Lodge we secured one of the cabins that dad had reserved for our two-night stay.  The North Rim Lodge was warm and inviting, built with stones and timbers hewn from the area.  There are no “rooms” in the lodge itself, but several cabins from single-room rustic to 2- room nice cabins.  We had the former, which was nice with two double beds, a small bathroom, and a thin wooden door that communicated with the adjoining cabin.  We spent the afternoon exploring, hiking along the narrow Bright Angel Trail (that scared me to death), and witnessed the afternoon sun setting from the west.  The clouds from the storm were high in the sky, creating even more drama.  We had dinner in the cafeteria, and then returned to our cabin for the night, reading until we went to sleep.

The next morning broke clear and crisp, with sounds of chainsaws.  The forest service crews were coming in around the cabins, selectively cutting trees with deft skill.  Dad and I had breakfast in the lodge dining room, and I decided to spend the cool and crisp morning reading “Sherlock Holmes” on the terrace, while dad went and did some solo photography.  After lunch we decided to take the drive out to Point Imperial and Cape Royal.  This was a beautiful side-drive
Image by Cliff Prothero
that led towards the east, and as we drove along my mind’s eye saw in the landscape that Tolkien had described in “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” – and I could see the path that the Ringwraiths had ridden on.  We continued on the Point Imperial, then to Cape Royal.  We returned to the rim, spending the rest of the afternoon relaxing in our cabin and reading.  At one point a small herd of mule deer appeared outside our cabin, and I sat on the stoop and enjoyed them before some idiot whistling loudly came by and scared them away.  We decided to return to the points east for evening photography, but only got as far as Point Imperial.  We returned to dinner in the lodge, and went onto the large outdoor patio to watch a lightning storm over the south rim.  We returned to our cabin as it started to rain. 

That night in the cabin brought one of my funniest memories from any trip we’d taken.  Dad and I were reading, lying on our beds.  My bed backed up to the wall that adjoined the cabin next to ours.  As I’d mentioned, the walls and door were thin, and so it was easy to hear our neighbors – a couple – actively involved in lovemaking.  I kept concentrating on the book I was reading until I heard the unmistakable sound of a fart – a loud fart – followed by a distinct gassy smell.  It was then that the man commented “ah, honey! I HATE when you do that!”  I suppressed my laughter, but dad could still see me laughing and asked what was going on.  I couldn't tell him then, knowing that our neighbors would hear my explanation.  But I did tell him the next day. 

During the night the rains came down, and it offered us a spectacular morning view, with low clouds hugging the temples of the canyon, and the air full of moisture.  It rained on us as we packed the car, and drove from the rim.  The drive out through the meadows was made more beautiful with the rain, and soon we were off the Kaibab and heading down towards eastern part of the Colorado Plateau.  The weather in this part of the Colorado Plateau is predictably unpredictable.  As we left the plateau and headed east to the Marble Canyon, the clouds loomed ahead of us.  By the time we were driving along the Vermillion Cliffs we were experiencing rain.  Not a hard, torrential rain.  We continued on south, towards Flagstaff, where we got a room for the night. 

Oak Creek Canyon
Image by Cliff Prothero
The next morning was beautifully clear, and we headed south out of Flagstaff, on highway 89A, which led us through Oak Creek Canyon (one of my brother Jim’s favorite spots while he went to college in Flagstaff), through Sedona, through Jerome, Prescott, and finally into Wickenburg, where we stopped for the night at the El Rancho Motel, one of our regular stops on our trips.  We ate dinner at one of the local restaurants, then back to our nice room for the night where I watched the Angels in the playoffs.

Our final leg home was from Wickenburg, all the way home to San Clemente.  A wonderful trip, with a great deal of photography, miles, and wonderful time with dad.