I've Decided

That it's time to work on this blog.  A few weeks ago I went to El Malpais and wanted to do some night photography. 

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This wasn't a good evening.  I was homesick for Oklahoma.  I just wanted something normal.   

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Driving around in the desert to shoot the stars.  My divorce was just finalized and I've been feeling lost.  

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I just don't remember a lot about this night except how terribly homesick I was.  

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But how amazing the night sky is in the southwest.   

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I'm trying to remember that night. I knew I felt better by the time I was home, at the same time I was still lost.   I'm grateful for the friends I've had this last month who have helped get me through. 

A Dead Blog

My blog is nearing the state of one of the lost ones.  Seven years I've worked on "Expedition Oklahoma"  but this last year and a half have been the hardest to maintain interest and stay motivated.  I have also spent the last six months in technological limbo; a failed internet connection and just a state of apathy about continuing to write my life down and document it one photo-essay at a time.   So I've had a huge change in my life and it is truly changing and my "expedition is no longer Oklahoma"  - I have moved to New Mexico.  Starting over.  

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In 2009 I was a frustrated teacher looking for images so I could educate my students about the state of Oklahoma; when I realized I didn't know Oklahoma at all.  I wasn't familiar with the history and the sense of place outside of the textbook.  I could teach but I could not educate because my own depth of knowledge wasn't deep enough.  So I took my camera and I started exploring when I had the idea for a blog.  I wanted to learn everything I could about Oklahoma so I could become an effective educator.  Here I am seven years later and I'm in a new state and I am an educator of state history - so once again I embark on a journey.  My sister suggested I rename my blog to "Expedition Oklahoman"- which is a wonderful idea but it probably won't happen. 

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This fall I made the great pilgrimage to The Grand Canyon and it was everything and more that I imagined it could be.  Less than a day's drive from my new home and I can see this incredible place.   I think the last year I have re-entered the education profession after two long years of graduate school.  I worked in a difficult school where I commuted a hundred miles a day.  I spent 2015-16 exhausted.  The pay in Oklahoma never allowed me to feel caught up with anything or enjoy my life as an educator so I decided to make a change.  I moved to a state that at least compensates their teachers with a living wage (which I do not see Oklahoma ever being able to do).  It is much easier to work in a position where you feel independent and able to support yourself.   I also moved because my asthma is so bad in Oklahoma that it affects my quality of life. 

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I moved in September and it's late February now.  I've appreciated the slower pace of life of living in a rural,  isolated community.  I've had to adapt to experiencing winter.  I've learned that not everything is as urgent as it could be and staying home and not always being busy is possible.   I want to find my love of writing/blogging/and photography again.  I want to find a love of a lot of things again. I feel that in the last year that I've begun to lose some of my passion for living and am choosing to not explore like I had.   

Snow in PineHill NM January 21 2017-1-2

A few weeks ago we were snowed in for a week.   My house surrounded by the towering Ponderosas and a foot of snow.  I am adjusting to high altitude living and am better off because of it.  

Snow in PineHill NM January 21 2017-1-6

In the last year I've practically given up astrophotography and the drive to go out and work on landscapes is leaving me; perhaps this is what happens when you feel that you've reached mastery level.  I grow bored once I realize I can do something and do it well, yet I know I can still improve.  I've grown bored with Oklahoma and my life and I want to find the spark that keeps me interested in living again even if that means I have to do things the unconventional way. 

Snow in PineHill NM January 21 2017-1-3

These are low res images so they don't appear as sharp on the page.  This is the first night shooting I've attempted in over a year.  I love shooting at night yet I haven't worked up the courage to do much night shooting in New Mexico.  The skies are dark and amazing though.   

Snow in PineHill NM January 21 2017-1-5

This post is all over the place. I have kind of stopped writing, yet there is so much I have to say.  Perhaps with my internet working at my new home this will be a start again.   


National Radio Astronomy Observatory - A Very Large Array

On the Plains of San Agustin lies the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the home of " Karl G. Jansky A Very Large Array."

Plains of San Agustin  New Mexico -1

This basin in Catron and Socorro counties in New Mexico is around 55 miles in length and 15 miles in width.   The plains are a remnant of a Pleistocene era lake.  After driving from where I'm living in Cibola county to the town of Fence Lake we continued to Quemado and across the mountains to the Plains of Agustin.  

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I think driving into these vast plains between the mountains is as impressive as the dishes.   I love landscapes like this, these basins that were carved out millions of years ago by natural geologic forces.  

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We stopped to take some photos before we arrived and read these signs...

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These signs should be when you enter the Plains of Agustin.  

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Now for the fun stuff....   

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My sister said I need to change my blog page name to "Expedition Oklahoman"   -  Not bad.  

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How they move them further away from each other or closer depending on what part of space they are hearing...

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This is how they move them around the rail around the Plains of Agustin 

A Very Large Array -1

This is amazing, the technology of what it can do.  Seeing something that you've only ever seen in the movies.  Amazing.  

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Showing us that there is more out there than our little planet...

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So if you happen to be in New Mexico, I suggest stopping by and visiting A Very Large Array 

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We think our presidential election is so significant... 

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But if you look at the Milky Way we are nothing in comparison to the big picture.  


November Stars

Yes I did photograph the stars briefly last week...  

Mom's Mailbox-1

If the wind dies down I might go out tonight.  My stomach has been bothering me this week.  I guess it's stress, I feel like I'm drowning and I can't stay afloat.  I have so much work to do.  

November Stars-1

I will never catch up.   I'm tired.  I can't feel like I can justify spending time on what I want to do when I'm not caught up on edits.   I primarily wanted to take a regular job to gain my hobby back - but due to this fall's weddings and extra booking I still haven't found that place where I am caught up.  I haven't time to work with the studio lights I've purchased.  I just haven't had time.  

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I guess I'll check for the wind and see if night photography is an option tonight.  My first attempts at long exposures were a year ago...


Anyways - I can't believe it's  November already.  Time goes so fast.  


The Sun, The Moon, The Stars...

I will never be caught up with work.  I have to accept it and get over it.   It is the nature of the job.  


Yesterday was the first day I've felt "good" since September 8th so what did I do?  I stayed out until almost Midnight with the moon and the stars....  

I have spent the last year and a half thinking I will be caught up on my portrait photography work too, which is usually a brief respite in between booking.   Now, I have a clear date where I am not booked, and it's a nice feeling. I realized that September and October would be insane for me, I didn't realize that I would also spend three weeks of September sick. 

Eclipse and Milky Way-1-4

My neglected blog, here is the blood/super moon...eclipse, I get on my high horse when I see people fawning over the moon when really the universe is quite amazing if you take the time to look away from your screens and be aware of it, without Facebook telling you to. 


Like a good American, I took a selfie with the eclipse... 

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While you were watching this....  did you see....

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This...  it was out there, next to the eclipse.  By the way, I think it's awesome people have photography skills but can we stop being in awe of composites? 

Sunset -1-3

This evening I had a portrait session so I snapped a few shots of the sunset before I went home.  Between driving and work I haven't had a lot of time for anything lately. 

Sunset -1

It's 11 and I made it home by 8 this evening from my shoot.  An hour of rest and then to load images.  

Sunset -1-4

And I'm too tired to do anything else, so hopefully I will get some work completed tomorrow.  I can barely keep my eyes open.  


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Talimena Drive at Night

Starry Talihina  (1 of 1)

Thursday night was amazing, we drove up into the Ouachitas on Talimena Scenic Drive which connects Talihina Oklahoma to Mena Arkansas.   I had to go to the dentist on Friday (no fun at all) so we drove out and got a motel room in Talihina and went up to watch the stars in the mountains which did not disappoint.  

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I was in Arkansas four days and really haven't processed those photos we made it home on Sunday and I had a portrait shoot and a full day of shooting for Easter Seals along with housework, school shopping, bill paying and all that other adult nonsense. 

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I had to edit these.  This was by far the best night shooting that I've done- despite the wind.  To be able to see the Milky Way clearly with the naked eye was unusual 

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It was so dark I really had to adjust my camera settings. I've never had to shoot with an ISO above 1000 and that night I was shooting at 1600 and wide open.  

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It was an incredible view.  I began this wanting to shoot star trails and now I'm far more amazed at the Milky Way. 

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We enjoyed our starry night on the Talimena Drive. 

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I will update with more soon!   But right now I'm still not feeling the greatest so I will add more photos later. 

Early Morning Sardis Lake

Sardis Lake  (1 of 1)

Last Saturday I thought I had a headache.  It continued to grow worse and by Sunday night I had an unbearable toothache.   So I made the dreaded trip to the Choctaw Nation Hospital to the dental clinic.  Of course I took my camera and wide angle.  I do love to stop at this lake.  The pain wasn't too bad when we got down there but I still didn't feel well at all.  

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But I felt well enough to play around with some long exposures as the early morning light peeked out of the horizon.   I love this lake, it's a beautiful sight.  I did make it to the clinic and was put on pain killers (which I can't take because they make my stomach hurt) and antibiotics (which I'm trying to take religiously so I can return and have this tooth pulled). 

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Which has helped slow us down a week in the home improvement project.  It has also slowed me down a few days in doing much of anything.  Fortunately the pain is gone and I'm back to normal but definitely ready to finish the medication so I can have a permanent solution to this problem (which I've known about and chose to ignore for too long).  

Sardis Lake at Night (1 of 1)

I would like to spend more time here, but I'm usually just driving through.  

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It was right around 5am when we got there.  Early morning traffic was beginning to filter by. 

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So I had written more but since my blog server doesn't auto-save my posts I've had to go back and add these photos again. I'm sure you don't come here to read my writing anyways.   

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 One more before morning....  I may go out and shoot tonight but I'm not sure how ambitious I'm feeling.