Wyoming

2017 Total Solar Eclipse at Glendo State Park, Wyoming

The big lesson learned from yesterday’s major celestial (and social media!) event?

Absolutely DO NOT miss a TOTAL solar eclipse. It is weird, eerie, and otherworldly…it makes you realize that we really do live in a universe with planets, moons, solar systems, galaxies and gases, other strange odds and ends, and elegant orbiting orbs.

We are mere specks!

A total eclipse is special. No camera or video really captures what it is like to be there…to feel the temperature changes…to see the shadow approach…hear the shouts of joy and amazement from fellow onlookers…to see the stars and planets that come out momentarily as sunset falls on the full 360 degrees of horizon.

Totality was barely 2 1/2 minutes. Like the noble and coveted orgasm, alas, too short, too short!

 

In this image, that may be Mercury off to the left. Maybe an astronomer can confirm? The corona is spectacular!

Total Solar Eclipse, #1. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017
Total Solar Eclipse, #1. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017

 

Here is the classic “wedding ring” as Mother Moon begins to move away from Sister Sun. Note the solar flares in the reddish areas along the rim:

Total Solar Eclipse, #2. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017
Total Solar Eclipse, #2. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017

 

And a handful of portraits–the confused and amazed human gang on the hillside, then three of those human observers close up, a camera aimed at the firmament, and, finally, to bring us back to the Earth’s surface and remind us of our inevitable mortality, one deceased-but-still-quite-elegant tree:

Total Solar Eclipse, #3. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017
Total Solar Eclipse, #3. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017

 

Total Solar Eclipse, #4. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017
Total Solar Eclipse, #4. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017

 

Total Solar Eclipse, #5. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017
Total Solar Eclipse, #5. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017

 

Total Solar Eclipse, #6. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017
Total Solar Eclipse, #6. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017

 

Total Solar Eclipse, #7. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017
Total Solar Eclipse, #7. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017

 

Portrait of a Deceased Tree. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017
Portrait of a Deceased Tree. Glendo State Park, Wyoming, 2017

Monochromatic Anthropomorphism At Vedauwoo’s Rocks

Anthropomorphism: To ascribe human traits, ambitions, emotions, or entire behavior to animals, non-human beings, natural phenomena, or objects. Even rocks.

Do you often see human faces or body parts in inanimate objects when you are out photographing? Then the Faces in Places Flickr Group might be for you. There, you can join others in posting your latest anthropomorphic discoveries. Some are quite unusual, even bizarre.

Here are four I found in the Vedauwoo National Recreation Area, a popular rock climbing, camping, and hiking area between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming.

 

In the first, once you see the face, you can’t stop seeing it. Examine the left side of this image. The lips are formed by that slightly arching horizontal crack near the bottom. A small nose with a slight shadow below it is just above, and a sort of eye socket can be seen in the upper left corner area:

Face, #1. Vedauwoo, Wyoming, 2016
Face, #1. Vedauwoo, Wyoming, 2016

 

This one might be a bit of a stretch, unless you are a dentist. Do they look at all like giant teeth (maybe with bits if food on them)? Sorta…sorta…

Giant Molars. Vedauwoo, Wyoming, 2016
Giant Molars. Vedauwoo, Wyoming, 2016

 

That’s a nipple on the left. The black water streak in the middle divides his chest. On the right, you can make out the line of his shoulder and arm, but the nipple is missing. I suppose that horizontal line in the upper left would be a scar from a late night knife fight in a bar during Cheyenne Frontier Days:

The One-Nippled Man. Vedauwoo, Wyoming, 2016
The One-Nippled Man. Vedauwoo, Wyoming, 2016

 

Finally, I was able to find a monument to The Man himself, Homer Simpson, among the giant rock outcrops. I’ll let you discover him on your own, but the nose is a nice hint–that rounded triangular rock on the right–and he has no eyeball. The more cultured among you might see, instead, the outline of a rather pensive philosopher:

Homer Simpson. Vedauwoo, Wyoming, 2016
Homer Simpson. Vedauwoo, Wyoming, 2016

Classic Motor Hotels

Wyoming Motel and Cafe. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Wyoming Motel and Cafe. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

Oh, how I would love to spend six months traveling the country and photographing these aging, classic, motels from the grand era of pre-interstate motor touring. Each has a unique personality…and, oh, the stories their proprietors (and walls) could tell!

The Alleyways of Downtown Cheyenne

Sometimes the alleyways are more interesting than the main streets. So it was on my recent visit to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

 

I would rank “The Buffalo” (2015?) as one of the two best urban street murals to be found in the City of Cheyenne (“The Cherub”–below–being the other). This one is a creation of Jordan Dean–his first, apparently–and can be found behind the Paramount Cafe. Spectacular…

The Buffalo Mural. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
The Buffalo Mural. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

On the left wing of the “Buffalo Mural” you’ll find this optical illusion done by Dan Toro (that link goes to an impressive video of yet another of Toro’s unique projects) in support of Dean’s big wall work…no, the band can’t really enter through that door…

Alley, The Paramount Cafe. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Alley, The Paramount Cafe. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

You don’t need to look too closely to spot where Jordan Dean finally exits stage left…

Muralist's Signature. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Muralist’s Signature. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

The Cherub” (2011), by Michael Cooper and just a block away from the Dean/Toro work, gets my vote as the other BEST urban mural in Cheyenne. Wonderful…

The Cherub at The Murray Building. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
The Cherub at The Murray Building. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

Ernie November is a music, T-shirt, and “other cool stuff” shop in the downtown area. You won’t see this unless you wander the alley…

Ernie November. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Ernie November. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

Another one you won’t see unless you check out the back entrance–Legend Comics & Coffee

Legend Comics Mural. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Legend Comics Mural. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

Now, to hark back to days of yore…These vertical billboards are now called “fading ads”, “brick ads”, or “ghost signs” and are an endangered species throughout the country, but a number can still be found throughout downtown Cheyenne. I wrote a short blog post about these old signs, with some background, history, and details, way back in 2013: See Henry George Cigars, December 8, 2013.

In the example below you can clearly read the “Drink Coca Cola” slogan above left, but the “Bull Durham Smoking Tobacco” paint is a bit more difficult to discern…

Ghost Ads. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Ghost Ads. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

“Delicious and refreshing”–it must have been Cheyenne’s official soft drink…

Drink Coca Cola. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Drink Coca Cola. Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

 

When Cheyenne built the big Frontier Mall out north of the airport in 1981, it spelled the doom of many of the small (and even larger) businesses in the downtown area. A story repeated ad nauseam elsewhere throughout our fair land of enthusiastic real estate investors and moguls. Alas, the 2008 recession hasn’t helped things in the urban revitalization department and many city center storefronts here are still vacant.

However, the City of Cheyenne seems to be working in the right direction and there are plenty of signs that downtown life is stirring–theaters (the melodrama!), cafes, small specialty shops, many scheduled events and activities (Frontier Days!), music, and so on. The obvious centerpiece is the renovated Union Pacific Railroad Depot Museum and Plaza, but the Mural Project is certainly another essential part of the program.

Social Commentary on the Great Plains

A quick up and back to Cheyenne for a family-related matter, but I had some time to make a few images with which I am quite happy.

First, a pilot on his/her way to…? Or, is this a statement about the religious culture in this neck o’ the prairie? You decide. Without these skies, I don’t think the composition would have worked quite as nicely. Plus, it adds an additional element of Mother Nature, of forces out of our control, of perhaps even a sense of foreboding…

Heaven or Hell. Terry Bison Ranch, Wyoming, 2016
Heaven or Hell. Terry Bison Ranch, Wyoming, 2016

 

Second, an image that would feel quite “at home” (so to speak) in my Neo-Topographics portfolio. The road leads to a new future…a future of development, of course. The giant bison cutout on the hillside serves as a reminder of a previous phase of “development” on the Great Plains. And the flowers? Well, we seem to always go merrily, happily, gaily down the road without seriously considering the long-term consequences…

New Plans for The Plains. Terry Bison Ranch, Wyoming, 2016
New Plans for The Plains. Terry Bison Ranch, Wyoming, 2016

 

Finally, a few miles to the north, I found this interesting landscape. The campaign poster is for Liz Cheney, daughter of our controversial ex-Vice-President. She is running on a conservative platform for the lone seat Wyoming has in the U.S. House of Representatives. Wyoming, the least populated state with fewer than 600,000 souls, is heavily conservative–yes, the philosophy of individualism and the lifestyle of the frontier are still quite alive here, pardner. Of course, the juxtaposition of the political poster with the smaller (and seriously humorous) ranch poster was what made the picture…

Cheney's Wyoming. Happy Jack Road, near Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016
Cheney’s Wyoming. Happy Jack Road, near Cheyenne, Wyoming, 2016

Home On the Range, Wyoming (aka Jeffrey City)

A Resurgent Home On the Range. Home On the Range (Jeffrey City), Wyoming, 2014
A Resurgent Home On the Range. Home On the Range (Jeffrey City), Wyoming, 2014

Out of respect for the original and current residents, in the title above I launch with the original, wonderful, romantic, name of this place: Home On the Range, Wyoming. What a great postmark that must have been–beats the common corporate name you’ll find on the road map by a Wyoming mile!

From the late 1950s through the very early 1980s, this place became known as Jeffrey City (named after a financial backer) and it went through a major league boom and bust cycle, roughly paralleling the market demand and national politics related to uranium ore. It is probably safe to say that the Cold War and over-inflated national nuclear power plant expectations spawned Jeffrey City and the Three Mile Island accident (March of 1979) killed it.

At one point (about 1979) the population reached its apogee at something like 4,000 souls only to fall to barely a hardy handful within a few short years (by 1983 or so). In its bustling heyday, the long list of amenities and services you would have found here would have amazed the prairie-blinded traveler: three gas stations, three bars/cafés, seven churches, several full-up mobile home parks, bachelor’s housing, company family housing, paved suburban streets, tennis courts, fire department, bowling alley, motel, laundry, bank, credit union, doctor, dentist and lawyer’s practices, emergency medical clinic, a newspaper, pinochle club, shooting club, beauty shop, Little League, Lion’s Club, Alcoholics Anonymous, Montgomery Ward, a sheriff and two deputies, a full primary through secondary school system, and a huge gymnasium with an Olympic-sized pool (built in 1980 and almost immediately shuttered).

Today, you may only notice Monk King Bird Pottery as you whiz by at 65 per on lonely Highway 287. Stop in. It’s a funky and friendly place. Go across the road to the Split Rock Bar for the latest local news and some refreshment.

In 2016, there could be another very slight boom in store for this sleepy town (perhaps an influx of up to 170 employees) if Energy Fuels Inc. manages to plow through all the legal forms–uranium ore once again. You can read the details in this April 15, 2013 article in the Casper Star Tribune.

If you are still curious, for more curious background on this curious locale, try these curious links:

–An historical summary written in 1993 by John W. Egan called, Home on the Range No More: Boom and Bust in Jeffrey City

–A 1992 scholarly article (well-researched and footnoted) by then-doctoral candidate Michael A. Amundson, called Home On the Range No More: The Boom and Bust of a Wyoming Uranium Mining Town, 1957-1988 (Click on the first link on the list for the pdf file.)

The Split Rock Bar and Café Facebook page.

–An interesting June 15, 2012 article (radio interview) on Wyoming Public Media about the surrounding uranium mines and associated environmental issues.

What follows is my personal photo essay documenting the current (October 11, 2014) condition of Home On the Range, Wyoming (Jeffrey City). Click here for 17 images of this unique place.

Yellowstone in Monochrome

Yellowstone in black and white? It sounds insane–such a famously colorful place reduced to mere shades of black, gray, and white.

But, it can be done, should be done, thy will be done, and I thoroughly enjoy doing it. Generally, these are images in which color was not a useful compositional element (IMHO, naturally!). Instead, shadow, tone, shape, form, line, and texture come to the fore.

Profile in Courage. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Profile in Courage. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Ripples. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Ripples. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Madison Morning Mist, #7 (Sunrise). Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Madison Morning Mist, #7 (Sunrise). Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Underwater Debris. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Underwater Debris. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Pathway. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Pathway. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
The Roar of the Falls. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
The Roar of the Falls. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Emergence. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Emergence. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Flying Fish. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Flying Fish. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Petit Volcano. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Petit Volcano. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
GRIZZ (The Look), #4. West Yellowstone, MT, 2014
GRIZZ (The Look), #4. West Yellowstone, MT, 2014
Deadfall. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Deadfall. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014

Yellowstone in Color

It’s a tough subject. It has been photographed into oblivion by millions the world over. The postcard racks are overflowing with pictures. Fine art galleries are full of huge, glorious prints by famous, professional, photographers.

The question is always…”How do I see things differently? How can I capture a different vision of this mysterious place?”

The Earth is Leaking. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
The Earth is Leaking. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Geyser Pollywog. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Geyser Pollywog. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Turquoise Pool Abstract. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Turquoise Pool Abstract. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Madison River Sunrise, #2. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Madison River Sunrise, #2. Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Dawn Moonset, #3 (from Mount Washburn). Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014
Dawn Moonset, #3 (from Mount Washburn). Yellowstone NP, Wyoming, 2014