A Summer in Film. AZ - AK

Whereas a lot of photographers got their start using film cameras, I have only recently started dabbling in it. I consider myself to be a fairly patient person, but since I have gotten used to the instant gratification that digital photography offers, I have found my patience being tested in having to wait for rolls to be developed. I also like the added element of storytelling that each frame holds; the graininess, the blur, the light leaks, the out of focus that should be in focus… and as you’ll see, I’ve missed the focus in a lot of these. But all in all, I really love the effect that film gives, and in this digital age it’s nice to have a picture to hold in your hands. So this series was shot on a Sears KS500 film camera using a mixture of Porta 400 and Ektar 100 film. All were taken by myself unless you see my goofy mug in the frame, I blame Alison for those. All scenes are somewhere between Arizona and Alaska during a 12,000 mile road trip.

Kodiak, AK

My mom bought me my first camera when I was 15, a Panasonic point and shoot, and I brought it with me on my first trip to Alaska for a week of kayaking in Glacier Bay National Park. It was 2 years prior to this that my mom went to Alaska for the first time. Upon her return I distinctly remember hearing her say “As soon as I retire, I’m moving to Alaska”, which was then followed up by a collective sigh from my brothers and me and a “whatever mom”. Another couple years would always pass and then more talk from her on this ‘great Alaskan retirement plan’, always followed up by eye rolls from her children. As the years moved closer to her retirement different books started showing up like “How to build your own garden” or “Cabin building for Dummies” (probably made that one up, but you get the idea). The saved YouTube videos on the computer were about building houses out of clay, or creating your own hydroponic plant systems, and it appeared year after year that things were getting more serious. At the age of 64, a purchase was made for approximately 12 acres of land on the island of Kodiak in Alaska. Hanging up her stethoscope, Mom enrolled in a 9 month long fully immersive wilderness survival school in Washington in preparation for her dream of ‘off the grid’ living. This month she turned 67. These pictures show her cabin -- run off solar power and backup generator, the abandoned school buses that she has turned into storage for firewood and tools, her Alaskan Malamute/Hound mix, the surrounding beauty that is the Emerald Isle, and proof that no matter your age, it’s never too late to pursue a dream.

Beau- a Malamute/Hound mix. His hound side shows with his keen sense of smell, warning Mom of any bear in the area with a distant warning growl.

Abandoned Kodiak school system buses used for firewood and tool storage.

Doing my best Christopher McCandless impression- Into The Wild

Wrangell and Beau, oblivious to the deer in the distance

Choppin’ all the wood

Light Leaks

Occasionally light leaks are done intentionally to create a unique effect. Often times they show up on the first or last frame of the roll. Other times, one has had a couple beers or one too many whiskey nips and opens the camera case with the film still exposed… I still liked the effect of a few of them.

Lower 48

State 49

O Canada

I'm the best at blogging!

Well my plans to blog post on a weekly basis this summer didn't exactly turn out, sorry Mom. So here I sit, back in 106* Phoenix, AZ looking back on 69 days, 12,219 miles driven, 8 US states, 3 Canadian Provences, 7,899 potholes avoided, and twice that many hit. Yes, Chicken and North Pole are both real city names. 


Alberta & British Columbia

Traveling through Alberta and BC brought us upon two highly contrasting atmospheres. Our first few days were spent exploring Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks. Crowds galore! Almost every moment was spent rubbing shoulders with tourists. In an attempt for a bit of solitude we visited Moraine Lake at sunrise followed by a late evening hike at a lesser trafficked Emerald Lake.


Desperately feeling the need to escape the crowds we headed west out of the parks. Mount Robson Provincial Park contains the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies, Mt. Robson at 12,972'. It was rare that I paid for camping this trip, maybe 3 nights in total all trip. This night in Mount Robson was one of them but well worth it as we were tucked up against Yellowhead Lake, with a petrified tree acting as a dock to the lake.  

Completely opposite from the packed National Parks, the Stewart-Cassiar Highway offered complete solitude, unless you include the bears. Stretching 541 miles through rugged mountains and zero cell service, the "Cassiar" is a must see for any road tripper through British Columbia. Our first 24 hours gave us encounters with 10 black bear and 1 grizzly. A 41 mile side trip through a lush canyon with countless waterfalls and the massive Bear Glacier put us in Hyder, AK, the southernmost town in Alaska. Once a booming town during the gold rush, Hyder now claims to be "the friendliest ghost town in Alaska". 

Nearing the northern end of the Cassiar after a dozen more bear sightings, we had our eyes on Boya Lake Provincial Park to park it for the night. The lake provided turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and unlocked kayaks on an honor rental system. With the National Parks in southern BC charging up to 60 bucks an hour! for kayak rentals, the $20 a day at this far lesser used lake was a dream. 


Yukon Territory

Our night at Boya Lake marked our last on the Cassiar Highway, and the drive the next day put us into Yukon Territory. One is more apt to run into a buffalo than another human in this rugged country. Kluane National Park lies in southwest Yukon, bordering Alaska, and is home to Canada's highest peak, Mt. Logan, it's largest ice field, and North America's most genetically diverse grizzly population. After a night at an unexpectedly amazing camping spot down a quad road we opted to climb King Throne's Peak, a hike that sent us high above beautiful Kathleen Lake and into the low hanging clouds.  

ON TO ALASKA!! Stay tuned...

The beginnings to a great Alaskan road trip

Thursday afternoon, June 28 and the temps in Phoenix reached 109*. Wrangell had told us he'd had enough of the heat, so we began our road trip north. Our general plan was to head due north through the mountain west, up through the Canadian Rockies, deep into the Yukon and finally along the Alaskan highway to spend 5-6 weeks exploring the ins and outs of Alaska. We loaded up a 2001 Toyota 4Runner with homebuilt shelving and cooking area, topped with a rooftop tent supplied by Freespirit Recreation, and hit the road for cooler temps. A trial night in the mountains of Utah had us loving our new digs, and by day 2 we felt right at home as we pulled into Wyoming's Wind River Range. After a quick supply run in Pinedale, WY and using freecampsite.net to find camp, we made Soda Lake home for the night.

Evenings consist of a delicious camp made meal by Alison, mornings usually mean a search for the coolest coffee shop around. So after catching a bit of the World Cup and putting back some espresso we have a short drive to Jackson, WY and the Tetons. With the 4th of July approaching we were welcomed with busy parks and busy campsites but with some perseverance found camp in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. 

Woke up to this view from our roof top tent. Took a leak, let Wrangell out to take a leak, and made some coffee. Life is good.

The national parks system is not so 'dog friendly' so a big part of this trip for Alison and I would be finding places adjacent to the parks that would allow us to hike with Wrangell. National forests and state parks prove to be great for this. A couple that camped next to us in Bridger-Teton gave us intel of a dog friendly hike nearby, Goodwin Lake.


Hyalite Canyon just south of Bozeman was our next stop, and the crowds did not let up. After about an hour searching forest service roads in the rain we stumbled onto a gorgeous spot, sitting about 1,000 feet above Hyalite Reservoir and with grand views of the surrounding mountains. Just as we finished setting up camp for the night, the most unbelievable double rainbow appeared... Wrangell approved.

Bozeman proved to exceed our expectations with several cool coffee shops, MAP Brewery which had an acre dog friendly yard on the river, and our favorite brewery feature, the ice bar. We pushed north into the Flathead Valley, and seeing field after field of a bright yellow flower bloom, we decided to pull off for a little photo shoot, much to the dismay of the canola farmer. 

After an afternoon of gin and tonics and huckleberry bearclaws in Polebridge, and a night deep up a forest service road with mamma bear and her 2 cubs nearby, I set a 4am alarm so we could spend the sunrise hiking in search of mountain goat in Glacier National Park. The birthday hike did not disappoint.

As I write this, we are finishing up a day of errands in Whitefish, and will be hitting the road again this afternoon. Spending the next week through the Canadian Rockies and the Yukon, we are excited to be getting closer the our main destination. Alaska.