Sunday, July 18, 2010

Point Reyes

The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horse's ears. ~Arabian Proverb

Which is why my friend Emma and I carve out a few days from our busy work and family schedule each summer and take our horses to the Point Reyes National Seashore.

Lots and lots of horse friendly trails, 150 miles of it to be exact, trailer parking, hitching posts and water which are provided at several trailheads, and of course great views make this western most tip of the continental USA the perfect place for horse and rider.
We usually start at the Bear View visitor center, to get a map and the most current trail info, and then we head out to enjoy that tranquil scenery together with our horses.

After a day of riding we come back to our home away from home, the Point Reyes Country Inn and Stables

The host Tom Evans made his B&B as horse friendly as you can wish. Nice stalls layered with fresh wood shavings, many of them even with paddocks make sure that the horses stay as comfortable overnight as we are in the lovingly furnished rooms of the B&B. But the best is yet to come, after one woke up to the soft neighing of the horses, Tom greets you with such an delicious breakfast, that you easily survive a day in the saddle with just a light snack.

Point Reyes Station, the little town where the B&B is located is a place with character. As we stroll through its main street, we discover a lot of nice, tasteful and useful stores. My favorite being the Flower Power:

Another highlight of Main Street is Toby’s Feed Barn, a family owned true general store, which offers a wide range of goods from organic, local produce to pet food and hay, to gifts and garden supplies.

On our way to dinner one evening I noticed a sign saying MARIN ORGANIC on quite a few stores and restraunts, including the one we chose for dinner, the Stellina.

Curious about this I set out to learn more about it: Regarding to the West Marin Citizen, “Marin County is the home to 250,000 residents, 20,000 cows, 15 million oysters, 500 acres of organic fruit and vegetables and a vision for the future”. A century ago Marin was the “milk” basket of the country, just as the Palouse is the breadbasket nowadays. But the industrialization and centralization of mass produced dairy wiped Marin off the map. Instead of desperately trying to keep up with the frenzy, Marin turned the table and specialized on small scale, local, artisan and organic food. MARIN ORGANIC , an increasing network of farmers, restaurants and local retail stores, was founded 1999, to promote and support this organic county and to address many environmental issues. It sees itself as the primary link between farmers and eater!

An admirable concept, a working concept for sustainability that the whole country should adopt!

Monday, July 12, 2010

ICP Awards on National Geographic News

The ICP Awards Winners are featured on

National Geographic News!

Check it out!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Loose in the Palouse

After the excitement of the Reception in Seattle, my friend Daisy Gilardini and I decided to drive east and see what the Palouse has to offer.

Coming back home from this trip, friends would ask two questions.
The first one was: “Where have you been?” and upon my answer:
“Photographing the Palouse”, I most often looked into a puzzled face.
So here the extended explanation:

The Palouse lies roughly in the northeast corner of the state of Washington. Grasslands and savannas once covered the large area, but now it has been plowed and converted to grain fields. The Palouse is mainly a wheat growing area and the largest producer of lentils in the United States. A combination of just the right amount of rain, thanks to Washington's Cascade Range and the deep, rich volcanic soil make the Palouse to a very successful breadbasket of the West.

Now, why would two wildlife and nature photographer go there?
That, on the other hand brings us to the second question: “What did you do there?”
Well, we usually got up around 3.45 am, yep that's right, 3.45 am! to be on the top of Steptoe Butte for the sunrise:

My favorite:

After the sun got too intense on Steptoe Butte, we would hop into the car, and see where the road would take us...

...which were not always the roads we expected... scout out nice barns and calming, rolling hills.

We had all kinds of weather, from blue sky... a few clouds... more clouds... a stormy sky...

...and even a full grown storm

And in time for sunset, around 8 pm, we would be back at Steptoe for the nice evening light and of course the sunset. After the third day of that “vacation” regimen, we would quit the midday scouting and just go back to the hotel and take a nap!

Our last evening had a special treat for us, it was full moon and we got to photograph the rising full moon over the Palouse.

On our last morning, however, we had actually planned to sleep in, we had plenty of nice sunrises, and Daisy had a lot of driving ahead of her that day. But remembering that it was full moon, we didn't want to miss the setting full moon. Dragging out of bed at 3.45 am we sleep-drunken got dressed and on the way to Steptoe. Arriving there we were rather puzzled and confused, our full moon was just a mere quarter moon. Not quite awake yet, we doubted our self, assured us, that we had indeed photographed the full moon the evening before and tried to find an explanation for this weird occurrence. Since it was a brilliantly clear morning, it couldn't be clouds...suddenly it dawned on us...”check the lunar eclipses for 2010” Daisy asked, and sure enough one of the two lunar eclipses in 2010 was right there, on June 26th. We didn't know if we should cry or laugh, but in best photographers manner, we used the nice early morning light and photographed our last rolling hills.

No setting full moon then, sorry...

Please make sure to check out Daisy's blog as well at

Friday, July 2, 2010

July Conservation Tip

" The chief characteristic of civilization is the sacrifice of the future for the present"
- William James, Harvard Professor, 1890 -

Every once in a while I get "Rootstock", a news magazine that is put together by Organic Valley, I guess I must have signed up for it somewhere. Usually I just quickly browse through it, take out the coupons and then put it in the recycling bin. This time however, on my coupon hunt, I stumbled upon this quote. That, I thought, sounds rather interesting. And before I knew it, I was reading a captivating article about the World Food Plan. Never heard about it? Well, that's ok, since there is non...And the article does not provide one, BUT makes one thinking about an issue that we are easily forget in out daily worry about global climate change, oil spill and else, the issue about global hunger. Again the article does not provide solutions, but thoughts and ideas, that actually could help develop a "World Food Plan".
I know, you don't have the time....but if you can carve out 2 or 3 minutes, I urge you to read the Rootstock article.

Coming just back from the Palouse, photographing the beautiful rolling hills of monoculture wheat and crop dusters flying from sunrise to sunset, this article really hit a nerve.

So, this months conservation tip is not much of a tip , but more an encouragement to think about what we eat and how it gets produced.