Monday, March 2, 2015

Missing Photos of the Week

I have been absolutely failing at my goal, but I have a really good defense.  Last week I was out with a strained back and could barely move, let alone go out on a photo adventure.  So that was last week and I'm missing this week because I couldn't go anywhere last week.  I was still out with my back.  So apologies for this incredibly boring post.  On the bright side, I'm mobile, and I even climbed yesterday.  It'll be slow going to get back any endurance and strength, but I'm on my way.  I'm also still putting together Part II of my trip report from last February.  I'm failing on so many counts.  Midterms are behind me so I'll have more time for me and my tasks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Photo of the Week 2-16

Burnside Bridge, Portland, OR. 2010.

Alright so I failed a little bit with actually shooting last week, so this one's from the archives.  Although I didn't actively shoot, my inability to forced me to revisit old images and rediscover my own work.  This is from September 2010, and previously has probably only been seen by me.

Burnside Bridge was built in 1926 and spans the Willamette River.  Interesting fact, it is the only bridge in Portland that spans the Willamette that was built with an architects input, that is why it his the Italian Renaissance towers and decorative metal railings.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Photo of the Week 2-9

There are a couple things going on with this image, first this is a film scan, second this was color film that was crossed processed, processed using BW chemistry, and third I was having issues with my film camera at the time and while rewinding the film after it getting stuck I accidentally damaged it.  The vertical streaks you see at the tip half of the image is a result of that damage, and yet I still think its a great print.  I took an iconic natural wonder and presented it in a new light, the light of unpredictable film troubles and and alternative process.

This was not taken last week, but I finally had this film developed after sitting on my desk for nearly 3 years.  So although I didn't really pick up my camera last week I'm still keeping with my goal to move my photography forward by actually developing all the film I've had sitting around for years.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Wanderings and Thoughts of Thoreau Part I

I decided to drive to Colorado Springs, CO last February to support one of my incredible youth climbers from the team at USA Climbing's ABS Nationals.  Long story short, it was to late to find a decently priced airfare, so I had a 'to hell with it' moment and decided I needed some time off anyway and turned it into quiet the adventure.  This was my first major solo trip I had ever been on, and looking back I'm still happy I didn't have anyone else with me.  It was as if I had a chance to press a re-start button.  I only had myself to worry about, which is probably the most selfish statement, but how can you be there for others if you don't have yourself figured out.  Whenever I get a chance to drive more than 30 mins, I find I can process things.  Whether its thinking about a friendship, relationship, work, etc driving has always been my time to just process. This trip gave me the ultimate opportunity to do just that, process.  It was also a chance to just enjoy my surroundings, and appreciate the landscape.  I think many times people forget to stop and look around, if you live in an overly developed place,  I don't blame you, but even then architecture is an amazing thing to observe.

On this ~2500 mile journey I drove through 5 National Forests, 1 Conservation Area, 1 National Monument, and 4 National Parks.  I had ample opportunity to just be and enjoy.  I can't put my thumb on it but there's something about wilderness, it hits me, not in a subtle 'oh this is pretty way' but in an indescribable impact on me.  I want to live somewhere, where the wild landscape dominates, there aren't to many people and I can appreciate the silence and beauty that those types of areas have to offer.

I am currently in an American Environmental History class, while reading one of our assigned books I came across a quote that resonated with me, "Let me live where I will, on this side is the city, on that the wilderness, and ever I am leaving the city more and more, and withdrawing into the wilderness," Henry David Thoreau, may I say one of our earliest environmentalist made this remark.  When I came across this, I stopped and took a minute, Thoreau stated perfectly how I feel so often. I find I'm happiest, not surrounded by people, but by nature and most importantly animals. The relationships you can cultivate with animals don't necessarily mean more than those with a person, but they just have this extra quality about them.  The ability to create a relationship not through words or conversations, but through interactions and understanding that animals instincts and signs makes for a much deeper level of understanding.  I digress, back to the trip.

The first half of my trip was tightly scheduled, I had to be in Colorado Springs by Thursday, February 27th at 6PM.  I started out on Wednesday from Santa Barbara to Zion National Park in Utah.  I arrived in the early evening delighted to find that in the off season you can drive through parts of the park in which normally you're forced to take a shuttle.  It was refreshing to see Zion at my own pace. It was so quiet that I could stop in the middle of the road to take pictures, which is especially useful if you intend to capture wildlife, if you don't have to walk up to them they won't run away before you have a chance to snap the shutter.  In off seasons national parks and forests seem to be reclaimed by the wild.  Native animals roam free again and even take over the developed areas.  I woke up at dawn to deer munching away on the vegetation at my campsite.

Captured a herd of deer along the side of road while driving thought the park.  MMcDermut Photography.
Due to the cold and for safety, I slept in my car.  Here's my set up (this was back when I drove an Acura MDX).  It may look a little messy but it was rather organized.  

Zion National Park. MMcDermut Photography.

Day 2 of driving was a long one.  I woke up around 6AM had a quick breakfast consisting of oatmeal and coffee and headed out.  I decided instead of going up the I-15, I would go up US. Highway 89.  The 89 cuts directly up the middle of Utah, alright a little further west then the true middle.  You drive between the Grand Staricase-Escalante National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park and the Dixie National Forest.  Needless to say the terrain is incredible, relatively un-inhabited, and the towns you do pass through are teeming with history and are quite alluring.  I have many towns I want to revisit to photograph for a series I have been thinking about for a while. A series about forgotten and decaying places, capturing the beauty not just the decay.

The 89 connects directly to Interstate 70.  The 70 is the most direct way to cut east to Denver.  Admittedly the drive on the 70 through Utah wasn't the most exciting, a lot of desert, a lot.  Right before the state line, the terrain became a bit more inspiring again.

 Once on the Colorado side, it got a bit more interesting, I started to see snow again, and lots of it.  Then I descending upon the White Fish National Forest. Unfortunately I have no photos from this section of the drive.  What makes driving through the White Fish National Forest such an incredible drive?  The interstate is crammed in this canyon meandering right next to and sometimes above the Colorado River.  Many times the east and westbound lanes are stacked instead of laying next to each other, but because of these tight quarters there are not many areas to pull off to snap photos.  This is one of those places you just have to see in person.

This rest of the drive didn't present me with anything overwhelmingly interesting.  Some old historical mining towns, a bison farm, but those are the only things that really come to mind, and Denver traffic.  After driving 12 hours I made it to the hotel at 5:50 for the coaches meeting which started at 6.  I'd say thats pretty perfect timing.  I met up with Mike the other coach, Will, the owner of the gym and then Pablo and his family.  The rest of the night was very mellow, food and then a much needed shower and sleep. The next morning was an early one, Pablo climbed in the first group and absolutely crushed, he easily made it to semifinals. So we had a whole afternoon to kill at this point.

So we went here.  This is Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.  Not the best photo, I snapped this with my phone, but hopefully you can make out the sandstone fins jutting up from the ground.  Such an incredible place.  These fins tower about you and create a maze walking around them.  And they are climbable, there are bolted routes on many of them.  Naturally, being with a bunch of climbers, we took our empty afternoon and filled it with climbing.
 Mike belaying.  

Pablo making fun of the sign keeping non-climbers out. 

Logan on a seemingly impossible 5.12c (if I remember correctly) 

Again, concluding this day with a nice hot shower, some good grub surrounded by great people.  Pablo's mom, Danielle was gracious enough to have me stay with her great aunt who happened to live in Colorado Springs.  I got to stay with the kindest family, they opened up there home, fridge and pantry to a complete stranger with no apprehensions.  When that level of kindness surrounds you, its infectious, in the long term not just the short.

Pablo climbed mid-day Saturday, faced some of the hardest competition climbs he has ever been put in front of, and just missed making it to finals by one place.  Pablo placed 11th in semi-finals and they take top ten to finals.  Even without making it to the final day, this was incredible.  Pablo had never climbed competitively until this season and here he was making it through Regionals, Divisionals, and onto to Nationals, and not just that through the quarter finals onto semi finals.  This was Pablo's first competitive season and my first season ever coaching climbing.  It was an incredible run and an exhilarating introduction to my job of coaching.  

Perseverance.  Without that Pablo would not have gotten to the stage at Nationals.  I not only teach in my role as a coach, but I learn tremendous amounts from my team.  Its inspiring to see someone so young work so hard for something.  I think I had forgotten how much perseverance is required in life, to get through school, and be able to achieve any goal in life.  Perseverance is mandatory.  That isn't the only thing I was reminded of, I learn from my team every practice.  Just working with youth you are forced to learn how to communicate on so many levels.  You must be able to break something down to many different levels for it to be understood.  My role as a climbing coach is not the only thing that has taught me that skill, being a horse back riding instructor gave me the strongest foundation.  I can now make so many analogies to explain anything I need to, a skill I employ with adults as well as youth.  

After a much earned day of rest and fun we went to  Earth Treks Climbing Gym in Golden, CO on Sunday. 

This wasn't just fun because it's a jaw-dropping gym with its ~50ft lead walls and amazing boulder problems, but because it felt like home.  I started climbing September 2012, right after I moved back to Washington, D.C. the gym I climbed at back east was, you guessed it, Earth Treks.  Earth Treks has 3 gyms around the D.C. and Baltimore area, the owner Chris Warner, who has summited Everest and K2 actually lives in Colorado.  Which is why they opened a gym in Golden, CO November 2013. I climbed at Earth Treks in Rockville, Maryland.  Nearly every night after leaving work with the Senate I would take the metro out to Earth Treks.  I cultivated some of the best friendships I have ever had with folks I met at Earth Treks.  I was living in D.C. with a group of 30 fellow Lewis & Clark students during our domestic study program.  Although I lived and saw these people every single day I didn't connect with them at all.  I felt very out of place and lonely whilst being surround by them all the time, this was on the heels of going through one of the hardest times of my life so far, battling with depression and being extremely withdrawn from everything around me.  So I put my foot down and found a place I fit in and felt comfortable in, which was Earth Treks.  I cannot thank the Earth Treks climbing community for being there and helping me find my place and people I connected with, most importantly to my incredible friends Lauren and Gavin  who helped me keep my head above water.  DDT!  

Earth Treks is home and even though this wasn't Rockville, it was Earth Treks.  I even saw a few familiar faces, when they opened the Golden gym, some staff from back east moved to Colorado to help open the new gym and cultivate the same atmosphere the Maryland gyms have. 

If you've made it this far, wow. I did not realize how long this was going to be.  I've decided to split this trip long into two parts as to maintain some audience instead of boring you to death with one gigantic post.  Stay tuned of part II! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Introducing my Photo of the Week! And following up on 2015 goals.

As hokey as it is I'm going to post at last one photo from the previous week.  I'm viewing this as a way to keep myself accountable for one of my 2015 goals.  I wanted to explore creative outlets, one being my photography, if I have a photo of the week, I have to be shooting and actively finding things that are intriguing to my eye.  This will also ensure I'm writing at least once a week as well, these posts will certainly be much shorter than my others, but I'm still writing, I'm never to concerned with length. So without further ado my first photo of the week.
Alright not the highest quality image, it was shot with my phone, and its edited a bit, but this was hands down my favorite photo from last week.  This of course is Champ, well being Champ.  He's the silliest horse I know and always give me a good laugh.  One of the great things about taking pictures of him is I never know what I got until I look at everything later,  these little nuggets of hilarity are always a surprise.  

Switching gears; here's an update on the little progress I've made on my 2015 goals.  I got a chance to climb outside this weekend! I went up to Lizards Mouth with a great group of friends and actually had a chance to work on my long term project, The King is Dead V6.  For how weak I've been feeling I certainly surprised myself.  Getting established to make the first move has never been super easy for me.  You have a thin slot for your right hand and a crimp for your left.  Get a high right foot and a barely there left heel hook and blast up right to a sharp gaston crimp.  I hit that move nearly every time I tried it this weekend.  Now its just re-establishing my feet for the next move. It felt really good to hop on that problem again.  I'm feeling more motivated to climb in the gym to train so I can finally tick this problem off my to-do list.  

I finally picked up one my antique books.  I chose William Shakespeare's As You Like It for my first read.  I was trying to pick a book and thought I should choose one of the less daunting books that stared back at me, ease into the harder ones. 

I still haven't started to pen my trip reports, so I'm lacking on that front, but overall I'm moving forward with the 2015 goals.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Belated Retrospective of 2014

With a new year comes new beginnings--or so people say.  I'm not fully convinced that with the passing of another year the previous one just goes away, but it does encourage taking a retrospective look at the time that has passed.  I think its important to look at the past to learn and grow.

Looking back on my year, I have many fond memories and many frustrations.  I spent most of 2014 injured and unable to climb or train.  After a pulled muscle in my back last February, I tore the collateral ligament in my left ring finger in March.  Followed by an extremely long recovery, about 8 months long, I finally started to feel comfortable climbing and training, then in mid-December,  I took a nasty fall outside while traversing over water and rocks to get to another climbing area at Red Rock in Santa Ynez.  I fell 10 feet down with my right leg landing directly on a boulder, shocked I didn't break it by the force and lucky to just end up with a huge hematoma along my shin and a muscle contusion.  Unlucky because it took me about 6 weeks to feel comfortable climbing again.  Alright now I've gone in 2015 with my chronicle of injuries but the saga continues.  I climbed a bit during my trip to Salt Lake City, but on the final drive back to Santa Barbara I was stung by a bee in the thigh and had a more severe allergic reaction than the average person and was out with a sausage leg for another week.

Now after all of that I finally feel like I can say I'm injury free and ready to train.  Injuries were one of my frustrations and my travel, albeit there wasn't that much, was one my fondest memories from the year.  In late February 2014 I took my first major solo trip.  I drove to Colorado Springs, CO from Santa Barbara and back to support one of my team climbers at USA Climbing's ABS Youth Nationals.   Maybe I'll put together a much belated trip report about this trip. Here's a teaser photo.

A look at Zion from maybe a new perspecitve. MMcDermut Photography.

In early September I made the biggest purchase of my life as of yet.  I bought my first car! I purchased a 1986 Diesel Toyota Land Cruiser BJ70 LX.  It's a right-hand drive import from Japan, and I'm the first US owner besides the importer-dealer I bought it from.  This is a memory I am fond of not only because I love my car but because I had quiet the adventure picking it up.  The importer is located in Ozark, Missouri, and turns out it was cheaper to fly to Missouri and drive my new truck back instead of having it shipped to California.  So I did, along with my mom (she was a bit apprehensive about all of this).  We flew to Springfield, MO drove a little ways south to Ozark and I asked some questions, drooled over my car, and signed the papers.  Beastie was mine :) Then we embarked on our adventure.  We drove north to Kansas City then west to Denver.  Cut south and then west again through the Four Corners, meandered through Utah/Arizona, stopped at Lake Powell, then Zion, headed south through Las Vegas and finally Beastie was home in Santa Barbara.  Probable trip report to follow again.

My most recent trip to Salt Lake City took place in 2015, so I guess wait a year and I'll take a retrospective look at that trip then.

After thinking about my 2014, there were some holes that I want to fill in 2015.  I definitely did not read enough.  I have a few incredible shelves of antique books I've collected and I barely cracked open one of them.  So in 2015 I'm going to read at least one of the shelves.  Some of the books are quiet dense, like Tolstoy's War and Peace. So I won't get too caviller and say I'll read both shelves.  I also want to explore my creative side a bit more.  I hardly picked up my camera throughout 2014, but every time I did, I was reminded how much I love photography. Partially because of capturing moments I thought were worth capturing, but also because it was a creative outlet.

So hopefully 2015 will be a year of riding and time spent with Champ, climbing and training, reading and learning, photography and creativity.  Trip reports to follow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The First Post

Let me begin by explaining how and why I chose the name of my blog. I decided not to long ago that I wanted to write my observations, commentary, musings, and trip logs down. I didn't want to just write in a journal and lock it away, I wanted my writings on a public forum. It makes you really think and process the things you're writing about because other eyes may read it, it also just feels like it means more. I started to think about all of this seriously as I was on a solo road trip from Santa Barbara, CA to Salt Lake City, UT with many detours. I was about 5 hours into my drive when I thought about what to name my blog. I wanted to incorporate the word adventure if possible because I hate feeling stuck. I feel most myself when I'm out on an adventure. So that part was pretty straight forward. I chose adventuress for the feminine flare. I do enjoy getting dressed up every now and again, in between being covered in dirt either at the ranch or out on a rock. 'Lone' took some thinking and has a much more deeply rooted tie to me. I chose lone because the majority of my most epic trips have been alone. Driving to Colorado from California, stopping at five national parks along the way, all done alone. My most recent trip previously mentioned, taking a week to drive to and from Santa Barbara to Salt Lake, all done alone. Being alone doesn't just connect to my travel, but also one of my fundemental views. I think finding happiness outside of human interaction is the most important thing for lasting happiness. To me people are inherently unreliable and fickle, I don't fault is for it, I just think it's in our nature. So being alone is not a negative to me, if I can find happiness by myself I can hold on to it much longer if I don't tie it to the people around me. I do enjoy people, we are supposed to be social creature, I just don't want to put all my happiness into people. In short the word lone carries a great importance to me. Hopefully this is only one of the few times I get philosophical, as my goal for this blog is not to make judgement (ok maybe sometimes), but to comment and make observations on the world around me. This blog is a place to just write my thoughts, but not my personal stories of pain and anguish about every failed relationship and friendship including every little detail. My personal emotions are for me, I feel no need to share every last detail. I will merely comment.

Now a basic intro, my name's Maggie, currently located in Santa Barbara, CA. I work as a horseback riding instructor in Santa Ynez, CA and a climbing coach and manager at the local climbing gym. I also occasionally work as an assistant to a local photographer and model a little on the side. I'm also trying to finish up college. 

Riding, climbing, photography, and outdoor adventures are my biggest passions. I have a crazy and inexplicably cute German shepherd, greyhound, and cattle dog mix, her name is Mila. Champ is a Belgian Warmblood (thats a breed of horse) and just like Mila is a bit nuts, but he's still managed to weave his way into my heart. Be prepared for many stories and photos of those two, they mean a great deal to me.  I also have a bit of an odd car.  I drive a 1986 Diesel Toyota Land Cruiser BJ70, it was imported from Japan and I'm the first US owner, besides the importer/dealer.  It happens to be right hand drive.

All of these passions, beings, and things shape who I am and influence my actions greatly. 

I also occasionally feel like I should just move to southern Utah and make a living off exploring. 
 Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. MMcDermut Photography. 
 Champ being himself.
 Model Champ.
 These two mean the world to me. 
 I have a smiling dog. 
 And a model dog.