A friend and I were recently chatting about how – in the hurly-burly rush of our daily lives – we miss the beauty around us. Before the conversation was out of my mind, I came across these images I took some years ago while traveling to San Diego on business. Yes, these are random shots of the American West, various sites and places unknown, but I began to wonder how many others noticed the same thing? Did anyone else notice the change from desert, to mountains to plains? I don’t know, but I hope I wasn’t the only one.
Much of what I flew over that trip was “fly-over country” not something particularity interesting or much to take note of as some people think. I challenge this idea. While the scenes passing beneath me 30,000 feet below are forbidding in some ways, potentially boring to others, they were regions where Native Americans lived and thrived while also being obstacles that our fore bearers conquered in making this country. These lands offered opportunity and freedom. Pioneers hoping for more opportunity and better lives for their children crossed these regions – sometime conquering them, sometimes losing all they had and sometimes even giving their lives. These lands helped shape who we are as Americans but I fear many people have forgotten that fact.
You may look at the image above ro of those in the gallery and think that the views are interesting, but it’s just rock, forest, and rivers. Noting interesting – they will be there in 10 year, 100 years probably even 1000 years. But they will never again look as I’ve captured them here. Whether it is the change of the seasons, the angle of the sun, even the flight path of the aircraft makes all the difference. What I’ve captured won’t be captured again – at least not in my lifetime. And I want to share this once in a lifetime opportunity with you to enjoy the images and see the beauty that I saw.
I want you to be open to taking that short amount of time in you crazy busy days to notice the beauty that’s all around us to see.
March 13, 2016
Mt. Blackburn (left), Mt. Drum (forefront) and Mt Wrangell at the head of the Wrangell Range
Driving Highway 1 from Anchorage on the way to Valdez, Alaska is a pretty solitary drive. Stark but beautiful landscapes surround you as you travel along the road. I was motoring along in April yet the temperatures were fairly nice requiring me to only have a hoodie on against a very light chill. As I’m driving along heading into Glenallen looking for a gas station to fill up, I start to see peaks in the distance. Hiding and peeking from time to time, the mountains don’t come into view until you pass a crest in the road and it drops away into the distance. There before you is the start of the Wrangell Range with Mt’s Drum, Wrangell and Blackburn displayed in full glory.
The picture I’ve included at the top doesn’t do the view justice. The three mountains wreathed in white snow and ice sit majestically looking like you could just drive up to them. Along the side of the road, is a sign that shares that these are not just mountains but also volcanoes, with Wrangell being the biggest volcano in Alaska. There are also signs – from time to time – of geothermal activity at Wrangell, none of which I witnessed. I had always thought volcanoes existed in the western part of Alaska and along the Aleutian chain, but the friction of the continental and Pacific plates are at work here as much as they are in Washington State or California, so it makes sense. What is interesting is that unlike the explosive stratovolcanoes elsewhere in Alaska or in the Cascades, the Wrangell volcanoes are more like the ones in Hawaii, being built over time by numerous layers of highly fluid lava.
If you’re ever up in Alaska and find yourself on the road from Anchorage to Valdez, take some time to admire the beauty of the Wrangell range and if time allows, to visit the Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve.
Panorama image of the Wrangell Range from a turnoff outside of Glenallen, Alaska. Click on image for full size.
All images taken with Samsung Galaxy S5
July 7, 2015