"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Should I Take the Camera Today or Leave It at Home?

 Maybe I won't take a camera with me today, I thought as I got everything ready for my last day of litter picking for the foreseeable future.

After all, I reasoned, I've taken multiple pictures of every wildflower out there.  And, seriously, what am I going to do with all those photos besides clog up my computer and slow it down ever more.  Then I rebutted my own argument, remembering my self-imposed admonition never to leave home without at least a little point and shoot.

I guess it would be best, I admitted, in case I saw some animals.  So, along with a cooler of bottled water, a chicken sandwich, and an orange, I took both the Nikon L120 and a Nikon Coolpix S8000.

I drove towards my destination forty miles away, stopping and picking up the occasional beer bottle and McFastfood wrappers.  The highway looked pretty darned nice, considering the Fouth of July weekend had just ended and the streams of vehicles that had headed to and from Seward for that holiday.

I found that pink lupine in Turnagain Pass.  A little farther down the road, I dwarf fireweed and some Arctic daisies posed for a picture.

Along the sides of the road, goatsbeard and cow parsnip vied for my attention.  When I parked the truck at Mile 73.5 and started walking, I took the little point and shoot.

My journey took me behind a guardrail.  I hate walking behind guardrails.  The ground is very uneven and difficult to manage.  But who could object to walking through lupine, fireweed, daisies, red clover, and sweet yarrow?

Then, sooner than I expected, I was within site of my eventual goal.

Down at the bottom of this hill is the saltwater of Turnagain Arm.  That's my goal--Ingram Creek just past mile 75.  The milepost on the far side of the road is 74.  A mile and a bit to go and I'll be at Ingram Creek, forty miles from home.

The day was a hot one.  Too hot for this long-time Alaskan.  How I wished I could have been wearing shorts, but this time of year, I know better.  The roadside grasses have seed heads and this little wimp is sensitive  to those seeds.  The first time I encountered them while litter picking, I bent over to pick something up and the grass tickled my chin and neck.

Five minutes later, the sensation was no longer a tickle, but an irritation.  Thirty minutes later, my skin was on fire with stinging.  No shorts for me on this hot day, not until the highway guys mow the grass.

This was as far as I'd go today, though.  Tomorrow my pickup goes in the shop to get those awful noises coming from the rear end silenced.  No time table for its recovery.

On the way home, I came across a young woman near Mile 72, deep into pulling the flowers heads of orange hawkweed.  She already had three bags full.

Hawkweed has a beautiful orange flower, but it's an invasive weed and crowds out native species.  I didn't envy her the job.  Across the highway, the hawkweed was even more extensive.

"Yeah, I know," she sighed.

I stopped to pick up something just beyond her.

Straws.  Plastic straws.  A gazillion of them.  In that grass that has seed heads on it.  The darned things were scattered along a hundred feet of highway shoulder.

No using the grab stick here.  It would take me a week to pick them all up that way.  It was my bare hand or nothing.

Fortunately only my forearm touched the grass seeds, and it's a bit tougher than my neck and legs.  The stinging wasn't much worse than a mosquito bite.

Straws.  A gazillion of them in the litter bag.

I drove towards home, stopping to pick up bits of litter.  Finally I reached a spot with goatsbeard and fireweed growing against a rock wall.  The sun was hitting the goatsbeard just right, and I couldn't resist.

Leave the cameras at home?

Who was I kidding?


  1. I'm glad you didn't leave it at home, I enjoy all your photos, but especially the flowers...and weeds.

  2. Never ever leave that camera at home. Everything is so dry and dead here it's the only place I get to see blooms and green grass. Like Rilly said, I enjoy all your photos.

  3. If you enjoy taking pictures, you should never be without your camera. You never know what's going to pop up that's picture worthy.