Photography Places

In and around Missouri

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The best time to go for a drive in the country in Missouri is late Sunday afternoon, and yesterday I spent several hours wandering around Highway 94. This road is a mix of old and new, and very unique — from the open bar that attracts bikers in Defiance, to the old clapboard housing in so many of the towns.


Highway 94 is narrow and curvy and hilly and if you want to see the scenery, you have to go slow. However, if you want a fun kick ass ride, try going over the speed limit — I can guarantee you’ll go airborne.

Unfortunately, this happened with a biker as I discovered when I rounded a corner to a scene of police cars and a large motorcycle smashed into the hill along the side of the road.

You pay for your thrills.


The scenery was incredible, small towns and rolling green hills, thick impenetrable forests, with here and there pretty churches dotting the hillsides, each with their associated old time cemetary.


I spent way too long on the highway, and by the time I got to my Katy Trail destination of this weekend, it was heading towards late, late afternoon/early evening. Again, the only people on the trail are bike riders, and I had much of the trail to myself. Well, except for the wildlife, and there were birds. And birds.

The special treat yesterday was a golden eagle that took off not ten feet in front of me. Too quick for a picture, unfortunately. It was joined by blue birds and red-winged blackbirds and cardinals and meadowlarks and mockingbirds — my own personal chorus and feathered escorts. We birds, we flock together.


Not sure if I can do justice to the moment: late Sunday afternoon light, warm humid air, walking along a country trail with trees on one side, fields of grape and corn on the other, and bird song filling the air. Two rare red squirrels are chasing each other among the trees, and the only human sounds are my own footsteps crunching the limestone gravel on the path. It would on occasion echo against the limestone cliffs, creating an earie double sound, which was a bit unnerving. Here’s me always looking behind for the other walker.


I started my walk in Augusta, a beautiful small town in the middle of Missouri’s thriving wine valley. But all the towns I talk about are beautiful, aren’t they? Want me to vary this a bit, find a real pit and describe it? I’ll try this next weekend.

Anyway, I bet there’s not a one of you that knew that Missouri had vineyards — we assume these are only in California or New York or perhaps in the Northwest. Ha! Little do you know.

Augusta’s also famous for its old board buildings, including a bed & breakfast that caught my fancy near Katy Trail (a lot of quaint bed & breakfasts in this town), as well as other less well kept, but far more interesting buildings.


I don’t about anyone else, but I love old buildings, especially ones that are falling apart. There’s so much history in them — you can imagine the town when it was a railroad that went through it and not a hip trail, bringing in all the tourist bucks. Before so many of these towns lost over 10% or more of the population, in a mass exodus of youth to the city and other states.

Did I mention there’s a popular beer garden in town?


I wasn’t too long on the trail before I noticed that the limestone cliff on the one side had fallen back from the trail, but the trees along it were so overgrown with vines that they formed a hidden overgrown glade that was impossible to get to. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before, mysterious and a little surreal. Real Alice in Wonderland stuff.

I am aware that there is no real inimical life in Missouri, but the presence of that hidden world just on the other side of the bushes and vines and trees was — intimidating. I could hear sounds, and see movement out of the corner of my eye, and it felt as if I was being watched by a thousand eyes. I probably was: birds and insects and squirrels and the like. Still, I had a good work out walking crisply back to the car as the sun started to drop into mid-evening light.


If there’s ever a place to inspire a story, that place is the one. In fact, I find stories wherever I go. No wonder Mark Twain loved Missouri.

I tried to take a photograph of the hidden glades, but did poorly. You’ll just have to take my word about them, and I’ll try again later.

On the way back, I stopped at the Busch Wildlife preserve — this place of larger ponds with water lillies and bull frogs and geese, fish, and insects. Lots of insects. However, to control the insect population, the rangers posted several bat boxes about in the forest and greens.


I watched as the evening mist rolled in off the water, and the geese finished their evening feed, taking off across the lake.


I feel like a tour guide sometimes, talking about this road and that park and this scenic view, but there’s much that happens on these late Sunday afternoon drives, when I roll the windows down and turn on the music and drive the winding roads, thoughts only half on the beauty. It’s times such as these, away from computer and phone and other people, that you just flow along — no cares, no worries, no thoughts about yesterday or tomorrow.

You’re completely in the moment.

Each time I experience this living within the moment, I think what a wonderful, magnificent place Missouri is, and I ask myself how could I ever leave this state? The green and the gold and the water and the birds and the life and all which I’ve come to love.

But then, I’ve said this same thing to myself about every place I’ve lived for the last 30 years. I guess for people like me, home exists in a moment rather than in a place.


Photography Places

From the Archives

I have been scanning old negatives, many of which are starting to deteriorate, years earlier than I expected. The trouble with color film is that over time, the color fades and the film gets grainer and the picture can begin to degrade, especially if the film is not carefully preserved. The deterioration is hastened if the negative is put into an ill fitting plastic sleeve. No film does well when stuck to the sleeve and after having to be pulled out by force.

Luckily most of the negatives are salvageable, including some of my favorites. They are damaged, but a little careful work with Photo Shop hides much of the damage. It’s funny really how easy it is to fix a scratch with Photo Shop, because years ago, when I used to work for photographer in Yakima, one of my jobs was to use dyes and pencils to correct dust spots and damage in color photos or to add tints to black and whites. When I showed both an aptitude and interest for this type of work, the photographer had me trained in Seattle by a professional lab. It was less expensive to have me to do the work and I enjoyed it–better than doing books and waiting on customers, trying to get them to buy cheap wooden frames, while lying to them about how good they looked in their photos.

I worked for Bob off and on for four years, and in the last year all I did was freelance photo correction work for him, using a studio I created in my Dad’s garage. You couldn’t do the work in the house because the fumes from the sprays used to provide a work surface on the photo were nasty without a protective mask.

Now, tonight, a little Photo Shop magic helps me fix the scratches in an old photo in ten minutes that used to take me hours. Sometimes progress is a good thing.


This photo sure brings back memories.

I grew up in a small town dominated by an old fashioned saw mill. Some days the smoke from the mill would be so thick that our eyes would water, and an acrid taste would form in our throats, causing us to cough. Driving to and from our farm 12 miles outside of town we would pass big lumber trucks along the way; we kids would yank our arms up and down and the drivers would catch the hint and pull the cord for their horns, letting loose huge blasts of sound, smiling at our delight.

The risk and threat of fire was a part of our lives living in and among the trees of the national forest area. Once a fire got close enough to our place to leave scorching on our garage, like the dark spit from the tongue of a giant rapacious lizard. I grew up in and among those trees, spending more time in with them than with people.

(I imagine this accounts for my shyness at large parties and formal gatherings–after a few hours I am overcome with a strong urge to find the nearest stand of trees and quickly disappear from sight. Heck, give me a large enough bouquet and I’ll make a run for it.)

Of course, this explains my love of hiking. When I’m out on the paths, I’ll sometimes see a particularly big and beautiful tree, and I’ll just have to stop and admire it. After checking carefully around to see that I am quite alone, I’ll reach up my hand and touch the rough bark, lay my head against the surface, and listen to the heart of the wood; breathing deeply the wonderful brown-green and slightly pitchy gold smell. I used to think in more fanciful moments that I could actually sense the tree pulse with life.

Trees have the most wonderful feel to them.

I moved to Seattle in my teens, then away, then back after I was married. I and my husband used to explore all the wonderful forested area in and around the city and on the Peninsula. Driving toward the ocean, we’d see stands of trees surrounding the roads and it would make us itch to get out and explore.

One day we decided on impulse to follow a lumber road into the hills to see if there might be good hiking. After we crossed over a small hill separating the trees from view of the road, the sight that met us shocked us both into silence. Ahead of us was what was left of a once proud and old forest, now clear cut with only a few trees left standing among the barren and ripped fields.

We parked the car, got out, and just stood there, not saying a word to each other. I grabbed the camera I always carried with me and shot this photo along with others.

I’m glad I was able to preserve the image with my scanner, and correct the damage with Photo Shop. Wouldn’t want to lose it.

Yes, progress is a good thing.


Crestwood mall and intelligent thinking

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The mall closest to where I live is the Crestwood Mall, a rather sad, indoor mall that has lost much of its business in the last few years. Last year it was purchased and the new owners will be converting it into an outdoor, village like setting, which I think is a great idea. However, they have to wait until the long-term leases expire, which means that we’re stuck with the sad, indoor mall for another 3-5 years.

Enter a little creative thinking.

The owners of the mall contacted several art groups with a question: if we convert the large, vacant department store into an artist area, could you use the space? Not only were the artists interested, the owners received more applications than they could grant.

The area that used to be the large Dillard’s Department store is now the new ArtSpace: a theater, dance studio, and artist gallery, where the artists get the space for nominal rent, as long as they pay the utilities and fix the area up. The mall owners fill the dead space, and attract new visitors. The artists get a communal area that is guaranteed to attract people from far and wide, because nothing like this has ever been done before. From the Post Dispatch Story:

Those that have started to move in include Laumeier Sculpture Park, DaySpring School of the Arts, Jeane Vogel Fine Art, Marble Stage Theatre, the Hangar and the bookstore I Don’t Want to Kiss a Llama.

In exchange for the space, the arts groups agree to decorate the shop windows, a convenient way to call attention to their work. They have to pay for utilities, but the rent “is just north of nothing,” said Son, in some cases as low as $50 a month […] Each space will be arranged to suit its group’s needs. For example, Son expects several dance companies to share one of the big spaces. One painter — who enjoys talking to visitors while he works — plans to turn his space into a studio; another group of artists plans to work elsewhere, but show and sell their paintings in a collective gallery. A fabric artist, a jewelry designer and an organization that recycles industrial materials for school art projects will be ArtSpace neighbors, too.

Absolutely brilliant idea. This ensures that not only will the mall attendance dramatically pick up, which will be healthy for the existing stores and restaurants, but the art groups get an excellent chance for exposure to a wider audience.