Archive for travel

To fly or not to fly

Posted in alaska, antarctica, bears, guiding, icebergs, photography, Uncategorized, wildlife with tags , , , , , , , on November 1, 2013 by polarguide


I could be on a plane right now.   I could be on a plane flying south.  South to South America, to Uruguay and Argentina and then further south to Antarctica.  But I chose to stay in Alaska for the winter.

Alaska for the winter or Antarctica for the summer.  Or both, simultaneously. I feel indecisive about my decision. I feel like a paradox.

Work is slow, money is tickling in and flowing steadily out.  Heavy grey clouds,  good food and the company of friends make me feel at the same time comforted and discontent.  I have too much time.  My mind is too idle. The days are growing shorter. Lying on the couch, lying in bed, from the tin roof  the slow rain applauds my apathy.

Its the money.  And the work.  The work and the money, That’s what I fret about most.  Work keeps my mind busy, I would work for free if I had money.   I don’t give two shits about money, never have.  I just need to pay the rent and for food, and my teeth.  I broke two last week!

Winter is coming.

Summer is sweet in Alaska, with all its sun and whales and endless work.

Winter is slow and dark, its a vacation from summer.

I like fall best.

The fall wind and rain justify laziness.  Hunting and fishing and friends  I haven’t seen since spring because we were working all summer. Then a blanket of quiet dark lays across the top of the world as winter snuggles in for the season.

Still, It would have been nice to hop on that plane heading south to south america. By now, I would be in Montevideo eating octopus in the mercado del puerto.  A few days more I would be in Ushuaia stuffing my face with asado.

By this time next week I would be a sailor again, rolling over waves and fighting through storms on the drake passage heading to the  worlds most remote continent. I spent a few hours today mulling over my photographs of Alaska and Antarctica, trying to find a common feeling. Trying to somehow make sense of these two polar opposite portions of my life. Trying to find an emotional bridge or a rational connection.  It sounds strange but I couldn’t.  It’s as if I am two different people living one life or vice versa.

I Put together a few of the photographs I took this summer at home in Alaska, and a few from last season in Antarctica.  I chose pictures that were characteristic of each place, from my perspective.







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Apathy or ardor

Posted in alaska, photography, travel, wildlife with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2013 by polarguide

Its that time of the year again, when after returning home from months of travel, work and adventure I have trouble motivating to do anything.  This in between time generally involves lounging on the couch drinking too much coffee, talking to my self or speaking out loud to people who aren’t present. I pace. I suffer with intermittent episodes of insomnia.  It seems the more free time I have the less organized my mind becomes and finding one thing to focus on is hopeless.

Its hard to feel inspired to photograph when I have hundreds of files full of thousands of pictures from Antarctica that I still have not organized. I have snapped only 150 images this past month. I feel photographically congested.

So this year I decided to take a new approach.  I quit the coffee.  Coffee scatters my pattern of thinking. It causes my thoughts to reel down uncharted paths that lead my mind no-where.

Also, I started a strict vegetarian diet. No eggs, cheese or dairy of any kind. Ninety five percent of my diet is fruit and  hearty colorful (mostly organic) vegetables and lots of beans. Once a week I have a meal of fresh salmon or halibut caught by local Alaskan fisherman  or deer meat that I shot and butchered myself. I also joined the local gym and I try to work out everyday.

During this phase of my year I usually hole up in my apartment for weeks at a time, rarely answering the phone and experiencing mild anxiety about spending time with friends while simultaneously feeling sorry for my self, wondering why no one ever calls me.  Lately I have been trying to socialize more. My new strategy has been to actually answer the phone and when someone invites me on a hike or to a dinner party instead of mumbling an incoherent  excuse, I bite my lip and say yes.  So far the results have been quite successful and I am remembering that I actually do have friends.

This past week I said yes twice. The first was to an invitation to go on an overnight sailing trip to Saint James Bay with three other friends.  We had a great trip with some real life adventure when we nearly flipped the thirty five foot steel hulled sail boat completely upside down. Luckily, no one was injured.  The second yes was an invitation to a simple walk on the beach on a sunny day with three lovely ladies. Here are few snap shots from both events.


Kayaking in St. james Bay

Kayaking in St. james Bay

St. james Bay

St. james Bay

Dall's porpoise exhaling

Dall’s porpoise exhaling

Immature Bald Eagle

Immature Bald Eagle

Rowdy Stellar sea lions

Rowdy Stellar sea lions

It seems silly to lament these things, these journeys into the heart of apathy are a necessary rest period.   Soon it will all change. Three more weeks and my sea kayak guiding season begins, then I will be on the move for another three months and life will be a parade of new people, wilderness adventure and wildlife photography.

Antarctic Reflections

Posted in antarctica, penguins, photography, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 26, 2013 by polarguide

I am sitting in the Buenas Aires airport waiting to board a flight back to Alaska.  The Antarctic summer season has ended and I will be in transit for the next 20 hours until I reach seattle.

Leaving the ship is like leaving home and the relationships made on board are family bonds but I am never sad to start my travels home because I have so much to look forward to in the Alaskan spring. Yet I am already reflecting on my past three months at sea in Antarctica and looking forward to next season.

Here are a couple reflective photos from the past two voyages.

Reflections of Antarctica

Reflections of Antarctica

Gentoo penguin reflection

Gentoo penguin reflection

Prion reflections

Prion reflections



A little about me..

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 15, 2012 by polarguide

You need not leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become quiet, and still, and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice; it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.   -Frans Kafka

I am a wilderness expedition guide, massage therapist and photographer.  Mine is  a seasonal life marked by months of intense work followed by months of  waiting for the next thing to come along.   Between seasons while most people I know are toiling  tirelessly at their nine to five, I whittle away the hours sitting on the couch drinking coffee and thinking about things I should be doing. I spend days, even weeks in a state of apathy, unable to muster the motivation to do the dishes. Some days I don’t eat. I anxiously pace around the apartment jacked-up on caffeine, talking to myself, worrying about money and wondering what responsibilities I might be ignoring . Hours pass, days go by and I accomplish nothing.

Sitting in quiet solitude allows time for creative thought.  I turn over ideas in my mind like turning over pages in a magazine.  I pore over each idea as if it were a sexy underwear advertisement,  becoming excited every now and again by one idea or another, then I sip my coffee and think about it.  Weeks pass and roll into  months and I grow restless.  By this point my financial situation is becoming a cause for concern and I begin to seriously consider getting a regular job.

This is enough to get the karmic ball rolling.  Just as my money runs short and my tolerance of myself wears thin the season changes and I get an e-mail reminding me of my next job in some  remote corner of the world.  I relax, sit back and take a long satisfied pull from a thick cup of  espresso, calculating  how many more hours there are between now and when I need to begin packing my bags. Then I remember: my apathy has been so thorough I still haven’t unpacked from the last journey.  Laziness, anxiety and hefty doses of caffeine are, evidently, what fuels the fire of manifestation.

crouching over my computer, scrolling through thousands of photographs that I have created, I realize despite my propensity for procrastination I have accomplished some amazing things. This year I have had the good fortune to travel across the Antarctic and the Arctic circles, photographing  polar bears and penguins.  Weirdly weaving my random assortment of skills into one profession  as an expedition guide and massage therapist on a Russian ice breaker.  I didn’t plan it that way, the opportunities just fell into my lap. One day I am sitting quietly on the couch contemplating my toe-nails, the next thing I know I’m in Antarctica, with penguins and fur seals playing at my feet.

Photography is how I document and share my experiences. My family and friends don’t have the opportunity to join me on my adventures, with photographs I can bring the experience to them. The images I capture help tell my story and hopefully give insight into the nature of the wild places I visit and the creatures that live there.

The last few years my photography has been focused on wildlife. Being a wilderness expedition guide I have the opportunity to witness some of natures most spectacular creatures living in their natural environment. I try to create portraits, close ups that reveal details of an individual animal as a representative of its species. The color and texture of fur or feathers, the detail of the eyes. Secondly, I want to put the animal into context with its environment. I want the animal to be obvious in the composition, at the same time I want to give the viewer a broad sense of the landscape in which the animal exists. I always have the viewer in mind. I want the viewer to have a complete and intimate sense of the animals they are seeing in my work. I want them to be there. I want them to have  the experience that I had.

The two photos above are good representations of this idea.  The first shot of an Orca whale shows lots of detail.  You can see that she is just breaking the surface of the water and discern texture in the bubbles she is blowing from her blow hole. As she surfaces ripples of water stream over her rostrum giving the image a sense of movement. We can make out scarring along her body and the detail in the white ring around her eye.  This image gives the viewer a rare opportunity to study the intricate details of an animal that we are lucky to get a glimpse of in the wild.

The second photo shows two killer whales dwarfed by Immense blue glacier and jagged mountain peaks in a landscape seen nowhere else but in Antarctica.  I think Photos like this are inspirational but often overlooked because of their lack of intimacy with what people expect to be the main subject, the whales.  I feel that photos such as this create a realistic  sense of place.  A cold loneliness hints at the tactile existence of the Orca whale.  It reminds us that we are visitors, and gives us a voyeuristic glimpse into the the lives of one of the oceans most efficient marine mammal predators.

King Penguin, South Georgia Island

King penguin colony, South Georgia Island

And lookie here,  I just accomplished something else. I created a blog! I have been meaning to do this for years and just now, today, finally got up the nerve to do it.  Actually, I have created at least three other blogs ranging in content from 1,000 words to one incomplete sentence. I just haven’t had the motivation to complete a blog posting that was coherent and on topic or that I felt confident letting other people read..the season just changed.

I plan to keep this up.  I would like to post stories and photos to send out to the world hoping it brings something back. Something like money.