photography, random thought, travel, writing

journal: montana


my car is facing away from the mountain.  i wake to the cold and rain.  it’s 5:30 a.m.


behind me, the mountain is covered in a thin fog, like a bride under her fine lace veil.  she thought she was hiding from me, but how could i not notice her?

cooke city, montana has always treated me well, but this morning, i feel lost.

i rolled in late last night.  weary from the road and rain.  the miner’s saloon, as inviting as it always is, seemed distant.  they only take cash, and the big city man i am, i only had plastic.  no problem, i thought.  this always happens.  luckily, they have the only atm in town.  i slid the blue card in nice and easy, and yanked it back in a forceful, but fluid motion.  “out of order.”  !?!?  but i had already started drinking my beer!

i apologized.  the bartendress seemed annoyed at my genuine apology.

“well, i guess this one’s on me,” she said angrily.

i finished my free scapegoat pale ale and left.

my usual “free” campsite at the edge of town was closed with no explanation.  i put “free” in quotes because i believe you’re supposed to pay.  but i always seem to pull into cooke city after dark… so, i never have.

i decided to park at the old city dump, on the other edge of town.  it only takes about two minutes to walk from one end of town to the other.

i reclined the driver seat of my chevy aveo rental, wrapped myself haphazardly in a sleeping bag, and called it a day.

now here i am; seven hours of restless sleep later.

the sun rose somewhere already, but not here.  the cloud cover is thick, and there’s a light drizzle.  35 degrees.  massive lodgepole pines in front of me absorb the rain like thirsty sailors imbibe on the first day of fleet week.

lately my heart’s been heavy like a sandbag.

this morning is no different.  in fact, today it’s worse.

it feels like someone tied a cinder block, or a dozen, to my chest, and dropped it in the deepest ocean.

if it felt possible to cry, i would.  but i wouldn’t know what for.  after all, i’m in one of my favorite places in the world.

so i decided to start my day.

i made a cup of coffee and rolled a cigarette.  yeah i know, i quit smoking three years ago.  it was three years ago almost to the day when i started again in spain.  then it continued on into lebanon…

you can smoke anywhere in lebanon.  just walk into the airport in beirut with a lit cigarette, and see if i’m exaggerating.

so, unfortunately, for a time, i’m smoking again.

slowly my mind and body, cold and slightly wet from the night before, begin to wake up.

the lamar valley of yellowstone anxiously awaited my arrival.  but the sun still hides it’s precious rays.

in spite of my thoughts, behind the clouds, the light is there just waiting for me to remember it still exists.


all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2009

photography, random thought, travel

aupa athletic!



morning in gordexola.  the trees and hills never get old to me.







we were getting excited on our way to el estadio de san mames… la catedral.  ac bilbao was playing that evening.  it was our last night in spain, and the spanish weren’t done showing us their superior hospitality. 


we stopped at ona to get a have a few beers before we continued the sacred walk down pozas…
















unfortunately, we lost 1-0, but our hosts tossed aside their obvious disappointment, and took us out for an extraordinary  night on the town.








the food was phenomenal, and the people were unparalleled in their generosity and kindness.  do they treat everyone like this???  i was floored.


and full of great food and wine.



all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2009

photography, random thought, travel, writing

despues de la lluvia

bilbao in spring.  it rains almost every day for a few hours.  but after the rain stops… la luz.  


barrika cliffs.


sopelana beach cliffs.


we took a day trip to san juan de luz in france.













it became apparent that the light had a different quality in san juan de luz.  saint john of light.  john must have been a photographer.




i decided to take a bike ride in gordexola one morning.  headphones in, innocence mission on the frequency, one hand on the handlebar, and a giant camera in the other hand, i set off on a wobbly course.


geese angrily greeted me.  they seemed even more unhappy that i stopped.  and nearly incensed that i took their picture…







beautiful old homes lined the long, narrow streets.  it’s a mostly rural village, so i eventually passed many sheep pastures.





today was the day of the photoshoot.  instead of a wedding, Elaine and Mikel decided to have an all day portrait session all over el pais vasco.  i am so pleased with the resulting images… and so are they.















these kids thought we were crazy.  a guy in a tux, a girl in a bridal gown, and two photographers chasing them around on the beach.




















the guggenheim!  i never actually went inside.  the outside was enough for me.  and besides, i heard that the inside is less than impressive anyway.








bilbao at night.






laga beach, unesco urdaibai reserve.  i could’ve spent weeks here.











txaber and his auntie teba.  cute little guy.  might be in competition with my nephews…



txaber and his dad, xerjio.  txaber’s mom didn’t like this activity.




maidercon con un abuelito.  that’s what the spanish call a dandelion.  it literally means “little grandfather”.  makes sense i guess.




all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2009

family, photography, random thought, travel

bilbao, y mas


teba picked me up and took me straight to the little park in artxanda mountain that overlooks bilbao.


wow.  what a view.



my first look at the bay of biscay.  really, my first time in the ocean in a long while.  sopelana was incredibly beautiful.







i stayed in gordexola, outside of bilbao.  the trevinos were incredibly hospitable.








rock bakio.










cuevas del soplao.


oh yes… i was quite impressed with myself for driving in spain – not sure why.  but i did enjoy.


lunch in san vicente d la barquera.




teba, the hand model.














gaudi house in comillas.  the colors.  the textures.  i’m a fan of this gaudi character…






gaudi, the man.  immortalized in bronze.







all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2009

random thought, travel, writing

chasing sunrise

today, the sun came up seven hours early.

the plane was shaking.  i don’t much like it when planes that i happen to be riding in shake.

quite impersonally, a man hands me a water in an in-flight plastic tumbler.  one ice cube.  that’s the first thing i noticed…  the second thing i noticed was a nearly microscopic speck  floating dangerously close to my one ice cube.

“i’d better get a closer look,” i thought to myself.  “what if it were someone that was accidentally shrunk, like in honey, i shrunk the kids?”

for whatever reason, since i was a little kid, i’ve had the gift of empathy.  i could always put myself in other’s shoes, and very eerily feel close to how they felt.  at times, a great gift.  others, a curse.

i recall watching honey, i shrunk the kids and understanding completely how those shrunken kids felt.  just wanting to be noticed.  needing someone to notice.  before they were squashed by a tennis shoe, or perhaps crushed in the mandibles of a hungry cricket.  or worse yet… sipped into oblivion while floating in some aloof schmuck’s in-flight beverage.

so i leaned in to check the speck.  oh… just some dirt.

suddenly the plane stopped shaking.  

and as i looked out the window, we slid unnoticed through the fading night.  

chasing sunrise.