photography, travel

#findyourpark | A QUICK INTRO TO GLACIER

One of America’s most spectacular parks is without a doubt, Glacier. Now, you may have heard me say that I have been making plans to visit this park every year for nearly 10 years, and every year the plans fall through. Well… it finally happened. And it was worth the wait.

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This post will not be my typical #FindYourPark post, full of info, locations, tips, etc. Since it was my first visit, I had to stumble around a bit, explore, and figure things out for myself. When I have the chance to return, I will be on a mission: to gather all of the most relevant information for all of you to have an epic experience in Glacier National Park!

So for now, please enjoy my thoughts, reflections, and images from my long awaited first visit to Glacier….

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I always do a decent bit of research before I head out to any new park, so Glacier was no exception. So there were a few “must sees” and “must dos” that I knew about, and of course at the top of the list was Going-To-The-Sun-Road.

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It was the first thing we did when we got to the park. Spectacular.

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The next morning, I decided to try my luck at Lake McDonald, another very famous area for landscape shooters.

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After a beautiful sunrise, we decided to check out one of the park’s most popular short hikes, Hidden Lake. It is the shortest hike to get up into the high country and experience the vibrant blue mountain lakes. It’s also a great place to see the park’s most quirky residents up close and personal… mountain goats.

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Unfortunately it was the wrong time of day to get the shot I wanted, but I’m sure it won’t be the last time I hike to Hidden Lake.

On a particularly cloudy day, I decided to take advantage of the soft, even light, and do some creek and waterfall shots. McDonald Creek was the perfect candidate.

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Rolling steadily through hemlock forests, eventually cascading over water-worn rocks, McDonald was never visually disappointing.

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And of course it was back to Lake McDonald to see how afternoon/ evening light would paint this landscape.

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I took a few mornings to explore the far West and Northwest of the park. Definitely needed more time up at Bowman and Kintla.

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Up and over Going-to-the-sun-road a few more times…

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Then, but not soon enough, it was on to the East side of the park.

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St. Mary’s Lake, Two Medicine, and of course, Many Glacier.

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Many Glacier provided the much desired cloud/ peak drama I was really wanting to capture. All of Glacier has this potential, but on my short visit, Many Glacier was the sweet spot.

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So after an inaugural trip like this, I certainly have favorite spots, locations that I know I want to revisit… now with the much needed knowledge that comes from experience. But there were also so many places that I just did’t have time to see/ check out.

It is a vast wilderness. With so many hidden visual treasures lurking around every bend in the road, trail, river.

It’s now a forgone conclusion that I will be back… I hope sooner rather than later.

‚ÄĒ Andrew


Ellen and I have hit¬†the road full-time! Help us on our mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside by checking out my¬†workshops¬†and my¬†prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile¬†print studio.¬†The revenue will help propel us further and further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our wild lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit¬†all 59 National Parks¬†in¬†2-4 years.¬†LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE



Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
TELLURIDE // LANDSCAPE + MOUNTAIN LIGHT // 2016¬†–¬†SOLD OUT
TELLURIDE // LANDSCAPE + MOUNTAIN LIGHT (Trip 2) // 2016¬†–¬†ONLY 2¬†SPOTS AVAILABLE
LOCAL + PRIVATE WORKSHOP // 2016 РAFFORDABLE RATES FOR ME TO COME TO YOU
BIG BEND // LANDSCAPE + NIGHT SKY // 2017 РMOST POPULAR! 6 SPOTS AVAILABLE
LEARN PHOTO + CAMERA BASICS¬†// DALLAS // 2016¬†–¬†20 SPOTS!
 
I’m excited to announce my “The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks”¬†series of eBooks:
 
See what’s NEW
 
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from¬†the road”, please check my prints for sale, or¬†email me directly¬†for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton | photographer // prints
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
Image Brief // Andrew R. Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2016
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education, photography, travel

#findyourpark | ROCKY MOUNTAIN

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is the quintessential Summer mountain destination. With cool temps in the 40’s to upper 70’s, it’s a nice getaway from the sweltering heat of the lowlands. It is incredibly beautiful in any season, but Summer offers the most to see and do since the elevations can reach in to the 14k’s. And what better time to visit this iconic park, than the Summer of 2016, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

I admit that I visited this park a little later in life. My family used to go camping in Colorado every Summer, but for some reason, we stayed mostly in the south/ southwest part of the state, in the San Juan mountains. I did not first visit Rocky Mountain National Park until 2013. But I’ve made up for lost time and visited many times in the last several years. It is a truly spectacular park with much to see and do.

There is so much to see and do, in fact, that this post is in no way comprehensive. It is simply a list of some of my favorites, and many of the “musts”.

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When To Go

As I’ve stated, Summer is definitely the most popular time of year, and for good reason; good weather (just watch out for afternoon thunderstorms!), abundant wildlife, easy access, etc. But Fall is spectacular with colorful foliage, no mosquitos, and energetic wildlife, frantically preparing for the harsh Winter to come. It’s moodier in the Fall. The weather is unpredictable and makes for more interesting photos.

Winter is quite nice in its own way as well, but very cold, and many of the roads are closed. The road to Bear Lake is open though. Winter transforms any mountain destination into a peaceful, quiet scene, and RMNP is no exception. Plus the crowds are virtually non-existent.

How To Get There

RMNP is one of the most easily accessed National Parks, as it is a short drive from Denver International Airport. Flights into DEN are relatively cheap, and so are rental cars. So whether you drive or fly, it doesn’t have to break the bank to get there.

From Denver, head north along I-25 until reaching Loveland. Take 34 to Estes Park, which is right outside the park. There are other routes to take from Denver, but I have found this to be the quickest, least trafficked.

Driving Trail Ridge Road at night, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Be prepared for many cars, trucks, and RV’s on the road into Estes Park, and RMNP, especially in Summer. If you’ve been to Yellowstone or Yosemite, reference these memories. Just take your time and relax. Enjoy the scenery, even if traffic jams aren’t your thing :) Chances are, if you keep your eyes peeled, even with all the people and automobiles, you’ll get to see wildlife wherever you are.

Where To Stay

If camping isn’t your thing, there are so many options in and around the wonderful little town of Estes Park. From cheap motels, to swanky hotels with all the amenities, there is no shortage of places to stay within 15 minutes of RMNP. However, even with an abundance of options, the wise traveler will book as early as possible to ensure their desired accommodations. This area receives over 3.5 million visitors every year, so plan ahead.

If you’re a camper, like me, you can of course stay at any one of the developed campgrounds within the park, though they fill very quickly, especially in the Summer. There are even several NPS maintained campgrounds just outside RMNP, that serve as popular alternative access points to the park. For NPS camping info, go here.

To download a full, detailed park map of Rocky Mountain National Park, click here or the image below:

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As you can see in the map, the park is surrounded by National Forest. These can provide great, free (or low cost) camping as well, but keep in mind, it will be primitive. I’ve car camped several times in undeveloped Arapaho (west) and Roosevelt (east) National Forest sites, and really enjoyed the solitude and cheap living. Usually, the park can be accessed within a 20 minute drive from many of these sites. They are first come, first served though, and some roads may be too rough for low clearance vehicles and large trailers/ RVs.

What To Do

I feel silly writing about this, because it would seem obvious to some. But Rocky Mountain National Park really is one of those parks with so much to see and do, it may help to have a few things highlighted for the first-timers.

Driving

There is so much to see just from the car window, so a good bit of time can be spent driving. From Many Parks Curve and all of Trail Ridge Road to Old Fall River Road and Moraine Park, many beautiful scenes can be seen right from the passenger seat.

alluvial fan, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Driving Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Trail Ridge Road (TRR) is one of the great, paved alpine roads through the Rockies. Drivers can wind up from Deer Ridge Junction to top out at over 12,000 feet elevation. Keep in mind that Trail Ridge Road closes in mid-October, due to the high elevations. There are many stops along the way to get out and experience, including (but not limited to): Many Parks Curve, Lava Cliffs, Alpine Ridge Trail, Medicine Bow Curve, etc. The Alpine Visitor Center is your best spot for info, restrooms, gifts, and refreshments. It sits atop near the highest point in the road (12183 ft) and boasts phenomenal views. TRR is a must drive for anyone visiting RMNP. Just be sure to hydrate, as it is common to experience symptoms of altitude sickness at these elevations.

Driving Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Old Fall River Road is a one-way alternate route to the top of TRR. Starting about a mile past the Alluvial Fan, cars can switchback their way through forests past gorgeous flowing streams, up steep switchbacks to get a whole different view of the subalpine and alpine ecosystems. Eventually arriving up at the Alpine Visitor Center, at the top of Trail Ridge Road. Keep in mind that this road is only open from July 4 through September. Be sure to take it slow, and bring plenty of water!

silhouetted cyclists on trail ridge road, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Wildlife Viewing 

This is one of the best parks in the U.S., except possibly Yellowstone, to view wildlife. Rocky Mountain elk, moose, deer, black bear, coyote, eagles, hawks, fox, pika, big horn sheep, and more can all be seen in one day here.

Cow moose with baby Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

bull elk in velvet in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Slowly driving the main roads is one great way to see wildlife. Begin early and stay late are the mottos of successful wildlife watchers. Dawn and dusk are the best times to see animals, just about anywhere. It can be a gamble to see anything during the heat of the day. Animals are typically resting in shaded areas hidden by the dense forests and rocky outcroppings, making spotting them nearly impossible.

Bull Elk resting in high alpine tundra of Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Bighorn sheep crossing the road in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

For very specific tips on where to find certain wildlife, and how to photograph them, see my new eBook, The Photographic Guide to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Bighorn sheep crossing the road in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Cow moose in the Colorado River, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

american robin, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Two Mule deer bucks spar on the side of the road during the rut in rocky mountain national park.

Rocky Mountain Bull Elk, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Hiking

In 2013 massive flooding occurred in the town of Estes Park and parts of the eastern side of RMNP. Please check with a ranger station for up to date trail conditions before embarking on any hikes.

hikers, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

RMNP has  hundreds of miles of scenic trails throughout the park, ranging from very easy, to very difficult. Depending upon your skill level there really is something for everyone. Be sure always to hydrate more than you think you need to, and try to avoid late afternoon hiking in the Summer, as lightning is a very real danger.

A front rolls in over Long's Peak in spectacular color.

Long's peak from Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

The Bear Lake trailhead offers several stunning, but heavily trafficked hikes. Due to its high volume of visitors, there are shuttles available to avoid the potential parking nightmare.

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The best (and most popular) from the Bear Lake trailhead is, of course, Dream Lake. Download the map above! This is a fairly easy hike and very heavily used, but for good reason. Starting at the Bear Lake trailhead, it is only a few miles to stunning alpine views of Hallett and other peaks. The trail passes Nymph Lake, then up to incredible Dream Lake, and if you keep going, the next reward is Emerald Lake. All three are beautiful and worth seeing and photographing in their own rights. You may not beat the crowds with this hike, but it is certainly a “must see & do”.

hikers at dream lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Sunrise at Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

waterfall near emerad laek, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

There are over 300 miles of trails to hike in RMNP. And all of them have merit. Consult the book recommended above for more great hikes, specific to what you’re looking to see/ achieve.

Backpacking

There are so many great backpacking opportunities within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park, well, and many more in the immediately surrounding areas for that matter. If you plan to backpack in RMNP, you will need a few things specific to the park: First, stop at the Wilderness Office for a permit and current wilderness information. For more info, go HERE. You will also need a bear proof food container. I recommend this one. Next, you will need a good map. The one provided above is great for basics, but if you choose to venture out in to the backcountry, you will definitely want this map.

Timber Creek, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

sunrise at Odessa Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Creek flowing out of Odessa Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Fern Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

This is clearly a Rocky Mountain NP specific, (very) short list. If this is your first time backpacking, I recommend reading up on what gear and clothing you will need generally, and how to prepare for several nights in the backcountry. Any time you step in to the wilderness, life becomes very serious, and all about survival. That statement is not meant to scare anyone away from enjoying such an experience, it is simply to highlight the fact that trekking into the wild, with none of the comforts/ securities of modern life can take many people by surprise. Search and rescue missions have increased exponentially in recent years, often due to the unpreparedness of people. Be aware! And enjoy responsibly.

night at Odessa Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

If you are looking for a beautiful, quick overnighter, Timber Lake, and Odessa Lake are my favorites. Both are under 8 miles one way and offer beautiful views, and a wonderful backcountry experience. The Timber Lake trailhead is on the east side of the park, just 10 miles north of Grand Lake. Odessa Lake can be accessed either from the Bear Lake or Fern Lake trailheads.

Fishing

Sport fishing is allowed in the park, and all that is required is a valid Colorado fishing license. There are many idyllic streams, lakes, and rivers within the park to break out the fly rod or spinner reel, where one can experience peace and solitude. But be aware of any regulations and or conservation efforts in place before packing up and heading out. All current regulations and information can be found HERE.

creek in forest, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Fly fishing Dream Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Dream Lake outlet waterfall in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

creek near dream lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

timber creek, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Photography

This park is one of my favorite for all of its photographic opportunities. Regarding landscape, wildlife, stars, and general nature photography, it is one of the best.

Stars over dream lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

columbine, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

A front rolls in at dawn over Long's Peak in spectacular color.

There are of course the tourist spots, where you’ll be elbowing other people to get some of the classic postcard shots, but then there are the off the beaten path spots. I am now putting major time and effort into providing you with all of my favorite secrets within our National Parks, and I’m excited to announce Rocky Mountain NP as my first eBook! You can look forward to maps, locations, photo tips, and much more in this soon-to-be-released eBook. Pre-order it HERE to get a discount.

smooth rose, Rosa blanda, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

Stars over Long's Peak and Bear lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

I hope you have found this information useful. Even more than that though, I hope this encourages you to get out and experience one of our national natural treasures, Rocky Mountain National Park! As always, for the most up to date, comprehensive park information, please visit the official NPS website for RMNP.

‚ÄĒ Andrew


Ellen and I have hit¬†the road full-time! Help us on our mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside by checking out my¬†workshops¬†and my¬†prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile¬†print studio.¬†The revenue will help propel us further and further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our wild lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit¬†all 59 National Parks¬†in¬†2-4 years.¬†LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE



Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
TELLURIDE // LANDSCAPE + MOUNTAIN LIGHT // 2016¬†–¬†SOLD OUT
TELLURIDE // LANDSCAPE + MOUNTAIN LIGHT (Trip 2) // 2016¬†–¬†ONLY 3¬†SPOTS AVAILABLE
LOCAL + PRIVATE WORKSHOP// 2016 РAFFORDABLE RATES FOR ME TO COME TO YOU
BIG BEND // LANDSCAPE + NIGHT SKY // 2017 РMOST POPULAR! 7 SPOTS AVAILABLE
 
I’m excited to announce my “A Photographic Guide To Our National Parks” Ebooks:
 
See what’s NEW
 
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from¬†the road”, please check my prints for sale, or¬†email me directly¬†for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton | photographer // prints
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
Image Brief // Andrew R. Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
all images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2016
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photography, random thought, travel, writing

if this city never sleeps

last weekend in new york was fantastic… and i still have the lump on my head to prove it.

a trip to new york city characterizes my current life: running at a fevered pitch, going all the time.  people that know me well, know that i need an unusually high dose of alone time.  space and time to slow down, be quiet, breathe deep, and reflect.

however, i get the distinct impression that “alone time” is nearly impossible in new york. ¬†i remember the story of a famous photographer in the sixties and seventies that became such a recluse, that he would only shoot people on the street below from his multi-story manhattan window. ¬†i think he later became famous for this very reason. ¬†but rarely leaving his apartment darkroom, he eventually went insane. ¬†this makes sense to me.

from the moment i landed at laguardia, it was go go go.

i caught a taxi, and had him take me straight to my hotel uptown.  the cab driver was a very nice egyptian.

“salam malakim,” we exchanged.

we talked briefly about egypt and lebanon.  he was very busy though, and kept switching over to a conversation with a faceless man on the other end of his bluetooth.  it seemed to be super-glued to his ear.

an hour later, and only 3/4 of the way to my hotel on 53rd and 7th, he got into a shouting match with another taxi driver. ¬†he ended the shouting with a sarcastic and defeated sounding, “salam malakim, brother,¬†salam malakim!”

i asked him if he knew the man. ¬†he said “no.”

once at the hotel, i dropped my bags quickly in my room, and raced out of the lobby. ¬†i’ve never felt so much raw energy. ¬†and the noise… ¬†my goodness, the sounds and smells all around. ¬†it was a case of sensory overload from the first moment. ¬†my hotel was at¬†7th avenue, just above times square. ¬†this fact was lost somewhere in the shuffle when i booked my hotel days before.

i began walking north.  i could see masses of trees up ahead, so i knew i was headed in the right direction.

central park is the first place my eye found to be intriguing enough to take out my camera. ¬†but i was quickly wisked away by the sirens of the city. ¬†there was too much to see and do. ¬†can’t stay still for too long…

  

i’ve never been one to enjoy being a tourist. ¬†my idea of sight seeing is to slap on my chacos and hit the streets. ¬†no map, no plan. ¬†just see what i can see. ¬†it’s very freeing. ¬†i’ve done this in many cities across the country, and it hasn’t failed me yet.

i am not opposed, however, to seeing all of the wonderful tourist destinations that people come from across the globe to see and take their picture in front of. ¬†they are popular places for a reason. ¬†i just prefer the method of “stumbling” upon these attractions, as though i’m merriwether lewis seeing the rockies for the first time. ¬†it’s much more exciting that way.

problem is, in a place like new york, there literally is never enough time to see everything. ¬†so i decided not to beat myself up over it. ¬†my friend elaine was coming in on a bus from philly, and at the moment, that’s what had my attention.

elaine lived in the city a few years after college, and she knows it well. ¬†and, as i’m sure any new yorker would tell you, it had a piece of her. ¬†needless to say, it probably was just a good excuse that i was there.

we met at penn station, and headed straight for the village. ¬†her friends andy and kara were waiting for us at joe’s pub. ¬†andy’s girlfriend, sabrina, does the lighting for all of their musical acts, so she got us all in for free. ¬†she’s quite good at what she does. ¬†so good, in fact, that even dustin hoffman has expressed his awe of her work…

  

the first act was very interesting.  an iraqi lute player, rahim alhaj, had the audience captivated.  the room was so quiet, the clicking of my shutter became annoying to those around me.  beautiful.

elaine and kara had a laugh in between acts.

  

alhaj was profound and saddening, so it was a strange segue into the next band, the new standards Рa jazz trio that covers pop tunes.  hey ya by outkast was the grand finale, and that aptly describes their act as a whole.  they were actually quite good, and very entertaining.  i have never heard better vibraphone solos in my life.

one of the things that i like about elaine is that when you’re with her, dancing through the streets of manhattan seems pretty normal.

after joe’s pub, we weaved past crowds of nyu party kids and hipsters, through the village toward other parts of town where andy thought we might have a good time. ¬†we talked about alan ginsberg and the beat poets. ¬†we talked about dylan, and where the cover for the freewheelin’ bob dylan, my favorite album, was shot. ¬†we never did figure it out.

i have to admit… with this crowd i felt as though we could have been in a turkish prison and still have the time of our lives.

it’s never too late for the dessert truck! ¬†notice elaine’s clasped hands, as though she’s praying to the dessert god(s) to make up her mind for her. ¬†in elaine’s defense, it was a difficult¬†decision.

eventually we had to stop for a slice. ¬†poor elaine had to wait a whole 2 minutes longer than the rest of us… it required documentation.

go read somethings? ¬†i’m still trying to figure out if it was meant to be ironic, or…

the train ride home that night was quiet and reflective.  inspiring.

saturday morning, i woke early, got coffee, and strolled around the city a bit more. ¬†it was overcast, almost monochromatic that day. ¬†i hopped on the e and ventured back down to the village. ¬†elaine met me on a corner and we walked a little more. ¬†we talked about how morning is the only time of day that new yorkers aren’t out and about. ¬†it felt like a ghost town.

we came across cafe angelique on bleecker, and decided to get breakfast.

she was in a bit of a hurry and needed to get home to philly.  we took the e up to 34th at penn station, said our goodbyes in the subway, and parted.

again alone, i stared out the windows of the dingy subway car, and listened to the sharp clack of the train on its tracks.  it never got old watching the car in front of me through the doorway window as it seemed to move independently of the car i was in.  the people in the car ahead, moved in a strange first-person arcade game manner.  never staying steady enough for me to examine the people on the other side of the glass.

  

  

i took a walk into brooklyn. ¬†my cousin, rachel, lives there. ¬†it’s also where i thought i might get an interesting view of manhattan. ¬†and i did. ¬†i imagined the shot i wanted before actually seeing it, and it looked much the same in my mind as it did in person. ¬†too bad hurricane hannah had different plans for the sky than i would choose. ¬†she would come just hours later with fury. ¬†but for now, i was hungry form all the walking.

numerous people told me about a place called grimaldi’s. ¬†“the best pizza in brooklyn,” everyone said. ¬†so i thought i’d grab a slice. ¬†it’s just under the brooklyn bridge, and that’s precisely where i was. ¬†what i didn’t know is that grimaldi’s doesn’t sell by the slice.

i was already intrigued and i felt committed. ¬†so i enjoyed every second of the whole pizza that i ate… all by my lonesome. ¬†the pie was amazing, it was reasonably priced, and the service was fantastic.

i caught the r to union street. ¬†rachel was going to meet me at a pub for a drink. ¬†after going the wrong way the first time, and going all the way back to¬†manhattan, i eventually reached my stop. ¬†this time when i emerged form the underworld, hannah’s fury was in full force. ¬†not really sure where i was going, i darted from awning to awning, asking friendly brooklynites where i might find fifth street pub. ¬†everyone looked more confused than i was. ¬†i had the name wrong.

one young man i asked had a warmth about him.  we connected immediately.  he had a mild west african accent, a personable grin, and a deep sorrow in his eyes.  i asked if he wanted to have a beer with my cousin and me.  he said his name was serigne (pronounced serene).

we ran up union to fifth in the rain, where we met rachel at union hall pub.

  

it was great to see my cousin. ¬†i don’t see her nearly enough. ¬†so we caught up a little, talked to serigne about his life, growing up in senegal, and his preferences in women. ¬†it was a good combo to have a beer with rachel and serigne… ¬†they are both caring, deep-thinking individuals. ¬†i wish our time hadn’t been so short. ¬†that would remain a theme throughout this trip. ¬†got to keep going!

i caught a train back uptown to get my bags.  hannah was relentless, still.

one of my best friends, and former roomie in wyoming when we both worked for the newspaper, anna, lives on long island with her husband emile. ¬†she’s still rocking the newspaper world with her brilliant reporting.

anna and emile braved the storm, and drove in to the city saturday night.  i met back up with andy and sabrina in the village, and we waited for the other couple.

it was so nice to see my friends after such a long time. ¬†anna was the same as always – high, goofy energy, pure joy, huge heart. ¬†just the way i remembered her…

andy knew of a hummus cafe, and we all agreed.

of course the hummus was great.  what blew me away though, was the grape leaves.  they were topped with a green curry cream sauce that was insanely tasty.  we all left satisfied.  now it was time for a drink.

  

we casually walked and talked.  anna gave me a book, with wonderful inscriptions and drawings inside.  i was so busy looking at the book, head down, that i walked directly into a streetlight.  luckily, i used my thick skull to soften the blow.  it was incredibly painful, and embarrassing.  but we all laughed it off and kept on.

we found a bar eventually… it seemed suitable. ¬†anna told me about emile’s and her recent trip to spain and¬†morocco. ¬†she loves morocco. ¬†she spent some time there during college, and i can tell, like elaine and new york, morocco has a piece of anna.

i think anna and i are a lot alike in that way; ¬†we both are easily attached emotionally to places. ¬†i’m not sure i could even name all of the places that have a piece of me. ¬†perhaps a better way of looking at this is that we carry these places with us. ¬†forever. ¬†i think they represent something that we like about ourselves, or maybe something that we want¬†ourselves to be. ¬†it’s the same with the people we carry in our hearts. ¬†for me, anna is one of those people.

it was hard to leave, but i had to get upstate to tarrytown, so i left the bar, and my four friends.  time was my cruel master.

i took the metro north, winding along the eastern bank of the hudson river. ¬†it was about 1 o’clock in the morning though, so the train seemed to¬†only¬†be piercing a¬†never ending¬†darkness.

i arrived at my new hotel in tarrytown sometime after 2 a.m.  i was staying in tarrytown because i had a shoot the next day, but i was already looking forward to monday.  luke and i would get to tour the city even more.

  

luke and i finished the shoot on sunday, got up early monday morning and took a taxi into manhattan.  we had no plan, but knew of a few key spots we wanted to see, so we dropped our bags at a hotel and headed out again.

  

luke tried to look like a true new yorker, hence the rude gesture. ¬†in reality, i didn’t meet one person that was not completely hospitable and downright kind to me the entire time. ¬†new yorkers get a bad wrap for being impatient and¬†discourteous. ¬†couldn’t be further from the truth, in my opinion.

  

  

  

luke and i had a great time being tourists. ¬†staten¬†island ferry, empire state building, ground zero, statue of liberty… ¬†i can see why all are tourist hot-spots.

  

  

we made our way into the east village yet again, to see luke’s friend marina. ¬†she’s a sweet macedonian girl that luke met when he lived in san francisco. ¬†we lobbied for her to visit texas, but we’ll see if that happens.

after a quick drink with marina, we traveled back uptown to see another friend of luke’s, lindsey. ¬†lindsey and luke go¬†way back. ¬†she took off work early, so we all headed back to her neck of the woods, brooklyn.

the train was packed. ¬†lindsey and luke got on, i was left behind. ¬†it didn’t help that they were laughing at me as well, through the subway glass.

we had quite a time with lindsey. ¬†we played pool, had a few beers, and luke and lindsey reminisced and told inside jokes that i didn’t understand.

but we had a flight to catch. ¬†so we called a cab, and rush back to laguardia… from whence we came.

my last look at the city from the taxi. ¬†it made me sad to leave. ¬†i’ve never thought of new york city as a place that i’d enjoy and connect with as much as i did. ¬†maybe it’s because at this point in my life, i can relate to it; ¬†fighting for truth and identity furiously, pressing on with reckless abandon. ¬†i think it’s a phase for me. ¬†but it works for new york city. ¬†and i respect, and in some ways admire it. ¬†but i think more than that, it just comes down to the fact that i’m fascinated by it.

i think i’ll be visiting again soon…

author’s note:

it’s really weird how much i just felt like neil patrick harris at the end of an episode of “doogie howser, m.d.” with that last paragraph. ¬†oh well… let’s make a long-time dream come true…

(marginally bad synthisized piano playing in the background)

March 21, 1993… I’ve spent the last nineteen years learning how to be Doogie Howser, M.D. ¬†Now it’s time to learn how to be just (dramatic pause) Doogie. ¬†(cut to neil, with smile and look of accomplishment) (roll credits)

all images © andrew r. slaton | photographer 2008

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