CLOUDLAND CABIN JOURNAL - July 2014 (Part B - July 16th - present)
SEE PART A - July 1-15 here, which includes Hawaii trip
Cloudland Cabin Cam July 29 - the Milky Way from Aspen's Meadow at midnight
Journal updated July 29
Prints Of The Week - Falling Water Falls (above); Conflower Sunrise (below)
07/16/14 When I got up at 3 this morning to begin the work day, I stepped outside to an unreal world for July in Arkansas. The temp was 52, the canyons below filled with a sea of clouds, and the air above was nothing but sweetness. Oh yes, and a very bright moon lit up everything, including a blue sky that only contained the brightest stars (since the moon overpowered the rest). Summer in Arkansas can be every bit the paradise that we had just left, and it was really great to be home! (I had taken a down jacket to Hawaii that I used on top of the volcano, but I never thought I might need it when we got bac!)
I will have some more info and photos from Hawaii poster here later on, but for now we have been blasted back into the present and have a ton of work to do just to catch up - my lovely bride will be overwhelmed with all of that - she is in charge and runs all of our businesses here from start to finish. I will scramble to get started on the production side of the new picture book project. And as an added bonus, we have not one car window to get patched up enough to survive heavy downpours predicted for tomorrow, but Pam's aging car suffered a total sunroof breakage yesterday while her dad was driving it home from getting it serviced - so I have to figure out how to get it patched up and waterproofed as well.
But I will give you a Hawaii fact before I sign off and get to work - while I had only intended to shoot one major while scene there (spending the rest of my time working on the new picture book) - the Milky Way from the top of the volcano - I ended up shooting more than 52 gigabytes of files with my big camera, and I only scratched the surface. The best laid plans...
In the meantime, CLICK HERE for all of the posts and photos for the first half of July, including our trip...
AND here is one note and photo from the island. Amber is taking senior classes at Drury University all summer and so she had to spend some time nearly every day online during our trip doing homework or taking tests - including a LOT of essays. I have no idea how she was able to do this type of work with the view from her desk, but she made 100% on all of her tests - perhaps it was the altitude! This young lady never ceases to amaze me...
Amber taking a test via my laptop (above); and the famous silversword plant AKA "pee plant" (see text below)
OK, here is another Maui story. The morning I took the girls up to the volcano, we got up at 2-something AM to make the long drive (two hours) up from 20 feet elevation to 10,023 feet elevation at the top of the volcano - we had to go so early to make sure we got a parking spot. We got the very best parking spot on the summit possible, and the girls did not even have to leave the car in order to see and enjoy and take pictures of the sunrise. The only problem was that the temp was probably around 40 degrees, with a howling wind between 40-50mph. And there were NO toilets at the summit. So the girls had to get out into the howling wind and cold temps in the dark to pee. I had parked right next to the only blooming bush on the summit (not by plan, that is just where the best parking spot was and I didn't even notice the plant), which the girls found was a helpful wind break while they were peeing.
It turns out that the plant was an endangered plant (silver sword), and since it was the only one up there that was blooming, it was a major tourist attraction - everyone wanted to come take a picture of it with the rising sun behind it. But the front of the jeep was kind of in the way right up next to it, so folks were not all that happy (and the girls could not move the jeep since I was elsewhere taking pictures and had the only key). When I finally arrived back at the jeep and realized the situation, I quickly pulled the jeep out of the way and a flock of folks surrounded the poor plant and took hundreds of pictures. Of course, the girls had all just peed on it! I found that kind of amusing...
The Heart Rock and crashing wave at the Nakalele Blowhole; girls explore a hidden passageway in the Bamboo Forest
The front yard at dawn on our last morning (above); plumeris tree flowers (below) - what they make leis from
07/18/14 There is a small pine tree that has grown up enough to be taller than the surrounding sumac bushes in Moms meadow just below the cabin. It has a single sprout that reaches up into the sky. This little sprout is where an Indigo bunting sings his heart out at dawn to signal the beginning of each new day. He is out there singing right now - sort of like reveille in a military camp, a call for everyone to get up and get going! Within minutes of his first call the airwaves are filled with songs of other birds, and the activity increases until you can hardly hear the rush of the Buffalo River far below the clouds that are filling the canyon this morning.
We had a little rain yesterday evening, a soft lullaby of music to get everything wet, but nothing more. The temps remained cool all day and dropped even further during the night. When I got up early this morning I had to turn on the heater for the first time I can recall in July here - the temp inside the cabin was a chilly 63 degrees, outside it was 54 at first light. That seas of clouds covering up the canyons below is just about at the tops of the ridges, with a half-moon standing directly overhead and lighting it all up.
I put in a 14-hour day yesterday digging through tens of thousands of photos on my first day of editing for the new picture book - actually I dug through more than 100,000 photos that I've taken during the past three years - I laid eyes on every single one of them. You might imagine that my eyes were kind of blurry and bloodshot by the time I finally crawled into bed late last night. I found about 250 that might work. Today I will cull them down a little bit, then make small prints of each one and begin to pick images from those that will go into the "gotta have" pile. Eventually I will build the skeleton of the actual book layout from these small images on my 4' x 8' "Bubba" table in the print room. I hope to have most of the pictures selected and laid out in their proper order by the end of the weekend - after three more very long days and night of work.
Then I have to physically place all of the photo files in the master book file on the computer, write all the captions, write all the other text and special essays - then while my editor is going through all of the text, I will begin the long and tedious work of processing each and every digital photo file - there will be more than 120 of them. There will be countless revisions to the text, photo selection, and photo placement along the way, eventually ending with me making match prints of the entire book to send off to the printer along with the final book files - if I am still alive by then!
BUT TODAY, while all of that is going on, my lovely bride will bring home our PUPPIES, who have been with their dog parents while we've been away. The cabin has been very still and quiet ever since we got home, but it will explode once again as soon as the puppies arrive. Sorry Pam!
Speaking of my lovely bride, she and Lucy took a long hike yesterday in the rain and discovered a lot of fresh bear sign. We only had one series of bear incidents here at the cabin early in the summer and not much else. We hope the nearby bears keep their distance - if not, they may suffer the wrath of our tiny puppy Mia chasing after them, and they will have to run for their lives!
One quick Maui note - they have flood warnings, shark attacks, and terrible sea and surf conditions going on over there right now. A body washed up on shore not too far from where we were staying. At the same time it is paradise here at Cloudland - we came home at just the right time! HAPPY WEEKEND EVERYONE!
And a view from the cabin early Sunday morning:
07/22/14 Tuesday update: Work continues here at an exhausting pace. This is the final week to get my book done, and I am pretty much working all day and all night, and still have a long ways to go - but I am making progress. I've not seen my lovely bride in a while, but we do talk by radio sometimes! She has her hands full running the businesses and dealing with the puppies (SORRY HONEY - I'll be back soon!). I did hit a milestone at some point during the night/early this morning - I finished writing all the text for the book, YIPPIE! All of that now goes to the editors (one is on the road in Nebraska), then I'll make corrections and do a final text edit on Thursday. In the meantime I begin work today to process the actual images that will be in the book - that will take me the rest of the week. The issue is that if I don't get this book done NOW, we will have to cancel programs in November because we won't have books to sell - it takes several months production time to get them printed and delivered to us. Anyway, this will be my last post until the book is done - then I plan to sleep for a few weeks...
07/27/14 I completed the book project and got it delivered late last night. Early this morning I got up to head out and try to keep up with my lovely beide and three puppies - one of us had grown quite fat and lazy sitting at the computer all this time working on the book, but I will get back into shape one of these days!
Here is the new book cover - (expected delivery date will be in late October - PRE-ORDER NOW)
07/29/14 This is a switch - my lovely bride was up at 5am and is now out on a long hike with the puppies, while I slept in until 6:30 and sit here in my bathrobe sipping coffee. Pam is normally hard at work when I get back to the cabin (she often puts in as many or more hours than I do - it takes a lot of work to maintain our business, and she is in charge). That's my girlfriend - she is a really good egg...
It was late last night when I took my sleeping pill and started to make the rounds to secure the cabin and gallery for the night. When I walked outside I was met with BRILLIANT Big Dipper shining down through the forest canopy above. I stopped and stood and gawked a bit as my eyes got used to the darkness. WOW, the sky was BLACK and the stars were twinkling (one sign of a really clear night). The temp was pretty cool, the air crisp and clean, and it was a beautiful night!
After putting the gallery to bed I lingered a while longer out there in the darkness - I could not help but notice the Milky Way looming directly over the cabin in all her glory - double WOW! What to do, what to do. The forecast calls for cooler temps the next two days (which generally means even clearer skies), yet clouds and rain moving in (which means no stars). I really wanted to take a few pictures of the Milky Way just for old times sake. But I was already about 30 minutes into my sleeping pill and getting a little woosy. Hum, but my oh my that Milky Way was really nice!
I allowed myself to go up to Aspen's meadow and no farther - that should keep me away from any bluffs I might walk off of while asleep. So I set up a couple of cameras out in the middle of the meadow and pointed them south, as the Milky Way was rising up to say hello. It was a very clear night - not only because there were no thin layers of clouds hanging around, but also because the humidity was low and so the "transparency" of the air was pretty clear and good - at least for the middle of the summer in the High Ozarks.
I basically set up just one composition on both cameras, taking the same picture over and over again with each one of them. I got to the point where I could not stand up for more than a few seconds at a time, so I would push the shutter button on the camera to begin a 30-second exposure, then slip back onto the back of the jeep to support myself until the picture had ended. Then I would get up, make a change to the cameras if needed, and go again, returning to the back of the jeep. I'm sure I looked pretty funny up there in the middle of the night wearing only my bathrobe, slippers, and a pair of snake gaiters!
When I began to stagger a little bit I realized it was time to pack it in and go home (the sleeping pill I was fighting was kicking in and I was probably already half asleep). I made it up to the loft without incident - must have been about 2am. When I got up this morning I did find a trail of boots, snake gaiters and other garments on the ground between the jeep and the front door...
Yesterday afternoon we loaded up the gang and headed for water - to take the puppies on their first swim - YIPPIE! Being springer spaniels, both pups have webbed feet and are natural swimmers, but at 16 weeks old they are still pretty skittish of a lot of things, especially when we have them on a leash. We waded with them into shallow water and as the depth got over their heads they just automatically started swimming - YIPPIE COYOTE! That was easy. My previous two springers (Yukon and Aspen) refused to leave the water once they could smell it. It will take a little longer for these new pups to get there, but we do plan to spend a lot of time in the water with them in the years to come.
My lovely bride just got back from their hike out to the mailbox and back - took less than an hour (a little over three miles) - pretty good pace with two puppies in tow!
FYI, all three of our new products are available for PRE-ORDER, plus the 2014 HOLIDAY SPECIAL too (includes all three new products at a discounted price). We expect delivery in the fall, probably late October - early November. Arkansas Nightscapes picture book, 2014 Arkansas Scenie Wall calendar, 2014 Arkansas Engagement calendar, 2014 Holiday Special.