September 19, 2022

Living A Life Beyond Boundaries

Teddy Roosevelt National Park

"If Companionship is a mandate for all of our experiences, then we will miss out on many of life's blessings.

-Gina Greenlee

I think the only thing my son learned in his high school Spanish class is the brief statement "mi Madre is loco." This statement rings truer today to some then it did 20 years ago. Back then the statement was used to make fun of his mom during adolescents. Fast forward 20 years and I am still me, only a better version of myself.

Fiercely independent, I realized along time ago that if I want to do things, I need to make a plan and do it otherwise I would be waiting for things to happen. I am a photographer and artist. I like to do stuff. I find my best work comes when I am alone, uninterrupted and living in my own world. I learned to paved my own path.

With decades of camping experience behind me and not afraid to go out and explore the things I like to do, I do it. Mostly alone. I love to travel, I drive every where and in doing so I have been lucky to meet great people and photograph fantastic images.

Just last week I solo camped in Teddy Roosevelt National park. I have a small tent, lots of camera equipment, battery charges, external power supplies and some really bad for you food ( 99 cent hotdogs and Ramen). Early the second morning a band of stampeding wild horsed woke me up at 1:30 a.m. as they ran past my tent at a great pace less then 15 feet from where I lay sleeping, praying that they did not vier off their path and flatten my tent with me inside. Making a split second decision, I know if I unzipped my tent this could spook them to going in any direction. I also did not want to get trampled upon by a herd of wild horses. I rolled to the farthest point away from the stampede, curled into a fetal position and covered my head waiting for it to end. It took about 25 seconds before it did, I then did what anybody else would do. Returned to my sleeping bag and went back to sleep. Pretty exciting stuff.

Teddy Roosevelt National Park has become a favorite stopping point every year when I travel to meet up with my Photographer mentor in Livingston Montana. Over the past decade I have done this numerous times and love the drive. I always make sure to pad my itinerary on either side to spent a few nights in Teddy Roosevelt Nation Park.

I love this national park because it lacks the amount of visitors found in other national parks. I am free to hike at my town pace and not be stopped by a car of interested parties to catch a glimpse of a Canadian goose as it crosses the road blocking passage for miles.

Teddy Roosevelt has a lot to offer. As a photographer I get great access to wild horses and buffalo, there is a feeling of the west and there is a rich history.

Since I love photographing the Wild Horses and Buffalo this is truly the park for me.

Yesterday, I set out to find a couple of the bands of ferrel horses that roam throughout the park. My first stop was south of the camp ground as I witnessed them on my way in the night before. SCORE! There I ran into the beautiful blue eye foal, her and her band who combined with another band that hangs together as they travel about the park.

On the second morning, I found the same band in the same area again. This is a band of two groups. Each with their own stallion and group of female that travel together. I was greeted by both stallions as I walked towards them. They both left the nearness of their group and walked in my direction. Getting within several yards of me, they both looked at me for a few minutes and turned back to their groups. As I worked I noticed two other ferrel horse photographers there with me. I later found out they work with the park tracking and identifying each herd. After about an hour of photographing this band I set out to find another. At the opposite end of the park I located another band, this time the colors were not as flashy as the first but just as beautifully wild.

In photographing wild horsed there is something so majestic about seeing these horses in their natural environment. Yet with the amount of visitors that stalk them, photograph them and drive past them, I believe they may not be as wild as those that are not National Park Managed. Yet they are not tamed and I would not necessarily walk up to them. Yet I have witnessed them walking with in arms reach of a human. They do things on their own terms.

As a photographer I have a long lens (150-600) and am able to capture my shots with out getting overly close.

Now, Buffalo that is a whole different animal (LOL).

Over the past year we have heard so many stories about tourist walking up to a buffalo and getting tossed like a rag doll. Buffalo are not domesticated cows. They are a thousand pounds plus a bunch more and are not interested in people. The females will go to great lengths to protect their young and the Bulls will do what needs to be done to protect the herd. As a photographer again this is where a long lens comes in handy. I can stand hundreds of feet away and zoom In on a subject. I also have a profession camera that has a high resolution to crop my images to appear closer. The most important piece of equipment I purchased this year is a freestanding mono-pod. This allows me to capture tack sharp images and take a great weight off my holding hand. When my Camera and Lens are together and the lens is fully extended it is a heavy piece of equipment that after decades of repetition fine it hard to hold steady.

One of the things that I also like to do to capture a good buffalo shot is to open the sun roof and stand on the middle console to get a shot if the road is empty and the herd is close. If wanting to photograph these animals of any quality you need the right equipment. Many people have cell phone and I have witnessed how they tend to walk considerably close putting their lives in danger.

As a woman, traveling photographer and independent beyond measure, I get asked all sorts of questions about traveling alone. I have been called brave, "loco" and heavily questioned by all sorts people about being safe on the road. I have experience and years of understanding situational awareness. I know my routes and my limitations. I have learned the skills needed to make safe decisions.

I have a great family that does not always understand why I do this alone, they roll their eyes, and shakes their heads and yet support my love of photography and solo travel.

I am always learning and always living.