Photo Blog Featuring:

Outdoor Travel, Adventure & Landscape Photography

Friday, December 26, 2008

Annual Suffern DARE/ PBA Toy Drive

I know this blog isn’t about photography or outdoor travel, but for me helping my good friend Clarke Osborn and the Suffern PD with their annual toy drive is an adventure and the best part of the holiday season. Next to being outdoors, helping and working with children is one of the most exciting things in my life. This year my wife, Sue, was able to get the company she works for, Liberty Travel, to have all their employees bring a toy to their Holiday Party. Thanks to Sue and Liberty Travel we collected another 25 bags of toys and more than 25 gift cards! Below is a brief history of the Suffern DARE/PBA Toy Drive history.

For the past 18 years the members of the Suffern Police Department have been sponsoring a holiday toy drive for local needy families. This program began as a result of many local families who were having a hard time receiving assistance during trying times. Since our inception we have identified and assisted these families through many avenues including working with local school districts and organizations to ensure that our toys went to truly local, needy families. We continue to assist families throughout Rockland and Bergen counties including the communities of Suffern and Mahwah.

Unlike other toy drives the items that we collect stay within our area. One of the main reasons that this drive started was because of the bureaucracy that our residents would go through to get assistance from larger programs and on many occasions our residents would be turned away and not even receive a return phone call back as they asked for help. Our drive is very unique in the fact that we identify the families and deliver the toys ourselves to ensure that the job gets done. We have a volunteer staff of over 50 officers and community members who truly lend a hand to make a difference throughout our communities.

Clarke Osborn is Chief of Police in Suffern and in my opinion (and many other’s opinions) one to the most caring and compassionate people one will ever meet.
Next week’s blog will be on the trip Sue and I took out West in early December.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Where are the watercolors?

This is the question I get when people see my business card or visit my website. The answer I give them is “they’re coming, I swear!” Well, here are some of the pieces I’ve worked on this year. I’m looking into having these reproduced so you will see more information on the site when it’s available. As for parting with the originals… well, I haven’t decided on that yet. Right now I feel like the original paintings are part of me and not sure how to say goodbye to them.

When I was younger and going to architecture school I took a watercolor class and enjoyed it but never did anything with the skills I acquired. It wasn’t until 20 years later I decided to pick up the brushes again and attempt to create something interesting. In my journey I met a gentlemen by the name of Arthur Gilmore who is a tremendous watercolor artist and teacher. His classes are 2 doors down from my martial arts school in Suffern, NY in his wife Connie’s frame shop. For the last 5 years or so I’m been painting in his class and have found that painting has not only given me another way to express myself but has also helped in giving me an “artistic eye” for my photography. Anyone wanting to give watercolor painting a try should come down to Arthur's class, Monday morning 10am to 1pm or Tuesday evening from 7pm to 10pm. Thank you again Arthur for the inspiration and motivation to see things from a different point of view. Check out his website by clicking his name above.

On a different note next month I’ll have some big news on a show/fundraiser my friend, Mark Sganga, and I will be doing in the new year for the NY/NJ Trail Conference. The show will include Mark’s live music along with my photography. More on this when we work out all the details. Until next time, remember make your daydreams a reality by acting upon them.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fall Beauty

This week I had a chance to get out at sunrise to do some photography. On Tuesday I headed up to Harriman State Park in New York and on Wednesday I headed over to Ramapo Reservation in New Jersey. Both days were warm with Tuesday being a clear morning which made for some great sunrise photos and Wednesday being overcast and foggy which gave the morning a misty "New England" feel. I hope you enjoy the photos and they help to bring you to that happy place in the corner of your mind.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A thought provoking quote

I’m sitting here on a plane right now flying to Chicago to support Sue and our good friend Lori who are running the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. The other day I had a great idea (at least to me it was great) for a blog but I lost the thought when I stepped out of the shower on Wednesday. If only I could bring my laptop into the shower, this is where I come up with so many thought provoking ideas that I feel the need to act upon. The problem is once I step away from the warm water running off my body the thought to runs off my body too. Don’t ask me why ‘CAUSE I DON’T KNOW! Anyway I still feel the need to put up a post this warm weekend in October, so I guess what I’ll talk about is a quote I just read in a book by David Peterson. The quote is from his once good friend, Edward Abbey, a man who I believe truly understood what it means to live in harmony with the natural world around us. OK, OK here's the quote: “It is not death or dying which is tragic, but rather to have existed without fully participating in life-that is the deepest personal tragedy”. Reading this I stopped and looked out the window from my cramped seat in this sardine can I’m on and thought “WOW, that is a tragedy!” And wondered how many become victim to this without even realizing it until it’s to late?

As I get older I realize the importance of life and small things around me. With all that is going on in today's world that we have little control over it’s important to enjoy as much of our time here as possible—never taking a minute from our daily lives for granted. No matter how stressful life gets remember there is something positive in life to counter balance that stress and that “something” is what we need to bring to the foreground of our minds to help deal with the stress we sometimes can’t totally get away from. I know from this blog on I will keep that quote in my thoughts and when things get tough and life feels like 4 walls closing in on me I’ll look for that “something” that makes me happy and act upon it. The photos I put in this blog really have nothing to do with this short thought that I feel the need to write about. They are here to give you something peaceful and beautiful to look at and to hopefully influence you to get outside away from society and it’s mania for a short time, either by yourself or with a loved one to enjoy the natural places we so often avoid because we know so little about them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Journey to the Finger Lakes New York

Headed up to the Finger Lakes in North West NY last month. And I was able to get Sue to camp with me! We had a plan to stay in a bed & breakfast for the trip but that plan got changed due to us waiting until the last minute to book our reversions. My wife, the trooper, said to me “why don’t we camp”? It didn’t take me long to say “ummm, ok”! What we were able to do was camp for 2 nights and get a B&B for 2 nights. We had a great time the weather was perfect.
The Finger Lakes region is known for (what else) but its lakes and oh, did I mention its winery’s too? The region consists of eleven lakes ranging from 40 miles in length to an incredible 618 feet in depth. They lie within an imaginary triangle between Syracuse, Rochester and Elmira-Corning. All the lakes are fed by Lake Ontario to the north. We stayed on Seneca Lake, which is the longest of the lakes. It’s also home to most of the wineries in that area and to one of the coolest state parks, Watkins Glen State Park.

Sue and I hiked and photographed 5 state parks during this trip: Buttermilk Falls State Park, Letchworth State Park, Robert H. Treman State Park, Taughannock Falls State Park and my favorite park of them all Watkins Glen State Park. All of the parks are filled with some amazing rivers, gorges and waterfalls. Many of the photos I shot will be featured in my upcoming show in October. More on that in my next blog.

I have to finish this blog off with a word or two about the B&B we stayed at. The place is called the South Glenora Tree Farm and is owned by Judi and Steve. Steve has a story for everything and can tell you anything and everything about the area. Their place is a true country home with some of the best hospitality in the area. The Tree Farm is on 110 acres with hiking trails, streams and, of course, trees. The trees are Frasier, Douglas and Scotch pines and are for Christmas harvest. Whatever season you head up to the Finger Lakes I highly recommend staying at the Tree Farm. Tell Steve Mike & Sue, the Waterfall people, sent you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Catskills

This past week I headed up to the Catskills to do some photography for some shows/events I have coming up this fall. More on that later. I decided that I would camp this time out and not get a hotel room. Let me tell you it was one of the best decisions I made. For me, camping is a way to get back to a “primitive” lifestyle with no societal stress. It's so great to be able to sleep under the stars and listen to the wind blow and the rain fall at night. When I was younger my dad used to take my brother and I camping every summer and there were times when I would think “Why are we doing this? Why not just get a room?” As I grew older I began to understand it's purpose. Most children today are so out of touch with the natural world around them. They are engulfed in a technology filled, over achieving society that they don't enjoy the simple things in life or to have fun without using some type of electronic machine. Technology is great but it becomes a problem when one lets it consume them to the point of not being able to live without it. Anyway, the Catskills are so beautiful and I think I was able to capture it's beauty in the photos I took. When I decided to camp this trip I wanted to find a place where I would be on a lake so I could also do some kayaking. I found a great state run campground up in Haines Falls NY called North South Campground which is on North South Lake. Although I couldn't get a site right on the lake I did manage to get one that was less than a 100 feet from the water. My morning started at sunrise with about 3 hours of hiking and photography then to breakfast and then to the lake for some kayaking and planning where I would hike to for Sunset photos. Some of the photos I shot are in this blog with more to come in the Fall on both my website and at the upcoming events I'm in the mist of planing right now.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Into THe Wild

The other night Sue and I rented the movie Into the wild. I'm sure most of you already know the movie was based on the best selling book by Jon Krakauer. It's about the adventures of Christopher McCandless who after gradating collage decides to give up everything and head out on a road trip to Alaska and live in the wild away from society. I found the movie to be very sad leaving an empty feeling in my stomach not because of path Chris chose but because he chose not to fully prepare properly for his journey. I commend him on doing what he did in the sense of he had a desire and a dream and took action upon his desire. Having been more prepared he would be alive today to tell his own story first hand. Ok your probably thinking I'm crazy for commending his actions. It's not necessary the actions I'm commending although as I stated if better planned and thought out his trip would of turned out to be a true adventure with a positive ending. What I'm getting at here is the desire to act upon and live out his passion and dream. Society today has provided us with so many man made opinions and rules that when we act, we act thinking "what will others think?" or "will I fit in?" instead of acting on what will truly make us happy. Here's a question. How many are truly happy in their journey through life? And how many just think their happy in their journey because their following the herd and playing by all the rules? The rules I'm talking about aren't the laws we have in place to keep people safe. The rules I'm talking about are the ones that prevent us from acting out on a "daydream" or prevent us from thinking "outside the box". We live in a society today that bases one's success on materialistic possession and financial gain. I think most will agree that what truly makes a person is far more than what they own or are worth.
If you get a chance i recommend renting the movie. Not only was it a thought provoking experience but the scenery was fantastic as well.

In closing I ask two questions to all. What is your calling in life? What do you have a passion for? Take some time to think about it and then make the time to act upon it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hawaii one year ago

Last year at this time Sue and I were in Hawaii for our 10 year wedding anniversary. Having been there 3 times I'm always amazed by the landscape and vegetation. We were up every morning at 6:30 am and out til sundown experiencing the delicate landscape of the rain forests, the remote beaches that would take us hours to hike to and atop some of the most amazing volcano's in the world. Both the islands of Kauai and Maui have two of the wettest spots in the world. The wettest being on Kauai atop Mount Waialeale averaging 460 inches a year. Doing some research I have found out that it is possible to hike to the base of this spot which is known as the "Blue Hole." I've seen it from a helicopter. Looking down into it is like looking at a green wall spilling water over a 5000 foot cliff!!! Click the link above to see what I'm talking about I promise you won't be disappointed. Our next trip back will consist of this hike. Some may think I'm crazy but to stand and photograph this place is one of the most important items on my agenda right now. The second wettest spot is on Maui in the West Maui Mountain range atop Pu'u KukuiPu'u averaging 350 inches a year. The amazing thing is at the base of this mountain range it's extremely dry and almost desert like due to the trade winds.
I hope you enjoy the photos in this blog and experience the same emotional response I felt when creating them. To see more photos of our trip goto the Hawaii gallery on my website. As far as the Photo's go I really can't take credit for creating them. I just captured what nature has created. Through my photography you will see the natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands and hopefully realize how important it is to preserve what is so important to our survival.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Great Southwest - Part One

Ok, before I start this blog, let me say that writing is by no means my area of expertise. Once I’m done I’m sure this will read like a 3rd grader’s story about their trip to the Bronx Zoo lol lol. But anyway here goes nothing. Please be easy on me. Moving on.

Last month Sue and I headed out west for a 9 day trip starting in Las Vegas, Nevada and ending in Moab, Utah. For us Vegas is our second home and hopefully our first someday. Not because of the lights, glitter and all the man-made mania but because of the desert and it's availability to all the outdoor playgrounds in the vicinity. Our trip was planned around two 1/2 marathons the first being in the Red Rock Canyon state park "one of my favorite places" and the second in Moab, Utah along the Colorado River. This trip like all of our trips out West, consisted of Running, hiking, photography and of course going to some great restaurants and shows in Vegas. I'd be lying if I said there was no shopping involved. How could there not be shopping? Sue was involved!!!

The Red Rock Canyon 1/2 Marathon was one of the greatest races I've experienced. The first 8 1/2 miles was all up hill gaining close to 2000 feet in elevation. From there it flattened out with some screaming downhill's!!! Although it wasn't my fastest time it was the strongest race I've ever run. I’ve been trying to figure out how this was possible given that the course was a difficult one. The only thing I can credit it to is the desert air, the red rocks and canyons. For me the desert has energy that makes me feel alive and pushes all my aches and pains away. If anyone has ever done some reading on the Southwest I'm sure you’ve heard of a place in Arizona called Sedona. Sedona is said to have special places within it called Vortex’s. A Vortex is where the earth’s energy comes up through the surface. This energy is what I believe is found in all natural things and is what an acupuncturist taps into when doing healing practices. It's what everything on this planet and in our universe is made up of. For me being in the desert puts me close to this energy and helps my body to heal and stay healthy both physically and mentally. One can call me crazy, but prove me wrong first. Anyway, Vegas was full of fun but can also be overwhelming. I feel that spending a couple of days on the strip is more than enough for one’s personality to handle. Being on the strip you can be engulfed in this overbearing man made playground where everyone and everything is trying to out do each other for egotistic status. Makes me wonder is this what life is really about? Does all this really matter in the grand scheme of things? Probably not. Anyway, after spending 3 days & 3 nights in the “Big City” we left Vegas behind and headed for what’s in my opinion one of the prettiest states Utah. The further we got from Vegas the more I felt all the pressures of society fall away. I knew at this point the only thing that really mattered was what’s the first side canyon that Sue and I will hike tomorrow and what time does the sun set tonight? When we arrived in Zion we found ourselves in a little bed and breakfast called Flannigan's that over looked one of the more famous rock formations in the park call West Temple. Looking up at this formation makes one realize that this is truly a place where you can connect spiritually with the planet we live on. We spent two days in Zion doing a couple of great hikes along the Virgin River and into different side canyons where the rock walls climbed thousands of feet above us on either side. The last day we were there we hiked into a canyon below the Court of the Patriarchs. About 2 miles in we found ourselves standing up against a canyon wall that stretched to the sky more than a thousand feet above us. Further up in the distance we were treated to a frozen water fall that was starting to thaw from the warm spring air making it’s way into Zion. Chunks of ice were falling off the falls that were so loud it echoed throughout the canyon like gun shots being fired. Our game plan when traveling is to get up as early as possible grab breakfast and head out on the trails. We usually hike until 3pm or so then head into town for some lunch, shopping and grab a drink while planning where we’ll head before dinner for sunset photo shoot. I never understood “sleeping in” when on vacation there’s so much to see and experience with so little time why spend it sleeping or on a beach chair? Our last day in Zion we headed out to an outdoor/adventure shop called the Zion Adventure Company and spoke to the owner, Shelly about a famous hike many talk about called the Zion Narrows. It’s basically a hike up the Virgin River and into some of the most amazing slot canyons in the area. To do this hike you need to have a wet suit and trekking poles. Sue and I are sure to do this next time we head to Zion.

Heading out of Zion we were on the road to Bryce Canyon, 80 or so miles up the road. We have never been to Bryce and couldn’t wait to get there. The documentaries and photos I’ve seen make this place look like a fantasy land. Just before getting to Bryce we went through a state park called Red Canyon, and let me tell you its name doesn’t do it justice!!! The rock formations are call hoodoos and are so red that they look like lava lamps turned on. Being much higher in elevation the temperature was much colder and the snow levels were at least 4 feet if not deeper. Because we left Zion early enough we were able to spend the afternoon in Bryce Canyon. First we headed to the National Park Visitor Center to talk to a ranger and get some information on the weather report. He informed us that the day was going to continue with high winds and cold air but heading down into the canyon should provide us with some shelter from the wind. Sue and I headed out to hike that’s called the Navajo Trial Loop. This was going to turn out to be one of the most incredible hikes we have ever done next to Kodachrome Basin (more on this later) and the Na Pali Coast in Kauai. We got to the trailhead which over looked the canyon and all its brightly colored hoodoo rock formations. To our surprise we came to realize that the trial was going to take us down into a snow packed narrow corridor that was less than 10 feet wide with massive pine trees growing up through the middle!!! After working our way through this narrow piece the trail opened up on the canyon floor and displayed these massive rock formations that we experienced when standing on top on the canyon. Hiking at the bottom of the canyon did provide us with shelter from the wind and a much warmer temperature thanks to the abundant sunshine. Being at the bottom was amazing. So many people come here get out of their car and say, “oh look how beautiful” snap a photo and drive away. Being at the bottom of Bryce Canyon, or off the beaten path in any park, is to truly feel and experience the natural environment around us. When we headed out of Bryce later that day we headed back to our little place we called home for two days. We stayed at Stone Canyon Inn, a bed and breakfast in the town of Tropic, 10 miles outside of the park. What a treat this was!!! We were the only guests there for the week and had our own living room with a fireplace and a view to die for. The people running the place were so kind, warm and friendly, and I must say also cooked a mean breakfast. Our game plan for the next day was to head back to Bryce hike a different trail and get back to that amazing canyon floor. Upon arriving there the temperature was 25 degrees and the wind was blowing even harder than yesterday. But this wasn’t going to stop us. We got out on the trail and started to walk along the canyon rim on a snow and ice covered trail. Once reality set in we realized that to the left and right of the trail was a drop into the canyon falling hundreds of feet. Seeing this Sue looks to me and says, “ummm do you really think this is a good idea?” My response before my common sense took over, was “of course it’s a good idea. Where dressed warm and will stay on the trail.” Needless to say once the common sense took hold we high tailed it out of there. Heading back to the car we pulled out our maps and turned on the GPS did some research and found that there was a State Park 30 miles down the road at a lower elevation called Kodachrome Basin. We decided to head that way. Kodachrome turned out to be AMAZING!!! The park isn’t that big in size, only spanning 2240 acres but it has some incredible views and vistas. Driving in we paid the park fee, got the map and decided to hike the Panorama Trail. What made this hike so amazing for me was that along the trail we took many side hikes following a dry river bed into some of the most amazing box canyons. We got to this one side canyon where the trail ended but off in the distance we could see these eroded sand cliff walls that were the most unbelievable color orange with a purple tint. Taking a left turn we headed up into the canyon, followed the dry and crusted river bed. Twisting and turning around the rock formations that looked like chimneys hundreds of feet tall we came to an opening underneath the “orange wall”. Sue waited at the bottom for me while I climbed my way up into this narrow crevas that took me up about 50 feet to this massive wall that I had been staring at miles away when we entered the park. Getting up close to this wall gave me this most amazing feeling that I just can’t describe. Ok, ok you’re probably saying this guy doesn’t get out much but all I can tell you is that you had to be there. After shooting some photos I made my way back down to were Sue waited for me and was at a lose of words in trying to describe what I had just experienced. We finished our hike in Kodachrome around 2 pm and decided to head back to Tropic and find a place for a bite to eat and plan a Sunset location shoot. Tropic isn’t very big only having a gas station, convenient store and a couple of restaurants. After lunch we headed back to the bed and breakfast and made a plan to head out before sunset to Red Canyon and then on to Ruby's for dinner. Most people who head out to Bryce will stay at Ruby's. It’s right outside the park and has everything one needs including a bar and fireplace!!!! Stay tuned for part 2 coming next month.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Elements of Nature Library Show

I know I'm a little late in posting but, I want to thank everyone for their support who came out to my show at the Suffern Library back in February. The show was a great success!!! I hope everyone who views my work is inspired to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors, whether it be in your own backyard or traveling to some adventurous place such as a national, state or local park. Thank you again. If you would still like to purchase a print or a set of note cards please go to my website. Please e mail if you would like a print matted or framed.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Hello and welcome to my blog spot. Along with the many photos that are posted on my website I felt trip reports and different links to the places that we travel to would help others who may want to travel to these places too. I will also include information on the local hiking, kayaking, biking and photography outings that may interest you. I hope you enjoy the blogs. Feel free to post your comments and requests.