• Plane Wheel Detail Colorado by Jay Goodrich

    The wheel of a private jet is highlighting a Remove Before Flight safety mechanism at Garfield County Regional Airport in Colorado.

20 Minutes

20 minutes ago I was purchasing a coffee and a blueberry scone at Caffe Vita. The TSA agent told me to have a great day. I walked through security without shedding my shoes, without taking off my belt, without removing the laser-cut titanium rectangle that outlines Grand Teton which has hung around my neck for close to a decade. I didn’t pull my laptop out of my bag. I put my truck key and iPhone into my bag. I had my boarding pass scanned and it beeped with a green light. I checked my one bag, was upgraded to first class, and I parked my truck right next to the terminal in the oversized parking. Almost ran into the tiny Jeep who couldn’t make up his mind how to park at the ticket gate.

20 minutes before I was driving the back roads of Seattle. As quiet and lifeless as I have ever seen them. There was no traffic. No people. No sunlight. I didn’t even have to stop at a single red light. I exceeded the speed limits in all zones as I most often do. I pulled away from Art’s house after activating all of the motion sensors which turn on every piece of landscape lighting he has. I dropped my bike rack, threw the two bags into the back of my FJ. I locked the door behind me. I walked down the path breaking spider webs that only took a short four hours for those little guys to build. Yes, I have my own key. My own bed. My own towel.

20 minutes before I was in a coma. My legs were running with the best of the dogs. Twitching an writhing. Dreaming of what, I do not remember. My alarm woke me to the music of Imagine Dragons. I had no clue as to where I was. I got up. Shaken and still trembling. Turned on the light, dimmer set low as to not blind myself. Used the toilet. Brought my contacts to my room and put them in the pocket of the shorts I decided to wear. Put on those pair of shorts and my favorite button-down short sleeve shirt. Dropped my iPhone and truck key into my pocket. Brushed my teeth.

In 20 minutes, I am going to board and American Airlines jet Corpus Christi, Texas. I have a feeling that it is going to be REALLY hot. Especially in comparison to the comfortable sixty degrees Fahrenheit that I am about to leave. This morning has gone like clockwork. It doesn’t always happen this way. Actually, it almost never happens this way. There must be a storm on the horizon. Or we are heading to the top of a curve in this peak and valley journey.

  • Sidi Dominator Cycling Shoes by Jay Goodrich

    Jay Goodrich's 22 year old Sidi Dominator cycling shoes that he wears for all types of rides.

Clod Hopping for Twenty Two Years

As our planet gets more technologically advanced, we seem to throw away more and more on a yearly basis. Computers, phones, tablets, cars, bikes, cameras and crazy words like clod hopping. All disposable. Better, stronger, faster, lighter, year-in and year-out. My parents held onto everything until it was completely and utterly falling apart. My dad had these freakin’ plaid pants that were right out of the 50s’ but it was 1990. My friends and I nicknamed him “Plaid”. He even took to it and lived it, until one day when were all old enough and strong enough to sit and drink with him. It took four of us to hold him down and cut those pantaloons off of him, but we did it. One of my friends even made a head band out of those polyester fugly pants and wore it at the Friday night parties for months as we dropped keg stand after keg stand and funnel after funnel.

Now that was staying power. I have to say that I am now following suit. Not with plaid pants thank fully, but with a pair of cycling shoes from Sidi that I bought 22 years ago. The Dominator. I bet they never thought there would be a whacked out mountain bike photographer still riding with those stinky, dirt covered, blue leather shoes with just a hint of ugly fluorescent green. My Sidis have ridden in every Western state and most Eastern ones too. They have clipped into the first clip-less pedals that Shimano made and now clip into the lightest, most expensive pair ever made – the Quad Ti by a company named Crank Brothers. They have been ridden over one hundred thousand miles. Have been rain soaked and mud encrusted thousands of times. Have been through ten separate bikes and now alternate between three on a weekly basis. They are scuffed and even have some of their seams falling apart, but have worked without issue for twenty two years.

These shoes are a testament to an era that seems to be falling by the waist-side. My mission is to now keep them, much in the same way my father kept his plaids, until you or my children pry them from passed out and drunken feet.

In the same breath a package arrived at my door today. A brand-new shiny box. Inside was a frame to a bike that I once owned. This bike is one of a very few. A machine built by a man name Chris Chance. It was created in 1995. At the time, it was the beginning of the full-suspension mountain bike era. This bike was completely fabricated by hand and made of chromoly steel in Massachusetts. Shock-a-Billy number 30. These bikes are rare because shortly after his company disappeared, swallowed up by the stream of newer, faster, lighter, etc. Mine was custom made just for me after I wrote a letter to Chris and his wife begging for one. This was in fact my third bike by them for me. It was in fact a family matter to some extent. The letter might have been the first piece of writing where I realized my passion for it. I will probably spend more time and money restoring this machine than it originally cost me, but how often does hindsight give you a redo?

So as I write a check for my brand new Canon 1DX, I will keep abusing my poor old shoes until they burst under the strain of my daily rides or my kids make buy some trendy new Chinese-made plastic pieces of shit that don’t last a season. Thank you Sidi for a least making those $200 shoes depreciate at less than $10 a year for the last 22. Film didn’t even last that long in my photography career. One can only guess what the horizon holds.

As for the frame…I will probably post more about the Fat Chance as we restore a much more beaten sole. Beaten, but just like the shoes, not broken.

  • Autumn Northwest Forest Mountain Biking by Jay Goodrich

    Single speed gearing and wheel with big leaf maples in Anacortes, Washington.

Vomit Incorporated – The Return of an Old Friend

Reset the clock to fifteen years ago. I was upwardly mobile in the architecture and construction industry. I had money. I had toys, many toys. And I was in the process of purchasing a racing machine. The goal was one of the simplest ideas and yet one of the most difficult to complete. Create the lightest mountain bike possible with the least amount of money expended and make damn sure it had class, style, and a bit of flair that would have other riders asking themselves, “What the fuck was that?” The project came together with an overwhelming success. I purchased a hand made, custom sized frame from Independent Fabrication. This was an employee-owned, start-up company in Somerville, Mass. A company full of bike builders that were left high and dry by their now estranged boss Chris Chance, who was the founder of another bike company that went by the name of Fat City Cycles.

The frame was steel and tipped the scales at less than four pounds. The completed bike only weighed 21 pounds. It rode like the wind. And was my favorite bike to date. I raced it, road it, and cared for it like it was one of my first children. It was a relationship of obsession. It made it through three 24 Hours of Moab races before it succumb to complete and total devastation. In the bike’s defense, the final Moab race was like none other. It was a Mother Nature experiment gone wrong, really wrong. The desert was angry that day my friends like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli. The skies dumped ten inches of rain in what seemed like minutes. It turned the microscopic sandstone dust particles into a brake, bearing, and bicycle destroyer. You could literally swim to the finish line after the final turn in the race course. My wonderful machine lost its life that day. Frozen, rusted, and abused beyond repair. Well, almost, another plan came together.

A year later the IF was resurrected. New paint, and a new purpose in life. A self-imposed torture machine. You see, instead of returning her into the lightweight 24 speed racer that she was, I opted to convert her into the power of one. A single speed mountain bike. And now she was even lighter, stronger, and faster than before. Now if you have ever tried to ride a single speed mountain bike, you will know that it isn’t the initial experience leaves you asking for a…better one. Actually it is torture. You ride and ride hard. My resurrected steed quickly got the name of “The Vomit Comet”. There were very few rides during its initial season that didn’t contain a vomit session from yours truly. This actually went on for a few years. Eventually I got stronger and stronger and learned how to ride some of the hardest rides in the Vail Valley with only one speed.

I quickly began educating myself on how not only to ride a single speed, but how to cheat with it as well. See, you may be limited during your ride, but the key was always figuring out what gearing you needed before getting out on that trail. You didn’t want to walk, but you didn’t want to scorch up the steepest sections with ease either. It was the ultimate balancing act. Then one day during a typical two hour ride, the sound of inevitability chimed. I over-torked my rear wheel, put a huge flat spot in it, partially because of a bad wheel build, (not by me) bringing the trusty machine to a halt. Major surgery was the only way to fix her. She was hung up for a while as I began adding miles to a brand new bike this one had many speeds and a lot of suspension. Then we moved from Colorado to Washington. And now we come to present day.

There she hung in the garage next to the other five bikes. Cob webs gathering. Covered in dirt from all over the country. Colorado. Utah. California. Two days ago the doctor (that’s me) decided to see what could be done. Surprisingly, with some spoke loosening, a bit of pushing, hammering, truing, ball scratching, lube, and some air she awoke like Frankenstein. Still with a minor limp, but one that could be worked with for now. “What is thy bidding my master?” “How ‘bout a ride?” Day two and counting. My body is completely sore and tortured, again. She is loving the Pacific Northwest. This bike was created by East Coast woods riders. It is nimble and accelerates like a top-fuel dragster. And yes, she still owns the name, “The Vomit Comet”. Yesterday was a homemade quesadilla, strawberries, and a handful of chocolate chips. Today was bow-tie pasta with mushroom marinara and some animal crackers.

The beauty of riding a machine like this is that it makes me feel, other than sick, like my favorite t-shirt from Patagonia–Live Simply. No shifting. Brakes that barely work. Top fuel acceleration. And precision handling for the woods of the Northwest. Living Simply and loving it! I was going to have eggs for breakfast tomorrow, but figured that wasn’t the smartest idea. Day three is about to happen.

  • Hoodoo Formations Bisti New Mexico by Jay Goodrich

    Hoodoo formations at sunset during the summer heat in the Bisti Wilderness in New Mexico.

Getting Lost in Bisti

I have navigated through Denali National Park for 10 days and maintained my whereabouts. I have flown multiple aircraft across most of the United States and arrived at my destination without fail. This past weekend was a different for some reason, maybe some weird star was misaligned in the universe. I managed to visit a place that has been on my list for over a decade. A place I have researched and read about since then. I listened to all of the warnings and all of the advice. I brought plenty of water, the map I found online, the directions I found online, and my Brother-in-Law’s GPS, which happens to be the same GPS that I own. And what happened, that’s right, I GOT LOST!

Now getting lost is a state of mind. Was I really lost? My personal definition of lost is finally getting found by search and rescue with little to no food and water after spending a few unprepared nights out in the cold. If I put it that way then I was not lost, but I still didn’t find what I was looking for, so yes, I guess I was lost. I am not sure if the map is a bit off, or my navigation skills a bit off, or the fact that this is a desert with rolling hills and what I was looking for could have been right there behind me like that Predator thing in the jungles of South America.

I looked and walked and looked and walked, but to no avail the Egg Factory that many others have seen in the Bisti Wilderness of Northern New Mexico managed to keep its place on my photography wish list. I did still photograph, there were formations all over the place, just not those eggs which to borrow from another movie look like they came from Aliens. This is all okay, I know I will return because I have family in Albuquerque. One thing that will definitely happen is that I will return in the fall or even the winter when it is a bit cooler than the balmy 100 degrees I got to walk around in. Oh, and I will bring a friend or my wife so we can argue about what direction we need to go. Then after an hour or so I will finally listen to what she has to say and then there will be those eggs right before us to photograph just in time to be eaten by an Alien.

  • Mount Shuksan Peaks from the Clouds by Jay Goodrich

    Mount Shuksan breaks out of a winter storm system for mere minutes in the Cascades.

The Gift

I have been skiing for 25 years now. If I were about to turn 30 and not 40, I probably would be some kind of professional athlete instead of a photographer. Maybe? I only say this because statistically most professional athletes are exposed to their sport at an early age, usually before they can really walk. The “experts” say by 5, I didn’t start skiing until I was 15. However, there is nothing to say that I wouldn’t hate skiing if I were exposed to it at that early of an age and be exactly at the same point in life regardless. I can say though, that skiing is my sport. It is my heroin. No reasonable offer to ski will be turned down, ever, period. I can’t really explain why, I just love it. There are many mistresses in my life (sorry to my wife and my kids) fortunately, they are all favorite lines in the backcountry of some mountainous place. Some have hated me, some have treated me with open arms and others have gone unnoticed. The key to all of the best lines though is the snow. The best dressed gets my respect, always.

Recently, I had hands-down the best day of this season. It was the culmination of a week long storm cycle that brought close to 8 feet of new snow to the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. The snow phone at Mount Baker Ski Area reported 16 inches new in the past 24 hours and snowing heavily. I arrived at the maelstrom only to agree whole heartedly. It was dumping! Close to 2 inches an hour at times. I think there was 8 additional inches by Noon. Then came the crescendo, the break, visibility. Intermittent at first, then more and more towards clear blue bird. I pushed on, my sore and tired body fueled by the availability to see. A day that ended at 4:30pm with this–the gift. For every skier, the beauty of the mountains, beholds the key to finding those amazing lines.

  • Toddler Girl Winter Colorado by Jay Goodrich

    Waiting for dad to take us for a walk with the dog during winter snow storm in jogging stroller.

Optimism is Contagious

My wife Heather sent me a text message a little earlier today stating that she was sad. To which I replied asking, “why?”. I then received a laundry list of items that were on her mind. This list contained the typical things that bother almost any person on this planet regardless of career, lifestyle, or monetary worth – money, job status, family members, etc. This of course led to me immediately calling her.

I am not always the positive cheerleader, I have many a dark artist day as well. However, I tend to be very positive when others are completely down. Searching deep into a very untapped well, not really, but tapped only in time of need. I told Heather that some of the things on her list were completely uncontrollable. If they did indeed happen, there was nothing to do but ride the coaster and see where it took us. Some of the things could be controlled, with some really good drugs and alcohol. And, the remainder, had other people’s pain involved, pain that we have been through, so it wouldn’t be hard to guide them to a positive ending.

This whole conversation got me thinking about the rest of the United States. If my wife, who is one of the most positive humans on this earth can become sad right now, how bad are the countless others? Or all of the people in Haiti? Is 2012 really going to happen? This all led me to thinking about those super remote tribes in the Amazon. Have they changed because the U.S. is in a recession? Probably not. They may have been changed by the ever increasing climate issue that the whole planet is contributing to though. This then lead me to the realization that maybe we are all truly connected by six degrees of separation. And if we are in fact connected, does that mean by some miracle a good deed generated by me could help some person 20,000 miles away, who I have not met or may never meet?

As I was driving home from the gym and our phone conversation ended, I passed my sign. I looked to the side of the highway and there was this simple, giant, white billboard with only the words “Optimism is Contagious” written on it. If that was not a sign, I don’t know what would be.

So that is my message to everyone who has read anything that I have ever written. OPTIMISM IS CONTAGIOUS. Act and think optimistically, because you never know, that person 20,000 miles from you, whom you have never met and may never meet, could get a huge dose of optimism from you.

  • Sunset Over Rainier by Jay Goodrich

    The sun sets over Mount Rainier and Unice Lake in Mount Rainier National Park.

Rainier

Two days ago Younes Bounhar and I spent the day trekking into Eunice Lake in Mount Rainier National Park to photograph the sunset. The day was a a bit of an “epic” due to the fact that the snow was still about 6 feet deep along the trail and closer to 10 feet deep once we got up to the lake itself. For most of the day we were cursing our friend Art who gave us all of the information and advice regarding how to get there, but in the end his wisdom out weighed our naivete. We thought that there was no way that we could capture Mount Rainier in the reflection of the lake at sunset because it was still frozen over. As we made our way around the lake we discovered a spot that yielded more than we could have ever thought possible.

Once the light faded at about 9:30pm, we walked out with our headlamps on, regularly yelling aloud, to wake up any sleeping black bears that we might sneak up on along the way. We began our day at about 10am and arrived back at Art’s house a 2am. A long day, but one we will surely remember for years to come.

  • Lake-Vail-Colorado-Jay Goodrich

“Trust me, I’m a professional …” By Brendan Quigley

Ever wonder what it is like to take a workshop with Jay? Brendan Quigley writes about the experience…

As I eyed my quickly filling calendar a few weeks ago, I came to the conclusion that I HAD to get out behind my camera before the end of the year, or I would probably explode. Perhaps not, but I’m sure you know the point I’m trying to illustrate. I work on Broadway as a stagehand, and travel to do productions out of town, so my free time is in precious small commodity.

While searching a few of the many photographers’ websites that I have bookmarked, I looked at my good friend Jay Goodrich’s website (one whose design I really like!). His workshop schedule listed one that met my criteria: it was a landscape workshop (an area of my photography that needs some help), it was in a beautiful part of the country (Eagle, Colorado, and the surrounding areas), and the weekend dates worked with my wacky schedule. Oh, and the best part: it was a small group and was going to be taught by Jay himself.

If I were to say that the weather cooperated and the light cooperated, you might be tempted to think I was wasn’t telling the complete truth. But they did. Our two morning trips to the Maroon Bells in Aspen, CO provided us with two entirely different opportunities to shoot an iconic landscape image under different circumstances. The beauty of the lake and the mountain face were a draw on both mornings, but there were other images to be made. As we watched other photographers shooting those mornings (there were many, but plenty of room on the shore of the lake for us to set up), none ever got low enough to change the perspective of their image. Nor did any wander a few feet from the water to shoot the frost-covered leaves, small groups of flowers, or other flora found feet behind us. We also headed about 20 minutes up the canyon to find a stream that gave us the opportunity to shoot lichens, and for some experimental shots with flowing water. Jay was able to push my creative boundaries there, and I am now able to see water in a new, different, and more creative way.

There were images hiding everywhere at Maroon Bells: flowing water, reflections, aspen leaves turning gold, lichen covered rocks; they all called out to me. But it wasn’t all about “taking” a picture; as Jay and I chatted, it was also about “making” an image. Composition, light, focus (subject matter), and more were discussed as we both crouched over our cameras and tripods. Learning doesn’t have to be in a classroom: standing next to Jay, having him look through my viewfinder and looking through his, and having him say, “This is great, but why not try this?” kept me on my toes and learning all the time.

But my trip to Colorado wasn’t just about the iconic images of Maroon Bells. We were also able to visit some other great locations: an afternoon visit to the Great Sand Dunes National Park provided us with some stunning panoramic images. To remind us that images can be made anywhere, we pulled off the road on our way to the park to shoot a rainbow, only to find that the real image was behind us as the weather moved our way. The front was moving slowly enough, so we were able to stand and make panoramic images of the rain, clouds and god-beams of light as over the prairie. And as luck would have it, there was a fence in the image so as to provide a sense of scale, focus, and depth to the images.

When I said the weather was cooperative, I meant it: on our final day, in the final hour (really, the FINAL ten minutes) while we were at Piney Lake in Vail, the skies were overcast, the images weren’t dull, but had no zing to them, and Jay and I were wondering aloud if we were actually going to get an image that was worthwhile. We were really contemplating heading back home in his FJ Cruiser over some pretty bumpy roads, it happened.That magical moment we all wait for as photographers. The grey skies opened and gorgeous warm light lit up the mountains in the distance. Jay and I hurried to find the best positions to capture images of the sun setting across the mountains. It was a flurry of intense work, but the results were magnificent.

The weekend was awesome. Jay has intimate knowledge of the area (he’s been living in Eagle for a number of years), and has shot in just about every locale imaginable within a couple of hundred miles. And the pace of the workshop was perfect: as I work nights, the transition to getting up at 5AM can be a little tough for me, but we were in the field when we needed to be and I was able to get a little mid-afternoon rest in as well before heading out for some afternoon shooting. If you want to get a keeper image of this region, Jay is the guy to go to, and he can take you to get the image you have always dreamed of.

All right … I’m off to Baltimore, or Boston, or LA, or wherever the next plane is going to take me for work. I hope you will get on a plane to Denver, drive a couple of hours west and check in with Jay for an amazing photographic opportunity, with a guy that is part mentor, part instructor, and all friend.

  • Bringing the Husky in for a Landing by Jay Goodrich

    Jim Risher brings an Aviat Husky in for a landing in the dark at Garfield County Regional Airport in Rifle Colorado.

The Heart of a Pilot

When a bunch of pilots decide to fly in a plane together the ensuing argument on who is going to be pilot-in-command can get somewhat aggressive. This evening’s decision was simple though, we were at a meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado in which there were multiple beverages of alcoholic creation. I decided that partaking in the consumption of said beverages would be a good idea to finish my long week, thus making me ineligible of taking the controls to any flying machine.

So there I was sitting comfortably in the back of a Beechcraft Duke with my feet propped on the seat in front of me, watching my friends control an airplane, which cruises at over 200 knots (230 miles an hour for the laymen) and looking out at the moonlit terrain passing below my window. On one of the multi-function displays on the instrument panel is a gps layout of the surrounding mountains and I see that our current flight path is in the green. Therefore, I sit relaxed in the furthest seat from the cockpit gently swaying as the tail of the plane continually tries to catch up with the nose. It is similar to a dog chasing its tail hopefully it will never succeed. This gentle swaying is usually the motion that makes people feel sick when they fly, but after being a pilot now for almost three years I hardly even notice it.

It is at this point, as sit there gently rocking with a mild alcoholic buzz on my brain, that I get sentimental. The problem is that I don’t really know what I am feeling sentimental about. It might be the fact that I just sold one of the nicest planes ever to exist on this planet; it might be the fact that I have not seen my airport friends since that event, or it might be the fact that I have not flown in over two weeks. As I sit there I try to deduce the answer to my question in my own mind. I decide that the answer is all of the above but not really.

The truth of the matter is, that I am feeling sentimental about flying in general. You see flying is a legal drug for most pilots; it combines fear, adrenalin, happiness, anger, uniqueness, and many other emotions and factors. All of these emotions and factors combine and they build in a pilot’s heart, and when all of them are not present that can give you a tinge of sadness, the same sadness that I was feeling right now, activated by legal distilled spirits. So as I see the runway lights approaching out of the cockpit window and realize that this flight is just about over, I come to another realization-to partake in more flying addiction all I have to do is what I did tonight-pick up the phone, call some pilots, and make my way to the airport. Addiction taken care of for now until another day.

And to sum it up for you, here is a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci that puts all my sentiment into perspective, “When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”