Friday, October 29, 2021

Reconnecting with The Desert

On a whim, this past summer I was discussing with my wife how much I missed traveling the west after seeing the recent photography of Mark W. Hemphill, former editor of Trains Magazine and a longtime western railroad author and photographer.  Mark and I have become friends over the last few years, which is a privilege for me since I look up to his writing and photography so much.  Kristen surprised me by giving me the early Christmas present of making the trip to Utah to spend time with Mark in our favorite desert - a gift of experience, while she held down the home front with the kids.  Leaving the family for days at a time to pursue photography projects is a hard decision for me, and Kristen's support makes it possible.  

The results were spectacular.  

In just a few days we had dozens of near-perfect opportunities.  Mark guided us to some locations with just the right timing and light; situations where we were able to take advantage of incredible scenes and the trains that ran.  

The experience as a whole was transcendental for me, given that it was Mark's writing and photography in the 1980's that originally inspired my awe of the American West, and that took trains and made them more than just fascinating.  Railroading became magical, magnificent, inspiring - the magic of railroad crystalized for me thanks to his vision.  So, to spend time with him in the 'desert that did it' for me was a full-circle, religious experience.  

I will be adding photos with captions to the Flickr page, over at

Dreams are out there, and with some effort and sacrifice providing necessary balance, dreams are attainable.  Keep pushing!