The freeze was record shattering. Just before Valentine’s Day, South Texas received over four inches of snow. It stayed on the ground nearly a week. Winter storm temperatures plummeted and stayed below freezing for three days in a row.
Texas hasn’t recorded this kind of weather since 1893. Everything froze… plants, roadways, and, especially, water pipes. In many respects the resulting impact was much like a very cold hurricane. The aftermath included the same kind of power outages and water damage. This time, however, the water came from broken pipes inside homes rather than from rain and flooding outside.
Well, that was one crazy experience! I’m certain I’m not the only one who is excited that we finally made it past 2020. We all deserve kudos just for surviving it. I’m anxious to start a new year with new adventures, connections, and possibilities, including exciting things for RMOWP.
In our last newsletter, I extended a gentle challenge to each of you, asking for photos or articles to let us know what you’ve been up to during the pandemic lockdown. The ink was barely dry on that article when David and I loaded the camper on the truck and took a six-week road trip. We had planned to return to Alaska this summer, but with the Canadian border closed, we chose Idaho and its cooler climes instead. Over those wonderful six weeks, we drove over 8,100 miles, dodged fires and cities, and found hundreds of wild horses to photograph.
One of our fountains is losing water. At first we thought we had a crack in the concrete. Curiously, however, some days the water level stayed the same. Other days, the level dropped two to three inches overnight. It was time for some detective work. We set up the game camera and quickly discovered the problem. Our rather large, resident raccoon had quadruplets this spring. The kits are old enough to forage with their mother now. They find the fountain irresistible.
With heavy hearts and a unanimous decision, RMOWP’s Board of Directors, Conference Committee, and staff have voted to cancel our 2020 conference scheduled in Alamogordo, New Mexico, from October 5-8. RMOWP has held annual conferences since 1974. This is the first time we have cancelled. Due to COVID-19 concerns, however, we face tremendous uncertainty about our ability to provide a safe and positive experience for participants. Your health and safety are our utmost concern.
The time has come. David and I have begun culling through 45 years of slides and photos. We began with our thirty carousels of slides. Each carousel holds 100, making 3,000 slides total. And that’s just the slides in the carousels. I admit that the process feels overwhelming.
Rocky Mountain Outdoor Writers and Photographers. How did these two separate crafts ever come together? A quick check with long-time members Don and Barb Laine and Jack Olson led me to discover that when RMOWP began in 1973, most members were writing and using their own photos to accompany their stories. They considered themselves outdoor communicators rather than purveyors of a specific craft.
As most of you know, I’m not much for standing in the spotlight. I’m happy being the photographer behind the viewfinder or the writer behind the computer. In fact, as RMOWP’s new president, I feel more like my Aussie dingo friend in the photo, frozen under the torches (aka flashlights). It’s the problem with us introverts… we spend most of our time trying to be invisible. Sometimes it doesn’t work.
This will be my last President’s Column, friends. Perhaps I’ll survive the unenviable task of taking the baton from Al Perry four years ago after all. Yet here, now, is what stirs as RMOWP approaches its 46thannual conference in a few days.
One of the great opportunities of the RMOWP organization through the years has been the annual photo workshop. This long-standing summer ritual has provided first-class, professional instruction in nature photography for the many participants who signed up and showed up, wanting to improve their skills in the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park. Most recently, coordinator Nic Showalter and instructors Jared Gricoskie and Fred Lord have for the past 11 years created a remarkable learning experience and contribution to the field of photography. Individuals from several states across the country have taken part. It has been a good run indeed.