Saturday, August 24, 2013

BIG COUNTRY

Man, it was like heading into a slice of the country that felt and tasted and looked different. Not a lot different than Wyoming or maybe the part of Idaho I'd seen before, up on the Salmon, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls. 
                               


The land opened up as if layers were being peeled back and the spread of golden grain stretched wider, further, and met its blue sky horizon in new clean light. 




Northern Idaho, McCall, Lewiston, to Coeur d'Alene.
My friend Mark Aiton and son Ian, in Sand Point Idaho, early morning outside Starbucks.
















Steve Kelly lives on five acres in Big Fork Montana, off the road about a mile or so. His custom knives are in such high demand he doesn't take orders anymore. 'I just build what I want and sell them." At night, we heard wolves howling outside his house after invading a local sushi joint, Steve's favorite. We bought some knives and talked about his work, how he spends his days grinding and working his knives into high art, but highly usable pieces.
















Steve's Lightspeed is his signature knife. Here he's worked a beautiful Chad Nichols Damascus steel blade with Cocobolo wood scales and carbon fiber bolsters and clip. Great job, Steve!  

Mark shot these two knife photos with his Nikon point-and-shoot under a table lamp, on a wooden stand at the Winnemuca Inn. Not bad! All the other shots are mine, shot with a Nikon D5200 with the 18-55 VR lens.






Okay I don't fish. But my buddy Mark and his son cast about for several hours, on several beautiful rivers and streams. Did you read OLD MAN IN THE SEA? The opening line, 'The old man fishes in a skiff in the gulf for 84 days and hasn't caught a fish'.  We didn't fish 84 days, but their luck wasn't much better. Saw some beautiful streams, though.


Catch and Release


Joe in Montana





The Swan River Inn in Bigfork was our headquarters, our headwaters, our head case and overall big head monster. Our food and drink orders were dutifully fulfilled. 
I'll have a Moosehead, please
Upstairs on the bar lounge, Swan River Inn, Big Fork, Montana.

Small pier outside the Swan River Inn, Big Fork, Montana.




 Here's the deal, these friends of mine are fly fishermen, and I'm not. But I am a glacier man, a wolf hound, and I know a good Simms fishing shirt when I see one. So when we stopped outside Glacier National Park, I had two things in mind, and I got three. One; a lousy gas station breakfast burrito at 7AM. Two; a very cool Simms fly shirt with all that button-up stuff on sleeves and zippers everywhere. 
The third thing? The cutest girl I saw on the trip was driving the bear trap truck, and she flashed the killer grin when I asked her if she was packing bear, like she'd heard it a thousand times but still liked to give you that look.  

Here's what I'm talkin' about....glaciers..


Okay, yeah, I missed photographing the bear trap girl. 

Our last night was in Winnemuca, and in the morning I escaped the bathroom rat race and slipped out to shoot in the morning light. Motel signs, auto parts stores, restaurants, that kind of stuff. Guy walks up, pretty good shape, and we start taking. I ask if I can shoot his photo after giving him a couple of bucks to buy a newspaper and coffee. While I'm shooting I'm asking questions. He went to the same high school as I did. Eric Williams, God Bless you. Good luck.


 



Bigfork, Montana, Flathead Lake, Henry's Fork, Missoula, and a visit to Chris Reeve Knives and a two and a half hour talk with Chris and a tour of his shop. I bought a large Sebenza 21 with raindrop damascus and a carnelian inset into the handle. Steve Kelly's shop and personal tour of Flathead Lake at sunset, the howling of the wolves. Man, what a trip. Days on the road, nights drinking and telling lies.



Hey baby, what's your story?


(double-left click on any of the photos for a more high-res slide show type view....thanks for looking)


































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