Ibexual Healing -- Ibex Dunes, Death Valley National Park, CA
November 28, 2013
The stars blazed overhead as we talked for hours in the light of the Milky Way, sharing a traveler’s Thanksgiving dinner together. It was a happy day, much great photography had been done, beautiful light had been seen, and friends made.
How had we gotten to this perfect moment? It takes a special or crazy kind of person to meet a stranger from the internet in the middle of the desert, far from paved roads or cell phone reception. But that’s just what Jeff did for me. After admiring his work for years and talking a bit on Facebook we discovered we would both be in Death Valley at the same time. I knew I simply must meet this friendly guy who could capture the beauty of nature so perfectly. “Trying to avoid a framebang, but would love to meet up w/ you.” And that’s all it took for me to head off to the remote reaches of Death Valley to meet Jeff Swanson.
Introductions were exchanged, I introduced my wife Melissa and Jeff introduced his new SUV Lucille while showing off the adventure modifications he was making to her.
On the long walk to the Ibex sand dunes we talked about life and cancer. It was a happy conversation as Jeff told us that his latest PET scans were clear! Great hope was felt for the new treatments. As the pristine sand stretched before us, ridge lines twisting like serpents and glowing the evening light Jeff wandered to the right and we to the left. Off to explore the unknown in search of that perfect image, that perfect peace.
Over Thanksgiving dinner of rehydrated turkey, orange chicken, and pesto pasta we talked about photography, art, travel, math jokes, and life. He shared his enthusiasm for his job and told us about his amazingly supportive co-workers. And talked a lot about Sam who was over in Europe, and the excitement that they would be seeing each other soon.
As the stars pin wheeled across the sky and the night grew late we parted, I to go set up a morning shot at Zabriske point and Jeff to explore the road less taken, going through possibly flooded back roads the back way to Badwater.
- Matthew Kuhns
(The story continues on "Mudflat Fusion")