Packed up again and this time heading to Zion National Park for “In the Footsteps of Thomas Moran,” their annual fundraising painting competition.
Despite the early snowfall I experienced in Stehekin (see posts for September/October), there was little left on the inland heights of eastern Oregon, Idaho and Utah. In the Puget Sound basin we’ve experienced an unusual run of pea-soup fog, so it was a relief to rise up over the coastal ranges into full late fall sunshine. The cottonwoods, aspen, willows have turned into brilliant yellows, golds and oranges. I saw pumpkins, some still in their fields, some in harvested piles. In both the eastern Cascades Mountains and the high plateaus of eastern Oregon, sub-alpine larches presented a color span of lime to orange, vivid against their dark green evergreen neighbors. It is a glorious time to be on a long drive in the West.
It’s true there is beauty, often unexpected, everywhere. Someone who paints industrial maritime scenes surely knows that! But I’m reminded each time I cross so many parts Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona – those thinly-populated, high, semi-arid vast vistas of botany and geology – of my deep love of these landscapes. Is it a kind of misanthropy, I value places without people in them? Or that I can see so much farther than in any city or forest? As a painter, I love distance because it smears out the details I tend to get too mired in.