The End of an Era

081225004 Murphey's 081225008 Bill and Nancy

Last week, Nancy and Bill Boman retired from managing Murphey’s Motel in Lee Vining, CA.  Lee Vining is the town adjacent to Mono Lake and Murphey’s has been my part-time home for many years.  They managed the motel for more years than I can remember and created a welcoming place to stay for many photographers and ice climbers over the years.

I became friends with Nancy and Bill a long time ago and had incredible fun managing the motel when they would go to Alaska to visit their son, Justin, and only granddaughter (so far), Emily.  I thoroughly enjoyed running the motel and found that I had almost as much fun behind the front desk as I did behind my camera in the field.

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting fascinating guests from around the world.  I was able to spend time catching up with my photographer friends and even a former professor of mine whom I hadn’t seen in more than 30 years.  I saw many of the same guests year after year.

I met people like Vic Smith, Rick Knepp, Mary Church, Phil Lindsay, Sam Lucero, Susan Farrar and many, many others with whom I have remained friends ever since.

My border collie, Pepper, made a home for herself at Murphey’s.  She would run to Nancy as soon as I would return from the coast and then go running off to look for Bill.  My first return to Murphey’s after Pepper died was difficult and Nancy could hardly bear to look at my Jeep knowing that it was empty.  They felt Pepper’s loss as much as I did.

The last few years have presented health challenges to Nancy and Bill.  Bill had major heart surgery last summer and Nancy has been carrying the load of managing the place 24/7 each year with her own health issues.  It is time for them to finally enjoy their home in Walker.

I will miss Murphey’s, running the motel in Nancy’s absence but mostly Nancy and Bill.  I plan to visit them in Walker whenever I can.  Murphey’s will never be the same without them.  An era has truly come to an end.

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On another note, my work is scheduled to be for sale on-line at www.SantaCruzArtists.com on the 1st of June and Scotts Valley Artisans will begin carrying my photography on the 2nd of June.  Additionally, through Scotts Valley Artisans (www.scottsvalleyartisans.com), I will have at least 20 images on display in the Scotts Valley Library beginning 17 August and there will be a reception on the 24th of August.  On the 23rd of July, I will be giving a talk for the Sierra Club on the Mono Basin and other events will soon be scheduled.

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Lastly, thanks to Vic Smith (www.vicsmithphoto.com) for his post about Bill and Nancy and my talks on the Mono Basin and the mustangs of Montgomery Pass.  Read his post at http://vicsmithphoto.com/archives/1498.

The Great Blue Harbinger of Summer

111015031 rev 4 MAY 13  Great Blue Heron

I received a call the other day from a friend telling me that the resident Great Blue Heron was back at Westlake Park on the west side of Santa Cruz.  I’ve been photographing this heron for several years now and he has been a great model at the right price.  In other words, free.  I’m always happy when this heron returns because he brings with him no doubt that summer is almost here on Monterey Bay.

This particular heron likes to spend much of his time standing on a platform in the middle of the park’s little lake watching for the bluegills and other small fish to come by so that he  can snatch a tasty fish dinner (or breakfast or lunch, etc.).  The heron shares the lake with several breeds of ducks, geese, coots and a relatively uncommon green-backed heron (more on this in another blog).

The nice thing about this particular heron’s favorite place is that it is relatively easy to photograph.  Essentially, he poses, I set up my camera and expose the film (or sensor).  He seems to have endless patience and stands for long periods of time just waiting for that morsel to swim by.  It’s amazing how fast he moves to catch that fish.

The Great Blue Heron is native to a large portion of North and Central America and part of South America.  Besides their seemingly endless patience, one of the most surprising things about them are their nesting habits.  They nest in tall trees like our local cypress.  The colonies can be well over 100 nests and, although the Elkhorn Slough colony is much smaller, it’s still impressive to see such large water birds nesting in the tops of the trees.

Welcome home, heron, and thanks for bringing summer with you.