Avenue of the Clouds
Soft morning sunlight bathes a mixed Douglas-fir and black cottonwood forest partially ensconced in fog in this view of the Sandy River basin from high atop Jonsud Viewpoint. I was rolling with my boy Jeff Chen, who amusingly asked en route if he thought we'd be the only ones there to take in the sunrise. I knew there was little chance of that, what with this being just a mile off the main thoroughfare through the town of Sandy, Oregon, a common waypoint for Portlanders heading toward Mt. Hood by way of its southwestern approach. Not only that, we were cutting things close having decided at the last second to switch our morning destination from Chanticleer Point to here.
Sure enough, we managed to squeeze into the last remaining non-RV parking spot and wedged in tight between several other photographers already there. As I was setting up my gear, the gentleman to my left suddenly turned to me: "Are you Tula Top?" I don't think he noticed, but I regarded him cautiously. After quickly but occultly eyeing him up and down to make sure he wasn't harboring any scary shiny things on his person (e.g., badge, hand cuffs, gun, shanks, syringes), I replied in the affirmative. "I'm David Leahy, nice to meet you!" he said. And Facebook shrinks the world yet again.
It truly is flattering to have someone I've never met before aside from online circles recognize me in the field, but it's happening more and more often. As you can see, David's one heckuva photographer, and he managed to capture Mt. Hood on this morning in a dramatic fashion that I couldn't quite pull off myself. Instead, I decided to focus on the vapors slithering through the forest like a white serpent and took advantage of the 300mm reach of my lens to compress the view. David came away with a similarly atmospheric image captured before the sun fully gained the eastern hills.
I came to learn that David is a schoolteacher, and a wonderfully dedicated one at that. Between frames we talked about his profession, about how I could name all of my homeroom teachers through grade school (Mrs. Zollo, Mrs. Klaas, Mrs. Cripe, Mrs. Irvine, Mrs. Schneider, Mrs. Klass again, and Mrs. Phelps) and how much gratitude I owed them for their patience and guidance. No jokes here: teachers are a wholly undervalued and underappreciated lot. Next to parents I think they hold the greatest ability to shape the character and enrich the experience of our youth, and those that took that supreme responsibility to heart will always hold a special place in mine.
So please, carry on, good sir. It was a privilege to meet you. :)