This week Jen Leo, Chris Christensen and I are joined by this week’s guest, David Swanson: travel writer and president-elect of SATW (Society of American Travel Writers)
One of the biggest challenges facing photographers is backing up their images. For many photographers, it isn’t that challenging because you can go home after a shoot and backup your photos immediately. For travel photographers, you don’t have the luxury of going home at the end of the day to make sure everything is backed up properly. It might days, weeks, or even months before you are back home. Moreover, while you are on the road you are often dealing with slow wifi speeds and can only carry around so much gear.
This article will go over my current photo backup routine. This has changed considerably over the 11 years I have been traveling around the world.
Back in 2008, I remember holing up in a guest house in Melbourne, Australia to back up my photos to stacks of CD’s and an old iPod I was carrying with me (the old white ones with a hard drive and the wheel in the front). Since then, things have changed considerably.
Over the 11 years I’ve been traveling, to the best of my knowledge, I have never lost a photo (knock on wood). It is a streak I hope to continue for the foreseeable future. Here is how I currently do it as of 2018.
Denali national park is the most popular well known national park in Alaska. The showpiece of the park is eponymous Mount Denali, which is the highest mountain in North America. Originally called Mount McKinley National Park, it is a popular trip addition to people going on cruises in SE Alaska. It is a great place to view wildlife. During the 3 days I was in the park, I saw grizzly bears, moose, sheep, and caribou.
Part of the park’s popularity is due to its accessibility. Where many of the parks in Alaska can only be visited by bush plane, Denalis is accessible by both road and rail and lies between Alaska’s two largest cities: Anchorage and Fairbanks.
Gates of the Arctic National Park is one of 2 national parks located above the Arctic Circle, and one of 8 national parks in Alaska. Like Kobuk Valley National Park, there are no roads leading to the park. The only way in or out is on foot, via a river, or by bush plane. The park itself is a wilderness area, with no maintained trails, campsites, or visitor centers within the park boundaries. The only visitor centers are located outside the park in Bettles, Anaktuvuk Pass, Coldfoot, and Fairbanks. (Anaktuvuk Pass is technically a native community located inside the park.)
The Dalton Highway does run along the eastern boundary of the park, and at places, it is only a few miles from the park boundary. From here it is possible to walk from the road to the park, but there are no trails.
Annual estimates of visitors are inflated due to counting people visiting the visitor centers, and people flying in and out of Anaktuvuk Pass. Estimates are usually given at over 12,000, but in reality, the number of visitors stepping foot inside the park is probably less than 800.
Kobuk Valley National Park is the most remote and least visited national park in the US National Park System. Official numbers claim that the park gets about 10,000 visitors per year, but this estimate includes native people who enter the park. The number of actual visitors to the park is probably less than 200 per year, as the only way into the park is by float plane. There is no official entrance to the park, so it is impossible to keep accurate visitor statistics.
The entire park is a wilderness area. There are no visitors centers, trails, campsites or signs anywhere inside the park. If you want to take a photo of yourself with a park sign (see above) you will have to fly the sign in yourself. The official visitor center for the park is located in Kotzebue, Alaska.
The heart of the park is the Kobuk sand dunes, which are the northernmost sand dunes in the world. Given their ability to reflect heat, temperatures in the summer can often reach 100F (38C) on the dunes, even though it is located above the Arctic Circle.
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular parks in the US National Park System, due to is close proximity to the city of Denver. It is a great representation of the Rocky Mountain ecosystem which can be found throughout much of Western Colorado. Getting to the park is very straightforward. The gateway to the park is the town of Estes Park, which is one of the first mountain towns you encounter. It is about a 90-minute drive from the Denver International Airport or from Downtown Denver.
Rocky Mountain National Park was one of the earliest national parks established President Woodrow Wilson in 1915.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park is a national park near Alamosa, Colorado and is one of 13 National Park Service sites in Colorado. The park covers 149,028 acres of land area and was established as a National Monument in 1932 by President Herbert Hoover, and was upgraded to National Park status in September 2004. Since then, it has reached an average of less than 400,000 tourist visits per year. The Great Sand Dunes National Park was established to conserve the sand dunes on the eastern edge of San Luis Valley which are the largest in North America.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, also known as the Black Canyon National Park, is a national park outside Montrose, Colorado. It is managed by the US National Park Service since it was established as a national monument in 1933. It was later upgraded to national park status in 1999. The entire park spans a total land area of 30,750 acres with over 238,000 annual visitors (as of 2016).
The area covered by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park includes the deepest and most dramatic part of the canyon in the area. This canyon continues to travel upstream towards the Curecanti National Recreation Area until it merges into the Gunnison George National Conservation Area. The canyon is named after the fact that the depth of the canyon means that it only gets up to 33 minutes of sunlight per day. While there are many other canyons in the US that are known for their depth, this one is unique as it comes to the narrowness and darkness to its quality.
As I close in on my quest to visit every National Park in the United States, there are still a few I have yet to visit. Today’s guest, Kay Rodriguez, gives us a taste of one of the lesser visited national parks in the US: Big Bend National Park, Texas.
Everyone knows the stereotypes about Texas. The endless, dusty roads littered with tumbleweeds and the scrap metal remains of industrial vehicles. The decaying buildings and ghost towns covered in reddish-brown soot.
Nothingness. Lots of empty nothingness.
In the middle of those dusty roads, on the border of the United States and Mexico, is a breathtaking outcropping of mountains, canyons, and the famed Rio Grande. Perhaps the Texas stereotypes prove true somewhere, but Big Bend National Park is a different story.