New header/again…and a bit about a friend…

The header above is from the mountain madness trip I just returned from. That blonde head and cocked ear belong to VJ Kathleen Newell. Her subject – John Voss, proprietor of the Caples Lake Resort. Kathy helps John with his blog, among others.

She’s a mountain girl and enthusiastic do-gooder and environmentalist. We are twinned opposites in many ways. I’m old, dumpy, married (very happily) and a teacher. She is younger, energetic and always looking for new mountains to climb – both literally and figuratively. We’re both survivors of 28 years each in the world of media madness. And neither of us knows how to live without a camera in hand and a laptop stashed nearby.

That trip we were on involved the “mom-mobile,” a 2003 dusty old Dodge Grand Caravan with all the rear seats taken out to hold more gear than we can to admit to. The personal bags were the least of it – I think we each took less than enough to fit into a grocery bag.

But the tech stuff – two three chip cameras (a Sony and a JVC GY-DV300), three (I think) low enders for grab shots, a Olympus Evolt 300 for stills. Two laptops, a million cables, four tripods, one monopod, reflectors…and more. And that’s traveling light. Didn’t bring the light kits or mikes (beyond a stick and her wireless). Oh – and one ice chest and enough food to last a few days. And fishing gear (hers). Camp chairs. One air mattress (I refuse to sleep on the ground any more) Sleeping bags.

Back to the van – common stuff in the back (camping stuff, bags, etc).
The van is nifty cause she could slide her passenger door open and have easy access to her goodies and I had my stuff on the driver’s side. Very fast and no confusion.

So we were organized and had fun. Part of this trip is an escape from the daily drudge. We both miss news and travel and meeting people. Me – I’m stuck in Lodi. Kathy – she is looking for new adventures, other roads to travel. But our roads occasionally diverge and we travel a short distance together. As all friends do…

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High times in the high Sierra…

Cyndy at Carson Pass on Hiway 88 (courtesy Kathleen Newell)
Cyndy at Carson Pass on Hiway 88 (courtesy Kathleen Newell)
Kathy Newell at Carson Pass on Hiway 88
Kathy Newell at Carson Pass on Hiway 88
And this is what Newell was shooting when I shot her.
And this is what Newell was shooting when I shot her.

Buddy Kathy Newell and I just spend four hours wandering the woods and videotaping nature at its most pristine.

She took the high road and hiked up the Woods Lake Trail while I took and low road and hung out near the stream and lake.

Then we headed to Carson Pass and decided – what the heck – let’s get some serious shots of each other to post on our blogs and other sites. So we grabbed her Olympus Evolt 300 and started shooting away. Our favorite picks are above.

No one can shoot me quite like Newell. All the shots my family takes make me look old…but Newell does some magic and I look – more like I like to think I look. Thanks for the photos.

Tonight we act as cooks for the Caples Lake staff…owner John Voss and crew are heading our way around 8pm for grilled brats wrapped in bacon stuffed with cherries (courtesy Newell) and cole slaw and cheese pie (courtesy yours truly). Then stay up to watch the stars and moonrise with some favorite libations and then off to our cabin. As the shortie, I claimed the futon. With all the running around, sleep should come easy.

Fish continued…

Sorry for the lack of postings, but if you’re a high school teacher you’ll understand. School began a few weeks back and I’m having trouble getting back in the groove. Two new classes, new curriculum. Unable to access my room until school began. Yeah…I’m laggin.

But not in the video department. Managed to sling out another story for the Lodi News Sentinel. And (see two stories immediately below) am heading up the hill Monday evening to follow the Caples Lake fish story. Caples is in one of the pristine areas of the Sierra Nevada range…crisp, clean. Images so sharp your eyes hurt when you look around.

I’ll be up there to document (and hopefully help out with) the fish rescue. Must remind myself to take lots of towels and zip-lock bags to protect gear. I’ll be introducing the story to my students over the next few days, asking them what questions they would ask, who they would question, what shots they would get…and when I return I’ll show them what I got by following their suggestions.

And then some…it seems to me, from what I’ve been hearing, there may be something fishy about this rescue. Stay tuned…

Can a blog save fish?

Every summer for umpteen years we’ve made the trek up Hiway 88 to Silver Lake, where we deposit various children for a week of 4H Camp. This is an area with a strong tourist industry, but still untouched by rank commercialism.

Only miles away from Silver Lake, but a leap up in altitude, is Caples Lake…formed by a dam built in the early 1900s. Problems with aging gates on the dam have caused the El Dorado Irrigation District to begin an emergency drawdown of water so that the gates can be repaired.

This drawdown was planned to minimize harm to local businesses, states an EID press release. According to this release, the timing of the downdraw is meant to allow dam construction crews a safe window to make repairs before the onset of winter. Work is planned to begin in mid-September.

Of course anything this major is controversial…and 26 year resident John Voss has begun a blog in an attempt to draw attention to the plight of the fish in the lake. An excellent report by Reno TV station KTVN explains the issue (you’ll have to look in the right hand column of videos for the Caples Lake story).

So here’s a real problem. The dam gates must be fixed or they may give way, causing an unexpected massive release of water which could wreck havoc downstream. But what to do with the fish – it is illegal to remove them…Fish and Game must test for disease and there may not be time (or inclination) to go through this process.

Hundreds of trophy size fish may suffocate when the water levels are at their lowest in October and when the lake will likely freeze over for winter. EID is taking the stance that they will restock the fishery. They are also building a “bladder” damn, which may or may not work to save these fish.

So…can a blog save these fish? And how? I wish them luck.

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