Thursday, October 23, 2008


There is an old saying "If you want to make God laugh, make plans". I don't know who to give credit to for that saying but I certainly think there is much truth in it. And, if there is truth in it God has been rolling on the floor laughing at me.

I recently started leaving my beloved Montana in the winter so that I could continue my quest for capturing nature at her finest and most interesting. It's not that there isn't plenty to capture here in the winter. Heaven only knows winter in Montana has it's own special beauty. The problem is traveling around it can be dangerous for a solo traveler. The roads are treacherous and quite honestly they terrify me. I found that I just wasn't getting out with my camera as much as I would like and it was beginning to frustrate me. So, I had an epiphany. I would saddle up my RV and go where the roads were clear. Last year I photographed from Cape Disappointment, Washington to San Luis Obispo, California.

Such a good and productive time did I have I started "planning" my 2008/2009 winter's junket whilst still on my 2007/2008 trek. I decided I would like to shoot the Gulf Coast and up into the Piney Woods region of Texas. I spent months collecting maps and information and plotting my course. Then Ike showed up and that was the end of any idea I could shoot the the Gulf Coast this year. That hurricane literally tore through every place I had planned to visit. I do not intend to trivialize the loss for the people who had to survive this natural disaster and my heart truly goes out to them for their loss.

Suddenly, it was the end of September and I had no place to go. I admit I am the type of person that gets a little discumbibulated when plans change late in the game. I was at a complete loss for what to do. It then occurred to me that the desert might be a likely subject for winter shooting so I started looking into Arizona. Normally, I fly by the seat of my pants and do not make reservations. I like to spend just a week or two in each location and move on to the next place. I soon learned that wasn't going to happen in Arizona. The RV parks fill up quickly. People book way in advance and for the whole winter. So, not only wasn't I going to get to take the trip I had so meticulously planned but I wasn't going to get to travel the way I like. I ended up booking two months in Tucson and two months in a place called Apache Junction which I gather is close to Phoenix.

At first I was not at all pleased with my new itinerary, a little petulant in fact. But, the more I thought about it I began to see how it just might be for the best. Over this past summer I have been busier than a one armed paper hanger. In addition to traveling to shoot I published a NEW BOOK and developed a NEW WEBSITE that did not go live until October 8th. Frankly, I was/am pretty tuckered out. Suddenly, sitting in one place started to seem not such a bad idea. Running a rig, towing a vehicle is a lot of work for one person. Every time you move there is a lot to do and a lot of responsibility.

I'm actually looking forward to this new way of doing things. And, I guess that's the lesson learned. Don't attach too much of yourself to your plans because they have a way of changing on you. And, if you look, you may find that it all turns out for the best!

The photograph above isn't really tied to this article. It's just one I recently took that I rather fancy and wanted to share. Please visit my new website. I think you will find other photographs that will give you a moments respite from this topsey turvey world. Kinsey Barnard's Fine Art of Photography

©Kinsey Barnard

Monday, October 20, 2008


When I was a little girl a frequent guest at my family ranch was a fellow by the name of Clark Gable. Probably a lot of you don't even know who that is but he became known as "The King of Hollywood". He died when I was only 11 years old so my memories are those of a child.

Mr. Gable, and his wife Kay, came to stay most often during duck hunting season in the fall. Gable was very much the outdoorsman, a man’s man. I was of an age that I didn't really know who he was but after meeting him I was always excited to see him. Even not knowing what an important movie star he was I recognized him as a very special man. He was tall, good looking, and had a smile that stretched from one famous ear to the other. Best of all he was very kind to the little girl that was me.

I remember on one visit he lost his car keys. You can see from the above, never before seen publicly photograph, he drove an unassuming Ford station wagon. The Boxer he’s holding was our boy Guess. Celebrities are very different today. They play lip service to wanting their privacy and then flaunt themselves to get everyone's attention. Not Mr. Gable. He was a class act all the way. Although, I must admit one time he did arrive in his gull wing Mercedes Roadster. Wow! What a car. Anyway, everybody searched for an hour trying to find those keys and guess who found them? Yes, that would be me. When I brought the keys to him he smiled said "You are my hero." Well, I may have only been eight but I'm sure I must have swooned. Even at that tender age I knew that was the kind of man I hoped to marry!

Another fond memory involved one of his movies. It was 1958 Run Silent Run Deep had recently been released. I was all of nine. The adults had decided that it would be a capital idea if my older sister would haul us kids to town to see the new movie and get us out from under their feet. It may not seem far by today’s standards but it was seven miles to town. In those days lemon and avocado orchards lined the road on both sides almost the whole way. Now, of course, it’s nothing but houses and strip malls. Today, what used to be our family home is now inside the city limits and surrounded by tract homes. Not a site that warms the heart of this country bumpkin.

The adults may have been trying to “ditch” us but we were only too happy to oblige. It was a rare day in May that we got to go to the “show”. We all piled into our father’s station wagon and away we went with visions of Fire Sticks and Milk Duds in our heads.

For those of you who may not have seen this film, it’s about a submarine captain that goes around the bend, is relieved of his command and confined to quarters. In the end he dies necessitating a burial at sea. The film shows what looks to be the captain’s body on a stretcher draped in an American flag. After a few words they slide the bundle into the sea. And, so we say goodbye to the captain.

Back at the ranch the adults were doing what they did best back in those days, having cocktails. Old screen actors Rod La Roque and his wife Vilma Banky built the place in the 1920’s. It was their weekend retreat. It is also said that it was at this ranch, which grew lemons, that La Roque invented the dry martini with a twist.

The house was a Spanish style home with a courtyard in the middle. One whole side was what we called “the playroom”. In it was a huge copper bar with everything behind it you would find in a commercial bar. When we returned from the movie we all ran around to the playroom to check in with the parents. I’ll never forget the site that I saw when I arrived. There was the guy I had just seen buried at sea standing behind the bar. I couldn’t believe it. How could it be? It was an amazing moment in my life and one I will never forget.

I suppose a nine year old today would not have the same reaction but in the fifties we were a little more naïve. It was also the moment when I realize this guy really was somebody! To our delight Gable shared stories about the making of the film. One bit that I remember was what a hard time they had getting the body dummy to sink after they slid it into the sea.

The last memory I have of Mr. Gable was not an in person one but a phone call. One evening in 1960 the phone rang whilst we were at the dinner table. Normally, my father would never take a call during dinner but it was Gable, those calls were always taken. He was calling from Nevada where he was filming “The Misfits”. Of course, I could only hear my father’s side of the conversation but it was clear they were commiserating. When he finally got off the phone my father told us some of what was said. The quote I will always remember was “The woman, referring to Marilyn Monroe, is going to kill me” and so she did as Gable was dead at the age of 59 shortly after the film was completed. He was the same age as I am today. At the time I thought he was an old person. Now I understand he died very young.

The saddest thing, Gable always spoke openly about how much he wanted a child. At the time of his death his wife Kay was pregnant with John Clark, the son he never got to see. I never met John Clark. After Gable’s death, as so often happens, my parents’ relationship with Kay just faded away. I’m sure being Clark Gable’s son has not been easy the public can be a great tormentor. But, if I could tell him one thing it would be that I know for a fact no child was ever wanted more.

I often wish I had been older when I knew him but I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to know him at all. I often think, although he was the King of Hollywood, he mostly played himself. More than a celebrity he was a great person. Elegant, down to earth, humble in his way. If you would like to know Clark Gable just watch his movies.

©Kinsey Barnard