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Between Loveland and Spring Creek Basin

Between Loveland and Spring Creek Basin… Huh?

A quick redux is in order. What happened between Loveland and Spring Creek Basin? Lots!!! What follows is a mostly photographic retrospective of the recent whirlwind. After leaving Loveland Extreme Mustang Makeover spent a few days enjoying Ft. Collins while getting repairs (again) to my fridge. Lots of $$$ and it broke down again soon after. Grrrr… more to come on that.

Stopped in Boulder to treat my body to some Gyrotonic therapy at Gyrotonic Boulder, where I will be returning around Labor Day for Gyrotonic Applications for the Equestrian course, keeping my Gyro up!

After that, headed down to Manitou Springs, a delightful hippie town, and visited Garden of the Gods on Colorado’s Front Range.

Garden of the Gods - Kerry O'BrienGarden of the Gods - Kerry O'Brien


Garden of the Gods - Kerry O'BrienGarden of the Gods - Kerry O'Brien


Las Vegas, NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien


Sweet long drive along the Front Range, through Colorado Springs and Pueblo along the southern edge of the Rockies. You know you’re in New Mexico when the skies get ridiculous. Headed to Las Vegas, NM to meet and visit with wild horse painter and song writer extraordinaire, Melody Perez and her husband Sip. We became Face Book friends and had so much in common we determined to meet. Spent some lovely time with them and at Melody’s fabulous Running Horses Studio right on the old central plaza in Las Vegas, an Spanish land grant frontier town as notorious as Deadwood or Tombstone, as well as the shooting location of the western detective series Longmire.

Melody Perez - Running Horses Studio

Can’t say enough about Melody and Sip’s open hearted generosity. Also had tons of fun playing music with them, even laying a few Dobro tracks on some of Melody’s songs about wild mustangs. Total respect for Melody’s decision to advocate for wild horses through art and song.  You can check out her prodigious paintings and hear her songs on the website: www.runninghorses.org


Las Vegas, NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Nuestra Señora de los dolores, Las Vegas, NM town plaza


San Ignacio, NM - Las Vegas, Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Cemetary of very old parish of San Ignacio near Melody and Sip’s place.


San Ignacio, NM - Las Vegas, Photography by Kerry O'Brien


Coming back late at dusk on a Saturday night, mass was in session in the tiny church that had always been locked! I didn’t want to disturb them, but I did peak. Five elderly people. Liturgy and singing in español. Sweet.


San Ignacio, NM - Las Vegas, Photography by Kerry O'Brien



Mora, NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien


Melody took me on a tour of Mora and the surrounding areas and was patient with my shooting.


Mora, NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien



Liza and Mack - Photography by Kerry O'BrienNext on to Santa Fe and visit friends of good LA friends, artist, singer and guitar player Liza Williams and her drummer husband, Mack. More music, fun, food and taking in the sensory delights of Santa Fe. So much fun! Her abstract concrete angels are a trip!




Liza Williams Gallery, Santa Fe,NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien




The Liza Williams Gallery shown here is full of whimsical stuff and fine art.







Coincidentally photographer Cat Gwynn, who I am honored to call my mentor, was in town and her brilliant photos from her series, Cry For Me was making quite a buzz at the invitational review. You can see her stunning work at www.catgwynn.com.
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In spite of her hectic schedule, we managed to meet for breakfast, a walk and a tad of shopping. I got a good dose of inspiration and got tipped off about Upaya Zen Center.


Liza WiSanta Fe,NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Just for fun…


Tibetan Buddhist Monk Mandala - Photography by Kerry O'Brien

The touring Tibetan Buddhist monks were in town, doing their sand painting mandala thing. Once completed the mandala is “dispersed.” Half the sand is given to the spectators and the other half carried to a water body  to rejoin the sea and intended to heal the earth.


Upaya Zen Center Santa Fe, NM - Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Even found time for sitting meditation at Upaya, a much-needed break. Here a peek over the garden fence.


What? There’s more? Of course. The magical skies followed me north through Abiquiu, the  home of  Georgia O’Keeffe and on toward more adventures in Colorado, including horse camp on the famous Colorado Trail and visit to TJ Holmes and the Spring Creek Herd of Disappointment Valley. Stay tuned!


Mexican Hat - Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Mexican Hats


Telluride Mountain Film Festival

Intense week at the Telluride Mountain Film Festival!

Wow, I feel like have to apologize for taking such a long time off from the blog! Unlike last year which afforded me lots of time by myself in the wilderness, this year I have been going from one event and/or visit to another. So over the next couple of weeks, I’ll try and get you caught up.

Telluride Mountain Film - Photo by Kerry O'Brien

After only 1 day to decompress, camped north of Flagstaff I hit Telluride ground running as a volunteer for the Mountain Film Festival. Intense week of friends, films and LOTS of input. My head exploded. The highlight for me definitely was meeting Ben Masters, the guy behind Unbranded. Unbranded is the true story of four friends and sixteen mustangs who make an epic trip, horse packing from Mexico to Canada. Visually stunning, with lots of laughs, it also manages to convey some shocking facts about America’s wild horses and their overpopulation issues.

Kerry O'Brien and Ben Masters, Unbranded

Thank dog I made Ben’s acquaintance before the film showed. In a six hundred seat theater I was still about two hundred from getting a seat. Ben showed his big heart and enormous generosity by coming out to collect me and seat me in the front row with the crew. This gave me a unique opportunity for a great talk with producer Dennis Aig, Director of the School of Film and Photography at Montana State University and its MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking.

Not surprisingly, Unbranded won the Audience Favorite Award (at Hot Docs as well) and was shown again the following week, so I got to see it again, taking in all the stuff I missed the first time. Boy, there was a lot going on! It also showed again July 5th.

As far as I know it has not got distribution yet, which is a bummer since it’s a stunning film that can inspire the whole family. There is also a beautiful companion book by the same name. You can decide for yourself by viewing the trailer here: Unbranded

Telluride Mountain Film Festival-Kerry O'Brien

Though I got to see all the films I “worked” checking tickets and passes, while also enjoying my omnificent power (Urban Dictionary: having unlimited awesomeness, being all-awesome), there were dozens of great films I did not get to see. Sigh. Here’s a few of the favorites I actually did see. (Yes, cold and rainy was the order of the week.)

Racing Extinction a film by Oscar®-winner Louie Psihoyos (who also directed The Cove), is a life changer. The ominous title and shocking undercover footage is offset by hope in the things we can do to alter our course, along with amazing art and technology. Mind-blowing and encompassing, you won’t look at our world the same way. Racing Extinction was picked up by Discovery Channel who plans a theatrical run in the United States and video-on-demand release. In the Q&A, Phihoyos said it will be available to screen for free in schools. If you have kids in school, I highly recommend looking into getting a screening for your school. View the trailer here: Racing Extinction

Rolling Papers was a humorous look at the Denver Post’s award winning coverage of Colorado’s first year of legalized marijuana. Lots of laughs, but also raising questions that are mostly unanswered as Colorado (and Washington) find their way through the maze of this ground breaking legislation. Which by the way, has put to rest the hysteria about increased crime and drug addiction. DUI and criminal arrests for drug use are down. A lot. I don’t have hard stats, but I’m sure it’s put a dent in the Cartel biz as well. In addition it showed how an award winning but declining newspaper has adapted to new readership and media outlets. Did I mention funny? View the trailer here: Rolling Papers

In Afghanistan under the Taliban photography was a crime until 2001. Frame by Frame was a difficult, inspiring film about four Afghani photojournalists, three men and a woman, Farzana Wahidy, who risk their lives working to rebuild a free press in Afghanistan. Farzana has won numerous humanitarian awards for her work for women’s rights and immolation victims. I had the honor of meeting her and the other journalists. Really puts things in perspective when you meet people who are doing such difficult, heartbreaking and important work. I strongly recommend seeking out this courageous film. The trailer and screening schedule are here: Frame by Frame

There were so many fantastic films. I expect Academy Award nominations for Unbranded, Racing Extinction and Frame by Frame so see them if you can.

After the Telluride marathon the next stop is the Extreme Mustang Makeover in Loveland, CO. Stay tuned! The rig made it over Vail Pass, elevation 10,662′.

Vail Pass-Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Tibetan Monk Sand Mandala

Tibetan Monk Sand Mandala in Santa Fe, NM

Tibetan Sand Painting-Kerry O'Brien Photographer

Those Tibetan Monks are at it again, making sand mandalas for the healing of the planet.

Kerry O'Brien Photographer - Tibetan Monk Sand Paintings

There will be a “dispersion” ceremony today. After  painstaking creation they will sweep the sand into a vessel and distribute half the sand to the spectators and take the other half to a local river where it will be carried to the sea, for the healing of the planet.

Tibetan Sand Painting-photo by Kerry O'Brien

I’ve been waiting a long time to actually see one of these and it was wonderful. Gotta love those monks!

Tibetan Sand Painting - Kerry O'Brien Photographer

If you are interested in finding out more or checking their schedule (these guys are touring maniacs!) click here: http://www.mysticalartsoftibet.org/Mandala.htm#top

LA to Telluride – A few snaps from the road

Made it to Telluride and snapped a few pics along the way. Recent rains made the Painted Desert amazing to behold once more. Good weather continued to bless me. Red Mesa - Photo by Kerry O'Brien

This is near the Navajo community of Red Mesa. Approaching Cortez I could likewise reckon I was approaching the town by the 300 foot “C” carved into the mountains. Hmmm…

Reservation horses - Photo by Kerry O'Brien

Throughout the res the grazing was good and what look exactly like mustangs had a healthy crop of foals. Saw lots of beautiful red roans, palominos and paints.

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The drive along the Dolores River from Cortez north to Telluride was terrific. The aspens are just beginning to leaf out. Made it over 10,000 foot plus Lizard Head Pass uneventfully, thank Dog. The van seems to be holding out okay so far. I’m running much lighter and rebalanced the trailer and may have hit upon a good equation.

Telluride Mountain Film - Photo by Kerry O'Brien

Made it! Fest starts Friday with an art walk in the afternoon. I’ve got lots to do tomorrow am and tomorrow work one of the theaters in Mountain Village from 6-midnight, so you probably won’t hear from me tomorrow!

Mojave Through Hikers & Flagstaff

Pacific Coast Trail through hikers - photo by Kerry O' Brien

It was a fantastic May day in the Mojave as I finally broke through LA’s gravitational force field. First stop in Hesperia met with a flurry of Pacific Crest Trail through hikers scarfing McDonalds. Hailing from all over the country most had been out for a month at this point, had been snowed on and were loading for the push through Tehachpi before hitting the good water in the Sierras.

Mojave Desert landscape-photo by Kerry O'Brien

May is always a great month in California and this was the best desert crossing I’ve ever had. Only mid eighties so I could actually drive in the daytime!

Tree in rest stop, altered - Photo by Kerry O'Brien

Lots of folks loved this grab photograph of a tree at the last rest area in CA last Nov. Coming out this time I grabbed the same tree again. A little different this time!

Tree in rest stop, altered - Photo by Kerry O'Brien

Cheap gas - Photo by Kerry O'BrienAlways good to get gas once past the CA border. When I came back in early March the story was gas prices were up in CA because we were getting the special “Summer Blend.” More recently the story was a break down in an “undisclosed” refinery. What is UP with that?

I love driving along old Route 66 from Kingman through Peach Springs on the Hualapai Tribal Lands. I think I’ve finally found the magic equation for loading the van and balancing the trailer tongue weight, and the van isn’t burning tons of oil, meaning the machine shot finally got the valve guides right. Feeling hopeful as I come up the grade into Flagstaff. Love seeing the San Franciscos come into sight. Gonna be a chilly night.

San Francisco Mountains - Photo by Kerry O'Brien

Carson City, NV Public Comment Letter

San Pedro River -photography by Kerry O'Brien

To Whom It May Concern:

This email is in response to request for public comment regarding the proposed Resource Management Plan for the Carson City District, NV.

I admit to glazing over while reading the report, however I did thoroughly review the charts ES.8 Comparison of Alternatives on pages 11-15. Alternative C most reflects my values and concerns about the management of the public lands in this area.

I am deeply concerned about the continued deterioration of range conditions by over grazing and ongoing drought. Closing sensitive areas to grazing, extraction and ORV use is in the best interest of preserving and hopefully, maybe, restoring the ecosystem. The surface area of the Great Basin is a living organism that when broken leads to further desertification.

I applaud the reduction of livestock grazing to this end. I would call for further reduction in wild horse areas, except that 1) those herd areas have already been drastically reduced and in some cases zeroed, and 2) there are promising contraceptive programs underway to reduce wild horse populations, hopefully bringing them to mid-low AML within the next ten years, without the expense of gathers and culling to long term holding. Let these programs have a chance to succeed.

Reducing ORV use again preserves the desert crust allowing for water absorption and plant growth. Wilderness is preserved for those who make the effort to get out there to use and enjoy it. There is no mandate that it be made easy. There are now in AZ, “Quiet Areas,” requested by hunters who prefer to hunt without the noise of motorized vehicles. I support this trend. Nothing is more disturbing than expending one’s own effort to attain a wilderness experience and then have it shattered by a bunch of drunk yahoos on ATVs. The Great Basin, Nevada in particular, holds some of this country’s last great expanses of open country. Let it remain so.

I very much support the protection of sensitive environmental and archeological areas. When these areas are gone, they are gone forever. The same with fossil and mineral resources. We need not be in a hurry to deplete FINITE resources that have over millennia, in a century, a tiny blip on the timeline of earth. I urge you to keep that in perspective as you are charged with protecting the resources of our country and our earth, not selling them to the highest bidder. I would encourage that environmentally appropriate spaces be found for non-destructive wind, solar and other alternative energy sources which are rapidly becoming more productive and efficient. This is the wave of the future and Nevada could be on the cutting edge of that.


Kerry O’Brien


Welcome to Painted Desert

Old rusted car - Painted Desert, Arizona - Fine Art Landscape Photography by Kerry O'Brien

This is the welcome that greets one on the cutoff into the Painted Desert. Don’t think I’d want to make the trip in one of these.

Painted Desert – View from the Patio

Painted Desert, Arizona - Fine Art Landscape Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Painted Desert – View from the Patio – Photography by Kerry O’Brien Click for full res.

How would you like to have this view from the patio with your morning coffee? The Painted Desert Visitor Center is a beautifully restored adobe, originally the Painted Desert Inn, built in 1924 and later bought by Harvey House. For a good description of its history, click here.

Painted Desert After the Rain

Painted Desert after rain - Photography by Kerry O'Brien

Painted Desert after rains. Click for full scale.

When is an auto breakdown actually a break? When you still have your vehicle in the Painted Desert after a soaking rain. The colors are literally saturated. No adjustments necessary. Just stunningly beautiful landscapes, vistas and cold, clean air. A photographer’s dream.

Painted Desert Landscapes

Painted Desert Landscape - Three Sisters

Painted Desert Landscape – Photography by Kerry O’Brien – click to enlarge

Last December , right after the valve job that wasn’t, another repair left me stranded for a couple of days near Hollenbrook, west of Flag in the Painted Desert. Raining. Luckily the van was still drivable while I waited for parts and the Painted Desert after a winter rain is something to behold.  Here are two of the three sisters. Crazy geology out there. Will post more photographs in days to come.