Running extra: Air quality captured in stunning imagery

Stunning imagery. I mean who doesn’t enjoy feasting eyes on breathtaking sites and scenery? I know I surely do.

That you’ve read this far, you’ll want to check out this spread.

Passage in a setting sun: Train silhouette

The shot was taken on Sept. 28, 1988 while on my way back home to Fresno from Stockton, California, where I had journeyed to earlier that day. I happened to have my camera with me; mobile devices with built-in cameras were not a thing back then.

At any rate, I was traveling southbound on California State Route 99 through the San Joaquin Valley and the railroad in question (owned then by the Southern Pacific Transportation Company) and the highway closely parallel each other.

Since highway speed is generally faster than train speed, this allowed me to catch up to and overtake the train somewhere south of Merced but north of Chowchilla, which is located at the intersection of State routes 99 and 152.

I was quite aware that the sun was setting at that time and I thought that if I could just find that one right location for picture-taking, what a prize of a photograph I would get. Needless to say, I got the shot.

That place was called Fairmead, situated just off the 99/152 interchange I pointed out above. All the stars had lined up and the result is what you see. This image has been used quite a few times on this blog.

A cave, a rock and a giant makes three; attractions, that is: Sequoia National Park

The national parks are national parks for a reason. They are areas set aside for people from all walks of life and from every corner of the globe to visit and enjoy.

Sequoia National Park is but one. Located in the Sierra Nevada Range east of California’s Great Central Valley, this wilderness area has many attractions like giant redwood (sequoia) trees, Crystal Cave, Moro Rock and much more.

National parks have been on the environmental radar screen as of late due to polluted air from elsewhere finding its way there. One of those identified national parks is Sequoia National Park and its nextdoor neighbor Kings Canyon. It is oftentimes the case where air pollution rising up from the Valley floor will enter the high-Sierra parks, and which can spoil views.

But there are no spoiled views in this photo, the views here being wide open.

Great Western Divide, as seen from Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

On the waterfront, Coos Bay, Oregon-style

The Golden State is home to several of the most air-polluted cities in all of the United States. It’s a distinction that California rather not have.

Luckily, Oregon, to California’s north, has much better air quality. And, the cities situated along the Oregon coast, of all state communities, by and large have the best.

Coos Bay, a port city, is no exception as exemplified in the photo below.

Coos Bay Waterfront

Curious New Mexico

New Mexico is home to the Painted Cliffs, vast open expanses and the White Sands National Monument, to name three. Uncovered recently is sufficient evidence to suggest that going back as many as an estimated 23,000 years, during the last ice age, indigenous life existed in this area. So, NM is a state with a rich and varied past.

But, the “Land of Enchantment,” (as New Mexico is also known by) also has a more curious side. Take, for instance, Roswell, a city with a supposedly space-alien-connected history.

As for the scene depicted below, I caught this heading east through the state on a 2012 car trip. From the moment the smoke and stack came into view, I knew I just had to record it. As for photographic content, I’m wondering if words could ever do justice. That said, I’ll let the pic speak for itself.

Images: Alan Kandel (top and bottom); National Park Service (second); Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives (third)

Last edited on May. 4, 2023 at 6:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time.

⁃ Alan Kandel

Copyrighted material.

Corresponding, connected home-page-entry image: National Park Service