A Boca Grande Camera Club memory of a lifetime
When Nancy Erb asked me to join the Boca Grande Camera Club in December of 2010, I had no idea that it would bring so much joy and adventure into my life.
I have always loved taking pictures to commemorate special occasions and had a knack for making the simplest of activities events to be remembered. I enjoyed sending the photos to all of my friends and knowing how much it meant to them to have their memories recorded. But that was about the extent of my photography until that day I came to my first meeting of The Club.
Alpha female fishing for salmon in Silver Salmon Creek in Lake Clark National Park Alaska.
While I only knew Nancy at that time I was warmly welcomed by the other members and before I knew it was preparing for the Photography as Art Show in January 2011.
During this time I met Misty Nichols, executive director of Gasparilla Island Conservation and Improvement Association, who encouraged me to be a part of the show and reassured me that I had something to be shared with the community. Encouragement from an accomplished and well-traveled photographer like Misty was just the boost of confidence I needed.
That same year, the BGCC had a special presentation by Daniel Cox, a professional photographer and activist for Polar Bear International and the son of Jack Cox, another member.
Editors Note: Misty Nichols and K.C. Conti of the Boca Grande Camera Club have a penchant for travel and photography. They shared with the Gasparilla Magazine some select photos and a story of their sojourn north to Alaska this summer. Enjoy.
I felt an immediate connection to Dan and liked his presentation style and respected his work. He talked about his company, Natural Exposures, and the amazing photography tours he and his wife, Tanya, put together each year.
Misty and I continued getting to know each other at the monthly meetings and an occasional lunch when our schedules allowed and decided that we wanted to try a photography trip together.
I was open to just about anything and Misty had always wanted to do Alaskan brown bears so we chose a trip with Dan Cox to a remote part of Alaska where the interaction with the bears was the best in the world.
So here we were, two Type A personality women who had never been anywhere together heading off to Alaska where we would share a room and be together basically 24/7 for 10 days. I must admit I had my concerns but I was excited about the possibility of a photography partner and the adventure of a lifetime being shared with another.
The trip did not disappoint in its "adventure" travel claims and we had a lot of challenges to overcome with poor weather conditions, travel delays and inconveniences expected in the Alaskan wilderness.
But in adversity we find the true character of a person, a theory that proved itself as we supported each other through the ups and downs of the journey.
Our flight from Anchorage to Silver Salmon Creek Lodge left five hours late due to low-lying clouds. Once aloft in a six-seater plane packed to the roof with gear, the pilot informed us we may be forced to turn back due to inclement weather. I closed my eyes and prayed that we would be able to get to the lodge or that I would be able to accept whatever came our way.
None of us on that flight will ever forget rounding the corner into the Cook Island region and seeing blue skies open up over breath-taking views of glaciers, volcanoes and the inlet.
I told Misty through a headset microphone that experiencing that moment was worth every penny we invested and she nodded in agreement.
As we approached the lodge and prepared for our beach landing, we saw a 600-pound grizzly bear fishing on the beach. The week was filled with adventure, adversity, challenges, laughter, tears, bonding, frustrations, camaraderie and disappointments, victories.
Through them all I felt a friendship building with Misty as we weathered the storms together.
For a photographer there is nothing like being shoulder to shoulder, tripod to tripod, kneeling on soaking wet sand watching in amazement as a grizzly bear catches a salmon in perfect light 40 feet from your waiting lens.
My love and passion for photography have brought so much into my life. A connection to nature, peace, serenity, joy, creativity and most importantly gratitude for the all the gifts I have in my life.
And one of those gifts is my friend, Misty, with whom I have shared a lifetime experience that I will never forget.