Return From Blog Hiatus: Roots on the Narrow Gauge with Over the Rhine

Some of you may have noticed (or not) that we’ve taken a break from blogging for a while. This tends to happen towards mid-late wedding season every year– there’s just so much more to be done! This year was no exception, but this year we also took a much-needed vacation at the end of September for about a week and a half. Mid-September found us in Portland for Katie and David’s wedding. This was the first time we’d been there– we’ve got mad love for Portland now and were lucky enough to have a beautiful sunny day for the wedding shoot! After that we headed to Albuquerque for a pretty epic vacation. I’ll blog a separate entry for Nate’s adventures– he and our friend Barney hiked peaks in New Mexico and Colorado during the time I was on my trip.

Durango-Silverton Railroad

I spent the week traveling through Northern New Mexico and Southern Colorado with about 50 people (some friends, some soon-to-be friends) and the band Over the Rhine (with accompanying singer-songwriters, Mary Gauthier and Richard Shindell). The trip is put on by Roots on the Rails— the brainchild and passion of painter Charlie Hunter. Charlie and his business partner Sarah combine music with railroads, scenery, and historical splendor.

It’s difficult to explain what kind of trip this to others– when I say I’m going on a musical train trip with a band. Is Over the Rhine the draw? Absolutely. But the trip offers so much more than just the private concerts.

Over the Rhine

A friend on the trip asked a couple of us at one point why this type of trip is appealing as a vacation. For me, a vacation should be both fun and intellectually stimulating. I get to take pictures of whatever I think is interesting and be inspired by the music and the intimacy of the setting. And while I can drink every day for the week straight (I’m a champ!), there are songwriting workshops and photo-crawls and steam-powered train rides through mountain passes and walks after dark in mountain towns to star-gaze that hold me captivated much more than lazing around on some beach somewhere for a week could.

Durango - Silverton railroad

One of my absolute favorite parts of the trip is getting to spend time with Michael Wilson and his wife Marilyn. Michael makes pictures like Linford and Karin make music. Even though our style of pictures are so completely different, I count Michael as a huge influence on my work. So for those fellow photographers reading, I encourage you to find inspiration outside of the type of photography you normally do– it’s so rewarding. If you’re a wedding photographer, and all you look at is the work of other wedding photographers to find growth, you’re missing out on so much. (below is a picture of Michael making a picture).

Michael Wilson Photographer

So here’s a quick run-down of what we got to experience on the trip. It started with a concert in Albuquerque at the Kimo Theatre and another concert in Durango, Colorado the next night (below).

Over the Rhine

We then took the historic scenic Durango-Silverton railway to Silverton, Colorado. It was about a three hour trip on a narrow gauge train through the San Juan mountains in southwestern Colorado. We arrived in Silverton at over 9,300ft above sea level. We spent the night in a haunted hotel, enjoyed a private concert, Michael Wilson took pinhole portraits of whoever wanted them, and some of us took a walk after dark to star gaze– simply stunning. (below are a couple pictures from the concert at the Grand Imperial Hotel).

Karin Bergquist and Mary Gauthier

Mary Gauthier and Richard Shindell

The next day a few of us crawled around town with Michael and took pictures of things that were interesting (below are some of my pictures).

Michael Wilson

We took the train back to Durango from Silverton (a little quicker going down in elevation!) and with soot in our hair got on a bus to Pagosa Springs, Colorado where we spent the next two nights soaking in the hot springs and had a private concert at the Pagosa Brewing Company.

Linford DetweilerLinford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist

After Pagosa we headed to Chama, NM to ride the Cumbres-Toltec train to Osier and back. Another narrow gauge train with spectacular views and elevations over 10,000ft. Our last private concert was that night complete with a bonfire and after-party song circle until all hours at our hotel. The last day saw us off to Santa Fe to walk around town and check out Charlie’s paintings at the McLarry Modern gallery. Charlie asked me to print a few pictures to show in the gallery for the reception that afternoon, and I was totally honored! I had shipped them the week before so they arrived for the reception, and loved having them shown alongside Charlie’s amazing paintings. (Thanks Charlie!!) The trip ended back in Albuquerque where we pretty much took over and shut down the hotel bar for one last good goodbye. (“this is not goodbye…”)

Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler

This was my second year taking the “Conversations on a Musical Train” with Over the Rhine. Last year the trip went from LA to Santa Fe and back in authentic 1950’s Pullman railcars complete with a few nights at the Historic La Posada Hotel in Winslow, AZ and a trip to the Grand Canyon. Many of the people I met on that first trip attended this year’s trip– and with everyone being scattered around the world, it was amazing to see those friends again and have yet another shared experience together this year. (Last year I published a book from my travels complete with some stunning poetry my great-grandmother cooked up as a teenager– check it out: conversations | ACROSS THE WEST )

If this sounds like a vacation you’d like to take, stay tuned to Roots on the Rails— they will be announcing their 2012 lineup of trips soon! And if you’re ready to sign up for a trip once they are announced, be sure to let Charlie and Sarah know I sent you!

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