A Philosophy of Radical Aliveness

A Philosophy of Radical Aliveness


"Yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision; but today well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope."

John Kerestes


Friday, January 1, 2021

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If you wish to leave a comment or want to contact me please do so using my email:
(If your interest is primarily biographical, and you want to see what my early adventures were, be sure to view the older posts. They go back seven decades to my childhood.)
Do not reproduce without my permission!

To see an archive of our personal artifacts,
as another way to peek into our history,
go to:  mholtby.blogspot.com

More of our travels go to:


Tuesday, May 26, 2020


Swainsons Hawk photographed in the morning on a walk with Drummer on Stapleton Greenway.

While on lock down due to the Pandemic I have gotten out by driving over to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and hanging out with the burrowing owls in the prairie dog town. The Arsenal underwent Superfund cleanup and is a wildlife refuge with white tailed deer, bison, raptors, etc. It is an eight mile drive. A nice break from the commute from my bedroom to the kitchen.


Thursday, February 27, 2020


I spent most of February in Myanmar with Jim Cline Photo Tours, and the Asia trip leader Karl Grobl. It is my fourth trip with Karl, and I know I'll have a good experience and come home with good photos on trips with Karl. Judy is working in San Diego, and did not go on this trip. However, both of us are going in July 2020 to Mongolia with Karl.

One of the highlights was a balloon ride over Bagan which has 3,400 pagodas and stupas. I had never done a balloon ride before, and I would consider it a lifetime high.

Another highlight, which was not a scheduled part of the tour, was an all day excursion to the Ta Lai Nal Elephant Camp. It apparently rescues elephants from the lumber industry (where they haul around 2 ton logs). It appeared to be a happy family of about a dozen elephants and 3 youngsters.

See my 3 minute video of the elephant encounter:

We visited a number of markets but the most unique was one was on active train tracks. When the train came through all the merchants moved their wares, and put them back after the train had passed. One of our group got a little too close to the passing train and was pulled out of the way by one of the local people. I too was a bit too close, and grabbed by the back of my shirt.

Here is a video that puts you right there:

We also visited a fishing village on the Ngapali Beach as they were bringing in the night's catch, hauling them on shore in 100+ pound buckets, sorting them and putting them out to dry.

And of course the Myanmar culture is steeped in Buddhism, so we saw lots of monks, nuns, novices and statues of Buddha. We were constantly removing our sandals to visit a pagoda.

For a slide show of my best photos from the trip go to:

Thursday, January 9, 2020


Every year in Denver we host the National Western Stock Show, and it starts with a parade through downtown headed by a herd of thirty longhorn cattle:

I am still trying to get the perfect shot - which I don't believe this is. I got there an hour early and there was already a crowd several people deep. The cowboys also surrounded the herd.

I liked this shot, however because of the "Urban Farmer" sign in the background.

This, however, is my favorite Denver parade, reflecting our Western history and lingering culture.

Monday, October 28, 2019


Judy & I are back from a visual storytelling workshop in Cambodia. It was through Jim Cline Photo tours, and we were on our third tour with the company's Asia tour guide, Karl Grobl. The other tour group leader was Bob Krist from National Geographic. We had to each do a project, and produce a video story. Ours was about the Last Mahouts in Angkor Wat, as the elephants are moved to a reserve in December. Here is the description:

In December, 2019 the remaining elephants in Ankor Wat will be removed to a reserve, leaving several of their handlers, the mahouts without their way of life. International pressure has lead to this move after one of the elephants died, but upon our investigation for this video we ended up believing that moving the elephants wasn't necessarily the best for them. They average forty-five years old, and this has been their way of life for decades. We saw no evidence of mistreatment, and in fact found that the elephants were checked by a veterinarian every week. Elephants have been a part of Ankor Wat for centuries, and in fact, did the heavy lifting to build the temple. They remain very embedded in Khmer culture.

 The video is under three minutes in length: 

Another interesting project was about rats trained to find land mines. They are so light they aren't blown up, and by smell they can detect where they are. Land mines still injure an average of three people a week in Cambodia.

I also produced a brief slide show of some of my best still photos of the trip: two minutes in a very complex country, severely traumatized by Pol Pot, war with the Vietnamese, and the continuing threat of land mines. Yet Cambodia is a beautiful country with friendly, gentle people; and they embrace both centuries old traditions as well as modern advances.

This has been quite a year for my photography: In February I was selected to be part of a team of photographers with the Jimmy Nelson Foundation to document the Hadzabe, the last hunter gatherers in Tanzania. Then this summer a photograph I took at Denver's Cinco de Mayo was selected to be one of thirty-five to be exhibited in a collection called My Colorado, selected from over 4,000 entries. The exhibit is in the A Concourse of the Denver International Airport. I also was accepted into two juried shows, and won third place in one of them, an exhibit of Colorado photography. And finally, I won first place in the wildlife division at the Colorado Mountain College Art Show in Vail.

Saturday, July 27, 2019


The primary reason to visit Uganda, the reason most tourists go, is to visit the mountain gorillas. We did, and I'm pleased with the photos we got. However, the back story is it was a 2 hour drive up a rutted and potholed dirt road, followed by a 2 1/2 hour trek to get to where the Mukiza gorilla family was. This is the silverback who is the big daddy. We were ten feet away and he just ignored us. We could only stay an our. The trip back included an incline like a staircase, in the rain and humidity at an elevation of 7,000 feet for a half mile. It was on my 74th birthday, so it was very special, but I thought I might pass out or have a heart attack on the way back.

We also took photos of harvesting tea, and bananas being taken to market.

We visited three primary schools, and at one point I had a half dozen kids holding my hand - all at the same time.

In addition to gorillas we saw several other primates, as well as two eagles.

And finally we visited a Banyonkole farm which had a herd of the rare Ankole cattle.

Here is a video of our trip (its only 5 minutes long - you have time to watch it!):

Monday, June 24, 2019


I am a member of the Vail Valley Arts Association and was up there last weekend as part of a project to produce art about the ranches in the area. These two photographs were taken on the Webster Ranch.

This is Eziguel Javier Veliz Zevallos who is Peruvian sheep herder who is here on the 3 year contract with the Southern Cross Sheep Division in McCoy, Colorado. His wife and four children remain in Peru. The rifle is to kill coyotes who have killed seven lambs. He and 8 large white dogs guard 800 ewes and 900 lambs.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Another short trip, this one to Custer State Park for three days. Custer, South Dakota is about six hours from Denver. We went there to photograph baby bison, but had far more sightings of antelope. All through Wyoming & S. Dakota along the highway you can see antelope, but if you stop they are alarmed and run away. But in the Park they are more used to people and cars and you can get a lot closer.

Also lots of colorful birds. These are mountain bluebirds.


Took a day trip to Mt. Evans, an hour outside of Denver. We were hoping to see baby mountain goats. However, there is still a lot of snow up there and the babies haven't been born yet. We did find a fox den. This is the best photo from that trip of the Mom.

Monday, April 8, 2019

FEBRUARY 2019: TANZANIA's Hadzabe Tribe

The last hunter-gatherers of Tanzania

I was selected to be on a four person team of photographers to spend four full days with the Hadzabe tribe. They now only number about one thousand people, and 90% of their land has been taken over by neighboring pastoral tribes.

This endeavor is a part of a larger mission to describe and photograph the indigenous cultures of the world before they disappear. It is part of the Jimmy Nelson Foundation based in Amsterdam.

The full website illustrating this project can be found at:

My own website is:  https://www.hadzabe.org/

Here is a video introducing the tribe:

Monday, February 25, 2019


This was my sixth African safari. What was unique about this trip was the 1:1 attention I received from Ernest, a partner of Eagle Eye Safaris along with Karen Blackwood. https://eagleeyesafaris.com/ Although I am an experienced photographer and user of  Lightroom and Photoshop, Ernest was able to help me up my game. He also coached me on using the flexible spot for focusing in the bush, where the autofocus challenge was selecting the animal rather than the surrounding branches.

The accommodations were the best I’ve experienced, particularly the stopover at Loerie’s Call on the drive to Sabi Sands, and the place we stayed at the Park, the Nkorho Bush Lodge. The latter had two showers (one inside & another out), a huge bathtub, and two quite large rooms. I have stayed at a number of nice lodges in Africa, but it doesn’t get much nicer than this!

Sabi Sands itself was manageable in terms of size and did not involve long drives to find the game. The routine was relaxed in the sense that you had a break in the middle of the day when you could use the pool, or work with Ernest on your photographs, or just shower and have a nice breakfast and lunch. I’ve been to other safaris where the break was shorter and the drives were longer.

Sabi Sands can also be called “leopard city,” in that we saw leopards every day, usually multiple cats and sightings. On three occasions we even saw cubs, and I got a perfect shot of one peeking around the trunk of a tree after his mother had warned him of a hyena. In all of my other safaris what was typical was to see a leopard once, often fleeting or not at all. Another advantage of Sabi Sands is that drivers can go off road, which sometimes means crashing through the bush to get to a wildlife encounter.

The other nice thing about this trip is that due to the exchange rate between the USA and South Africa it is exceptionally affordable at the present time.

One of the most awesome of these events I’ve ever experienced occurred when hyenas had taken a kill away from a leopard, and a pack of wild dogs came and treed the leopard, and then tried to take the kill away from the hyenas. The sights and especially the sounds were quite incredible.

Sunday, January 27, 2019


It was hand warmer cold, and snowing much of the time. We would have highlights like seeing a pack of wolves, and just a little later watching river otters; but then we’d drive in a snowcat for five hours and not see any more wildlife – or they’d be only within binocular range. But we did see plenty of bison, coyotes, moose, bighorn sheep; trumpeter swans and to a lesser extent bald eagles, mule deer, elk and antelope. I hope the video depicts what it was like, and you don’t even have to brave the weather!

Watch my 3 1/2 minute video of the trip:

Sunday, October 21, 2018


Independence Rock, Colorado National Monument

Last of the season camping trip to Colorado National Monument, and Arches National Park


Sand Dune Arch, Arches National Park


The weekend after getting back from Alaska I attended a Hawkfest sponsored by Mike's Camera and Hawkquest Raptor Refuge. Above is a Eurasian Eagle Owl.

This one is my favorite, an Aplomado Falcon

We also had an opportunity to photograph a Harris Hawk in flight