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:


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


I did a photo trip with Natural Habitat to photograph brown bears in Alaska. It was the end of the salmon run, and they were fat and happy. Being the end of the season we were often alone in Katmai Park - that is except for the 2-3,000 bears that live there. Apparently in the peak months photographers had a limit and had to rotate so others could get their viewing time. At the famous Brooks Falls there were as many as a dozen bears at one time to watch. The year before had been good for the bears, so the average sow had 3-4 cubs. 

The weather was either overcast or light rain, and we lost some time when our seaplane couldn't fly. Also on our return flight one of the planes was grounded when between the pilot and the plane full of our group was a bear on the beach.

I was able to get one photo similar to the famous one by Mangelsen of the jumping salmon headed for the mouth of a bear. 

However, being the end of the season, they more likely caught them in a less dramatic way - feeling them hit their feet.

For a complete slideshow of the trip go to:

Wednesday, August 8, 2018


I have lived in Denver, Colorado for forty-one years, and only in the last few weeks have I ventured up to the peak of Mt. Evans. It is the highest paved road in the USA, over 14,000 feet on a road with a steep drop off on one side. At the top, above timberline it is just a pile of large rocks. But the views are spectacular, and every time I've seen wildlife: mountain goats, bighorn sheep, marmots, picas, and birds (in addition to crows, a brown-capped rosy finch).

In the last two weeks I've gone three times. The first time was with my friend and fellow wildlife photographer Lynn H.  The weather was rough: dense fog, heavy rain, and hail. The second time I went was with Judy, but we didn't stay more than a few hours. It was pretty crowded with both traffic, and people at the summit. So I went yesterday for the third time by myself, getting up early on a sunny day, and staying several hours. I still didn't get the shots I had hoped for, but will certainly try again.

Monday, August 6, 2018


 We did a camping trip to Bear Lake, Southwest of Yampa, Colorado (and Steamboat). It turned out to be crowded, and lots of mosquitoes; even though we arrived on a Thursday afternoon. However, on the second day we were able to snag probably the best campsite there and stayed for two more days. Getting the trailer ready, and unpacking it at the end of the trip took a total of four days. It also took most of two days to get there and back. And we were only settled in for two days. We are questioning whether it was worth it, and considering buying a cabin.

We set up a hummingbird feeder, and got plenty of interest.

Sunday, July 1, 2018


This was my 5th safari, and Judy's 2nd. We picked Botswana because the first time we saw more wildlife in diversity and amount of any of the other countries I've experienced: Ethiopia, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa.

Also, Botswana has more elephants than any other country in the world. And on this trip we experienced more elephants than we did even on our first trip. At a watering hole in Savute the elephants kept coming and coming and coming until we believed we saw 60-80 in more than one herd all converging on this one watering hole.

This was a safari highlighted by several elephant events. On the Chobe River we all of a sudden heard loud trumpeting, and witnessed a bull elephant trying to mate with a female who wanted none of it. He chased her crashing through the water straight at us. Katembo, our guide, had to move our boat out of the way. (Katembo's name means "baby elephant").

Speaking of baby elephants there was this little guy practicing with an improvised baton:

And of course there were many other animals: crocodiles, zebra, giraffes, lions, leopards, hyenas, vervet monkeys, waterbuck, bushbuck, kudu, impala, mongoose, hippo, wildebeast, ostrich, wart hog, lechwe, sable and steenbok; and a whole host of birds. We had a special treat with three different leopard sightings with the best one about a half hour long following a mother leopard and her cub.

Here is a video slide show of our trip:

Botswana Safari 2018 from Mike Holtby on Vimeo.