The First 30 Days on the Road

2012SprinterTrish and I camp out a lot. Over the years we spend on average three months (accumulatively) out of the year camping in our Sprinter. We did the same in our Syncro Vanagon (4×4 VW Bus) that we drove for 24 years putting over 450,000 kilometres on it. But, before all this I was well trained by my parents, traveling extensively in their VW Bus Campmobiles and Land Rovers outfitted for photographic expeditions.

1969AlaskaOne of the many creative endeavours my father, Robert Reynolds, did was to create photographic coffee table books for Graphic Arts Center. He designed hundreds of books for this publisher and photographed seven books in their state book series. It was his first book, “ALASKA”, when the real adventures began. I was eleven years old when we packed up dad’s brand new 1969 Land Rover and took off for the great white north, camping for months on end in an amazing wilderness. Then, for his next book, “TEXAS”, he purchased a 1972 VW Bus Campmobile. This was the beginning of “#vanlife” for me. We traveled Texas in all seasons exploring every corner for his book. Many of these expeditions would keep us on the road for up to three months at a time. Well, at least for dad and myself. On many of these expeditions, my mother would start out quite enthusiastic, but it wouldn’t be too long before I would hear, “Bob, take me to an airport”. What this meant for the two of us was fewer motels, more remote camping and I got to ride up front!


On May 1st of 2018 Trish and I ended home ownership. Our goal, hit the road full time, explore new places, meet new people and eventually find a place to call home.

We departed Eureka, Nevada late in the afternoon on April 30th driving to Elko to sign escrow papers the next day. The Sprinter was totally overloaded with the final things out the door: cleaning supplies and boxes of jumbled thing we’ve used to the last minute and other excess stuff intended for our storage unit. This was in no way conducive for comfortable travel in the least bit. We had appointments in Elko and Reno making it impossible to make it to our storage unit for several days. In other words, a complete kerfuffle existed within our Sprinter!

SouthForkThis was our first morning out at South Fork State Recreation Area, near Elko, Nevada. Overloaded and overwhelmed with stuff…

Several days later, we finally made it to our storage unit to unloaded our extra stuff. It felt so good to have a bit of elbow room in the Sprinter again!

We had several events to attend and engagements on our calendar over the next month in and around Carson City and Reno, so we didn’t want to wander too far afield yet. We purchased an annual Nevada State Park Pass, embarking on a local journey checking out Nevada State Parks. We decided to start with the two parks we’ve never visited before. These journeys turned out to be incredibly helpful to us.

We treated this time as a shake down to hone our systems, refit and move items to places where you could actually get to them.  And taking too many clothes is really a problem so we had to make some hard choices about what stays and what goes. In our case, we thought adding a few items for long term travel would make life easier or more convenient along the way. They turned out to be nothing more than a hinderance and something else to move around. We found the lighter the load, the easier it is to have maximum enjoyment out of our travels. Stuff only complicates the adventure, distracting you from why you are out there in the first place. It is very true, less is more!

IMG_9590Washoe Lake

IMG_0111Lahontan

IMG_0416Walker Lake

IMG_0199Berlin/Ichthyosaurs

We’ve now visited every state park in Nevada with the exception of the two newest ones, and one isn’t open yet (mid July 2018). Many of the parks have some fantastic and very underused trail systems. At each park we visited we hiked every trail and in most cases they offered the best park experience with virtually no one else around. Look for further posts regarding Nevada State Parks…

At one point, we finally had a little more time to travel further out so we headed east across Nevada to visit more state parks.

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IMG_0874Cathedral Gorge

IMG_0961Beaver Dam

But, the weather suddenly turned hot, so we scrambled north to Great Basin National Park to go hiking among the Bristlecone Pines at over 3,300 metres.

IMG_1207Great Basin National Park

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IMG_1231And, lets not forget about Rusty the adventure cat. He takes to the road better than most people I know. He’s ready for that TARDIS door to open to find a new planet to explore. He has really calmed down since we’re done packing stuff up in Eureka and have moved in to the Sprinter.

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A Letter from Senator Harry Reid

A Letter from Senator Harry Reid

“Harnessing the Wind” Construction

The construction portfolio of “Harnessing the Wind” consists of 21 – 6 1/2” x 10” color digital photographs, printed on 8 1/2” x 11” Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White 301 gsm smooth paper on an Epson 7890 printer using Epson’s Ultrachrome K3 inkset. I made five behind the scenes visits to document the construction of two utility grade commercial wind energy projects in the United States. The photographs were created between 2012 and 2014, printed by myself in Eureka, Nevada in November of 2015.

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A large hole is excavated for the base of the wind turbine. Since this wind farm was built on Bureau of Land Management land, BLM archeologist contractors oversee the excavation watching for archeological artifacts. The painted diagram on the first layer of concrete is a template for the rebar. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Rebar is put into place. A crane moves the rebar for the workers to assemble. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Once the rebar is put into place, workers build the concrete forms. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Workers pour concrete over the rebar contained by the forms. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Ground wires are placed over the finished concrete base. It is now ready for backfilling with earth. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Once the backfilling is complete, cranes built on site erect the tower. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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A painter prepares the surface on a tower section prior to assembly. Pattern Energy’s Panhandle 2 Wind, Texas.

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Tower sections are assembled by site built cranes. Pattern Energy’s Panhandle 2 Wind, Texas.

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A nacelle is lifted off the truck trailer and prepped for lift. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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A worker atop the tower awaits the arrival of the nacelle. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Two workers place a lift strap around a blade in preparation for assembly to the hub. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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The blade is lifted by crane for assembly to the hub. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Workers maneuver the blade for proper alignment to the hub. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Workers hook up the blade assembly to the crane. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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A site built crane begins to lift the blade and hub assembly to the nacelle. Pattern Energy’s Panhandle 2 Wind, Texas.

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Hub and blade assembly lift. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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The crane positions the blade and hub assembly for attachment to the nacelle. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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A worker attaches the blade and hub assembly. Pattern Energy’s Panhandle 2 Wind, Texas.

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An electrical substation is built on site to connect to the power grid. Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind, Nevada.

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Power transmission lines carry power from the wind farm to the electrical grid. Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Wind, California.

Here is a link to the “Harnessing the Wind” portfolio.

Special thanks to NV Energy, Pattern Energy and Mortenson Construction for their generous contributions that helped to make this portfolio possible!

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“Harnessing the Wind”

I am beyond thrilled to be a part of the Archive Collections of the Center for Art + Environment at the Nevada Museum of Art!

01_080812432Spring Valley, Nevada

My portfolio “Harnessing the Wind” consists of 21 – 14” x 21” color digital photographs, printed on 17” x 22” Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White 301 gsm smooth paper on an Epson 7890 printer using Epson’s Ultrachrome K3 inkset. I made 15 in depth visits to three utility grade commercial wind energy projects in the United States. The photographs were created between 2012 and 2014, printed by myself in Eureka, Nevada in November of 2015.

02_080812436Spring Valley, Nevada

I was contacted by a San Francisco advertising agency in 2011 to document construction of Nevada’s first utility grade wind farm, and was excited to work on an assignment incorporating a gorgeous landscape with an industrial scale renewable energy project.

03_080812591Spring Valley, Nevada

Pattern Energy’s Spring Valley Wind is situated on 7,680 acres of BLM administered land, thirty miles east of Ely, Nevada in White Pine County near US-50. Spring Valley Wind consists of 66 2.3 megawatt Siemens wind turbine generators. The 152 megawatt facility started selling electricity to NV Energy in August of 2012.

12/17/2012 Spring Valley Wind ParkSpring Valley, Nevada

After negotiations, planning meetings and scheduling, I finally had the opportunity to explore the Spring Valley construction site in October of 2011. I located the lay down yard covered with pick up trucks, heavy equipment and temporary office trailers and checked in with the staff of Mortenson Construction. Site specific safety training and personal safety equipment are a prerequisite prior to entering the construction site. We were escorted by a safety officer for a tour of the site while working out the best way to accomplish an extensive shot list.

121912 Spring Valley Wind ParkSpring Valley, Nevada

We scouted locations the day before for early light and arrived the next day about an hour before sunrise. Provided we followed strict safety rules, stay out of active construction zones and wore our safety gear, we were free to roam the site making photographs of the largely unfinished wind farm. Shortly after sunrise, crews began arriving for their daily safety briefing. We met our safety officer, who escorted us to the individual construction sites. He introduced us to each site’s foreman, who in turn would go over site specific safety concerns and then had us sign in.

121912 Spring Valley Wind ParkSpring Valley, Nevada

My wife, Trish, who is also my producer and assistant, would set me up with equipment for the particular scene. Sometimes, she would need to stay back while I went into the active construction site with the safety officer watching my back enabling me to get close to the action without getting hurt or impeding construction. At sites that were less hectic or dangerous, she’d assist by holding a radio controlled strobe or fill card to help with lighting.

121912 Spring Valley Wind ParkSpring Valley, Nevada

Because Spring Valley is located on BLM public lands, excavation was done with archeologists observing for artifacts. The BLM also required the areas around the turbines to be restored to its natural state upon completion to have as little impact as possible on the fragile desert ecosystem. At this early point in construction, other than the grid of access roads, most of the landscape was undisturbed. I documented workers using heavy equipment excavating, setting rebar and then pouring concrete foundations. After those tasks, more earthwork was done to back fill the foundations.

08_130619090Ocotillo, California

We returned to Spring Valley in April of 2012 to photograph a much more evolved construction site. Although far from it, the site looked largely complete. This time, we photographed tower erections and 174’ blades being connected to the hub. The lift involves picking up a complete rotor assembly, lifting it to the top of the 262’ tower with a giant site-built crane while workers inside connect the two pieces.

09_130619134Ocotillo, California

Returning in August 2012 we photographed the grand opening for Pattern Energy which was preempted by stormy weather. It was spectacular weather for me though, so I was busy until it was too dark to shoot creating many of the images found in this portfolio.

10_130619229Ocotillo, California

Our last photo shoot at Spring Valley Wind was to document the entire wind farm in the winter. The snow finally flew in December and we spent a couple of beautiful, but very cold, (-18˚C / 0˚F) days photographing.

11_130620309Ocotillo, California

The success at Spring Valley Wind led to an invitation to photograph Pattern Energy’s Ocotillo Wind facility located on 12,500 acres of BLM land, northwest of Ocotillo, California in Imperial County. This site consists of 112 – 2.3 megawatt Siemens turbines. The 265 megawatt facility started selling electricity in July of 2013.

12_130621036Ocotillo, California

On our first trip to Ocotillo, we arrived at the mostly completed wind farm in mid June. Ocotillo is just 12 miles from the US Mexico border and it was very hot. For our three-day photo shoot the lowest temperate was 28˚C (83˚F) and the high was 46˚C (114˚F).

13_130621200Ocotillo, California

This photo shoot was very different from Spring Valley. My shot list was primarily to create beautiful landscape images of the facility and to make it look like it was functioning when it was not.

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I was also charged with documenting this facility’s unique feature, the “Bird Tower”, an observation tower staffed by an ornithologist to watch for avian activity. The ornithologist has the ability to shut down the entire facility to reduce bird mortality. The facility was also stocked with equipment to respond to any wild animal event. I spent three days photographing Ocotillo Wind. We returned one last time to document the grand opening event and to photograph the fully functioning power generating facility.

15_140617185Panhandle, Texas

The next invitation from Pattern was to the Panhandle of Texas for a three day photo shoot in June of 2014.

16_140617301Panhandle, Texas

Panhandle Wind is divided into two wind farms with both facilities located north of Panhandle, Texas in Carson County. Pan 1 is located on 52 privately held parcels of land with long-term lease agreements consisting of 118 – 1.85 megawatt General Electric turbines generating 218 megawatts. It began commercial operation in July of 2014. Pan 2 is located immediately west of Pan 1 on 40 privately held parcels of land with long-term lease agreements consisting of 79 – 2.3 megawatt Siemens turbines generating 182 megawatts. It started commercial operation in November of 2014.

17_140617414Panhandle, Texas

The Panhandle of Texas is so flat you can make out the curvature of the earth. I thought the location was going to be a challenge since all the other wind farms I’d previously documented were surrounded by dramatic geologic formations. Turns out, the flat landscape didn’t make the location any less interesting to photograph.

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Pan 1 was finished and producing power and Pan 2 was well into its construction phase. I was charged with a long shot list of specific construction images to be completed plus a few landscape shots of Pan 1 since it was finished, and any images I could get of Pan 2 that made it look like it was up and running.

19_141114239Panhandle, Texas

We returned to Panhandle, Texas in November of 2014 for a one-day photo shoot to document the grand opening event and create beauty images of the now fully functioning Pan 2. For several weeks prior to the grand opening the weather had been dull, gray and raining and it wasn’t looking promising for photographing anything outside.

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We had luck on our side though. Other than it was 10 degrees and windy, we had blue sky and sun. The turbines looked fantastic and were operating at peak capacity. I came prepared for any weather and donned my arctic parka and took to the wind farm once again to document it from before sun up to after sun down.

21_141114709Panhandle, Texas

Here is a link to the “Construction” portfolio.

Special thanks to NV Energy, Pattern Energy and Mortenson Construction for their generous contributions that helped to make this portfolio possible!

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