Archive for April, 2012

Noise Free, Visually Enhanced

Last Saturday my friend Jose Saldana, who was passing through town on his way to Yosemite, hiked with me up to the saddle of Cathedral Rock near Sedona. We arrived right around sunset to catch the shadows playing off the red formations. Engrossed in our mission, I gave no thought to the precipitous four-mile hike back to the parking lot in the dark. I also gave no thought to the fact that Jose is deaf. But he’s a photographer, a filmmaker, and a mountain climber who has summitted Mount Adams, climbed 12 Colorado Fourteeners, and trekked in the Italian Alps, so I figured he’s taken a few night hikes before. If Jose was freaked out on the way back to the car, he didn’t show it—at one point he was hiking so fast that I had to run to keep up, tripping over rocks and misjudged space.

Jose isn’t completely deaf. He can hear airplanes, a door slam, a sneeze, the rev of a motorcycle, and deep bass. But he’s never heard the crash of a wave, the sound of the wind in the trees, or music. I assumed that if Jose could, he would choose a life of sound over a life of silence. But when I asked him—via scribbles on legal pad, since my sign-language skills are nearly non-existent—his answer was no.

“I feel peace! I have no annoying noises,” he told me. “And a deaf is born sensitive to vibrations—if you put your foot on the ground I can feel it. We’re also highly visual.”

That explains Jose’s stealth navigation in the dark. It also explains this photo he took from Cathedral Rock.

Photo by Jose Saldana

The Big Island

I’ve spent very little time in Manhattan. As a lover of wilderness and a bit of an introvert, I’ve always been intimidated by the thought of a 34-square-mile island that’s home to 1.5 million people, which is approximately the same number of people who live in the entire state of New Mexico. Plus, I’m far more comfortable in ski boots than I am in stilettos. But the more I visit New York, the more I fall in love with its beautifully orchestrated chaos.

Last week when I was in the city to film a travel segment with Outside Television, the Kwanzan cherry trees were blooming in Central Park, daffodils and crocuses lined Park Avenue, and the Brooklyn Bridge sparkled under a crescent moon. I ate Indian, Turkish, Latin, Italian, Mexican and Latin-Indio food, saw Dawn Kasper’s Nomadic Studio Practice Experience at the Whitney Biennial, and bumped into a friend on the street who I hadn’t seen in years. He showed me a secret spot where we could slip through a window and watch people hustle like ants in Grand Central Station four stories below. The only missing element was the Frank Sinatra soundtrack. But even without the music I felt the magic and, instead of fearfully lingering around on the fringes, I finally let Manhattan pull me in.