Nov 19, 2014

Vanishing Barns On The Northwests' Backroads

Text and photos copyright
My Final Thought in Travelgirl Magazine's autumn 2014 issue.

Spotted horses. Rolling fields of wheat. Rusted farm machinery and snaggle-toothed pioneer homesteads. The luminous landscape of the Palouse — a swathe of rich soil spilling from Idaho into Washington — now attracts photographers in record numbers.

Since 2010, snap-happy travelers have increased by at least 40 percent, says Jack Lien, a local who runs Palouse Country Photo Tours. “When 6,000 to 7,000 people stay an average of five days each, it has a big effect on the economy.”

But this marriage of art and Americana may be headed for hard times. The area’s beloved, historic barns are succumbing to age, weather and upgrades such as metal siding: practical, but not so picturesque. Expensive renovations can cause farmers to flinch — a new roof can cost $50,000. So when up-cycling companies bid on the distressed timbers for bars and restaurants, it’s hard not to sell out.

“I encourage photographers to contribute to conserving the landscape they love,” Lien says.

The area doesn’t have a dedicated charity for shutterbugs, but all visitors can donate to the Heritage Barn Registers ( and And they can also shop strategically at a rehabbed dairy, the Dahmen Barn in Uniontown, WA (, where volunteers created a non-profit gallery, event-space and ten artisans’ studios. This autumn, they’re starting a 3,600-square foot expansion, including a kitchen for culinary classes. Support the scene by buying some crafts and sweet Walla Walla-onion mustard. Or pick a buggy, wagon or steam-engine wheel to adopt from the barn’s landmark fence outside — and help keep preservation rolling in the Palouse. – Text and photos by Amanda Castleman

Check out more of my images from the Palouse.

Oct 31, 2014

Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall

I just wrapped up three of the most intense months ever. But, dang, I still squeezed in some good times, like this Pacific Northwest beach bonfire at Kalaloch Lodge (a picture that appeared in my friend's USA Today article). Can't wait to see what's next!

Scuba With Salmon: Little Lives, Big Lessons

BBC Travel sent me and photographer Josh Humbert scuba-diving with the world's most concentrated sockeye-salmon run.
Annoyed by the party crasher at their mating game, at least 100 salmon shot off into the jade water. But one bold sockeye swam within arm’s reach, displaying the hooked nose and needle-sharp teeth that spawning males develop to fight over the ladies. He stretched only 75cm long, but I gave way so I wouldn’t add any stress to his last days. Little Big Man here had survived orcas, bears and eagles along his journey. He deserved to lay his bones down in the place of his birth.
Check out the full story and slideshow on

Oct 29, 2014

Tabby And Tortie Take A Bite Out Of Crime

The Badger (l) and Jake the Tabby. Images copyright

Happy National Cat Day from Jake and The Badger, who – in a just world – would have their own 70s-style buddy-cop sitcom.

Oct 22, 2014

My Pig-Mania Coverage For Bon Appetit Magazine

Pigs always make customs officer Chris R. Richards’s blood run cold.

He can confiscate bush meat, $5,000 bird nests—even grave dirt—without much drama. But anything involving pork tends to get heated…and to skid quickly toward combustion.

“Take away their ham, and people shout, bang the table, and throw things,” says Richards, a supervisory agriculture specialist at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the Seattle field office, covering people coming into the country from Washington’s coast to the northeastern tip of Minnesota. “One Spanish lady put a hex on me that my stomach would rot out.”

He shrugs and pats his uniform’s shirtfront. “No ulcers so far.”

Read more on Bon Appetit's website!

Oct 19, 2014

Fright Night At The Old Asylum In Kamloops

British Columbia, Canada--I took a late-night tunnel tour of a former sanitarium and mental asylum with a brood of teens and 20-somethings. They couldn't even stop squealing and clutching one another, as things went bump in the night. Classic October!

Set dressing on Tranquille Farm. Image copyright

Oct 17, 2014

Plunging Into A Canadian Salmon Stream

I'm back in British Columbia to dive the world's most concentrated run of sockeye salmon – on assignment for BBC Travel with underwater photographer Josh Humbert. Not a bad day at work at all...

A painted turtle and scenes from British Columbia's Lake Region, the Shuswap. Images copyright

Oct 9, 2014

Autumn Houseboating On Shuswap Lake, BC

Pushing the houseboat season? Nah! Nothing a fire can't fix...

Houseboaters crowd around a firepit on the shores of Shuswap Lake, BC. Image copyright