Chasing Lewis and Clark Across America - A 21st Century Aviation Adventure
Ron Lowery and Mary Walker
Reviewed by Shaley Melchior for Reader Views (7/06) Reviewed for Reader Views
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It's not often a 'picture' book sticks with me for very long. Most photography books I read leave a mild impression that slides away very quickly. This book is more than simply a work of photography with a few words thrown in, it's truly a work of art. It's a piece of art that has left a lasting impression on me, and is a book I will enjoy for years to come.
In June 2003, a motley crew set off from St. Charles,Missouri with a mission: Photograph the route that Lewis and Clark famously took on the expedition to find the headwaters of the mighty Missouri River, and the Pacific Ocean. Ron Lowery and Mary Walker manned the ultra-light plane, the 'Cloud Chaser'. Ron's wife and son, Sue and Ryan, and the family dog, folled in the RV used for the adventure. They left from St. Charles on a 3 month, 14,000 mile adventure, and documented the resulting photographs and stories for the enjoyment of those of us who can only dream of such an adventure.
The photographs are stunning, and very well taken. No surprise, as Ron Lowery is a professional photographer, who works have been used by Kodak, IBM, CBS, Smith Kline Beecham, Telecom Italia and other corporations worldwide. A few pictures in particular stick with me. A photo of cherry orchards in various stages of development. It looks as if the orchard belongs in a model railroad, and it's an amazing photo. Also, a photo of cottonwoods in the early morning fog. The fog casts a haunting shadow over the ground, and it could never have been spotted from the ground. Haystack Rock along the Oregon coast. Cannon Beah, where Haystack Rock is located, has been one of my favorite spots for as long as I can remember, and the photo brings a new perspective to the ocean. The colors of the tossing waves along with the cragginess of the rock, stand in stark contrast to the small Bed and Breakfasts along the coast line.
The writing is flawless as well. Mary Walker is also a highly experienced professional, who has worked as a chemist, founded a magazine, and is a private pilot. She brings life to the photos, the thousand words the photo tells. The book would be only a photo album, but with Mary's words, it becomes a piece of art.
The book is not all serious,either. One of my favorite experiences that were related in the book was a short piece by Mr. Lowery. He tells of a time he landed at a small airport where no one was in site. He spot the lone caretaker fiddling with his running lawnmower. Mr. Lowery tapped the gentleman on the shoulder, the man jumped up, dropped his screwdriver and yelled "Please don't kill me!". Needless to say, the men got along well after they both recovered, Mr. Lowery from laughing, and the gentleman from fright. I'm still smiling at the remembrance of this!
All around, I feel this book reaches every goal Mr. Lowery and Ms. Walker set out to accomplish. It had gorgeous photography, excellent history and background descriptions, well written prose, and even a bit of humor infused into the mix. This is the one coffeetable book you will keep at the top of your pile, to read and enjoy for years to come.