It has been almost a decade since I have been to Wyoming and about 15 years since I have visited Yellowstone, so it is no surprise that Steve and I jumped at the chance to take a camping trip with our daughter, Kathy, and her two children, Rebecca, 11, and Daniel, 4. Unfortunately, her schedule shifted by a week between the proposal for the trip and the its execution. Therefore Steve was only able to make the second week of the trip. For this reason, I was flying alone from Hartford to Salt Lake City. Besides my suitcase, I was taking a box containing 3 sleeping bags, 2 Thermarest pads, 1 tent, miscellaneous maps (many) and several other pieces of useful equipment. I was also wearing my cowboy hat and carrying my telescoping walking stick and a daypack with binoculars, bird book, and other reading material, including George Landow's "Hypertext."
On the flight to Salt Lake City I read about half of Landow's classic book. During this time I came to the sudden realization that, when I was working in photography, my photographic constructions were actually experiments with hypertext documents. My Scientific American series combined text and images to make puns. The next series, using pin registration, used multiple views of a landscape, printed through complementary masks onto a single sheet of photographic paper to make a new landscape which better expressed, for me, my feelings about the site. The most recent series was a set of images, each a montage of 9 - 35mm frames into one assembled image of a landscape (or building) in which the spaces between the frames and the sprocket holes were also seen. Whenever I spoke about these images, in gallery talks, I referred to these spaces as magic spaces, across which the viewer's mind must make the links. The viewer had to take an active part in assembling the image! Of course, the viewer always has to bring his mind to the interpretation of any image, but in these images, that fact could not be hidden.
When I was first able to write hypertext documents, I knew that I had finally found a medium in which I could really work. I never looked back to realize that I had been struggling toward this point for more than 15 years! I began dreaming about things to do with hypermedia that had been much harder or even impossible before. This resulted first in the L1641 dark cloud map with both spatial and spectral dimensions selectable. And, of course, as Landow makes clear, scholarly papers are intrinsically hypertext documents, severely constrained by their presentation in books. I could now take advantage of this new ability to present a scientific paper as it should be read, with the figures available when the author refers to them, movies, if they contribute information, references linked to abstracts of the papers, or maybe even to the entire paper. The data itself can become a part of the paper and be immediately available to the reader. A major part of my time in the past two years has been spent putting this concept into operation on our departmental Web server.
When I finally arrived in Salt Lake City, flying in over the Great Salt Lake, I had to wait for my luggage because the large box of camping equipment would not fit in the overhead bin. This is something that I never have to do any other time, even on trans-oceanic flights; I always carry my luggage with me. New signs announcing the fact that Salt Lake City had been chosen as the site for the Olympic Winter Games in 2002 were everywhere. While waiting for the luggage to arrive, I observed a family reunion, a father, mother, and two young daughters, ages 10 and 4. It was a good introduction to life with 2 kids of about those ages, the life I would have for the next 2 weeks. I had forgotten what little things could be of such great importance. I had gotten a luggage cart to carry the box and had only to find a taxi after I grabbed it from the baggage carosel. This was not an easy job, but I did find one, fortunatly a station wagon. We got the box into the back of the cab and headed into the city.
I had remembered fondly an old hotel, the Hotel Perry, where we had stayed one time many years ago with Joy Harjo when we were looking for a publisher for the book that Joy and Steve were doing together. I had made reservations to stay there tonight. When I arrived at the hotel, the cab driver carried the box into the lobby for me. I stored it in the downstairs luggage room and took my room key. I had hardly made it to the top of the wide staircase, carrying my suitcase, when the clerk caught up with me and said that I had been given the wrong room. So back downstairs I went. This time, after giving me another key, I was directed toward the elevator.
After settling in the room, there was plenty of daylight left, several hours in fact. I was in downtown Salt Lake City so I decided to walk around the area and see what the city was like. As I walked through the lobby, I heard the desk clerk talking on the phone and realized that the call was for me, so I took it in the lobby. As usual, Steve was checking in to be sure that I had arrived safely and that all was in order. After assuring him that everything was fine, I was out the door into a beautiful late spring evening with a nice breeze ruffling my hair (newly cut so as not to embarrass my daughter!). I was only 4 or 5 blocks from Temple Square so I headed in that direction. The streets were almost deserted and nothing was open, not even the restaurants, this being Sunday. Only one restaurant and a newstand along the entire route were open.
The Temple area is indeed impressive, especially the gardens to me. As I walked around outside the closed gates it was clear that the birds also enjoyed the area. The gardens were full of them, coming and going. The mixture of flowers present was selected to have a variety of blooming times throughout the season. East of the Temple, in the large complex of LDS buildings, there was also an open walkway with fountains and statues celebrating family and community life. After walking around the complex for a while, with the only others around being a couple of tourists and the guard at the underground parking garage, I headed leisurely back toward the hotel.
As I walked around I noticed that the traffic lights in the downtown area made chirping sounds. They were really quite pleasant as a signal to let people know that the lights had changed. On the walk back I located Inkley's, a local camera shop chain where I could buy some disposable panoramic cameras in the morning. I also passed a bookstore which had several items that I wanted: a DeLorme Utah Atlas, and copies of Terry Tempest Williams' Refuge, Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose, and Edward Abbey's Desert Solitaire for Rebecca and Kathy. I got a cold Diet Coke at the newstand to take back to the hotel room. In walking the last two blocks to the hotel, I realized that there were two different sets of chirps that the traffic lights made. I would have to sort this out in the morning. There was still plenty of light remaining, but it was 2 hours later for me (EDT)!
When I got to the room, I decided to see what was on TV for a while. I didn't know whether to expect a call from Kathy tonight or not but thought that I ought to stay up for a while, just in case. They were scheduled to drive from San Dimas to Nephi today, a long driving day, so I didn't know when they would get in. I got hooked on watching Wyatt Earp and stayed up much later than I had intended. No phone call came.
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© 1995 - Karen M. Strom