Posted by: Brad Nixon | November 5, 2017

Eight Years

Today is the 8th anniversary of Under Western Skies.

It’s too big a task to look back over nearly 650 posts and well over half a million words from the entire run. Focusing on year 8, though, it’s been good, and I’ve enjoyed covering a lot of territory with you.

Nature and wild places have been an important part of this blog since the beginning. This year I realized a longtime desire to see the Big Trees: the Coast Redwoods in northwestern California’s Redwood National Park.

Redwood National Park Brad Nixon 7396 (640x480)

In April, the wettest winter in recorded history turned southern California’s landscape a lush green, carpeted with tall grass and flowers, as in this shot made at Santiago Oaks Regional Park in Orange County, 30 miles east and inland from my house.

Santiago Oaks Brad Nixon 6547 (640x470)

I also wrote about the spring bloom from Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and right here along the Los Angeles coast. Here’s Anza-Borrego.

Anza Borrego Brad Nixon 6636 (640x480)

What I haven’t written about is that 6 months later, after a summer of sun, heat and no rain, those same places were brown and crackling dry. The very spot in the photo of Santiago Canyon became an inferno of flame that devastated the canyon and more than 9,000 acres of Orange County, destroying 15 houses. I haven’t been back to see it, but it will be charred black, awaiting whatever rain comes to begin the cycle again.

Nature is both bounteous and relentlessly fierce.

I also wrote about cities, towns and villages, new and old architecture, trains and highways, libraries, museums and art. At one point, it occurred to me I’d never written about one of California’s most iconic structures, and dug into the photo archive to write about the engineering that holds the Golden Gate Bridge in that spectacular fashion:

Golden Gate Brad Nixon 4349 (640x484)

The variety and abundance of interesting things in the world will never fail, so long as our curiosity to pursue it persists.

One reason I started this blog in 2009 was to write about my experience as I began reading one of the “big books” (both literally and figuratively): In Search of Lost Time. I’m reading this year’s big book — long, but not so long as Proust’s  — right now. I’ll tell you in the year-end reading wrap-up how it went, along with other highlights from the 2017 reading list.

The most important portion of each anniversary observance is to thank you. Thanks for reading, clicking, following, liking and commenting. It’s a pleasure to know that I have fellow travelers, fellow readers, fellow fans of art and the life of the world, whether out on a trail, in the middle of a city or sitting in a chair with the latest book on the reading list. The connection with you has been the greatest pleasure I’ve gotten from 8 years of writing.

Connections are particularly important right now: especially between people who live in other places, come from unfamiliar cultures or have backgrounds different from our own. There are always those — even here in in my nation of immigrants — who would exclude “the others.”

You’re welcome here. They haven’t closed all the doors and windows yet.

I’ll keep exploring, looking, reading, wondering, and I hope you’ll come with me.

As always, along with “thank you,” there is one more thing to say.

What’s next? Let’s go!

Some of the photographs in this post and select images from Under Western Skies are available on CLICK HERE to view the Underawesternsky image portfolio.

© Brad Nixon 2017


  1. It has been a pleasure to tag along with you and Brumfield these last several years. I have enjoyed the personalized travel dialogue while sitting in the back of your tour bus as much as the scenery. It certainly beats the Cincinnati skyline with the Suspension Bridge blocking the best part. I’ll move my tent.
    If I could profit in the exercise you gain in your travels I could be healthy, and wiser. I want to be just like you when I grow up. Congratulations on another successful enlightening year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much James. I’m delighted to have you along. Don’t be so hard on the Queen City … it’s still an excellent town. I’ve had this feeling that Brumfield may show up here some rainy night … assuming it ever rains again. Cheers, Brad.


  2. Brad, congratulations on eight years, and here’s to many more to come! You have really helped me to appreciate the beauty and history that is so close to home. Cin cin!


    • Thank you, Stacy. A very generous comment. I look forward to catching up on your pieces after a bit of a hiatus. Avanti.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. My daughter just moved to Willits, CA last summer, lost communications during the fires😪


    • Hope she’s okay now. N. CA had it far worse than OC. Beautiful country there around Willits … and they have the Skunk Train and a Carnegie Library. Thanks for checking in, and thank you most humbly for reblogging.


  4. Reblogged this on researchesofjoannemariesworld and commented:
    Good article on CA

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have enjoyed your blogs, usually see and learn something new.
    Looking forward to many more.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy anniversary, old chum! I don’t fish, so you know what I mean! Enjoying them as they come!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t bait me or feed me more lines. Already hooked on puns.


  7. Wow! Super congrats on eight marvelous years of travel, insights, observations, and beautiful photos.

    I count myself among the privileged few to have been with you from the beginning. In fact, as your erstwhile gadfly over this time, it’s the second longest job I’ve ever held!

    I have enjoyed learning much from your posts. Thanks for the pleasant journey.


    • Merci, mon ami. The privilege is all mine. Who knows, perhaps Year IX will be the one in which I finally write something about travel to Paris? I looked it up, and the French for gadfly is “taon,” should it come in handy.


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