Star Gazing in Black Mesa State Park and Preserve: Oklahoma’s Darkest Skies

Sometimes the best way to wrap your brain around how vast the universe is, is to go someplace where there is little else. Here is my write up about stargazing at Black Mesa State Park for 405 Magazine. 

Wild Icons OK: Conservation Stories Rhinos

I got to produce a series of ten mini documentaries highlighting endangered species and conservation efforts in Oklahoma and worldwide at the Oklahoma City Zoo for OETA, our local PBS affiliate.  It was an incredible learning experience getting to interview the talented and passionate individuals who have dedicated their lives to conservation and these beautiful animals. Beyond grateful to have been a part of it. They will air on several PBS affiliates across several states through October alongside the documentary RARE which tells the story of famed National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore and his effort to photograph every species of animal in captivity to raise awareness. Here is the first one.

RARE: a look at endangered wildlife at the Oklahoma City Zoo

For years, I felt like I had my foot in two boats. On one hand, I’d find myself in Los Angeles working on incredible television shows with great writers where I made lifelong friends. When I was blessed with the opportunity to start travel writing, even though I had no experience doing that type of work, it was an opportunity that I had to explore.

For years, I’d find myself working on a television show on the CBS lot, heading to the airport on a Thursday night, catching a red eye to another country, spending a weekend in a jungle only to take a cab from the airport back to CBS on Monday morning. It was an exhausting but profound experience for me… I thought to myself, eventually these two worlds MUST collide and finally in the last month, I’ve got a taste of what it might be like if they did.

I’ve been hired by OETA, the local PBS affiliate to produce and direct a series of mini-documentaries to be aired in conjunction with a larger documentary on famed  National Geographicwildlife photographer Joel Sartore. Sartore has made it his life’s work to photography every wildlife species living in captivity. He is absolutely brilliant and his passion for wildlife is infectious and inspiring.

My mini documentaries highlight different endangered species, the zoo staff that love them and conservation partners for the Oklahoma City Zoo. I’ve met some of the most passionate, dedicated people imaginable through this process and gotten to spend time with, photograph, video and engage with some of the most tremendous endangered species on the planet. It has been a true joy. These photos are from my experience at thus far on the project. Hope you enjoy them. It has been an experience I’ll always treasure.

Cam the tiger


Elephant and new mother.


Toba, a fifty year old Orangutan at the Oklahoma City Zoo.


A grizzly keeping cool on a summer day.


This plough share tortoise was seized in Hong Kong before it was put onto the black market. There are less than 200 in the world.


I got to feed this beautiful giraffe by hand.


American Flamingos


Indian Rhino enjoying a lettuce lunch


Silverback gorilla


Matt Payne Photography — Digital Wallpaper — Turner Falls Waterfall

Turner Falls is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Oklahoma. With its blue/green water and dramatic falls, it is also one of the most visited, which can make it more amusement park and less natural respite. Fortunately, on this fall day, I had a pretty uninterrupted view of the fall and this stranger wasn’t too bothered by the creepy dude snapping shots behind her and I was grateful that she was able to sit still long enough to slow the shutter speed in order to blur the water. If you get a chance to head to Turner Falls this winter, do it. Less folks and when you have the place all to yourself, it is truly magical. Until then, enjoy this image and check out the rest of my webpage including upcoming travel writing workshops!




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The Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda: A hike to visit one of the world’s greatest creatures

While this is a new article, it has been several years since I actually had the privilege to hike into the ran forest of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to visit these gorillas. I still remember the experience with such remarkable clarity. The musty smell, the way the rain seemed to stop as you came into their presence. The odd way that fear melts away to closer you get to a beast that could kill you in seconds. I remember asking a fellow traveler if there was a chance in the world we would see something in nature so profound. The answer thus far, despite many thousands of miles and adventures, is a resounding no. I hope in my lifetime I can make it back. Read more about the experience here.

Mountain Gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Mountain Gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda