Florida On Film

Hood River photographer Frank Menard broadens his horizons in low-lying southern locations

May 25, 2005

Frank Menard’s cousin in Florida had been pestering him for years to come to his sunny state to visit. “Get down here — you don’t know what’s down here unless you come,” his cousin would write.

“Too hot and humid,” Menard would respond.

“Come in the winter, then,” his cousin persisted.

Menard finally relented in February. He and his wife, Barbara, flew to Ft. Myers, Fla., for three weeks of fun and sun. And birds and reptiles.

Menard, 75, has been photographing wildlife and nature since the 1980s, before and after he retired from the Forest Service. Doing business as Northwest Scenic Photography, he has sold photos to national and international magazines and has had his works displayed on postcards, calendars, a billboard; even in the Los Angeles Times. Now he shoots mostly for the fun of it.

“I wasn’t making much money in the photo business,” he says. He learned from experience the importance of a good contract. One photo of Mount Hood and Lost Lake that he sold for use as a postcard, for $35, started showing up on place mats and calendars and such. While he is still glad to sell his photographs, he no longer markets them as aggressively.

About 3 and a half years ago, Menard fractured his neck, which halted his photographic habit until recently. He is finally starting to feel well enough to lug his heavy camera gear around.

In Florida he spent most of his time at wildlife refuges, on Sanibel Island and in the Everglades. He saw snakes, turtles, alligators, and birds of every feather, capturing most of them on film — not digital. He shot rolls and rolls of slides, which are now meticulously organized in special clear pages. His favorites are of the cottonmouth (water moccasin) and wood stork, since he felt those were the hardest to get.

His encounter with the cottonmouth happened while he was on the road and noticed a raven in a peculiar pose — neck outstretched and staring intently at something. He pulled over and found that the “something” was a venomous snake. He got his shots, but wanted to see more of the snake, so after some careful prodding he managed to make it move — and lived to tell about it.

Dangerous animals were part of the Florida allure. Despite warning signs about panthers, he had no panther encounter. He photographed the sign, though, as well as signs for the southernmost hotel, southernmost house, and southernmost point in the United States. He was also amused by the sign for “Rock Reef Pass, Elevation 3 feet.”

Menard’s wife, Barbara, opted out of the bird and wildlife trip but accompanied him to NASA’s Cape Canaveral, Daytona International Raceway and Epcot Center. Of the latter, Menard wrote in his journal, “Never again — much too expensive and too exhausting for a person my age. Everything was very much over-priced.”

Give him a wildlife refuge any day.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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