What’s a guy from Hackensack, N.J., doing in Bozeman, Mont.?
Taking photos — lots of photos.
Photography and Montana are both passions for Salvatore Vasapolli, a musician-by-training who discovered the fantasy of a landscape and was compelled to preserve it on film. A collection of his images are in the newly published “Montana: Portrait of a State” (Graphic Arts Center Publishing Company; oversized hardcover; $16.95).
A good landscape photo “should draw you into it,” Vasapolli said. “It should make your spirit fly. Stop time. A great landscape is one that never tires your imagination or your want of looking at it.”
You definitely won’t tire of looking at “Montana,” which offers armchair travelers more than 100 bedazzling images of the state’s natural wonders, some historic architecture and a few people. (The text is written by Montana‘s ex-congressman, John Patrick Williams.)
Vasapolli, 53, discovered Montana in 1980 while on summer break from college. After first visiting Yellowstone National Park in nearby Wyoming, he went to Livingston, about 40 miles north of the park. It was the weekend and the town was completely empty.
“It looked as if a neutron bomb had disintegrated every living person,” he recalled.
Vasapolli eventually moved there, and “found out that, on the weekend, everyone leaves town to recreate in the surrounding mountains and drive to Billings to shop at the mall.”
The photographer eventually realized, “I’m never more happy than when I’m hopelessly lost in the middle of nowhere,” and so made Montana his permanent adopted home.
It’s one of the most diverse states in the country, he explained.
“It may not have the ocean, but it has the high prairies and you don’t need a boat to sail it. The land and the people and the animals are equally unique and friendly. Even the grizzlies don’t eat as much as they used to. Neither do the cowboys.”
Since moving to Big Sky Country, the photographer’s works have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including National Geographic, Audubon, Architectural Digest, the New York Times and others. And in case you’re in Bozeman, check out Vasapolli’s solo exhibition, “Northern Rockies: The Introspective Landscape,” at the Museum of the Rockies. For more, visit www.vasapolliphotography .com.
Comprehensive guide to cross-country skiing
Jonathan Wiesel used to strap long boards to his feet and go hurdling down hills — until he injured himself “many years ago” in Austria. After that, he came
to his senses and turned to
cross-country skiing. Now he’s its most avid promoter.
“It’s hard to choose one favorite thing about cross-country skiing,” Wiesel, whose company has designed 190 ski trails, said. “I have a whole list of things — the beauty of it, being outdoors and with other people, and the fact that people of many levels and abilities can enjoy it. It’s also a great way to stay fit and a good excuse to have a gourmet meal at the end of the day.”
Wiesel has spent decades in the world of cross-country in various capacities — as a ski instructor and ski school director, backcountry guide, professional trips planner, international trips leader, ski area owner and now a writer. He has visited more than 300 cross-country ski areas, resorts and groomed trail systems in the United States and Canada, and has put everything he knows about these recreational areas in “Cross-County Ski Getaways: A Guide to Great Resorts, Lodges and Groomed Trails in North America.” It is an e-book (102 pages) for $9.95 at www.crosscountryskifun.com. (You can download to a computer and print only the pages you want.)
Each page offers a complete synopsis of the cross-country ski destination: location, descriptions of the trails, grooming information, description of lodging and rates, dining, additional activities, whether it’s kid-friendly, Web site and e-mail.
E’Louise Ondash is a veteran, award-winning journalist who was an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist for the Times Advocate and the North County Times. She has written travel features for The Coast News since 2003.