"Live a good life, and in the end, it's not the years in the life, it's the life in the years."

CRITTERS in my viewfinder

Blue Jay as photographed by Mike Gardner in the June 2016 issue of The Good Life

By Mike Gardner

I’ve been into photography since the age of 5, watching my grandfather in his darkroom.

In my early teens I received a 35mm camera from my grandfather and started shooting motorsports at Ascot Raceway in Gardena, CA, but that was short lived as I discovered girls back then.

I finally got back into photography after getting hit by a racing go-kart in 2008 and it shattered my knee so I needed a hobby.

My family and I moved to Leavenworth last November to help with my grandmother at the age of 95. Sadly she just passed away this last month.

My main passion is shooting drag racing at Pacific Raceways in Kent. And now will also be shooting at Spokane County Raceway.

Living here in Leavenworth has taught me to slow down and enjoy our surroundings.

When I moved here, I was overcome by the sheer beauty of Leavenworth. The landscapes, the rivers and creeks. The animals really sparked a bug in my shooting.

From mountain goats up in Icicle Creek to the osprey to wild turkeys on our back deck here at the house. They were here everyday during the winter and would roost in the trees between our house and the Wenatchee River.

We have a Stellar Jay that came by daily for his peanuts that I feed him. We even established elementary communication. I would tap on the deck railing with my finger and he would peck on the railing. Then he gets his peanuts. I named him Brain.

He only stops by occasionally now and I miss having him around.

Recently I discovered the marmots that live on the other side of the river but they are pretty skittish so my long lens is needed to capture them.

Now, I’m trying to get captures of the bears out at the fish hatchery. I will also get some great captures of the osprey and bald eagles fishing during the salmon run in the Fall.

I’m a single Dad to my 9-year-old daughter, Tia, and she is now following our love for photography. She’s learning quickly.

And she now is realizing the good life: Being with family, enjoying our surroundings and helping me pick up trash when we go for walks on the local trails.

Well, that’s all for now. I have some chores to do then get out with my camera on this beautiful day.

May you have a great day as well.

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