Lawrence Bruce Kekule, an American by birth, has lived in Thailand for more than four decades.

Bruce has photographed Thailand’s wild creatures and habitats for 15 years. He has travelled all over the country on a photographic odyssey portraying the natural world. Bruce’s passion for the Kingdom and its wildlife, and his mission to show the world this beauty, will surely create awareness amongst the present generation that action is needed now to save Thailand’s wild places and animals for the future.

Chasing a Wild Dream

He published his first book Wildlife in the Kingdom of Thailand in 1999. His second book entitled Thailand’s Natural Heritage was published in 2004 and Wild Rivers, his third, was completed in 2008. He has also written many newspaper and magazine articles about wildlife. Born in the United States, he has lived in Thailand since 1964. His dream to produce wildlife photographic books continues.

Kekule is married to a Thai national and they live in Bangkok with their daughter, son-in-law and two grand daughters. His main objective is to educate the Thai people about their natural heritage before it is too late. A second objective is to help the park rangers who patrol the forests with food, clothing and equipment to create incentive among these men who put their lives on the line for the Kingdom’s forest and wildlife.

My ‘Bucket List’ trip to the USA and Canada – 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016
posted by Bruce 3:49 PM

Places I wanted to see before kicking a bucket…so to speak…!!

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The ‘Grand Canyon’  in Arizona at the ‘South Rim’ in early morning light…!

When I was a kid in kindergarten, we were taught about the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ and, the Grand Canyon in the USA was one of those places. Our teachers drummed it into our heads. They also talked about an old natural steam geyser in Yellowstone National Park named ‘Old Faithful’…!

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This is the famous ‘Old Faithful Geyser’ in Yellowstone…!

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Lower Yellowstone Falls…!

This natural wonder is in Yellowstone, the world’s first protected area established by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. As years past, I often read and saw pictures of these beautiful and great places in America, and wanted to visit as many as possible before I kicked the bucket, so to speak.

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Me and my wife ‘Noi’ and the Dodge SUV at the Intercontinental Hotel close to LAX…!

For my first ‘Bucket List’ trip, no holds were barred. Last year, my wife broke her leg in a fall down some stairs in the house in Bangkok. As I wanted to take her along, I postponed my trip in 2015. But this year, I was bound and determined to do my ‘bucket list’ and we departed Bangkok on the 1st September, 2016. After a long grueling flight, we arrived in Los Angeles and went to the Intercontinental Hotel close to LAX spending two nights resting up.

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A rest-stop on the famous ‘Route 66’ in California…!

We then spent a few more days in LA visiting friends here and there, and then on 5th Sept., we headed off in a rental car (Dodge SUV) leaving early in the morning and traveling on Route 66 to the ‘South Rim’ of the Grand Canyon National Park run by the U.S. National Parks Service, and arriving in the late afternoon. We checked into the Yavapai Hotel for a two-night stay. The weather was cool and clear with no cloud cover – perfect for photography the next morning.

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The ‘Grand Canyon’  further up the ‘South Rim’…!

My wife stayed in bed but I went to the ‘South Rim’ at 5am and waited for sunrise. It was scary out there for me, even with a barrier – many people have fallen into the canyon by being foolish and taking a risk getting too close to the edge which means certain death if you fall in. Eventually light filled the canyon and I got some spectacular shots.

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The ‘Grand Canyon’ 30 miles east of the ‘South Rim’…!

There are many other areas at the ‘South Rim’ of the Grand Canyon to see but time was short and we had to move on. The next stop was the ‘North Rim’ but as we arrived at the turn-off, a big fire was raging and not wanting to be delayed, carried on to our next destination which was Zion National Park in Utah.

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At the ‘South Rim’ of the Grand Canyon in late morning…!

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At the ‘Yavapai Hotel’ in Grand Canyon-South Rim…!

We entered Zion and 10 minutes from the gate, were greeted by a herd of ‘Desert Big Horn’ sheep. They were breeding and several rams were only interested in the females and paid no attention to us. I got some great eye-level shots which are rare for this species; they are usually seen high up on the cliffs. I also managed to get some very nice landscape photos of some interesting geological formations sculpted over millions of years. Our trip to Zion was well worth the effort.

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‘Desert Big Horn Sheep’ by the side of the road in Zion National Park – a lucky encounter….!

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 Some of the weird sandstone formations in Zion National Park, Utah…!

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Sunset at Zion….That is an eagle flying up near the cliff….!

I also managed a side trip to Bryce Canyon National Park near-by to see those natural formations but kept my visit to a minimum as there were many tourists and parking was near impossible. After two days, we left Zion for the long haul to Salt Lake City visiting with friends there and a needed rest stop for the next haul to Grand Teton National Park further north.

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Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah at mid-day…!

The next morning after we had breakfast, we headed out to the Grand Teton National Park. It’s a beautiful place in September with clear blue skies and crisp weather. The mountain range vista of the Tetons is absolutely stunning but I was not lucky, and it was socked in the next morning and so did not get any good photos of the mountain range. After two days, we had to move on to our next destination.

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Grand Teton mountain range in Wyoming during the late afternoon….!

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Having lunch in Grand Teton National Park: it was absolutely beautiful at this spot…!

Yellowstone National Park was not accessible from Grand Teton through the ‘Southern Gate’ due to a large forest fire there. We had to detour around and enter at the ‘Western Gate’ but as we were booked into a hotel there, it worked out OK.

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A common sight in Yellowstone National Park: An American bison or buffalo…!

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A ‘Rocky Mountain’ big horn ram blocking traffic over in east Yellowstone…!

However, it was raining and sleeting when we arrived late in the afternoon, and thought my photography would be washed out. But about mid-morning on the next day, it cleared up and I got some really nice shots of the landscape and buffalo (plenty of them). There were no bears (heading into the interior looking for a hibernation dens) or elk. I saw one bull elk early on the second morning bugling at a distance but no photos.

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Along one of the many tributaries of the Yellowstone River system…!

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Fresh snow laid the night before: elevation about 7,000 feet…!

We went to see ‘Old Faithful’, and ticked off another ‘bucket list’ checkbox. There were loads and loads of tourists (some 1500 plus people sitting around the old geyser) and traffic was bad; specially when someone saw a buffalo, big horn or bear in a tree.

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My top ‘bucket list’ finally ticked off….!

In Yellowstone, there are a couple of areas along the road that was very narrow and just one slip-up meant going over the small curb and thousands of feet down to a certain death. The next day, we left Yellowstone and I look back on this segment of my ‘Bucket List’ trip and believe it came up to my expectations for the entire trip except for poor weather in Grand Teton. I will return to these beautiful places with my family again one day…!

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Our last morning in West Yellowstone: it was cold when we departed…!

I then sent my wife to Boseman, Montana so she could fly over to Seattle to see a Thai friend. I then headed north to a small town called ‘Malta’ for an over night stay at a little motel. The owner was a serious wildlife hunter and has the grand slam of North American Sheep (4 species) and a Rocky Mountain Goat trophy on his wall in the hotel office. We had a nice talk about the situation around Malta. It certainly is a small town on the way to Canada which I did the next day.

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The ‘100’ Canadian speed sign: a conspiracy for sure with no ‘kilometer per hour’ marking…!

Crossing the Canadian border into Saskatchewan was uneventful other then seeing a speed-100 sign and thinking it was miles per hour…it was sometime before I realized I was going in ‘miles-per-hour’…I did get stopped going 115 as the police woman RCMP was trailing a semi-tractor. Her lights went on after I passed her. She gave me warning but let me go.

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Driving into Calgary, Alberta, Canada: It was dark and forbidding…!

I finally found the ‘Kilometers per hour’ switch on the steering wheel column and slowed the heck down driving all the way across Alberta and British Columbia ending up in Vancouver Island to see a friend. After 4-days, I packed-up and made my way back to the U.S. at Port Angeles in Washington State for the drive to Seattle to pick up my wife. We then eventually found our way back to L.A. arriving on the 31st September for the end of this ‘bucket list’ trip. All and all, it was great to finally see and photograph some of the greatest places and most beautiful protected areas in the U.S., and the World for that matter…! Total Distance 4, 484 miles…!

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