At 76 Michael Powers is the oldest Tsunami Ranger. He became a Ranger in 1990. For almost 30 years he has been the unofficial Tsunami Ranger photojournalist, filming and photographing the Rangers and their adventures all over the world. He’s had his own share of adventures as well. Michael enhances many of his photos using various techniques, but my favorite is the captions he chooses for so many shots.
Sometimes silly, sometimes sublime, Michael’s captions are always entertaining. For this post, I decided to showcase some of Michael’s best captioned photos. Most of these photos were taken by Michael himself, but some were taken by friends or associates. I included the others because they illustrate Michael, the Rangers, and their ethos so well. The captions are all his own. Enjoy!
In the foreground of the selfie below we have Michael yukking it up on the Northern California coast. Behind him is Tsunami Ranger Dave Whalen. The thing I love about this photo is that it shows how the ocean and the Tsunami Rangers can bring together two very different people in a kayak as a team and still everyone has a good time. Or at least the fuzzy-headed liberal is happy. Hey, can’t we all just get along?
This next selfie is a great action photo and was taken by a camera mounted on Michael’s deck. He uses this photo on some of his business cards for Ocean Studios, an alliance of adventure writers, photographers, filmmakers, and composers who in their own words are working together to nurture a deeper understanding and empathy for the natural world.
Michael took this photo of TR Tim Sullivan by a sea arch on the Tsunami retreat led by TR Deb Volturno at Cape Flattery in 2008.
Every year at Christmas, Michael sends out his beautifully photographed cards to friends and family. Here he is with his lovely wife Nani Venegas, celebrating on the beach outside their amazing hand-crafted home in Half Moon Bay.
Here is Michael and his friend, Mark Fraser, an adventure filmmaker and member of Ocean Studios (check him out at www.thegoodfightthe movie.com) on an expedition to the Svalbard Islands in 2008.
Michael often captions his photos with quotes from famous writers. This is one of my favorite stanzas from Rumi, the Sufi poet. Pictured are from left to right, Tsunami Rangers Steve El Rey King, Captain Jim Kakuk, Dandy Don Kiesling, Commander Eric Soares, Scott Becklund, and Dave Whalen.
This next photo is from a trek in Chilean Patagonia in 2007. Michael and his companions filmed the trip to raise awareness for Patagonia’s wilderness areas to help protect the environment and promote the great opportunities for ecotourism in that region. This trip was in fact the first multi-sport traverse of Chilean Patagonia.
Michael has made many trips to Norway, one of his favorite adventure kayaking destinations. He is also a huge Viking enthusiast.
This is one of my favorite photographs, captioned or not. The shot illustrates the kind of vision you can experience when you get away from it all with a small group of trusted friends on a beach on a coastline inaccessible to all but those in small boats. Amazing!
Here’s Michael on yet another of his adventures, this time in Nepal. He and his group hiked to Base Camp on Mt. Everest on this trip. Love those mountains!
Here’s a great shot of Michael after his knee surgery, kayaking on the reef at Pillar Point near the infamous Big Wave at Maverick’s. Michael got both knees done and was out messing around in boats 30 days later. That’s a Tsunami Ranger for you!
The photo below was taken at the after party at one of the Tsunami Ranger Extreme Sea Kayaking Races. People are encouraged to dress up as pirates, Vikings, or sea gypsies for the party, and Michael and Nani always have great costumes. The A-frame in the back is one of the buildings constructed by Michael himself at his compound on the beach. Over the years Michael has created an amazing space, much of it using a chainsaw, including the A-frame, a dome, a small guest house made out of a fishing boat, offices for Ocean Studios, and of course, Michael and Nani’s private residence.
Here are the Tsunami Rangers getting really ridiculous on retreat. If anyone can match the names with the butts, I will personally come up with a prize.
This is another great photo Michael took off Miramar Beach in front of his house: a lone surfer against a brilliant sunset. I love the caption.
Michael isn’t always running around in far off corners of the world or sea kayaking with the Rangers. He’s a whitewater kayaker as well. Here is a photo he took on the south fork of the American River in Northern California before shooting the Whitewater Hall of Fame Event in 2011.
I wish I had a nickel for every shot of Michael striking the pose below. I’d be a rich woman. Here he is lovin’ it at 17,000 feet in Nepal. Nothing can even throw a shadow on this man’s spirit.
Check out the caption below. Well, would you? As those who have paddled with him know, Michael has had many, many “interesting” experiences in kayaks, not least getting lost in the fog on the Northern California coast because he insisted on leaving a Tsunami retreat early since he had promised his wife he’d get back at a certain time. But Michael’s never say die spirit always manages to prevail. The man leads a charmed life, and we’re all in awe. Like the Energizer Bunny he just keeps going, and thank God for that!
We love Michael so much. Without his photographs and videography much of what the Tsunami Rangers have accomplished over the years would be lost to history. To contact Michael or Ocean Studios, please go to www.oceanstudios.net. We hope you have enjoyed these images.
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