By Craig MacDonald
When wandering the beaches of California, you meet some incredibly interesting people walking in the sand. They come from all walks of life and all places. Sometimes you just smile, say hello, nod or acknowledge them with your eyes. We met a family from Arizona at the Corona del Mar beach and began talking with the Wiltbanks after taking a group picture of them with the ocean in the background. We learned about their rural life and heard that Kaeli, one of the Wiltbank kids, takes pictures as a hobby among her endeavors–school, social life, work and farm chores.
Wiltbank family–Brian, a fifth generation owner of the Richville Ranch in the unincorporated area of Apache County, 2 1/2 miles southeast of Flagstaff, and wife Ginger, also a fifth generation Arizonian. Kaeli, Trayser and Colten (also pictured in the sand) help their parents run the 4,500 acre Black Angus cattle ranch in the high desert–a far cry from the splashing waves and sailboat races in the ocean before them.
Kaeli Wiltbank, a remarkable 18-year-old girl, takes photographs and passionate portraits of nature on the sixth-generation Arizonan’s Richville Ranch, located in an isolated area that has no zipcode, but has a zipline on the property.
Kaeli’s breathtaking Winter photo, artistically shows the pond in front of her house, and the gorgeous sunset shot of the same pond, each earned Blue Ribbons at the Apache County Fair. Recently taken was a stunning picture of her corral, where the Wiltbanks separate and brand calves on their 4,500-acre Black Angus cattle ranch, and the beautiful sunset photo of the cottonwoods and Little Colorado River, which irrigates their fields. Both offer proof of the girl’s ability to capture nature that surrounds her on a ranch 2 1/2 hours southeast of Flagstaff. Kaeli has shown she appreciates the sensational beauty found on her family property, so far removed from the urban life common to millions of Americans.