Driveabout#41

The times are unusual, I hope you are coping.

My driveabout has continued.
The writer’s colony produced mixed results. I’m told I helped my aspiring friend which makes me happy. I didn’t start my book.
Also, having not made a match, I decided to move on at the end of February.
But where to? I want to either find a girlfriend or find an interesting place.
Having exhausted the search in my “home” town I tried to find a place, like the House of Irony, that would be inspirational, yet not have skunks. I failed.
So, I needed to hit the road, but where? Obviously the choices were between the ocean and the mountains. I looked west to the coast and tried find a place, but nothing really spoke to me. I then looked east and my eyes fell on Whitefish, Montana. Gateway to Glacier National Park.

So, I booked a place.

And then I found a girlfriend. But, that’s another story.

A week ago last Friday I was the last visitor out of Glacier National Park. I went X-C skiing, starting in the early afternoon and getting back to the parking lot after sundown. Nobody was around. As I pulled out of the park the rangers were pulling barricades across the road. It’s closed.

Here are a few pictures from that last day.

My thoughts are with you.

 

Driveabout#40

Why not drive 800 miles down to Southern California for New Years?
I had spent Christmas with my brother and all my other relatives were out of town. Further, it’s been raining and more is predicted.

I’ve got this packing thing well down. So, I threw in what I needed and headed south. It was fun, not too much drinking occurred. I got to hang out with a group of ladies binge watching Outlander. I got in several hikes in the surrounding hills and worked on my tan.

Unfortunately I didn’t get any good photos until I hit Redwoods National Park on the way back. The weather closed in and I fled for home.

The folks I stay with have a guest register. Yes, they encourage and get a lot of vagabonds passing through. I try to leave them with a poem. This time I wrote:

It's not the cars we drive
Or the clothes we wear
Great gobs of makeup
Or even long hair

We gather from long distance
Or just around the bend
We all look forward
To being called a friend

So here in this place
No need to shove
We do like to gather
Surrounded by love

 

Driveabout#39

So, I’m calling an end to this drive, although it may be only a pause. But if it is a pause, then it’s a substantial pause. Let me reflect on some of the statistics of this drive. All primary goals were achieved; a wedding reception outside New Orleans, visit my brother and father in Charlotte, catch the fall colors in New England, visit the rest of the 50 United States I hadn’t been in (that number being 12) and make it to my black belt review in Phoenix. I drove for over 3 months and covered over 13,000 miles and 37 states. I did 2 oil changes. I had no accidents, tickets or need of a tow truck. I had 3 mechanical mishaps, two of which could have been catastrophic, but being a very lucky person, they weren’t. I met lots of interesting people, saw many pretty vistas and passed my black belt review.

All in all a successful trip.

What now?

I am going to hang out at a writer’s colony in Portland for a couple of months. I believe I can help motivate a young aspiring writer and I have been fantasizing about a fantasy novel, but never started. Now I will.

Hopefully I will find other interesting things to inspire.

Journey on.

Driveabout#38

Ok, where was I?
Right, on my way to Phoenix.
Went through the Black Hills in South Dakota.
Down past that great Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Nebraska.
Pausing at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado.
And then in quick succession;
Monument Valley, New Mexico
Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

I’m now going to Airbnb around Prescott, Arizona until my black belt review on Saturday. Why here? It is at 5000 ft elevation and I need to do two things as much as possible for the next several days. Sleep and work out. Working out at higher elevation is more effective and I’ve been somewhat slack as I drive around. Wish me luck.

About my photography. I know I am missing shots because I have limited myself to one lens. All in all I’m good with that. But I’ve been wondering about missed shots because I’ve only been doing color. So, I’ve decided to start shooting black and white and see if I can do any good with it. Following are some shots taken from the last 3 places I visited (see above). These are groups of two identical shots and settings except that I toggled between B&W and Color.
What do you think?

 

Driveabout#37

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Ok, work with me on this one.
As I was coming from the last place and going to the next place I realized that I must be somewhere around Hernandez, NM. My Rand-McNally couldn’t tell me where it was, but Google could. I was close, I went, it was a full moon.

Now, why is this interesting (at least to me)? Have you ever seen the photograph called “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” by Ansel Adams?
see here

I have neither the equipment used by Ansel Adams, nor the talent. However, I thought I would try to do a modern interpretation in honor of the man.

I got there in early afternoon and scoped out some foothills on the west side of the valley to climb and get a panoramic shot from. As I was walking back from that mission I came across a state patrolman giving a lady a ticket. I requested his attention after he was finished with her. I would say he was a young man, late twenties. I asked him if it was ok for me to be hiking in the foothills. He said as long as it wasn’t posted No Trespassing I should be fine. I let him know I was going to take some photos and try a reinterpretation of the Moonrise, Hernandez pictures. He looked at me blankly. Ansel Adams? Blank. I suggested (since he was standing in Hernandez) he look it up.

Close to sunset I went and climbed up the hills I thought would give the best angle, decently steep but only a few hundred feet high. Then I waited. It got cold. I called my brother to tell him what I was doing. He shook his head. It got darker. Finally, the (full) moon rose. I took some shots and headed back down, in the dark.

Then I went and had dinner at a local place. At the end, the very kindly owner came out for a chat. We got around to what I was doing there. She said she had a print on the wall so we got up and took a look. Then I realized I hadn’t remembered the picture well enough. First, I thought it had a full moon in it, nope. Second, I thought it overlooked the town, nope. Having done some research now, I highly recommend a person does it before engaging. Coincidentally we both were there about the same time of year.

My intent is to make a collage somewhat like displayed above.
His is better. But in all fairness, he had clouds and snow. Those always make for a better picture.

Driveabout#36

I need to pause here and make sure I give a shout out to the National Park system. Today I stumbled upon Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. It is a little place out in the middle of nowhere Nebraska. But it is so cool. It is a place of a huge Miocene era find (after dinosaurs, but before us).
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That story is enough of a reason to stop, but there is more.
The rancher that got all of this started turns out to have been very friendly with the local Lakota people. Turns out he ended up with one of the greatest collection of Native American items that I have ever seen. I’m not saying it is the largest, but the items are spectacular.
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My point is there are these parks all over the country. They are generally worth stopping at, so please do.

Driveabout#35

Ya, hoo and the pressure is off.
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Yesterday I visited the last state of these United States that I hadn’t been to.
Does that make me legendary?

Today I must do an oil change for my car and by “I” I mean I do it. One of my peculiarities is I do my own oil changes. And I drive a stick shift. It is really not a big deal other than the temperature is hovering around 44 right now. At least it is dry, the snow stopped yesterday. The other interesting implication, given that I change my oil at 5000 miles and this is the second oil change of this trip, is that I have driven for over 10,000 miles since the House of Irony kicked me out 2.5 months ago.

What next?
I still have more driving to do. It is off to Phoenix, Arizona where I have a black belt review at the end of November. Yes, it seems I have to renew my belt every two years. At first when I learned this, by getting my belt about two years ago, I was somewhat offended. If you remember, I broke my foot in that process. I paid the price, I was a black belt! But, upon reflection, if you don’t practice something, are you still that? Aside from riding a bicycle, all other skills degenerate. So, I could always say I received a black belt. But to say that I am one, well, I have to prove it. At least one more time.

Driveabout#34

I’m sorry and I must apologize.
I haven’t been thinking of you enough.

As I write this I am in a public library. I have found them very convenient spots to stop and post my thoughts and pictures. What I also found in New England is some amazing architecture. I now look forward to my next stop to see what they might offer.

Today, for example, I am in El Paso, Illinois. This 1906 stone structure is quite elegant and inside contains a lot of local history.

But what I should have been sharing with you were the New England libraries I visited. Really magnificent creations. And I didn’t record and share them. I’m sorry.

And in a somewhat similar vein I have been thinking about houses. Answer me this, in 100 years do you think anyone is going to drive by your house and go “wow” and dream about restoring it or admiring it because someone has? I saw a lot of houses like this in N.E., but I’ve even seen a couple here in El Paso. Why don’t we make houses like this anymore?
Or am I being overly romantic. Maybe they didn’t make all that many in the past, but I suspect it was a much higher percentage.

These houses had soul. Does yours? Is it important? What did we trade for?
Alas, I have more questions than answer.

Driveabout#32

I’ve been hanging out in Acadia N.P. for a few days. This is as far North and East as I am going to make it. So, it time to say adios to this fall weather
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and hit the road heading back West.
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A couple of asides.
First, the weather has been so great that I’ve failed to be able to get any fog pictures while on the coast of Maine!

I can’t remember if I mentioned that one of the subtexts of this drive was to visit the rest of the 50 states I hadn’t been to. When I started there were 12 states on that list. It was a lot of miles before I could cross off South Carolina. Then West Virginia. Delaware and Rhode Island were a hassle, but done, because they are surrounded by toll roads, large cities and the hustle and bustle I like to avoid. After a few distractions I made it to Vermont, then New Hampshire and finally Maine.

What’s that leave, 5 more?