Somewhere in The South.
Road trips. Car trips. Traveling. Those words conjure up a certain set of feelings. At least in The United States they do. Other countries probably share those feelings. But, here in the US, they have a special sort of — I dunno — place? Time? Maybe it’s about freedom. Or, potential. A dream.
I try to make “out on the road” pictures whenever we are out on the road. They are different from documenting a place. They are about that sense of what is it like to… be on the road. Moving and looking at whatever you come across.
These pictures aren’t easy to make, let alone take. The light is often all wrong. Or, I’m going in the wrong direction. Maybe, I’m tired of driving and just want to get there. Where ever there is. If I’m really on a road trip. There could just be my planned rest stop for the night. A cheap motel somewhere along the road. Or, a fuel stop. Or, my final destination. I think, sometimes, when I’m zooming by that I’ll come back to it later. I never do. Nobody ever does. I’m no more special than the next guy.
There’s another secret. These kinds of pictures come along when they do. When they are ready. That’s why no matter what, even if most of my gear is packed for the long distance I might be traveling, there is always a camera in the car with me. You just never know. Like this picture. We were on our way home from our day out. On our way back from our day of reflection. Heading east on Highway 61. In Southeast Louisiana. Not really all that far from New Orleans. We came upon one of those more modern fuel stops. You know — get gas, eat, shop and gamble. Eating at one of those places is a big enough gamble. I don’t need to go into the casino. As we came to the end of the lot I saw this scene… from the highway. Luckily, there was a stoplight there. That’s one of the benefits of traveling the so-called blue roads. You can actually correct your mistake without having to travel 20 miles. I stopped, made a left hand turn and there I was.
I originally made this scene too light, too bright and too colorful. What you are seeing is the third reworking of the picture. Sometime it comes to me right off. Sometimes I have to live with, let it marinate and change me.
Another little collection.
I decided to post road trip pictures because some guy that I read sometimes said that young people don’t like road trips. I’m not buying that. While younger folks do like living in more urban settings and not needing a car to commute around doing daily living stuff, road trips are a whole other issue. That’s traveling. And, it’s sort of fun. That said, these pictures were made during the act of traveling. They are a little rough technically because I didn’t set out to make these kinds of pictures. I just saw them and did whatever it took to make the picture. At the time.
These pictures are all western. I think that comes from my youth. That’s where my family used to travel. Long road trips from Long Beach, California to Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico. Many years later, when we evacuated after the storm, I thought that it would be a good idea to relocate — briefly — to New Mexico. At least in The United States. So, driving through the west feels like a road trip to me. That’s not to say that we haven’t driven all over the place in the south. But, it doesn’t feel the same. For one thing, you can’t see forever. The trees along the sides of the roads make it feel like we are driving through tunnels. To me.
As usual, the captions are underneath each picture.
This picture was one of my usual drive-bys. You can see a little motion shake. I told you these were a little rough. The highway is I-40. The road where the truss steel arch bridge is located is a bit of Route 66 at Rio Puerco. This is west of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
I-40 as it enters Albuquerque, New Mexico. Eventually, it crosses over I-25 very near to where this picture was made. Just like New Orleans is a giant rail yard, Albuquerque is a giant truck stop.
I keep writing that this picture was made near the Arizona-New Mexico border. Not quite. It is well east of Gallup, located on The Continental Divide. For me, growing up, reaching this place meant that we finally reached the west. Looking back that strikes me as being pretty funny considering we drove from the West Coast. Far west of this place. But, there were surfers where I came from, not cowboys.
This must be Route 66. The sign says it is. This picture was made near the Laguna Pueblo area. It’s out there. In the middle of nothing. Well, almost.
I-50 east. In Utah. I was taking a break from driving, when I happened to look behind me. This is what I saw. That’s a Wal-Mart truck. Wal-Mart is everywhere.
Whiting Brothers. For those of us of a certain age, Whiting Brothers was a great place to stop, gas up, cool down and maybe have a bite to eat. I’ve been reading that phrase… “of a certain age” a lot lately. Uh oh.
A couple of things.
While these pictures are starting to emerge from my files, I haven’t done much too them in terms of post production in terms of making them look a little more contemporary. You are seeing them as they came straight from my research.
Two. The scary thing. I don’t seem to be able to make many new pictures right now. I don’t know why. I’m not going to worry about it just yet. Like a baseball player who gets into a hitting slump, the more you worry about it, the more you don’t hit. And, the more you don’t hit, the more you worry. If it keeps up, you are sent to the minors or released. We don’t want that happening, do we?
I wasn’t sure what to publish next, but there were a couple of comments on Facebook and here that sort of guided my way. My friend Greg Gross, who publishes a great travel blog called, I’m Black and I Travel at http://www.imblackanditravel.com made a few comments about the history of Cairo. I had no idea of its history. Whew. It also explains a lot of what I saw in my brief time there. Then, another friend — Penny Speaker — asked if I was going to publish more pictures from Cairo. I replied that I wasn’t sure since I spent all of about an hour working there. And, while I was working I was strapped to a puppy. But, he is cool. He let me work a little.
But, as I curated my work (such a pretentious word for editing a bunch of pictures) I realized that I actually made a nice little collection of pictures in about an hour. I was lucky. Very lucky. Photographer lucky. I had nice clean winter light. And, I managed to arrive around dusk so that I could make “my pictures.” So, a few more images of my time in Cairo, Illinois. Ha! Most of my time was spent looking after a puppy and sleeping.
This picture. I was standing on what they call a levee, looking north towards the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The sun is setting toward the left. The right place. My left is west. That’s right. Isn’t it? You know that I get confused easily. The color was pretty wonderful. Better yet, I did very little to the color in post production. I really like it when nature does the work. Seems better to me that way. I did add a bit of softness to the picture because there was a bit of ground fog that the camera’s sensor didn’t quite pick up.
I reckon that I should actually start my posts about the frozen north from the start of the trip. Or, at least in the middle. My first stop was in a small town called Cairo. No, not Cairo in Egypt. This one is located in Illinois at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. It floods a lot. In fact, it was completed evacuated in 2011 when the river rose to heights not seen since 1937. It was major point of defense for the Union army during the only war that ever mattered in the South. The Civil War. It’s had a lot of racial problems. It suffered from a kind of white flight. The downtown area is mostly abandoned. I first read about it in a book by Mark Twain. Which book? Huckleberry Finn. If you live in The United States and are of a certain age, you read it. I’m sure. The runaway slave, Jim, wants to make his way there so he can gain his freedom. The entire town is down at its heels. In 1920, 15,023 people lived there. During the last census, in 2010, it has 2,831 residents. The weather is a lot like New Orleans’ weather, just a little cooler. It suits me. Especially, the run down part.
Oh yeah. One more thing. It is pronounced, Kay Row. Just like that.
The picture. Ah, the stories I can tell. I was going to park the Yorkie puppy at the motel while I looked for a place to eat. He wasn’t having any of it so he went for a ride. There was only one “restaurant” open, so we went there. Subway. There are a couple more cafes, but it was Sunday and they were closed. There looked like there was a great rib place. Oh well. Next trip. There didn’t seem to be any big grocery stores. Just two Dollar Stores. There were two banks. Supposedly, there is a gas station. But, I couldn’t find it. This town is small. If I couldn’t find it, it isn’t there.
Anyway. I drove around and looked for pictures. I think I made more “keepers” in an hour or so than I ever have. But, this one seems to set the tone. That’s not all there is left of “downtown,” but it might as well be. That wall? The one behind the buildings. That’s their version of a levee. Beyond that lies an abature — a grassy area — and The Mississippi River. I walked down there and made a really nice dusk picture of the river and its bridges. Maybe tomorrow. The puppy? He weighs three pounds. He’s a baby. He was happy to be carried around. At least I think so. He kept licking my nose.
Still really, really sick. In fact it got much worse last night. But, we seem to be getting better. Maybe in a couple of days I’ll go outside and try not to fall on my face. Or, maybe 8 days. Or… oh never mind. It may be just as well. I’d like to clean up a lot of images in waiting between now in the new year. I can work for a little bit and then I get the shakes, face flushing and my head hurts. But, not so bad tonight. So, I work. Listen to my body. Lay down. Get up. Drink a bunch of water. And work again. Or just watch a bunch of movies on Netflix.
I like these blurry things. They are about movement, motion. Maybe a little power and energy. They are about life on the road. Traveling and living in a rolling house.
The picture. Slow shutter speed, pretty high aperture and fire away. The post production was mostly used to calm down the contrast.
Yeah. I’m still under the weather. I called a doctor. He says that our colds are typical for this year and that it will just take some time. The really nasty part of this is that we wake up coughing. It would be fine if we’d do it at the same time. But, noooooo… That isn’t happening. So, I’m trying to stay down and just rest. Of course, I get bored. So I really started poking around in deeper files. I’m looking at what I call “little pictures.” They might tell a story, but they are more subtle than my usual work. Sort of like this one. The funny thing about this picture is that I keep want to calling a dawn picture. It looks and feels like that to me. But, it isn’t. It’s a dusk picture. Maybe I’m getting that feeling because when I made this picture, it was on a cold winter afternoon. Maybe that’s what I feel. I’m really not sure.
Anyway. The picture was made on New Mexico Route 14 also known as The Turquoise Trail. It’s a back way of driving from the small town of Tejeras, which is east of Albuquerque on I-40, to Santa Fe. It’s pretty. It’s scenic. There are some tiny towns along the way. If you spend any time in those towns there are some very interesting people there too. Many of them are artists. Most of them are trying to live off the grid. It can get a little sporty driving on that road in the winter. But, I never had a problem.