Sunday, December 6, 2009

Road trips: what's so bad about winging it, and improvising, hunh?

Thanksgiving is over, and many of us have done a bit of travel...
Xmas is approaching, and maybe we'll do it again.
A few more thoughts about 'travel' are appropriate.. or at least,'potentially relevant'...
hope you enjoy the following thoughts.

I recently read this:
"Apps of the week: Getting there from here"
By Cody McCloy, CNN
November 11, 2009 12:22 p.m. EST

It seems to be all about the various 'digital things' (GPS, etc?) one can use on a a road trip, to guide you along the way.

It struck me as being... well... really strange, and 'not what road trips should be about' - at least not for me.

My perspective is, of course, from my childhood - born in 1951, growing up in New Hampshire and Maine thru the 50's.
There was no interstate hiway, you got this thing called a map, on paper.... and you followed it, as best you could.
Most roads were two lanes, with a single dotted white line down the middle, at best.
My hometown was Gardiner, Maine, a few miles south of the state capitol, Augusta.
My Dad liked to take us all on road trips, and once we took one to Quebec City, driving through the Maine back roads to Canada.

Soooo... we set out.... and the road got narrower, and the signs fewer, and soon, we didn't know where in the hell we were.
My Dad?...he just kept on driving...that's the kind of guy he was - fearless, even when the gas gauge in the car was at "Empty!)"...
"shut up, kids, we'll get there"... (and we always did).
My mom was in the front seat, she was the most nagging 'back seat driver' you would ever want to know.
She was sure we were doing nothing but getting more & more lost.
(Sorry, Mom, if you can read any of this from 'the other side' ! - i think you would agree...but I would never hold any of this against you! - Dad needed an alter-ego, and you did it well!)

And ya know what?... after a while, the road signs stopped being in english, and were, instead, in french!
"Voulez-vous Gitanes? Gaulouse? Arretez ici!" (French branded cigarettes, "stop here!")...stuff like that.

('Toto, we're not in Maine anymore, are we!?!')

We drove into Canada, without passing any customs, or anything similar.
And we ended up in Quebec city just fine.

I take the same approach (for obvious reasons!) to road trips - just get out there, and drive!
I did exactly that about a decade or so ago, in Arizona.... and the images I stumbled into?... were marvelous.
I just woke up in some cheapo-motel in Arizona, got some bad gas station coffee, smoked half a joint, and drove...
I passed thru this burned-out and deserted town,...and took a few frames that have served me very, very well.

The best montage image to come from this, is one of my best, of all time:

Another time I took a side trip on the way home (S.F.) from the desert (the Mojave/Joshua Tree) to check out Lake Isabella.
... which wasn't all that interesting to me, photographically...
but the drive down into the CA. central valley on Rte 178 (totally unexpected!) was awesome!

Another few words about road trips/travel:
Back-road adventurer on America's 'Blue Highways'

William Least Heat-Moon, best-selling author of "Blue Highways," "River-Horse," and most recently "Roads to Quoz," shared his insights on the American road with CNN. What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation.
November 18, 2009 3:28 p.m. EST

An Excerpt:

'...Go with a loose sense of destination....'

"Everybody in this nation, in the Americas, we all are descendants of people who came from the other hemisphere, each of us a descendant of travelers. Movement is in our blood....
To speak metaphorically, we seem to carry a travel gene that makes us want to move.
And a lot of us also carry an active curiosity gene.
We're bears that go over the mountain to see what we can see.
Speed is anathema to deep travel.
If you want to learn the territory between your place of departure and where you end up, you have to have time and use it wisely."

Well said, I agree.
I say 'to hell with *figuring out* where you're going, just go somewhere' -
the place you don't know about might just be a lot better than the place you thought you wanted to go.
(That's also true about life in general.)

"Celebrating the world's worst travel disasters"?
by: Spud Hilton
Sunday, November 15, 2009 -

(Right on topic, here :-), check it out, especially all the added comments!)

More from Spud's blog:

And of course, something in the New York Times:
(The Grand Canyon during winter)

This'll be the last entry of the year - time to take a break - coming up at the beginning of 2010 - a bit of darkroom - "A Desert(ed) Heart".
You can get a preview in the '2009' section of my site:
Have a great holiday!