In which our intrepid hero finds himself over a river without a paddle…
On my excursions—which don’t really have any specific endpoint—I drive and take pictures until my enthusiasm begins to wane. Then I turn around and start heading back, either through more back roads or via faster routes, depending on my patience. I’ve noticed though, that no matter how I drive back home, I always take far fewer pictures on the return leg of the journey. Psychologically, I suppose, I have already switched into “get home” mode…
In which our intrepid hero discovers the site of an American Icarus…
The oil and natural gas boom here in Ohio is interesting. “Fracking,” as the process is called, promises huge amounts of natural gas, with all the accompanying benefits, yet offers possible dangers that range from earthquakes to drinking water contamination. Properly regulated, the industry is something I could not really oppose, but in Republican-controlled Ohio, one can never guarantee that anything will be regulated at all. All too often, Ohio learns the hard way. The other reason I am cautiously supportive of fracking is that the deposits are in the poorest area of the state, Appalachian Ohio, which needs every bit of help it can get, although it won’t be the individual property owners who lease out their mineral rights who will really rake in the money.
In which our intrepid hero provides veritas and vino, entirely coincidentally…
Farms interest me. I am a city boy, through and through; I have spent virtually all of my life living in one of three cities: El Paso, San Antonio, and Columbus. But I do have a small amount of familiarity with farms, because relatives of mine owned a cotton farm near the Rio Grande in southern New Mexico and we visited often. In fact, for a considerable number of years I was there pretty much every weekend, because my father bought a horse (for deer hunting purposes) and reached an agreement with my great-uncle to build a corral on his farm to house the horse and the horse of a family friend. My dad went out each weekend to ride and brought me along to clean up the corral for him. So I can say, if nothing else, that I shoveled tons and tons of manure on a cotton farm in my childhood.
In which our intrepid hero encounters a triumphantly twisted ruin…
There is something about things that are old, ungainly and decaying that fascinate me. I’ve always been that way. This is why I exult in the glorious truck-hulks that appear in the much underrated 1977 film Sorceror, for example, and one of the reasons I like movies that depict slums, ghettoes, or old buildings. These sorts of things have always resonated very deeply with me—this notion of things that once were strong or great but are so no longer.
Percy Bysshe Shelley had it dead-on with his sonnet “Ozymandias”:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away
In which our intrepid hero llooks at llamas…
There are different types of driving and the way you feel with each type is very different. For example, one type of driving is Getaway Driving. Now, this is a type of driving with which I luckily have no experience, but I assume it is very distinct. Mostly, we experience Driving from Here to There; that’s what we are familiar with. It can make you anxious or relaxed, depending on the circumstances. What I’ve discovered is that my excursions produce a very different set of feelings than Driving from Here to There. First, because you do not have a final destination, you never feel, not even at the beginning, any particular sense of urgency. There is no end goal; the drive itself is one of the desired results. Moreover, the drive takes on a different intensity, because the environment I am in matters more. I am not simply alert so that I do not run into another car or off the side of the road. I am actively scanning my surroundings—looking for something interesting to photograph. So I drive leisurely but very intently. It is a good feeling, but it is definitely not the sort of zen state that you can reach while Driving from Here to There, where the middle doesn’t matter very much.