Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words...

It's been almost a year since I did my cross country on my bike and I've been reminiscing.  There was so much I could have written about everyday while I was on the road. People, animals, the landscape...the parks, the problems, the surprises...I couldn't have written it all and still had friends. I took a ton of pictures and, while the pictures can't really convey the real thing either, they're the next best thing to being there and saved me from torturing you. 

I took a lot of pictures while I was on the road. From the start, the camera was in my tank bag with all the other important stuff, so I could take it off the bike at stops and have everything valuable with me at one shot. On the first day, I pulled over if I saw something too pretty to pass by. On the second day, I started thinking that there were way many more picture-worthy scenes than there were stops.

I'd seen pix from other bikers who took photos on the move and I decided that it had to be doable and that I'd better figure it out. The first time was kinda stressful, I must say. I managed to actually take a shot and not leave my lane or donate the camera to the pavement gods. Luckily the roads were nearly all mine and there was lots to see, so I got a lot of practice in quickly.

The persistent thought for the next 2 or 3 days, as I became more confident and prolific photographer, was that I wouldn't be able to show any of these pictures to my folks. I could see their faces in my mind as I proudly lay a stunning shot on the kitchen table, excitedly giving the back story and oblivious to the yellow painted line in the corner of the photo separating the lane from the shoulder. Pop is the one to say it first, "Did you take that while you were driving?"  Mom touches the corner of the photo with three fingers to twist it toward her...  But I got over it eventually.

There were a couple things I didn't get pictures of that I wish I had.  Somewhere out West heading home I passed a lemon grove on the right with two crows perched together on one of the branches.  As I watched, one of them grabbed a lemon and took off, leaving the second crow to do some wing-flapping to keep balanced on the shaken branch.  Finally!  Something unique among the tons of road/sky/landscape photos!  The crows, the bright yellow lemons were a stark contrast to the backdrop of green leaves and seemed bizarrely out of place...but I have nothing to document the reality of the moment.  That one is subject to my failing memory.

Cows were not uncommon.  I took many photos of cows along the way.  Of particular note was the one that stared me down from the middle of the road as I was finally able to leave Capulin Volcano after a hail storm.  I was quite ready to be on my way, but he wasn't having it.  Even with a hundred cow pictures, one I wish I'd gotten, so that I wouldn't have to rely on the faded version in my head, was of two cows under the big arching tree canopy standing off from the rest of the herd.  Unremarkable in general, two cows and a tree, but the image was so perfect...

And the two horses drinking from a stream at an overpass.  I wish I'd gotten that one, too, but I console myself instead with the 3 horses that played with me on a lonely road in New Mexico.  They were fun and I have enough of those to make a flip book to relive it in stop motion.

All told, I took an average of 300 photos a day.  Some of them turned out to be pictures of Max, my windscreen, my sleeve or the pavement since I didn't always give the shutter the time it needed before trying to put the camera away.  But amongst the blurry and misframed are some nice memories.  It took a couple hours every night to go through the pix and write the daily blog, but being able to look back on the trip now as a narrated scrapbook has been worth it.

And, so, I leave you with a taste of the rejects.  Feel free to create the image of what might have been, cuz I surely do not know. :)