Topic: Road Trip (4 posts)

There's No Place Like Home

(Note: this is "from the vault" in that it is a blog I wrote but never published after returning from a road trip to New Orleans in March.) 

In the classic film the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy recites this phrase over and over again while clicking her ruby red slippers:

"There's no place like home, there's no place like home".

Photograph © by Neal Rantoul from the "Monsters" work soon to be shown at 555 Gallery in Boston.

I don't have any red slippers and even if I did they probably wouldn't get me home again but I am just back now from being on the the road the past 23 days and driving 4596 miles. Funny, I couldn't wait to leave in early March, feeling pent up after the brutal winter we've had, but I couldn't wait to be home again the past few days. I left New Orleans on Saturday and arrived home Wednesday. 

With so many road trips made over the years this one felt both familiar and foreign. Some general observations while driving all those miles:

-Route 81 is a major cross country corridor totally dominated by trucks 

-There are very few interesting cars on the highway these days (note: I was driving in mid March. Might be different in nice weather in mid summer.)

-Just about everyone drives about 80 mph most of the time

-It is very difficult to eat well while doing a road trip. I did best when booked into a motel for the night. I would search on Yelp for what was nearby then head out to eat.

-GPS, hotel-finding and food-finding Apps, and a radar detector seem like necessities these days. I don't understand how I ever did anything while driving without them and paper maps seem positively primitive.

-Booking in advance, usually the night before, but sometimes an hour or so before checking in has its advantages. I tend to use Hotwire a lot as I don't mind not knowing the name of the hotel as I book. I try to stick with 3 stars as a minimum.

- My car takes high test. The lowest on this trip? $2.55/gal.

-I stop and take a quick nap when groggy. That feeling of zoning out at 80 mph is really scary.

-Although the quality of the sound sucks, Sirius radio helped me through endless boring hours. I listen to some music, some comedy and a few right wing political  stations (I enjoy hearing how the other half thinks. Man, they do hate Obama!). On regular FM in the South you can't go wrong with a little religion, the calls to support the "ministry" are the best.

-The United States of America is really big.

Did I make some good photographs? I like to think so. I know I grew as an artist on this trip, always a good sign. But photography is a humbling vocation, at least for me. Often I think I've hit gold only to find I didn't.

Stay tuned or you could even subscribe to the blog as I begin to work the files and make prints. I will be sharing these with you as I work over the next month or so to bring to fruition work made on my March 2015 Road Trip to New Orleans and Back.

Addendum: writing this now in June. I did make some good pictures, including a new portfolio called "Kudzu" that are at 555 Gallery right now. 

Topics: Road Trip,Commentary

Permalink | Posted June 22, 2015

On The Road Again

Why do I think best when behind the wheel for hours on end? It's got to be the solitude and freedom from the phone (if I turn it off). At any rate, I thought long and hard the past few days. I ended the first leg of my trip to New Orleans in Spruce Pine, North Carolina, where Penland School of Crafts is. I have taught there for the past three summers. I went there to see friends, including Mercedes Jelinek, my former teaching assistant and a current three year artist in residence at the school.

I left Boston about 6 a.m. I hit some snow, some sleet, some freezing rain, plain rain and fog, which looked like it was coming off the snow as the air temperature rose. Next day, starting off in Frederiksburg, VA it went from just below freezing rain to sun and then to the high 60's in NC. Long time since it has felt okay to be outside for any length of time. Looking back at this winter from this distance, I now understand just what a siege it has been for us in the northeast. Seems like a long time too. It is very very good to get away.

Stopped and made a few pictures along the way and in the motel early before leaving Fredericksburg.

This last one proving the efficacy of a PC lens. Don't know what a "PC" lens is? Try searching for "perspective control lens" or "tilt shift lens".

Be well, be happy, make pictures and do good things.

Topics: Road Trip

Permalink | Posted March 8, 2015

New Orleans

Next week I load up the car and head off to New Orleans with a slight detour for a couple of nights in Spruce Pine, NC, where Penland School of Crafts is.

Road Trip! Can't wait.

I have rented a VRBO place in New Orleans for two weeks and will attend the SPE (Society for Photographic Education) national conference the middle of the month. I  am reviewing portfolios for a couple of days at the conference. After the rental is over I will head north up through Tennessee and Kentucky before heading home. 

I don't know much about New Orleans and am looking forward to exploring the area. I think it may be warmer (sic). Here in Boston it is going down to zero tonight.

I am looking forward to making new pictures. I will share as I move around the South.

I am hoping to see less of this:

I wonder if it will be all gone when I get back. I doubt it.

Topics: Road Trip

Permalink | Posted February 23, 2015

Zombie Night

Last week, the day after my lecture for the PRC, an old friend and I took a short road trip to the Hudson River Valley to shoot, to look around and to get away. We did all the things you would do on a trip like this: we went to Dia Beacon, a wonderful museum right next to the river, we went to a brew pub for a beer and a meal, we checked out a couple of galleries, we walked across the Hudson River on a bright early spring morning, etc.

One night after dinner we stopped in at a local coffee shop called 2 Alice's. As we sat there with our coffee this couple arrived:

looking a little embarrassed but also pleased with themselves for getting made up and heading out for what turned out to be Zombie Night at the café. I couldn't resist and rushed out to the car to get my camera.

Here are a couple more:

and finally, the girl who was working that night serving coffee laughing at how ridiculous it all was:

However brief our time away was, it was fun being on the road again and a good preview for the next month when I will be mostly gone.

Where? Starting Thursday driving to Penland in Spruce Pine, North Carolina to teach an architectural photography master class with several others, then to Rabun Gap, Georgia where I have an artist residency at the Hambidge Center for two weeks.

I won't have constant access to the web so may have to cut down on posts. I know, some of you will be pleased to hear that. My sister for one as she complains that she can't keep up. After Penland I will be shooting daily so hope to be able to post whatever it is that is going on photographically with me in Georgia. This a place I've been to twice before and those times I shot only 8 x 10. This time will be different. April in North Carolina and northern Georgia is spectactularly beautiful.

One thing I've noticed about this new lifestyle I have which involves me being gone frequently is that the being away breaks any continuity I have when I am home. By this I mean that whatever life I have while home means some family, some friends, some responsibilities, some meetings and some showing of work, etc. is all stopped while I am away. All those contacts back at home carry on without me as you would expect. When I come back things are altered or skewed slightly towards me being away. It takes awhile to get that back on track again by which point I am most likely going away again.

One of my best friends is from Rhode Island. A favorite thing she says is "Just sayin".

Just sayin...

Topics: Road Trip,Zombie

Permalink | Posted April 7, 2013