(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.