BAR-F

$1.36? I’ll take it.

Four defective photos from the Pontiac’s epic road trip in the autumn of 1990. The BAR-F Diamond Shamrock above is probably the one in Bloomfield, New Mexico. Funky name for a franchise, but I was even more intrigued by the gas stop in the photos below…somewhere in New Mexico’s rural interior. Any run-down old station that features lazy mongrels and disgruntled goats lounging around the gas pumps is definitely my kind of place.

These poor-quality photographs were shot on 110 film rather than 35mm. My Canon AE-1 died just three days into this 5-week journey. Once I reached my friend’s house in Austin, Texas, she generously gave me her old 110 pocket Instamatic camera, declaring, “I think it still works.” Well, I suppose it did, if you don’t mind overlapping frames and light leaks. Thanks for trying, dear.

After seeing these dismal results, I trashed the 110 and switched to disposable Kodak cameras for the rest of the trip…the Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier, British Columbia, the Pacific Coast. It was my first experience with those single-use cameras, and I found that they performed surprisingly well.

New Mexico, September 1990

Kodak 110 film

 

Go Play on the Volcano

When the conversation turns to events from our grade school years, my best friend has been known to remark, “We were the last generation of kids who got to have fun.” In those glorious days before video games and the internet took up residence in American homes, our fun was outdoors…and our parents were glad to have us out of the house. We survived deadly lawn darts, BB guns, bows & arrows, and our Evel Knievel tributes: building ramps out of scrap lumber and jumping over assorted junk with our Stingray bikes. Between bumper skiing to school on snowy days, hiking through the storm sewer system with flashlights, and playing for hours on end in abandoned factories, I’ve accumulated enough true stories of adventure, exploration and near-death experiences to make today’s helicopter parents scurry for the nearest Xanax bottle.

This particular stroll down memory lane was inspired by these decaying slides, which I recently rediscovered. I shot these photos in the summer of 1979 while in Hawaii, attending a high school field course in biology and geology. Yay, science!

Part of our study brought us to the Kīlauea summit caldera. I believe there were only two adults in our group—teachers—and I’m sure that their supervision was on par with the standards of the day. Nevertheless, I remember the hike as a bunch of students meandering over the caldera, striking out in multiple directions toward any lump of hardened lava that warranted closer inspection.

Cracks were prevalent all across the caldera’s surface; several of them were venting steam and volcanic gases. In some spots, the surface was warm enough that you could feel the heat right through your shoes…

Having made our way across the desolate black landscape, we walked right up to the rather crumbly-looking edge of Halemaʻumaʻu crater, where we stood peering down at the crater floor, hundreds of feet below. No railing or fencing between us and a long drop…

Looking at these photos, I can’t help but consider that our freewheeling ramble across the caldera would never be tolerated today. Indeed, from the contemporary images I’m seeing online, visitors are now restricted to dedicated trails and overlooks, with fencing in place to discourage anyone from approaching the crater’s edge.

Our visit in ’79 coincided with a quiet period for the volcano. Four years later, Kīlauea awoke and erupted pretty much non-stop for the next 35 years.

Other than spending our final day of the journey in Honolulu, we stayed on the Big Island, studying lava formations, petroglyphs and jungle flora, and observing marine life while snorkeling on reefs and exploring tide pools. It certainly was a fun adventure for a teenage science geek.

My only regret of the trip: I didn’t get to meet Jack Lord.

Kodak Kodachrome 35mm film

 

Welcome to Colorado

My first trip to the West, my first visit to Colorado, my first look at the Rocky Mountians…all on the same road trip in July of 1977. And if I’ve seen these photos before, it was probably more than 40 years ago; I discovered them more recently during last year’s project to sort and scan our old family slides. This particular batch contained plenty of pictures showcasing the mountain scenery, as well as several shots of me as a surly 14-year-old.

This trip was all about camping and riding our dirt bikes on trails near and along the Continental Divide. There were multiple father and son pairings, and multiple vehicles pulling the bikes on trailers. We were held up for day in Goodland, Kansas when the drive shaft fell off of our van on I-70; I recall spending several hours in Goodland’s High Plains Museum while the repairs were in progress.

By the way, my father’s Stetson hat, which you’ve seen in many of my photos over the years, was purchased on this trip at a hat shop in Vail. I remember being impressed by the signed picture of President Gerald Ford that was hanging on their wall.

Kodak Kodachrome 35mm film

 

Road Warriors

One benefit of a tiny British car with a manual transmission—such as mom’s Triumph Spitfire pictured here—is that it’s very easy to push…especially with a gaggle of friends. We weren’t old enough to drive properly, so we’d take turns behind the wheel while everyone else pushed the car up and down the block as fast as we could run.

Even though the engine wasn’t running, I doubt that the police or the insurance company would have approved of our scheme, had they found out. Regardless, this was my first experience “driving” a convertible.

Summer 1978
Kodachrome 35mm film

 

Hunting for Gifts?

One final time this year, I’ll mention that prints and merchandise are available in my Fine Art America gallery for anyone interested in unique gift opportunities. Prints can be ordered in a wide variety of sizes and paper choices, with the ability to add mounting and framing options. My photos can even be printed on canvas, metal, acrylic and wood, as well as on cards, posters, mugs, puzzles, towels, shirts and many other items. Over 650 photographs to choose from, with more on the way. Please contact me if you need help finding a specific item, or if you have any issues while navigating the site. Visit the gallery by clicking the image below…

Thank you!

Sliver

Long ago, the image above was posted on this blog. But one day, by methods unknown, gremlins managed to delete that post. So here it is again.

This has always been my favorite photograph of the Moon, and it was captured from the very same hilltop that I wrote about two weeks ago. I was shooting with my bulky old 300mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens, which was once used by press photographers at a Maryland newspaper, until they sold it to me.

A few minutes later, while the big lens was still attached, I recorded some video for those who would like to see the Moon in motion. Note the dark contrail as a jet flies from left to right just below the Moon…

(If you don’t see a video directly above this line, follow this link to my YouTube channel.)

Print Shopping Season

If you’re planning to cyber-shop tomorrow—or any other day that suits you—and you’re looking for a unique gift, please check out the prints and merchandise available in my Fine Art America gallery. Prints can be ordered in a wide variety of sizes and paper choices, with the ability to add mounting and framing options. My photos can even be printed on canvas, metal, acrylic and wood, as well as on cards, posters, mugs, puzzles, towels, shirts and many other items. Over 650 photographs to choose from, with more on the way. Please contact me if you need help finding a specific item, or if you have any issues while navigating the site. Visit the gallery by clicking the image below…

My appreciation goes out to everyone who follows my blog and comments on my photos and stories from the road. Thank you all for your support!

 

Fool on the Hill

Every journey through South Dakota includes a drive to the top my favorite hill in Yankton County. Alone and standing high above the surrounding farmland, it offers broad unobstructed views of the evening sky. It’s a quiet and peaceful place to watch the Sun and the Moon as they fall toward the prairie.

Last month, on the day following the New Moon, I parked on the hilltop and set up the tripod, camera and 200mm lens. The sky was generally clear, but a wall of clouds on the western horizon had me wondering if I would see the entire show.

While I waited for twilight to arrive, I spent time shooting the colorful layers of the evening clouds at full zoom…

But a surprise was waiting at the bottom of that cloud wall…a thin window of open sky right at the horizon. It was strange to see the lower limb of the Sun appear out of that dark mass and then watch the remainder of the sunset through the slim gap…

Then it was time for Luna to sink through the clouds—just a 3.3% waxing crescent at the time of these photos…

The lights at the bottom of the next photo belong to distant farmhouses…

~ ~ ~

Tip Jar

Financial considerations will play a major role in my future travel plans, and supplemental income will be needed if I hope to continue exploring rural roads and remote corners of North America. I have created a support page at Ko-fi.com. If you enjoy reading these posts and seeing the images I gather as I roam this continent, you can view my page and, if you wish, make a donation by clicking the blue button…

Ko-fi allows you to make a secure one-time donation in any amount you choose…you are not required to subscribe to anything or set up recurring contributions.

If you prefer a more tangible return on your donation, you can also help by purchasing prints and other merchandise from my gallery at Fine Art America. Visit the gallery by clicking the image below…

My appreciation goes out to everyone who follows my blog and comments on my photos and stories from the road. Thank you all for your support!

One for My Baby and One More for the Road

As I told you last month, my spring journey in the LeMans was less than satisfying. Rather than have the 2021 travel season end on that sour note, I had the remaining mechanical issues fixed so I could enjoy an autumn road trip similar to those from the glory years of Pontiac travel, when I would roam leisurely under the big sky along the prairie roads of South Dakota—roads traveled lightly enough that I had them pretty much all to myself.

Clear skies prevailed during my visit; cool mornings, sunny afternoons and cool evenings. I spent a lot of time behind the wheel while rolling toward no particular destination…waving to farmers working the fields, waving to livestock, stopping for quiet walks down dead-end country roads, photographing abandoned buildings, enjoying beautiful sunrises, sunsets and twilight skies, watching the Moon, driving at night under the stars and, of course, listening to plenty of great road music.

This month’s road trip succeeded in washing away the bad taste from that May misadventure. And the Pontiac performed perfectly on this journey. Mind you, I kept my promise and stayed on well-maintained farm roads this time around; there was no camping involved, and no travel on rocky 4×4 wilderness trails. I confidently declare that my days of tent camping with the LeMans are over. The search for a proper backcountry camping vehicle begins in earnest this winter.

~ ~ ~

Tip Jar

Financial considerations will play a major role in my future travel plans, and supplemental income will be needed if I hope to continue exploring rural roads and remote corners of North America. I have created a support page at Ko-fi.com. If you enjoy reading these posts and seeing the images I gather as I roam this continent, you can view my page and, if you wish, make a donation by clicking the blue button…

Ko-fi allows you to make a secure one-time donation in any amount you choose…you are not required to subscribe to anything or set up recurring contributions.

If you prefer a more tangible return on your donation, you can also help by purchasing prints and other merchandise from my gallery at Fine Art America. Visit the gallery by clicking the image below…

My appreciation goes out to everyone who follows my blog and comments on my photos and stories from the road. Thank you all for your support!

At Home

Step inside this house, girl
I’ll sing for you a song
I’ll tell you ’bout just where I’ve been
It shouldn’t take too long
I’ll show you all the things that I own
My treasures, you might say
Couldn’t be more than ten dollars’ worth
They brighten up my day

“Step Inside This House”
Written by Guy Clark
Performed by Lyle Lovett