Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Road Work


from the Road Journal

I'm in Maine at the moment, on a photography/videography road trip. I've met several people in Maine who came from elsewhere on a visit, and stayed. Or left and came back. It is indeed very beautiful here on the northern Atlantic coast. It's the same latitude as northern Minnesota and Michigan's Upper Peninsula, so at times the land looks very familiar to my eye: right down to the dominant tree and other plant species. You're in "The North" here. But there's also the ocean.

I've been doing a lot of driving. Some days it seems like too much. Driving in New England does not impress me, for several reasons: all the roads here are twisty and low-speed, so even though the distance on the map doesn't look like much, you don't get very far some days. Out in Wyoming or Nevada, I've driven for nine hours, example, and gone the length of those states, where the roads and long and straight and open, and where the speed limits are higher than in New England. A couple of days ago, in Vermont and New Hampshire, I drove all day and barely got 200 miles. It can get frustrating to someone more used to open roads than windy river-valley-following trails.

Another problem is that every little town on the two-lane highways seems to regard having a stoplight as a status symbol. The problem is, they are not run by computers using traffic sensors, so you can sit at a red light, where there's zero cross-traffic, and no else around at all, for up to three minutes for no reason.

Final reason that I'm going to mention here. Call me a Midwesterner, I won't complain. But I have yet to observe that the feeling that many New Englanders seem to carry, that they are the center and circumference of the Known Universe, is based in anything but illusory self-satisfaction. Granted, any locale can contain a certain smugness. You expect this sense of self-focus from New York City: but to also get it from people who live in remote upstate New York as well? Well. If it's earned, I haven't seen how as yet.


from the Road Journal

I'm on the road, making new images. I'm getting some good work done, yet it's been raining and cold this entire trip, with only about a day and a half of sunshine logged in over a week of travel. I intended to camp out in state parks all the way; but the weather has been so bad, I've only been able to camp out twice so far. Perhaps on the return leg of the trip, when things further south become more summerlike than late-winterlike.

But I'm also on the road for my own reasons, which are more important. These reasons didn't even become clear to me until I'd already set out. Specifically, I am on a sort of pilgrimage to visit the home-places and muse-places of many artists and writers I admire. I've visited May Sarton's home in Nelson, New Hampshire. I plan to look in Frederick Franck's place Pacem In Terris; also, Andrew Wyeth's Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania; Robert Frost's Vermont; and perhaps some others. This plan and purpose only came clear to me once I was already here; but now it's the trip's main theme. I've been writing up thoughts about this as I go, which I will eventually post as essays with photos. Right now, though, I'm gathering still, not yet digesting and writing-about. Later for that.


the artist at work, Watkin's Glen State Park, NY

I'll be traveling for another week or so. Then I'll be back home, and start the sorting process, once I recover from the long drives. Meanwhile, I post here a few tidbits, a few random images and haiku and other thoughts, and perhaps one or two soundscapes as they occur.

We drive on. We can't go on. We go on.

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