As a couple of kids from the Costal Marshes of South East Texas we struggled with record high temps and zero humidity. Phoenix Arizona was grounding flights, as friends and family continued sending links warning of potential heat exhaustion / death.
To the hum of big wheels turning we passed through small towns clinging to life by means of an odd assortment of museums, novelty, and roadside attractions. Driving early before sunrise the heat pierced through the darkness. Welcome to Arizona where the sun’s closer to the earth, never sets, and hates you! Why is the sun so angry here?
My cameras had overheated a few times, as did my cellphone. But come on this is fun right! I’ve seen how much National Geographic’s photographers go through to get the shot. I’m no quitter, who cares if the locals who look like dusty strap leather keep warning me to stay in.
But, to be honest this wasn’t fun anymore. Driving early in the morning, trying to capture every sunrise and sunset, see the local sites, and natural wonders. Between scouting locations, hiking in the desert, and fixing the van this was getting old. We weren’t eating well, sleep became spiritic naps. Tired and irritable I wanted to give up.
I left my job for this, a job that was way easier than this lifestyle!
Now working for a slave driver, I was expected to perfectly capture every image. Keep up with blogging, Facebook, Instagram, mechanical repairs, grocery shopping, and laundry. Maintaining a nearly impossible schedule, caused me to hate my new boss. (but wait, I’m the boss)
Family and friends assumed, like we had, that life on the open road would be total freedom. Filled with adventure, wonder, capturing magical pictures of spectacular and remote places. Taking naps in hammocks, reading books we never had time to finish, yeah right. I barely have time to finish a cup of coffee at 4:30 am before setting up for sunrise!
Seeking rest Lauren found an RV park in New Berry Springs, where we rejoiced over a small spit of shade, laundry, and a pool! But don’t assume the town was a posh oasis, the name’s misleading. There’s nothing new, it’s too hot for berries, and there wasn’t a spring. Just another small desert town where every truck stop looks like a potential “Dusk to Dawn” vampire lair. We began referring to this area as Hades.
106 degrees at sunset the wind blew like a hair dryer in my eyes. Taking a knee for a lower perspective I quickly jumped up in pain. I’d burnt my knee through my pants. In that moment, I could no longer run from the truth. What kind of idiot tries to fight the desert?
A friend recently told me that to understand a person you need to know their story and understand their pain.
As a child, I was an overweight asthmatic in special education. When special education was a moldy old portable building in which you endlessly watch Sesame Street. During this time, I was told that I was stupid, lazy, and wouldn’t amount to anything, REAL FORMATIVE stuff. My home life however, was awesome. Supportive parents and family encouraged me to take on challenges and learn new things.
What started, as facing challenges to build confidence somehow developed into an obsession with challenge. Hiking turned into survival trips, kayaking into wilderness races. Standing in the desert alone I knew something was different. Did I started racing kayaks, running 5k’s, skydiving, cycling, etc. because it made me happy, or to prove a few bad teachers, scout masters, or coaches wrong? Probably a bit of both. But it’s time to, forgive, move on, and take on challenges for the sake of personal growth.
I’ve never been good at “winging it”. The ideal of not having a plan really freaks me out. My new challenge, throw the schedule to the hot dry winds of Arizona and enjoy the ride. A kayaker can’t beat the river, but they can ride the current. A photographer can’t beat the light, but you can harness it to tell a story. It’s time to tell a better story!
A few favorites: if small click on tiled image to see full size
An odd small town collection, all the Presidents and their wives. Some portrait artist didn’t waste time finishing Trump!