Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Things I've Learned Along The Way

This has been an interesting ride and it's not over by any means. It was never my goal to do a blog. I just wanted to take pictures and call it a day. Well...a winter season. My wife suggested I do a blog and I thought why? Who would care? Ahh the things you learn. Just because I'm a guy doesn't mean...well no...we're slow learners. I took her advice because it might be fun. Not that I'm the Laura Ingalls Wilder of bloggers mind you and my little corner of the internet started slow. I would throw out a link on Facebook and beg my friends to take a look. A friend who I only knew through a mutual game we played (Farmville if you were curious) was my first visitor. Thank you Jen. It's people like you that make this a worthy journey.

To be fair my genre is narrowly focused and I didn't expect a lot of people would be be bailing out of Facebook to come take a visit. But I did manage to get folks to come take a look. In fact from all over the world. Google has an easy to use blogger website and even gives you lots of information and statistics about where your readers come from and what browser they use. Little graphs and charts and things like that. Needless to say when I saw I had readers from Croatia and Russia...Romania, France, India, Australia...the United Arab Emirates...I was a bit surprised. In fact it wound up being about 20 different countries. Thank you Al Gore. Your "invention" has given me an audience I would never have thought possible.

I also learned a little about networking. Making friends who follow similar pursuits. I would find interesting pictures taken by other photographers. We tend to be protective of our turf if we find something unusual. But I had one in particular who advised me on a place and to make sure I didn't have Cato with me because he could get hurt. Cato is my baby and I'm very protective of him. I, in turn, told my photographer friend about a place he might enjoy. I met other wonderful people through their Facebook pages. William Hampton has a page called Huntsville Revisited with hundreds of historical pictures. Great guy and I'm happy to call him a friend. Another friend is Beverly Crider who runs the page Strange Alabama. I owe her a lot. She was gracious enough to link my blog on her page. Needless to say when I saw I had gone from a few page views on any given day to 5000 in a single day I was stunned.

I don't really talk to many people when I'm on the road. It's not because I don't want to. The winter daylight is a precious thing and short in supply. Most things I shoot are remote and there's no one around anyway. Usually my subject matter requires a quick stop, shoot, move on to the next target. On occasion I'll see something that requires permission. Practically everyone I met was nice about it whether they said yes or no.

When I make my trips I'm usually alone. Well, save for Cato. I usually drive till I see something I like. More than once I'll push the limits of the truck's gas tank. I'll sweat a little as I go mile after mile and see little evidence of civilization. Much less petroleum related commerce. I'll debate in my mind why I let the truck idle when I could have saved a few cents worth of gasoline. That quick stop that I just knew would take  two minutes turns in to ten. So I gamble. It never came back to bite me. That doesn't mean it won't...

I remember once being way up in northeast Alabama. In the Paint Rock Valley. Trust me when I say it can get quite remote. It's really pretty countryside but very sparsely populated. I watched anxiously as the bright orange stick slid down the "E" like the sun fading in the west. I would debate how far I can go before I have to bail and turn around. Needless to say when I did find gas at $3.80 a gallon I was more than happy to pay the price for my lack of foresight. I logged close to 7500 miles in my three months on the road. Changed the oil twice. My old Dodge has been my constant companion for the last ten years. It's had its share of problems but for a 16 year old truck its been a good, reliable companion.

I have to admit feeling melancholy about the onset of spring. There are few things I dislike more than winter. But winter is a necessary ingredient for my project. With the advancing warm weather that Govt experiment gone awry, kudzu, will once again engulf my quarry. There is still so much more ground I need to cover. Most of northwest Alabama...southeast and southwest Alabama as well. How naive I had to have been to think this would take a couple of months and then I publish my book. No, I need one more good winter (a contradiction to me normally) to collect more material. So much more research I need to do. A more well thought out plan...

Pardon me.....I'm laughing at myself. Good intentions and that road know.

Writing this has been a blast. I hate that I have to stop for now. I was just going to write a few, maybe five or six, but that few turned into 20+. I want to thank y'all for giving me a few minutes of your day to enjoy my passion. Dang I hate this part. I came to love my journey. But for now it's time to let it rest till winter once again welcomes me back to the road.

Just a little advice before I go. Get a camera. Just a decent little point and shoot. Take pictures. Lots of pictures. Your friends and family. Your pets. Your house. Your garden. Your car. Your neighborhood. Your church. Where you shop. Where you work. Where you play. Sure lots of these seem odd for now. But ten years from now?Twenty or 30? Then you'll understand. And your kids will thank you. And their kids and....well you get it.

Sadly it's the end of the road for now. See you in December. I am humbled that many of you took a moment to drop by. Thank you....thank you very much!

Old AL 69 as it disappears into Smith Lake