“It should not be denied . . . that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations, with absolute freedom, and the road has always led west.” – Wallace Stegner
When school let out and the balmy Michigan summer began, as a boy, I looked forward to our family trips. We usually headed north to rural Michigan or out west on longer journeys across the country by RV. We rode our bikes, sans helmet or pads through the woods, went fishing on a rowboat or canoe. My dad drove the van down unmarked dirt roads to look for deer and elk and to show us the territory. We fired .22 rifles and BB guns into paper plate targets. As my brothers got older, we dug their tires out of deep Michigan sand to get their cars unstuck.
We felt safer amid the campers. Unlike our cautious East Detroit existence, we left doors open, explored miles of uncharted wilderness unsupervised, ate wild berries and talked to strangers. Traveling didn’t just represent a vacation or new scenery, it was bigger than that. It was freedom, a desire to explore and foster a childlike wonder that extended into our adult lives. I want my daughter to feel it too.
When your cell service is completely gone, your iPhone will be free to become a camera, unhindered by the “irksome obligations” invariably brought about by wi-fi and full bars. The next few are iPhone shots. Having zero cell service has inspired me to turn my phone off more frequently at home. My phone was disabled for days and nothing blew up. My business didn’t fall into obscurity and nobody called me to shoot the next NatGeo cover. I could feel my thoughts getting clearer and my mind becoming peaceful without a constant influx of minutia like text messages, emails that could easily wait till later and Facebook notifications. Turn your cell phone off for a day and concentrate on one task. Don’t use the internet at all. Notice the change in your brainwaves. It is an intense experience if you haven’t done it in a while. And I had not.
. . . back to the big camera and tripod.
We camped and hiked quite bit in Butano State Park, a lesser known State Park about an hour South of San Francisco. There is dense, moist rain forest just a few miles inland. Its a real contrast with the rocky coastline and a nice combination for hiking two distinctly different terrains. Bright yellow banana slugs are everywhere and you can also see strange salamanders and deer among the giant redwoods. The campground at Butano was Disney-esque. Our site was surrounded by big cartoonish looking trees that reminded me of Frontier Land. The sites had great shade and were isolated well from other nearby sites.
Photographers are amazing spenders of money. Its just something we excel at. Try everything in your power to skip the new lens, strap, bag, tripod or lighting kit and invest some money in travel. And turn your cell off. You’ll be glad you did!
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