Monday, November 5, 2012

The Road, Part 1

The road is what gets you to where you want to go, but it is also as much a part of the landscape as a mountain peak or a rustic barn. It's the ultimate "leading line" since as a driver, you have to keep your eye on it or trouble will ensue. It's also a good idea to look up and down the road to make sure you don't get run over when you stop to shoot something!

Roads have their own unique character, due to their construction and how they were laid out through the landscape. The more you travel them, the more you get to know them. You learn whether or not it's a good idea to travel them under given conditions, you learn where you should slow down before a tight curve, or where you can accelerate through one for fun. There can be a rhythm to the road, like a little dance you do with the steering wheel, brakes, and accelerator.

Gravel roads make fun dance partners because you can play the slide and make your drive more interesting. I'm not talking about swinging the rear end out...been there, done that...I'm just talking about a little bit of drift. When you run on uneven asphalt you have to constantly make corrections because your tires are grabbing every irregularity in the surface. On gravel, the stones make a cushion that takes the edge off of it. They're usually graded on a regular basis to they are mostly nice and flat.

I feel at home with the rumble of gravel under the tires. The more you know your road, the more fun you can have with it! When it comes time to stop for a photo-op, you can look up and down the road to see if it might make a nice shot. Sometimes that's all I see that's worth shooting, especially out in the open country.

 
An old shot, taken somewhere out in the Palouse. It looks like it could be the back side of the big hill just south of Rosalia, Washington.

 
Rangeland, which had been stripped of soil by ancient floods. I couldn't tell you the name of this road, but I keep stumbling back onto it every few years. Southwest of Cheney, Washington. The elevation of my vantage point and the hills in the distance show the former depth of the soil here.

 
To rework a phrase from an episode of Seinfeld: "Yes, it is real, and it is spectacular." Highway 21 between Wilbur and Odessa, Washington.

 
Stopped to take a shot of fall colours at Banks Lake, Washington.

 
Old US195, south of Plaza, Washington

 
I had stopped to check out a farmhouse, just off of old US195, south of Plaza, Washington

 
I came to the end of a summer road, looked up the main road and saw this. East of Fairfield, Washington 

 
It might be  good idea to wait a few minutes... Surface winds on the edge of a storm stir up the dust south of Wilbur, Washington.

 
Any more impact and this one would have knocked me over. South of Creston, Washington.

 
A runoff-rutted summer road east of Steptoe Butte. You'd better know your roads before you travel the summer roads. They can have some unforgiving mudholes in the low spots!

 
More impact, wast of Ritzville, Washington. Ah, the gravel road, running off to the horizon...pick up the pace but pay attention to the feel in the seat of your pants...you'll feel it when you're running "on top" of the gravel, if you know your road...and better back off a bit!

 
Back to asphalt, the road to Williams Lake, east of Sprague, Washington, nothing to block your view!

 
I had stopped to look at the light on some hills but didn't see a shot. Then I caught this view of the sun reflecting off of the tar on the road. It reminded me of a shot I saw in National Geographic, from Texas. This one is one of my personal favorites.

 
A shower and a remote road in the scablands near Lamont, Washington.

 
A schoolhouse west of Lamont, Washington, where the road goes from nowhere, to deeper nowhere, in the rangelands of Adams County.
 
More to come!




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