The Road Less TraveledA country road in Pinkham Notch (White Mountains, New Hampshire) A great way to get to know a new area is to explore side roads. Back roads. Off-the-beaten-path roads.
Maybe not in the literal sense: that's not necessarily such a great idea. It's good to have a general understanding of where you are in relation to the broader environment. But sometimes there's nothing better than heading down a road when you have no clue where it leads. It can be like a treasure hunt.
That's how I got to know the White Mountains and Great North Woods of New Hampshire. I'd only been to the Granite State maybe five times before I Notice MeCrawford Notch State Park, New Hampshire moved there - and those had been brief visits primarily to the Seacoast. So my camera and I would head up north and go exploring. Notice a little side road? Take it. Over time I found all sorts of things, including some great shortcuts.
Occasionally I picked up useful information from people I'd meet along the way, like one late afternoon when I was in a field shooting wildflowers and two bicyclists stopped to chat. They gave me a great tip about a carpet of wild daisies in full bloom they'd seen earlier that day and told me how to get there.
I used the same method to became familiar with Eastern Idaho and Western Wyoming. My hair stylist here spends a lot of time in the great outdoors so she's always interested to hear about where I've been shooting locally. Maybe a year after I moved to the area, as I was telling her about one of my random photographic adventures, she laughed and said, "I grew up around here and already you know the place a lot better than I do."
If you're a landscape photographer, I highly recommend secondary roads. Who knows what sorts of treasures one of these detours may yield? Going where others don't is a good way to find opportunities to make unique images. It's also a good way to get away from crowds.
You don't have to be a transplant to try this. You can get lost in a place you might think you already know. I grew up in Northern Illinois and remained there through my early adult years. Apparently I didn't wander enough back in the day! I've made quite a few discoveries in recent years while tooling around on rural highways way up in the northernmost part of the state (and into southern Wisconsin).
There can be some real gems off the beaten path.
In Local News
Right on cue, April's high winds arrived last weekend. If you read the last post and thought I was exaggerating...au contraire. Mother Nature was just getting warmed up on Saturday with sustained winds in the neighborhood of 28mph and gusts into the 40s. That was windy enough to force the closure of Interstate 15 due to poor visibility (blowing dust) but it was just the opening act.
By Monday the advisory was upgraded to a high wind warning and they weren't kidding. Sustained wind speeds escalated with gusts topping 60mph. The Interstate closed again. I tried to avoid looking out the window at my poor trees contorting wildly.
In the Teton Valley, violent winds blew The Spud Drive-In Theatre's giant screen to the ground on Monday night, shattering the supporting structure as if it were toothpicks.
The landmark 70-year-old outdoor theater just outside of Driggs, Idaho is listed on the National Historic Register, and both the screen and the wood structure (the latter having been fortified over the years) were original. The Spud was the last wood drive-in in the United States.
The owners intend to rebuild.
Fortunately Old Murphy and his wife, parked just outside in their 1946 Chevy loaded with a giant spud, survived unscathed.
Don't worry. Old Murphy and the Missus are potatoes. Still, I wouldn't have wanted to see anything happen to them. They're landmarks, too.
The windiest month of the year has blown into town.
Keywords: Driggs, Eastern Idaho, New Hampshire, Northern Illinois, photography, The Spud, White Mountains, wind
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