By my estimation, I’m now approximately eleven billion dollars into my Armchair Game Show championships. This is, of course, an estimate based on years and years of at-home playing (and experiments with the decimal point).
When I was in college, I was called to go to an in-person audition in St. Louis for a popular trivia game show. Being the armchair genius that I thought I was, I envisioned a forthcoming glamorous trip to California and rubbing elbows with game show hosts as I watched my opponents go home with the dreaded “parting gifts.”
Instead, I felt like I was hit by the “IT-LOOKS-SO-MUCH-EASIER-ON-TV” train. Oh, and they gave me a free ink pen in exchange for my crippling dose of reality check.
It hasn’t stopped me, though. I’ve probably taken dozens of audition tests over the years for different trivia shows here and there. And I’m absolutely positive that some of you are thinking, “When is she gonna get it? If it hasn’t happened by now, why bother?”
Well, there are a few ways to explain that one:
I know a lot of useless facts I’d like to put to actual use.
Speaking of Nos. 1, 2, and 4…I’m always trying to find some interesting photography subjects. (Nice segue, right? I thought so. I wouldn’t have written it otherwise. Besides, I’m stubborn–see Nos. 1, 2, and 4–and I had to figure out a way to work photography into my little story here. I figured some of you would be expecting pretty pictures.) Quite often, as I have written about in the past, I need look no further than my own backyard. Here’s another one from my series of “fence posts.”
Honestly, I was too stubborn that day to go beyond the backyard, but nature helped me out a bit with this one.
After all, I needed to be close enough to the television to continue my mythical game show winning streak.
I have decided that I shouldn’t talk about much of anything for a while, lest the topic become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I had a conversation recently about being stuck briefly in an elevator when I was ten years old, then I proceeded to check into a hotel last week with an elevator issue that eventually caused a baker’s dozen of my colleagues to spend close to an hour–you guessed it–stuck in an elevator. (They’re fine, and I’m glad they’re fine. I’m also glad I wasn’t with them, though.)
My next conversation had to do with my memory. I have a very strong autobiographical memory. It’s not something I can explain, and it’s not Marilu-Henner-style perfect, but it’s pretty good. However, I did mention–during two separate conversations about the issue–that I can misplace my keys just as easily as the next person. Laugh, snicker, chuckle. I was quick to recall that the last time I had locked myself out of the house was in 1998, when I didn’t have the option of grabbing a cell phone to call anyone for help. That afternoon, I tried the credit card trick…something I had only seen in movies. I was shocked when the door popped right open. I ran in the house, grabbed my keys, and I was on my way.
Yes, I was on a nearly twenty-year winning streak when it came to locking myself out of the house.
That is, until this morning.
Yep, I finally did it. Walked right out the front door, pulled it shut behind me, and immediately realized where my keys were…on the sofa. The credit card trick wasn’t going to work on this one. This time, though, I had a cell phone, sent a few messages, and found a locksmith.
This whole situation brought me to two conclusions:
My memory isn’t good for anything more than a side-show attraction at social gatherings, and…
I’m in the wrong business. Locksmiths make good money. And for good reason.
You can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be paranoid about where my keys are tomorrow morning.
On the photography front…I haven’t taken many new photos lately, but I did catch a pretty nice sunset a few weeks ago.
I think I’ll take the camera out again this evening, though, to try to let this Monday-est of Mondays drift away…
In the interest of not having to do any more math, I’m going to use this post to wrap up my Road-Trip-a-Palooza Adventure Quest 2017.
Just in case you’re late to this here party, I started out in Arkansas, drove from one end of Tennessee to the other, twisted and turned through portions of North Carolina, drove across South Carolina and stopped for a spell in Charleston, then took myself down the coastline through Georgia to Vero Beach, Florida. (You go, girl.)
Now I had to get myself home.
I’ll admit, though, it was tough to leave the photography opportunities…
I decided that the best way to do this was the more direct route, so I set out for Atlanta on Day One of the return trip (which was actually Day Sixseven-ish of the total days on vacation? I think? Math…help me out, here.).
The Florida Turnpike. From what I understand, the sections I traveled have the some of the longest expressway distances between exits in the country. (My bladder agreed.) You find fun wherever you can on long drives. So, naturally, I chuckled when I got on the turnpike at a little place called Yeehaw Junction.
I probably looked like a total amateur stepping out of my car at the service plazas with my toll ticket in my hand. I refused to let go of it. For starters, it said “Yeehaw Junction,” and I was still getting a kick out of that. (Yep, I’m from Arkansas, the land that gave us towns named Turkey Scratch and Possum Grape…but I still got a kick out of Yeehaw Junction.) Secondly, I didn’t want to pay any more than I had to at the tollbooths. If it was in my hand, I wasn’t losing it. Case closed. (For the record, I didn’t lose it. You go, girl.)
I made it through Florida by the noon hour, and I pulled off the now-interstate for another scrumptious highway hamburger in Georgia. The conversation at the drive-thru windows made me believe that I was being mistaken for someone else.
First Window: That’ll be $7.05.
Me: (Handing over crisp ten-dollar bill.) Here’s a ten.
First Window: Here’s your change…and your Coke. Thank you. See you tomorrow.
Me: Thank you…o…kay…
Second Window: (Server hands me my bag-o-burger-and-fries.) Here you go, ma’am. Thank you. See you tomorrow.
Me: (Quizzical look on face.) Thank you?
(I didn’t see them tomorrow. I know that has to be part of their training, but it still threw me for a loop. Very friendly, though.)
Georgia. Lots of Georgia. Warm. Very warm.
Signs. Fun signs.
I mentioned that it was warm, very warm in Georgia. Indeed, the temperature had risen quite a bit during the day and when I was about forty miles outside of Atlanta…on a Thursday afternoon at RUSH HOUR, my tire light came on. I did what any independent, skilled traveler would have done.
I called my mommy.
The car hadn’t been doing anything funny (as far as I could tell…with the exception of the navigation system misinterpreting practically everything I said). As we talked, I formulated my plan for when I stopped at the hotel. I knew I’d be able to make it that far since I couldn’t really spot any significant problem. As luck would have it, my hotel was situated on a road lined with every single car dealership you can imagine, and I was informed that the hot weather had indeed been the culprit behind the lighting of the tire light. Disaster averted.
So, I stopped in Atlanta, had dinner, went swimming, fell asleep, woke up, and fed my inner news nerd before heading home. I’ve been to Atlanta in the past, but there was one place I’d never been and I had to see it:
After a morning of some tourist-type stuff in Atlanta, I headed back to my regularly scheduled time zone, meandering my way through Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. I regret that I did not devote more time on this part of the drive to photography, but I was really starting to get exhausted and ready to be home.
My first and only layer of windshield bugs piled up on the very last hour of the trip. It was then that I knew I was home.
I said this would be Part Three-ish, but I tried to explain how terrible my math skills are in a previous post. So, I went with a classic…
Anyway, I ended yesterday’s story by reaching my vacation destination–Vero Beach, Florida. As I wrote two-ish/threeve days ago, my goal was to see new places on my way to a state I have visited many times. Since I’ve seen Florida many, many times, I wasn’t as terribly disappointed by the weather as I might have been if I’d never seen the ocean. (It rained. Quite a bit. However, I’ve been in the Sunshine State as hurricanes and tropical storms have churned off the coast, so the rain wasn’t as difficult to deal with as it could have been.)
Plus…stormy weather actually makes for some pretty good photography opportunities.
The weather wasn’t bad all the time, though, and I was able to join my friend for plenty of outdoor dining opportunities overlooking the water. I also took a few walks along the beach. The water was much too cold for my taste, but the scenery was just fine.
Have I mentioned that I was still arguing with the navigation system in the car? I’m telling you, it wasn’t therapeutic in the least to try to talk sense into that thing. Vero Beach covers a lot of territory. A1A felt a lot like a Flintstones cartoon at times…you know, where Fred is operating his highly inconvenient Model Foot SUV and the houses in the background start repeating themselves. Well, not only were the houses repeating themselves, but Miss Navigator was getting really good at telling me to “make a U-turn at the next intersection.” I finally just decided that I’d make things easier on myself. If I wanted to go to the ocean, I’d pull up my compass app on my phone and head east. When I hit water…bingo! DESTINATION. Take that, Ferdinand Magellan!
I spent the better part of the three days I was there driving around, exploring, walking on the beach, eating seafood (fish tacos…shrimp tacos…fish tacos), and, of course, feeding my photography addiction.
After a few days in Vero Beach enjoying a visit with a dear friend and doing vacation-y stuff, it was time to make the trek back home. I had opted for the more direct route driving back, meaning that I would have to deal with–cue the ominous music–the turnpike.
Driving home is another story for another day…or two-ish…
(Okay, so I said I’d be breaking this adventure into three-ish parts. I’ve also said–numerous times–that math isn’t my strong suit, so you’ll have to wait for Part Foursomethingorother for the quasi-exciting conclusion.)
*Once again, if you would like a print of the Vero Beach Sea Oats, the link to purchase is below:
We’re now up to Day Two (wait…it might be Day Three, depending on whether or not the first day of travel really counts, but since I’ve already counted it for the purposes of my story even though I’ve driven to Nashville lots of times, we’ll call it Day Two/Three).
Day Two/Three started out early, but not quite as early as Day…umm…the previous day. (Math. Darn that math.) The reason it started out so early is because I had driven myself into a traffic and parking nightmare in and around Charleston, South Carolina on a Saturday evening. I never quite made it to Folly Beach, although I did buy the t-shirt. So, if you see me in my Folly Beach t-shirt, it’s slightly false advertising.
I woke up early so that I could see the sights in less-crowded conditions. Not only did that part work, it also meant that I was able to capture some sunrise photographs.
With the second third of my trip down to Florida finished, it was time to start my third third. (Math again. Ugh.) It’s worth mentioning that I left the road map stuff up to my new car’s navigation system instead of burning data from my phone. Any time I wandered off the beaten path, the car would try to calmly talk me out of it. I would try to tell her (yell at her) that I was hungry or needed to buy gas, but she kept talking. She was very persistent. As further proof that she needs to work on her listening skills, however, she would occasionally say, “Pardon?” as I was SCREAMING addresses and ZIP codes at the top of my lungs.
My third third took me along the East Coast all the way to Vero Beach. When I reached Savannah, Georgia, I decided I wanted to see Tybee Island. In particular…the lighthouse. I grew more than a tad worried about my navigation system when she sent me out on a road that felt like one small step above gravel…and then I saw a HUGE cable suspension bridge in the distance that I was supposed to cross. (For the umpteenth time…I HATE HEIGHTS. Yes, I realize the irony of this statement coming from someone who was crossing that bridge to see a lighthouse, but you can admire a lighthouse from the ground.)
The signage directing traffic to the lighthouse from the main highway is a bit obscure; my esteemed not-such-a-good-listener-navigator sent me to an RV park before I decided to stop listening to her and look for the little turtle signs. I was in for another surprise once I found the lighthouse. I paid my admission fee, and the guy that was working at the booth told me that the “admission fee also gets you into Battery Garland across the street.”
“Battery what?” I asked.
After that stop, it was on to the Sunshine State!
Haha, right. I didn’t go through any rain on that ENTIRE DRIVE until I was about twenty miles from the Florida state line. From there, it was intermittent rain for the rest of my trip.
I somehow managed to make it through Jacksonville with my bumpers in tact, although the “new car” smell was finally beginning to fade with each fresh hamburger. After a few more hours of driving, though, I’d finally made it somewhere that I’d be staying for more than one night…Vero Beach! And…it was time to check out the water.
I’m getting exhausted just recalling the driving part of this whole expedition. I think I’ll take a break. Up next…Part Three-ish!
Back in the spring, I started thinking about taking a road trip as a way to see some different places and get some new photography experiences under my lens. A friend had graciously offered to let me stay with her in Florida for a few days, and she also offered a suggestion:
“Take the long way.”
Naturally, I asked her, “What’s the long way?”
You see, Arkansans tend to flood the same stretches of the Gulf Coast each summer (although I did pick a less-frequented area of the panhandle last year just to see something new and avoid the high-rises…and it was worth it…but I digress…). I was headed to the Atlantic side this time, which is quite a trek by road from here. So, the long way could have been anything from a practical, direct route to taking a slight detour through Niagara Falls.
Once she described the possible route, my resourcefulness kicked in and the little hamster wheel in my brain began turning. (That thing can get going pretty fast when an idea materializes. The poor little imaginary hamster gets quite a workout.)
In photography, one of the basic guidelines of composition is the rule of thirds. Essentially, when you are deciding on where to place a subject in a photo, you think of the space as a grid divided into thirds (both horizontally and vertically, creating a tic-tac-toe type of setup). This keeps you from placing virtually all of your subjects–by default–in the center, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but your results are more interesting and varied by using the rule of thirds.
I decided to compose my trip in a similar manner, breaking the long way to the Treasure Coast into thirds. (I’m also breaking my account of the trip into three-ish parts. We’ll call this…Part One-ish. Oh, and my eventual destination was Vero Beach, Florida.)
I left on a Friday afternoon. The first third of my trip was a relatively short one–Nashville, Tennessee. I love Nashville. I love Tennessee. I’m going to do a better job next time, though, of leaving the house on “not-weekends.” Had it not been for a sleeve of Saltines being within easy reach, I probably would have starved before I made it to my brother’s house that night.
(The words “I-left-on-a-Friday-afternoon” should help you figure out the traffic situation.)
I’ve made the trip to Nashville many, many times. Going east of Nashville, however, was new territory for me. And that was part of the plan that I had meticulously written out on a sheet of paper listing all of the places I wanted to stop and see.
I left at five o’clock the next morning on the second third of the trip (driving EAST directly into the SUNRISE…big mistake…ouch), and that sheet of paper lasted until somewhere near Asheville, North Carolina. Once you’ve been tied up in Saturday traffic at every possible interstate interchange, looked at your gas gauge and (unfortunately) picked the exit that had less amenities than the next one three miles down the road, and gotten hungry twenty-seven more times than you expected, you just start wanting to get where you’re going. I did, however, LOVE the scenery in Eastern Tennessee/Western North Carolina…even if I didn’t have the chance to take very many photographs of it.
I continued driving with my meandering destination for the day being Charleston, South Carolina. When I drove into South Carolina, I stopped again and took in the scenery (and a few brochures). Very friendly welcome center, lovely views.
By the way, every single convenience store I stopped at was selling fidget spinners at the checkout. I overheard one mother in South Carolina telling her child that he did not need a fidget spinner, and I wanted to thank her on behalf of grownups everywhere, but I was too tired to do anything other than pay for my coffee.
In typical “me” fashion, I ended up rolling into Charleston in the early evening on a Saturday night. Many of the locations I had wanted to visit and tour were closed, so I had to save my photography for the next morning.
Did I ever see some beautiful photo opportunities the next morning, even if they weren’t on my original list…
Coming up in Part Two-ish…the third third of the trip to Florida. (Can someone help me with my math? I’m getting confused.)
*Some of the prints from this post are available in my Etsy shop:
I recently placed an order for a couple of new lens hoods to fit my relatively new camera lens. I am happy to report that they arrived in a timely manner, packed neatly into a lightweight box.
I open up a box I’m expecting to receive, knowing exactly what is supposed to be in it, and I find exactly what I should find.
So, you’re probably asking yourself one question.
What’s the story here?
(I’m only assuming you’re asking that question. You might just be skimming through this blog post as a way to pass the time. You might not be paying much attention at all, which means I could type anything and you wouldn’t really read it. I could go on a poor spelling spree and you wouldn’t even notice. I would notice, though, so I won’t do it. Moving on…)
Here’s the story.
One of my favorite parts of ordering online is the anticipation of receiving a very useful by-product (of sorts) of shipping.
To put it simply, half the fun is opening up the box to pop the bubble wrap.
I was highly satisfied with my lens hoods, but slightly disappointed in the packing material:
I believe that the greatest packing material ever invented is bubble wrap. Bubble wrap does its intended job very well, but it also has a remarkable capacity to act as a stress-relieving agent.
You ever notice that if you spend a lot of money on a gift for a kid, they usually end up ignoring the big-ticket item and spend a few hours playing with the box? That’s kind of how I feel about bubble wrap. I haven’t actually tried popping the air pillows, but I just don’t think it’s going to be as much fun. Besides, there were only something like seven air pillows in the box. Bubble wrap is packaged in increments of gazillions.
Say, do you think the bubble wrap manufacturers ship bubble wrap wrapped in…bubble wrap? Is that another “divided-by-zero” paradox that could destroy the universe?
Maybe it’s just time for me to go use the lens hoods.
Looking for photography opportunities is always on my mind. I’ve begun carrying my camera everywhere just in case I come across an idea for a great shot. My mind seems to function as a lens, with composition being the first consideration.
(Let’s face it, I catch myself thinking of my windshield as the lens. Bug splatter drives me crazy in that respect.)
Lately, I haven’t ventured too far from my backyard for a series of photos that I call my “fence posts.”
I don’t always have the time to get in the car and drive somewhere to scout out a good sunset location when I realize a really good sunset is happening. (Photography isn’t my full-time job; by the time I get home in the evening I sometimes have just enough energy to scout out a good location to collapse. My sofa usually wins. It’s close to the door.) I have a pretty tall privacy fence that does its job quite well, but it obstructs the view. So, I decided to take advantage of it and look at the sunsets and cloud formations from a different perspective.
Springtime cirrus clouds–that was a big win. Wispy is always a good look on the sky. And you don’t have to go far to find them when they happen.
Sometimes, the clouds are secondary and the impression of the colors stand out in the shot. Photography is interesting like that.
Different angles also make a shot more compelling. When you’re pressed for space, again, you have to get creative.
As I mentioned earlier, photography opportunities are everywhere…even when you think you don’t have many different ways to approach subjects. Just take a good look around and you’ll be surprised. I don’t suppose I’d be calling myself the Meticulously Observant Observer if I didn’t observe these kinds of things.
And try not to collapse on the sofa for too long. Taking a photo is a little tough while you’re face down and drooling after a long day. (That’s more of a reminder for myself. Do you hear that, self? Get movin’!)
In February, I said that Arkansas was in the middle of an alternative winter.
In March, Arkansas finally experienced winter-winter.
It’s a similar pattern that we’ve been following for a few years now. Last year was the exception; however, in general, we have begun to expect winter to give us one final show just as the trees really start to bloom.
When I saw the forecast, I knew it would be an interesting time for photography.
After all, I’d been walking around in mid-February carrying my jacket over one arm. The daffodils have come and gone in some places over the past two weeks or so. (I suppose you could say they are already pushing up daisies. Okay, I know…that little joke was bad. I can do better than that. I promise I’ll try harder next time.)
So, naturally, the tornado warnings earlier in the week and the impending Daylight Savings Time switch had to be surefire signs that a couple of inches of snow would be on the ground by Saturday night.
It’s Arkansas physics.
Having lost an hour already on Sunday morning, I still decided it was in my best interest to wake up a little earlier than normal to take photographs of the snowfall before it melted.
It turned out to be a very good decision. By mid-afternoon, most of the snow was gone, but I had a successful morning of photography…numb fingers and all.
I hope this was winter’s last big show for the year, because it’ll be hard to top that.
I’ve heard of plenty of people who claim to live with no regrets, but I’m not sure I completely believe them. Not only that, but I’ve been thinking (a.k.a. confusing myself) about a bigger question when it comes to regret:
Which do you regret more? The things you didn’t do…or the things you did?
Decorative wall art pieces are full of inspirational quotes about taking chances because living with the regret of not doing something can eat away at your soul (or something like that).
However, how often do you see bathroom wall art telling you about the other side of that sentiment? (One would think the bathroom is a logical place to regret something you did do…like ordering tainted meat for dinner. Too much information? Sorry. I regret sharing that thought with you now. See? I regret something I just did. But I digress…)
It really is an interesting question (particularly for someone as meticulously observant as myself).
Now, I’m not talking about the really big decisions like moving to another continent or dropping everything to become a professional boxer (or something like that). I’m talking about the everyday decisions we make that usually aren’t the decisions the wall artists are writing about.
I say that we need to examine the basic stuff you regret actually doing almost immediately…even when your gut says, “Take a chance!”
Say, how about a list?
Simple Things That People Usually Regret Once They Have Already Done Them:
New Haircuts/Hairstyles. EVERYONE has at least one regrettable decision they’ve made about a haircut or style. Mine was a perm. I was sixteen. My hairdresser tried to stop me, but I was being stubborn. It wouldn’t be the first or last time I made a questionable hair decision.
2. Fashion Choices. You only thought whatever was “in style” looked good at the time because, by golly, a magazine told you it was “in style.”
3. Playing With A Small Animal With Sharp Teeth. Just go ahead and add this to your list of stuff you will regret immediately if you do it. I have no photographic evidence of this one, but I was five, the hamster bit my finger, I wasn’t supposed to be playing with him in the first place, and I tried to doctor the wound without telling anyone. (Mercurochrome was bright red. I didn’t do a very good job of hiding that little problem.)
Without getting too sentimental, I will say that I have taken a chance on at least one thing I do not regret and I’m glad I’m working on it…photography. I also don’t regret this shameless plug for my Etsy photography shop.
I get it–everyone has something major in their life that they feel they need to do in order to avoid regret for not taking the chance later. But, you have to admit, you’ve probably made plenty of small decisions that leave you with small pieces of regret.
As long as they’re funny enough to laugh at later, maybe it isn’t such a bad idea to take the chance.
(By the way, I don’t regret writing this. Not yet, anyway. I don’t think. Maybe. Possibly. Potentially.)