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“The best way out is always through.”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Indulge Your Wanderlust

I love to travel. In fact, as much as I like hanging around the house and poking around my garden on a summer day, there is no single thing I'd rather do with my time than see other places. I think I can lay the blame for this on my mother who also loved to travel and who handed me a copy of John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley when I was about 15 and looking for something interesting to read. The book, which remains one of my all-time favorite reads, documents several months that Steinbeck spent wandering the back roads of America at age 58 to get back in touch with the country and the people that he had been writing about for so long.

In his travels, Steinbeck avoided interstates and major named routes and instead traveled the "blue highways," the roads that crisscrossed America before the major routes were built. While he had a general idea of where he was headed, he more or less made up the trip from day to day. Photographically, that is my favorite way to see a place--to just throw a cooler of food in the trunk, ignore the maps as much as possible and go where the road takes me. (Fortunately I have a girlfriend that is just as much of a back-road wanderer as I am.)

I'd never been to the Amish are of Pennsylvania before when I took the above photo. We'd spent a few days at Longwood Gardens south of Philadelphia and just decided to explore the Amish farms on the way back to New England. Most of the roads in that area didn't even show up on the maps, so we just drove until we hit a head end or we intersected another road (one of the main towns in the area is called Intercourse--named, I assume, after a joining of roads). We spent one very long day driving past the most beautiful farms I'd ever seen, buying fresh produce from farm stands and just relishing a landscape without commercialism. The area is so photogenic that I was finding great photos in all directions; I shot hundreds of pictures in one day. We never looked at a map until the late began to fade and we started looking for the highway north.

When you plan your summer vacation this year, work in a few days to indulge your wanderlust. Some of the best photo locales in the world are in the places you only discover by exploring.

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