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The Forbidden Travel Game (slightly exaggerated)

When I was a kid I overheard my dad say “They must have followed a snake when they made that road.” This was back in the days before seatbelt laws and most cars were the size of battleships and the upholstery was made of vinyl. Road trips through the Appalachian Mountains were like a day at the park. Complete with a roller coaster ride that did not include any form of restraint for the passengers. Seatbelts were available, but the cars were built like tanks and seatbelts were thought to be unnecessary for backseat passengers. What that leads to however was the game of Crush.

For most families on the road there was nice games for kids in the back seat. Games of counting license plates and “I Spy” or even singing show tunes. But those were games you play with parents and grown-ups. Crush was the “Secret Game”. The one you hoped mom wouldn’t catch onto. Here’s how it’s played. First, you volunteer to help dad clean up the car. If you’re lucky it will be a 70s model Cordoba Station wagon with vinyl seats that is slightly less wide than the car is long. After the papers are picked up from the floor and the crumbs swept away from the corners it time for the Armorall on the dashboard. This is to “protect the interior from sun damage”. In my young mind I had figured out that the secret to the magic behind Armorall was that it was so slick that the sunlight slipped right off of it and thus could not damage the vinyl surface. I made sure that the backseat was well protected. The side effect of course was that without seatbelts those rollercoaster curves made it impossible for kids to stay put. If you haven’t guessed by now this meant that the laws of physics would dictate that boys riding in the backseat would be pressed against the outside of the curve and whoever is closest to that door gets crushed. It’s important for the brother doing the crushing to occasionally observe his brother’s face during the crushing. A nice shade of red is okay. There’s bonus points if his eyes bug out a little bit if they come loose you’re going to have to explain why to mom and dad so it’s not really worth running up the score. Keep in mind that the next curve is going to swing the opposite direction so take a deep breath while you can. It’s your turn next. Eventually the game breaks down and it’s just two brothers hanging on for dear life as dad navigates through the twists and turns. The boys often wind up looking like cartoon tumbleweeds as they roll and slide around in the back. Usually the game ends when one or both parents have had enough and seatbelts are declared to be non-optional. Once that happens there is exactly 4 minutes and 59 seconds of peace and quiet because preteen boys can’t be still for 5 minutes. The next words spoken is probably going to be…”SLUG BUG! 😉

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Tracking People And Making Decisions

Not that long ago I was fascinated with Tom Brown Jr and his books on tracking. His reputation in the wilderness survival community is unparalleled. He’s actually been a consultant for several Hollywood Movies and it’s been said that he can track your footsteps across a bare concrete floor and tell you what kind of mood you was in when you passed through. I was never anywhere near that good but even today I have a tendency to notice footprints and try to figure out what was happening when the tracks were made. People will often say that they talk with their hands meaning that they gesture a lot but believe it or not we also talk with our feet too. It’s a little more subtle but it’s there in one degree or another. For example, a person deep in thought might have a tendency to move his/her feet in semi-circles as if mapping out their options. As a lefthander I normally take longer strides with my left leg than I do my right. There’s a whole discipline of forensics dedicated footprints.

On a more philosophical note, I sometimes wonder what I would learn about myself if I look into the past and read my own tracks at key moments in my life. Especially those moments when I “built experience” ( AKA made the wrong decision). I’m willing to bet that I would see evidence of talking myself out of what I knew was the right choices. Search & Rescue trackers will often comment that they could tell that a person paused for an extended period facing the right path before turning and heading into danger. We can only see so far into the past but we can be active observers in the present. I don’t think it’s essential to base our decisions on our foot placement but if I catch myself hesitating towards a particular choice I know that I should probably investigate that choice a little closer before walking away from it. And of course ask myself if I’m just trying to take the easy way out for the wrong reasons.

The footprints in the feature image are not mine. They belong to a young lady who I stumbled upon just enjoying Cane Branch that feeds Cathedral Falls in Gauley Bridge. What do I think that her footprints say? They say “This a great place to enjoy life!”

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A Special Sunrise Over Long Point

The big blue truck slows to halt in the small parking lot. It’s still dark but the August morning air is already warm. The crickets are no longer chirping but the occasional cicada drones out in the ebbing darkness. After a few sips of coffee I set the break and begin unloading my gear. I was really on my way to photograph the one opportunity in my life for a solar eclipse but I had left with plenty of time for a few side trips. The sunrise over Long Point was shaping up to be a special one. I had all three cameras in place when the first rays of morning broke over the ridge. First was the reds and golds. As the light show progressed the colors shifted to pink and pale turquoise before becoming the deep blue that’s so familiar. I had read that at the time of an eclipse the light does unusual things but I didn’t expect a tropical sunrise. I took several pictures but this one from the T5 was the most unique. I had to be disciplined with my SD card because the main show was still several hours away. After packing up my gear back into the truck I sat in the cab and enjoyed a few more sips of coffee and continued to watch the sky change color as the sun made its appearance. Soon the colors settle into a normal sky and it’s time to head to the next stop. One more sip of my coffee and I pull back onto the highway.

The Explorer

I remember watching Mutual Of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom every weekend when I was a young boy. I wanted to be a famous explorer and wildlife biologist like Marlin Perkins Marty Stouffer or Jacques Cousteau. I would sit and watch them on t.v. for hours upon hours. I also had a healthy appetite for the world of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek and Johnny Quest. All of this came together in my young mind to form the view that the world was created just for the specific purpose of being explored and documented. All I needed was a ship, some technical gadgets and a crew of science guys. And oh yes, A few bodyguards. Johnny Quest was constantly getting into a tight spot and bad guys seem to target young explorers for some unknown reason. But I digress.

I suppose that the entertainment of my youth is where my desire to follow a stream like the one in the feature image until I just can’t go any farther. An exploration of anything is more than just reaching the goal. It’s taking the time to experience the quest. One of the most memorable moments of Wild Kingdom was when Perkins rode a monitor lizard through the water. Perkins wasn’t really a young man at the time but he often did things like that. Looking back I see that there must be two kinds of explorers. The goal oriented explorer who just wants to find the finish line and the experience oriented explorer who needs to be truly absorbed into the journey. I tend to gravitate towards the later. I find myself staring downstream from this spot wanting to pack as much gear as I can possibly carry and turn over every rock in the creek just to see what’s down there. So what if there’s no giant lizards to ride like Perkins did or cold war intrigues like Johnny Quest but there’s adventure none the less and the world was created just to be explored.

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More Things That A Little Bird Told Me.

Before I begin tonight’s post I want to apologize to my readers for not posting last night. Internet services were disrupted in my area and where I live there’s no cellular services available due to thick forests and mountains. Thank you for understanding.

The little bird landed ever so gently on the edge of the roof. “I have secrets ” he proudly announced. “And what secrets do bring today?” I replied. Now, for a little bird carrying secrets is a sacred duty. But if there’s anything they love more than telling secrets it’s haggling. “I don’t know ” The little bird said sheepishly. “They’re awfully good secrets but I missed the worm this morning and I’m just too weak to sing.” He continued while cocking his head sideways to get a better look at the crust on my peanut butter sandwich. Smiling in amusement at the little bird’s skillful negotiations, I began to toss pieces of the crust up to the roof. Soon after he finished his brunch he started to sing and this is what he said.

“The worst mistake that you’ll ever make is the one you didn’t learn from.”

I’m in agreement with the little guy. Everybody messes up but not everyone acknowledges the errors and makes changes the next time. “That’s a good one” I said to the bird.”Please continue.”

The little bird took a deep breath and said, “Instead of counting the days make every day count. You’ll have the same number of days but you’ll have more life in them because none are wasted.”

Once again the little bird seemed to hit the nail on the head. No matter if it’s work or play doing things with a thought out purpose and a full effort helps to make a happy life.

“Thank you little bird! But you got half of my lunch. You’ve got to give me at least one more secret.” I prodded while holding up my empty plate.

The little bird seemed to bob from side to side as if he was debating with himself about which secrets to yield. He hopped up and down the edge of roof the he looked right at me and said “The only way to fail is to give up. If you learn the first two secrets and follow the third you will eventually have a measure of success in everything as long as you don’t quit too early”.

“Excellent my little friend! Expect an extra crust of bread on the roof tomorrow morning!” I exclaimed. Now, it’s very difficult to tell if a bird is actually smiling because of the beak but his eyes did seem to be a little brighter as he lifted off and returned to his perch in the treetops.

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When It’s True Love

My heart still skips a beat when you walk into the room.

I’m still lost in your eyes.

I still tingle when you hold my hand.

I still dream about you all day.

I am now and always will be completely yours.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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Making Time Away From Clocks

As I make my way down the long wooden staircase that leads to the base of the falls I’m mentally transported to a different world. A place where there are no time cards. A world where the only clock is the arch of the sun and the day belongs to the one who lives in it. That’s really the trick isn’t it? To have a little more life in the day? As the water flows over the rocks at Blackwater Falls the roar of cascade overtakes the noisy parking lot on the canyon rim and the modern world is pushed farther away. It’s easy to see why the ancient world explained creation as being made from only four elements of Earth (The stone cliffs), Wind (The breeze coming off of the falls), Fire (The warm sun beaming down) and Water ( The river itself). These things were the most powerful forces in existence outside of God himself. I recently read a headline that said that doctors in Scotland were now prescribing exposure to nature as a medicine. I definitely concur with them. God in all of his love and wisdom created a perfect world for his children. Even in it’s current fallen state it still exists to nurture and sustain his children. It stands to reason that in order to be healthy we need a certain amount of unspoiled nature in our lives.

Once more I’m fully invigorated by my time out from the world of ticking clocks and constant bombardment of ads on T.V. and whatever other media is encountered in the modern era and it’s time to make my way back up the mountain.

Hello Friends and thank you for your support of my page. If you have enjoyed the photos or the writings please let me know by commenting and sharing my work on your social media. I also want to invite you to Follow Lloyds Lens Photography on Facebook

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