Thursday, November 30, 2006

Road Pictures

Weekend Assignment #141: Do you enjoy traveling? Not the arriving and being where you're going, mind you; I'm asking if you enjoy the actual act of traveling from one place to another, by car or train or airplane or whatever. What I'm asking is if you enjoy the journey as much as you enjoy the destination.

Extra credit:
Any more travel planned for 2006, or are you home for good for the rest of the year?

In his answer to his own assignment, John Scalzi distinguishes between travel by car and travel by airplane. This seems reasonable, because they're very different experiences in some ways. I'd also like to mention a few other modes of transportation that affect the nature of the experience: bus, train, and ship. For me it breaks down like this:

Car: great for messing around and exploring along the way. I will usually do so when I'm the one driving. Even when I'm with John, we sometimes find ourselves driving through odd little towns like Gila Bend and Quartzsite, and imagining what life there is like. The downside is the travel time. Because we live so far west and John doesn't like to fly, I'm unlikely to get Back East to see my brother (and the A Christmas Story House and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) or my dad (and the Atlantic Ocean) or Manlius and environs unless I come up with both plane fare and the cost of a rental car, and go alone.

Airplane: fastest and best way to conquer long distances when you don't have a month to get there. Plane travel doesn't bother me at all, although it can be a bit boring and the layovers can be tedious. I like looking out the window, though, when there's anything to see. Trying to make sense of the landmasses below can be a rather challenging game. Perhaps I should use Google Maps to figure that stuff out.

Train: good for medium distances between cities, e.g. London to Liverpool or East Syracuse to New York City. Tucson to (for example) Washington DC, though, would be long, tedious and expensive, and there just isn't much train service Out West any more because of the distances involved and the economics of train travel in the 21st century.

Ship: another mode with a motion sickness issue, but it can be fun. I was on the Oceanic with my mom several years before Premier Cruise Line went under after 9/11.

Bus: a little tedious and depressing. A long ride, little personal control over the where and when, and motion sickness can be a problem.

My favorite? Clearly, for most purposes, I prefer to

Travel by Car

I don't mind flying,
Trains can be cool,
Bus rides are trying
(Whether Greyhound or school).
Boats make me queasy,
But driving is easy.
Put me in a car,
And give me some time.
If it's not awfully far,
I'll get lost, I'll explore,
And still wish for more.
That's the journey sublime!
(And the last of this rhyme.)

This is what I do the most of, but not nearly as often any more as in yesteryear. Too bad, because much as I like Tucson, after a while I start to feel there's a three-mile-long leash that keeps me from straying too far from Wilmot Road.

Still, I did get away from Tucson four times this year, and I'm very happy about that, because some years I never leave town at all. Every one of these trips was by car, and every one of them involved the taking of at least one picture en route:

The Sedona-Los Alamos Trip

Sunset Point
Pronghorn near the VLA

The destination was Los Alamos, but I took the scenic route going up, and an eight hour side trip coming back. This added considerably to my travel time - and my enjoyment. Even though I was alone except in Los Alamos itself, I really didn't find any part of the drive tedious, except for the long drive from one end of Tucson to the other, on my way out of town. There was always something interesting going on: impending sunset at Sunset Point rest area, surprising radio stations, mountains and rivers, cross winds and dust devils, construction zones and choices of routes, billboards and odd roadside attractions. Even the annoyance of not being able to find the turnoff for the Very Large Array in New Mexico led to my driving past and through a herd of pronghorns on the way back to the highway.

The Harlan Ellison Day Trip

In deference to concerns about showing kids in online photos,
here's a shot with the father (left) but not the son.

In May I made a day trip to a hotel in Tempe, Arizona to attend the Nebula Awards Weekend, where my old acquaintance Harlan Ellison was accepting the Grand Master Award. On the way up I stopped at Picacho Peak and enjoyed a little roadside kitch. On the way back (I think this was aroud midnight) I observed a father and his little boy at an Inn-N-Out Burger. They're building one of these places in Tucson, finally.

The Pizza with Sarah Trip

Picacho Peak at sunset, as seen from the driver's side mirror
while foolishly diving south on a rather pointless access road.

A week after that, I drove back to Tempe to finally meet Sarah K. in person, having known her for over a decade online. I thoroughly researched the pizza place we went to in Scottsdale, but it was a disappointment. On my way back, I took one of my favorite sunset photos ever, not because of the sunset itself so much as the framing of Picacho Peak in my side mirror.

The Disneyland Trip

Windmills, right around sunset I think, powering a casino.

Cypresses near Buckman Springs rest area,
where we nearly always, um, rest.

Our last trip for this year (so much for the Extra Credit!) was to Disneyland in October. Unless I'm forgetting something, this was my only out of town trip with John this year. Even though the Southern Route (I-10 to I-8, go to San Diego and turn north), the Northern Route (I-10 to somewhere around San Bernardino at least) and the Hybrid Route (I-8 to the Gila Bend turnoff and north to I-10) are pretty familiar territory after 20 years of trips to Disneyland and Universal Studios and Hollywood Book and Poster, I still pull out the camera while John drives, and try to catch a mountain pass or the morning fog or a bank of windmills or whatever else is interesting along the way.

Um, what was the question? Oh, yes. You betcha: I like the journey very much--especially with camera in hand.


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Carly said...

Oh Karen :)

These are among your very best photos this year! truly hon...breathtaking! :)

DesLily said...

well it's a certainty that you can't take pictures like that from an airplane!

CruiseHeaven said...
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