When I was a kid, my parents were huge fans of The Road Trip. On a few occasions over the years, my father would insist on flying our family from Trinidad to the United States, renting a car, piling my sister Natalie and I into the back seat, and driving us through places with lofty names like "New England." Or "The Southeastern Seaboard." Or, you know, "Kansas."
Natalie and I were never as enthusiastic about these trips as my father was.
In our view, there was nothing quite so boring as looking out the window of a speeding car, just to see a blur. The worst part was that my father never took meandering trips anywhere, or trips filled with plentiful stops to do child-friendly activities in quaint local towns that my sister and I might find entertaining. Oh no, there was a certain number of miles that we needed to cover each day, and by God, come hell or high water, Dad was going to make that number. "Look, kids! Sea World!" he'd exclaim, as we sped by. And then, when we'd get to our destination to spend a day or so, the main point of interest on our itinerary, the place where he'd want us to spend hours of our time, was usually somewhere like ... Yale University. Now, with all due respect to those of you who are Yale students or alumni, while Yale is certainly and indisputably a beautiful campus, it is hardly a hotbed of fun for a 9-year-old and a 4-year-old, respectively. My father didn't care, though. He soaked it all in, excitedly proclaiming how "good for us" these trips were.
Natalie and I did a lot of reading in the car during those days.
Anyway, as a result, I've remained skeptical of The Road Trip, always preferring instead to show up wherever we want to be as fast as possible, thus maximizing the amount of time at the destination. I have, however, married a consummate roadtripper, and this whirlwind visit to New Mexico (which left very little time for sightseeing) seemed perfect for taking the long way back to the Albuquerque airport from Santa Fe, along a scenic highway rather romantically called "The Turquoise Trail." So when Marcus suggested we do so, I resignedly agreed.
However, on this particular road trip, unlike when I was 9, I had my camera with me.
As we went along, I realized that I was actually beginning to enjoy myself. You see, though we don't talk about it much, Marcus is quite a photographer himself; not only that, he's far better at scenery shots than I ever will be (to wit, exhibit A: this amazing image of a glacial lake he took in Canada several years ago). So as we were driving, we were both looking for spots to pull over and shoot, noting the light, colours and contrast on the way. Just like when I've used my macro lens to look closely at boring flowers to find their beauty (I'm lookin' at you, carnation), this weekend I feel like I finally discovered that looking closely at great expanses through the lens of my camera gave me a whole new perspective as well.
The drive was, dare I say, fun.
As we pulled over at various scenic stops along the way, I began imagining what it might be like to be from a place that looked like this, where dry air and cactus and tumbleweeds and low, sparse brushes felt "normal." It was so hard to imagine, since it's so different from where we currently live in green, humid Houston, not to mention where I grew up in Trinidad. And as I was standing there, thinking these deep thoughts and looking out toward the horizon, a small voice from inside the car called out, shaking me from my reverie:
"Mom? Dad? Can we go now?"
Images: Photographed with Nikon D300, 24-85mm zoom lens