Moab, UT

There’s a line of people waiting to have their picture taken with the Delicate Arch. Couples in REI gear, families in matching sandals, teenagers in heavy metal t-shirts, and Europeans in black socks all queue in the middle of the desert. They stand behind an invisible “Please wait here” sign that was no doubt installed by the mom and pop photographers who are waiting to snap a calculated shot of their loved-ones that provides proof that they were here and the illusion that everyone else was not. Restless and impatient from the one-and-a-half-mile uphill hike—that was longer and more strenuous than perhaps anticipated—the line of people bob their heads and twist the balls of their feet into the rust-colored earth, each of them dancing before trotting over to the Arch to finally have their souvenir picture taken.

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I take seat away from the other photographers attempting to snap pictures of the Arch in the seconds between the people who come and go from it’s opening. Hot and fatigued, after a couple of failed shots I put my camera down. It’s overcast but the shady sky does little to cool the windless triple-digit climate and, perhaps against the wishes of the photographers and models, I pray that the sky will give into the rain.

I feel a tap on my shoulder and it’s a woman who I had seen earlier on the hike. She is also alone asks if I can take a picture of her with the Arch in the background and she volunteers to do the same for me. It’s the first and only picture on the entire trip that I have taken of me. After exchanging cameras, we both sit down near but not quite next to one another. Together we watch the groups of families and friends shuffle in and out of the Delicate Arch, and as we look on the rain begins to fall. 

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July 2011

See also: Utah: “Life Elevated” (posted 7/18/11)Moab, UT (posted 7/19/11) 

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Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC

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There’s an alligator cruising the waters at Magnolia Plantation and I’m not afraid of him. He glides by and for a minute I wonder if I’m supposed to follow some kind of evacuation procedure. But I’m unfazed, so I continue my stroll around the lake, proud of my calmness until I notice a spider web to my left, another to my right, and one above my head each with a spider the size of quarter in the middle. Then, I run away.

June 2011

See also: Charleston, SC (posted 7/4/11)

Savannah, GA

In Savannah it’s a 101° and my feet are swelling. I take a seat near a fountain and find myself thinking of ways I can jump in. I take my water bottle out of my bag, look to my left and to my right and pour the tepid water over my feet and Reef flip-flops.

“Now that’s a way to cool off.”

I look up and see a man coming around the fountain with a backpack slung on his shoulder and flannel shirt around is waist. He smiles and dips his hand in the fountain as he passes by. He caught me.

June 2011

See also: Savannah, GA (posted 6/30/11)

Hemingway’s House, Key West, FL

He asks if I know anything about cameras and if I can help him with the flash on his. For a second I think that he is feeding me a line and then I realize that I’m not his type. I help him with the flash and he asks if I want some company while touring the house. We walk behind the rest of the group, lingering in front of the oscillating fans and taking photos of the six-toed cats. In the gift shop he buys a book about writing and, per his suggestion, I buy the same one. I don’t have any interest in the book but rather the simple desire to buy a souvenir with someone. We leave the gift shop and shake hands. I learn his name is Brad, and then we say good-bye and turn in opposite directions.

June 2011

See also: Key West, FL (posted 6/26/11) 

New Orleans, LA

“How long have you worked here?”

“Thirty-nine years.”

-Bartender at Pat O’Briens

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“Can’t believe you’re leaving so soon. We didn’t have much time to talk with one another. …You  know, we’re always looking for kind, good people to work here. Young people–creative people– like yourself seem to really like it. You’d have a place to live and time to write. …You’re always welcome.”

-Dennis, owner of the St. Charles Guest House

June 2011

See also: Into Louisiana (posted 6/15/11) & New Orleans, LA (posted 6/17/11)

Fredericksburg, TX

Sat under this sign eating coconut ice cream.

The drive was nine hours of nothing. But in hour ten there were orchards and goats, a sunset and a moonrise, girls in cotton dresses and men in Stetsons, and a main street inundated with strands of white lights and guitar music. Someone should have taken my shoes so I wouldn’t have been able to leave.  

June 2011

See also: US-290, TX (posted 6/10/11) & Fredericksburg, TX (posted 6/11/11)

Salton Sea, CA

“…got out of my car only to find myself standing on the bones of some dead animal…”

“Slow. Children at play.”

The city had been so carefully planned. There were  green palm trees and  mailboxes framing the empty lots with the blue Salton Sea peaking in the distance like a mirage. There were streets that were named after popular beaches like Redondo, Manhattan, and Daytona. There were shore-themed streets that sounded like they should sparkle– Shore Isle Ave, Shore King Ave, Shore Jewel Ave., and Shore Life. And there were the generic coastal names like Rainbow Drive, Palm Ave, Sea View Avenue, and Desert Beach. It should have been beautiful.

June 2011

See also: “Salton Sea, CA” (posted 6/7/11)