Category Archives: Road Trips

Abandoned but Welcoming

sideofhouseblurwebThere is no longer a front door, chimneys, mantels or window glass.You can almost picture a swarm of locusts descending and eating their way through the house.No locusts. Humans. Scavenger is a more appropriate word. The house beckoned from a roadside between Nashville and Memphis. I wish I could be more specific but when we road trip, we’re never exactly sure.Empty to the elements and those that felt they had a better use for the brick than the chimneys that once graced the home, it is a carcass. Stepping over the threshold, I could find glimpses of what the home might have been.Traces of color and scraps of wallpaper provided detail. The bird’s nest meant it still could provide shelter.Late afternoon sun warmed walls and door frames. I wondered what the former owners would feel to see it standing naked to the weather and abandoned to its fate.

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Neglected!

Somewhere on a back road in Mississippi, time worn wood and mottled brick give this building a patina of age.No longer speaking of use and purpose, it stands in dignified silence . Simply forgotten. Neglect sneaks up so quietly that it’s easily overlooked. Relationships may be taken for granted, friends and children are put off, gardens and homes, time for personal growth- all these fall prey to the demands of careers or needs of others.Vibrant dreams and plans grow threadbare and emptied if neglect grows unchecked.Taking a moment to really see things in their current state is the first step to protecting and reaffirming what’s important to us. There’s more to say, but I need to go call my mom…


Boneyard Beach, Big Talbot Island, FL.

 

Corpses litter the beach.Macabre yet stunning in their simplicity. Erosion is the guilty party. Stands of trees surrender onto the sand and are bleached into submission. Having read about the beach and its nickname, I couldn’t wait to find it. The task became more difficult than I expected because it has several names, and Boneyard Beach isn’t endorsed by the visitor center. It’s formal name is Black Rock Beach and finding it was well worth the communication issue. The December morning we visited, the deserted beach didn’t disappoint. The formations of trees and roots, those that lie in isolation and some entangled with others , took my breath away and made my camera tired. I might have stayed longer, but it’s the kind of place that will appear different the next time I visit. I didn’t want to feel greedy, as if I had taken too many photos and stopped experiencing the moment. Sometimes I need to remind myself how to do that.


What Remains Reminds Us

 

 

Entering Holly Springs, Mississippi on Route 7, you can’t help but notice a cluster of buildings that has struggled to survive. The remains of a mechanical college that dates back to the early 1900’s invite further inspection. A mixture of Victorian with Mansard roofs and ironwork to a newer auditorium building, the glimpses through vine covered windows tempt passersby. Having visited this campus for several years,one building is now a pile of rubble. Where books peeked out from a basement storage area, and glass shone in most windows, the buildings now stand forlorn while flocks of turkey vultures roost in the eaves and chimneys, The first time I disturbed them I was quite unnerved when more than twenty huge scrawny necked birds came swooping from the rooftop and began circling. Having no desire to reenact a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds, I tiptoed back out of sight.If you look closely at the chimney in the photo, several remain to stake their claim.There had to be something more useful to do with this property than let it slowly collapse onto itself. Unfortunately, it may be too late to try. The building in the bottom photo was damaged in a storm and is the rubble you see in the second photo. Somehow we have to learn not to be so shortsighted.


The End of the Road

 

Route 66 conjures memories and mysteries. A sense of romance and forgotten adventure travels what remains of the road from Illinois to California. Every time I’ve found bits of it to ride along, I look for defeated telephone poles,leftover motels and tourist sites as an archeologist seeks clues. While I have found a good number, I always thought it could be an unending adventure. Last weekend, on a family trip to Los Angeles, we found ourselves in Santa Monica. Reaching the iconic pier left me stunned when I realized we’d come to the end of Route 66. I expected more than a sign and a few handfuls of tourists. The road could not travel any further. It had reached the Pacific.It’s job was complete, but I still wanted more. Just selfish I guess.

 


Diner Love

I’ll admit I love diner food especially when I’m on a road trip.The aroma says come in and visit. The food keeps me there. Grilled cheese, milk shakes, bacon and eggs,and meatloaf and amazing pies are too hard to resist.I think there’s an unwritten rule that road trip food adds no calories.  My other reason for stopping  is that I can’t resist taking photos. The stools, booths, and people just call for attention and I can’t ignore them. It’s the lure of another time and the stuff from which movies and novels are made. Maybe when I grow up , I’ll prefer four star French restaurants but it’s hard to imagine. Foie Gras versus a milk shake? No contest!


Can You Kudzu?

The light in the forest shines on the vines as they swallow the trees whole.Beautiful, serene and a touch of the surreal. Kudzu. Growing during the night and during the day, it can cover 150,000 acres in a year. Brought to the United States from Japan for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. Admirers saw its beauty and planted it in their gardens. The U.S. Conservation Corps in the 1930’s planted it to stop erosion .It certainly worked, and more. Today across the south there are huge stands of kudzu along the roadsides. Animals can graze ,people make baskets from kudzu and some adventurous palates eat it. I like it because it makes for interesting photographs and stimulates the imagination.

Like clouds, if you look carefully you can see animals and other creatures in the kudzu. Can you find the ape and the giraffe? Enjoy! But be careful not to stand in one spot for too long!


Window Screen

An old church along the side of a country road wore white clapboard siding and soft blue hand carved trim. Most of the windows were open to the elements and wasps played in the breeze which ruffled the lace curtains. Reflections of a perfect fall sky and aging window screens created a pastel effect. Simple beauty remained for an explorer to find and savor.


Wooldridge Monuments: An Unwritten Novel

Driving into Maplewood Cemetery in Mayfield , Kentucky on a late summer afternoon, the shadows lengthened. A perfect time to explore the monument that has stood silently for over a hundred years.  A novel remains buried here. The story of our protagonist, a horse trader by the name of Colonel Henry G. Wooldridge, involves lost love, ego and loneliness.

Wooldridge, a lifelong bachelor, lost the last of his three sisters in 1892. Her death begins his quest to build a monument to himself and his family. Over the next seven years, local sculptors carve the images of his brothers, Alfred, Josiah and W.H. There is a statue of Colonel Wooldridge on his favorite mount Fop, as well as his two dogs and a random deer and fox for them to chase.

The story focuses on the women. Legend says that Wooldridge remained a bachelor after his young love, Minnie, died in a riding accident. You need to wonder about Minnie’s pull on him. Was she beautiful, gentle and loving? Did he give her the horse as a gift and grow unable to handle the guilt? Minnie is included in the party of statues ,but a family Bible and other records indicate she is his niece and not focus of the love story. What will the author decide?

The other women in the group include his mother Keziah, nieces Maud and Minnie, and sisters Minerva, Susan, and Narcissa. Did Susan’s character match her uninspired name? Did Narcissa live up to hers? Was Minerva an enchantress? Great characters for our unwritten story.

As you view the detail of the statues , you admire the craft and artistry of the sculptors. All of the pieces were done locally except for the man standing taller than the rest who is made of marble and carved in Italy, Wooldridge himself.

He appears twice in the group, which helps to develop his egotistic persona. Comparisons to pharaohs burying their loved ones with them come to mind.You might imagine that his fear of being alone at his death compelled him to have his family members with him so it is ironic to note that he is buried there alone. And ,as another element of our plot, his father is not included in the group.Psychological analysis? The monument is called “The Strange Procession That Never Moves.”

That remained true until 2009, when a three hundred year -old oak crashed down on the family during an ice storm and beheaded  all the statues except for his sisters and dog.Divine intervention, another plot twist? The monument was restored on site and remains open to the public.Inspiration and the unwritten story remain.


Found Memories

Driving along a country road in Kentucky, we came upon this house overtaken by shrubs and vines. Pulling off the road to explore further, it looked like it had slept for the past fifty years. Quietly approaching, I found myself moving slowly as if not to disturb the silence. It had seen better days when its paint was fresh and the screen door would slam countless times a day as children tore in and out again. Now it stood empty of voices. The porch swing remained and still squeaked in the breeze. At first I thought it was in protest to my trespass, but I realized it sounded a welcome .Requiring that I notice it still hung stalwart and strong, the guardian of many happier times.My witness would keep those memories safe a bit longer.


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