Catching Up

In Uncategorized by David29 Comments

Monument Valley in Utah. Me and my shadow.

It’s now been well over a month and 5500 miles since I left home. And while I’m conscious of how nervous I was when I left, I’m now well past that. I am, not to rub it in, deliriously content. As I write this I’m taking a break from some much needed admin work and writing towards the next deadline on Photographically Speaking. I’m in a hammock. On the Gulf of Mexico. In shorts. My Virgin MiFi is on Jessie’s dashboard and I’ve got wifi. In a hammock. On the Gulf of…oh, I mentioned that part? Sorry.

I’ve been on my own for only 4 days now and that part’s been hard; after traveling with friends Al, Dave, Jeffrey, and Corwin, I’d become accustomed to having company. But I’m also finally getting some work done, so there’s an upside to that. The trip, otherwise, has been fast. Too fast at times. I need to keep reminding myself – and others – that parts of this trip were meant to simply be an adventure, a getting from A to B, and while I don’t always have time to photograph, I’m having a really great time. I talk to people in restaurants and cafe’s, oddballs come talk to me about the truck (Is that your rig, boy? That’s a GREAT RIG!) and I’ve connected with some great people at some impromptu tweet-ups.

I’ve learned to embrace the anarchy of camping where I am not supposed to. I’ve learned to chill when Jessie has new smells and noises. Speaking of new smells, I’ve learned how long one can go without a shower before one can simply no longer tolerate one’s own self. I’ve learned to lean on strangers for local intel and that living on the road can be much cheaper than living at home if you do it right. Not that that’s the point, but it’s nice to be returning to a simplicity with which I was once much more familiar. I’ve learned that while Starbucks (despite the new book about it) has lost it’s soul, and no longer makes coffee I like, it has tea and free wifi and is practically EVERYWHERE, which is one reason I now loathe it. Homogeny and I don’t get along. But I’ll do almost anything for free wifi, apparently. 🙂

Umm, excuse me but I don’t think you spelled Home-made correc…oh…I see….Hmmmm….Suddenly I’m not hungry.

I’ve learned to be more creative about finding solutions to things. One of my big challenges was the desire for spare fuel cans, though I was frustrated by the total lack of a place to put them on the outside of the Land Rover. And then I found the Trasheroo – a backpack that goes on the spare tire and now easily carries two 2-gallon jerry cans of spare diesel and still has room for my trash, bags of ice before I get them into the cooler, and even a tripod when I’m heading out to shoot and want it accessible. I’ve learned that a fold-up sink from REI can be filled with ice, hung from the bumper, and hold at least 6 bottles of local micro-brew and/or some milk.

Working in “the office upstairs” and trying to  get it done in half the time with twice the computing power. Doesn’t seem to work.

I’ve learned – or rather I am learning – to relax. Somewhere along the way during the last 4 years I got into a performance mentality and have felt a lot of pressure to produce. It’s not a mindset that’s good for me, and it’s not a mindset that produces art I am pleased with. And I think I am learning to stop listening to those voices. Of course my tent’s been an office more times than I can count and I am currently writing this on what’s meant to be a break from writing and I still have deadlines to meet, but I’m also in a hammock with a bottle of Anchor Steam, so I’d say it’s a fight I’m winning.

I’m in Galveston now, will spend the night here, then onwards. Tomorrow I’ll be in Louisiana and if I’m not eating jambalaya for dinner there’s going to be trouble! If you’re in Atlanta don’t forget to come hang with Zack Arias and me on the 12th. 7pm at his studio. Would love to see you.


  1. I enjoy reading your blog. It takes a lot of guts and commitment to have an adventure like this. Hats off to you! Happy that I can at least “follow” your adventure via this blog.

    Oh…and absolutely agree with you on Starbucks…they have lost their soul…and I also wonder what happened to the coffee I used to love there!

  2. Having traveled across country many times myself on personal adventures, I am delighted to read your blog and reminisce somewhat. Aside from that, you are a terrific inspiration.

  3. Author

    Denis Murphy – That flute is a Gitzo tripod. Mentors include contemporaries like Bruce Percy, Dave Delnea, and uh, hmmm, James Galway? 🙂 Seriously, I’ve never put a flute to my lips, and it’s a favour for which the world has never thanked me. 🙂

  4. I’m really loving these iphone shots – they fit the mood of a trip like this. glad all is going well!

  5. Tell me about the flute you are holding in “Me and my shadow”. How long you been playing? Any mentors/favourites?
    A fellow flutist.

  6. That pie looks . . . interesting. I thought that was a marketing gambit that worked for almost everything except food.

    Glad as always to follow along with your travels.

  7. What an incredible adventure… maybe not quite as dangerous as Bilbo Baggins… but still a wonderful tour… thanks for your blog updates…

  8. One of our pastors at church 2 weeks ago stated, “It may be that the most spiritual thing you can do today is to take a nap.” Burning the candle at both ends only leads to ‘lights out’ earlier! Resting, and maybe more importantly, slowing down, is something we all should try to do. Glad to hear you’re getting to it!

    I envy the hammock, and the upcoming jumbalaya! Safe travels!

  9. Safe journeying and good on ya for listening to your new voice instead of the old ones. Am just learning to do that myself. You are inspiring all of us with your journey. Huge thanks for that.

  10. David–
    Would that be the Thunderbird Motel/Cafe on the East side of Zion? That misspelling has distracted and amused me for years, although I have to believe that they’ve been around longer than the current slang terminology has. Sounds like you’re covering a lot of miles in too little time, but if it’s working for you, so be it.

  11. Hi David, I’m just up I-45 in between Galveston and Houston, glad to see you’re in my neck of the woods! Was wondering if your taking any images in Galveston, would love to see your vision of spots I’m familiar with. Don’t speed on I-10 on the way to Louisiana, many speed traps. Take care and really enjoy following your adventure.

  12. Like Kathy I also love reading your blog David and really appreciate you taking us all with you on your travels. One of the many fantastic things I love about photography is that I love being creative with my camera in a group as well as with one other photographer and on my own – would be interesting to see how being with others influences ones images. Keep enjoying learning to enjoy your own company – it is such a valuable life skill to develop and thanks again for taking us with you

  13. Pingback: Catching Up « Mlstephens's Blog

  14. Nothing like the open road to hit the reset button. If you need a place to camp while in Alabama let me know I can get you hooked up in any State Park in the state.

  15. Just awesome. Sounds like this is turning out to be what it’s supposed to be….maybe not exactly as you expected it to be, but how it’s supposed to be. Keep up that learning and sharing…

  16. Sounds like you’ve found your rhythm to life on the road David, and that the relaxing part is coming more naturally. Savor the moments. Really been enjoying travelling with you in spirit.

  17. I spend my days shuffling into and out of a cubicle, and I think back to the two solo trips I made to southern Utah in December and January just to do things like plod around the rocks at 7am. It felt like multiple parts of crazy and insane and weird all mixed together, but it also felt enormously exhilarating, even if I can’t say I came back with anything really amazing in the way of pictures. (Perhaps I did, but I’m only just starting to learn how to see.)

    I know I’m going back, and possibly sooner than I think (next winter is when I’m thinking). I don’t think I’m going as nuts as you are, though 🙂

  18. I LOVE reading your blog. As I read it, a sort of calm comes over me and it’s almost as though I can feel the same feelings of relaxation that you’re experiencing. What an adventure!

  19. With so much time being on road, I wonder how your backup process has changed? I remember you mentioning about off-location backups. Have you found a way to do that while on road? Is off location in this case, a DVD that is being mailed to a friend? or something else?

  20. Soooo very nice to hang with you last night. Only wish it were longer. If not for my sick kid and the extremely short notice, I’m sure my husband and I would have loved to have you stay with us (so you could shower!). But frankly, camping on the beach sounds much nicer anyway.

  21. Hi David,

    I am loving your blog and am insanely jealous of your journey (and your talent). I live in Atlanta but am unfortunately leaving this weekend for my own photographic journey. Will some your photos be on display here?

    Safe and fun travels,

  22. Looks like you are having fun. Wish I could do the same.

    BTW, where are you going to be in mid-October. I’ll be shooting the fall colors in Md/WVa area if you are around, stop by and have a cup of coffee and say hello.

  23. David:

    I never realized the mittens moved to Galveston! The things you learn on a blog!

  24. A bunch of my family lives in south Louisiana and I’m jealous you’ll be eating some real jambalaya soon. Make sure and get some boiled crawfish while you’re at it. It’s beautiful down in that part of the world – enjoy it!

  25. So apart from being very envious, I remember back when you were in Asia you had a bit of an existential crisis and found you were lacking vision/voice.

    I presume hitting the road as you are doing is re-kindling that spark for you?

    Oh and when you’ve done the Americas, how about driving around the UK – probably a bit wetter but lots to see! (especially in the the North/Yorkshire/Dales).

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