I shot this in 1993 while traveling around the United States for thirty days on one of the greatest road trips ever… The Alamo; playing ROOK with our 78-year-old Aunt Tommy until 4:00 a.m. in Littlefield, Texas; the National Battlefields at Chattanooga and Chickamauga where my great-great-great grandfather died in a field hospital during the Civil War (the fam fought primarily for the Confederacy, seeing as they lived in the Carolinas, Arkansas, Alabama, and other southern locales); Williamsburg, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Telford, Pennsylvania (to see Steve and Lisa, dear family friends); the National Baseball Hall of Fame where Reggie Jackson was being inducted in and my Dodgers were slated to play the exhibition game until rain intervened; Niagara Falls, New York and Canada; getting lost in downtown Detroit at night in the wrong part of town; a Cubs game at Wrigley (they obliged and lost); a farm in Minnesota; Badlands National Park and Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota; seeing the bison in Custer State Park; and down to Colorado Springs to visit friends for a week.
This was shot with my parents’ Canon A-1, a truly heavy piece of machinery that I’ve toted all over the place… and it weighs a ton. I’m even responsible for a couple of the dents and dings in the steel casing. (Yes, I’ve dropped a camera… more than once. That’s why all of my present equipment has a special insurance policy that covers klutziness.) I’ve always liked this photo because I shot it with no training whatsoever at the age of seventeen… the way the shadows fell on the mountains was just dumb luck for a kid taking pictures that summer day.
By the way, our stay in the Badlands motel (it was not a hotel!) is one of the singularly most memorable of my life: One naked lightbulb hanging from the ceiling that didn’t produce enough light by which to read a book; beds that sagged to the middle (which isn’t a problem unless you’re sharing a bed with a sibling and both rolling to the middle and into each other); no cable television so you’re stuck watching a made-for-TV movie; an above ground swimming pool with ice-cold water and a slide with no warning that the water is only three feet deep (which is why some people bounced their bums off the very hard bottom of the pool); and the pièce de résistance… my sister opened the door to the bathroom and a toad hopped out, crossed the room, and went out the door on his merry way. A TOAD! In our motel bathroom… toldya it was memorable!