I’m home, y’all! I pulled up in front of the house my great-grandparents built here in Northwest Washington D.C. late last Friday night. Shadow Catcher did well on the 9 hour drive, as it has throughout this journey, and now she can take a nice, long, well deserved rest. My van will be staying here for a few months and enjoying the summer, although I myself will not be. I will keep traveling. That’s who I am and what I do. I don’t really know anything but anymore, and I don’t necessarily care to. My life is on the road and to the road I will return in a few weeks, albeit a different road on a different trajectory. This is the end of this leg of this particular journey, not the end of my travels, my adventures, my photography or this blog. Think of it as a season finale, not a series finale. I do want to take some time in this post to reflect back on the last year and a half and to look forward at what comes next. Before I do, though, I want to say an enormous thank you to those of you who have come along for the ride. Whether you’ve been with me from the start or you’ve only just joined me I appreciate every single one of you and your support over the course of this journey. I hope along the way I’ve been able to inspire you and show you places you’ve never been or perhaps those you have in a different light. I hope I’ve been able to bring a little joy into your lives, a little beauty, a little color, a little light. If I have, then I will call this whole thing a success. Thank you for being a part of this trip.
After leaving you last week, I had a few more adventures before I packed it up and headed north though, and it would be tragic to leave them out of this post. That afternoon I went out to High Falls Park near Geraldine, Alabama, and what a wonderful place that was to visit. It was a beautiful county park with a magnificent waterfall, a pleasant beach, a bridge over the river, hiking trails and a picnic area. It was a magnificent spring day and when I got there I fell in love with the place and stayed until the park closed. I swam and got some sun and read and enjoyed the sound of the falls and the warmth on my face. I returned to Fort Payne in the evening and took a few photos around town in the fading daylight before calling it a day…
Hello everyone! It’s starting to get warm here in Alabama which means it’s about time for me to start heading north. And I guess I have! It’s been a great week here in Northern Alabama which started with music and history in The Shoals and is ending in the beauty of nature in Little River Canyon. I’ve jammed out in FAME Studios, been moved by the actions of the Freedom Riders and swam in a clear mountain river. This has been my last full week here in Alabama, and it’s about time to turn my headlights towards home for a while. I must say that Alabama has been one pleasant surprise after another. It’s clean, friendly and I’ve had a great time here. Whatever preconceived ideas I had or stereotypes I bought into have, as they have everywhere else, been shattered by the time I’ve spent here. And that’s really been the point of this whole trip - to see things with my own eyes and interpret them with my own mind and heart and come away with my own understanding. And it’s been amazing.
After I posted last week’s This Week, I worked until the library closed at 7, trying to get some photos edited and published and a few other things done. Afterwards, I went to downtown Florence and had a nice walk around the city and took some photos. Then, in the mood for some live music, I went and saw Katlyn Barnes sing at The Boiler Room in the basement of The Stricklin Hotel. The show was good and Katlyn really has a soulful voice and personality. When she was done, I headed out to Swampers Bar and Grille at the Florence Marriott to see Hank Erwin play. They’ve done a really great job with this bar which is full of old guitars, photos and memorabilia from the glory days of Muscle Shoals. Hank was great and this was a good place to round out my evening…
It’s been another great week out here on the road, despite Mother Nature trying her best to put a damper on things. The weather has been getting significantly colder, and we’ve gotten quite a bit of rain. Winter weather advisories are starting to kick in which is definitely my sign that it’s time to turn my headlights south for the winter. It was great to be around friends and family for much of the last week, as it was a much needed recharge on my spirit batteries. My last week in Kentucky will be my last week in Kentucky for the moment. I spent most of it in the lovely Kentucky State Parks, and then wound down through Appalachia and Coal Country to the Cumberland Gap where I find it fitting that I will leave Kentucky the way early explorers first entered the area.. Despite the weather closing in, it really has been a wonderful week.
My week started where my last week ended, in Charleston, West Virginia at my dad’s place. It was nice to be off the road for a few days, clean up and fix a few things, get some work done and just spend some time with my family. The weather wasn’t great, but we did get out for dinner one night at a place called Bricks and Barrels. It was amazing and nice to go for a great meal with my dad.
Ohio. The Buckeye State. A state it seems most people know very little about other than it’s out there in the middle somewhere. I’ve spent much of the summer in Ohio and come away with an intensely different opinion of it than I went in with. It’s a transition state – it connects the east to the west, the Great Lakes to the interior, the Midwest to Appalachia. It’s also a state steeped in history. In the years following the Civil War, it was the third most populous state in the country. During that time, seven of our presidents came out of Ohio, making them second only to Virginia in that regard. Besides presidents, Ohio has given us many legendary Americans. William Tecumseh Sherman, George Armstrong Custer, Thomas Edison, Neil Armstrong, Toni Morrison, Steven Spielberg, Jesse Owens and Cy Young are just a few Ohioans who come to mind who grew up to leave their mark on the country and the world. In the past, when someone told me they were from Ohio, it just passes out of my mind as somewhere in generic Middle America. I didn’t have strong feelings about it one way or the other so I would quickly move past it and forget it. I’m here to tell you I had the wrong idea about Ohio. After six solid weeks of traveling around the state I can tell you it’s a fascinating, welcoming, diverse state with tons to offer and a generally agreeable climate to offer it in. In my travels, I’ve come to think of it as “The Deep South of the Midwest” – a hidden gem and a crossroads which shouldn’t be overlooked.