After coming home from traveling, it often feels like the trip was just a lovely dream. I was never actually where I was, the things I experienced never really happened. Until I revisit my images: then each photo takes me rushing back and I relive the sights, the smells, the sounds, and the people.
I can feel just how cold the wind was, how my hair whipped around my face. I smell again the sharp, salty sea air, and thrill at the sight of the little sailboat, happy sails full of icy wind, in the middle of an overwhelmingly large sea. What enormous creatures swim just below the surface, but out of view? What mysterious mountains lie in the distance? Why do the waves really form?
What is this new feeling of local and national pride; in cities and buildings I never knew existed; in hidden places nearby that are surprisingly beautiful and peaceful? Who are these lovely people I’ve known forever, yet not known? My family, my friends, my neighbors, my people? What are these intricate pieces of art, and how (really) did they come to exist? The world for me has become both a smaller and a much larger place, since my year of traveling began last July. It has been a wonderful adventure of discovery. And I don’t intend to stop now!
This past year, I’ve been blessed to have traveled to Portland, Oregon; Cannon Beach and Seaside, Oregon; Washington State; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington D.C.; Eastern Kentucky; Atlanta, Georgia; Newport, Kentucky/Cincinnati, Ohio; and most recently, North Carolina.
You can see my images at: http://www.developingfocus.com/Places. Please check back often, as I am sometimes slow to post galleries (I still have a lot of photos from July, 2017 to post!), and as I continue my travels.
Future trips include: Providence, RI; Cincinnati, Ohio; Washington State part 2; New Orleans, LA part 2; Yellowstone National Park; and more (hopefully)!
This past week, I spent a marvelous time exploring parts of Oregon and even more of Washington.
Now, as I sit typing in a cozy studio bungalow by myself, I can hear the ocean from Ediz Hook just a few feet away. I can hear a friendly bay horse whinnying for attention not far behind me, and a variety of birds (even an owl!) fussing to their neighbors. I now love the smell of real pine trees (a novelty in Dayton, Ohio), and the Olympic mountains make a fantastic backdrop to this serene setting. I feel at peace. I feel at home.
Yet, my family and most of my friends are back in Dayton, Ohio. My home in Ohio is far from the majestic mountains and relatively peaceful sea of Puget Sound, but it is hardly without charms of its own. The friendly smell of backyard firepits and evening grills, the sound of my children laughing and jumping through a sprinkler, my lovely garden and collection of books, and family and friends who are welcome to stop by any old time (and do!) I have missed while here.
In both Oregon and Washington I have met new friends, visited with family, and enjoyed aspects of nature I’ve not been able to enjoy in a very long time. I feel stronger than I have in years, and I’ve done much, much more than I have in years. I feel more peaceful and adventurous than I have in years. I feel invigorated, renewed. I have changed in subtle but important ways this week, and am excited about those changes.
The sea and the pines call me to stay, but my children and family are calling me back. Which way is home?
My oldest daughter came home with a simple glow stick bracelet from her teacher for Valentine’s Day, with the accompanying message, “You light up my life!” Tonight she wanted to activate it, but upon doing so, she found that only the tip came to life in a neon blue. She was of course disappointed and began to complain, when I took the little glow stick and said, “Follow me. I want to show you something.”
We walked back to her room and I said, “This little broken glow stick doesn’t look like much when all the lights are on, does it?”
“No,” she sighed.
“Well what if I turned out the lights and shut the door?” I turned out the light, and the little broken glow stick seemed instantly brighter. I shut the door, and in the complete blackness, the little broken glow stick looked like a beautiful beacon.
“Wow,” my daughter admitted, “why is it so different?”
“Because of contrast,” I replied, leaning on my photography knowledge. “The bigger the difference between the light and the dark, the brighter the light appears.”
I went on to make my moral point, “Good is like this tiny, ½ inch bit of light; you may not notice it, or think it makes much difference when there are many other “lights” around, but this broken bit stands out for all to see, when surrounded by darkness.”
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
See more “misty mountain” photos from my trip here
These communities rely almost solely on the dying coal industry that operates mines in the Appalachia mountains throughout Kentucky, Southern Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Not only do these areas struggle with economic depression, and an aging population, the heroin epidemic has hit these communities particularly hard as well.
The mountains here have been dynamited over the years to make room for better, wider, and safer roads. Shale rock breaks easily, so “steps” and ditches have been formed to prevent accidents from falling boulders and rock-slides.
Remains of the Sidney Coal Mining Company, now defunct. Images of the dying coal mining industry are tucked everywhere in the Appalachia mountains near Pikeville, KY.