Sunday, September 24, 2017

Merry-Go-Rounds and Backroads

Exiting off the highway onto Stony Lake Road, I let out the breath I didn't know I was holding. The morning rush hour traffic had dropped off a good ten miles back, but still I had a death grip on the steering wheel.

I had left the house at the first sign of daylight, as soon as I knew I would be able to see a deer paused at the side of the road. The very last thing I wanted to do was hit a deer, especially after my husband just had my car detailed two weeks ago. The morning held the promise of overcast skies, which made me feel less rushed, not having to hurry to my destination before the sun was too high. In fact a few rain drops hit the windshield as I drove northward, taking the backroads until I had to get on the highway.

The held breath could also be contributed to the book I am listening to: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult. Great book but... I strongly dislike one of the main characters, Turk Bauer. I tense up every time his voice announces the start of his chapter. Now that his chapter is done, I push stop on the Audible App on my phone and eject the cassette tape adapter my phone is connected to. Safely off the highway and on one of my very favorite country roads, I want all my senses engaged with the drive. I discovered this road four years ago on one of my early backroads adventures.

Learning from my solo adventure last week, this week I had a destination in mind, the summer people community of Stony Lake, and the playground that lies at the heart of this tiny hamlet. When I first drove through this little community four years ago, my attention was drawn to the lake. As I turned my head from the lake and noticed the playground I had to do a double take: was that really a wooden merry-go-round? Three point turn and I was angle parked, grabbing my camera from the back seat and kneeling in the worn circle of dirt surrounding the merry-go-round.

I have tried to figure out what it is about the merry-go-round that captivates me, I think it boils down to being a treasure hunter and scarcity. I don't think I had ever seen a wooden merry-go-round in real life before that day, and there it was in tiny Stony Lake in all its chippy paint glory.

Lost in memories while I drive, I suddenly notice a crudely lettered sign for some haunted acres, and I want to stop and get a picture, but the fear of the sun emerging and taking away the lovely diffused light keeps me speeding along.

I angle park in the empty parking lot and notice that my merry-go-round sits in the shadow of a very large oak tree. Still, the overcast skies are creating such lovely soft light. My merry-go-round is still here, still the same, chippy paint and all. My intention is to do some self-portrait work here, capture myself with this treasure, so I unload the tripods, the camera body with the articulating screen, the remote shutter release, and the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens I am using for my 365 photography project. I also have one photography prop with me, an old vintage camera from my collection, I figure I can use that to set focus. Focusing for self-portraits is no easy task.

I spend lots of time with the merry-go-round, walking round and round it, looking at it from every angle. Some shots I will like, some I won't, and some will be surprises.

Last year when I made this autumn drive and visited the playground, I explored beyond the merry-go-round and discovered a series of docks that were hidden down an embankment. This was about the time that my Canon 70D that I was shooting with decided to no longer work. I think I got all of two shots off before it froze up (I never travel without two camera bodies now). A lover of wooden docks, hmmm maybe wood is a theme here, I wanted to do some self-portraits here too. I need to invest in a longer range remote shutter release, because when I finally get the remote to work, I end up with a shot like this...

Not quite the tranquil, reflective moment I was going for. Glad the lens wasn't set any higher.

For this autumn season I am reviving my backroads adventures, I am having too much fun not to. So let's pray for an amazing October and a gentle November.

If you are curious about that first blog post I did at the playground, here is the link to it.


  1. Your backroad adventures sound just lovely! I like the first shot of the roundabout! Have a lovely Sunday, Sarah!

  2. This was delightful to read. The opening description put me right into the scene. Greatly enjoyed this post.

  3. When we first moved to Augusta, there was an old merry go round in our little park. It has long ago been removed due to wear & tear, but the metal slide & old metal swing set still stand firmly planted there. This post gives me inspiration for a #529project shot or 2.

  4. I love your plan to take overnight trips, just to explore and take pictures. No distractions, except for the ones you find along the way. Great idea! Love the wooden merry-go-round... even when I was a kid, they were metal with diamond plate inserts. No splinters when jumping on board, but they were always full of sand so sliding on was just as painful!

  5. What a great adventure, Sarah, and I look forward to seeing more of your backroad travels.
    Have a wonderful week ahead!

  6. well I'm old enough to remember wooden merry-go-rounds, they hold some wonderful memories for me..and some not so wonderful, like splinters! Love following you on your adventures.

  7. sigh....i had merry go rounds going up...the metal kind...the kind that gave and kept me in shin and knee bruises! But a wooden one? fabulous find! How sad my kids have never even been on one. Beautiful piece Sarah.

  8. A wonderful back roads trip! Love your self-portraits! The wooden merry-go-round brought back many memories. My grandfather made us a wooden merry-go-round with four little wooden seats. My kids even got to play on it!

  9. Love this - "I let out the breath I didn't know I was holding." - I can totally relate to that feeling. I feel relaxed reading through the post, like I took a spin on the merry go round too.

  10. Your photos are beautiful, Sarah, and tell their own story. But what really captured me this time was your writing. I could have go on reading much more. Thank you for that.

  11. I know that back road, merry go round and signage . . .
    You brought even more interest with your pictures and post.
    I have Wisconsin wooden merry ground memories surfaced now . . .
    Thank You . . .

    Small Great Things was one of the more challenging,
    thought provoking reads I have had in a long, long time.
    I put it right up there with my other MUST READ . . .
    I say great and good . . . although it took some space to get there.

  12. There is a wood merry go round out in the corner of a huge lawn on a farm place on our way to the county fair grounds. For years now, 15? I see it and think someday I'm going to pull in and ask if they'll set it to me. Someday...
    Have a great time on your adventures and thanks for taking us along!

  13. I just found your blog, and you're making me want to revive my own Adventure Days (usually Wednesdays). Looking forward to reading more about your explorations, Sarah.

  14. Your merry go round pics brought me instantly back to childhood. There was a wooden merry go round at our grade school. It was only two blocks away so we were always going there to spin laying down, straddling the hand rails, leaning out as far as possible as we twirled around. Yes we got sick and we got splinters and even fell off and got scrapes and scabs.


Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)