Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Solo Adventure


"Traveling for the sheer joy of it down a country road is a sweet search for things that are elusive; a quest for yesterday's pace and peace. Adventure for the sensitive."
                                                                             ~Doris Scharfenberg, Country Roads of Michigan

Four years ago I did a series here on the blog called Back Roads Adventures. I took a detailed map of all the different counties here in Michigan and began plotting different drives. All the roads began with the initial M (Michigan Road) or B (which probably doesn't stand for back road, but I can pretend). These roads were desired over roads that started with US (United States) or the worse of the letters, I (for Interstate).

Some of these M and B roads have become dear old friends, and I try to drive them at least once a year, usually in the Autumn so I can enjoy a fall color tour at the same time.


The one that calls me the loudest is B-35; a drive through small farming communities, past muddy cow pastures and golden corn fields. Even though it seems like just a scenic drive, there is a destination on this road, an old school house that is slowly, or quickly depending on the year, falling into decay. I pray every year that it is still there, so I can photograph it one more time, document the changes.

Four years ago, I would turn down any back road I came across, but I have found myself getting more hesitant to go out on driving adventures. It is so easy to just stay around home and not venture very far. But at forty-nine, I don't want my world getting smaller already. So I made a hotel reservation for an area of Michigan I haven't been to before, one night away seemed a good way to ease into it.


Last week when I set off on my first solo adventure since driving to Pennsylvania two years ago, my destination was east, across the state of Michigan, but somehow I found myself driving north first. Mainly to avoid those nasty US and Interstate roads, but also to set the mood for this solo adventure. The night before I left, I had a vision for the self-portrait that opens this blog post and I knew the perfect place to take it, the gravel road next to the decaying school house. The captured image turned out pretty close to what I envisioned; first time for everything.

There are a few things I will change for my next adventure:
  1. One night wasn't quite long enough, so next time I will do two.
  2. Less driving; spending more time in a few specific locations.
  3. My favorite images from this trip are the self-portraits, so I will do more of those next time.
  4. More research on a area, so I will know specific locations I want to explore.

There probably won't be any more solo overnights this year, but I am going to go out on some day adventures this fall. Getting started is the hardest part, now that that is conquered I know I can do more. 

21 comments:

  1. I admire you my friend what adventures you will have!

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  2. I agree with you about the Interstate Highways. Going exploring on the back roads brings much more exciting scenic surprises.

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  3. This is so inspiring! I love seeing your photos and reading about your adventures. I'm also a big fan of backroad adventures. Can't wait to see where you go this fall!

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  4. I love these adventures, but totally agree that just getting in the car & doing them is the hardest part! I have grand visions of a solo day trip & I never seem to go very far from home. I need to pull out the map and make it a point! Thanks for the inspiration girl!

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  5. Getting started and just doing it is the hardest for me, and highways yack. Love your photos, I'm inspired.

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  6. Oh I remember those backroad trips well! I admire your courage to set out on such adventures. Of course I'm sure in the years to come they'll increase in length (time and distance) and eventually you'll head over here!

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  7. Sarah, I didn't know you were becoming reluctant to travel. I so remember your great adventures in the last few years. Congrats on getting back out there. I will admit, I only do day trips, I'm not brave enough to spend the night by myself in strange places. And, I LOVE your first image! Perfect!

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  8. Sarah, I have been following your blog postings for a couple years now and have always loved the simplicity of your photos, they are always stunning and make me stop, pause, and think. I also love how you express yourself in the written word, writing is something I struggle with. Your title for this blog hit me hard, my husband of 30 years passed away Friday morning, it was totally unexpected. My life will be a solo adventure from now on I will be brave and not only drive the back roads, but stop the car and get out and walk the path with myself so I can find a new adventure. I use to jump in the car to take a back road drive, but this year I thought I was too busy and why spend time taking pictures that only I enjoyed. That is going to change. I will take time to enjoy the slow pace of life on the back roads.

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    1. Donna - if you read this, please contact me via email paisleyrainboots@gmail. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss, and my words are just empty words in this moment. Since I have been married for 31 years, I shutter to think of myself in your shoes, but honestly it could happen to any one of us. I love my date days with my husband, but I need to soar a little on my own too, just in case.

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  9. I have been following you for a while now and am always inspired by the words and photos of your blog posts. I enjoy back road trips too, but I get really frustrated when I find something to photograph but there is no where to park and get out of the car. Do you find that as well and how do you deal with it?

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    1. Annette - Thank you for the kind words. I am the queen of turn arounds, I always drive by things and a mile or two down the road, think "I would really like to photograph that". And yes I do have situations where I can't park. I listened to a podcast a couple of years ago from Brooks Jensen at Lenswork. He had the same problem, he bought an electric bike to get to those hard to access places. Not sure I am ready to do that.

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  10. Oh Sarah, this is perfect. How lovely to trundle along those back roads, enjoy the scenery, stop wherever you like. The photos speak for themselves. I love taking back roads, I prefer them over any US- and I- freeway. When I visit my daughter I usually take the back roads and I enjoy it every time. I haven't done a real solo trip for years. I used to travel around Europe, North Africa and East Asia on my own for many years when I was much much younger. I wonder where this adventure spirit has gone.

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  11. I love that last shot of the leading lines of the fence, the wild grasses and not quite seeing over the horizon! This is what exploring is all about, not knowing what is over the horizon or around the bend! My side roads need to be the ones that a bus or a train can take me to and from there, I can explore!

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  12. Woo hoo! Good for you! I too have found myself staying home far too much. The road is calling but right now it'll be day trips. Great and awesome photos like always.

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  13. yes I can understand that....when I first moved here over 2 years ago I think I used google maps to even find my way around the most basic areas but now I'm getting to know it I'm getting a bit more adventurous.

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  14. Good for you Sarah! I have planned a photographic excursion for 4 days here in Idaho to photograph. I am looking for a guide to travel with since I no longer drive at 63. Spinal cord injury. But, I can still hold my camera. I will be taking photographs of a small town surrounded by a huge waterfall along the Snake River. I do hope I am successful, and I enjoyed your blog. Stay creative, Sarah...it truly is a blessing.

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  15. This sounds wonderful, Sarah! Good for you!
    I think it is great to sometimes just 'take off" to somewhere new, with no real agenda.
    Definitely good for the soul. :-)
    Have a fantastic weekend!

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  16. How neat that you take adventures like this on your own. I've never been on a driving trip by myself. Your selfie shots are great.

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  17. Your solo adventures are like my "day-cations!"

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  18. Yay for you! And how sweet that a photo was planned, executed, and turned out as envisioned. My photos have a vision often but boy do they evolve once I start shooting.

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  19. Loving this post. We have lots of farm communities around us and love to just take a drive......I have yet to stay away from hubby. He spent the last two years spending two nights and days with his Dad and I stayed home. I had my Monday art class here and then volunteer all day Tuesday. He hated having me gone even for a day after that. Dad just went into a memory care facility. He is just minutes away and hangs out here several times a week. But I long to get out and just enjoy the area. Good for you for venturing off and exploring on your own.

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