Thursday, October 16, 2008


Hide & Seek Sunrise
Turner River Road, FL
October 13, 2008

"Photograph: a picture painted by the sun without instruction in art."
~Ambrose Bierce

It was still dark when I fired the ignition in the car, woke up Daniel, my GPS companion, then turned to a new friend accompanying me on this adventure day, and said, "We're off!"

And indeed we were. Sunrise caught us near the intersection of Turner River Road and Wagon Wheel Road, one of my favorite photo spots, where we flushed out a small flock of sandhill cranes just before it rained on us. We played with light and birds and water and flowers until the sun was too bright and the wind played too hard with the grasses and blooms to make sharp images.

I punched Loop Road into the GPS and we were off again, but not before a few more stops for some red-shouldered hawks and fire ants. Happy about the former; not so much the ants. I don't easily attract mosquitoes or other winged insects, but fire ants...those nasty creatures will find me on a sidewalk. In fact, the other night, listening to some live outdoor music locally, they did! They came crawling out of a crack, ignored a dozen other people and made a beeline for me. Peculiar. This would make a funny story except for the craters they're making on my ankles this year.

Loop Road was a testament to the amazing rains we've had all summer. We weren't too far down it's narrow and bumpy gravel surface when we came upon a turn-around, a bunch of orange cones blocking further passage and a big sign: "Washed Out Road - Local Traffic Only".

We looked at each other silently for a bit. I mean, I'd been talking about exploring this road for a week! It wasn't that I couldn't understand "Washed Out Road". It was just that the kicker at the end, "Local Traffic Only" was just too hard to resist. I mean, I'm "technically" local, aren't I? I patted my trusty Toyota Avalon with a smile, and after quick adjustment of two orange cones, we were off.

We did pretty well for a few miles. Puddles, yeah, but nothing bad. And then puddles gave way to sheet flow across the road. Still, we passed "Sweetheart Strand" where an older gent and his grandsons were quietly fishing, high and dry. Encouraged, we pushed on. Birds waded the puddles ahead of me, and honestly, the palmettos and scrub was so thick on either side of this one-car-width gravel river-road that photography was pretty impossible. Still, we pushed on. And then a few miles later, I looked at my friend and casually said, "are your feet wet?"

"No, but from the sounds coming from under this car, they should be."

Isn't there some cliche about changing horses in the middle of the stream? Yeah, I can make another one up about trying for a 9-point about-face in deep water in the middle of a one-car gravel road. Even Daniel the GPS was asking for a life vest.

Outdoor photographers are typically a hardy bunch. We go the distance to get the shot - or at least a *shot* at the shot. Add Toyota Avalon to that group. For an old girl, she stays the course. She even has the sense to make squishy, wet-feet noises that convince her driver to head back to the barn.

D2x, Nikkor 18-200 VR