Sometimes I see better without the camera


Back at the beginning of the month Bobbie and I, not at all in the style or tradition of Jack Kerouac or anyone else who’s made a name for him/herself on the road, went on a road trip.  The script was simple and, for us, remarkably undramatic:

  • New Jersey Transit through a both beautiful and remarkably early snow storm from Penn Station to Trenton to transfer to SEPTA (which is probably South East Pennsylvania Transit Authority) to
  • Philadelphia where we rented a car right in the 30th Street Station, to drive to
  • Wilmington, Delaware (As of the census of 2010, there were 70,852 people) including (step) son David who put us up in a grand hotel of an older tradition.  Then avoiding the Pennsylvania Turnpike in favor of local route 30 to
  • Chambersburg PA (Total Population 20,386) and my cousins Graeme and Emily and Ezra and Ez’s girlfriend and his 2 kids and her 3 kids all under the age of maybe 8 and maybe 6 horses.  Then we passed through
  • West Virginia in a minute or so down into
  • Virginia, stopping for lunch at

  • Continuing to Fairfield, Virginia (Total population: 1,719: Male: 849: Female: 870: Median age (years) 40.3: Total households: 692), we spent time with Bill and MaryJean and 2 horses and played Trivial Pursuit (Brag moment: Bill and I won!)
  • The next day we drove through two mountain passes into the Appalachians, first stopping at our only roadside attraction
  • The remarkable Natural Bridge (shown here on a remarkable souvenir mug) before arriving at

  • Newport Virginia (Population 2000: 1,896 [2000 Zip Code Based Est.], Population 1990: 170,045 [1990 Census], Population Growth 1990 to 2000: -98.89%) to hang with Judy ( whom we met in Bhutan a few years ago and her husband, Wally, who owns the biggest motorcycle either of us has ever seen and makes beautiful things from wood.  Here we got to spend some time in  the heart of Bluegrass country and particularly in

home of the Floyd Country Store where I bought two (2!) cd’s featuring Scotty Stoneman, a wonderful fiddler whom I first heard on New Year’s Eve, 1966–but that’s another story.  Next

  • Front Royal Virginia (Population in July 2009: 14,573) where we had a great meal at this place

served by a sharp and delightful waitress named Rhonda (“Hi, I’m Rhonda and I hate the Beach Boys!”,)  then watched a superb documentary on Bluegrass Music on PBS in our adequate and quiet motel room.  The very next day, continued to

  • Oxford, Pennsylvania (Population in July 2009: 4,712. Population change since 2000:+9.2%) to spend an evening in relaxed conversation with Bobbie’s cousin, Pat Robertson (not the one you might be thinking of), then back to
  • Philadelphia (Population in July 2009: 1,547,297) to return the car and, after just missing a train and hanging for about an hour of delightful calm (Bobbie bought a sandwich, I listened to music and pretended to meditate) at the 30th Street Station

  • We caught the SEPTA train to Trenton where we caught the

  • NJT train to Penn Station where we caught the #3 train (which used to be known as the IRT or Interborough Rapid Transit ) to Broadway and West 72nd Street, exiting at
  • West 73rd Street and walking
  • Home.

But all that’s just by way of introduction.  The story I want to tell you begins and is confined to a point about 6 days into this 9 day adventure on the morning of our departure from Newport.  After breakfast and good-byes with Judy and Wally, we wound through local roads to the intersection of 42 and 460 where we stopped for gas.  It was hot enough to take off my jacket, so, taking my camera out of my jacket pocket and placing it on the roof of the car–You smile, maybe even chuckle and it occurs to me that there is no point in continuing with the details of this tale.  Suffice it to say that, 35 minutes later, when we returned to the spot where we heard a thunk on the road behind us and blew it off as our suitcase readjusting in the trunk so that I could walk for 10 minutes along the now truck laden highway until I found the first pieces of the now shattered camera with which I had so lovingly and thoroughly documented our trip…

Now here’s the remarkably cool part of all this: neither Bobbie nor I was particularly upset at losing the camera and our photos.  Sad, certainly, but with no loss of calm and no anger.  Nothing to keep us from enjoying the rest of our trip.  About thirteen camera chunks in I found the one still holding the memory card.  Of course we immediately tried it in her camera and, of course, it read out “inaccessible.”  Since returning we’ve tried it in 5 other devices and at one “professional” photo shop.  It’s now at yet another–“advanced”–tech shop where it resides still.  Whatever.  The good times with family, friends and each other are still ours, photographs or not. Realizing that has been the great and unexpected–if ultimately obvious–lesson of our road trip in Autumn.




Published in: on November 26, 2011 at 10:06 pm  Comments (1)