While it may seem like a lot of fun to those that are stuck living a boring life, working a totally dead-end job, being on the road and traveling around all the time has its disadvantages. Some people say they take “mini-vacations” on weekends. To me, a “mini vacation” is usually a trip from the hotel/motel to the nearest store that sells booze. Looking for places to go shoot, and scouting for oddities in the desert can be fun…but it can also be a pain in the ass. There’s absolutely no way any sane person would get out of bed at 4:30 in the morning, unless their toilet was shooting flames through the house.
If you’re lucky enough to find an inexpensive motel/hotel to stay at, do yourself a favor and check the entire room for unwanted residents: bedbugs, mice, roaches, spiders, and anything else that may bite. Being bitten by some invisible critter in the middle of the night isn’t fun. Especially if it leaves a noticeable spot in an obvious location. Having to make a trip to the local ER because you were bit by some unknown bug, can definitely trash your whole day. So it always pays to do a thorough search before settling in with your gear. It also helps to check hotel review sites ahead of time. Nobody likes a surprise visit from a nasty bug. I’ve had more than my share to deal with.
While planning ahead can take some of the headaches out of your journey, not everything works out to our advantage. For instance, when you check the local weather forecast the night before you go out to a location to shoot some photos. The weatherman says it’ll be sunny and warm. You wake up in the morning to the sound of thunder rattling the windows so much, you think they are going to break. Time to go back to bed…if you can still sleep. Going outside to play in the storm isn’t the smartest idea. If you rode the big bus to school, you’ll stay out of it. Speaking of planning ahead, make sure you have all the gear you will need, extra batteries, lens filters, bottled water, etc. Chances are you won’t be anywhere near civilization (a big town with something that resembles a camera store, and other necessities).
When the weather is actually clear, and you manage to leave your hotel at a decent time in the morning, you then embark on a journey to find the one thing most people require in the morning: coffee. Let’s face it, caffeine is like lifeblood. The stronger, the better. Don’t even bother with that stuff that resembles coffee, in the hotel lobby…it usually resembles dirty sock water, and the packets of dirt you find in most rooms…not any better. If you can find a small diner open that that early hour, that would be your best bet. If you’re like me, you don;t even think about food. Okay, enough about that.
Traffic. That’s another reason to leave early to your “happy place”. If it’s a holiday weekend, and you’re heading to a popular spot, good luck. It seems everyone and their entire extended family is trying to get to the same spot. This either forces us to hunt for a parking spot for over 30 minutes, or a complete change of venue. Yes, it can get annoying having to change plans after arriving at the one place you wanted to go photograph, only to find Aunt Bertha’s Hippie Bus From Hell taking up several parking spaces. If that does turn out to be the case, it’s not such a bad idea to head back to your temporary home, and regroup. As for that “mini vacation”, wouldn’t be a bad idea to find someplace to pick up a case of beer, or bottle of cheap wine. You’ll probably be irritated enough to crack open that cold Budweiser, and flip on the Weather Channel…and have a few laughs.
Each day on the road will bring its own set of challenges, headaches, and royal pains. Being prepared for the unexpected is all but impossible. We never know what is going to happen from one day to the next. I hope this will shed some light on the realities of being on the perpetual vacation. And, yes, I’ve seen and been through a lot. I’ve also learned a lot, over the years, and no matter how much we plan ahead for anything, Murphy’s Law always finds a way to intervene.
Until next time,