10.20.2021

What do you think about when you are walking around with your camera?


 I find myself looking for humorous or strange objects or scenes that amuse me or make me think: WTF?

When I was walking around in San Angelo I kept thinking, "How do you show a small town in transition from its past to its future?" Like many smaller towns their downtown area slowly cleared out of people and businesses but now properties are being renovated and retailers, restaurants and galleries are coming back. It's a long process. But I think it's important to acknowledge and document what's being lost or removed. 

Especially for people native to the location. 

I was just passing through but I could feel the resonance of change. That's what I was looking for. Translating that feeling into two dimensions that feel relevant is the hard part...






Another Day on the Road. Fun for all. Camera at the ready. Roswell, NM. Here we come...

There is something that draws me to take photos of scenes like this one. 
Maybe it's the incongruity of artwork against a banal and somewhat 
unintentionally graphic background. Or the uncrowded, almost deserted nature of 
the scene. The hard light is also a draw. This was taken on my first morning in 
San Angelo, Texas, just a few blocks from our hotel. 

and this scene was one more block over from the one above. 
Amazing to me, as a resident of a big city, is that no one has defaced this artwork with 
additional and unwelcome "bad" graffiti or spray painted gang signs. 
Maybe people who live in some smaller towns really are nicer...

and keep their spaces cleaner....

B and I never expected to like San Angelo as much as we did. Initially we thought of it as a waypoint, a stopover on our way to Santa Fe. But San Angelo conspired to win us over with unexpected displays of public art, a great, small hotel, and several really good meals. 

Our dinner at the Angry Cactus restaurant was great but then so too was our next day's breakfast; take out breakfast burritos from Diego's Burritos. In Austin we'd call these "breakfast tacos" but that seems to be a regional nomenclature used in areas south of Austin and down into the Rio Grande valley. As you go west from Austin the "tacos" turn into burritos but they have most of the same properties. Maybe burritos are a bit bigger, a big more stuffed with the basic ingredients. But basically they are all eggs and other fillings wrapped up in flour tortillas. Diego's does their versions very well. And they fueled us with protein for our expectant journey some 310 miles, or four and a half hours to Roswell, NM. 

Since one never knows where one will find a gas station on rural highways I make it a practice to fill up the tank of the super high performance Subaru Forester before any multi-hundred mile trek. No sense sweating an ever declining gas gauge if you don't have to. We popped in a book on CD and made our way west.
Paintbrush Alley, San Angelo, Texas.

A parting shot in San Angelo at the world's best general store. 
I could have shopped in their for days.

On the road to New Mexico. Pick-up trucks galore.

We made it easily over to Roswell but I have to say that on the whole Roswell, which was my initial, intended destination, was a bit of a bust. I expected displays of kitsch and un-kitsch alien stuff everywhere but it was mostly limited to some tacky souvenir shops along a few blocks of Main Street, a few alien mannequins outside places like McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts, and various and endless T-shirt shops. I shot whatever I could find but it wasn't much.

We ate some New Mex Mex food at a decent restaurant and called it a night in our mediocre hotel room at the newest of the Holiday Inns in town. A  welcome note to swimmers is that the city built a natatorium/swim center in the middle of town and you can go there and swim laps starting at 6:00 a.m. on weekdays. It's a really nice pool and a good, long swim will only cost you (assuming you are 65+) $3.15. Bring cash. They don't accept credit cards...
Not even sure why hotels have alarm clocks or telephones anymore. 
Everyone has a cellphone that they trust much more.
This hotel, which is less than ten years old, felt like a portal into a time travel 
machine that took us back to the 1970's. It was clean enough and there wasn't 
any intrusive noise but the mundane nature of its decor was enough to set
a designer's teeth on edge. I never warmed up to it either...

All the images from Roswell were taken with a Leica SL2 and the 
"beast"; the 24-90mm Leica zoom lens/weight lifting device.
It's great even if the subject matter is sketchy. 

This must be a relative of the mannequins on Austin's Second St.
How could I pass her by?


A theme park? Giant statues? Carnival rides? Anything?
Nope. Just the museum of alien trivia and endless "gift" shops.
I should have known better than to get my hopes up.
But we did meet a young couple from Dallas at the hotel.
They'd been in Roswell for two full days and "loved it." 
So, I guess it's a matter of expectation and discovery.
All subjective. Like enjoying the handling of Sony A7x bodies...



I found this and the image below much more entertaining...


Tragically mixed metaphors.






Sadly...closed the day we arrived.




Leica 24-90mm Zoom, Bokeh test. Real world? Or is it....?


tragically bad mural art. Just tragic.



We were relieved to wake up alive and not bored to death.
Even more relieved to escape the tedium of a soul-less hotel room. 
And the breakfast wasn't great either. Bring your own...

It was hot and sunny during our time in Roswell and we spent a few hours walking around trying to find something magical and visually compelling. I failed miserably but that only made me more motivated to get on to Santa Fe and all the promise of it. We packed the car after breakfast and got on the road. 

Were I to consult with the city of Roswell I would strongly suggest that they either lean in (hard) on their "Alien Legacy"entertainment zone or abandon it altogether and find something else to tout. I'm glad I finally checked it out, and it was nice to break up the miles, but.... never again.

I had the idea that I might find lots and lots of interesting landscapes to photograph along the way but there were two flaws with that plan. First, I am definitely not a landscape photographer and know there are many people who have a greater affinity for visually transforming space than I. And secondly, most of the geography between Roswell and about 50 miles from Santa Fe is flat farm land or just flat abandoned land. Sure, I could make an Ansel Adams platform for the top of my car and wait for hours for the light to get neat or something else to happen but that's just not who I am. We put the cruise control on 75 and barreled on to New Mexico's vacation epicenter. 

Still happy, at this point, with my choice of cameras and lenses. In fact, mostly happy all the way through.

We're back home and settled. Getting back into the swing of things here. Coffee meetings are booked up through the week. We've already done a small dinner with friends here at the house. Another due on Friday and a family member's birthday arriving soon (sooner than mine...). 

Being a bit compulsive about mechanical stuff I had the Subaru in to the dealer yesterday for its first six month service. In and out in an hour and a half. Nothing big to report. Oil change, tire rotation, multi-point check-up. No charge. Their coffee bar and baristas did a nice job. Their wi-fi is fast. Also included was a free car wash. Most welcome since the front end of the Forester was covered with a collection of butterflies and grasshoppers. 

It's nice to be back home but now I miss the travel. I'm ready to go again.

Hope you are well. Happy reading.