Somewhere Down The Road

by Jake Block

There’s a road somewhere in your world that you’ve seen, but never traveled.  The road has always seemed to invite you to see what lies over the next hill, or around that curve in the distance.  You’ve thought about turning and following that road, but the time has never been right.  Yet still, that road that trails off in the distance calls to you each time your day to day travels bring it into view.

One of my truths of photography is that there is something to see and learn on every road you travel.  It’s not uncommon for me to load my car with equipment, pack a bag, fill the tank with gas, fix a thermos of hot coffee and take off for a three to five day adventure.  The only thing that I predetermine is which direction I will initially take.  I will often flip a coin three times the first toss determines north or south.  The second toss determines east or west and the third determines my general direction choice between the two options.  Then I am on my way, and intuition becomes my navigator.

From that point on, I turn on the music and enjoy a wide variety of music as I drive.  Eventually, something in my mind will tell me to take the next turn to the right or left and, without questioning it, I comply.  I trust in the process that has served me for decades.  Somewhere ahead is a picture that I am meant to take, possibly after several turns, trusting to blind luck.  I hear someone thinking, “What if you hit a dead end?”  A dead end, to me is simply a sign that says, “Go back, Jake… you missed something.”  I then backtrack, keeping my eyes and mind open until I get the next intuitive command to turn.

From where I am in Tennessee, I can be in Kentucky to the north in 30 minutes, or an hour’s travel gets me to Memphis, the Mississippi and the west beyond. A drive south can have me in Mississippi and Alabama in an hour, and to the east, the whole of the state of Tennessee beckons, with the roads leading east to Nashville, Knoxville and elsewhere west.  One never knows what one can find on the highways and side roads that criss-cross the land.

I tend to think that all of life is much like that.  You can follow the well planned and paved roads that have been placed there by people who want to tell you where to go.  I’m sure that many people find their “directed adventure” quite entertaining and educational.  They’ll see plenty of highway, dotted with planned stops and tourist destinations.  You really haven’t traveled until you’ve hit one of the iconic Stuckey’s stores that still dot the highways, for a quick lunch or a world famous “nut log.”  I’ve found, however, that some of the best “road eats” are found when thirst and hunger tells you to “get off HERE.”  On one trip, traveling with Devora Zada Moon, through Missouri, we did a quick turn to Marceline,  which was Walt Disney’s boyhood home.

Of course, we took time to tour the museum and enjoy the many exhibits and curios that can be found there and then we learned of Ma Vic’s restaurant on Main Street.  We made our way there for some of the best comfort foods to be found anywhere in the middle of nowhere!  But the highlight of the lunch was their famous “Dusty Miller” sundae!  Let me tell you that you haven’t had an ice cream sundae until you’ve tasted one of these.  It consists of two scoops of delicious vanilla ice cream, two ladles of marshmallow syrup, two squirts of chocolate syrup, two heaping teaspoons of malted milk powder and a maraschino cherry on top!  Once outside, the voice in my head told me to grab my camera, and things to shoot were everywhere in this small central Missouri town.  An hour later, we were back on the road again to Kansas City, well fed, wide awake and ready for more adventures further down the road.

I can’t lay claim to inventing my form of intuitive explorations.  I’m sure that many others have found it as well, with or without cameras.  I am sure that I could find something to take pictures of along a super highway, and in the big cities along the way, but I would be taking the same tired old shots taken by thousands of tourists before.  And I would have missed the real adventure on that lazy back road.  I’m reminded now of the poem by Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

I’m not a man to follow the same path that others happily take.   I can’t do it in my every day life, and I can’t do it and remain creative in my thinking and in my art.  I might be alone, and I might sometimes be lonely, but through it all, I am me.

The Orders of The Sect of the Horned God

The Order of Pan
The Order of Cernunnos
The Order of Prometheus
The Order of Dionysis
The Order of Shiva