I don’t really care for photos of mountains. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I actively dislike them. However at no point in my life can I recall thinking to myself, ‘Man, I really need to take more photos of mountains in my life to feel more fullfilled’.
And after taking just a handful of photos on the Blue Ridge Mountain, I wondered ‘what the hell do I need these for?’ Mountains are mountains. They’re nice. And they’re pretty and everything, but what makes these photos any different than the 1,000s of other photos taken on this exact same Parkway?
What makes any of these special? I’m not a professional photographer. So I know for a fact that there have been a ton of far better photographs taken from these exact same spots.
Photographers that understand big words like ‘framing’ and ‘lens speed’ and ‘exposure time’. I’m just a guy with a smart phone and a quirky sense of humor.
Which is what lead me to take a collection of artistic photos of a banana traveling the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Well that and running gag on the internet… Specifically on a website/app called Imgur.
How I got to this point
I’m a regular guy from Indiana. A little over a month ago I was a working a normal sales job doing nothing special.
Wake up. Drink some coffee. Meditate. Workout. Go to work. Come home. Cook dinner. Watch some Netflix. Time for bed.
I needed a change, and I needed to step outside the box that my life had become. I needed to push some boundaries and finally do some of the things I’ve always wanted to do, but hadn’t yet.
I had been out of the country a handful of times before. And I’d done the normal ‘vacation’ travel thing plenty. But I’d never taken the plunge to do a real ‘in-depth’ six week plus road trip where you fully immerse yourself in the experience.
To top things off, this was something that I had dreamed of doing since going to college and reading the book ‘Into the Wild’. It was a something that had been resparked when I read the Tim Ferriss book ‘Four Hour Work Week’. And it was something that I figured out how to do logistically after reading Rolf Potts travel guide bible “Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel”
So that’s how I found myself here several weeks later…having given two weeks notice at my day job…put everything I owned into storage… taking photos of a piece of fruit at a mile above sea level.
What’s with the Banana?
“It’s a banana…for scale…” I’m attempting to explain the gag to a random stranger who has joined me on one of the many mountain vistas on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“It’s a gag that a bunch of people on the internet do on this website called Imgur where they take photos of things, and they always include a banana in the photo… for scale.”
The stranger politely nods their head, smiles, and then clearly attempts to no longer engage the crazy man in conversation.
This and variations of it, happened a number of times while I was taking my photos on the Parkway.
Things like this make me laugh.
Once you’ve been ‘caught’ clearly staging photographs of a piece of fruit on the Parkway a handful of times, you get over any reservations you may have had about it.
The Parkway is filled with so many amazing views, you just have to pace yourself with it. No need to hurry, no need to rush. Everything will still be there at the next stop.
My advice though would be to wake up as early as possible if you enjoy private solitary reflection when looking out on nature. I happened to be on the Parkway for one of the busy weekends, as the leaves were starting to come into full Fall bloom. Reds, yellows, oranges and every shade in between.
Me and My Banana
It was at one of my stops that I made friends with two local college girls. We exchanged the now universal greeting of fellow travelers in photogenically rich environments, by offering to take photos of each other.
I did have one small request for mine though. I wanted to include the banana in it….for scale obviously. How else are you suppose to know how big the mountains are???
Fortunately they had heard of the gag before, and were more than happy to frame it appropriately into the photo.
After climbing down from the rock ledge where they were nice enough to have taken my photo at, I smile in reflection at the absurdity of the moment.
This isn’t normal for me. This is NOT my routine. But this IS what I’ve been doing on a daily basis the past four weeks.
I don’t know what I’ll do once my six week trip is up. But I’m not too worried about that right now. I focus on being mindful of the moment. Enjoying the experience for what it is.
In life, material possessions come and go. Buddhist speak a lot about the impermanence of all material things. I think that may be part of why I’m so drawn to the experience of this trip. Materials things will come and go in my life, and nothing in the universe is impermanent, but what we choose to do with our lives, and how we choose to live them once it’s all said and done is permanent. You can’t change the past. Once it’s done, it’s done.
When I have doubts about this trip I like to reflect on that idea.
I hope that people enjoy coming along for the ride. Because like a book I once read said… ‘Happiness only real when shared’.