Lately I’ve been trying to think of something I can do everywhere I go. Some people do a funny dance. Some people get led around by their girlfriend.
Years ago while visiting Scotland I thought it might be fun to eat McDonald’s in every state of the US. Despite what you may think, McDonald’s is bound by culture and it doesn’t taste the same everywhere. I know for a fact that there are a couple menu items offered in Texas and Montana that aren’t available anywhere else. The problem is, I stopped eating fast food a few years ago as a way to save money, and after a while I stopped wanting it. I don’t think I’ve been to a McDonald’s or Burger King type establishment more than five times in the last three years. I’m already going to be engaging in some gastronomical challenges on this adventure whether I like it or not. The thought of eating McDonald’s every week for four months doesn’t sit well with me, or my stomach.
So I’ve been trying to think of other things I could do to boil down my trip into an easily accessible montage of experiences. One thought I had was to take a picture of the view from my bed every night. In theory I’ll be staying at a lot of different campsites and in a numbers of different homes, so I think that might be a cool collections of photos. I’m a bit worried about taking photos of private homes when couch surfing, but should my hosts object I think it would be acceptable to skip a night or two.
I suppose photos lend themselves to this kind of concept. The problem is, so many of the first things you think would make good photos have already been done, or overdone. One of the first strangers to take note of my blog was Toemail (I’m likely to contribute to them, but if I take too many feet photos it just feels like copying). I could have a little traveling stuffed animal pose in my photos, but that seems too common. The fact is, having something to do in every place you go is just a fun idea, and it’s no surprise so many people had the same thought before I decided to hit the road. But my trip will be different than theirs no matter what I do, so it shouldn’t bother me that we chose the same way to commemorate it.
But it does bother me.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve enjoyed taking pictures of people taking pictures. It happens whenever I visit any kind of tourist attraction. I arrive at the attraction, look at it with whatever mix of awe or curiosity or reverence is appropriate, and then I turn around. It has always fascinated me to see a bunch of strangers all crowding in next to each other to stare and some object or location that they traveled so far to see. I rarely bother to take photos of the attractions themselves, unless I see a particularly interesting angle. It just seems too expected, and therefore overdone. I’m not a professional photographer and I don’t have a professional camera and there’s no way I’m going to take a picture of the Trevi Fountain better than what I will find online. But I can take a decent photo of the hundreds of people standing around looking at it. I suppose I prefer to take that with me, since the crowd speaks more to my experience than the actual fountain ever will.
So I suppose technically I already have a thing, and this is it. I love taking pictures of other people as they enjoy their trips. I worry that it won’t be enough, since a big part of my plan is to visit lesser known attractions and roadside stops, where in theory there won’t be so many tourists. But I suppose it is America and it is the summer. I can’t be the only one out there on vacation.
I can’t wait to show you my Grand Canyon shots.
That’s awesome…my first thought when you talked about taking pictures of people taking pictures was my time at the Trevi fountain, so to see that immediately after made me chuckle 🙂
One day I hope to visit the leaning tower of Pisa to take a picture of everyone pretending to hold it up.
I’ve toted a small green robot figure around the world as long as I can remember. It’s even been in places multiple times (re-creating the shot). I do like the idea of doing something in every place. My family has re-created many shots of us as kids in some place and then 18 years later in the same place, same pose.
I also heard a This American Life NPR episode that discussed people making different types of maps, with taste, colors or feelings. In one instance, a guy mapped his whole town out by what the faces of the carved pumpkins for Halloween looked like around the neighborhoods. I thought about you and our trip when hearing this and about how you’re going to be making your own map of the US. The map you have trailed out is really neat and it will be awesome to see how you add photos that unite your whole trip! Especially the stop in LA!
I have a little purple gorilla named Zyrtec that I always take when I travel, though I’ve never taken pictures with him. This might be a good time to start…
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