Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Least Exciting Roadtrip Photos in the History of the Universe™

After making my way through 40 years of life without ever feeling the need to own a camera - borrowing one occasionally from friends or family whenever I wanted to record something for posterity - I decided that the occasion of a long-overdue vacation in late September would be just the impetus I needed to finally pick up one of them fancy-dancy, new-fangled picture-makin' machines.

Although I purchased it a couple weeks before the planned eight day roadtrip down through northwestern Washington State to Portland, Oregon and back through Seattle, Vancouver B.C. and home to Victoria I decided this leisurely trip filled with ferry rides, museums, second-hand book & record stores, and exotic foreign dining spots with names like "Burgerville" and "Jack in the Box" would afford me ample opportunities to fully field-test my shiny new Canon A590.

Little could I have known that one week & one day, and five hundred memory card-busting, full resolution photos later I would return with what, learned pictorial archivists and image historians would later informally christen "The Least Exciting Roadtrip Photos in the History of the Universe™".

Did I take some interesting photos? Maybe a few. A half dozen - or, let's be generous... call it an even ten.
Sure. Ten interesting photographs. A couple nice ones of the monorail entering Seattle's Experience Music Project / Science Fiction Museum (designed by Canadian Frank Gehry). One or two nostalgic glimpses of the unchanged 1960s decor that permeates the car ferry "M.V. Coho" on the two hour trip from Victoria to Port Angeles WA. A few more more here and there. Ten measly snapshots with enough going on in each frame to hold your eyeballs focused for a few seconds. But if you do the math, and I have - believe me, I have...., that leaves four hundred and ninety clunkers wasting precious digital acreage on my hard drive.

Now, I remember a photographer friend once telling me that to get the one shot that makes it to the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue they take thousands, or maybe even tens of thousands of photos that never make it. But at least in every one of those discarded images there's a BEAUTIFUL SUPER MODEL WEARING A BIKINI! My used shots consist of an endless number of nearly identical views over the top of my steering wheel as I motor down another indistinct section of the I-5. Or carbon-copy images of depressingly similar hotel rooms. Or even such mindless time wasters as just pointing the camera down to the ground and capturing for all time immemorial the early-evening-in-late-September-2008-mall-movie-theatre-parking-lot condition of my pant cuffs and sneakers.

Now, could I have taken more interesting shots?

You betcha.

Many was the time a primo photo opportunity availed itself to me such as...

-The auditorium-sized top floor meeting hall of an ornate, turn-of-the-century Elks Lodge building turned into a massive antique furniture and vintage radio graveyard located in an antiques mall in Centralia WA. Left the camera in the car a few blocks away and didn't bother to go back for it.

-The nostalgia-fueled magical wonderland that is the most well-stocked vintage toy store I've ever visited - Billy Galaxy. Inexpensive?... no. Amazing?... yes. On this, my second visit, I staggered out after a couple hours with a paper grocery bag half-full of treasured childhood memories and a substantially lighter wallet. Luckily Mr Galaxy is a flickr member and has a few shots of his store posted to give us a taste.

-The inside of the highly recommended Science Fiction Museum in Seattle. This time I took my camera, fully intending to snap away at the original art, props, costumes, and wide selection of ephemera from the history of Sci-Fi literature, films, TV and more that permeated my childhood. Unfortunately starting with a very firm warning on my ticket and continuing to posted signs, a verbal warning from the cashier, a peremptory lecture from the ticket taker at the door and finally by the constant employee patrols - it was made clear that no photography - anyhowanywaynosireebobuhuh - was allowed. Apparently this hasn't always been the case though as the above links lead to a few hundred shots from inside this hallowed hall of geekdom.

-The historic meet-up with talented animation director, illustrator, flickr pioneer and fellow vintage illustration collector Ward Jenkins (and his swell family) in his home base of Portland. We spent an afternoon invading a number of funky used book and magazine stores ferreting out kid's books from the 1940s, '50s and '60s searching for our favourite artists. Intoxicated by the aforementioned ferreting (or the inhaled 50 year old paper mold) neither Ward nor I, despite fully planning to document our late-summer summit photographically, remembered to take any photos until a couple hours after we parted ways. What follows is an attempt by historians, using the only existing source material and what scant biographical information that survived, to re-create that momentous occasion...

So what was I left to display as a travelogue of my roadtrip? How about this awarding winning masterpiece documenting the contents of my trunk on day 5!...

Or this last-minute (after realizing I had no photos of myself other than hands and feet) timeless self-portrait (one of seven, yes seven!) taken en auto while waiting for the B.C. Ferry I was on to dock the night I returned...

So... what have we learned from this exercise in missed moments and digital dullness?

TAKE - CAMERA - EVERYWHERE! Yep, simple as that. I'm sure most of you already knew that, but I guess I had to learn the hard way that whilst traveling I need to carry my camera with me at all times. And to use it whenever I can.

I guess "The Least Exciting Roadtrip Photos in the History of the Universe™" turned out to serve a purpose after all.

*Add a "1"to the left, plus about 30kms to this number to get the final length of my roadtrip as seen in this thrilling, final testament to "The Least Exciting Roadtrip Photos in the History of the Universe™".


David said...

A heart-rending story, winningly told!

Glen Mullaly said...

Well thank you sir.

Joanne said...

Good memories trump good photos!
With all the cool swag you collect, you must have the ginchiest pad around.

Glen Mullaly said...

True Joanne - I'd rather have the memories. Of course as they fail it'd be nice to have the photographic evidence as a reminder!

As far as the pad goes - I guess it depends on your definition of "ginchy". I'd say it was demi-ginchy. Or maybe ginchy-ish.

Joanne said...

Ginchy as in "filled with fun stuff to look at that reflects the personality of the owner." (As opposed to homes filled with things that somebody told the owner to buy, or things that Must. Not. Be. Touched., or places so devoid of personality that they are like a hotel room.)

Glen Mullaly said...

Well using the JSIG (Joanne Scale of Inherent Ginchiness) I'd have to rate it as "100% Ginchy" then.

As a side note: My spell-check gives me these four options when it alerts me to the fact that "ginchiness" is not a word...


I personally prefer "Crunchiness". So feel free to refer to my pad as "Crunchy".

Wishbook said...

Aha! So you don't actually look as old and distinguished as your avatar suggests to all us Flickr users. Nice to see you!! :D

Glen Mullaly said...

wishbook: I'm not sure whether to take that as a compliment - or insult!

I still don't the the misleading-age-of-my-icon-thing though. It looks like I see myself. But I've been getting that for many years, so it must be true.

Since there's lots of photos of yours truly foatin' around on the ol' internets (you just have to know where to look) I figured that my age wasn't a deep dark secret.