Sunday, April 7, 2013

Slow Travel...

   Since photography's inception, people have been carrying cameras into the wilderness to record the things they saw.  In the 19th century it was quite a cumbersome affair.  Huge wooden box cameras and glass is amazing to consider how far we've come technologically speaking.  But with all our convenience and ease, in both traveling and photographing, I believe something precious has been lost.

Photographing the Train
   In the 19th century the journey was every bit as important as the final destination.  In Corrine Smith's book on Thoreau's travel to Minnesota, "Westward I Go Free", she describes in great detail the long and arduous train journey he and his traveling companion had to endure to reach their final destination.  What took them many days to do, we can now accomplish in a few hours in a plane.  We would fly over the land, 30,000 feet above everything that matters, while Thoreau slowly moved through the landscape discovering amazing things out the window as he chugged along the tracks.

   When I traveled in Scotland back in 2005, I took a train from Glasgow to Fort William.  I traveled in a restored steam train, the only steam train in the UK that makes regularly scheduled trips as a passenger train and not a tourist attraction.  It was an amazing experience. Since trains often travel through remote places, I got to see landscapes I would have missed if I'd made the trip by car.

The Engineer at Fort William
    As a child, my family would drive to upstate New York from our Eastern Massachusetts home.  It was a two day journey then because there were no super highways to speed our journey.  My mother would pack a lunch and we would picnic along the way and stay a night in a roadside motel.

   Yes, slow travel is a thing of the past but it needn't be.  Why not plan your own slow journey this year?  If you can't go by train, load up your car for an extended road trip.  Make frequent stops along the way and don't be in a terrible hurry.  Judge the success of your trip not by how quickly you can get from point A to point B but by how many new and wonderful sights you see along the way!



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