There is the old adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” I find this is something that I have to put into play quite a lot in my life, even more so now that we find ourselves on our ongoing “adventure of a lifetime” roadtrip across this great country of ours. Traveling across the land hauling your life along with you is exciting but as you can imagine, it presents some challenges.
For all the prep and planning we do, life on the road can throw you curve balls when you least expect them and you have to just roll with the punches and see where it takes you. Often times if you look for the positive you will find opportunities will present themselves…. There is nothing I like more than times when you find that you have taken a wrong turn down the “wrong road” or had a issue that waylays you, rather than becoming a problem… it puts you in a place you never expected to be and it turns out to be exactly where you were supposed to be. What I mean by this, is an opportunity or an experience presents itself that you never would have had if it had not been for that problem or mistake you made that got you here. Some call it Kismet or even Destiny. Whatever you call it, if you keep your eyes open you find some pretty cool experiences and photos to be made. See the photo below which I created on the one such incident…
Earlier this fall we were just wrapping up spending the last 6 months bouncing around the Pacific Northwest up and down the coast from Northern California to Canada. Now heading towards Utah, I mistakenly turned East too early and instead of taking an easy cut across the mountains in a valley, ended up on a very narrow, twisty & windy road through the Shasta Trinity Mountain range. This makes for a white knuckle ride when you are pulling a 42 foot rig…. 31,000 lbs of fun as you make your way over hills and around narrow passages. Not only was it a scary drive on it’s own, but the skies were jet black as an impending storm was about to hit. Just when I began to really curse myself, trying to decide if I should turn back or press on through, I decided to pull over next to the river that was following my path just before the skies opened up to dump rain on us.
What I saw when I got out that I could not see while driving, was the view down river to our rear. Here was this AMAZING mountain river location with the most incredible light shining from the clouds and shining through the oncoming rain that was falling. I am lucky that I always try to have my camera ready and I was able to capture this amazing scene as it unfolded before me. The only thing missing was a fly fishermen to complete the scene which I then added in with Photoshop later. It made for a killer book shot and will also no doubt bring in some decent stock sales opportunities down the line. I call this shot, “When a wrong turn puts you exactly where you are supposed to be.”
Another amazing opportunity that came from a bit of misfortune was when we were on our way from Park City Utah, to our March/April homebase of Breckenridge Colorado. About 1/2 way there, in a little nothing town called Meeker CO, we had a mechanical issue with our tow vehicle which forced us to stop. As luck would have it, there was a nice little RV Park just opening for the fishing season right on the river about a mile from where we broke down. After checking in and getting the RV set up we set out to investigate our surroundings. What we found was the little town of Meeker resembled more of a ghost town than anything. It was during dinner that we asked the proprietor what there was to do in this town as we were going to be here a few days… It was then that he mentioned that “every one is out at the dog races” for the weekend.
Turns out he was right because by the time we got finished dinner, the little town was suddenly overtaken by teams of people with their dogs. After talking with some of them I learned that this weekend the final races for the season where taking place about 40 miles away up in the White River National Forest. The exact directions I got from 3 different people were, “Just drive down this road a mile and turn right at ‘the sign’ and follow that road 39 miles until it ends” I thought to myself, “Umm…. Ok. that doesn’t sound weird at all” as I looked on the tiny road to nowhere on the map. So despite any reservations, the very next morning I set off in good faith driving the 40 some miles farther down this tiny road taking me farther and farther from the tiny town of Meeker into the wilderness…. all the while thinking, “this must be some kind of joke”. In actuality it was a very pretty drive….. After about an hour, low and behold the road ended as I had been told and there in the middle of the woods was this mini winter festival of dog sled enthusiasts and about 100 dogs. You knew you were here as you pulled up because of the sound… ALL the dogs are barking! It’s quite exciting walking around and seeing everyone getting ready for the races. I have never seen dogs so excited about getting ready to run. As their handlers get them harnessed up and hitched onto one another they are loosing their minds, barking and tugging at their leashes. They actually have to tie them off to their cars or they would just take off without them. All in all it was quite a cool experience & you won’t find a nicer group of people. Everyone was interested why I was there and who I was shooting for. I got a quick lesson on the happenings of the day and intros to the folks running the show and the Rocky Mountain Dog Sled club. I even met a nice older gentleman named Mike who was having his 70-something birthday that day and heading out on the course racing his dogs. He’d been racing for over 35 years and not about to slow down now.
As I clicked away watching group after group of dogs heading out onto the trail towing their various handlers on sleds and skis, (Skijouring) it struck me yet again how cool this is… here I am stuck in the middle of nowhere with no-one who can even look at my truck until Monday and I find myself with this opportunity to shoot some amazing sled dog races, continue building my book and meet some really great people in the process. Turned out to be a great weekend! I love my job!