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BCA News: Fall 2018

Photo Trip Across the USA in a RV

Connie Johansen, FBCA

We all plan for big photo events at work and often things don’t go the way we expect them to, so we have to adapt on the fly. Such was the case as I set off with my husband Lee and our two teenagers Jacob and Joshua and our furry friends (3 cats and 3 dogs) for what we thought would be the vacation photo trip of a lifetime across the USA. But as is often the case, things didn’t exactly go to plan.

We put our house up for sale and took off across the country in our RV. We spent the first night in a Wal-Mart parking lot because we left late and all the RV parks in Gettysburg were closed. No worries, Wal-Mart lets trucks and RVs spend a night in the parking lot. They know we will always need something and so will buy it there.

The next stop was the beautiful Finger Lakes region of New York state. Lee and the boys went hiking at Watkins Glen State Park and got some great photos. I had to stay with the dogs because RV parks do not allow pets to be left alone, even though ours would be fine. Lee dragged his tripod and backpack full of photo equipment, and the boys did great with their phones. They got some great shots.

Then it was on to Bar Harbor and where we stayed several days, waiting for the light to be perfect. Plus, by then we had lots of laundry, so I was off to the laundromat, where I fell flat on my face, tripping over the step up that I did not see with a basket of clothes I was carrying. Family still calling me clumsy. :-)

We did get some good shots at Acadia Park, and again the boys did just as good with their phones, except for the long exposure shots we did at the lake. So, the first day we went to Acadia, we took the dogs. It is really difficult to take photos with them along but they enjoyed the hike. After that we took turns going up into the park, without the dogs. Lee and I got up very early one morning and of course the light was horrible that day though we got a few shots.

I stayed behind with the dogs, so Lee and the boys could explore Niagara Falls.

The RV broke down on the way to the Great Lakes at the Ernie Pyle Rest Stop. Got a tow to the nearest Ford dealer in Sturgis, Michigan which was surprisingly close. We stayed the night in the Ford dealer's parking lot and they had it fixed the next day. Whew!

We had high hopes for the Badlands, but the weather did not cooperate. We stayed two days, but the bright gray skies persisted and even the golden hour light was not golden. I did better with IR, got more contrast but the sky was still bad. Stayed near Mount Rushmore for a couple of days and again the weather did not cooperate. We did get some souvenirs for the family. Then we drove through Sturgis and Deadwood, which was very crowded and not what we imagined. Oh well, got more souvenirs.

Devils Tower was awesome, but the sky was that bright gray that ruins the shot. The highlight was staying in Devils Tower campground and watching the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" with Devils Tower in the background. The movie was filmed there, so it was kind of cool.

Yellowstone was awesome, but it was so crowded that it was difficult to get good shots. At least the weather was good. Jake got a good photo of a bison walking past the RV, just walking down the road, and the boys got some great photos with their phones. At that point, we could not drive the car we were towing because the tags were expired. We had just bought it and the 30-day temporary tags expired. We did not want to get tags before we left because we would have to pay Maryland taxes. So, driving the RV through Yellowstone it was tough to pull over and take photos. There were a few places where we could park and walk though. We saw quite a few tourists doing dumb things, like getting way to close too the bison and elk, even though there are signs all over that warn against it. We stayed a couple of days but soon realized that it would take a couple of weeks to see everything. Saving that for another trip, just us, no kids and no pets. Well, maybe the kids.

By that time, we were really tired of driving, so it was on to Priest Lake, Idaho to visit family. We stayed there a while, and then ended up in Snohomish Washington.

Anyway, it was eventful, just not the awesome photo trip we had planned for. We made it to Snohomish, near Seattle on September 15. Here we are living in the RV in our daughter’s driveway, enjoying the grandkids. The house in Maryland is not sold yet, although we did have a buyer, the deal fell through, after our furniture was picked up. If you know anyone that needs a 4-bedroom home with an elevator, let me know. Oh, it’s great to be back home in the Pacific Northwest.


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