The Road Less Traveled
“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” (Robert Frost)
There are perhaps no other words that have resonated with me as strongly as the last lines of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”, which I first read during an English literature class in high school. Immediately, I took those words to heart and they became a metaphor for my life.
I drove 3,000 kilometers to find this stretch of road rolling along a rugged coastline, a road less traveled for an image that was in my mind’s eye before arriving in Australia. This was taken in Flinders-Chase National Park on Kangaroo Island. I’d found this location a couple days earlier; I only needed to wait for the perfect light. My final evening on the island I was exploring the Remarkable Rocks, pictured here in the far distance, when I saw a break in the clouds. I raced back to the van and drove to this spot, set up my camera on a tripod and drove past several times, using a remote to shoot dozens of frames before I captured the perfect shot to convey my message.
It always makes me smile inside when friends wish me a good vacation before departing on an extended journey. I push myself to the limits when traveling, both mentally and physically, to catch the perfect situation and create something unique, to maximize the time and light given to me and not let opportunities pass by. You could easily say I’m somewhat obsessive/compulsive, which often works to my advantage. It is anything but a vacation, it is a labor of love and I wouldn’t have it any other way. My goal is to create a life filled with adventure and beautiful moments to share with the world, a life I do not need to take a vacation from. To me, there is nothing more exciting than traveling internationally on a limited budget, making the most of what is presented and taking nothing for granted. It’s always an emotional journey for me when I go someplace new, a chance to dig a little deeper into my soul and find what I am truly capable of, what I can learn and what I have to give. Looking back, I love every minute, the good times along with the not so good and believe me, there are many challenges along the way. Even the darling little Outback town, which shall remain unnamed, whose fuel stations didn’t stay open past 7 pm, forcing me to spend the night in a motel room infested with hundreds of biting insects just to escape the brutal heat until I could fill my tank the following morning, even that experience brings fond memories. At the time I was a bit frustrated but now I can smile because, in the end, it’s all part of the same beautiful story. There was also the time I left my camera battery charger, extension cord and converter plugged in at my campsite in Wilson’s Promontory, not realizing this until I was several hours away. Thanks to the lovely couple I’d met just before leaving and given a business card to, my belongings were turned in to the visitor center staff and mailed to a friend’s home near Adelaide, where they were waiting for me the following week.
Leading up to this trip, I devoted an enormous amount of time and energy preparing, researching destinations, and planning my route. I often neglected time with friends while, coincidentally, my guitar sat in the corner gently weeping (note to self – write a song about that, unless it’s been done…). It was more than just booking accommodations and choosing places to visit, it involved preparing myself – body and mind - for what lie ahead. I arrived with boundless inspiration and a host of ideas, some of which came to fruition while others did not. One truly does not know what to expect from a new destination, what opportunities will be present and what the quality and pattern of light will be, until you find yourself there. You learn as you go and always leave something for next time, something you didn’t capture. Still, there is nothing like visiting a destination for the first time, seeing it through new eyes. In all, I spent close to three weeks living out of a camper van, exploring a part of the world that was completely new to me. Looking back, it feels much longer than it was, having experienced so much in that time. I met a bloke in the Blue Mountains a few nights ago who said something to the effect of: “I reckon you’ve seen more of Australia than most Australians. Good on ya, mate!” It was this congenial disposition, aside from the beauty and photographic opportunities, that made my journey so wonderful, so, in closing, I would like to thank the people of Australia for the gracious hospitality, for making this Alaskan feel more than just welcome, you made me feel as if I were a fellow Aussie. I can’t help it if I’ve picked up on some of your dialect & lingo (i.e., “bloke”). Saying goodbye doesn’t feel right, instead I will use the Hindi phrase “Phir mélange” which means: “Until we meet again.” We will meet again, I promise you that.
There’s a big, beautiful world waiting out there. I encourage you to explore, to go out and talk to strangers, to be an ambassador of peace. Take it from me; I just covered more than 6,000 kilometers (3,600 miles) on a road less traveled and in the end, that made all the difference.
Phir mélange, Australia.