Discovering People is a Big Part of the Journey

There are many things that lure me to travel and keep the passion flaming inside to see more of God's beautiful green earth.  I love the planning, the getting there, the road trips, the seeing remarkable things with my own eyes, the process of photographing them and  the way it deepens my faith.  But one thing I'm really growing to appreciate is the people I meet and see along the way.

 My friend Vickay chatting with a gentleman from  Europe who hiked the Hooker Valley Trail in Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park in New Zealand.

My friend Vickay chatting with a gentleman from  Europe who hiked the Hooker Valley Trail in Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park in New Zealand.

I've always thought traveling outside the USA was the most exciting. I love all the Kiwis I've met in New Zealand with their hospitality, cute little accents and helpfulness as I navigate throughout their country.  The language barrier in China and South Korea meant I had to observe rather than engage. But after some intensive road trips within my own beloved country, I'm finding that there are far more generous, kind and interesting people right here at home than I thought. 

 A really nice guy traveling alone in New Zealand apologized for getting in my picture but I told him "Don't be silly!" and we had a nice little chat.  

A really nice guy traveling alone in New Zealand apologized for getting in my picture but I told him "Don't be silly!" and we had a nice little chat.  

I love the folks who work in restaurants and convenient stores in towns that attract many thousands of people a year,  yet they themselves haven't actually seen these places.  It always astounds me when someone has lived somewhere for his entire life yet he hasn't made the hike down into the Grand Canyon to see Havasu Falls, for examples, and he doesn't seem particularly bothered by what he's missing.  Yet he'll gladly give me helpful tips and tell me stories of what he's heard to make my experience better.

 This colorful character from Australia struck up a conversation with me on a boat tour of Milford Sound in New Zealand.

This colorful character from Australia struck up a conversation with me on a boat tour of Milford Sound in New Zealand.

All the wonderful outdoor enthusiasts I encounter who appreciate God's creation share a special bond with those who embrace outdoor adventures as I do. There's a familiarity  or a feeling of family when I'm in the middle of nowhere and some hardcore woman strikes up a conversation about the exciting things I'll see right around the corner.  And hearing her story, which she entrusts to me as she shares, is a privilege bestowed upon those who appreciate the adventure as much as she does.  

 Visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set a few years ago led us to meet the fabulous Mr. Ian Brodie in New Zealand, photographer and author of best sellers like the Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook and others. 

Visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set a few years ago led us to meet the fabulous Mr. Ian Brodie in New Zealand, photographer and author of best sellers like the Lord of the Rings Location Guidebook and others. 

I've been impressed with the nature of many fellow photographers I've met and gotten to know along the way as well. My opinion is that many portrait photographers are quite territorial, but landscape and nature photogs seem more than willing to share their space.  Perhaps because we work in the outdoors it's difficult to be sour, but whatever the reason I suppose we know that there's plenty of globe to go around so there's no need to be territorial. 

 Photographers crowd over the Virgin River in Zion National Park in Utah at sunset.  They're some pretty nice people!

Photographers crowd over the Virgin River in Zion National Park in Utah at sunset.  They're some pretty nice people!

At Horseshoe Bend last month, since I spend the entire day just lingering there, I took many pictures for many people. Busloads of tourists from China and Japan in particular came and went.  But it was fun to be hiking up to the Delicate Arch feeling like I just wanted that hill to stop being so steep and hearing, "Hi, do you remember me from Horseshoe Bend?"  And then having a talk with that family from China about all we've experienced and seen.  

 One of the tourists at Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona who I ended up running into a few days later in Utah.

One of the tourists at Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona who I ended up running into a few days later in Utah.

People watching and including them in my photos has become more a fixture in my journeys as well, as I notice that, as beautiful as places are, they don't mean much without people.  To see a couple enjoying a sunset or a family experiencing their first ever glimpse of the Milky Way is really encouraging... "Yeah, they see it, too."  

I guess what I'm trying to say in my feeble way is "thank you" to all the wonderful people I've been over the years, who've made my journeys such a pleasure.  I can't wait to see who is on the horizon!