A Letter From Lynne

As most of you know.  I am undertaking a three month journey across the US and back photographing our amazing country for good and for worse.  I will be sending updates on a daily basis to my assistant, Tania, who will create a newsletter of my photographs and comments on a periodic basis.  Although I am posting blogs myself when I have internet service, there are many interesting things that happen along the way that you might be interested in that aren't necessarily high art, including tips of where to go, where not to go (after tonight), and other anecdotal, behind the scenes images and thoughts that will give you a better idea of what it is really like for  woman to go across the country alone...  Driving across West Texas and into New Mexico made me realize that it isn't necessarily the safest thing for a single female to do alone. Just one of the stories you can read in the newsletter.

I started the drive from Sarasota to the Panhandle, which was pretty tame.  Saw the largest beef jerky stand in Otter Creek ever and I thought that was news.  The water was dark and filled with algae in Wakulla Springs and I had a hot night in Davis Bayou, Mississippi.  Things only got hotter.  Houston was almost 100 degrees and it is just as humid.  Didn't even consider going out into nature, and frankly, that is what is going to happen to a lot of nature lovers if global warming keeps escalating the way it is.  Spent the day in an air conditioned museum and didn't even mind how overly cold they kept the museum.  The next morning, I got up before the sun so I could run without melting.  Left early, so the sun wouldn't kill me in the car.  Unfortunately, I hit a huge Texas pothole and blew out my tire.  Turns out four people before me and two after me suffered the same unfortunate experience and I was out of there by 11:00 am.  Who knows how many more people lost their tires that day.  From there, I went to Austin, where it hit 102 degrees. Turns out there is a big difference between 99 degrees and 102.  Each additional degree is exponentially brutal.  People who think a degree or two of climate change is small peanuts are out of their minds.  I ran in Austin too, although a little later since my friend had to drop her son at school first.  Thank God we were done by 9:00.  Went to the botanical gardens later that afternoon and I made the mistake of taking a macro photograph of a cactus in the sun.  After five minutes of taking multiple exposures to stitch, I was covered in sweat and about to faint.  The lady in the gift shop said no one goes out in September.

Driving on to New Mexico through West Texas, I was lucky enough to hit one of those famous Texas cool waves of 95 degrees.  When my hostess in Austin told me a heat wave was 95 degrees, I thought she was kidding.  Now I know she wasn't lying.  Don't know if I could have gotten out of the car one more time if I hadn't hit that cool wave.  Went to Hamilton Pool and happily took photos of the pathetically small waterfall (which I assumed was a large as I had seen it in photographs) from the middle of the pond with fish biting me, because thank goodness I was wet.  Almost stepped on a snake that looked an awfully lot like a water moccasin.  Pretty sure it was–we have those in Florida too.  Luckily, I saw it in time...  It was going for the only wet cool spot, just like me.  I figured it needed it more than I did, so I gave the snake the right of way.  Then I decided to visit LBJ's childhood home and realized his ancestors had it pretty darn tough.  Talk about unforgiving land...   Next, I walked around Enchanted Rock for a bit but decided I would hike to the summit on my way back through Texas in November, as I was done with melting and figured heat stroke was a strong possibility.  It was 2:00 by then and I figured I better get serious about the drive to Carlsbad. In west Texas, I passed through Harper.  There was a sign by the side of the road just past the church that exhorted everyone to "Pray for Rain."   No wonder.  When I passed by the Perdenales River just outside the town, there wasn't a drop of water in it.  Luckily, I had filled up my tank with gas in Fredericksburg, because there was no more gas until Fort Stockton and I was about on empty when I got there.  If I thought the drive from Fredericksburg to Fort Stockton was desolate and strange, it was on the drive from Fort Stockton to Carlsbad that I really wondered about my sanity driving alone across the country.  Fortunately, I was still listening to William Heat Moon and he was stranded in a snowstorm driving up to the Bristlecone pines.  Things could be worse.  Maybe.

I arrived at my hotel in Carlsbad to find multiple police cars casing the joint.  Not surprisingly,that made me a little apprehensive right.  Drove around the block after I checked in and saw the police officers interrogating a bunch of people down an alley right by the hotel.  After I took the first load of my stuff up to the room (decided I better get everything), I saw someone had propped the door open with a trash can.  Phoned the front desk and they called the police back.  Once I got back into my room, I decided skipping dinner was the safest course of action.

On the positive side, I have finally come up with a name for my car: "True Blue!"  The car got me safely across West Texas and that was a great thing, since it would not have been a good idea to break down with no one around, even though I traveled with lots of supplies.  I believe women are much safer when they are traveling with men in remote locations.  Definitely keeping my eyes and ears open...Always appreciate survival tips!

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