She sat down next to me on the first day of the trip, as the van was leaving Seattle. In those first few days when strangers are thrown together information was exchanged quickly, in order to find common ground and establish some sort of rapport. – PE teacher, working in Kuwait, so can’t go out easily. She hated the dust. Her dress, and at times her manor, was that of a tomboy. Common ground was found in education, but conversation strayed a little too closely to matters of faith and she stiffened.
Leaving Jackson, Wyoming later in the trip was the next time the opportunity for discussion was had. At the back of the van we discussed photography.
Jackson is the gateway to the Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. I had spent the previous day in and out of the many art galleries in the town, looking at the huge range of photographic images taken around the location – stunning light, breathtaking views carefully crafted to lead the eye in. Some were indeed beautiful, others just ordinary and after a whole day of looking I was getting bored. Then I found a book by a photographer called Kathe Le Sage entitled One Woman’s Montana. Her images were muted, simple and inviting. They offered more depth, than just a perfectly lit view of the land we had been driving through. The images were raw, held nothing back from the imperfections and challenges of life in this wild place. They told me stories and they were beautiful.
‘Is photography something you just do, or can you learn how to take pictures?’ she had asked.
‘You can learn the techniques,’ I replied ‘then you have to develop your own style.’ I showed her the book. ‘This is what I aspire to’
We talked long and hard. The conversation moving swiftly from art to music, where we found greater commonality – Ben Harper, Ray La Montagne, Damien Rice. The IPODs were furiously exchanged. She introduced me to American Folk music; I gave her Dougie MacLean, a Scottish folk musician. From there we moved to Sci-Fi and the brilliance of Battlestar Galactica. What a brave decision to stop after only 4 seasons and not go on forever like The X-files. The foolish decision by ABC to cancel ‘Firefly’ and what was the name of the film they made from the TV series? Serenity.
The 400 miles through Idaho and on to Lake Tahoe flew by.
‘I never pegged you as a sci-fi nut.’ She said as we crawled out of the van.
‘Yea, I’m a closet trekkie really!’ I replied.
After two days we had a more beautifully crafted image of each other’s lives, than just a view.