Remembering the well-known John Denver song -
“Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Shenandoah River –
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin’ like a breeze
Country Roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads”
There were six of us on the trip to the country roads of West Virginia. All photographers. All females of a ‘certain age.’ All looking for a little photographic adventure. And, guess what…we found it!
Have you ever tried to travel for four days with a group of friends that are still fairly new in their friendship? And now, form a mental picture of six educated, strong-willed, highly opinionated women…women all of whom are used to being in leadership roles in some capacity. As you can imagine, certain ‘ground rules’ became necessary.
We agreed to ‘rough it.’
- Go Un-plugged! Due to our remote location we had little, if any, cell phone coverage or Internet connections.
- No make-up! We were letting our ‘inner-beauty’ shine through! Ha!
- No fancy clothes! Our hiking boots, thick socks, Cuddle Duds and layers were for comfort, not a fashion statement.
- No fancy restaurants! But, I’ll guarantee you we didn’t go hungry.
We agreed to ‘be agreeable.’
- No matter what time morning wake-up was scheduled, specific shooting locations selected, or lunch choices made, no grumbling was allowed. Period.
We agreed to pack ‘light’ - but take every photography related piece of equipment we could squeeze in the back ends of the car.
- Oh wait, I think the pre-take off conversations went something like this -- “Who’s taking the cooler?” “Who’s got the heaters?” “I’ll take the snacks.” “I’ll bring the wine.” “And, I’ll bring the bug spray and coffee.” “OK. Now who’s bringing the bottled water.” “Is anyone bringing a first aid kit?” “Can I bring my sleeping bag.” “Remind me to pack my medicine.” “Is there room for….” Well, you probably can imagine how the packing went. We would have been hard pressed to have added anyone - or anything - else!
A new ground rule was created during the trip – Lead car will NOT lose sight of the second car. There’s a story there, but I won’t go into it now. ;)
But I have to say, in spite of – or perhaps because of – the ground rules, the benefits were enormous.
While the photographic opportunities were breathtaking - limited only by one’s level of energy, imagination, and attention span - perhaps the best time of each day was evening when we would gather around the table in our cabin, warmed by the glow of the fireplace. It was while enjoying a nice bowl of hot soup, fresh crusty bread, and a glass of wine that the conversations became rich.
Even though we hit a few bumps along the way, we returned home with beautiful images, new relationships firmly bonded, and a fresh surge of creative energy. It never ceases to amaze me how six individuals can photograph the same location, at the same time, often with the same make camera and lens, and see so differently.
I returned home refreshed and renewed. Through this experience I feel our friendships have reached a new depth of appreciation and understanding. After being surrounded by such talented and creative individuals, my personal creative energy and enthusiasm has been pushed to new levels.
Thank you “Femme Photogs” for taking me to the country roads of West Virginia. The trip was ‘almost heaven.’
Please feel free to visit my personal blog to enjoy more images from the trip. Images are tagged: Rural West Virginia