Day Trippin’: Algonac and Saint Clair, MI

“Comfort zone is a delusion.”

― Fahim Khan

When I like something, I like to really like it. I go deep, all-in, especially if it’s something that I’ve been introduced to by someone I treasure. I like to think I surround myself with people of tantalizing taste — they don’t shift with the breezes of the latest fads, but rather, they eccentrically experience their interests, and are unashamed. This. Is. Sexy. And I will dive right in there with them, to understand everything I can about this object of their affection, because their love for it is such a beautiful thing, and that beauty is infectious.

I also intimately understand this phenomenon of being crazy focused on something that isn’t really on the pyramid of basic needs, but for whatever reason, it’s part of who I am. Not only that, it’s what keeps me, me. Sometimes I wonder if I’m borderline addicted to it.

That thing, of course, is traveling.

If the withdrawal symptoms are any indication, I am unquestionably an addict. Too long without at least a small road trip that involves a minimum of two highways, and I become exceedingly prickly.

Flip side, just a 40 minute drive with something non-work-related at the end of it will satisfy my intense cravings, at least for a little while, and bring me back to center better than any downward facing dog or silent retreat ever could.

So I’m happy that I was able to go on a very short road trip this past weekend (a little more than an hour away) and smooth down these rougher patches of my brain.

Our first stop was the state park in Algonac, Michigan. Played around with the camera on manual, which was still a chore for me as I’ve only recently decided to push myself beyond point-and-shoot, and only vaguely could recall what all the buttons and touch screen features on my Lumix actually do. But that also made it kind of exciting, not knowing exactly how the movement of the dials would change the result, but slowly figuring it out the more time I spent zigging and zagging them, this way and that.

It was an immensely cloudy day, and I didn’t get quite the brightness and color that I wanted, but I wasn’t out there to find the perfect shot. I was out there to play. Not unlike working on a script through rehearsal, exploring different angles and intonations, striking different tones to see what discoveries might be had.

Algonac State Park – photo provided by author

From there, we headed down the road a piece to Saint Clair, to indulge in some street photography in what turned out to be a very pro-Trump neighborhood.

I confess, I felt like I was walking on an alien planet. My suburb is in the metro Detroit area, and is low- to mid- white collar — even a few blue collar sections — and we’ve got the blue tendencies to show for it. Walking through a red town felt borderline bizarre, as though I were stepping behind the front lines of a cult. I decided that thought was a little too unnerving, so shifted to anthropologist mode, turning on the part of my brain that is 100% committed to understanding all points of view, even ones that make me throw up in my mouth a little bit.

I think my favorite part of the day (apart from the fantastic company, my partner in love and wandering) was having the chance to try out tips I’ve gotten from the photography blogosphere. Some of the first blogs I started following when I started this adventure (which was just a couple months ago) were photographers whose style is close to my own, but as time went on, I found myself emotionally responding to photos that I would never have even thought to take. Cars. Buildings in a small town. The intersection of the bottom of a corner store door and a sidewalk. But somehow, these artists were making banal objects completely engaging.

And I had to chuckle as I read the advice of almost all of these “I don’t know why I like you but I do” bloggers: Slow Down. Observe what the light is doing, and how the objects around you make the place what it is. Learn to walk around with your internal composition viewfinder always on.

And when you see the shot, take it.

I didn’t come out of it with the best photos, or even anywhere close to my favorite photos I’ve ever shot, but I loved giving myself permission to observe, take shots I normally wouldn’t take but a voice inside me was whispering, “Yes. This.”

It was a short adventure outside my comfort zone, but a lovely one.

Cheers to the world of blogging for the “push” in this direction. It was exactly what the wanderlust monkey on my back needed to keep the ticks and night sweats away, at least for now.

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