In a place you only dream of,
Where your soul is always free.
- Green Grass and High Tides, Hughie Thomasson
These are lyrics from the 1975 song by the southern rock band, The Outlaws. It kicks off a playlist I often listen to when I'm riding my motorcycle across the backroads. This song's "vibe" has always evoked a feeling of gliding down southern highways, of adventure and good times. Like many classic southern rock songs, it feels like "summer" to me. It makes me remember when I was small and the days were long, of warm breezes and hot asphalt, windows rolled down and the FM radio turned up. The song's true meaning doesn't have anything to do with any of that, it's just how it makes me feel. These are the kind of songs that make the miles roll by, and the journey a pleasure. This song came back again and again on my playlist this weekend, and kinda captured the experience as I rode the Alabama and Florida backroads.
Astride my Harley-Davidson Sportster S, my backpack stuffed with my Canon T5 Rebel and a change of clothes, I set out to begin my next non-fiction book in earnest. The journey took me from the heart of the Wiregrass to the Gulf Coast. I paralleled the Conecuh River until it changed names to the Escambia River at the Florida border, which in turn become into Escambia Bay and then Pensacola Bay.
The book's concept is still fuzzy, but it's going to be a photographic journey retracing the steps of some of the Wiregrass's early pioneers. In terms of the book's photography, it won't be exclusively focused on abandoned structures. Its also going to tell a story. I don't want to give any more details because, frankly, I don't have any more details to give. In the short time I've been working on the project, the book's emphasis has morphed (mostly in response to research). I will say this project is going to keep me in local libraries and archives a lot more than Abandoned Wiregrass. This one is going to require serious research. I've set a personal deadline to have this book ready and published by 2024. Yep, it's going to take that long. 2024 is a hard deadline, too, as that year will have historical significance in relation to the subject material.
This weekend was a semi-serious start to this endeavor. Let's call it a light scouting expedition. I rode my bike instead of the truck because, well, its a lot more fun and gas prices. The weather was hot but perfect. I learned a few lesson about trying to mount a photo expedition from the back of a motorcycle, the most important of which is backpacks suck. I'll need to invest in a decent saddlebag before I try this again. However, it worked out. The music played in my helmet, the miles rolled by, and before I knew it, I'd reached the Gulf of Mexico and expedition's end.
It started in the green grass, and ended at the high tides.
It was a lot of fun, and I can't wait to do it again. It also reminded me how much I love the place I live.
Here are a few images from the journey.
Green grass and high tides forever,
Castles of stone souls and glory...
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