My sister and I were photo exploring one beautiful afternoon – during a welcome break from our cold, cold winter this year – when I caught sight of this young woman riding her bike. Gravel roads aren’t easy to navigate on two wheels but her fat tires apparently were up to the task!


A favorite bike trail crossing of mine on the Great Western Trail is just a few yards off of this gravel road intersection. It’s a good stopping point to tip back our water bottles, compare notes on the ride and turn back to the trailhead where our vehicle awaits us.

Central Iowa gravel roads are a twisting, turning maze of this way and that. I’m never quite sure where the highway is to take me home again but that’s part of the adventure when I’m on a photo expedition. Finding this particular intersection – 33rd Avenue and Fillmore – has eluded me for weeks.

Until now.

I was delighted a few nights ago to stumble onto a not-yet-travelled strip of gravel with gorgeous old barns, windmills and fields of cattle. While I had yet to find anything that caught my photographic eye that evening, I did make a happy discovery: the 33rd Avenue road sign. Could this be it? I drove along for a mile or two and there it was. I’d found it.

I was further thrilled another quarter mile or so to come across an old single-lane bridge. The road was lined by swamp and deep woods on either side. When I exited my car to snap a few photos, I had to make it quick as the mosquitoes – late in the evening as it was – were literally out for blood, aghast (or perhaps thrilled?) at my intrusion.

It was a successful outing. I’d found a bridge to photograph and more importantly, my elusive intersection was elusive no more.

Cee’s Which Way Photo Challenge: 2015 Week #33


Traveling the gravel roads that circumvent and intersect the bike trail route we rode this past weekend, my husband and I enjoyed each new sight and discovery we made as the road turned this way and that, as we crested every hill and as we drove throughout the countryside, including this broad vista where four-legged beauties quietly grazed.

Sunday drives, sometimes associated with days long past, are a leisurely pursuit ideal for ‘hunting’ with camera in hand and my best friend at my side.

On a quest to learn more about myself, I decided one day in early November to just chuck it all, to throw myself into something new, to stretch myself to see if there wasn’t something more inside me that I had not yet been made aware of and to get out there and explore my world.

Well, for the day anyway. Bill was golfing with his brother and would be gone for a few hours. I love him to the moon and back but like any sane, normal person I need and cherish my alone time, my down time, my ME time.

I ate a quick breakfast of toast and peanut butter and washed it down with my favorite juice: pineapple-orange. After making sure my cell phone and camera batteries were both charged and not an inkling of where it was exactly that I wanted to go, I jumped into the F-150. We purchased it more than ten years ago but drive it only occasionally, using it primarily for hauling things or whenever – like now, with Bill out of town – we need a second vehicle. Still, it has over 100,000 miles but runs like a champ. It has a sporty look to it (the letters STX, whatever that means, are painted on the rear side panels) and at first I was a little embarrassed by the loud, throaty rumble of the muffler. I wanted Bill to replace it with something quieter but after I drove it the first time, I kind of liked the rush of power and energy – and oomph!- that I felt behind the wheel, so I told my husband “Let’s keep it the way it is”.

Pulling out of the driveway, I still wasn’t sure where I wanted to go. I toyed with visiting a gift shop not far from here that is set up in a grand old barn, filled with antiques and decorative items of interest. It’s a beautiful place and has some lovely things but I wasn’t really in the mood to shop. I just knew that I wanted to get out of the house, drive along some quiet, gravel road and perhaps stumble across something interesting, something unique, something funky, something beautiful. And to snap a few photos which is always my ultimate goal.

I headed south out of town and after a mile or two turned right onto the first virgin gravel road, that is, one I’d not been on before. The sky was overcast and it was only a little chilly. There was no breeze. It was calm and still. Fortunately, I encountered no traffic on my lonely stretch of gravel as I drove a few hundred yards, stopped and took a few photos, drove a few hundred yards further, stopped and snapped a few more. Sometimes I merely stopped, taking in the beauty of the not yet harvested corn fields or the sound of a small stream or to watch in wonder as a pheasant poked his way through the downed stalks, no doubt pecking for nuggets of corn on the ground.

I didn’t shoot any real good photographs that day – it would have been nice if the sun had been more cooperative and there was some blue sky and wispy clouds to frame and complement the shots I did take – but the peace and solitude of this brief excursion was memorable, and enjoyable, nonetheless.