Liminal Travel Photography

lim·i·nal

adjective

1. relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.

2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

 

I’m not a travel person. When I could not weasel out of business travel, my usual dinner was a sandwich and diet coke from a convenience store eaten in the room. I have never been to New York City, Pairs, London, Washington DC…and have no desire to go. Having been to San Francisco more times than I can count, my only desire was to escape its crowds, dirt, and smug pretense.

I love museums and would have liked to visit my son, who went to school in Paris to see him and the museums there, but celebrating the Dark Ages in what I find to be ugly architecture isn’t on my bucket list. I enjoy Venice because it is a big tourist amusement park with boats. Munich is okay, Switzerland is pleasant, and I might like to see Moscow someday just for the hell of it, and the Scottish back country, but Europe in general holds little interest. I have a strong aversion to people waiting on me and grew up working in restaurants, gaming pits, back rooms, and basements of casinos in Reno and Las Vegas, so going to fancy restaurants and night clubs bore me. The game there is to to separate the tourists from their money. I don’t drink which lets out wine tasting and the mind numbing effects of alcohol that can make dull situations more tolerable. Oh well.

Back to “liminal.” My esthetic in photography is there, at the edges where things are stripped down to some kind of existential-ness, or at least what I perceive that nebulous idea to be. Travel is to go to those edges and see what’s there, preferably in a car, as far from the torture of modern airports and air travel as possible. There are few classically pretty pictures at the edges, that’s what makes them edges.

I drove up and down Interstate 5 in California from Los Angles to Sacramento recently. I like driving I-5. It is straight and fast with stark landscapes and blue atmospheric haze over distant hills beneath boiling cumulus clouds. I find that landscape pleasant and relaxing. I also enjoy the heat in the summer. It’s liminal I guess.

I drove up starting at 4:30AM to make a 10AM meeting then drove down to a motel in Lathrop, CA to stay overnight before driving back to southern California.

Lathrop is now a bedroom community to Silicon Valley. Many important support people without high paying jobs in tech can only afford to buy houses in places like Lathrop, Modesto, Concord, and other Central Valley towns 100+ miles from The Valley of Heart’s Delight. People commute 2-3 hours each way starting at 5AM from those places.

I walked from the motel to Denny’s for dinner at around 6PM. I had brought my street Olympus M5-III with a 35mm equivalent lens with me, but left it in the duffle, using my iPhone to take photos of Lathrop by the Interstate. The iPhone 12 mini camera is very good and can shoot directly into the sun, no sweat.

For your consideration, travel pictures from around the motel. No cathedrals, no statues, no cute tile roofs. It was much more interesting to me than the forced stasis of those things. It’s an edge with litter, construction, graffiti, fast food, advertising and all the existential flotsam that comes with living on edges where nobody tries to make it something else, something attractive to people from more settled climes, to tourists. It’s a place to drive through, to commute to and from, not a destination—an edge.

Restaurant sign

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