Many of my dilemmas about photographing U.S. 89 have had the same solution: pay attention to what is right in front of me. I have wanted one more photo from the Phoenix area and I came down on this trip with the idea to get “it”, and having no idea what “it” was.
I look for subjects that link the highway’s history to the present, and especially stories about how communities along the route are reinventing themselves. The New Years football events are the big thing in this area, not something that I could find any angle of interest. That is, until through an unlikely coincidence, I met someone just this week who explained how it all ties to the highway itself.
I don’t know why these coincidences still surprise me–they happen frequently enough in this project. My mom’s best friend just happened to meet a man, less than a week ago, who created Tempe Town Lake and oversaw the redevelopment of Mill Avenue, AKA old U.S. Highway 89 in Tempe. Mom invited him to brunch; he offered to help me scout locations on the lake for photos (including secret parking spots, essential when your event draws 100,000 spectators). And so for the first time in years, R and I were out on the town at the stroke of midnight on New Years Eve.
Not that it was much of a night out for R. Two fireworks shows, Tempe being very civilized in celebrating New York’s New Years (get those kids to bed), a marching band parade, and about 8 hours on our feet. Luckily, the last half hour we were close enough to the car to bring along the lawn chairs as well as all the gear. No champagne, or any beverage of any sort, because of the risk of a bathroom shortage, which proved unfounded, but our vehicle was bone dry.
The old Mill Avenue bridge, our highway’s historic span over the Salt River, is completely shut down to traffic so they can launch fireworks from it. The closure extends seven blocks down the old 89, turning the street into a crowd-packed Fiesta Bowl Block Party. And now that the Fiesta Bowl has moved to Glendale and Tempe has started the Insight Bowl, four sets of football fans come to Tempe for the celebration. Lots of fans, local families with kids, college students wobbly from beer long before midnight. We enjoyed a reggae-influenced band on one of the stages alongside a family from India, heard the West Virginia University marching band play that John Denver hit, Country Roads, and ate some sushi.
This picture is from the north side of the lake, near the marina. (Sculling is a big deal on the lake, built in 1999. Fishing is very popular too.) One of a series of classic shots I made at the 10 pm show, to have in pocket in case my midnight location didn’t work out. Otherwise, I was planning a return visit for 4th of July, which I guarantee would be a lot hotter working conditions. I might still come back for that, but I don’t have to. I completed all of my major objectives for this trip, which is a great way to end the year.
Or start a new year, depending on how you look at it. Human nature being what it is, I am as bad as anyone at keeping New Years resolutions. Or even remembering them. The difference between good intention and results is accountability. If I keep my goals secret, then I can conveniently let them drift away. Not this year. I may fail at some of these, but at least I will remember where I wrote them down. Here.
- Get in shape: I want to hike to Holly Lake in the Tetons again, military press my camera bag, fit into a certain olive green dress that I wore to my sister’s wedding, and be ready for a big trip in April 2009.
- More healthy action: get that baseline mammogram my doctor ordered.
- Find a publisher for the Highway 89 project.
- Learn to ride a horse.
- Take more salsa lessons.
- Install CS3 – which puts me on the upgrade spiral of desktop, laptop, storage, etc. I’ve resisted the disruption of workflow as much as expense.
- Establish a systematic keywording workflow. I’m going to start with Lightroom, but if I don’t like it, I will not let it become an excuse.
- Launch snappola.com. I already have the URL and the plan.
- Shoot the wedding dress remix-which requires a model, a trip to the mountains, and a veil. I already have the dress. Probably will wait until June, for the shot I have in mind. I’ve had it in mind since 2006, this is the year.
- Make a Turducken–I read Paul Prudhomme’s recipe for this chicken in a duck in a turkey extravaganza at least 15 years ago. Millie has already agreed that we will do it together. We roasted a pig, surely we can accomplish stuffing three birds.
So there it is, more things for my GTD list, which I didn’t even bring on the trip. We are heading home tomorrow, a two day project in itself, unless we are up very early and drive very late. I expect it more likely that R will insist on a latte, and I will have more things to say to my mom, and our launch will be leisurely. I’m not in a rush to get back to that to-do list. Only 365 more days–2008 is a leap year and I am counting on that extra 24 hours.