Friday, September 6, 2013

Bucket List Checkmark

We all have them. A list of things we long to do if only we had the time, the money, or the nerve. Some of mine are so surprisingly easy, it's just crazy to put them off. My home is  150 miles from the Mississippi river, but I rarely go. It's a beautiful place, and as you already know, I took charge this week and went for a whirlwind adventure. Just me my boots, camera and walking stick. I hike often. I love it. I need it. I thrive on it. But I sometimes find myself charging down the trial forgetting why I'm there. My vision tunnels and I start to see only the trail.
That's not why I'm out there. The camera helps. It forces me to look around, to really see the landscape, and slow down, but what about when I'm not hiking?
Back to my bucket list. After hiking several miles, I checked into my hotel (no camping on this trip, I'm moving too fast) and took a shower. If I timed it right, I could make one of those checkmarks happen. I grabbed a quick dinner and heading back to Wyalusing. I had scouted my location earlier in the day. The goal: to watch quietly as the sun set over the Mississippi river.
On the drive out to the park, I started to fear that the clouds rolling in from Iowa would ruin my chance, but I had to try. I reached the parking lot, unloaded my chair and camera, doused myself in bug spray, and planted myself on the bluff near the monument to last passenger pigeon in Wisconsin. It seemed appropriate somehow, to be there with the ghosts of the billions of birds shot for food or sport. I had the ridgeline to myself. It was perfect. I took a minute to get the camera set up on the tripod so I could enjoy this. The sun was still relatively high in the sky as I took this shot.
At first, I was antsy. It's the bane of my existence, and it drives my husband crazy, but I felt rushed. I grabbed up the camera to take a few more handhelds to settle my nerves.
That's better. I can relax now. Just let natural time wash over me as I give control over to the planet. I didn't read, didn't think, just drifted while occasionally snapping a shot with the remote.
It wasn't a perfect sunset, but that wasn't the point. I stayed glued to my chair, waiting for the sun to tint the clouds richer and richer colors.
These were the last photos I snapped. I quickly put the equipment away and held position. Some of the best photos can be taken in that hour after the sun dips below the horizon, but I had realized that wasn't why I was out there. I have my memories of the vivid pinks darkening into magenta and purples and finally black. I had done it.

Watch sun set over the Mississippi river

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