Better Days Are Coming

Interstate 10 tunnel under the Alabama River, Mobile, Alabama. Dallas/Ft. Worth folks drive a zillion cars. Great Plains train and grain elevator south of Amarillo, Texas.
Prevailing winds shape trees sideways in Texas. Downtown Creede, Colorado. Forest Service Road near Rio Grande Reservoir, Colorado.
Whitetailed deer near Pine Point Campground, Lake Vallecito, Colorado. Road construction below Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado. Approaching the Rocky Mountains near Raton, New Mexico.

"Have you intelligently considered the broad spaces of the earth?
Tell, if you have come to know it all."
~ Jehovah, to Job

Views Through the Windshield

Various Views of Roads From Florida to Colorado, Summer 2001

A small collection of scenes viewed "through the windshield" while traveling to and from one of our favorite vacation areas: Southwestern Colorado. These are our getting there (and back) pictures.

SET 1  |  SET 2  |  SET 3  |  SET 4  |  SET 5  |  SET 6  |  SET 7  |  SET 8  |  SET 9  |  SET 10

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Text and Photos Copyright ©2002 by Carolyne Butler

Travel with us across approximately one time zone (that's about one-twenty-fourth of the earth's circumference) and see parts of seven states: Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisana, Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. The topography we traveled through ranged from sea level to above 12,000 feet in altitude, with a climate ranging from almost sub-tropical to sub-alpine. We left Florida and its sweltering July humidity, where daytime temperatures were in the mid-90s or higher (and with humidity to match), and reveled in our escape to enjoy camping in the high mountains where the nighttime temperature was often three-blankets cold.

But why limit this travelogue to "Through the Windshield" pictures? Why not real vacation pictures?

Each summer since 1998, Don and I have vacationed out West for two or three weeks. And I've taken lots of pictures - after we've gotten where we were going. For us, to get where we're going means a tiring 1600-mile drive from the Florida Panhandle to our camping destinations in Southwest Colorado, a minimum of three long days of steady driving, one way. Then we have a three-day repeat of more of the same for the return trip.

Six days is a big chunk of time to spend staring out of a windshield as mile after mile of scenery rolls past, unrecorded except in our memory as a fast-moving 1600-mile-long blur of highway traffic, cities, towns, forests, farms, ranches, swamps, prairies, and mountains. But this year, armed with a new digital camera and thus new technology (such as I can afford to tap into it), I was determined to do something I'd never been able to do before: make a visual record of that long, long ride. What you see here is a sampling of pictures from that journey.

The scenery in the United States is marvelously varied.
This pictorial collection covers only a small slice of that diverse scenery.
I hope you enjoy coming along for the ride. ~ Carolyne

(If you don't have broadband, please be patient while the pictures load.)

SET 1: Interstates 10 and 12 - Pensacola, Florida, to Lafayette, Louisana—7 pictures

SET 2: Interstate 49 - Lafayette to Shreveport, Louisana—9 pictures

SET 3: Interstate 20 - Shreveport, Louisana, to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas—6 pictures

SET 4: US 249 - Ft. Worth to Amarillo, Texas—11 pictures

SET 5: Various Highways - Amarillo, Texas, to Raton, New Mexico—11 pictures

SET 6: Interstate 25 and US 160 - Raton, New Mexico, to Durango, Colorado—15 pictures

SET 7: Colorado 149 - "The Silver Thread Byway" - South Fork to Lake City, Colorado—21 pictures

SET 8: Various Byways off Colorado 149: Creede to Lake City, Colorado—17 pictures

SET 9: Various Roads - Durango and Vallecito Lake, Colorado—12 pictures

SET 10: Colorado 550 - Durango, Colorado, to Santa Rosa, New Mexico—18 pictures

Camera Notes

About traveling pictures: For years I used a manual-focus, non-zoom Minolta SLR film camera, and I took only a few shots as we were driving down any highway. Anyone who has ever tried to take pictures from a moving vehicle, only to discover later that most of the interesting views you hoped to capture are either too far away or marred by motion blur or billboards, trees, and other obstacles that materialize in that split second when you click the shutter will understand why.

This year, however, I could snap away with happy abandon with my new digital camera with its built-in 10x optical zoom lens, knowing that it wasn't going to cost an arm and a leg for major film processing that included a bunch of blurred duds. Even amateurs such as I know that the more pictures you take (such as those taken while traveling down the highway), the better chances of getting at least a few acceptable ones. But it's only been since I've owned a digital camera that I could indulge myself in the luxury of taking a multitude of pictures.

One advantage of digital over film (unless you have loads of $$$$$): When using a film camera on previous vacations, I carefully took about 100-200 pictures per week. This year during the three weeks of our vacation, I took almost 2000 pictures. If that sounds like too many, consider this. Of the total, I erased perhaps 15 percent on the spot because of bad focus, or the bird flew away just when I squeezed the shutter, or a fly-by billboard got its unwanted picture taken. I erased a number of others after viewing them on the laptop, plus more after getting back home to my desktop PC. The remaining pictures bring back pleasant vacation memories for us.

My first digital camera: For my first digital camera - after shopping for about two years - I chose an Olympus 2100 Ultra Zoom, with 10X optical zoom (38-380mm 35mm equivalent) plus 2.7X digital zoom (over 1000mm equivalent). I also have an additional 300mm lens, which adds even more telephoto power. (You can see a sample of how that works out in the moose pictures in Set 8.) Newer varieties of cameras with more and better features than this are continually appearing on the market, but for the present - I'm having loads of fun taking pictures with my UZ and playing darkroom on my computer with the results.

About these pictures: Taking still photos from a moving vehicle with the landscape flying past, especially if the road is bumpy, is certainly not the most stable platform for taking well-planned, sharply focused shots. In these pictures, you'll see blurry foregrounds, especially when shooting sideways. You'll see light glare on the glass, and dirty splotches on the windshield from suicidal bugs, and sometimes the darkish tint of the side windows, plus the various mirrors, windshield wipers, and antennas that intrude into the view, not to mention those unexpected vehicles that have a way of popping up just when the best scenic view appears. But all that goes with the trip, for this is, after all, just some Views Through the Windshield.