My next pair of sneakers will likely feature the Nike brand. It won’t be because I want to run faster or jump higher, but to remind me of my new philosophy.
I’ve adopted the shoe company’s trademark slogan “Just Do It” as my motto, at least as far as my photography is concerned after my “stay-inside-the-lines” approach cost me dearly last month.
The trip from Hannibal to Stoughton, Wis., where my son, Jacob, and his wife, Whitney, live takes right at six hours, provided you have a good tailwind and take few bathroom breaks.
Much of the trek is through the flat farmland of central and northern Illinois. Sprinkled across the prairie is the occasional old barn, which I always find appealing. The trip also passes through three wind farms, which are also intriguing with their tall, white towers and three blades.
As we rolled north that afternoon, I couldn’t help but notice the broken clouds in the western sky. And while I’ll confess I’ve been burnt more than once chasing drab sunsets I thought would be colorful, I at least recognize the ingredients necessary for an awesome sunset. And on this particular day I was seeing them.
Sure enough, about a half hour or so later, as the sun started to slip below the horizon, its rays lit up the underside of the clouds with a wide assortment of reds. And as luck would have it, the colors were most vibrant just as we reached one of the wind farms.
It was a photographic setting I’d dreamed of since the first time I saw a wind farm. The only problem was, I had nowhere to shoot.
I was tempted to pull off on the interstate highway’s shoulder, but I kept hearing the words of an Illinois state trooper I encountered years earlier, “The highway’s shoulder is for emergencies only.” And while I considered taking advantage of this rare opportunity an emergency, I doubted any trooper I might encounter would share my sentiment.
“Surely I’ll find an exit ramp,” I told myself.
And while I passed beneath a handful of overpasses, not one of them featured an exit ramp.
My wife, Nancy, asked if I wanted our daughter, Anna, to break out one of my cameras and take photos for me. While Nancy meant well, her suggestion was akin to having someone else take your girl friend to the prom. I have no doubt Anna would have done a good job, but I wanted to take the photos.
Finally we came upon an exit ramp near the community of Paw Paw. Although the sunset was past its peak, I was confident I could still line up a wind turbine or two with the remaining color and come away with something good.
Page 2 of 2 - However, the turbines appeared far closer than they actually were. And by the time I got one at an angle where its blades were visible, the color was gone.
I was not a happy camper. My annoyance at having missed this opportunity hung over me like a cloud the remainder of the trip to Wisconsin.
Somewhere between Paw Paw and Stoughton it hit me that my luck wasn’t bad, it had been my attitude. And that’s when Nike’s slogan “Just Do It” came to mind. Instead of fretting about consequences, I should have stopped, broken out a camera and taken advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
On the trip home I utilized my new “Just Do It” philosophy. Spotting an old barn with wind turbines behind it, I took a nearby exit ramp, broke out a couple of cameras and had fun.
Not everyone applauded my initiative. Anna, who was missing her boyfriend and wanting to get home as fast as possible, apparently fumed all the time I was out shooting the barn. And had it not been for Nancy grabbing the car keys, Anna might have followed her “Just Do It” urge and left me to hitchhike my way back to Hannibal.