The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

“Whose car is that in the parking lot with the Texas license plates?” A man says as he walks into the Shoot.

“Mine.” I say and wave at him like Oliver Hardy.

“You came all the way from Texas to do this?” He says in disbelief.

“Yup.” I say and look out the window at the California hills. “By way of Maine.”

I tend to forget the bad parts, or at least, move them to the back of my mind.  When The Boss asked me if I wanted to work in Colorado I said sure without missing a beat.  It’s been a long time since I went anywhere interesting, and Colorado is one of those States on my list of places I hadn’t been to before.  It’s just a small bit of Colorado, the Four Corners area.  Not too far from Durango.

Even though we are only going to be here for a couple of days, we still load up on brochures at the Tourist Info Center-you never know, we might be back next week (we were back in northern New Mexico).  The Wife plans the trip as best as she can with only a few days notice, every hour is packed with something to do, and surprisingly we do manage to do most of it.  That’s the best part of being a traveling Assembly Line Portrait Photographer.

The worst part, the part I always erase from my mind, is the fourteen hour drive to get to that little town in Colorado.  But it has been long enough since we had a long drive that we were cautiously optimistic.  The first day we made it to Albuquerque, New Mexico-which is where we were aiming for.  We didn’t feel too bad, but it’s not something I would want to do everyday.

I’m sure someone has done a Study on how even buying small items fills up all available space in an automobile driven by Tourists.  Not that my minivan-yes, it takes a real man to drive a minivan-is ever that clean to start with.  What with the Studio, extra supplies, and an ever packed suitcase always taking up a good deal of space-it doesn’t take much else to suddenly feel a bit crowded.  I sometimes feel like Desi Arnaz as he was tossing out small boulders in The Long, Long Trailer.  It would be so nice just to toss everything out and then drive off.  Well, maybe not.

At least I have cruise control now, though it was not much use while we rolled through mountains and little towns every few miles on The Scenic Route.  I like Scenic Routes, for the most part, and I often find myself looking for small towns off the beaten path.

This would be a week spent mostly in New Mexico, but I did get to spend a couple of days in Colorado.  Ate a lot of green chilis and stopped at a number of restaurants I had never heard of before.  The every present Mountains and Buttes and alien looking landscapes were something I am not used to seeing in the scenery deprived Fort Worth/Dallas area.  Very nice.

Not so nice was the super hyper dry air.  Now I understand why they had that large display of humidifiers in the Walgreens.  I remember now how much I hated the dry air in Arizona when I was there and I feel pretty much the same way about the dry air in New Mexico.

I was here to take portraits, as almost all of my travel over the years has been tied to taking portraits.  These were not good shoots, they were make up days filled with people badgered into being in The Book.  I am really starting to hate The Book.  Of course, the Book is the McGuffin, it’s how we get in the door-but, wait for it, our business is selling portraits.  So The Company lost money every day I worked-I had to travel 900 miles so they had to pay for that travel-and they had to pay the Base Pay to me and the Passer, who also had to travel a few hundred miles.

I worked for one Company that had an account in Hawaii that they didn’t shoot very often.  They said that they would pay for the travel for that we would then have to work for free once we were there.  Wrongo.  You still have to pay me to work, even if I am working in Hawaii.

I liked New Mexico.  All the Indian/Native American/Indigenous People/Whatever stuff was cool.  Of course, after a pretty short while you get used to every gas station being filled with Kachina dolls, horse hair pottery, Indian blankets, and silver & turquoise.  This is the kind of stuff that dear old Mom was very fond of.   There was even horse hair pottery for sale at many of the motels where we stayed-so we bought a small piece.

There was a time when I would be out on the road for six months at a time, not just a couple of weeks.  But that wears you out in a hurry.  The constant moving from place to place and seldom getting to spend too much time in the same motel.  But I do prefer going in one direction, I hate zig zagging across the country.  One Company had me working back and forth from Witcha Falls to San Antonio-that got old real fast.  Do you guys have a map at all up there?

Over the years several Companies have just had one District that covered the whole country.  This meant that working for them you could end up anywhere.  I liked that, but I like being back home as well.

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