Everyone has a mailbox, right?

Everyone has a mailbox, right?

The old fashion kind, you know, for mail

I think it's an old bus stop. Those are wild blackberry bushes growing up the side. No mailboxes here.

Meeting new people is one of the best parts of being out on the road. With no agenda other than photography, eating, and sleeping, it's easy and fun. Since I'm a big guy who can handle myself in most situations, I don't hesitate to meet a lot of different people. Even the ones most people try to avoid.

 

The furthest north I got on my most recent road trip was the small town of Yreka, California. There isn't much going on there. The acute labor shortage made finding a hotel room difficult. I ended up in the only "newish" hotel on the edge of town, a Holiday Inn. It would have been better to be downtown, near the funky old-west buildings. In this case, shelter was paramount, with a freeze warning in effect for that night. 

 

As a seasoned traveler, I usually choose a room on the backside of a hotel, away from the road or, in this case, the freeway. Yea, well, lesson learned. On the backside of this hotel was a truck stop - a noisy all-night truck stop. 

 

Another thing about truck stops, aside from the noise, is they are by far the cheapest place to buy gas these days. I'm not one to pass up an opportunity to fill up at a decent price. So I made good use of the opportunity the morning before leaving town. 

 

After filling up and while pulling out of the truck stop, I notice a young woman sitting on the street's curb. She was applying sunscreen to her face, trying to take care of herself. She seemed unhoused ( a polite way of saying "homeless.") and could probably use some help. I circled around and pulled in next to her. Getting out of my truck, I asked if she needed some help. She asked, "What kind of help?" And I replied, "Like money." "Yes," was her immediate response as she rubbed in the last of the sunscreen.

 

What came next stunned me. As I handed her some money, she said, "What I could use most is a mailbox." 

 

Wait, What? A mailbox?

 

She told me that if she had a way to get her mail, she could get her support checks and other benefits to get back on her feet.

 

You could have blown me over with a feather. She wasn't thinking about food, shelter, booze, or drugs. She wanted a mailbox, so she could get back on her feet. And remember, it most likely froze the night before. I can't imagine she slept in a shelter because we were on the edge of town, near a Holiday Inn and a truck stop.

 

I meet a lot of unhoused people when I travel. They stay in campgrounds, live in their cars, and ask for money at shopping centers. I take an attitude of not judging and feeling compassion for those people. It comes down to one thing. Nobody would choose to stand on a street corner and ask for handouts. It's humiliating, even for a drug addict. As for what they do with the money, I don't care as long as they get what they need to survive.

 

That young woman stayed on my mind. What did she need to survive? It's much, much harder for women on the street than it is for a man. I wish there were something more I could have done for her. At the very least, she knows someone cares enough to stop to say "hi" and offer some help. It's a little bit, not enough, I'm afraid.

 

Still, a mailbox. That's all she wanted - a mailbox.

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The three photos I have to share with you this week come from near the end of my road trip. These are fun photos that are great practice for me and will most likely never appear in my gallery for sale. Yet, to master a craft, I gotta practice. And you get a peek behind the scenes since you read my stories.

At the top is Blackberry Bus Stop. In this part of northern California, there are blackberry bushes everywhere. Even growing up the side of what I assume is an abandoned bus stop.
Below, top, This dilapidated barn sits next to a small river. It was hard to tell if anyone still lives on the property. Clearly, no one is using the barn anymore. Still, it was fun to photograph it from the road, outside the fence, and create a panorama.
Below, bottom, This is a cell phone pic. I didn't think I would develop it, so I didn't bother with a legit camera photo. It came out good enough, and I want to brag about a legitimate barn find. You know, a barn where you find a classic car in amazing condition. Judging from the headlamps and running lights, it's possibly a model II Land Rover from the 1950s. In any case, it's fun to run across a cool old truck like that, stored in a barn in the countryside.
Click on any photo for a larger view
This little red barn looks so different in this photo. Notice the dirt road on the left.
People talk about classic cars found in a barn. Wow, this is a classic Land Rover from the 50s, stored in this old barn. A real "Barn Find."
Photos that appear above are special previews for you, my subscriber. Some photos may find their way to my online gallery, but most won't. Since you like my work enough to subscribe to these stories, you have the privilege to request an image to be made available in my gallery. To learn more, reply to this email and let me know about a particular photo you want to see published in my gallery for purchase. I am happy to accommodate you.
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