Iron Mountain Road

via Daily Prompt: Climbing

Iron Mountain Road is a 17 mile stretch of U.S. Highway 16A that winds through a second iphone 1237beautiful section of the Black Hills in South Dakota. But truthfully, to say it winds does not pay due respect to this asphalt work of art. It twists and turns, climbs and falls, squeezes through tunnels, and corkscrews back on itself in a way that forces riders to go slowly enough to appreciate the beauty. The official description includes 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 pigtails, 3 tunnels, 2 splits and 4 presidents. Four presidents? Yep. One end of 16A is near the entrance to Mt. Rushmore National Memorial, and riders are treated to a view of Messrs. Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln off in the distance through the tunnels.

I am there to attend the 75th Annual Sturgis Bike Rally. Bikers who come to the rally come to party or to ride, and as I begin my trek along 16A, I hope that those groups are mutually exclusive.

The first section of mostly gentle curves allows me to nudge the throttle just a bit, only having to rein it in approaching a few sharper ones. But soon, I reach what seems to be a continuous string of pigtails, tunnels and switchbacks. The first of the pigtails appears, seemingly out of nowhere just after leaving a narrow tunnel, and I quickly downshift moments before I’m led around a 360 degree turn and pass under what looks like a wooden bridge supporting the road I’ve just traversed.

The ride overall is a full body, mind and sensory experience. It’s not just the exquisite sensation of my body leaned into the curves, but the absolute, full attention and immersion in the moment, the deep-throated growl of the engine, the vibrations reaching me through the seat and handlebars, the changing smells cruising past different vegetation, and the alternating coolness and warmth on my skin as I pass into and out of shaded areas.

I nod to the presidents as I exit the last of the tunnels but do not stop for a selfie with them. It’s time to get myself on into Keystone for a well-earned cold one now that my ride is finished, and let my body and mind reflect on the wonder of it all. As I park and climb off, I notice a fellow biker wearing an Iron Mountain Road t-shirt that reads simply “What Dragon?” I smile as I remember I’m wearing my Tail of the Dragon shirt with the map on the back. We will have much to talk about.

Seasons of Love

via Daily Prompt: Measure

Most bloggers at this site know the musical Rent, which on the surface tells the tale of struggling artists in New York City, but at a more general, symbolic level is about life, death and love. The song, Seasons of Love asks the question of how to measure a year, in life. It is as deeply moving a song as I know of, and begins with “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes,” the number of minutes in a year and goes on to ask “How do you measure – measure a year? …In daylights, in sunsets, in cups of coffee…how about love? …Measure in love.”

I posted my first blog entry less than two months ago, but WordPress sent me an anniversary message yesterday to remind me that I have actually had the site for a year now. I’ve been on a sort of reflective roll recently with posts on what would you do with only 30 minutes to live, and a haiku about healing the world one heart at a time. In keeping with that flow and in marking my anniversary of sorts, I offer you not my own words but instead Seasons of Love. I hope the link works. You’ll have to supply your own tissues.

A Couple Surprises

via Photo Challenge: Surprise

This was a different sort of surprise. I was experimenting with my iPhone, trying to capture blurred motion of cars at night. These ghostly figures walked past just as I clicked the shot.

walkers_blur

Again with iPhone, now in macro mode. I liked the bits of pollen scattered about the flower and the tiny speck on the the bee’s front left leg.

bee_on_flower

If you’re interested using your iPhone for photography, here’s a great site with lots of tips about using it more creatively.

Another good source is Art with an iPhone, by Kat Sloma that can help you get the most out of your phone.

And here are just some general thoughts about Photography as Creative Expression.

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017

 

 

 

Dear Pingback, Please Work

via Daily Prompt: Pleased

A pingbaiku:

alas pingback fail

post has gone missing today

trying now again

Here’s the link to my real post in case you’d like a continuation of A Dark Tunnel from a couple days ago. I hope this one works.

A Dark Tunnel (continued)

via Daily Prompt: Pleased

As the last strains of the Bolero fade from my ears, my thoughts begin to — unRavel 😉 and I’m pleased to take on a new challenge…just kidding…here’s the real post…

A Dark Tunnel continued…

The gentle strength in her grip on my ankle is at once concerning and reassuring. I fear for her safety more than my own, but have learned more than once since our first meeting that she is no damsel in distress. Her resourcefulness and resolve belie the delicate beauty of her soft facial features, and have kept us a half step ahead of danger repeatedly.

The darkness forces my thoughts inward, nothing else to concentrate on as our slog through the damp endlessness of the tunnel goes on. My thoughts return to that fateful evening. “Pleased to meet you,” she had said with an accent that reached deep into a primal part of me, summoning me inside her mind. “Enchanté,” I returned in my dreadful Texas drawl, cringing inside but hoping it didn’t show on the outside. She had passed by my outstretched hand to touch my shoulder, leaning forward to lightly kiss each cheek in turn, me trying to mirror the moves, not having grown up with this delightful custom. As we pulled back and smiled into each other’s eyes, I remember the phrase “follow you to the ends of the Earth” passing through my jumbled mind, thoughts raveling and unraveling as the moment persisted. Laughing now to myself. I didn’t think that would include literally traveling under the Earth together.

The wine had flowed along with the conversation as we sat outside Les Deux Magots café, sharing the warm Paris evening with our mutual friend Alex who had arranged our meeting. All was going well until she looked beyond my shoulder, eyes widening in alarm. “Come with me. Now” adding “Please” as an afterthought, hand clutching my wrist not unlike the way she now holds my ankle in the darkness. We stand and dart down the street, with her in the lead, leaving Alex at the table, confusion crossing his features…

To be continued when more prompts arrive….

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017

Can Conformity Be Creative?

I wanted to share one of my creativity research posts from Psychology Today, a great place to learn about topics in Psychology. This post is about how copying ideas that challenge your assumptions can increase your creativity. Click the abstract picture to read it if you’d like to know more. It opens in a new tab or window.

A Dark Tunnel

via Daily Prompt: Blindly

I love word combinations. One of the great things about combinations is that they reveal the near-infinite complexity, the wide range of nuances, hiding within the individual words. Take blindly. It most often has a figurative sense of doing things mindlessly, without thinking, understanding or judgment. You might follow others or fall for a person blindly, etc. But it also has a direct, literal sense of not physically seeing things around you. To help pull out those subtleties I sometimes randomly generate pairings, in this case verbs with the adverb blindly.

One verb that came up was creep and it birthed this fragment:

“We creep blindly through the engulfing darkness of the tunnel, not daring even a whisper, communicating only with subtle shifts in the pressure of fingers encircling the ankle of the one in front, slight angling of that bony joint in response. The heat is punishing, pressing on us, seeming to constrict our narrow passage even more. The sweat has long since drenched our clothing, making it adhere to the clay as we inch along crablike. How long have we been moving? I realize I have no idea. The unrelenting darkness has shut down not just vision but also the connections to most other gauges of experience. The only heightened sense is hearing as we listen for the slightest of shufflings from behind that would signal pursuit. How long until we reach the end, hopefully undiscovered so that we may rise and sprint to speed our escape? …”

I don’t know yet who might be pursuing them, where they might be headed or if they escape, but the combination “creep blindly” set a whole train of thought in motion, different than other random combinations that came up, such as inject blindly, stab blindly, rule blindly, prepare blindly, honor blindly and so on.

I’ll say more about the program I use in a different post, but this one is already getting too long.

Cheers

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017