Wednesday, September 4, 2019

[35mm Ohio] Peak Summer

On the road, but mostly around "home" with a Minolta XD-11 and Kodak Porta 400.

- Wilmington, OH.

Road trips, like life, are what you make it.


I don’t know, that sounds kind of stupid now that I read it over again.

And again.

And again.

Yeah. It’s dumb. Sounds like a ripoff of a Forrest Gump quote. Or, if you wan’t to dig up my iOS notes folder from 2014 entitled “quotes:” it sounds like something you would’ve heard on the X-File’s episode that was centered around the “Cigarette Smoking Man.”

Anyways, I guess my point is that everyone defines road trips differently. Pop culture reinforces this stereotypical notion of what road trips are supposed to be—time spent traversing the American landscape in an automobile that results in finding drama, conflict, antics, fun, and ultimately yourself (ohhhhh) among quirky destinations and humorous situations. The reality is, the average “road trip” is just a literal jaunt from point A to point B along monotonous highways where every exit features the same collection of TGI O’ChiliBees* restaurants. Maybe you stop for gas and pick up snacks you'd normally not eat, maybe you grab a collection of rest stop brochures from places you’ll never go. Odds are, your wanderings in motor vehicles aren’t as exciting or humorous as Family Vacation. Just as my reflections aren’t as profound as Kerouac’s in 'On The Road.'

We all have an idea of what a road trip could and should be, a specific vision based off our own experiences and cultural influences (I say “we all” because this website’s audience is typically American and Americans love (rely on) their cars). We can define “road trip” however we please. Driving and traveling are deeply personal things and how we combine/approach the two leads to how we define our personal perceptions of being “on the road.”

I’ve been interested in road trips for a long time. A few times in the last few years, the notion has become a bit of an obsession. I am open to the spontaneity of taking different routes, exploring things that come up, etc.—but—I’ve also learned that these trips are not like the movies, books, or the travels of even the mid to late 20th century. That is, unless you know how to plan, know where to look, or have a keen sense of when to detour. I’m also usually pressed for time, even when I want to make time for wasting time.

Ultimately, I’ve gotta be somewhere and want to get somewhere. So I like to research, plan, and have an idea before I go. I try to strike a chord between the impulsive and determined senses. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Occasionally, I have profound thoughts and realizations while behind the wheel. Other times, I get bored, tired, annoyed, or too wrapped into podcasts about Battlestar Galactica (so say we all).

Switching to film on these Ohio road trips has helped me re-shape how I visually approach and document these “journeys,” but I’m still searching for my own personal definition of a “road trip.”

Recently, one ended via my then-established rules. We had gone up to Columbus, returned to Cincinnati, and we were home. The trip was done. But the light was nice, the temperature was warm, and the season was in full effect.

Peak summer.

I wanted to keep shooting film (and I had just started a new roll in Wilmington). I wanted to keep driving. So, I took a trip within the confines of my impulsively re-defined rules. There was no specific, long-range destination in mind. Rather, I’d wander around home—to corners I hadn’t been too in awhile (and profiled here previously), never been to before, or sights and themes in the vein of this series that were near where I “live.” The kinds of places I had been passing on local highways for years, but never thought to just pull up to and take a look at. Whether they were pseudo-abandoned hotels, random ice cream stands, or the decaying remains of my own suburban existence.

So here’s another roll in this project, one shot while “road tripping” around home, a home within Ohio.

As for that X-Files episode—I remember it was pretty good. Even if that character was a villain. Or at least I think he was. I never finished the series. And I was only watching the “alien” episodes at that.

*Thanks to Craig, as always, for the "TGI O'Chilibees" moniker.

Above and below: General Custer's Golf and Gulp in Cincinnati. A place where the warm light, scenery, and the smell of ice cream blending with hot asphalt is all reminiscent of countless hours spent working at Kings Island years ago.

- Discarded scoring computers behind S&S Western Bowl.

- Western Bowl, Cincinnati.

- Gold Top Dairy Bar, Cincinnati.

- Abandoned Frisch's Big Boy, Cincinnati.

- Abandoned Frisch's Big Boy, Cincinnati.

- Generic office complex, Forest Park.

 - Generic office complex, Forest Park.

- Forest Park.

- Abandoned Surf Cincinnati go-kart track.

- Coco Key Hotel and Waterpark Resort, Sharonville.

- Coco Key Hotel and Waterpark Resort, Sharonville.

- Motel 6, Sharonville.

- Travel Inn, Sharonville.

- Long Lines tower, White Oak.

- Fading advertisement, Cincinnati.

- Closed restaurant, Fairfield.

- Jungle Jim's Monorail, Fairfield.

- Jungle Jim's Monorail, Fairfield.

- Parking garage, Tri-County Mall, Springdale.

View the other entries in 35mm Ohio

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