Taking time to savor the sights along the road

  • Updated: August 11, 2012 - 9:43 PM

Stephen Bruning

It's not too late for a road trip, is it? No, it's never too late.

Ask Stephen Bruning. He's a photographer and a sports official for youth leagues -- which means that if you're an angry parent who raises a fist about a disputed call, he can probably get a good, clear snapshot of you for the authorities.

But it's the photography he loves the most. With a friend he created an online social network -- yeah, I know, who hasn't -- but the sale of one of his online projects gave him the capital to chuck it all in the trunk and hit the road with a pal for an open-ended photographic exploration of the country. Objective?

"I wanted to see more. Just to be able to have three months to do whatever pops up that day, whatever you feel, to stumble upon all these cool things in the world."

Ah, youth, you say, recalling your own sunny days chained to a desk in a room with a window 20 feet away. Here, eat your heart out some more. Adventure! Peril!

"In April, we were up in Crater Lake in Oregon and they had these massive snowdrifts. The only way to see the lake was to climb these drifts. Being from Minnesota I was totally confident. (Laughs.) We walked out and my buddy drops 20 feet into the snow. Gone. It was funny for about half a second, but there was no one else near."

I've seen this movie. Someone has to saw his arm off. Naturally, he threw down the camera and ran to help, right?

"Well, the camera was in my hand and I actually got a picture. But the look on my friend's face told me to handle the situation differently." Fortunately, "he was able to get some footing and get out."

Then there was the Ancient Mariner. "We were in North California, a cloudy day, green like Ireland -- and we felt like the only people on earth. We look down on the shore and see something that looks like driftwood. But when we got down close, it was a 4-foot whale rib bone. Later I learned how long they take to get that big, and how many miles whales travel in a year.

"That bone had traveled 40,000 miles to get here. To hold something like that ... you appreciate the history of things."

It's not too late. Maybe you could do it, too, particularly if you're young. His photos and encouragements to get out there fill his website, StirEnthusiasm.zenfolio.com -- for life, he says. For exploring. But it's good when you're done, too.

"It was summer when we ended, and we came back at the best time of the year. The trees never looked greener. The roads never looked smoother. Coming back home, Minnesota just gives you a hug."


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