My name is Rob, and equipment failures make my day. Equipment failures are a part of the life of a photographer. Sometimes you can prepare for them, and sometimes you can't. On this particular day, I didn't even realize I'd had one until I got home to find that both of my memory cards had been corrupted and were not recoverable.
Needless to say, I was less than happy. I was going to have to inconvenience the business owner, and spend another 5 hours in my car for what amounted to 60 minutes worth of actual work. Fortunately, when I informed the business owner that I was going to need to make another trip down there, she was incredibly understanding and wouldn't be inconvenienced in the least. That conversation made me feel a bit better. We scheduled the re-shoot for the following week.
On the day of the re-shoot, I was bound and determined to make the best of a crummy situation. It was a surprisingly mild day for August in Alabama. My GPS was set to take me down AL-33 straight through Bankhead National Forest - an absolutely gorgeous drive that I'd discovered on my way back from the first shoot.
Enjoying the scenery on the drive down, I made the decision to stop and shoot some of that scenery on the drive back. My mind was filling up with ideas of things I could capture from the roadside. Today was going to be a good day.
I managed to finish up the photo-shoot in just under an hour. I double and triple checked everything as I was leaving to make sure there couldn't be any other problems.
I started my trek home excited about what I'd be able to photograph on the way back.
At the intersection of AL-13 and AL-278, something caught my attention. An enormous wooden sign with the words "Natural Land Bridge - 1/4 mile" carved into it.
I paused at the stop sign for much longer than I should have. As I'm sitting there, probably holding up traffic, I thought to myself:
"It's out of the way. It's a tourist trap. It can't be that impressive. I've got more important things to... Wait a minute. No, I don't. I've got the rest of the day to wander about and see what I discover. FILDI."
Left-hand turn-signal initiated.
Following the signs, I pulled into a gravel parking lot with a cabin on one side, and a gift shop of magnitude I had not expected on the other.
I collected my tripod and camera bag from my back seat, hoping there wasn't some 10 mile hike to get to this "bridge". Speaking to the lovely young lady behind the counter of the gift shop, she tells me it's only about a hundred yards up the trail. I fork over my $3.50 admission, accept my pamphlet, and head up the trail.
There is only one word to describe what I saw: Magnificent.
Formed by an underground river millions of years ago, there's a 148 foot span, 60 feet off the ground. Enveloped by a thick canopy, the sun is peering in from all different directions creating bright beams and an overall soft backdrop for viewing the bridge.
One beam, in particular, drew my attention immediately.
I explored the surroundings for nearly two hours, trying to find the best angle, sometimes perching precariously in places I shouldn't, and just enjoying the splendor of nature that you can't find in the city.
When I decided I'd taken every picture that needed to be taken, I found I couldn't give a damn about stopping on the side of the road in Bankhead. I found something truly amazing by taking just a small detour.
The next time you're out and about, or on a roadtrip, or whatever, and something catches your eye, stop. Take the risk. Explore. It will make your day.
To see what else I found that day click here.