After a difficult trip, I was anxious to see what the night skies held for me here in Indiana. I found a great location to shoot that I felt safe in and had some great foreground material to work with. Maybe I was just a little too anxious or maybe the skies just fooled me because only an hour after sunset the sky seemed extremely dark
Rain, Rain, and More Rain. My excitement for location the previous night came to a screeching halt about an hour before sunset when a bunch of thick low clouds moved in, clouds that would produce storms galore on my trip to Kansas.
After a disappointing night of cloudy skies, I packed up and headed to my next stop, Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri. Again this was supposed to be a short trip that thanks to google turned into a major drive.
After two nights in our beautiful national forests, I was starting to get in my groove. My first two nights were successful, but I was not very optimistic for the days coming up. I had been hearing about bad weather hanging out for awhile and was happy that I hadn’t encountered anything so far, but that luck was about to run out. My destination today was Shawnee National Forest in Illinois and the closer I got to my campsite the more I realized the weather was not going to cooperate.
When I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to actually have service, so while the weather might not have been very cooperative at least I could catch up on some editing of the previous two nights. The rain wasn’t supposed to come till later but the clouds hanging around were low and thick, thus taking away all chances of any photos at sunset or of the Milky Way.
Before the weather came in I did have a chance to take a hike and check out my surroundings, hoping for a small chance in a break in the weather where I could possibly shoot the Milky Way. It was at this point my run in with nature would start. Only 20 feet into my hike I came across a very large and very fast black snake. Luckily, he was more scared of me than I was of him, but that is not how my night would continue. I returned to my campsite and sat down to work on some photos and about 15 minutes in I noticed a little marmot walking over to check me out, he got within 5 feet of me before I told him to scram and probably scared the crap out of the little guy as I don’t think he expected me to move and I have never seen a rodent move so fast! However, that would not be the end of my run in with nature that night. After making dinner, I headed back out to the trail to catch sunset, but again a bust. So back to my campsite again hoping the clouds would clear and I would get some star shots. I was sitting around doing some coloring in my adult coloring book 🙂 when I heard loud noises coming from the woods. I turned my flashlight on the noise and saw little orange eyes beating back at me, but this was no marmot and this guy was not afraid of me, in fact the more noise I made at him the closer he seemed to come and that would begin the stalking of treacherous raccoon. He never really left my site hanging out in the woods and causing a nuisance most of the night. After my late night hike to hopefully catch the stars, which I didn’t, I returned to my campsite and found my friend with a few of his friends hanging around, no there was no food out at this point they were just plain chilling. So with it being pitch black out and my new friends taking over my table I returned to my jeep to call it a night.
Thoughts from the Road:
I love nature, but I really don’t like rodents!
Music of the day:
Chris Stapleton, Zac Brown
With an early rise to my day and a long night behind me I started off on what was supposed to be a nice easy 5 hour drive to Indiana. Hoosier National Forest was next on the list and while I thought I had learned a few things from my stay the night before, meaning national forests are very large, I didn’t realize that Google Maps might send you to camp grounds in a national forest that don’t actually exist.
There I was cruising along making great time, “make a left up ahead” I heard over my speakers and like a good boy I listened. Driving deep into the forest, my first sign that something was amiss was the dead end sign, but I did my research and this campsite was right on the edge of a lake so that made sense. A couple more miles and I could start to see the lake it was massive and I started to get excited. Then my only driving companion came over my speakers again, “You have arrived at your destination,” and what do you know there was no campsite around. At this point I was about an hour into the forest and surrounded by houses and private property markers and Google had its first strike.
I turned around and headed back out to the main road to try and get service and find an alternate spot. Now since I was really excited about shooting at a lake I was determined to find a campsite somewhere along this massive lake I just saw. Unfortunately, nothing was coming up and the lake wasn’t in the National Forest. After some digging, I found a small lake within in the National Forest that had camping, but what do you know no address. So, pinpointed on my google maps and anxiously awaited for my ETA from my new enemy google. “Your are on the fastest route to your destination you will arrive at 5:45.” “I hate you google” I screamed to no-one as it was 2:30 and I was getting tired, but I trudged on in the hopes it would be worth it.
I was a little nervous that the camp ground would be full by the time I got there but thankfully I arrived to just a two other campers and plenty of open sites.
Thoughts from the road:
Yelling at electronics is not as satisfying as I thought.
I have now seen two lighthouses….. um really.
Playlist for the long day:
Widespread Panic, Chris Stapleton, and Blue Traveler
As far as dark skies go, Ohio was one of the states I was pretty worried about. According to the Bortle Scale, was rated right in the middle in its darkest place, The Wayne National Forest. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how dark the sky got that night.
Galactic50 is officially underway and the first place on the list is Ohio. With one of the longest drives ahead of me I wanted to try and get an early start,
When I started in photography my one driving force was to get out and see the world. 3 years ago I moved to Colorado to keep that dream going and this summer, I take on my biggest adventure yet!