Lens-Artist Challenge #215 – Planes, Trains and Automobiles

“Life is a journey, not a destination….You are the artist, paint what you will.”

For our challenge this week, John from Journeys with Johnbo encourages us to share images that focus on our journeys, possibly the modes of transportation which took us there. Or to even share images of places we discovered while on our journey.

I think my love for travel started when I was a child. I couldn’t tell you when exactly it started. But if I had to guess it was the trip, we took out west when I was about six (6) years old. It was so exciting because this was my first plane ride. And from what I remember we saw a LOT of the country – everything from The Hoover Dam to The Grand Canyon; San Diego to Disney Land, and lastly to San Franciso. I remember it being so much fun I cried (literally) when we had to come home.

“A photograph is a return ticket to moments already gone.”

Yes, I’ve been very fortunate throughout my life to travel to many places here in the U.S. and to other parts of the world. And I’ve pretty much been on all forms of transportation, too: planes, trains, automobiles, sailboats, cruise ships, helicopters and yes, even The Goodyear Blimp!

But one of my most memorable adventures was another trip out west which Michael and I took Christmas of 2011. We couldn’t decide where we wanted to go, so we narrowed it down to three (3) places. We wrote the names on pieces of paper, folded them up and dropped them into a bowl. I don’t remember which one of us drew the winner, but we landed on a road trip up the Pacific Coast Highway.

Our motto for the trip was “No map, no plans, no place to be.” It’s a line from Toby Keith’s song “South of You.” The only parts of the trip planned were our airline and rental car reservations. And so, on Christmas Day we headed to the airport and boarded a plane to San Diego, CA

Once we landed and picked up our sporty Mustang convertible for the trip, we headed to our first stop just outside of San Diego (Carlsbad, CA) for a quick visit with our nephew and his family.

Our activities for the day included lunch, a walk on the pier, and a visit to Mission San Louis Rey de Francia – Oceanside, CA. You can tell the boys were quite warn out from our day’s outing and scooting around in the convertible!

The real adventure of “no map, no plans, no place to be” started when we left San Diego. Our first stop that day was lunch in Laguna Beach. It’s definitely the artist colony it’s known for.

We didn’t stop much that day because we were too busy enjoying the coastline scenery. But, by the time we reached Los Angeles and navigated our way through the traffic, we decided to call it quits for the day.

We pulled into Malibu, just in time to grab a place for the night. And, since we didn’t have any reservations, we had no idea what we were in for when it came to hotels. We were lucky enough though, to find a wonderful little inn on the ocean and were greeted the next morning by a cute seagull at our balcony door (which was at the foot of our bed).

Day 3 – More driving, but we didn’t care, the scenery was amazing. We stopped for the night at Moonstone Beach in Cambria. THIS was the downfall of “no reservations.” We ended up in a dive of a motel. It was one of those places where you wouldn’t dare take your shoes off, let alone get under the covers! But it was a small price to pay for a beautiful sunset.

After that fateful night when we were ready to stop for the day, we would go to the nearest restaurant/bar and ask the locals for their recommendations……they never failed us.

“Due to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across country from coast to coast without seeing anything.”

~Charles Kuralt

This is one of Michael’s favorite quotes and it’s so true. We may not have been driving coast to coast, but the quote is still appropriate for our south to north journey on the PCH. Afterall, if we had chosen to take the interstate look at all we would have missed.

Our last stop just in time for New Year’s Eve was San Francisco. We decided to return the rental car and walk or take BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) instead. We wrapped up our trip with a nice dinner catching up with some longtime friends.

Thanks, John for this wonderful challenge. It was fun re-living this road-trip and all the wonderful memories Michael and I enjoyed together.

Next week it’s Sofia’s turn. Be sure to follow her at Photographias so you don’t miss out on her theme.

Until next time,


The Forgotten Railroad

I am a sucker for old, dilapidated architecture whether a building, a bridge or some form of transportation.  So, it was really a no-brainer for Michael to stop the truck so I could take a few shots of what I call “The Forgotten Railroad.” 

It wasn’t much more than the cab and the red caboose sitting off the main road in the town of Hartwell, Georgia. There were no historic markers, no “keep out signs” or anything to stop me from getting a few closeup shots.  In fact the grassy field in front of the train was well manicured as if it was saying “come closer and take a look!”

The Forgotten Railroad

And so while Michael patiently waited, I slipped out of the truck with my camera in tow and walked towards the abandoned structures.  It was the middle of the day and the sun was extremely bright with clear skies.  Not the ideal situation for lighting, but I made it work. 

All Aboard

I would have loved to walk around the train, but the grass was tall underneath and I was trying to avoid any surprise encounters with a snake or any other stray creature.  It was bad enough I had flip flops on and accidentally stepped in an ant bed! 

I look at this tattered seat through the window and wonder who were the travelers? Where we they going? Was this just a local scenic train that traveled the area, or was it part of a bigger transportation system?

Cab 101

How many feet have climbed up on these steps and how many hands have grabbed these rails to take a ride in this cab?

Watch Your Step

And then there’s the red caboose!  Can’t you just imagine the train conductor waving at the cars or pedestrians waiting patiently at the train crossing?

Too bad the red caboose has gone away with technology.  Perhaps people would be a little more patient with a passing train if they new the train conductor and the red caboose would be pulling up the rear!

The Red Caboose

It you look closely, you can still see the rails of the train tracks.  It’s as if they were purposefully laid there to park these last two cars.

End of the line

“One thing about trains: it doesn’t matter where they’re goin’. What matters is deciding to get on!”

~The conductor from “The Polar Express”


~Looking for unique note cards, prints or digital prints? Then hop on over to my Etsy Shop by clicking or  copying and pasting this link in your browser 👉👉 https://www.etsy.com/shop/donnarobinsonphoto

Thoughts – “Everyone Has a Story…..”

“Everyone has a story and I want to hear it!” What an awesome quote which will always remind me of my husband’s late Uncle Dick.  A retired Air Force Colonel, he had a wonderful gift for storytelling (a gift that later came in handy when he volunteered as a docent at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum). But, more than his knack for storytelling, he was also gifted with engaging people and listening to their stories.

My husband has this gift too, so I wasn’t surprised when he introduced me to Neal, a fellow guest at the B & B where we were staying  in New Smyrna Beach, FL.  I walked onto the dock just as Neal was baiting the hook of a borrowed fishing pole.  Michael began to tell me that Neal and his wife, Carol, had just driven down from Jacksonville to celebrate their wedding anniversary………THEIR 63rd!!!

IMG_5820 061018 Everybody Has A Story Copyright

As we exchanged the usual greetings, Neal began to tell us all about their life adventures.  A former Staff Sargent in the Air Force, he met his wife in a small town in Alabama.  Shortly, after becoming newlyweds they were stationed in Alaska (not exactly your ideal place to start a marriage).

As Neal continued to fish he spoke about life after the Air Force and how he used his G.I. Bill to go to college.  With a chuckle in his voice he went on about his career in electronics and later his retirement from insurance.  He retired at 63 because his CPA told him, “you both have your health, you are financially secure, go travel the world and enjoy your lives.”  And so, they did!

IMG_5811 061018 Everbody Has A Story Copright

As the afternoon sun began to drop and the water became still, Neal reeled in the fishing line and packed up his tackle box.  We chatted as we walked off the dock and Neal invited us to join them later for cocktails on their balcony.

When we arrived, we were greeted with smiles and they offered us drinks as they pointed to the small suitcase below……a “traveling bar.”  Packed with all of the necessities (vodka, rum and bourbon) Neal and Carol were well prepared to celebrate their anniversary.   Michael and I looked at each, smiled and said to them “you sure do know how to travel!”  To which, Neal responded with a wink and his trademark chuckle “it saves on travel costs if you bring your own liquor.”

Mobile Party 061018 Everybody Has A Story Copyrig

We chatted for well over an hour as they both shared  little stories about their life together.  Stories about their first few months as newlyweds in  Alaska; stories about their children and grand children; and stories about enjoying each other and making the most of life in retirement.   Each were very sweet, touching and gentle reminders of the importance of cherishing your loved ones and the memories you make each and every day.

IMG_5816 061118 Everybody Has A Story (Neal and Carol Alexander 63rd Wedding Anniversary) copyright

Life is a journey and people come and go along the way.  Take the time to stop and talk to them even though they may be a stranger……..after all “Everyone has a story.”



Happy Friday

So, it seems my new found freedom of “re-wirement” has led Michael and I on a journey of last minute road trips.  I love it, especially since we can leave and return at our leisure..…..no more Monday morning meetings to race back to!

Our road-trips have given me lots of blog post material and I’m busy working on a few to share with you.  In the meantime, here are a few photos I took of a beautiful white Egret from one of our excursions to New Smyrna Beach, FL.


This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Happy Friday……enjoy your weekend!