The “Photo Hike” (Intro)

Bronze beach couple sculpture; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

My dad’s been gone seven years this past week. Election Day morning in 2000. Cancer. Mom died shortly afterward, before the earliest spring bulbs had even emerged. Grief no longer grips us, but it gives each who remain a meaningful hug every now and then. The anniversaries of their absences serve as bookmarks in our lives. The events in our stories don’t always measure “fair”, but the life itself remains an incredible gift…

As a seasoned parent, I can now grasp that life flew fairly fast for mom and dad with the arrival of “surprise” twins (The exact quote is reputed to be, “Wait a minute; there’s another one!”). I remember these remarkably sweet escapes, however: meandering walks and fall hikes with but my dad, me, and his camera. He called them “photo hikes.”


I found a relic from one of those walks this past weekend, a photo of a six-year old me cautiously cradling a butterfly in a weeded-over field beside an abandoned Van Wert county barn. Long-gone moments rushed before me again. I remembered wading a stream below another country road, pulling over on a gravel berm to watch a barnyard of miniature ponies, and rolling up and over the Hocking Hills of southern Ohio . Dad caught all of it, frame by frame. Classical music, cranked up on the radio, and Dad’s camera were the constants on those trips. He passed on to me an abiding appreciation for good music and, eventually, the Minolta with its thrilling assortment of lenses.

When I was a little older, Dad and I both carried cameras for our “photo hikes” through Sea oats in the sunrise; Anna Maria Island, Floridathe woods. I still smile at the thought of those afternoons. So does my older son, Zach, who enjoyed the same kind of alone-time with his grandpa. My daughter Hannah and I spent much of our recent vacation together raising our cameras to gather in the remarkable moments that just seemed to find us. Just as I did with my dad on our long-ago family vacations. Standing side by side, captivated by differing elements within the same scene… Would have made for a great picture, huh?

Later this week I’ll share some photos from an afternoon’s meander through Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. It was just me and my camera, but, you know what? I thought of my dad…

A “Photo Hike” Through Puerto Vallarta (Part One)

A “Favorite Day” in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco (Part Two)

4 Comments to The “Photo Hike” (Intro)

  1. This is a very touching piece. I like the idea of a “photo hikes”. I think I will do something similar, like “photo trail rides” with my bike. Yeah, I think I will, thanks for the idea…

  2. Hey Rino,
    That would make for a cool blog series! You could take photos along some of your regular routes…

  3. Hi Heather:

    I found your blog from your profile on Cre8Buzz. Interesting post, and it really grabbed me. I lost my dad a little over 4 years ago, and went through (am going through?) some of the stuff you described. My dad also was the one who turned me onto photography, so I get what you’re describing.

    Anyway–great post, and thanks for sharing.


  4. Hi Jim,
    It’s kind of like finding you’ve joined some odd sort of club, isn’t it? We have this natural sympathy towards those who experience loss, but until we’ve walked that valley ourselves, we cannot really know…

    “Compassion flows freely through Grief’s furrows, Sorrow’s unexpected favor upon those who will endure her company” (me). That’s the gift, if we’re willing to accept it.

    Glad you had such a cool dad, too…

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