By Ruth A. Ringelstetter
In April of this year, on our way to shunpiking in the Ohio River Valley, we stopped to take some pictures along the National Road in Indiana. The road was rather busy, so we turned onto a side road and pulled over on a large gravel shoulder. Joann grabbed her gear and headed down the road.
As usual, my head was down as I studied the map for a route around a large city we were approaching. The next thing I knew, there were flashing lights reflecting off the side mirror. Looking up, I saw a female police officer approaching the driver’s side window. She smiled at me and asked me if we were all right. I said, “We’re fine, my sister is off photographing.” She said “Ok, have a nice day,” went back to her car, turned off the flashing lights, and drove away.
When Joann came back to the car, I could tell that she hadn’t even seen the flashing lights. All she said was, “Check out this cool granary shot I just took.” So I said, “The cops are really nice here.” She said, “Oh, oh….were the cops here?” She does get in her zone when she’s photographing.
In June, we took a weekend photographing trip to western Iowa. (We were so far west that we could have dipped our toes into South Dakota!) On Saturday evening, we heard about a replica 1932 Phillips 66 gas station that was on a main highway along the way to our motel. When we found the gas station, there was a nice big shoulder directly across the road, so Joann pulled over and parked the car. She grabbed her gear and went across the road to photograph.
With my head down, studying the map, I was surprised to see flashing lights in the side mirror and a police car pulling up. The police officer came up to the window and said in a not so friendly tone that we’d have to move the car over to a side road. As Joann started the car, I noticed a sign a little ways ahead of us that said “Absolutely no parking”. It was nice of him to ask us to move instead of giving us a ticket, and I can only assume a lot of people miss that little sign.
But the pictures were worth it. By the time we moved the car, the clouds had shifted and the lighting was better for the rest of the photographs.
The following morning, we got up very early and headed out to photograph a couple of things in the downtown area before there was any traffic. It was just starting to get light when Joann captured the first images for the day. Then, as she crossed the street with her tripod in tow, a police car went by. She watched as it turned and pulled up behind the car. “Oh crap….not again!” she said as she put the tripod in the car.
As she tried to explain what we were doing, the police officer just stared at her. This is often the response we get, particularly when anyone in their right mind would still be snuggled up under the covers. But, as it turned out, he was trying to think of other things we might want to photograph. He ended up telling us about this old brick depot that was down by the railroad tracks.
As Joann attempted to explain her “innocence” to that cop, all I could do was smile because, for once, it was she who had to do the explaining. Some day, though, I’m going to be carted off in a police car and she probably won’t even notice until she comes back to the car and there is no one to navigate!