Photography has brought me many wonderful things and I am continually amazed at the experiences that I get through my photographic pursuits. I’m all about experiences in life and when a cool one happens, I get particularly happy and feel blessed that I’ve had a memorable one.
What I have found though is that I have to have an open mindset and be willing to have new experiences, be wiling to go along a journey or a path which I’m not sure where I’ll end up. Those kinds of experiences are sometimes the most rewarding.
I recently had a cool experience that I wasn’t expecting and one that left me energized and happy for several days. It was a chance encounter, one that was a bit happenstance and without the universe coming together, I probably wouldn’t have had it.
I was recently traveling up highway 101 on the Oregon coast, between Newport and Canon Beach. Just south of Tillamook, I saw a sign for a state park up a side road and without thought, on the spur of the moment, I decided to pull off the highway and travel up that road to see what I would see. I was on a little bit of a time schedule so I didn’t have a ton of time to spend on this journey as I drove along the winding country road. About 1 mile along the road, I was beginning to think that this might be a bit more than I had time for. About this time as I slowed my truck, I was passing a house and property that had a collection of rusted vehicles along the side of the road. I thought that if I didn’t have time to see the road to the end, then I could make this a beneficial side-trip and shoot some rusty vehicles.
There was one truck in particular that caught my attention so I pulled out my Fuji X-T2 and 50mm-140mm lens. It was a 1953 Ford truck with fading blue paint and wonderful rust patterns.
After about 10 minutes of shooting the truck, I started hearing the sound of a lawnmower or other yard machine. I took my eye away from the viewfinder and looked back up the road. I see an older guy piloting a riding lawnmower with trailer up the middle of the country road. I thought “uh oh, here’s the owner and he might not be happy” even though I was doing my best to stay on the public roadway. He pulled up to me and killed the engine and gave me a warm and hearty greeting. Turns out he was excited that someone showed some interest in his truck and cars and was so very enthusiastic about talking about his vehicles.
He chewed my ear for about 10 minutes and then mentioned that if I liked this truck, I’d love the rat rod down by the house he built. I wasn’t sure about him or what he could have built but I wanted to be a good “guest” so I agreed to go back down and look at it.
Once we got back to the house he spent the next 30 minutes walking me through every part and piece on the truck and demonstrated some of it’s coolest features. If you don’t know what a rat rod is, it’s basically a hacked together vehicle, not following any set guidelines or rules for how it “should” be. It is really one of the few unconstrained forms of art left in the automotive world.
Apparently this truck has been featured in magazines and is one that is driven all up and down the west coast.
Home made valving and tubing for the airbag lift system installed underneath the truck
The more I looked at this truck the more I saw how much of a work of art it was and how much it reflected it’s builder/owner. The attention to details and the quirkiness of everything (including the rubber chicken) made it a singular expression, an automotive statement.
As I was getting ready to leave, I decided to ask the owner if I could take his picture. He was gracious enough to agree and posed for a couple of shots leaning on the top of his truck.
When I finally turned my truck back to the highway, I was excited, happy, refreshed and so thankful for the experience I just had. Here I was working a landscape photo trip and I ended up meeting a new friend, seeing a very unique vehicle and having a unique human connection with a genuinely, wonderfully nice person. Big thanks to William Bennett of Death Trap Motors for making my day!