Traveling to the Desert — Day One


December 31.

Heading west from Wisconsin.

Driving to the desert.


100 miles done, 1700 to go.

Crossing the Mississippi River at Dubuque, Iowa

River is icy, not frozen.


200 miles done, 1600 miles to go.

Iowa farm

Minimalist. Lines.


300 miles done, 1500 miles to go. break in travel for a hometown visit

crossing the Mississippi again, this time into Illinois

river is high on December 31st after unprecedented winter rains

much of Quincy is built high on the bluffs, natural flood protection


the bridge of my childhood travels

crossing this bridge always meant some version of travel adventure — a visit with family who across the river in Missouri or Iowa, or a weekend trip to St. Louis (the big city)


Since driving and arriving are the priority for this trip, all photos are drive by. And on the first leg of the journey, all shots are taken through winter-slushed windows.

Hipstamatic filters set on random (but still available for some post processing when desired) and my iPhone add a sense of photo adventure with a modicum of control.

Dogwood Branch

Dogwood Branch © 2010 Bo Mackison

Dogwood Branch © 2010 Bo Mackison

Nothing in nature quite persuades me it is spring again like the lovely dogwood. Dogwoods don’t grow in Wisconsin. (We do have particularly lovely crab apple blossoms in our clime, but the crab apple spring show is still a few weeks away.)

These particular dogwoods are from my hometown in western Illinois, where the trees are dotted throughout every neighborhood, and many of the trees are now beginning to flower. Always a lovely sight.

White Dogwood Blossoms

White Dogwood © 2010 Bo Mackison

White Dogwood © 2010 Bo Mackison

These Dogwood blossoms were dressed in their Sunday best, and showing off their beauty in a tiny landscaped area in front of a century old church. Most everyone was inside the building, dressed in their Sunday morning finery, but I was outside in the warm sunshine, preferring to examine and photograph a bit of nature’s fleeting beauty.

The blossoms were such a soft creamy color and had bits of feathery plum accents on each bract (the part that looks like a petal). I could have looked at the blossoms for hours. See the tiny circular area that almost looks like a tiny eye? Reminds me of the “false eyes” that some butterflies have on their wings as defensive adaptations. And notice how the dogwood blossoms are in layers, facing towards the sun–getting their full share of sunshine? I love that.

These white parts of the dogwood are really a modified type of leaf. The flowers of the dogwood are the little green bits in the center — the flowering head.

This dogwood was photographed in Quincy, Illinois, nicknamed the Dogwood City because it has an unusually large number of both pink and white dogwood trees. There is an annual Dogwood Festival and Parade in the city, held the first weekend in May.

(This festivities for this year are scheduled for April 30 – May 2, but it appears the party will go on without the dogwoods in bloom. Peak will be in 7 to 10 days, I’m thinking.)

Fire Escape on Quincy Casket Company Building

Historic Quincy Casket Company Building

Historic Quincy Casket Company Building

The Quincy Casket Company, also known as the  S J Lessem Building, is a brick and stone, three story building perched on the bluffs of Quincy Illinois, and has a fine view overlooking the Mississippi River. Built in the mid 1850s in the Italiante Style, it was used as a factory and warehouse for its first 100 years. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999 due to its architectural significance.

Another metaphor?

Black Box

Quincy Paper Box Company

Quincy Paper Box Company Composition © 2008

Sometimes I am simply drawn to texture and pattern. There is so much going on in this photo, and yet there is nothing going on at all.