Saturday, April 18, 2009

On the way to Arizona...

I hit the road today, with Reggie in the co-pilot seat and Missy hiding under the couch.

After a slow start, around 1pm, I left Alpharetta, GA headed for Prescott, Arizona for the first Overland Expo ( where BABS and The Greasy Beast will be on display for a crowd of over 300 attendees. But, more on that when I get there.

Right now it's raining, and I'm sitting in a Flying J parking lot near Olive Branch, in the far Northwest corner of Mississippi, just a few miles outside of Memphis, TN (yes, Memphis is right next to Mississippi.

Having lived the bulk of my life in Georgia, it's natural for me to compare every place I travel to my home state. Not that I think my state is better than any of the other 49, but you have to have some point of reference in order for the world to make sense, and Georgia is my reference.

In that vein, I couldn't help but notice how similar northern Alabama and Mississippi are to North Georgia -- or, rather, how North Georgia used to be. I'm talking about the countryside of North Georgia, just south of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where trees and streams and rolling hills define the terrain. A lot of that terrain has been (or is currently being) developed to accommodate the surge in population and the desire to live outside of the city limits.

Streams are being diverted (or destroyed altogether), lakes and ponds are being filled in, trees are being cut down, and houses and shopping centers are being planted in their place. It all happens so fast that we often don't even see it coming.

My drive through Alabama and Mississippi reminded me of how beautiful Georgia used to be. (Don't get me wrong, Georgia is still beautiful, but it's nothing like it was 20 years ago).

These two Southern neighbors are, as yet, untouched by development (comparitively speaking), and therefore are full of grand vistas of trees, rolling hills, and tiny valleys coming together in narrow streams with overhanging trees and an abundance of green.

In my travels, I've only crossed a few streams in my vehicles -- as most of the bridges I travel upon cross over other roads. But in Alabama and Mississippi, as I headed West over the relatively new Highway 78, there were very few crossroads. Almost every bridge I crossed spanned a beautiful stream or pond that would be completely missed by anyone in a car zipping along at 70mph. (Fortunately, my high vantage point in BABS allowed me to see what everyone else is missing. Unfortunately, because it is a new highway, there wasn't any room to pull the bus over for snapshots.)

It was truly refreshing, and encouraging, to see so much untouched Nature so close to a major highway this far East of the Mississippi River. But, it was also bittersweet... for the current Highway 78 is to be the future I-22.

Yes, another major Interstate Freeway is in the works, and I will tell you right now, that the vistas you see along Highway 78 today will be pockmarked with subdivisions, malls, gas stations, and shopping centers tomorrow.

Catch it while you can folks. It's a Vanishing America.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Newsletter and updates

This is the first of a series of regular updates (newsletter-style) to keep supporters of The Vanishing America Project informed.

As the support base grows, the newsletter will be improved, and as the bond strengthens between the Project and organizations like The Captain Planet Foundation, The Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeepers, and The Sierra Club, new educational elements will be added.

For now, we'll keep it simple and easy to read.

See you on the road!


Colorado and Utah -- The Humane Society has received a donation of two Pre-Owned Land Rovers to help them with their study, The Assateague of the West Wild Horse Project – a program designed to help control the herd population on BLM lands. I am currently in touch with The Humane Society’s public relations department to get permission to join the scientists in the field so I can document their efforts and capture some exceptional images of mustangs in the wild. If the trip is approved, I will begin the task of raising the $3500 it will take to get me out there and keep me there for a month. Sponsors, warm up those checkbooks!

Arizona -- On April 18th, I will hit the road in BABS, with The Greasy Beast in tow, to attend the First Overland Expo in Prescott, Arizona. The vehicles will be featured at the expo, and I will have an opportunity to meet numerous vendors, travelers, and power players in the world of overland travel. It could be an opportunity to bring aboard more sponsors and get national recognition for The Project. I’ll also be taking classes ranging from off-road vehicle recovery to navigation and safety. This trip is sponsored by one of my biggest supporters, Carole Webb.

-- After the event in Arizona, I will be taking a brief side trip to San Diego to take care of some personal business.

Tennessee -- On May 9th, BABS and I will be donating our services to photograph the Third Annual Pink Bandanna Ball in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is the goal of Emily's Power for a Cure to raise funds and awareness to fight Neuroblastoma, while helping families who are actively fighting this disease. In 2008 Emily's Power for a cure pledged $300,000 to TC Thompson Children's Hospital for the purchase of a pediatric CT scanner. This scanner will greatly benefit the lives of children with cancer and make it easier to diagnose and treat many childhood illnesses. Check them out at


The Vanishing America Project is in a constant search for funding sources, and is currently looking into “Fiscal Agents”. Fiscal Agents are 501(c)3 organizations that help artists, scientists, researchers, etc. by allowing them to channel fund, grants, and donations through the organization’s tax-exempt umbrella. If accepted into one of these organizations, the number of grants and funding opportunities available to The Vanishing America Project would increase by up to 90%. Though never a guarantee that funds will find their way, or that grant applications will be accepted, the odds will be improved.

Print Sales

Several hundred of the best images from The Vanishing America Project are now on sale at:

Limited time only!

Beginning Monday, April 13 and ending Monday, April 20, I will offer supporters a special discount on print purchases at A password is required, so email me if you would like to take advantage of this special offer.


This coming June, Land Rover Lifestyle Magazine is planning a two-page spread about The Vanishing America Project. I’ve seen the mock-up, and it looks great! I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, check out the magazine online at


Name Your Dream Assignment

Unfortunately, The Vanishing America Project fell out of the top 20 in the Name Your Dream Assignment contest. I begged, coerced, and pleaded with everyone I know to go online and vote, but no matter how hard I tried, I simply couldn’t obtain enough votes to stay in it. I’m disappointed, but that’s the way it goes.

Nature’s Best Photography

The Vanishing America Project is also entered into Nature’s Best Magazine’s 2009 Windland Smith Rice International Awards competition.

More than $15,000 in cash and prizes will be awarded. The winning photographs will be published in the Awards 2009 Collector’s Edition of Nature’s Best Photography, and may be selected for our annual exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, and displayed in other locations and photo gallery presentations related to the Awards competition. Entries are judged on technical quality, originality, and artistic merit. Winners should be announced in May/June.

For details, visit:, an online service where anyone can publish their own book and sell it through their online channels is sponsoring the Photography Book Now competition.

“Photography.Book.Now is a celebration of the most creative, most innovative, and finest photography books – and the people behind them. Now in its second year, this international juried book competition is an opportunity for photographers of all stripes to showcase their work to a world-renowned panel of judges, and take a shot at a $25K grand prize.”

I have been updating The Vanishing America Project portfolio book that was printed by last year, and will be entering it into the Photography Book Now competition. It is currently a “Staff Pick”, so my chances are good.


The Vanishing America Project presents at REI

Over the past couple of weeks, The Vanishing America Project has made presentations at three of the Atlanta area REI locations. The turnout was modest, but the experience and the connection with the nation’s largest outdoor gear retailer was well worth the effort.

Vanishing America Photo Contest

Coming soon…

The Vanishing America Project will be launching its own photography contest open to the general public. Prizes will include Professional Digital cameras and cash. The first round of judging will be by popular vote, and finalists will be judged by a panel of professionals, including yours truly!