Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rushing Uphill

I was a block from the station when my phone rang.

Grandfather Mountain 3.5
"Can you be at Grandfather Mountain in two hours?"

"Sure," I said, "when's the chopper leave?"

Actually, I mumbled something feeble like 'I'll try,' before dropping the phone in my lap and taking a hard right into El OCho's parking lot. Sixty seconds later I pulled right back out, this time behind the wheel of trusty Unit Four. Merging onto the interstate, I leaned back into the cockpit and did the math: High Point to Linville ... 120 miles or so, most of them increasingly uphill. Under two hours to do it and just enough gas in the tank to get there. Short of a rift in the time-space continuum, there was no way I was going to make it to Grandfather by the time the Governor took the stage. With a heavy sigh, I looked around the car's interior and realized A.) I was hungry and B.) I no longer smoke cigarettes. Bummed out by both notions, I settled into the ass-groove that is my working life and contemplated the nature of the human soul. Actually, I mostly listened to Two Guys Named Chris, until static overtook their guffaws and I was forced to ride in silence. One thing I didn't do is call the desk and give 'em grief for the late launch. I wanted to, but photogs who whine about being sent to features late find themselves standing outside Dollar Stores asking grumpy customers what they think about our nation's financial collapse. Mama Slinger didn't raise no fool...

Besides, Grandfather Mountain is a magnificent place. Once the property of the late, great Hugh Morton, this 5,964 foot high peak is Holy Ground to those of us who proudly call North Carolina home. Hugh Morton made it that way. A pioneering conservationalist, master promoter and one hell of a nature photographer, he enriched my native state in ways too numerous to list. I had the good fortune to meet him once and I rate the encounter right up there with the time I 'loaned' a cigarette to Howard Morris, the difficult genius who played Ernest T. Bass on the Andy Griffith Show. If you think I'm kidding, I'm not. Though I was born (by happenstance) in Nebraska, I'm quite proud to be a North Carolinian - mainly because this place rocks. From the broken ships still shifting in the sands off Diamond Shoals to the birds of prey circling over the Blue Ridge Parkway, my state can beat your state with half a metroplex tied behind its back. But I digress...

I'd like to tell what time it was when I arrived on scene, but I can't. See, the last few minutes of the trip were spent preparing for battle: shoving Double AA batteries in my pocket, switching my cell phone to vibrate, scouring the floorboard for that one last Tic-Tac. How else am I supposed to hit the ground running, camera in one hand and tripod in the other as I bound across the valley that lies in the shadow of Grandfather Mountain itself. A dozen or so cameras were already in place when I joined the semicircular scrum; the Governor had yet to take the podium but I could tell by the first speaker's tone and tempo, he was about to be introduced. By the time Governor Easley dug his index cards out of his breast pocket, I was firmly ensconsed stage-left - a little out of breath from inhaling a Tic-Tac on the run over, but ensconsed nonetheless. The rest is a blur. All I can tell you is that when Easley reached for his magic Governor pens, I was right in front of him, fancycam at the ready, optical disc engaged. But I wasn't alone. To my left, Richard Adkins squatted over his upturned eyepiece. To my right, a towering photog looked down at me and mouthed 'I read your blog.' Thanks fella, if I didn't properly appreciate your remark on site, it was only because the Governor was talking and I had a month old breath mint lodged in my esophagus.

And here you thought I had a point to my story...

3 comments:

Justin (towering photog) said...

Yeah, sorry I fan-boyed you during the even. I was just suprised to see you. Hope your story turned out to be good!

Lenslinger said...

Don't apologize, dude. You made my morning. Just sorry you got away before we could chat. BTW, how tall ARE you?

Justin said...

Tall enough to see over even the most packed photog scrum...usually! I top out at about 6'4 maybe 6'5.