Friday, January 28, 2011


This past week I have been on the road in Arizona. In Tucson I realized I was in need of more sun screen. A simple stop at a shopping center was all I was looking for. We can only imagine what may unfold as we travel through our lives.

I stopped short when I realize where I was standing. A stone with the lyrics of John Lennon reached out to share with me the words, "Nothing to kill or die for...Imagine all the People living in Peace...Imagine no need for greed or hunger...Imagine all the people sharing all the World".

I felt compelled to make some "Imagine how the world can live as one".

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Mother Road 2011:

I feel honored that my work takes me across a country I feel passionate about. One day as I rolled along I-40 somewhere out in Texas listening to the hum of my tires on the highway a thought came to me straight and clear. Historic Route 66 crosses many of the states where I am working on stories for Question of Power. I've always enjoyed riding motorcycles and what better way to raise funding for my non-profit than to ride an American made motorcycle on America’s Mother Road across America from Chicago, IL. to Santa Monica, CA.Thinking back, I consider myself very fortunate growing up with a father who loved road trips. When summer arrived my father would load up the Pontiac Chief with suitcases and coolers. He'd fill the canvas water bag and hang it over the front bumper, check tire pressures, log in the gas mileage, double check the maps, and make sure my sister and I were settled in the large back seat. With my mother in front he would turn the key and we were once again off on a family road trip on Route 66 from California to Missouri. And what a time it always was. My father made sure it was a trip filled with adventure, seeing the natural and man made wonders of America, with a bit of important education thrown in. No nightly reservations made in advance. When the sun began to sink into the horizon we would pull into the closest town and "scout" a motel. A special treat if there was a swimming pool. It was the true American road trip.

In 1926 the Federal highway system was launched. Numbers ending in zero were reserved for major coast-to-coast routes. The highway between Chicago and Santa Monica, considered to be of lesser importance, was designated U.S. 66. John Steinbeck made mention of it in his 1939 novel, The Grapes of Wrath. It was in his great story that the name "Mother Road" emerged. In the late 1950s the United States began building a new set of highways referred to as "interstates". I-40 replaced Route 66. Over the years my photographic work has taken me down a number of different highways - - sterile highways, highways without soul, highways separating us from the true American road trip.

As I ride I will blog each day, share stories and make pictures of the people, places, and things of America. That's the plan.

Starting date: May 21, 2011. Place: Chicago, IL.

(Mother Road website - click to join in)

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Thursday, January 13, 2011

From Rust to Rods:

The sun was just breaking the horizon as I drove into Bokoshe, OK to meet Tim for coffee. It was an early Saturday morning. I had been working all week in Bokoshe on the coal ash stories. My thought was to take Saturday "off" and maybe even sleep in a little. Tim called on Friday night around 9 P.M. "Can you meet me early for coffee, I have someone I want you to meet". As I pulled up to the convenient store I could see Tim's truck parked along with several others. Through the window of the store I caught a glimpse of Tim talking with another individual. They were both working on cups of steaming coffee. Before I could close the door behind me Tim was up and standing with coffee pot in hand motioning me to have a seat at the table. "Carlan, this is Lee. Lee, this is Carlan." Tim and Lee were long time friends. Both had attended Bokoshe High School together. Several cups of coffee later Tim stopped short and said "Lee, you need to show Carlan what you have in your garage". Lee's reply was a quick "ok". Lee opened the side door to his garage and turned on the lights. The room was filled with old auto parts of all kinds. Parts and pieces everywhere. Tim said, "Lee open the other door". Lee opened the door and motioned me through. The garage was filled with gleaming chrome and sparkling paint.Tim had a big smile on his face. "Lee's been building hot rods since he was in high school". Lee stood in the center of the garage surrounded by years and years of work.Each car had a story. "It took me five years to get the guy to sell me that car. I found this motor in Texas. That car over there is pretty fast. I wanted to race some old boy for pink slips, but he never would do it. I would have won, and he knew it. That's a "48 Merc flathead. You can't find those anymore."Lee is a true artist. Talking with him you know he has a final vision for each project long before he ever starts. He has a passion for "hot rods" which you can hear in his words and see in his eyes. Each car contains a piece Lee's personal vision and touch.I thanked Lee for sharing part of his world with me. As I headed toward the door I saw Lee lost in a moment of thought. He turned to me and said, "you know a hot rod is never finished, I need to paint these fenders brown".

Sure happy I didn't sleep in.

be strong, be safe, Carlan

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Suella "Sue" Hudson - Bokoshe, Oklahoma:

When I arrived in Bokoshe, OK last August the first individuals I met were Sue Hudson and her daughter Susan. Meeting Sue for the first time was just like seeing a long lost friend after many years. As we sat drinking coffee in Sassy's Cafe Sue was open and generous sharing her story of Bokoshe with me.
Sue moved to Bokoshe in 1978 and opened Hudson Corner Convenient Store with her husband Jim Hudson. After Jim's death she and her daughter Charlee established Charlee's Gourmet Beef Jerky in 1994. I watched the sparkle in Sues eyes as she shared her story of the "secret recipe" they developed together for the jerky. Suddenly one day Charlee became ill and within two weeks was taken by cancer. Sue reached up and handed me a picture of Charlee. "This is one of the reasons I became active in the citizens group, B.E. Cause, here in Bokoshe. I know the coal ash is causing health problems in our community." She felt strongly about protecting the environment for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Shortly after I returned from my August trip to Bokoshe I received a call from Sue's daughter Susan. "Mom has not been feeling too well, we just found out she has cancer with only a few months to live."

I returned to Bokoshe in December to work more in the community. I visited with Sue. The same sparkle was in her eyes, the same warm smile across her face.

Sue completed her journey on the surface of Mother Earth on January 1, 2011. She left many gifts behind. Thank you Sue for your gift of the lessons of determination and sharing. For the sparkle in your eyes and your smile. For your spirit to protect the environment and the communities in which we live. For your voice to create a better future for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

be strong, be safe, Carlan