Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #215 – Planes, Trains, and Automobiles… and the Places They Take Us

Flaming Gorge Canyon

Travel is a luxury I didn’t enjoy much in my working career. Outside of the occasional business trip and our annual vacation, we didn’t stray much from home. When I retired, I vowed that as long as our health held out, we would travel. This blog, Journeys with Johnbo, is one of the side effects of that travel. As it has often been said, travel is not always about the destination. Sometimes it’s about how you got there or what you saw along the way.

The opening photo is captured from a pull-off along the Flaming Gorge Uintas Scenic Byway. The United States has thousands of miles of state and federal scenic drives that invite us to take our own personal vehicles on our travels.


While traveling through Arizona one year, we pulled into the parking lot at the La Posada Hotel in Winslow to stop for breakfast on the road. A few parking stalls from us, I happened to see a gentleman loading luggage into a classic car in the lot.

I asked permission to snap the photo above, and it was freely given. I told him to go ahead and pack up while I took some photos. The car, a 1957 DeSoto station wagon, was being loaded after their night’s stay at La Posada. Soon the midline DeSoto Firedome and its occupants would be motoring in 1950s style down The Mother Road. For the unaware, The Mother Road is famously known as Route 66, one of the nation’s first scenic highways.

Old Cars on a Road Trip
A requisite stop on the journey.

Traveling through Jamestown, North Dakota one day, I happened to see these old-timers parked at a modern gas pump. Of course, I visited with one of the drivers. They were on a journey across North Dakota and were just getting ready to continue their journey. It’s a safe bet that they avoided the Interstate. No point in being in a hurry.

Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway
Three modes of travel share the Yakima River Valley.

In Washington state, the Yakima River has provided a means of transportation for hundreds of years by boats of varying types. When the railroad came along, they laid tracks along the bank of the river for sheer design convenience. In 1967, the Washington state legislature approved the funding for the state’s first scenic byway. The Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway was constructed on the opposite bank of the river.

Durango-Silverton Railroad
Durango & Silverton Railroad.

For a large portion of our nation’s history, the “Iron Horse” provided transportation for goods and services, and for people to explore and settle down in other parts of the country. Instead of months to journey by wagon train, travel time was shortened greatly.

In 1882, tracks were completed between the Colorado mining towns of Durango and Silverton. Passenger service was available but the line’s primary function was to transport gold and silver from the San Juan Mountains. Today, it operates as a year-round excursion line using historic engines and cars.

Silverton coach
Stagecoach on Main Street in Silverton, Colorado.

Silverton, an active mining town back in the day, is now a tourist stop at the endpoint of the Durango & Silverton Railroad. When you get there, you can even take a ride on a stagecoach.

Automobile vacationers can visit the town by traveling U.S. 550 between Ouray and Silverton on what has come to be known as the Million Dollar Highway. The highway got its nickname due to the high cost of construction through the breathtaking San Juan Mountains. The road, purported to cost more than a million dollars a mile, climbs up and down through three of the highest mountain passes in North America.

Beaching a float plane
Securing a float plane.

As a private pilot, I’ve flown several different models of two-and four-place aircraft, but the most fun I’ve had flying is in a friend’s two-place Piper Cub similar to this model above. One of the things I learned in getting my floatplane certification is that after landing, you can expect to get your feet wet, so you dress accordingly. These guys had just landed and were in the process of securing the aircraft at a Minnesota lakeshore.

Maplewood by Air
View from a Piper Cub.

Float planes have their advantages. Almost every one of the lakes in the image above is a potential spot to land and catch a fresh lunch. A float plane pilot, however, has to know that some of those lakes in the image above might be great landing spots, but they could be too small to take off from again. To misquote a popular movie line, “A pilot has to know his airplane’s limitations.”

This pilot knows his own limitations, and when traveling to faraway lands, I let someone else do the piloting. In 2013, we began a journey to our 50th state and a few days on the island of Kauai.

Kealia Beach
Kealia Beach.

During our stay, we visited most of the public beaches on the island. I captured this image of a wind-blown tree at Kealia. I had the photo printed on canvas and it now hangs on the wall above our fireplace.

Kealia Beach
The tree is still there in 2019.

In 2019, our daughter and her family traveled to Kauai. They returned with a photo of her and our grandson standing by the tree. This photo sits in a small frame on the fireplace mantle underneath the larger canvas.

The Norwegian Wind

In 2007, we first visited Hawaii and while there, we boarded the second large cruise ship in our lives. The Norwegian Wind was an old-style cruiser, sold to be reconfigured as a floating casino only a couple of months after our cruise. On that journey, we also traveled to Tabuaeran, a coral atoll and one of the islands in the Republic of Kiribati.

Nicaragua Pilgrimage of the Faithful
Wagon pilgrimage in Nicaragua.

Cruising has become our primary way to visit other countries. On a cruise down the coast of Central America, we made a stop at Nicaragua. Our tour bus got stopped in traffic for some 45 minutes or so for reasons unknown. Our wait was rewarded by a large contingent of oxcarts passing by our bus. During the Easter season, for well over a century, the faithful traveled with oxcarts and horsedrawn wagons on an eight-day pilgrimage to honor Jesus the Rescuer. The Pilgrimage to Popoyuapa typically attracts over 100 oxcarts and wagons loaded with family and supplies for the journey.

For the challenge this week, I am asking you to share images that focus on your journeys. Consider examples of historical modes of transportation if you happen to have some in your gallery, a horse-drawn wagon in Pennsylvania, or maybe an abandoned boat along the seashore.

Consider images of places you’ve traveled if you’re not into capturing those modes of transportation that got you there. Another tack could be to share images of places you discovered while on your journey to another destination. It’s all about the journey for this week’s challenge.

I am looking forward to next week’s challenge when Sofia hosts. If you’d like to join in the fun but aren’t quite sure how to begin, look here.

Last minute note: This post is auto-publishing on September 3. We are currently in Ontario Canada traveling between Thunder Bay and Sault-Ste Marie. I will be looking forward to seeing your challenge responses this week, but our travel schedule will likely lengthen my response time for comments and links. Rest assured, I will be reviewing them all. #RoadTrip2022

John Steiner


  1. I hope you’re enjoying your vacation John! I’ll have to learn how to auto post. We’ve travelled mostly with our truck and trailers. Now that my husband doesn’t want to travel, I’ll be looking at car trips and cruises–for as long as my health allows. Your images are outstanding, but my favorite is the one that hangs above your fireplace. I think it’s amazing how nature manages to adapt and continue thriving. Take care!

  2. John, thanks for this challenge! We just returned from a fabulous two week adventure so travel is on my mind. As always I enjoyed your post and beautiful images. I hope you are enjoying your trip!

  3. You r been many places and fine lots of things, John. What a blessing! The Million Dollar Highway is a bit hair-raising to drive but beautiful for anyone who can look. 😳😉. Although I obviously fly when going to Europe, I enjoy road trips whenever possible. When I was a child, my family had a station wagon. Good memories of many trips.

  4. Love this challenge theme. Beautiful photos of your travel experiences. Wonderful photo of your daughter and grandson. Enjoy your trip, John!

  5. The thing I love most about your post this week John, is that your personality comes shining through! The images are wonderful as always, but it’s your eye for the quirky, the interesting, the unusual that really made me smile. I do especially love your opening vista, which is gorgeous, and that beautiful Hawaiian tree (as well as the family sitting on it – what a great gift!). I look forward to seeing what others respond on this one.

    • Thanks, Tina! Part of the fun of creating this challenge was thinking about which of my images I would share. And yet again, we are gathering images for upcoming blog posts in 2023.

  6. For us the holiday officially starts the moment we switch the engine on – the drive / ride / flight to the destination is as much part of the fun (not to mention the planning beforehand) as the end point is!

    Your beautiful photographs have given my wanderlust a good stir again, John. Thank you!

  7. Great post with so many modes of transportation. I liked the cool station wagon, the Piper Cub, and the train in motion. And that tree in Kauai is so unique!

  8. Wow, that Desoto was a great find! Sadly I can’t see the details of the hood ornament in the next photo. You’ll have to tell me more about the car. A great collection of transport generally. The last one specially is a heart warmer.

    I’m afraid I’m chafing a bit at the borders of your topic this week.

    Dreams die

    • I don’t know a whole bunch about the De Soto line of cars. My dad owned a similar year Plymouth version of this model station wagon.
      Looking at the controls and the push-button transmission, I was immediately reminded of my dad’s car.

  9. Great challenge. The 1957 DeSoto station wagon reminded me of my parent’s first new car. It was a 1957 Plymouth in Gold and white. Glad you enjoy traveling, meeting people, and sharing your thoughts!

  10. A great challenge and great photography as always, John! Your landscapes are always breathtaking. I will try to come up with some means of transport, but maybe I just haven’t photographed enough of those – so, a mix it will be. Love your train and the tree with your daughter and grandson! An the oxcart is fabulous. Hope you are having a good time out there!

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