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160: Seven & Eight

Often we pass things on the road without even thinking twice about what we have passed. This is one of those places that I can’t pass without looking and thinking about anymore. Its in a stretch of beautiful highway in the delta that curves through some orchards and if you blink you may miss it. I don’t really think I need to explain how sad this is because the pictures speak for themselves. Life is so precious and we need to honor the gift we’ve been given by living a great life and trying to stay safe out in this dangerous world.

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160: Five & Six

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I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the meaning of these crosses as I’ve been researching these roadside memorials. Why families put them up and maintain them many years after the fact even if the person is buried in a proper cemetery. Why do we try to immortalize such a sad place? While reading up about roadside memorials I began seeing an alternate word for them descanso. Descanso comes from the spanish, rest, or in this connotation, final resting place.

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of tv shows on netflix, and one of my favorites has been this cancelled way too early show called Dead Like Me from showtime. Its about a girl named George (Georgia) who is killed seemingly randomly at the young age of 18 and instead of moving on to her afterlife she becomes a grim reaper instead, helping souls who have died tragically “cross over” or meet their “lights.” In one episode George’s very spiritual grandma is visiting and is talking to her little sister about her sudden death and she asks the little sister “Have you ever been to that place, Reggie? That place where George died?” to which the sister responds with a grunt no. The grandma simply states to her “Its an important place in her life, it should be an important place in yours too.”

I think that right there is part of the reason why we (we being humans experiencing tragedy) feel the need to memorialize things like this when they happen. This is an important place, it is sacred ground, the history of this exact place has been changed forever. This is their descanso, their final resting place. Here where these crosses stand a very unsuspecting soul met their fate and left their earthly body. Whether you are religious or not we can both agree that a very important life ended at this very spot, and if that person were able to communicate it, it would definitely be a very important place in their life, one that deserves notation, because its where it all ended. You can either believe that it ended and a new one began or it just ended, leaving a void in your remaining loved ones lives forever.

Yes, these are reminders to slow down and drive a little more carefully. Yes they are hauntingly beautiful. But above all else these are memorials to a sad event in someones life, one that can’t be forgotten. I think thats why these spring up in places of tragedies, and I definitely think that these are worth being preserved.

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*Part 3 of a 5 part series

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Portfolio Development: The Final Ten

Well its about that time. My Portfolio Development class has now officially ended, today we had our final class and got to see what everyone has been working on. I somehow managed to finish despite a couple setbacks and laziness (and I got an A if anyones keeping track). Now that the class is done for this semester (going back for round 2 in fall), I wanted to start sharing my final 10 with you guys.

160, this one was not part of the final 10 but I shot it a few feet away from a really sad roadside memorial for a family.

But first, a little background about this project.

I originally came up with this idea when I was around 19 or so and started taking a lot of local road trips. I had discovered how much I liked going for drives and loved exploring rural areas like the Delta or the country in areas like Wilton or Jackson, and even wine country. One thing I happened to always notice was the alarmingly high amount of roadside memorials I would see along the way. I distinctly remember one trip through the wine country and counting the amount of roadside markers I saw. It was chilling. But it sparked a curiosity in me. Why do families do these? I wonder how they get it there? How long have some of these been around? Why did that person die? These are questions I’m still asking and trying to find answers to with this project. Back then I decided that I would like to someday create a book with all these roadside markers telling their story.

Well this phase of my project is just scratching the surface of that curiosity and story. For this Portfolio Development class I decided to shoot 10 photos from these roadside memorials, along one of my favorite places to drive, Highway 160 along the Sacramento River, known also as River Road. Obtaining the information behind each memorial has proven to be more difficult than I had originally thought but this summer I’m dedicating myself to investigating these thoroughly, I feel like I owe it to these people to tell their story and hopefully make people painfully aware about being safer on these dangerous rural roads.

I’ll be posting each roadside memorial in a 5 part series for the next few Wednesdays and sharing some of the information I’ve learned along the way. I definitely hope you can take something away from it as I have.