Frank A. Mills


"A Photographer's Journal"

Approaching Carmine, Texas
"Approaching Carmine"

The Varicose Ribbons

"The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see." - C.K. Chesterton

Someone once said, "The destination is the journey." I disagree. The best journey has no fixed destination. It goes where the adventure leads and never arrives at the destination. Each arrival is nothing but a destination discovered only upon arrival. Each arrival is but a stop along the adventure.

At heart I am a wanderer. Even with a destination in mind, I will often leave the Interstates and wander along those meandering varicose ribbons to see what is to be seen.

I am drawn to the varicose ribbons of concrete and asphalt, those meandering old byways that criss-cross our countryside. Once, main thoroughfares of travel before the days of the Interstate. In those days, motorists took the time to enjoy the adventure of the road. When we wander the varicose ribbons we set out for the adventure of the journey, to go as whim dictates – to let the adventure present itself – and in the process discover what once was, of what is, and perhaps, of what could be. The traveler travels to see what is to be seen. We travelers are not the tourist who goes where the TripTik take them, who stay in chain motels and eat at chain restaurants. We are not tourist whose destination is the four-star attraction, who in their haste to get there miss the real adventure of travel. We travelers experience the wonder of seeing what is not on the tourist map. We get to see what there really is to see.

Wandering the varicose ribbons takes us through a rapidly vanishing countryside, through nearly vanished hamlets and once grand main streets. Our wandering takes by roadside attractions and tourist traps fallen on hard times, gasping eateries and filling stations, a rapidly vanishing landscape.

The tourist is poorer for not not having the experience. We as travelers have a discovered a richness, and we are the better for it. At least I know I am.