Showing posts with label danger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label danger. Show all posts


Traveling Alone: Let them know where you are

I am nearing 16 years as a traveling guy for a Fortune 500 and the side benefits are out of this world.  I personally have managed to visit all 50 states as probably many of of you all have.

Most of us have a little spot in us that gives that drive to do that special interest that appeals to you deeply.   I believe there's one TFA whose soul purpose is to visit a Starbucks in every state and there's one I know that can't pass up a chicken and waffle restaurant.  One of us out there collects Harley Davidson pins and visits a US National Park every chance he gets.  All these penchants are fun and usually do not expose you to any inherent dangers.

For me, it's photography and when I get that call for a new assignment, I start hitting google maps trying to figure out where and what I want to shoot.  However, I seem to sometimes get in a jam with my avocation.  You just need to think about your surroundings and be careful.  Things and situations can change quickly.

Case(s) in point:
Years ago, the HQ Team Leader called and sent me to Oregon.  Being from Louisiana, I was just mesmerized at the mountains as I drove south to Roseburg stopping often to snap a picture thinking I'd eventually run out of mountains.  Once there, I began to hear about Crater Lake so that was all I could think of until the weekend came.

When Saturday arrived, I pulled out my maps (no GPS for me then) and struck out on my quest.  Riding along, I noticed a waterfall coming off the side of a steep hill so I pulled over, grabbed my camera and began climbing a pile of rocks to get that perfect and up close shot of the cascade but as I began to make my way down,  my foot slipped on a mossy rock and found myself bouncing off a half dozen boulders before I came to a rest in a heap 15 feet below.

My camera was OK but I managed to break an elbow.   In pain, I continued on to Crater lake and took a couple of pics before getting back to the room and dosing up on ibuprofen until I could see a doctor the next day.

Then there was the time at an annual conference in Saint Louis that I got the brilliant idea to go downtown and take a picture of the Gateway Arch at night.  It was a full moon.  I parked my car and made my way to the plaza, wandered around a while to choose how I was going to do my shot.  Not having a tripod, I had to lay down on the concrete,  propped the front of my lens on a book and sited through the viewfinder and squeezing off a dozen or so different shots with various exposures. 

As I fidgeted with my settings, I caught the glimpse of a very large foot next to my head.  Now, if you're lying prostrate on the ground in an unusual place, there are just not many options for a quick escape if there's trouble.  While there were people off at a distance, I was pretty much alone.

Not wanting to make any sudden moves, I slowly turned my head to the direction of the pair of well worn boots and traced the image with my eyes upward to reveal the face of a guy bigger than me with lots of hair and big nasty beard.

"Something I can help you with?", I asked.  It sounded pretty dumb but I was at a loss for words and I was making a vain attempt at appearing cool and not appearing as a victim here.

"Got a buck?", he grunted.

Without a word, I slowly reached into my left jeans pocket, felt a bill and slowly pulled it out and handed to him.  I have no idea how much I gave him.  It could have been a buck or it could have been a twenty.  I didn't know or care at that point and was hoping he wouldn't produce a knife, hammer or screwdriver.

"Thanks!", he said and wandered off into the dark as I pondered if I needed that one more shot of the fountain and arch.   Things could have gone so wrong.

Once while in New Mexico, I thought stopping off at a turn out near Cloudcroft and climbing down into a canyon in search of a small waterfall might be a grand idea.  There was one other car so it had to be safe, right?  Anyway, I took a cell phone pic of the license plate of my car along with the GPS tagging and emailed it to my brother letting him know where I was in case I really didn't come back.
Finally, after crawling down lots of boulders and not encountering rattlesnakes, I reached the bottom of the arroyo and began get my photo groove on.  Somewhere in the distance, I heard thunder.  How nice, it might rain and be cool.  Then I notice a log lodged in the middle of a tree limb about 8 feet above my head.  Yikes, his could become a flash flood in minutes!   I quickly gathered up my camera bag and began crawling back up the boulders not so careful this time.  As an old guy 20 years away from being in shape, I began to wheeze and pant for breath.   I could hear someone coming up the canyon behind me and they were moving fast.  Not to appear in trouble I quickly sat under a mesquite bush and played like I was taking pictures of the surroundings, just as this 30 something local and a couple of teenage kids scurried by me.

The older asked, "You OK, Sir?  You need help?"  I'm certain he noticed the bright red complexion of my face and felt sorry for me.  I tried to appear non-nonchalant and said, "Oh no, I'm fine. Thanks for asking."  I was such a liar.

After they left I took another 20 minutes to get a few more feet to my car.  I called my brother to let him know I was back to my rental.  He said he would have been calling the cops in another 30 minutes if I hadn't called.  As it turned out, I'd injured my knee and developed an infection with a lot of pain that took weeks of meds to cure.

I've got a ton of similar tales but the important thing to remember (particularly for me) is to be aware of your limitations, let someone else know where you are and if possible, don't travel alone in unknown places.   Nowadays, I have an app on my phone that my wife can tap into that will reveal my whereabouts within 100 feet.  I'm long past caring about that kind of privacy and still email my family the license plates of my rental cars.


Stalker in Omaha

As a traveling sort of guy, I'm always cognizant about possible dangers in the various areas I visit. Danger is not always apparent and can come as a surprise.  I have friends who have had personal effects stolen out of their vehicles while they were fueling up a rental car. 

So, it's just my second nature these days to often drive around an office building or hotel just to see what may be in the dark shadows or even in the daylight.

This morning as I was leaving my hotel, I was headed to my car and looked out to see this guy standing beside a truck next to my own car just staring up at the hotel building. I was a bit hesitant to go near him because he wasn't moving.  He just stood there holding what I thought was a coffee mug.

With him between the truck and my car he was going to have move if I approached near the front of the car. Also, that would make me vulnerable for a robbery or a mugging.   My other option would be to come from the rear where there would be more walking room.

My mind flew through possible situations and how to handle this so in a few moments I decided, "Well, I've got to make the best of it" and walked toward the front which would cause him to either move out of the way or expose his intentions.

As I drew nearer, it was then that I realized it was merely a decal on the side of the truck.

At that time, I realized it was time for an appointment with the ophthalmologist.