Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Photographs As Memories

On my recent travels to visit my parents and my grandmother, I also visited a very cool state park in Missouri. At Elephant Rocks State Park, you can hike up and climb around on ginormous granite rocks. It's a very cool and unique place but it wasn't my ultimate destination. I actually wanted to visit the newly reopened Johnson Shut-Ins which is just a few minutes away from Elephant Rocks. I recently read somewhere that Johnson Shut-Ins was ranked as one of the top "natural swimming holes" in the U.S. Unfortunately, we had to walk nearly two miles to get to the swimming area from where we had to park. I don't have a point and shoot, so I decided not to lug my camera down to the water since I knew there wouldn't be a safe place to stash it. So, I don't have any pictures to post of the Shut-Ins.

The idea of photographs providing memories (think Blade Runner) intrigues me. I have memories for both of these places from childhood, but I wasn't sure if they're mostly because I've looked at the old photographs for so many years or if I truly remembered experiencing them in the first place. So, since my parents live pretty close, I was curious to see if each place would evoke any actual memories. It was oh so hot and humid the day we visited but the skies were beautiful and blue:

So, the first thing I realized is that there is a trail leading around through the woods and up to the top of the rocks that I definitely do not remember. Secondly, there are many trees now but I guess that can happen over the course of 25+ years. Once we reached the top of the rocks, I could not really recall any concrete memories of actually being there...I just kept picturing myself posing on top of and in front of the rocks, as a child, from the old photographs. It was actually a weird feeling to know I had been there around age 7 and that my memories where mostly from the photographs. It would've been cool to compare the old and new photographs but I forgot the grab the old ones of me in this place as a child.

In this photograph you can get an idea of how big the rocks are:

If you're ever in the area, you should definitely visit both Johnson Shut-Ins and Elephant Rocks State Park.

What memories do you have that only exist from photographs?

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