Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wyoming? And Beyond.

Somewhere, Wyoming
I left Rapid city on Thursday September 23rd and spent two days in Wyoming. I give as much as respect as I can to anyone who lives in Wyoming and loves it, but I can't imagine any reason for Wyoming to exist. I did have one really cool experience, I looked at a map for a general idea as to what roads I wanted to be on, but the rest I left up to Charlie my GPS. Because of this great idea, I spent about nine miles on a dirt road called Cosner Road driving through the Cosner family ranch. If you get the feeling that I'm unhappy about this in anyway, think twice; I'm not at all. In fact, I loved it. I can't say a whole lot for the Wyoming scenery, however. It is mostly boring and desolate.

I spent the night at Independence Rock. When I was ten years old I traveled a bit with my Grandma, and we stopped there for a few hours at most. It was really nice to go back and see things now that I remember from then, and to see how my perception of things has changed. But most of all it was nice to be able to spend a little time on top of a big rock in the middle of the night and enjoy the view. And just maybe she was there with me. 

I pulled into Salt Lake City, UT at about 6:30 in the PM on September 24th. I've been here a few times before, but since I'm trying to go into all these places thinking as though I've never been there and know very little about them, I tried starting with a new first impression.

So, starting out, there's at least people here besides me. I actually know a lot of people around here, so I'm doing some quick visiting before I really get back to the life. I did spend a large amount of Monday exploring the city and seeing for myself what's going on. I heard that the area surrounding the State Capitol has some good places to stay for the night so I walked up there to check out the area.

After checking out the city for a few hours, I decided on a few different places that might be good for some panhandling as well as one of the homeless shelters in the city. All in all it was a good day. I went back to doing my visits after that, but I'm not too worried about running out of time without getting anything done, because I'll be here twice as long as I was in Rapid City, and I'm very happy with what I was able to accomplish there.

Remember to read on to see how my life in Salt Lake City goes. and like always remember to tell your friends and the people you don't like as much to read too!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rain With No Roof

It started raining last night. I had luckily stayed with a friend, but it's morning and still raining. When the rain falls it's so important to stay out of it. This is a good time for Libraries and Malls.

The Rushmore Mall in Rapid City, I'm told, has seen better days. It seems like one of those dying malls you see from time to time. We've all seen them and therefore know exactly what I'm talking about. They're the kind or malls that have banks and police offices in them; whole wings with no reason to walk down them because there's really nothing there. It always starts when a new shopping center is built. In this case it's Rushmore Crossing.

Rushmore Crossing is pretty far from anything else, especially if you're walking. It's still in the process of being built but the biggest stores are moving from Rushmore Mall to Crossing. The issue here is that a mall is a good place to go and just walk around in the heat of the summer and the dead of the winter. Rushmore Crossing is a series of strip malls. Strip malls are not good for escaping hot or cold weather. I'm not telling the stores not to move, because honestly they probably don't want a bunch of street people hanging around, but the city needs to find something that can be done with the Rushmore Mall.

I was thinking about one of the biggest problems Rapid City has when it comes to the homeless. There is one shelter in the city and while it does a lot of good things for the people here. There's too much work to be done for one organization. There's not nearly enough room in the Cornerstone Rescue Mission to house everyone that needs a place to sleep, which is throwing a lot of people out on the streets at night. The city has also recently started cracking down on people sleeping in public places at night. The first and second times you are caught sleeping on the streets, in alleys, in parks, under bridges, or wherever, you are given a warning and sent on your way. The third time you are caught (as well as subsequent times) you are arrested.

This is causing people to do one of a few things. One choice is to not sleep at night. There are quite a few people who will just walk the streets all night long. Then when morning comes and the library opens, they sleep in a chair at the library. Another option is leave the city limits and find a bridge, tree, or whatever other shelter you can find. The third option is to hide. Some people I've talked to have a few hiding spots they use to sleep. They can't stay in one place for too long though. So they sleep in different places around town for short periods of time, then get up and move to the next. This brings them behind dumpsters in alleys, under bridges, in hedges, on porches and in parking ramps.

The possible solution I've come up with is for the city to rent or buy an empty section of the Rushmore Mall, and make it into a shelter for the people who, for whatever reason, were not able to get into the Rescue Mission. I know that the homeless "problem" is something that is on the mind of the city council and that they are putting a good amount of money into extra police force. Also, the remodeling it would take to convert a wing of a mall into a homeless shelter would create a few much needed jobs in the city! I'm not saying it's a perfect idea, but it's definitely something to think about.

I'm about ready to leave Rapid City and move on. I feel a little sad about this; this city has felt a little like home for the little amount of time I was here. I'm glad I made this stop, it was one of the last places that I decided upon and it's been a good starting point. The things I learned here will give me a very good basis to the rest of the cities along the way. With that I bid Rapid City adieu. (Adieu. To you and you and you)

Thanks for reading and keep it up!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cold Night, Gloomy Day, Fantastic Pictures

For the first time since I pulled into Rapid City, I stopped by the local shelter. Since finding out the meal times a few days ago, I always found myself in the middle of something when the time rolled around, and decided that instead of a warm meal, I'd just have some more of the French Bread I bought earlier in the day.

So yesterday, after missing lunch because I had just put a few cents into my parking meter and didn't want to waste it, I was determined to make it there for dinner. Dinner at the Cornerstone Rescue Mission starts at 6 and ends at 6:30, and is served cafeteria style serving first the people who have signed up for chores (Mostly this involves cleaning up after the meal), next the women with children, followed by all women, veterans are after them, and last everyone else.

The food is served by volunteers, often from area churches. Last night we ate Tater-tot Casserole, Fruit Salad, two pieces of bread, and a dessert. The dessert changed depending on what they had out when you went through, I had two blueberry muffin tops. They have coffee, tea or water to drink, or soda from the machine if you have some spare change.

The news was on before we ate and the weather man said that it was going to dip down into the mid to high 30's over the night. This was not the most comforting news.

There is one ting I've noticed about homeless people since I've been here, and that's how well they look out for each other. I've watched people sharing money and food. I've seen people looking for work for their friends and offer to help in a lot of other ways. I don't know if I'll find that everywhere, but I have definitely noticed it here.

Dogs Without Sweaters in Memorial Park
After I ate and was full, I headed out into the cold to my car. On the way there I ran into a free concert by a cover band called "Dogs Without Sweaters". Even though I was freezing, I figured I'd stick around a while and take some pictures, and so I did. Although not what I'd prefer to listen to, they put on a great show, and the crowd really seemed to have a great time despite the cold. I could tell the band had a great time, too, and despite the cold the lead singer never did put on shoes. Hey you gotta give him props for staying true to his style, right?

When I got to my car I blasted the heat, and even though on the way to my sleeping spot I got kinda uncomfortable I didn't turn it down, because that's all I would get through the night. I got my bed/backseat ready for slumber, blocked out my windows and cuddled up under two very warm blankets and to sleep I went.

I woke up this morning to the near freezing cold morning, and as anyone who has ever camped in the fall or winter knows, I didn't want to get up. For awhile I had myself convinced that I should just stay right there all day, and I was good with that idea, until I had to pee. I sat up and could see that the highest hills were consumed by clouds. "Photographer Sean" delighted and "Sane Sean" said NO! But ultimately I guess I'm mostly insane and away I went to take some great pictures like the one at the top.

I've been editing a lot of pictures to be infrared photography lately. I've always loved black and white photography, but infrared photography just has this ghostly feel that I can't seem to get over, and I don't want to get over.

I hope you enjoy my adventures as much as I do. Keep reading and remember to spread the word.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Balancing writing with photography

So I've been living with no roof for closing in on two months now with the purpose of learning first hand what life is like without a home to go to at night and then writing a book about it. Then four days ago I left the place I was born and raised to see what it's like other places.

Besides this blog, absolutely no writing was ever done in the past two months. I realized this yesterday, and became a little disappointed in myself. I was hiking through the Black Hills when I realized that I'm having trouble balancing Sean the photographer with Sean the writer. I have a tiny notebook (for lack of a better term) that I carry around with me in case I need to write something. Upon realizing my dilemma, I wrote a note to myself explaining that I need to figure out a way to balance. An idea came a few hours later and I started taking even more pictures, but now they have direction. I would write the idea if it wasn't such a huge part of the book I hope to write and not give away for free.
Cornerstone Rescue Mission

So, I think I have the pictures I need for the first part of the Rapid City section of the book. After I felt good about what I had there I parked my car at a park I've become fond of and sorted through the photographs I had. As soon as I picked the ones I liked best and felt would fit what I'm trying to do with the book, I closed my photo files and my photo editor and started writing.

The book won't be what I originally had in mind, but I really like where it's going a lot better than where it came from. The focus has shifted away from me a little bit and more towards the city itself and the people who call it's streets home, as well as the efforts being made to help them.

I'm feeling a lot better about everything now that I have a clear picture in my head of what I want to accomplish and exactly what I want the book to be and how it should look. Where it used to be kind of a whatever happens, happens type of project, it has quickly become a somewhat organized project.

I went for a little side trip to Dinosaur Park here in Rapid. Just to see it. Basically, in like 1931 i think, the city made a park with cement dinosaurs (to scale) that would have lived in this area. That's what it is if you didn't know. Anyway, I went up there tonight because I thought it would be cool to get some pictures of the dinosaurs against the twilight sky. When I got up there I found something even more spectacular.

Three mule deer were up on top of the hill eating, and what's best, they didn't care in the least that I was there with them. What should have been a really quick trip up turned into something much better than I would have imagined. You see one of them was huge. We're talking Bambi's dad was on that hill with me. If you don't believe me just look at the photographic evidence. I was really awesome to stand there with them and for them to be so content with my existence. It's definitely something that doesn't happen every day. 

So with all that said. I think it's high time I find a place to sleep for the night. Thank you so much for reading and thanks to everyone who tells their friends to do the same. This would be a completely different adventure without so much support.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Public Libraries... Good for the Community; Good for the Homeless

During my time spent homeless in Mankato, I spent a lot of time at the Blue Earth Public Library. I realized that I wasn't the only one. There were a large amount or homeless people around there everyday. One of the first things I did when I arrived in Rapid City, SD was find the library, and again I've noticed that I'm not the only one who has chosen to use it as a place to relax and escape the heat of the day.

Besides the air conditioning (and heat in the winter), a public library is perfect because it's free. You can sit and read books, almost any book you can think of, and no one will kick you out if you dose off for a few minutes.

This library is especially nice if you want to be in a quiet place off by yourself. There are a few little nooks with pretty comfortable chairs. I also really appreciate the art. Right out side the front door is this statue of a grandma reading to the kids, I makes me think of my own dear gramma who used to read to me. There's some beautiful art inside too!

So far Rapid City has been good to me. I've met a few people who have told me a lot about there experiences living on the streets and how they got there. I just talked to a man named Russ who told me where to go if I need a meal, and if I need some work for a day, he told me where the Day Labor Office is.

As soon as I pulled into town I found a nice park to go to during the day if I need a place to hang out. It was weird I drove right to it like I'd been there before. I found some places to park my car over night to sleep, and as I was getting ready to go to sleep I got a call from an old friend who apparently lives in Rapid City. So I stayed there last night.

I guess it's good to have good friends who will help you out. I know I'm lucky and that most people don't have that.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I don't know half of you half as well as I should like...

And I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve!

I set out today at about 2:30 in the afternoon. I left behind memories, both good and bad, some of the best friends the world has to offer, and the absolute best family in the history of everything. I love you all and hope you know I'm not running away from you, and that everywhere I go I carry a piece of you with me, and I have left little bits of myself with each of you and it doesn't matter what you do, you're stuck with them.

I brought two "travel buddies" with me. One was given to me just today. It's a tiny bust of the King himself. That's right, Elvis Presley is joining me on my
journey. I also have with me and have had with me Jedi Master Yoda. He guides me and my car with the force.

I stopped in Chamberlain, SD tonight. It's right off of I-90 right on the Missouri River. There are plenty of beautiful shots to be had here so I might just say a while tomorrow and take advantage of that. I did take a few tonight just before sunset.

So, I guess the greatest excitement of the day came about a mile before I exited into Chamberlain. I got pulled over. The Trooper, who seemed like a nice enough guy said that my car was too loud and that's why he pulled me over. Well first he said that my muffler was hanging too low. Now, I'm not going to say that my car isn't, but it's not overly noisy. At least I don't think. My muffler is a little lower than the average muffler but it's very secure. I know... I put it there. I don't think he pulled me over to be a dick, he let me go with a warning. Let's see... it says Courtesy Warning on it. That's such a polite way to make a great guy like myself piss himself. Although not literally. I would have taken a picture, but I thought it was inappropriate.

The moral of that story is; the Man's trying to get me down! ... but I don't really feel that way.

I love you all. Read on and tell your friends to do the same, I'm trying to make a name for myself.

P.S. to answer your question, Yes, I did feel a little like John Rambo in First Blood.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tomorrow is the Day!

S0, I recently changed the writing on the back of my car from black to white. It's a lot easier to read now. I like it and I hope you do too.

I've been really busy over the last week and a half. I went camping over labor day weekend with my family. We were in Beaver Creek Valley State Park in the extreme south east corner of Minnesota. It was relaxing, fun, and beautiful. AND I ran into a rattlesnake! This is the second time in my life that I've had this experience. The first time it didn't go so well. I screamed like a little girl and
thought I was going to die. I didn't die... obviously. This time was much different. I got as close to it as I could and still be safe and took a bunch of pictures of it. It was really nice to be able to spend that time with my family before I leave.

I'm ready to go and really want to just get it over with and go, but I have a few more social obligations before I can do that I'm going to my friend Matt's house in a little while to watch Run Lola Run. We've been talking about watching it
for like two years and so now's the time.

Also, tonight I'm going to see the band Ripsnorter at station 4 in St. Paul. My brother plays bass in the band and so I'm going to see him and plus I really like the band. So tomorrow, sometime in the early afternoon, I leave. I will head west and say so long so long to everything I know. I'm freaking excited!

Now it's going to get exciting so if you haven't been reading, start, and if you have been reading, keep reading and like always, tell your friends, family, and frienemies!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

MSU Reporter

Look who's famous!

So I did an interview for the MSU Reporter (the college newspaper for Minnesota State University - Mankato) a week ago. Here's the finished product.