Picking a topic to write a book on was harder than I imagined. I came up with a lot, but for one reason or another most conflicted with the guidelines I had set for myself.
Here are ideas I tossed around, and the reason I ultimately shot them down.
IDEA 1– Take my kids on a two-month road trip around the U.S. It would be a good father-son bonding experience. They would be able to see a large portion of the U.S. and learn some of its history in the process. My kids are also very entertaining, and would provide tons of book-worthy material.
SHOT DOWN BECAUSE- It was looking like a financial nightmare. Gas prices are rising. My kids require real food, regular bathing, and proper rest; those things require a hotel. I couldn’t fit it in my budget.
IDEA 2– Live as a homeless dude for two months in NYC. It would be entertaining, in a miserable sort of way. I would have a lot of time for photography too, even though I think people would be curious why a homeless man had a $2,500 camera.
SHOT DOWN BECAUSE- A) I’d probably get robbed, and then I wouldn’t have a camera. The project would end. B) I’m not totally in to urban living to the degree I want to crash on a park bench for months, although growing my hair and beard out like that is intriguing. (Note: I would ultimately end up permanently homeless because if I came home with a beard and hair like that – while my wife understands the book project – she would in no way condone the Grizzly Adams effect or smell.)
IDEA 3– Climb a 20,000-foot mountain. I have zero high altitude mountaineering experience. It would be interesting to take the project from beginning to the top of the mountain. There’s also a lot to photograph and write about.
SHOT DOWN BECAUSE- Could I handle the altitude, even with proper acclimatization? I got altitude sickness in Maui. Nepal would probably destroy me. I’d be mighty angry if I spent time training and planning this climb only to be forced to turn back at 13,000 feet because my brain shut down.
I tossed around tons of ideas ranging from being a rodeo clown to tracking and photographing wild mountain lions. Most ideas required either too much time or money or were far too dangerous for me and my limited experiences. (Means there were bears.)
What I settled on I think will fill all my goals for the project quite nicely.
I’m setting off summer of 2010 to walk around the country of Iceland.
Photographically, Iceland has held my interest as long as I’ve had a camera. There will never be a shortage of amazing photo opportunities. Summer also provides days full of daylight, 6-8 hours of which is prime photography time. I can be as busy with the camera as I choose.
Iceland also has no large predators. Honestly, that was the No. 1 selling point. I don’t like big animals with sharp teeth and claws. I just don’t. The largest threat I will have is the arctic fox. Sure, occasionally a rogue polar bear washes up stranded on some sea ice while in search of food, but the good people of Iceland deal with it by gunning it down and removing the threat. Literally. Some find that barbaric, but HEY! Icelanders aren’t fond of being eaten by bears either, and I totally respect that.
The last thing that sold me was that I could be as remote or close to civilization as I chose. Iceland has areas of the country as remote as any on Earth, yet there are small pockets of life throughout the country where I can and will refuel on my journey.
This journey will be long, and it will be difficult and hopefully entertaining, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. In the next installment I’ll address how I’m planning for a two-month trek.
Brian Rueb is a north state writer, photographer and educator. A large selection of his images is hanging in the HDR imaging gallery at 2531 Victor Ave (corner of Victor and Cypress)