Gravel Travel: Carroll, Greene, and Boone Counties

Sometimes a trip can fall a bit short of my expectations. This trip was precisely why I don’t like to go out with a set plan/destination in mind all that often. I had it in my head that I needed to go explore Carroll County. Check out the little town of Manning, cruise some gravels, and then stop off at Swan Lake State Park and see their wildlife before hopping some more gravels back home. I was wrong. I should’ve just stuck to what I know–zig-zagging gravel roads in the most carefree way possible.

First, Manning didn’t really pan out for me. It was cold and rainy when I got over there and aside from a pitstop at the Carroll County Freedom Rock, I didn’t find much to see or do. It was a bit underwhelming for me unfortunately. The historical German Village and church looked like a fun stop to explore, but they charge an entrance fee that I wasn’t aware of before I got there and I didn’t have cash on hand, so I had to skip that part of my plan. I also didn’t find much of interest on the gravels I traveled through Carroll County. It’s likely I was just picking the wrong ones, but I only ended up finding one barn that caught my eye. Don’t worry–I took photos of it from every possible angle. When I say it “caught my eye” I mean I was giddy upon spotting it.

Swan Lake was another experience. I have been to Swan Lake once before. It’s a nice park and they have a few wildlife displays that are always fun to see. The first time I was there a couple of years ago I saw the bison and the eagles, but the swan enclosure was closed due to construction going on in the park at the time. This time, the swans enclosure was open, so I was able to see them too. While photographing the swans and the eagles was relatively uneventful, the bison on the other hand wanted nothing to do with me and my camera. One of them even repeatedly charged the wire fence, causing me to wonder if it would hold him back should he decide not to hit the breaks. I was glad that I had Big Tammy with me as it allowed me to stand a good distance away and still get some shots that I liked.

The shots I ended up liking the most from this trip were shots that I took about 10 miles (if that) from my house. It’s always just a bit disappointing to drive all over only to find the most interesting (at least to me) subjects just down the road. This dreary, rainy day didn’t quite produce the opportunities I had hoped, and, while I didn’t come home empty-handed, the day reaffirmed my belief that spontaneity often works out much better for me.

Carroll County Freedom Rock 1 watermarkedCarroll County Freedom Rock 2 watermarkedCarroll County Freedom Rock 3 watermarkedCarroll County Freedom Rock 4 watermarked

Because this was the only barn I managed to find in Carroll County, and I happened to love the way it was perched up on the hill with the rows from the freshly harvested field leading the way down, I couldn’t resist getting it from as many angles as possible. Forgive me if it’s overkill, but it was easier than trying to choose just a couple. I have included black and white edits as well as the color edits. I’d love to know which y’all prefer!

Carroll County Barn 1 lustre watermarkedCarroll County Barn 1 watermarkedCarroll County Barn 2 charcoal slx2barnmask watermarkedCarroll County Barn 2 watermarkedCarroll County Barn 3 lk50perhk watermarkedCarroll County Barn 3 watermarkedCarroll County Barn 4 hk lkbarnmask watermarkedCarroll County Barn 4 watermarkedCarroll County Barn 5 hk lkbarnmask watermarkedCarroll County Barn 5 watermarkedCarroll County Barn 6 hk lkbarnmask watermarkedCarroll County Barn 6 watermarkedCarroll County Barn 7 hk lkbarnmask watermarkedCarroll County Barn 7 watermarked

I’ve included the black and white edit with a few of these as well. I really liked the way the swans turned out in black and white, but I liked the bits of fall colors in the trees as well. The eagles were the biggest challenge to photograph as they are in a chainlink enclosure, so there was little I could think of to do to completely eliminate the fencing. And, as I mentioned above, the bison were a bit ornery, so I made due as best I could and got a bit creative with my framing.

Bison 1 watermarkedBison 2 watermarkedBison 3 charcoal slface watermarkedBison 3 watermarkedBison 4 charcoal slface watermarkedBison 4 watermarkedBison 5 charcoal slface watermarkedBison 5 watermarkedEagle 1a watermarkedEagle 1d watermarkedEagle head 1 watermarkedEagle head 2 watermarkedSwan 1 lustre watermarkedSwan 1 MM80per watermarkedSwan 2 gloss watermarkedSwan 2 watermarkedSwans 1 lustre watermarkedSwans 1 MM80per watermarkedSwans 3 luster watermarkedSwans 3 MM85per watermarked

This abandoned house in Greene County is one I’ve been wanting to photograph for a while now. When I was in the area in the spring, the trees kept it so hidden that it was impossible to get a good shot. So, I swung back by in October and thought it looked like the perfect opportunity to get some hauntingly good shots and I am really pleased with the outcome. The first shot is the minimally edited version. From there I did a few fun edits because what good is having Photoshop if you don’t experiment a bit from time to time? Leave me a comment and let me know which edit is your favorite.

Abandoned Near Jefferson 1 watermarkedAbandoned Near Jefferson 1 MM watermarkedAbandoned Near Jefferson 1 DE2 watermarkedAbandoned Near Jefferson 1 charcoal watermarked

And the shots I said I liked the most, taken just a few miles from home…yeah, I kinda love these. I don’t know what it is about giant bales of hay or cornstalks that make me smile, but I’d venture to guess that it’s got something to do with the country girl in me who was born in the midst of hay season. The moody atmosphere only added to the appeal for me on this trip.

cornstalk bale 1 MM70per watermarkedcornstalk bale 2 gloss watermarkedcornstalk bale 2 MM70per watermarkedcornstalk bale 3 MM70per watermarkedCorn off the cob 1 watermarkedBarns and stalk bale 1 watermarkedBarns and stalk bale 1a watermarkedBarns and stalk bale 2 watermarked

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