Thursday Writing Prompt No. 138

My "explorer" photo added to a virtual bus stop.

My “explorer” photo added to a virtual bus stop thanks to PhotoFunia.

My husband calls this picture of me my “Richard Attenborough” photo. Not the bus stop — just the picture of me in the window. It’s from Yellowstone, when we visited back in 2010. The cloud behind my shoulder is steam from a volcanic vent and my hair is tousled by the wind. It’s probably the wildest place that we’ve visited and the closest to being an explorer that I’ve been. What can I say? I’m an urban/suburban child. I might manage to do a short survival trek, but I like my coffee, hot water, and soap, thank you very much. And — the mosquitoes like me just too much.

This week’s Thursday Writing Prompt is about travel. Pick a location and write a paragraph or two for a travel brochure that describes the place in glowing detail. Now here’s the twist: the place is somewhere you’d never want to visit. Whether it’s just rough country or an urban area infested with traffic jams, identify that place and put your fiction-writing talents to work selling that locale to some unsuspecting would-be tourist. Have fun, and don’t forget to inject some humor into this. It shouldn’t be all doom-and-gloom.

But see those white posts next to the road? I bet you think they’re some kind of traffic bollards, don’t you? Well, they’re not. They are the spiky teeth of some gigantic monster that’s about to devou….

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Main Street Photography

Main Street in Laurel, Maryland, looking east. I applied effects with Topaz filters to give a surreal look to the image. No cars were removed or harmed during the photo shoot.

Main Street in Laurel, Maryland, looking east. I applied effects with Topaz filters to give a surreal look to the image. No cars were removed or harmed during the photo shoot.

I want to get back into photography. My camera gear has been closeted far too much, and I have been holed up in the house way too much. I’m telecommuting full-time now, which is great for some things but not so much for others. And I’ve gotten so fed up with traffic around here that I just don’t want to go out. There has to be something to draw me out. Years ago I would go out driving just to explore, but we have so much rubber-stamp development there’s really no point driving 20 miles just to see what’s 15 miles from your house. Yawn.

There aren’t a lot of vistas around here, either, so taking landscape photos is a bit difficult. But I am interested in doing some urban/architectural photography. I went out to Laurel’s Main Street several years ago to take a series of photographs for a class project. It was a rainy day and traffic was incredibly sparse, so I took advantage of it to take this rather desolate-looking photograph. I like how the road leads the eye to the horizon, and the adventurer in me wants to travel that road and see what’s up ahead.

Today is overcast and now I’m wondering if I could find something that interests me enough to take some photos with emotional vibe, but I don’t want to drive that much. There are plenty of buildings here, just so much of it is generic uber-development that it doesn’t seem to have any soul. But there are some odd shops along Route 1. Maybe I’ll pry myself away from my desk and step outside, despite the 23-degree weather. Yikes!

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 134

Look, it's five o'clock. It must be quitting time.

Look, it’s five o’clock. It must be time for a hearty Norn ale.

This week’s Thursday Writing Prompt is about transportation. As we enter summer in the Northern Hemisphere many people will be traveling for vacation or thinking about traveling. How will they get from point A to point B? How much is it going to cost? How long will it take?

And the worst bit — if they’re taking any form of public transportation, who are they going to end up sitting next to for long stretches of time?

Your task this week is to make up a protagonist who is traveling for business. Since the company is paying the fare, there’s little choice but to take public transportation — and economy class, at that! Now, be mean to your protagonist and make up a really awful seatmate or two, and describe the trip in 500 words or less.

Thursday Writing Prompt No. 110

An evening walk in Regent Street, Great Yarmouth, England.

An evening walk in Regent Street, Great Yarmouth, England.

I’ve been lax about writing about my London vacation, so instead I’m going to use this photo of Regent Street in Great Yarmouth as the setting for this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt. On our trip last August we visited London, Edinburgh, Great Yarmouth, and took a day trip to Paris.

My mother, Betty Staff, was from Great Yarmouth. Her parents were Arthur Staff and Lydia Iris Staff (nee Palmer), and she had a sister Jean and a brother Peter. I lived in England for about three years when I was an infant and one of the few memories I have are of the beach at Great Yarmouth, living in a farmhouse, and riding on trains. I’ve lost touch with my relatives so any plans I had of finding cousins during the trip kind of fell to the wayside and instead we just tried to relax and enjoy the trip. I have since started an Ancestry.com account but for a historian I’m pretty lame when it comes to genealogy.

But I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t know every one of their ancestors. So for this week’s Thursday Writing Prompt I want you to pretend that you are researching your own family tree and you find one member who’s a big surprise. Now gather your writing tools and put together a 350-word biography of this pretend ancestor. No fair using real ones — make something up!