July 28, 2004 Camden, Maine

5 am awoke to rain filtering through heavy pine trees. Finally back to the small roads and time to stop and photograph and just enjoy the show.
Since Atlanta we’ve been taking big roads and in a bit of a rush to arrive in Maine. Not the way to see the country. You miss so much on the interstate; lose the flavor of the land you’re passing through.
There still is an individual america out there but you gotta get off the big road and search it out. It’s no where near as obvious as it was in the sixties, the last time I spent time on the road, but it is still there. Behind the walmarts, mcdonalds, home depots, burger kings and strip malls, not to mention all the manufactured housing, you can still find the small Mom and Pop stores and People living lives that involve a structure somehow different than the mall culture we’ve all come to accept.
Cruising down the back roads of Maine takes me through small towns and 35 mile an hour speed limits allow me to truly see the land I am traveling through. Wandering down Highway 90 I passed, then turned around (it still amazes me I can turn the truck and trailer around on the small roads, remember I’m 50 feet long!) and came back to Conrad LeBourdais’s home. What caught my eye was a forest green wood frame garage, hidden among the trees, with many horned animal skulls adorning it. That in and of it self is quite typical here but the human skeleton amongst the other animal bones set this one apart.
When one first approaches a stranger’s home, especially to ask to photograph (and you always ask!) there are moments of hesitation, if not terror, as to who you will find and what reactions they may have. There is a moment when you want to turn and run but know the photograph is worth the fear so you continue and usually find there is so much more to photograph once you meet the folks behind the walls. The door to the trailer next to the garage opened and out came Conrad LeBourdai. A more engaging man you’d be hard pressed to find.
After explaining why I was in his yard and how much I admired his garage wall, especially the human element, I was immediately ushered around the back of his home and into the den to see all the other antlers and memorabilia of his life. The walls were full of deer and moose antlers, photographs and american Indian imagery. Along one wall was an old gun rack full of walking sticks with curious carving on them. Turns out Conrad is a carver, in addition to many other talents. At first glance the sticks feel american Indian but as you get into the imagery you realize it is more African or Egyptian. Soon Conrad is flipping through the National Geographic Magazines piled in the corner to show me the origins of his work.
The only time he has been out of Maine was when he served in the “Big War”.
After returning to the garage and making his portrait I was gifted with two of his walking sticks and a wreath, also made by him, of marine rope, a small plastic bird and plastic flowers.
With a plastic bird keeping watch over me as I headed down the road.

Nubble Light House

DMK and HCD at York Beach

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