It was easy to spot my next stranger when he floated past me.
He was enjoying the water of Wahweap Bay at Lone Rock Beach in Lake Powell, Utah. Lake Powell is a reservoir on the Colorado River, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona. It’s a major vacation spot that is visited by close to 2 million people every year. It is a surreal, unexpected sight the very first time one sees it in person.
The fellow was relaxing alone aboard a 3-person, bright blue and yellow inflatable raft with paddles. His drift was slower than a trickle of molasses. As he entered a foreground spot in my landscape composition of the Lone Rock, I took a candid, generic impression of the beach shallows with the rock formation. The color and temperature of the shallow water could have been in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean seas. The rock formations, unmistakably southwestern, gave away that the oasis was somewhere in a desert.
A few minutes later he jumped out of his raft and waded close to shore. That’s where he could tow “upstream” again to restart the floating process all over again.
We made our friendly eye contact and the encounter was upon me to photograph stranger 93/100.
As a beach-goer, he was barefoot and shirtless; his skin was tanned and showing some redness from sunburn; his long hair was worn loosely and grew past his shoulders; he was wearing sunglasses and dark shorts.
“My name is Old School, M’ Lady.” He extended a hand to shake mine firmly. “Life is good, right?!”
“Here, it is.” I agreed. Then reciprocated an introduction.
“America is owned by the corporations,” he opined. “Except for this place, and the BLM lands and the parks [he meant the national parks].” He pointed downstream in the general direction of Utah’s open space, towards Kanab.
“Do you live around here or are you on vacation?” I asked.
“I live just outside Phoenix, in Lake Havasu,” he said. “I work on cars with my buddy. We fix them up. Once I’ve saved up enough money, I come out here. My friends over there gave me a ride.” He pointed to an area on the shore where he was aiming to restart the free-floating of his raft.
“Wait, Lake Havasu–isn’t that the place with the London Bridge?” I asked. “I thought that was a huge water recreational area.”
“Right. That’s the place. It’s hellish there right now…it’s the crowds and the heat. I’m here to escape and cool off,” he replied.
For the record, Lake Havasu City’s temperatures were 115°F (46°C) and Lone Rock Beach was “only” 97°F degrees (36°C).
“May I photograph you right there, Old School?” I asked, then explained the reason behind photographing a stranger.
“Right on, go ahead.” he said.