In a foreign land (Union of Vermont Socialist Repbulics?), we travel by foot and by river boat and by rail. We have taken the train to this more obscure part of the countryside, Dad trying to find and connect with an old friend. We will know the house when we see it: the rustic-looking cottage tucked away among green Irish hills that stumble out of a Vietnamese jungle. From the hostel, we paddle kayaks against the flow of a hostile river until we find a makeshift dock. We shove onto the riverbank to take a breather when we notice that these are those same Irish hills. We stumble around looking for the house. Dad’s old friend emerges with a seeing-eye dog and greets us, shows us around. He makes some tea inside and the cameras come out.
Off to one side, I notice a little snatch of land that hangs over a tertiary brook, an off-shoot of the main river. The clouds have broken and there is an awesome view of a mountain ridge. The profile of the peaks are exactly the same as Mt. Mansfield (looking from the west) but they must be five times as high as the real thing. I bring up my camera but when I look through the viewfinder, the scene has changed: I am looking upward at Moscow’s iconic St. Basil’s cathedral (again: four or five times as large as it should be). I move around (ducking down, scooting off to one side) trying to get all of the scene into the frame but it’s just too big. Once I decide to try and just take several frames, dark objects encroach on the side of the viewfinder. I turn around to see that the scene has changed from the Irish hills to a semi-enclosed mall; dozens of people mill around and many of them have gotten too close, leaning across my lens’ field of vision. Surveying the area, I see that Dad and his friend are still drinking tea but are preparing the boats to make their return paddle. I try to get some people to move so I can take my pictures but no one listens, they keep getting between the lens and the scene. I start to depress the shutter a bit haphazardly, thinking it better to get some pictures than not. The onion domes are so high up above us. Then I sprint to the other side of this half-enclosed mall to take pictures of that mountain range. But by the time I get to that side, thick gray clouds have rolled in.
Dad and his friend are calling. We don’t want to be late. The hostel is expecting us before curfew.