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How I took the best photo I’ve ever taken in the last place I wanted to be

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”

– Roald Dahl

Sunset over Lake Superior in Duluth, MN

The Road Warrior Lifestyle

My job requires a lot of travel. As I type this I am mid-flight headed to my second home – the Detroit airport. Over the years I’ve adjusted a little too well to being away from home. After a couple consecutive weeks of travel I get home and wonder who is going to wash my towels and sheets and where the free continental breakfast spread is. This is a story of a time when the constant upheaval caught up with me.

It was mid-February in the frigid Midwest. I had meetings in six different cities over the course of a week. Every day I spent hours in meetings followed by hours white knuckling it on snowy back roads through interchangeable towns with no cell coverage. Every night I crashed at a different hotel somewhere along the way. My last night away from home I stayed in Duluth, MN. After five hours in the car I arrived around 1 a.m., checked in and set an alarm for 7. As I passed out I was thinking with relief that I just had to get through one more day and in less than 24 hours I’d be home.

I woke up at 6:45 a.m. to an unearthly pink glow coming through my window. This was my first time in Duluth in daylight so I had no idea what was waiting for me outside. It was a balmy 5 degrees out and it took me a few minutes to grab some hand warmers and put on so many layers of running clothes I could barely fit through the door.

The Most Beautiful Sunrise

When I got outside it was dead quiet and the sun was just coming up over Lake Superior. I was met with complete isolation and a startling sunrise like nothing I’ve ever seen. I immediately pulled off my gloves and hand warmers and started snapping photos on my cell phone.

It wasn’t the beauty that struck me – it was the unexpectedness. I didn’t want to be awake and I really didn’t want to be freezing my ass off in Minnesota. In spite of that, the cold air, warm solitude and alarming beauty was both invigorating and breathtaking in a way that stuck with me long after the sun came up that day.

As I ran along the water I was hit with a wave of remorse for the previous night’s “just get through it” attitude. Although on a typical work trip I’m more likely to see parking lots and big box stores in Lumpkin, Georgia than a sunrise over the water in Duluth, this trip proved that every day has the potential to be a little miraculous.

Finished DIY table with Duluth sunrise photo

Today we keep a photo of Duluth over the DIY end table in our living room as a reminder that  some days will surpass all expectations.