Friday, November 30, 2012

Oregon...

When I pulled out of the parking lot of the Medford Holiday Inn, I was beginning what would've been, for anyone else making the trip, about a four or five hour drive to Portland. But this is me we're talking about here. There was no way in Hell this was going to be a simple four or five hour drive.
 
 
My first stop was in Grant's Pass, Oregon. I'm not entirely sure why I wanted to stop there, but figured it was as good a place as any. Not wanting to drive around town looking for things to shoot, I stopped into the Chamber of Commerce to ask about where in town a photographer might go for something good to shoot.
 
While I forget her name, the woman was very pleasant if not remarkably unhelpful. She kept telling me about all of the sculptures in town I could shoot. Well, that's not really my thing, so I graciously accepted the maps and brochures she gave me, made a donation in their donation box, and found the door.
 
 
There's really not a lot going on in Grant's Pass, Oregon. I did find some cool things to shoot, though. First, I came across some very old, very rusted cars. The funny part is that they were for sale. I'm a big fan of restored classic vehicles, but I think these may have been beyond hope. Even still, though, they were something to shoot that was out of the ordinary, and isn't "out of the ordinary" what we like to find from time to time?
 
A 1947 Plymouth. I have no idea what model is was, but it could be yours for $4,700.00..

I forgot to note what kind of car this was, but it, too, was for sale...


Looking through the broken back window...
 
Serving as further testament to how much isn't happening in Grant's Pass was a mill-factory-thing that I found. It was absolutely desolate, and I remember being struck by that, given the fact that this was a weekday; just a normal business day. There was no business happening here, though:
 
A cool place to shoot, thanks to the fact that it was, from all appearances, completely abandoned...
 
And, for whatever reason, Grant's Pass is, apparently, big on cavemen:
 

I honestly can't comment on why they like cavemen...

 
So, while the photo ops in Grant's Pass were a bit tame, I did get a tip from the nice lady at the Chamber of Commerce. She told me to go up to the next exit, north on I-5, and go left off the exit ramp. She explained that ten or twelve miles down the road would be some great scenery.
 
She was right.
 
After weaving through the thriving metropolis of Merlin, Oregon, I found myself upon Hellgate Canyon. Chamber of Commerce Lady was dead-on. This is what I'd been hoping to find.
 
Hellgate Canyon is in the Rogue River Valley, and it's awesome. It's just freaking awesome. With 100 foot high cliffs, and rapids below, it offered up some spectacular photo ops:
 
Part of Hellgate Canyon...
 
Part of the Rogue River and the Hellgate Bridge...
 
A tame section of the Rogue River...
 
The bridge over the Rogue River in Hellgate Canyon...
 
Now, you may say to yourself "Wow, that sure is neat, I've never seen Hellgate Canyon before."
 
And you would be wrong.
 
I'm aware of two movies that were filmed here, at least in part. The most recent one is "River Wild", which stars Meryl Streep and Kevin Bacon, and ends with Kevin Bacon's body floating down the river as Streep is flown out of the canyon in a helicopter. The second movie I know of is one which you've undoubtedly seen and, if you haven't, shame on you. Remember the scene in "Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid" where Paul Newman and Robert Redford jump from a cliff to elude  trackers, and yell "OOOOHHHH SHHHHIIIIIIIIIITTTTTTTT!!!" all the way down?
 
Hellgate Canyon.
 
It's no mystery to me, at all, why Hollywood would come here. The area is absolutely breathtaking.
 
Leaving Hellgate Canyon, which was certainly the highlight of this trip, I made my way further north, to the small town of Sunny Valley. Sunny Valley is home to the only covered bridge in all of Josephine County. The bridge over Grave Creek was, at one time, one of over 450 covered bridges in Oregon. By 1977, though, that number had dwindled to less than 60:
 

Grave Creek...
 

Looking through Grave Creek Bridge...
 
Grave Creek Bridge...
 
This whole area was absolutely serene. This is the most visited covered bridge in all of Oregon, primarily due to its proximity to the I-5 freeway. But it was completely peaceful and relaxing, and it makes for a great photo op. Covered bridges were once extraordinarily common in this country and, now, their numbers are dwindling.
 
After stopping in Sunny Valley, and spending about an hour shooting, I took a look at my watch and realized that my daylight was dwindling and, if I was going to get to Portland before the sun went down, I'd better get back on the road.
 
This day was, by a wide margin, the best "photo day" I've had in quite some time. I think I may be saying that more often now, at least for a while, as I begin to explore the pacific northwest...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Bay And Points North...

Moving is, I think, never an easy thing.
 
This move, for instance, includes a drive of some 1,100 miles up the west coast, from San Diego, California to Portland Oregon.
 
My truck is packed.
 
I left southern California really early. Even though it was Veteran's Day (well, the Monday holiday for it), I was worried about hitting traffic in Los Angeles. I ended up hitting the road, finally, around 5:00am, with a full tank of gas and a full cup of coffee. I'd gotten a whopping three hours of sleep the night before, and I was a bit wary as to whether or not I would actually make it to Lafayette (north of San Francisco) or not.
 
As it turned out, though, I pulled into my buddy's driveway about 7-1/2 hours after pulling out of my own. It was a good drive, if not a relatively boring one. Let's face it, man, the northbound I-5 isn't exactly renowned for its photographic offerings:
 
Long, flat and straight. I give you Interstate 5...
 
Despite the boring nature of the drive, I managed to keep myself awake long enough to get to Chris' house in Lafayette. Now, ordinarily, the first night I'm in town is when we'd go down into Danville and have a few cocktails. The decision to stay in, though, was one which I welcomed. We ordered a pizza (Chicago style, and it was good) and spent the evening watching television.
 
Tuesday morning, we hit Millie's for breakfast. Millie's is no joke. It is, without a doubt, one of the best breakfasts I've ever had. Now, I'm a big breakfast fan, and I tend to take breakfast seriously. It's nice to know that Millie's does, as well:
 
Eggs, sausage, hash browns and sourdough toast. Also known as "The most important meal of the day"...
 
After breakfast, Chris and I parted ways. He was heading home, and I had a solid seven hours on the road in front of me, and wanted to get started. I'm pretty sure this is the only time I've visited Chris and not sat in at a gig with him. Then again, this was a one-night stop. Still, it felt weird to be saying our goodbyes without having strummed even a single chord.
 
So, I began my trip north.
 
I'd never driven north of the Bay Area before, and I've been looking forward to it. It would've been nice had the weather been nicer but, hey, some things you just can't control, and you make the best of it. 
 
The drive was pretty uneventful until I got into the Lake Shasta area. The topography seemed to change in a blink of an eye. What had been rolling fields of brown grass suddenly turned into mountains of redwood lined roads:


A quiet road leading to Lake Shasta...

A river runs along an Interstate 5 rest area...
 
But it's not just serene, bucolic scenes of tall trees and rivers. It's also rocky crags and mountains. And we're talking some big mountains:
 
 
The base of Mount Shasta. The top was obscured...
 
Part of Castle Crags State Park...
 
Not that anyone asked me, but that's one Hell of a place to put a mountain...
 
At around 4:45pm, I finally crossed into Oregon. It was a long time coming:
 
I felt welcomed, too...
 
Now, I don't know why, but as soon as I passed into Oregon, the fog rolled in. Bad. It was either fog or, at 4,500 feet, perhaps a cloud, but it was thick as soup, and made driving a rather dicey affair:
 
 
 
 
After a while, though, the fog lifted and driving became much, much safer. There were a few times during the drive, when the camera wasn't rolling, that were nerve-wracking, and pretty "white knuckle" all the way around. I was pretty relieved to get the fog behind me.
 
One thing I have to say is that the truck has been performing pretty flawlessly. I was a bit concerned as to whether or not she'd handle the trip, but she has, and famously. I got the oil changed and some new skids put on last week, and it seems as though that's all that was needed:
 

The truck at Lake Shasta. I like the black and white shot...
I decided to stop in Medford, Oregon for the night. Truth be told, I could've muscled my way through all the way to Portland, but I'm pretty certain I'd have felt like Hell when I got there. So, I've opted to get a suite at the Holiday Inn for the evening. I'll push off early tomorrow (9:30am is early, isn't it?) and start heading north. I'm hoping the weather is okay, as I'm hoping to stop in Grant's Pass for an hour or so and do some shooting.
 
We shall see. In the meantime, this adventure continues...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Inuksuk...

You know, had I never had the opportunity to travel through Canada like I have, it's doubtful that I would've ever been exposed to the Inuksuk.

The origins of the Inuksuk are rooted in the Inuit culture, going back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. The word comes from the morphemes inuk ("person") and -suk ("substitute"). They were often used for navigation, as a point of reference, a marker for travel routes, fishing places, camps and hunting grounds, among others. They let travelers know that others had come before them, and that the passage was safe. 
 
It's also believed that the Inuksuk would serve as a companion for a solitary traveler.
 
It is with this in mind that I now have this hanging from my rear view mirror:

This Inuksuk pendant now hangs from the rear view mirror of the Explorer...
 
So, earlier today, I got to spend some time with a good friend of mine, Pamela Howe. Pamela does traffic and news for KPRI 102.1 in San Diego nowadays, but she's been a fixture in San Diego radio for years. We met at Bad Ass Coffee in San Diego's North County:

And, if you must know, yes, it was bad-ass...

I told her about all the changes in my life, what my concerns were, but also what my hopes were. I've never known Pamela to not be really positive, and she always has a knack for seeing the bright side of things. She looks for what's good in any situation, and I admire that.

Hanging out with my good friend Pamela Howe...

Given what I'm preparing to do with my life, it was good to have a sane mind (well, relatively so) to bounce ideas off of. Of all the things we talked about, making the drive alone was one of the things I wished I could change. Maybe just talking about it influenced things. Maybe mentioning it was what was needed to change it.

I don't know where I got the pendant; probably somewhere in northern Alberta or British Columbia, but I originally thought I'd wear it around my neck. I just never got around to wearing it, though, and actually lost track of it for quite some time.

As I was packing things, though, I found it.
 
I have to believe there's a reason I found it.

As I'm starting a new chapter of my life, much of the journey will be made in solitude. As nerve-wracking as this will undoubtedly be sometimes, the Inuksuk will be there, right before me, hour after hour, mile after mile, to remind me that I'm not the first one to make this journey, I won't be the last and I'm not alone on my trip...

Chapter Two...

For starters, I never thought I would ever be writing anything like this.

 
“Chapter Two”. It always follows that which came first. In my case, “Chapter Two” will encompass what’s followed the first fifty years of my life.
 
2012, for me, was not a typical year. After 35 years of a pack and a half a day habit, I successfully quit smoking. At 10:53am on January 16 of this year, I crushed out what was to be my final smoke. I’m immensely proud of that.
 
In February, for reasons I won’t get into here, I left the employ of Taylor Guitars. It was a dream job, to be sure. Hanging out in guitar stores for a living, hanging out with Grammy winners and riding on (well, occasionally riding on) the company jet were things which, up until I worked at Taylor, I never thought would be a reality in my life. Yet, that’s exactly what my reality became. My association with Taylor Guitars also allowed me to expand my photographic exploits, and really allowed me the opportunity to get into concert photography.
 
After leaving Taylor Guitars, I stayed out of the job market. There were things I needed to work on, which I won’t get into here, simply because of the deeply personal nature of them. As with anything else, there was good and bad, and it was mostly the bad which has propelled me into “Chapter Two”.
 
“Chapter Two” involves me re-entering the world of the gainfully employed. It also involves me moving from San Diego, California to Portland, Oregon. Alone. I’ll let you infer from that what you will, but I can state, unequivocally, that I am a better man for the past 28 years of my life, and because of who I was fortunate enough to spend those years with. I will simply leave it at that.
 
But there’s another chapter waiting to be written. The first 50 years of my life was Chapter One. That was the chapter which includes everything from birth to high school to a military career to a career in the music industry to no career at all to moving to having a career again. It was all a long time coming, yet it passed in an instant. In a mere blink of an eye, everything was different.
 
So, I’ll be packing my truck and driving north, and I’ll put my foot on the brake when I get to Portland, Oregon. I’m sitting in the middle seat of an otherwise empty row on Southwest #741 out of Reno right now, returning to San Diego from Portland. I have a job there. I have a place to hang my hat and call “home”, at least for the time being. I have a life waiting to be lived there. I don’t know if Portland is where I’ll stay. It may be, and it may not. But I know it’s where I have to go, at least right now. Maybe one day I’ll end up in Florida. Or New York. Or North Carolina. Or Vegas.
 
Right now, though, it has to be Portland.
 
It certainly wasn’t my first choice, but it’s what I now believe will be the right choice, all things considered. Florida was my first choice, as I have family there. Chattanooga, Tennessee was actually in the running, as well, as my good friend, photographer Holt Webb, tried to lure me down there to go into business with him. Holt is the one photographer I probably respect above all others, so that was quite a tempting offer.
 
But in a moment of lucidity and clarity, I realized that I couldn’t go to Florida, and I couldn’t go to Tennessee. It became clear to me that the only reasonable, sane choice was Portland.
 
And so I’ll go there.
 
And I’ll start writing “Chapter Two”…


Let's Talk Apps...

From time to time, I'll be talking about cell phone apps as I find good ones. Let's face it, it's almost impossible to get thro...