Jyo and I had a whirlwind week which involved driving down to San Francisco for a quick portrait session with The Carrum Group, a small startup company. Our HQ was the 19th floor of the Le Meridien and we set up our studio on the outdoor patio…hoping for cooperative light for the afternoon. We were rewarded. You’ll see us…waaaaaaaaay down there in that 2nd photo.On the drive back, we couldn’t resist a section just off 101 through Humboldt County…Avenue of the Giants. How can you not stop…even for just a moment…to touch these magnificent things. Oooph…Thanks again folks…and to my much loved BFFJill (you know who you are).
We knew we had a few days in the Bay area with folks and things we wanted to see, so we thought an AirBnB might be just the thing. I’ve never used the service before but It seems like a perfect opportunity. I signed in not really knowing what to expect or what would be available. I didn’t have much luck until I noticed some of the other filters you could use to search for the kind of stay you wanted. I saw ‘Boat’. “Hmmmm”…I said to myself. I dived in and within seconds, saw something available…not only for when we wanted it but for a stupid-great price…in Alameda. It turned out to be perfect. We were close to everything, the boat (while never actually out on the water…just mored to the berth) was small and neat and comfortable…just right for two people used to car and tent camping. I took Jyo into the city on the lovely Bay ferry, which we were able to catch just a mile or so from our BoatBnB. A great lunch, a fabulous walk along the pier and a sunset return ferry to Alameda made the day for us and let me show Jyo some of the many reasons I love San Francisco so much. We were actually a little sorry to say goodbye but are pretty certain we’ll find a way to do it again. Oh and before you ask…yes. The Captain’s Hat and Pipe were included. Onto a quick stop in Fresno next before heading out into our desert adventure…..
San Francisco. It’s really my favorite American city. Always has been. I spent some formative time there in my youth so Im sure that has something to do with it. And I’ve heard all the complaints…too noisy…too dirty…too political…too something or not enough of another. I don’t care…the energy…the air…the history…the incredible grab-bag of humanity…the architecture…those goddamned hills…I love all of it. ‘cept for the traffic…yeah yeah…I get that part. That part suuuuucks.
Jyo had only been to the bay area many years ago as a child, so I knew I would look forward to showing her some of my favorite places. But Jyo had a surprise for me…she had arranged, with her Dad, a tour of the San Francisco Integral Yoga Institute, where he had been married back in the 70’s. He is a carpenter by trade and has been hired to come back and oversee renovation on the building which has been there on Dolores St. for over 50 years.
If you don’t know, the Institute was started by the same Swami known for opening the Woodstock Music Festival, Sri Swami Satchidananda. Its a beautiful building, well on its way to being lovingly restored by a man who knows it well. He toured us top to bottom and included a view from the roof of the mission district that is my new favorite place to see the City.
After, I took her to Golden Gate Park and to a couple of other places I love so much. And thanks to my lovey friend Casey and her husband Dave for putting us up (AGAIN!!!) for the night…oh and for the margaritas. Always for the margaritas.
After a wonderful night of camping in Wyoming, we decided to make one more special stop before long-hauling the rest of the way to Oregon. We chose Craters of the Moon national monument…a place that had us with the name alone. Its a lava field, millions of years old, that has oozed over the earth in the middle of the Idaho wilderness. In some places, the rock resembles black taffy that has been frozen in the act of being turned and stretched. Even tiny rocks of the black pumice here contain millions of sparkling minerals in every color. We climbed a small mountain made of billions of tiny chunks of magma shot out of the ground eons ago to get a sweeping and windy view of the valley below that will take your breath away. Not real good at the pano shot but included it.
The photograph of the lady with her dog happened at the campground there at the monument…which was a highlight in and of itself. They have a first come first serve basis for camping there, and no services except for basic toilet (no water) but there are lots of spaces and the view is almost completely unspoiled. Noise and light pollution are zero so you are in for memorable night of star gazing while camping in the soft, sandy gravel of the campground.
Kelly was hauling a Moped and she and Casey have logged about 300 miles, papoose-style, adventuring from Washington on their way to The Grand Canyon. Casey frequently falls asleep with her nose on Kelly’s shoulder as they motor their way through amazing scenery.
With two cars and lots of stuff, we still needed to take it easy camping-wise until we were united into a single car. KOAs fit the bill nicely. They’re everywhere, they’re cheap, they’re clean and literally everyone I’ve met in one is friendly as hell. My favorite one is in Rock Springs, Wyoming. I’ve been there multiple times now and every time I feel like I’m getting this giant bonus added to my campsite. While one side of the camp very typically faces the highway, the other faces these wonderful Wyoming bluffs that offer one of the best sunset views anywhere. Such a pleasure to share this with my Jyo.
Monument Rocks stick up out of the otherwise flat, Kansas landscape like an illusion. Jyo had been there many years before and was able to describe it to me but I still didn’t have any notion of how anything that could be described as “pyramid like” could be found anywhere in the expanse of Kansas landscape I saw around us. The drive up reveals them only at the last minute and takes you completely by surprise. Access to the area is from a long dirt road but is easily drivable in dry conditions. There are no parking restrictions and its on private land so you can just drive right up to them. We spent nearly 2 hours there…seeing only one other small family group the entire time…photographing and exploring. The rock here is comprised mostly of chalk. Its so soft you can affect it by scratching it with your fingernail…though I expect it took a little more than fingernails to carve the heart-shaped rock we found there.
I took a break after Utah, to rest and prepare for the next part of my road trip…meeting Jyo in Kansas to make the drive with her, caravan style, back to Oregon. I met her in Lawrence, where she was visiting with her sister and her family, having just completed the first leg of HER journey from Virginia. After over a month apart, it was so wonderful so see Jyo again and to begin our adventures together. We spent a few days there and were even able to see her niece in a school production of Much Ado About Nothing before we hit the road again. It was the first live theater I’ve seen in over a year and those kids put on one hell of show. Masks and all…they made it all work and they made it all fun.
Next up…on the road…together finally…from Kansas to Oregon.
I decided to stay a night in Las Vegas on the way to Zion and ultimately Bryce Canyon. I found a Motel 6 off the strip and looked forward to nothing more than a shower, some decent tacos, a beer and sleep in a bed. Las Vegas holds zero interest for me in terms of its entrainments, however, I’d be an idiot to turn down the opportunity to do some fun steetphotos where literally everywhere you look there is something interesting. It gave me the opportunity to walk off those tacos at any rate. Oooph….
Typecast by its name, the thought of driving through Death Valley made me more than a little nervous. I heard the rumors of gas-price gouging and stories of cars overheating by the side of the road. I was prepared for anything. I wasn’t prepared, however, for just how freaking pleasant it was. Highs never reached more than the lower 90s. My bucket list to do item… a sunrise 6 through the dessert…turned out to be almost effortless. The wind can sometimes come out of nowhere, and the sand along with it, but even that only caused problems for a couple of tents not tied down. I followed the advice of a fellow traveler (Thanks, Devin!!) who suggested I hike a trail just across the way from the campsite. The hike led to Mosaic Canyon. In many places, the rocks have been worn marble smooth by eons of water erosion. Pretty sure I picked just the right time to visit.
Back in March, as lock down protocols kicked in, I took a tour of the town where I live. A view from Earth, Charlottesville, VA. I am no one special. This place is not unique. We are all in it together. The world without people is a lonely place…