Phew… another big day on the road, and thankfully, the last one!
Although the down side of that of course is that it means that we fly home in 2 days time. Man, where did THAT 2 weeks go to?
This morning, we left Yosemite far too soon, having seen far too little of it. I did go out on my own at 5am to shoot some of the sunrise, which was a mixed bag. Yes, it was a clear morning, but what I didn’t account for is that the sun doesn’t actually light up the best bits until after 7:30! D’oh!
Still, I got some reasonable shots.
After we hit the road, we left the park via Tioga Pass, which took us out to the eastern side, and down between King’s Canyon and Death Valley, neither of which we actually got to see!
We did however have an amazingly good run back into LA, arriving in Pasadena around 5 o’clock.
The highlight of the day had to be Ellery Lake at 9538ft above sea level which was (mostly) frozen over. I got Cath to take a shot of Max and I standing out on the ice (don’t worry… I tested it thoroughly first). Again, this is the kind of thing we never see in Australia.
Tonight, we drove down to Hollywood (like we hadn’t done enough driving for the day!) to grab some dinner and have a little walk around.
Tomorrow, it’s off to Universal Studios.
November 29, 2007
November 28, 2007
We did a quick drive around San Francisco this morning before hitting the road again.
The drive through the Presidio (formerly a military training ground, and these days a public park) was just beautiful. Got the obligatory shots of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Then, it was on the highway and bound for Yosemite National Park.
Along the way, we passed through the little town of Oakdale, home to a bar which goes by the dubious name of “The Battered Beaver”…. visions of “Naked Gun 33 1/3” anyone?
Then, while taking a family portrait at the Yosemite National Park sign (just inside the park), another couple stopped to take their photo. I offered to take a shot of the pair of them, and the guy, upon hearing my accent, says “Are you Aussie?”. We got talking, and found out that not only did he come from a small New South Wales country town which I had formerly lived in, but we had a bunch of common acquaintances.
Small world, or what?
And then we got into the park proper.
Actually, you know what? “Wow” just doesn’t do it justice. You ever taken a photo of a magical place you visited whilst on holidays, and then when you see the photo later on, you think “yeah, that’s it alright, but the pic just doesn’t completely reveal what it’s like in the flesh”?
Well, Yosemite is one of those places.
You can look at the photos of it… even the truly great ones, and they STILL don’t prepare you for actually standing here and looking up at these massive stone monoliths. Try to imagine this… a mountain with a face that is over 3000 ft (that’s over 1km for everyone outside the U.S.) which is ALMOST VERTICAL!!
Seriously, you have to BE here to really GET it.
Anyway, we’ve received all the warnings about not leaving any food items in your car because it attracts the bears, and yes, they WILL smash the windows of your vehicle to get at it!
We’ve made a slight alteration to the itinerary for tomorrow.
Instead of just heading straight down the 5 (freeway) through Fresno and Bakersfield and into LA, we’re actually going to head out of the east side of Yosemite, and travel south between King’s Canyon and Death Valley. It’ll make for a longer day, but everyone we’ve spoken to says the trip down the 5 is totally boring with nothing to see.
It’ll be the last long haul day on the road… thank God!
Thursday and Friday are both going to be spent in LA.
Cath, Max and I have just come back from the bar where we sat by an open fire enjoying a couple of drinks (well, obviously, NOT Max!). They’ve both gone to bed, and I’m about to head over to the lobby where there’s wi-fi which will enable me to upload this post.
November 27, 2007
Yesterday morning, we left Crescent City and headed south down the 101.
We decided not to bother with the “Mystery of Trees” forest walk, as we were informed that it required 90 mins plus currency. So, we hit the road again, and not long after, turned off the 101 onto this little side road and found some walking tracks and something called “big tree” which proved to be a remarkably accurate description…. and required no currency.
Later along the same road, we came across some wild elk grazing. Bit of a novelty for us.
We then got back on the 101, until we came to a turn off to a tourist attraction of a tree you could drive a car through!
Then, we followed that road to the coast and down through Fort Bragg, and eventually back onto the 101 and down into San Francisco.
Today (Monday), we went down and wandered around Fisherman’s Wharf, then did the tour across to Alcatraz. For anyone doing this in the future, the audio tour (which is included free with your tour ticket) is an absolute MUST! They give you an mp3 player and headphones, and it guides you through the whole facility, explaining what various parts of the buildings were used for, where certain prisoners were housed, how the breakouts were planned and executed, and so on. But what makes it so good is the quality of the audio production work. It’s outstanding. And well paced, too. You don’t feel rushed, nor does it drag. There’s good use of dialogue and sound fx, too.
Anyway, after we got back to SF, we hopped on a 1 hour narrated trolley car tour of the city. That was great, too!
After that, I left Cath and Max at the hotel while I went off to photograph the Golden Gate bridge.
Tonight, we went back down to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner. We also watched this really talented street performer dude who paints these amazing landscapes using spray paints! Yep, in spray cans.
Now, to find a picture to post….
November 26, 2007
Big day today. We left Bend at 9 o’clock this morning, and drove south following the guidance of the GPS. It tried to tell us to take the north entrance to Crater Lake National Park, but I already knew that that entrance was shut for the season. Funny thing was, as soon as we turned into the north entrance, the GPS must have picked up local data informing it of such, because it told us to turn around and take another route! Gotta love this technology.
So, the next thing I know, 2 miles down the highway, it tells me to turn off and take a gravel road. I reluctantly agreed to follow it. It took us along 22 miles of dirt, which provided some fun 4 wheel drive action with ice and snow on the road!
We ended up getting to the park about 30 minutes sooner than we would have done had we followed the highway.
Crater Lake was just gorgeous. See the panorama below. Unfortunately, the sky was overcast and grey which made for a pretty dull looking photo so please forgive me for touching up the colours a bit to give the sky some punch.
We then headed west to Grant’s Pass and on to Crescent City. Along the way, Max spilled his hot chocolate all over the laptop. Nice. Thankfully, it still seems to be functioning ok, although a couple of keys feel a bit sticky.
So, we got into Crescent City at about 5:30 only to find that the whole southern side of the town has no water. Oh joy. So, our pre-booked hotel let us out of our reservation without penalty. So instead, we’re holed up at some dodgy $64 a night joint. It’s a bed… I’ll re-assess it’s value in the morning.
Turns out the internet access here is a bit hit and miss, so I may have to post this tomorrow morning anyway.
November 24, 2007
It’s now Friday night, and we’ve been on the road most of the day.
We got away from Seattle just after 9am, and had a pretty good run down to Portland (Oregon) and out to Multnomah Falls.
Talk about cold.
To some of you, it may have been tame, but to us poor Sydney-siders who have just come from late spring/early summer weather, hopping out of the car at the falls to find it was about -2 (C)/30 (F)…. yikes.
Anyway, took some shots of the falls, had lunch, then hopped back into the relative warmth of our horseless carriage.
On to Hood River, a sleepy little village. Hung a right and headed south into the mountains. The roads got a little bit icy in places but nothing too bad. Saw plenty of snow, and got out and had my first ever snow fight with Max. Sweet.
Then, continued driving south toward this place we’re in now, called Bend.
Along the way, managed to rip off a nice shot of Mount Hood (see below).
Just been out for a really nice feed of Italian food.
Cath and Max are now downstairs at the pool…. yes, you read correctly, the POOL! It’s about -5 (C)/25 (F) outside, yet Max wants to go for a swim because there’s an indoor heated pool. Unreal.
Anyhow, tomorrow it’s more southward travels toward Crater Lake which will be interesting, as the roads will get more and more covered in snow and ice as we get higher. Oh joy… chains.
Then, westward toward the coast via Grant’s Pass, and on to Crescent City.
November 23, 2007
Oh, ye gods.
Somebody pleeeease cut off my feet. I just want to die now.
Not sure how I’m gonna handle a second day of this!
We got back into Disneyland around 2:45 this afternoon and managed to stake out a great spot beside the parade route. Got some nice shots.
Managed to squeeze in:
“A Christmas Fantasy” parade
Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer’s Island
Indiana Jones (again)
Snow White’s Scary Adentures (not very scary)
Matterhorn bobsleds (twice)
…and another 70 odd photos!
Tomorrow, we’re off to California Adventure World.
Just what have I let myself in for?
Well, as you can see, I never got to post that after I wrote it.
It’s now Thursday (Thanksgiving) and so much has happened in the intervening 4 days.
Monday at Disneyland was awesome, although there were more people than were there on Sunday (Monday was a less foggy day). But by Monday night, I really did want to cut off my own feet!
Tuesday, we headed down to San Diego and did a 1 hour harbour cruise. What we didn’t realise (but soon found out) was that the cruise was just a narrated tour of all the naval ships in harbour!
Tuesday night we flew to Seattle and got to Chad’s place around 9:45.
We promptly sat up til after midnight chatting.
Yesterday, we headed in to town and parked near the Space Needle. But, instead of doing the Space Needle straight away, we walked down to Pike Street and caught the free bus down to the market and wondered around there for a while.
We then caught the bus back to where we’d caught it, and walked back up the hill to the Space Needle. So, then we went up the Needle and had a look around from up there. I shot a series of shots which I plan to turn into a panorama.
After that, we grabbed some lunch, hooked up with Chad and his family, and then went into the Science Fiction museum and the Electronic Music Project (which is totally AWESOME!).
After that, we decided it was time to head home so we could get ready to head out to dinner… the plan was to go to some crazy 50’s style diner that serves these ridiculously oversized portions… only problem was, when we rang, we found out that on Thanksgiving Eve, they close early! D’oh!
So, we grabbed pizza and stayed in… which after the last 5 days was just fine by us.
Today, after lunch, we’re planning on going for a drive to see some snow (us Sydney-siders don’t see snow very often).
Tomorrow, we start the great road trip back to LA.
November 19, 2007
We got to the gates at about 7:15 this morning. The first queue is the bag check. Then you line up again for the main gate entry. Cath managed to get us about 8th in line at the main gate. Nice work.
So this morning, we managed to get through (between 0800 and 1230), all these rides:
Pirates of the Caribbean
Tarzan Jungle Walk
Haunted Mansion Holiday
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Not a bad morning if you ask me!
So, we’re having a break now, and will head back in this afternoon to catch the parade and the fireworks this evening.
No pics to post yet.
November 18, 2007
Well, here it is Saturday already!
I’ve finished recording here in Ventura at 7 o’clock last night.
It’s been a great week. Long intense days, but rewarding nonetheless.
There hasn’t been a whole lot of time for photography this week, although I did take a few shots at Lynda.com HQ yesterday.
Cath and Max arrived in LA at lunchtime yesterday, too. They had a pretty good flight across.
I’m very much looking forward to seeing them this morning.
It turns out that we may have to make some minor adjustments to our planned itinerary, as the northern entrance road to Crater Lake National Park has already been closed for the winter.
We had been planning on entering via that road, so somewhere between now and then, we’ll work out an alternate route…. or just skip Crater Lake altogether. Don’t really want to do that though!
Anyway, that’s pretty much it for now.
And even though I’ve been here once before, I am still blown away by the attitude towards the consumption of food. The worst part is you get sucked right into it, too. I don’t think I need to eat another thing for the 2 weeks I’ve still got in the U.S.!!
And the picture is none other than Joshua Tree National Park, just outside Palm Springs.
November 11, 2007
Well, we got out of Sydney about half an hour late, which wasn’t too bad.
Then, 13 hours in economy (coach) class… not TOO bad, but then, we landed at LAX and had to sit on the tarmac for half an hour before we could dock at the arrival gate.
Yeah, JUST what we wanted…. not.
And then 90 minutes to clear customs and immigration… joy.
Picked up the hire car (not the Dodge Charger I was expecting, but a Chrysler 300C instead), went and booked into the hotel, and straight into the shower.
OK, so you probably didn’t really want to know that, but trust me, after 13+ hours in a flying sardine tin, it is something you REALLY look forward to!
Then, went for a drive and did some shopping.
Learnt rather quickly that this close to the border, when they say “spicy food”, they really mean SPICY.
Went up to Beverly Hills and found The Chessecake Factory. OMG! There was about 20 different cheesecakes on the menu. I tried the lemon and raspberry one. Divine.
And in true Californian fashion, there was enough cream on top to drown the cow it came from.
This morning (Saturday), checked out of the hotel and hit the road for Palm Springs.
Got to Bob Fischer’s place around 2pm. Bob and I went for a drive around Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs. Saw some celebrity houses and stuff.
Going out to Joshua Tree NP in the morning now. We were originally going to do that this arvo, but that plan changed along the way.
So this evening, I took the aerial tramway up to the top of Mt San Jacinto National Park. WOW! It’s truly awsome to see this 8600ft mountain just stickin’ up straight out of the desert floor. And the night time view of the lights of the desert cities was pretty nice, too!
That’s it for now.
November 8, 2007
I’m letting this one out of the bag early. Not much sense holding it back ’til Sunday, ’cause come Sunday, I won’t know what day it is!
In this (very short) ep, Shelton discusses his annual photo weekend away with the boys, taking multiple exposures with his D200, and I’m flying out tomorrow.
This will be the last Shutters Inc for 4 weeks. But keep those landscape submissions coming. Send them here. Remember 700 pixels wide @ 72 dpi.
Also, keep an eye on the blog as I’ll be doing my best to blog once or twice per week to let you know where I am and what I’m up to.
November 4, 2007
This week, Bruce sits on the sidelines while Shelton and Landon Michaelson (bksecretphotos on Flickr) discuss “dark frame subtraction” and other techniques for getting killer time exposures.
Landon has sent through some pdf’s with some notes on both DFS and long exposures.
Oh ye Gods!
If anyone knows a current e-mail address for Svend, would they please let me know ASAP?
Alternatively, Svend, if you happen to see this, can you please contact me URGENTLY?
For those who are wondering, Svend Olaf is an absolute GURU when it comes to data recovery, and yesterday, I suffered a major data loss. About 30 hours of work which I had done in preparation for my trip to the US (now just 5 days away) got blown away along with a stack of personal files, scattered across 2 partitions of a hard drive.
Thing is, I’ve been through this kind of disaster before, and I am 100% confident that the data is till there… it’s just the file allocation tables have been overwritten, and Svend Olaf is the only guy I know who is able to “turn back the hands of time”.
Anyway, this is a long shot I know… but I need that data back… AND QUICK!!!