Saturday, December 27, 2008

Last Frames

R.I.P 10D
(and a merry bloody Christmas to you too!)
C Street, Ventura, California
December 25th, 2008

My camera died today. It was sad. It was going on 5 years old, ancient for a digital camera. I knew it was coming but it was still a bummer. It should not have been a surprise but it was. It went quietly doing what it loves, taking piss-poor out-of-focus under-exposed photo-graphs.

It had a good life, that 10D. It hiked the AT from Vermont through Maine, along with Virginia & parts of Tennessee; crossed 21 states; shot in three countries; went on literally hundreds of climbs from coastal Maine to Joshua Tree; surfed Baja & Big Sur; shot a Presidential inauguration and Michael Jackson's trial; snuck it in to shoot the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas and snuck it in to shoot USC Football; was pawned to pay rent; outlasted 8 different lenses; witnessed didgeradoos in J-Tree and shooting stars in the Grand Canyon; shot a wedding in Sedona and an engagement in San Diego; captured many drunken nights by the fire and never complained; it shot the homeless trying to keep warm and black tie red carpet celebs trying to be cool; made it to Panamint City four times without even the tinyest complaint; it lived out of the car without a cush home to rehabilitate in for 8+ months; shot star trails and Mexican hay bails; got banged up and dropped and tussled and scratched and dinged and oops'ed many a times but kept on ticking; and then one Christmas day on the beach it simply stopped. It just shut off never to turn on again. Bummer dude...

#127, 241

#127, 242

Festival of Lights

Ventura Harbour
Ventura, California
December 20th, 2008






Faria County Beach Park
Ventuckey, California
December 12th & 13th, 2008

Paulie & the gang reunited for one more night of debauchery!

Deus ex machina, or something like that.

Beach, midnight.


The Barbecue
December 1st, 2008

Dead & Red.


Trona Pinnacles
Trona, California
November 30th, 2008

The Pinnacles, Tona.

Victory cigar & root beer.

Train, Trona.

Sunset heading home.

The Walk Back

Panamint City to Wicht Camp
Death Valley, California
November 30th, 2008

Leaving our mark on the Panamint Hilton.

Crossing Sourdough Canyon and down into Surprise Canyon.

Down into Limekiln Springs.

Looking for our way out of Brewery Springs.

Doneski, washing up just above Wicht Camp.

First "bath" in 5ish days.

Cold clean refreshingness!

Out of Surprise Canyon down into Wicht Camp and back to the car.

Panamint City

Last Day, Panamint City Ghost Town
Death Valley, California
November 29th, 2008

Looking down at Panamint from the Lower Wyoming Mine.

The Upper Wyoming Mine.

Best seat in the house for the sunset.

Chillaxing after sundown.

Dinner & a card game (no movie).

Water Canyon

Shotgun Mary's Buick, Water Canyon
Death Valley, California
November 28th, 2008

Morning, heading out of Surprise Canyon across Frenchman's Canyon and into Water Canyon.

Shotgun Mary's Buick.

113,000 miles & AM radio.

Bullet holes and what remains of the Thompson cabin.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Surprise Canyon

Surprise Canyon
Death Valley, California
Thanksgiving Day 2008

Sunrise at the Morgue.

Artwork in the Morgue.

One if by land.

Surprise wetness.

Burrito the Burro.

Going up and over.

The notorious Death Valley barking spider.

Sunset over the entrance to Panamint City Valley.

Finally at the cabin we light a fire and nurse our aching bodies.


Ballarat Ghost Town
Panamint Valley, California
Thanksgiving Eve 2008

The rains as we left were tremendous. Rain in SoCal is always a disaster if you have to drive. Folks over here on the left coast just can't seem to deal with any sort of moisture on a road-- even a light morning dew can cause quite the commotion. Anyhow it took us two hours to get to Valencia, all of 45 miles-ish, and then another hour and a half stuck in traffic to get from the 5 to the 14, maybe 5 miles at the most. By the time we hit the 5 things had cleared up a bit until we finally got out into the heart of the Mojave Desert. The rain by then was coming down so hard and we were the only car on these little tiny back roads. It made for some white knuckled moments indeed!

When it pours in the desert all of these dry washes get flooded out and run across the highway without warning. There were a couple times fording across we really thought the car would not make it. A couple times the water was higher then the hood of the car. Fortunately for us we made it across each time and continued through the pitch black darkness. By the time we made it to Ballarat my nerves were fried! I needed a drink something fierce.

Ballarat is this cool little ghost town in the Panamint Valley, just on the western border of Death Valley. Actually ghost town is kind of a misnomer as there is actually one old grizzled year round resident. He is quite the trip to talk. Ballarat was notorious back in the day for being one lawless barn-burner of a town. Charles Manson and his little cult used to come down from the mountains and spend weekends there creating havoc. (The Manson family Jeep is still there up on blocks in the middle of the ghost town!) The town was renown for its decadent ways-- 7 saloons for a population just north of 400 and not a single church.

Okay sorry for the tangent, so we hit Ballarat in the middle of the night in the middle of a driving rain storm. We had planned on just setting up tent real quick and calling it a night to get an early start on the hike in the AM. With the blinding rain though I had second thoughts. Ballarat was built on a dry lake bed. When these crazy once a year storms blow through that dry lake bed isn't so dry anymore. I was really concerned that if we set up camp in the dry lake bed we would wake up washed half way to Mexicali without even knowing it. If memory served me correctly I vaguely remembered that there was one building still standing that looked liked it had a decent roof and sturdy walls that we might shelter in for the night. I vaguely remembered it being the town jail so i figured it would be fairly sturdy if we could get in. We were not too worried, even though it is kind of illegal, about being caught. I mean for real what kind of crazy is out in the middle of a fierce storm in the middle of the night in the middle of a ghost town? We found it and unpacked the car and tried to get comfy and settled in for the night.

About midnight the rain let up so we went out side to see what we could see. We set up the cameras to do a couple night shots, star trails, time lapses etc. Waiting for one exposure to kick off I could sort of make out a rickety sign above the door of the shack. I beamed my headlamp up to have a looksie. Wouldn't you know it, just my luck! We weren't staying at the jail but rather the jail's morgue. Yah right, the jail's morgue of a creepy ass ghost town that Manson and his "Familia" used to frequent. It as spooky but it beat out sleeping in the puddles. Not that I am afraid of ghosts or anything but lets just say the rest of the night was a little less restful then originally planned...

Not just the morgue but the ghost town jail's morgue. Oy vey...!

Inside out of the rain, hoping the spirits are friendly!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Trailer #4-- Wyoming Mine

Days of FOCUS
Trailer #4

The Wyoming Mine

(this is just a test, my first Final Cut experience in 4+ years-- yikes!)

*music by Barefoot Truth

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Grotto

The Grotto

Lazy Sunday afternoon, Bick was sweeping the porch as I was trying to make sense of the clouds. Tick tock went the rickety tickety clickety click clack clock. "Dude for reals, we gotta motivate. Life's a wasting, we gotta grab on fight the coming of the nightchya know." Pack up the Focus hit the trail and away we go. We went on down to Malibu's infamous (really infamous?) g-r-o-t-t-o. Much to my chagrine there were no bunnies. Couldn't find any Irish either. What kind of grotto is this? Regardless we had a blast freeclimbing and splunking around in the dark. It was groovy fo' so'. Tickety clickety click clack clickety and along you go yo-yo yah yippety whippety ding dang diggity do da day. Right!

Anthropologue Extrodinaire des Polynésie Française.

La lumière d'en haut.

Sauvez-moi por favor!

Guerrier d'ombres.

Repose dans l'obscurité.

Bielles claires.

Dang Tooth

Dang Tooth

So I had this infection a ways back in some of the screws that hold my pretty face all together. We treated the infection aggressively and I didn't really think much of it. A few weeks later I had this gnarly pain in my teeth and my gum's were bleeding like a cheap B horror movie. Back to the oral & maxillofacial surgeon I go only to find that the infection had led to a pretty sever abscess. It just so happened at that time that I was in the midst of planning to summit Telescope Peak in Death Valley from the western reaches-- an attempt that not many in recent memory had tried. Oh yah and we were aiming on doing all of this in the dead of winter! Needless to say I really didn't feel comfortable having a few teeth drill out right before leaving. Who could say how I would react at 11,000 feet in sub-freezing temperatures with a new hole in my mouth. So I put it on the back burner.

Life as you would have rolled on. I put the whole abscess thingy out of my mind as much as possible. Things rolled on. It was on my to-do list. You know right between learning how to yodel and standing on my head and farting confetti. Well unfortunately for me this dang tooth had other ideas. I went for a little hike last weekend to stretch the legs. About half way through I slipped in the middle of a scree field and went slip sliding away down into the canyon. It was no big deal really except that I had this dull pain in my jaw for the rest of the hike. By the next morning that dull pain was excruciating. Out came the whiskey and Advil-- its an old home remedy I swear by. I figured things would get better in a few days or so. I just had to put on a brave face and weather the storm.

Needless to say the storm was never weathered. Four days later I was delirious with pain, so much so in fact I had vision of pulling out the stupid thing myself. I would ply it around with my fingers and tell myself I could do it. Fortunately I am a wimp at heart and never went through with it. Instead I scheduled an emergency extraction & bone graft. Once I actually got into the surgeon's office things pretty much went fairly smoothly. Out came the tooth without much of a fight and a follow-up visit to re-discuss the bone graft was scheduled. You see I couldn't do everything then and there because in a few days I am taking off once again for Telescope Peak in the winter and who the crap knows how a bloody bone graft will do at 11,000 feet and sub-freezing temperatures. That dumb graft is however on my to-do list...(grin).

This is what a periodontal abscess that festers in the supporting bone and
tissue structures of the teeth looks like after 13 months lingering.

**For some rad shots of the whole ordeal check out Bick's blog here. The oral surgeon was cool with it so he was able to shoot the whole play by play for those of you who'd like to see me suffer!

Log & Capture

Log & Capture

Log and capture, capture and log-- this was my lot for the last five weeks. One of the biggest reason why I am taking this house-broken break is to get a decent understanding of everything I have shot in the last ten months. That means pulling every tape into the computer and making detailed notes of what I have, what I don't have, what I need to re-shoot, and where I want to go with this whole mess. I have a little over 41 hours of video tape that I have never really had the opportunity to scrutinize. I also have a little over 5,000 still images to go through. This does not include another 12,000 give or take just for time lapses.

It is a big ball of wax. I knew before I got too far along I absolutely had to take an account of where I stood. So five weeks into the preliminary stage of post-production I have captured 10 hours of video into the computer and I have edited the still images down to about 500. Hopefully by the first week of December I will have all the video into the computer and have the images edited down to a more manageable 200 give or take. There is still so much more to do and so little time!
At least an idea is starting to take form and I am most certainly in a much better place now in terms of piecing all this together.

10 Hours down & 31 to go