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