Tuesday, July 28, 2009

4 Months

4 Month Anniversary

In a week we will have had Tessie for a whole four months. Craziness really! She has grown in so many ways. When we first got her she was barely 27 lbs. A slight breaze would knock her over. She was so weak when she tried to climb up on the bed her legs would start shaking like Elvis on meth in front of a thousand screaming 14 year olds. Now she is turning in to quite the chubber! She loves to eat and sleep. It has been a total blast watching her turn from a scared scrawny rescue into a crazy fun-loving pupper. It took a little bit of doing but she is finally getting in touch with her inner boxer. The work isn't done yet of course, but we a totally stoked to keep on keeping on. It is always and adventure in the world of Tessie. The rest of us are just along for the ride-- if we can keep up.

"Of course I want that cheeseburger silly boy. Go ahead hand it over. You can't resist."

Monday, July 27, 2009

After the Swell

An Historic Swell
Ventuckey, Calif.
July 2009

Those watching the forecast in the south Pacific had first warning. A maelstrom was in the making. A few days later the buoys from Baja to Huntington to Santa Cruz. The typical SoCal summer flat top jacked up with perfect set from dawn to dusck for three days straight. Barrels came to 56th Street. Perfect A-frames were found at County Line. The Wedge turned deadly. C-Street was mobbed. Surfline was awash with locals digging in and getting their feed. Experts sitting in rusted SUVs swear it proved to be the best surf since April '07. Old timers spit tobacco juice on bare toes and ramble on about it being a once in a decade swell.

And as quickly as it came it was gone. Like a three year old's temper tantrum running out of steam, the swell calmed down. All that is left are the stories; told in the sore muscles and kool-aid grins from Baja to Bend. As years roll by the waves will grow in our memories as the stories grow into epic exaggerations. When we have gray in our hair and stubble on our chin we will still remember the summer swell of '09 like it was yesterday. And when freshly minted grommets walk by with their fancy pin tails still new and smelling of fresh epoxy, they will smile and blush and whisper out of earshot to themselves, "That old timer rode the swell of 2009, waves double head high and angry, with a balsa board 20lbs thick." And us so-called old timers with nod as they pass in silent agreement, "Ahhhh-yuh 20lbs. thick..."

But until the stubble comes to our chin, and until the gray spackles our brow we dry out the wet suits, hose off the boards, put the women and children to bed, check the surf report and wait for tomorrow. There are only six more hours till a smattering of color beckons the dawn patrol; only 360 minutes til we get up an do it again. Besides who knows, the best part of historic swells is what could happen tomorrow.

Until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sierra Walk

Sierra Walk
Sierra Nevada Range
outside Big Pine, Calif.
July 2009

I took four days off and went for a walk in the Sierras. We brought Tessie. She dug it, me though not so much so. She really likes chasing after bears. How do you train a dog not too do that?

There was snow. And mountains.

There were trees. And flowers.

And more trees.

And more flowers.

And then this big ole ridge line. Just as the trail had successfully lulled you to sleep with its fresh grassy meadows, wild flowers, and all together gentle nature this bad boy pops up-- the infamous hogs back. You have to climb up and over it of course with the sun pounding down on you the whole time mercilessly. Its 37-ish switchbacks take you up a tad under 1500 vertical feet in just a tad over half a mile. It is excruciating.
I do this for fun I ask? To relax? Hogwash!

By the time we hit camp the only thing on my mind was licking my (mental) wounds and chillaxing.

There were even more flowers at camp.

Tess was a big fan of the tent, an even bigger fan of the chillax.

I carried a heavy frikin' tripod all the way up and over the hogs back and decide to hand hold this shot. Brilliant...

On the off day I read a book-- the whole thing cover to cover.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Taylor Ranch Fire

Taylor Ranch Fire
West Ventura, Calif. 2009

USA Petroleum.

Petrol Refuel.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sad Day Back Home

Androscoggin River Valley
Great Falls
Auburn- Lewiston, Maine
July 15th & 16h, 2009

I heard the news yesterday afternoon. I almost did not believe it at first. The stately though oft misunderstood Cowan Mill was torched by pretentious arsonists and went to a fiery grave. All of Island Point was engulfed in an inferno of angry 40 foot flames and belching black smoke. Firefighters from a dozen cities raced to the scene to offer aid. The blaze would not be put down easily. Most rescue personnel were quickly regulated to spectators as the walls finally succumb to the scorching heat and tumbled into the river they stood watch over for a century and a half. The quickness and ferocity of the blaze was humbling. The mayhem was complete in just a handful of hours.

There has been a mill of some sort or another on the prominent overlook along the falls dating back to Finley's Grist Mill built in 1770. The Libby Mill succoumbed to a similar firey demise about a decade ago. Now in a dramatic fashion the Cowan Mill designtergrates to ash and crumbled stone as well. Within a week the brittle skeleton will be razed leaving the once proud bluff above the falls bald and scared. As the cities debate rebuilding only time will tell if these fires stole the dignity Island Point maintained in the face of despair since originally industrialized.

Back in the winters of 2000 & 2001 I had a unique opportunity to take a rare look inside the hermitage that the Cowan Mill had become. A reclusive, some would say eccentric, gentleman had begun to restore small parts of the mill to house his life's work-- a collection of the rare and vintage. This collection included dozens of turn of the century automobiles and even an aeroplane, decades old street signs and license plates, horse-drawn buggies and surreys (the kind with the fringe on top), centuries old firefighting uniforms, gas pumps from the 1940's, parking meters from the 1950's, and even mannequins from a Five & Dime that went out of business in the 1960's. It was a dusty collection with more stories then Lake Wobegon.

For a young photojournalist just getting a start in the world it was an enchanted warehouse of endless opportunities. I spent hours daydreaming among the piles of detritus. I spent hundreds of feet of film trying to document everything in its natural light. Now looking back I realize how fortunate I was in my naivete to have had the chance to blunder inside. Looking back I wish I had spent more time wandering, chatting, and daydreaming with the elusive proprietor. Looking back I am reminded how fleeting, and how overlooked, the best things and life can be.

The Mighty Androscoggin.*

The Mill.**

The Legacy.

The Line-up.

The Vintage.

The Fin.

The Kettle.

The Detail.

The Pile.

The Roaring 20's.

The Project.

The Recluse. 2001.

* Cowan Mill to right of frame.

**Taken from the clock tower of the Bates Mill downriver (looking up river toward Island Point & Great Falls).
At the bottom of the frame is visible the sawtoothed roof of Bates Mill #5. It was this roof that would also catch fire yesterday as hot ash spewed from the Cowan Mill fire and ignited the brittle timbers of good ole #5. To the right of the frame is the shell of the Libby Mill. To the center-left of the frame is a side view of the Cowan Mill.

Monday, July 6, 2009


A Basement Somewhere Just Outside of Downtown.
Ventucky, Calif.
June-ish 2009

Dance. Pause. Kiss. Hula!

танцевать. Gambille. أدى رقصة. Baile. רִקוּד.

делать паузу. S'arrete. توقف. Detenerse. לְהַפְסִיק (לְרֶגַע)

целовать. Baise. تبادل القبل. Besame. נְשִׁיקָה.

хула. Hula. Hula. Hula. Hula.

Druid Stones

Druid Stones
Bishop, Calif. 2009

Walk in, +/- 1200 vertical feet in 1.5 dusty sun starched miles.

Too many classic lines, Arch Druid Stone (V4).

Working out the Beta, Skye Stone.

Swing a ding a ling, Skye Stone (V3).

Stick it, Skye Stone (V3).

The view, from the Thunder Wall.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Volcanic Tablelands
Bishop, Calif. 2009

The cold front broke and the heat swept in. We headed out to the Happy boulders to try and catch some shade and try our luck at some of the classic lines of the Happies. There was more napping then climbing but in the end we bagged some good sends and called it a day. We retreated back to the cool breezy shade of our campsite next to the stream. We were so tired it was an early night.

Shade under Serengeti.

Monkey Hang (V3).

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Bishop, Calif. 2009

Mantle, Unnamed (V3).

Hand toe match, Kings and Castles (V6).

Self Portrait, Chess (V2).

Pawn (V0).

Called by many the best line in Bishop, The Checkerboard (V8).

Buttermilks Sunset.

Buttermilks Camping

Buttermilks Camping
Bishop, Calif.

Daydreaming of monkey-wrenching.