So it has been a minute or so since I've done any updates. I've been working on the film and my newly launched Conforme Belle- Fine Art Photography business. Check it out (here)! :)
Concerning the Film, I have about a total of 15 minutes with both the newly edited footage and from the preview. I'm gonna say the release should be out by the end of THIS week!!! No joke! It's coming together really well. I've put beautiful music (Tracy Chapman, Vampire Weekend, Sayde Price...) to it and also included the debut appearance of musician Sheldon Shelley. All live acoustic performances. :) It will definitely be worth a watch or two or three.
So keep checking in and get that kettle corn popping because the West Coastin' Film is on launch!
So the film of the West Coastin' Adventure is being created as I type. The sneak-peek is being uploaded to Youtube now. It's a short preview of the full-length film that is in the works.
I still have lots of material to review and edit so it may be a bit of time. But I'm working on it and have all you followers and friends in mind. Check out the sneak-peek while you're on hold.
Note: The video is currently processing (as of 3pm on November 3rd, 2011). The video should be completely free of uploading/processing within a few hours. It did take almost 15 hours(!!!) just to upload so who really knows. BUT, I will keep you updated. :) Hope you enjoy!
Also the quality will be better once it is fully processed. Watch it now, and watch it later! :)
I know by the sounds of it, you may be looking for an X-rated picture or some sensual talk but unfortunately you will just be hearing about the adventures of my brother and I searching for a place to bathe during this past West Coastin' trip. (That is unless you are turned on by people bathing in random public places...)
Living on the road means giving up certain taken-for-granted amenities. One of which I will be sharing about is bathing. The revolution of running water brought luxury to people never fathomed of before. Nowadays living in a modern home, all you have to do to get clean is go to your shower or bath, turn a faucet, warm or cool depending on your liking, watch the tub fill up (add bubbles :)) or simply hop into the inviting clean water and then scrub your body to a desired cleanliness. Hop out once clean and refreshed then dry off with a towel and get on with your day. Am I right? It is very convenient and easy if you own a home with a bathroom area. However, living out of an Astro van the convenience of finding acceptable running water creates quite the dilemma.
For those who have never experienced such a time, I am going to share our experience so you can relive it with us. On the first morning in Elko we awoke to snow. Not a time to use our gallon jug to rinse off. Reason being, outside the temperature was below 32 degrees and there was snow was falling. We did happen to find a Gold's Gym in town and clean up/ work out there. Being a member of Gold's Gym, I had the privilege to use many of the facilities located nationwide. It came in handy many times and I only had my bag stolen once (towel, shampoo, 2 pairs of clothes, underwear, soap, contact case and solution, van keys, and who knows what else... Very, very sad day. Curse San Francisco's Gold.) Day two brought us, I can't remember. Now I'm not going to go through every day and tell you where and how we bathed, that's just creepy. I'll just skip to the outrageous and strange places. Let you imagination run wild. :)
What would you say to a person who bathed in the rain? Seriously. I wouldn't know what to say. I mean unless it was like 45 degrees outside wind blowing and right on the California coast, I'd call em' crazy. Well, call Sheldon and I crazy. We were in Mendicino County, California sleeping in an empty field on the coast when we awoke that morning to coastal rain and fog. The rain is somewhat of a downer on trips because you can't really do a lot of things outside without getting wet. Unless of course that is your go al, to get wet, and on this morning it was. I woke up undressed and faced the cold wind and rain for a morning wake up rain-shower, literally. I bathed in the rain. Got wet enough to put shampoo in my hair and clean my pits and body then rinse off. It started the day off like a cold bucket of water on the face, but my, oh my, was it invigorating. Strangely enough it let me know I was still alive and had feelings. I hopped back into the van rock-tits and all to Sheldon awaiting me with a dry towel. Sheldon took his turn and we hit the road. Just like that, nature's shower.
Another strange place was a hose faucet on the side of a gas station. Somewhere in a city in California we stopped at a gas station to fill up and noticed a low-key faucet. It was faced somewhat away from the road, no security cameras were watching it, and it was coming directly from the building. So, we figured it was clean and prepared for an insta-shower. I led the way, walked nonchalantly up to the faucet, towel and shampoo in hand, took off my shirt, ran my head under the water, crouched down trying to get the rest of my body, hurriedly scrubbed shampoo in my hair and rinsed it out, then walked back to the van and dried off. It took me t-minus one minute. Sheldon was impressed and when it was his turn watching him was hilarious. Knowing I did the same thing moments before made it even funnier. You have to keep in mind that we were in a busy part of the city with an on-off highway ramp directly south of the gas station. Keeping low-key was the goal.
How about this one... Waking up in Eugene one morning it was lightly raining when we came across this nice community center. In the back of this place was a steaming jewel, meaning a hot tub. Yes a hot tub. We did do what you're thinking. We parked the van, made sure the coast was clear, hopped the gate to the pool/hot tub area, hopped in the hot tub, whipped out the shampoo, scrubbed down, hopped out back over the fence back into the van, and dried off inside. It took me seriously about 1.657 minutes. When I hopped out of the hot tub Sheldon was all confused seeing me rush out. He was like, " What are you doing? Aren't we going to sit in here and enjoy the hot tub?". He was thinking we were going to hang out in this communities hot tub and shoot the breeze for a bit. That would have been cool and all, but inviting ourselves into this hot tub, bathing in it and deciding to stick around and talk, I don't think would have been kosher with the landlords. Especially the bathing part... It wasn't too bubbly. ;)
On the beach in San Francisco we came across a shower. It was right on the beach and looked inviting. Truth was it wasn't heated. And grossly enough, after hanging out there for a moment and after my shower of course, I noticed it was the popular place for all of the beach-goer's to wash off their dogs. (Pauses...) Ya... So... It really wasn't too bad.
One of the coolest places we got clean was just outside of Port Orford. It was a dainty little place known as the Elk River. Yes a river. We pulled up to the riverside and unloaded towels, shampoo, and all. We made our way into the snow-fed river and proceed to clean ourselves with a dunking technique. Because the water was basically freezing, lying down in the river and playing about was not ideal. We would dunk, scrub, prepare mentally and physically for the next dunk then rinse off as fast as possible while underwater. Then shoot out of the water screaming for mercy. I'm hoping the river was relatively clean, it looked that way. We didn't contract giardia so I think we picked a clean river. Only dilemma was when bathing I hung my towel from a tree brach overhanging in the river and it fell off mid-dunk completely ruining my warm, dry off I was eagerly awaiting.
We were allowed the luxury of warm running water about half the time on our trip. First opportunity came at Fort Bragg while working at Pacific Star Winery. The owner offered to us her bungalow on the oceanfront. What a refresher it was to have warm water, electricity, and even a bed. This stop definitely was a morale booster. We also received the luxury of a shower from our cousin Holly in Arcata, CA. Her victorian home was offered to us for cleansing purposes. Again, another morale booster. Thanks again Holly! More warm running water from family came in Salem, OR. Our aunt and uncle there provided beds, food and the highly prized warm water. We will forever be grateful for their welcoming arms in Salem. Thanks a million Clark and Vicki, and Family!!
Our final grace of warm water came in Portland when our dear friends, Chad and Amanda, let us stay the night in their studio apartment and shower before our long 900-mile drive home. Geez, what would we have done without friends and family? Been really stinky and gross the whole trip I suppose. But seriously, the kindness of our friends and family helped make our trip amazing. All I can say is thank you to all, and if you ever need a place to bathe feel free to use my shower or I can refer you to the nearest hot tub. :)
The times we spent searching for places to shower will never be forgotten. We laughed, we learned and we became clean. The truth of the matter is having the luxury of warm, running water available at any time is a blessing. Many people across the world do not have this privilege. I learned humility and am now grateful for the liberty I have now.
Sheldon Showering in the Rain
Mendicino County, California
Note: All of the above stories of places used are true and accurate. Nothing has been added or exaggerated in any matter. Promise. It's real, and funny at that.
Waking up in a downtown studio apartment near the heart of Portland after a wild night on the city was kind of surreal. Replaying the past night's events in your head deciphering reality from dream is quite fun. The underground part of Portland was exposed. We lived it. And it will not be forgotten.*
To be honest, Portland was somewhat of a dirty city. I saw more homeless people here than anywhere else. Not to say it was a bad city, just that seeing ragged, dirty and suffering people on almost every street corner is somewhat disturbing. I enjoyed the time we spent there and it was the most excitement I had experienced the entire journey. Lots of things to do, the nightlife was in full swing, and there were young people everywhere. You'd be surprised on how many cities are filled with older aged folks. Some places we passed through had no young people at all, at least none we saw. Eugene brought the most eye-candy to us with San Francisco and Portland trailing close behind.
We left the Chadillac asleep on the hay in the studio and headed for the open road back to Utah (bleh...). There was not a downer feeling leaving the big city or knowing that our trip was ending. Instead there was a welcoming feeling prepared for what the road ahead might bring us. We had to make it back to Fairview, Utah (hometown) by that next day. So we are looking at about 858 miles to travel in one day. It was a Saturday and we needed to be ready for a family member's departing speech at noon on Sunday. We had gotten ready and left the city around 10/11am. All in all, we had a long drive ahead. I started the drive heading east on U.S 30 cutting through the middle of Oregon and then was planning on heading to northern Idaho then dropping down into northern Utah. We passed through the Columbia River Gorge, passing waterfalls, thick green forests and following the massive Columbia River inland. The land started to change from thick forest to yellow rolling hills. We crawled over the hills and headed down into farming land, still in Oregon. The land around this area (somewhere near La Grande) was similar to the flat farming land in Idaho. Land that is flat as far as the eye can see, tractors and fields dotting the landscape not too much to look at. It was strange to enter this land that has no mountains so soon after leaving the wet, thick northwest Oregon forest. While driving on this farming land I came across one of the most extraordinary sights in my whole life. It may sound a little anti-climatic but the pictures may just do it justice, a tree farm. It started out with millions of pine trees all lined in perfectly straight rows going on as far as the eye could see. Then it turned to aspens. Driving alongside this wonder I could not believe the sight. It was a beautful, balanced man-made forest. Really a different sight only knowing mother nature's random placement of trees and seeing lines of trees string for miles in all directions. I considered not stopping since we were tryign to get home as soon as we could but this sight was too much to pass up. And I am forever grateful I did not keep on driving. Sheldon missed the wondrous forest as he was too tired. I parked the van off the side of the highway and ventured into this mystical forest. Upon entering I felt as if there were eyes watching my every move. I slowly moved between the aspens picking my every move carefully. I was not sure if I may stumble upon a booby trap at any moment or if some wood-living creature would pounce on me and drag me into the depths of the forest to slowly pick apart my body like a fresh caviar. I was hesitant to say the least. The wind would blow and the trees would move in sync all dancing to the push of the wind. The seasoned stained yellow aspen leaves would fall creating a confetti-like party around me. The trees were alive. It is a simple statement. However the reality of living plants I believe is somewhat overlooked. The trees were breathing, moving, growing. Being surrounded by thousands and thousands of trees all alone, hearing nothing but the wind blowing in the trees made me feel alive. I walked out of the forest slowly contemplating my experience in that place. Words cannot fully describe the energy or life about that place while I was in there. Very humbling to witness.
*Because I will not forget, I am breaking the drive home into two posts. This forest was close to almost halfway. Tomorrow will have the final photographs of a radical barn we stopped at and also more of the sunlight through the clouds shots.
Cool Lines with I saw with train, road, water, mountain and windmills.
One of the most exquisite places of the whole trip. This tree farm went on for miles and miles, I'm guessing at least ten. I ventured inside and captured some amazing shots. Tomorrow will have an update just for this place.
Ladder to Barn.
Neat barn we stopped and took a peak at.
Unbelievable sunlight pouring through the clouds. I took many shots of this, from the van too, and will have more shots like this tomorrow. I could not believe those streaks of light coming through that cloud.
Awaking in a ritzy Portland neighborhood we started the day off with high expectations. I awoke early trying to catch a shot of the city with the sunrise and drove to higher ground with Sheldon still asleep in his sleeping bag. I took random streets heading in a direction I was hoping to take me to an overlook so I could get the shot I was dreaming of. I sadly took us far outside the city limits, got caught in traffic, missed the sunset and in total took about an hour's drive through the surrounding country region of Portland. All in all the drive did bring some scenic views and allowed me to take the picture below of the female statue. Worth the drive? Ya I'd say so.
(Waking up early one morning I tried to find an overlook of Portland but ended up getting stuck in traffic.
I ended up not even getting a shot of the sunrise over Portland, but
I did come across this statue in a cemetery outside of the city.
I saw the statue from the road and had to stop.)
Once we managed our way back to the city, thanks to the technology of Sheldon's "smart phone", we drove around searching for a non-existent Gold's Gym and the vain search brought us to a community center in northwest Portland, aka " the ghetto". We dropped four bucks to swim some laps and get cleaned up for the day. I tried to teach Sheldon how to swim but he still left doing laps like a golden labrador. More of a paddler I'd say... (Random tidbit: In the shower there was a homeless fellow who was doing his laundry.) We got cleaned up and then headed to a coffee shop to get breakfast and update the blog. We happened across the coolest coffee house of the trip downtown, right next to the Portland State University stadium. Great food and beverages, pleasant atmosphere, lots of attractive college girls, free and fast wifi, outlets and just an overall great coffee shop.
Chandelier in a coffee shop in downtown Portland.
Just around the block from the coffee shop.
From the coffee shop we headed downtown to do some wandering and see the city. We walked around for a few hours shocked by the size of the city. Growing up in a tiny farming town I had no real encounter with skyscrapers or any idea of big city. The biggest man-made objects in our town were churches or schools. Then seeing buildings that seemingly touch the sky makes them seem almost surreal. Upon wandering under the shadows of the giant metal structures we came across a film photographers dream, a store carrying different types of 35mm film! I was in awe learning about all the kinds of film. I have only shot with two brands of black and white film and only with Kodak, Walgreens, and Ilford on color film. And behold there is a plethora of 35mm film! I went buckwild bought some Ektar 100, Kodak Pro 100 & 400 (color and B&W), Fujifilm 200, and a few Portra rolls. All of this jazz may mean nothing to some of you but these rolls are the bee knee's in the film world. Give me some time and you will see the outcome. After the film find we came across a delicious pizza joint serving the finest New York style pizza. I ordered a San Franciso pizza slice, kind of ironic being in Portland having traveled from SF (it did not remind me of the city though)...
So word came that a good friend of mine was in the city. We were planning on a night on the town with his sister and boyfriend, long time residents of Portland, to show us the goods of Portland nightlife. Sounds risky, right?
I called Chadillac (my friend Chad's hip-hop pseudonym) and we planned on meeting later that night downtown on 19th and Burnside. So Sheldon and I walked the city until nightfall, parked the van and headed to meet the pals. While walking to the meet up place Sheldon and I came across an open performing hall and invited oursleves in. We seem to have this way of finding open places. Inside we came across an 80's dance party and a strange acting convention thingy. We indulged for a minute or so and then headed to meet Chad.
Doves flew and angels sang as the door to the bar opened, and out stepped Chadillac. A familiar face in the big city. We rejoiced and reminisced. We were introduced to his sweet sister Amanda, and also her boyfriend Mike. They were funny and cool folks and I knew instantly from meeting them we were in for a great night. We hung out at the watering-hole for a bit and then headed to a hookah bar. The place was too crammed and strange for Chad, so while he waited outside Amanda and I tried to make a deal with the deaf Israeli cashier. Somewhat difficult, to say the least. Things didn't work out there so we headed to a house of fire, of sorts. Beautiful sights inside this magical place excited me and opened my eyes to the underground ways of house's name fire. Chad and I were treated to a special ceremony there. Sweet, sweet ceremonies. We left shortly after our kind welcoming in the bead room and took a cab downtown to do some more late night wandering.
The night made us stumble upon a love-maker's shop, find some fine Washington ladies, celebrate with ten fingers and spin the air freshener, and also guide the mother ship home. This may all seem like code talk and in reality it may be, however we are not in reality in the interweb. Don't mean to burst a bubble but the internet is not a tangible place so therefore my words have no tangible worldly reference. If you were there you would know. Don't mean to not include anyone in the festivities but all I can say to you is visit Portland and ask for the visitors treat. We ended up at Amanda's welcoming studio apartment late that night, regrouped with Chad and let our partied-out bodies sleep in soundness.
The photographs of Portland I have been updating only do so much justice to the actual experience of the city. Making Portland our final destination of our trip we were preparing for the best. All along our journey every person who we spoke with about Portland spoke highly of the city and told us it is an amazing place. So we headed toward the city with open minds and open embrace. We pulled into the city, coming from Salem, late in the afternoon and found a parking spot for the Astro. On the outskirts of the city and wanting to venture downtown, we had our first experience with the TriMet. The TriMet is one of Portland's public transportation systems. We were somewhat baffled by the whole process of riding the Light Rail and had to ask some locals about how to do it. After missing one rail and almost another we managed to get on the Yellow transit heading into downtown Portland. Sheldon made small talk with some ladies (around 60 years old), and wanted to get off on there same stop and shop with them at Martha Stewart Living. So, we followed the senior citizens off the 'tranny' and into downtown which was nothing than eye-opening. Skyscrapers created a maze around us, homeless people covered the streets... The concrete jungle.
We wandered the city for a few blocks then came across a block filled with street vendors. We stared at the shops offering Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican, Italian, and Greek food. Then tucked right in between a chinese and greek vendor we came across a diamond in the rough. Real Chicago hot dogs. From an 'almost famous' guy. Scott was super personable and made us the best hot dog I had ever eaten. I ordered the "Dude!" and it was amazingly tasty. Two kinds of bbq sauce, grilled onions, smothered in three cheeses and a perfectly cooked hot dog all on top of panini bagel bun. Holy Shnikes! One of the best places we ate the whole entire trip.
After we ate we wandered the streets of the city. We conveniently found our way into a 20-story financial building. We nonchalantly walked inside, past the diamond store and then into the elevator to the second floor. From the second floor we took another elevator to the the 19th floor and found ourselves in an abandoned, under construction office space. We invited ourselves in and beheld the breathtaking view of Portland city from nineteen stories high. Walking around on the top floor for a few minutes taking pictures of the different angles we took a door to the stairs heading for the roof. Unfortunately we weren't luck enough to get on the tip-top of the building, and upon leaving the office space we locked ourselves out and had to walk all 19 stories down the stairs!
Once outside and downtown again we kept wandering the concrete jungle amazed at all the sights and activity going on. Asking locals on what there is to see we were referred to the Pearl District. A place filled with restaurants, coffee shops, nicer buildings and a clean part of the city. So, we hopped on the transit and headed to the Pearl. We browsed around the area for a bit and then spotted two darling hipsters heading our direction. We struck up conversation and asked for some directions. They turned out to be cool local girls and offered to show us around the city. They took us to an ice cream parlor serving all-natural, made in-store ice cream. We were shown a city park and a few nearby art exhibits. We headed to the location of Saturday Market and passed Voodoo Donuts. We walked around the Waterfront Park. We talked of gender identity, compost, recycling, drugs, social status, life, homosexuality, transvestites, Skrillex, bisexuality, Occupy, parents... Quite entertaining. Later into the night we parted our own ways, never to see each-other again.
After being left somewhere in downtown Portland, Sheldon and I attempted to find our way back to the Astro. It only took us a few circles to finally make it back to our home on wheels. We hopped in the "machine of genius'" and headed for the hills of Portland. Finding ourselves out of the downtown area and into the ritzy hills of the city we decided to stay the night there and sleep in class. Finding a picturesque street lined with mansions we bedded down for the night, ready to wake up to our last day in Portland.