A One Way Ticket to Reno

"How much would it be to go Newark?" I asked at 3:50am on Friday morning.

"$72," the driver quickly responded, removing the cell phone from his ear for an instant.

"Forget it. Take me to Penn Station," I responded, taking off my backpack and setting it against the window.  For five minutes I rubbed my eyes and tapped on the screen of my iPhone as the cab bounced down 8th ave.

"OK, how much you pay to Newark?

"I'd pay $45."  I leaned forward towards the sliding door and prepared for some negotiations.  Twenty-five minutes later, I handed him $55 and walked into the departures gate at Newark International Airport with my one-way ticket to Reno firmly gripped in my hand.

For months, I had scoured Craigslist and The Samba looking for a VW Syncro Vanagon. This isn't your grandmother's VW. Roughly 2,000 were imported to North America from 1985-1992.  They were built in the same factory as Unimogs, Steyr-Daimler-Puch a German tank company to be exact, and have since developed a strong cult following.  Today, these Syncro's have mostly collected on the west coast in predominant outdoor cities like San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Boulder.  Eventually, I found one that met my criteria and after exchanging a few dozen emails and phone calls with its original owner, I bought a one way ticket to Reno with a return flight out of Portland four days later.

Arriving in Reno at noon, I waited with my two bags for Deon, the Syncro's owner of 24 years, to pick me up. Before long, I heard the buzz of the Syncro's Audi 2.0 engine.  Love at first sight.  After a lengthy test drive and subsequent trip to the Nevada DMV, I headed north on 395 towards central Oregon.   I put on The Weight by The Band, rolled down my windows and cruised north.

As the sun started to set, I passed an abandoned road snaking off of CA-139 into the Modoc National Forrest. Pulling a U-y on the empty highway, I headed up the road for twenty minutes, following the single track in first gear up the side of a mountain.  Eventually, the road ended at a locked gate and I set up for the night, folding out the bed in the back and snacking on some goods from Whole Foods.  I had the valley to myself.

For the next four days,  I explored the Northwest, camping in the Syncro by night and traveling and hiking by day.

My trusty GR1 and the front seats of the Syncro.

Northern California, just south of the Oregon border.

My mom near her house in the Columbia River Gorge.

The Syncro set up for the night in National Forest north of the Columbia River Gorge.

Rolling hills in the Modoc National Forest.

My mom's soon to be finished house just outside the Columbia River Gorge.

My dad and his signature Pendleton shirt in the Silver Star Mountains, just south of Mount St. Helens.

Late Monday evening, I dropped off the Syncro at my dad's and headed to the airport to catch a redeye back to JFK.  I slept the entire way, exhausted from a long weekend of wandering.   The Syncro is having some upgrades and repairs done to it (I got reckless off-roading and side swept a stump).  I will be back in a month or so to pick it up and continuing traveling.


Here are some more links, Hit the Road (Picasa), A Restless Transplant (Facebook), Foster Huntington (Twitter).


Different with Film

Digital images always feel different from film. Regardless of the quality of a digital set up or post editing technique, the end result varies from that of an equivalent film rig. It's not a bad thing or a good thing.

This inherent difference sparked my curiosity. A few months ago I started taking a Polaroid Image Pro along with me on my excursions. Stockpiling film from eBay and Craigslist, I took photos much more intentionally than I would with my 5d Mark II. Instead of firing away like Stallone in the latest installment of Rambo, I took my time composing my shots and waited for the light. Here are some of my favorite shots from the last few months.

A Houston Astros tattoo in Williamsburg.

Clouds rolling in on Mt. Hood, Oregon.

A mouse trap in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Tim daydreaming on a hike.
Ripping open a pack of film and gingerly putting it into your camera can not be replicated by stuffing a 16 gig flash card into a port of a DSLR.

Vans in Wiliamsburg.

A view of Mt. Hood from Mt Hood Meadows Ski Resort.

Different towers on the Williamsburg waterfront.

A 1953 Willys Jeep in Mosier, Oregon.

A farm trailer in Vermont.

Patrick in the Upper West Side.

A bull in Washougal, Washington.

Edge in Chelsea.

The first pumpkins of fall in New Hampshire.

An ode to my friend Mikael, Passport To Trespass; My 5d Mark II, Filson x Levi's Jacket, and some Spectra film on Mt Hood, Oregon.

Desert in the West Village.

Train tracks near Hanover, New Hampshire.
I am not picking favorites between digital and film, just enjoying both. Staying curious, all the while enjoying the process of photography.

A Visual Journal

Growing up, I never kept a journal, despised school and spent most of my time staining clothes with blood and grass and scratching my knees and elbows with my younger brother Tim. As a dyslexic, my interests and intellectual appetite quickly surpassed my ability to read. Instead of fighting tooth and nail through Charlotte's Web, I spent my time looking at pictures in books during reading time in elementary school. My first memories of an Encyclopedia were the colorful diagrams of airplanes, not a list of the 50 states and their capitals. In order to make it through school, I learned to use my visual perception and stored my experiences as etchings in my mind.

For the last three months, I have carried my camera with me. Sometimes I see special things, sometimes I see monotonous things but mostly I see juxtaposing parts of things that make up my life.

An inlet in Reid State Park in late February.

Hope on a walk in mid February.

A shanty Down East in early February.

A gray, December day in southeast Portland, Oregon right near the Hawthorne food carts.

Picnic table at Fort Popham in January.

Ed's shanty catching some rays in February in Palermo, Maine. I love the font.

Christmas lights in Portland, Oregon in December.

Pumpkins in February.

An old logging road in late December in Skamania, Washington.

Down East in early February.

Waves breaking in late February at Reid State Park. I love the meandering footsteps in the foreground.

This space shuttle crashed on a frozen lake a few miles inland in the Mid Coast region. Well actually it's just an ice shanty.

Weathered shingles on Valentine's day.

Instead of writing notable parts of my day down in a journal, I take pictures of inspiring things around me. What inspires me a year from now will certainly be different than what inspires me today. Having a collection of images and my thoughts helps me keep track of my creative process.

Here are some more links,
A Visual Journal (Picasa).