October 29, 2013
Farewell to Summer
It always passes quickly. Waking up with the sun at six transitions into seven and then seven thirty. The days shorten on the other end too. Living in your car makes you aware of when the sun rises and sets. Temperatures retreat below the acceptable level to sleep with just a wool blanket and I grab a down sleeping bag. Condensation covers the single-pain window of my camper in the mornings. Parks, that just a few weeks earlier buzzed with tourists in rental Mustangs, empty out. The first fall storms are on the way. Here are some shots from this summer.
Beach daze in Malibu.
Camping with Jay in the Sierra.
Monsoon season in Arizona.
Maddie and Trevor in the Los Padres.
Shades on shades.
Morning in the Mission.
Stoked Grove in Meiners Oak.
Bryan, Trevor and Cal having dinner.
Ryan Lovelace working on his 1948 Bus.
Marissa stretching in the morning.
Mobile changing room.
Ian Durkin on the West Coast.
Club Med, Lake Tahoe addition with Tahoe Messi and Ian Durkin.
Collection of roadkill skulls at Lloyd Khan’s house in Bolinas.
Bryan making dinner.
I’m ready for winter.
Here are some more links,
Out of Reception (Tumblr).
July 30, 2013
Fort Collins to Carpinteria
I leaned forward and stuck my head out of the Jeep Comanches fiberglass canopy. Resting on my elbows, I looked around the Valley in the Eastern Sierra that we were camped. The nearest big city, Fresno, was a few hundred miles to the southwest, leaving the night’s sky unmolested by light pollution. There wasn’t a could in site and the stars shined bright, casting just enough light to see the beaver pond that we had backed up to just before dark the night before. Despite being early summer, the air was still cold, and by my best guess, in the low 40s. Retreating back into the truck Canopy, I rearranged my pillows, checked the valve on my thermarest to make sure it was tight, laid down and pulled my sleeping bag up around my face.
I couldn’t sleep. Rolling over on to my stomach and propping up on my elbows, I took a swig from my water bottle and stashed it under my pillow. Twenty minutes passed, maybe thirty and I wasn’t any closer to falling asleep. Frustrated, I kicked off my sleeping bag and crawled out of the Canopy. Finding my flip flops in the dark, I walked twenty feet away form the truck and took a piss. The night was quite, save for the constant hissing of wind running down the aspen trees in the valley floor off towards the basin some three thousand feet bellow. I was forcing it. I didn’t really need to pee but was searching for anything possible barrier between me and waking up next to a stream in the Sierras. Finally, after swaying with the trees for a few moments, I heard the familiar sound of pee splattering off river rocks.
Five days before, Trevor and I flew to Denver to pick up a Jeep Comanche he found on Craigslist. After spending the night at my college roommates place in Denver, the truck checked out as promised and we were off. Taking the 14 through northern Colorado into Utah, we camped by night in BLM land. The Comanche ran like a dream.
Pellet gun target practice.
Sunrise in the high Sierra.
Hot springs changing room.
Along the way, I shot a look book for Patagonia’s upcoming 40th Anniversary Collection.
Flicking the fly.
“People still use that shit?” referring to an atlas.
Chili, Avocado and a tortilla. Dinner
Fifteen miles off the 50 on a one track road, somewhere in Nevada.
The last remnants of winter.
Trevor’s 1991 Jeep Comanche.
Wake up in Utah.
Evening entertainment curtsy of Bureau of Land Management.
Staring up at the sky, I searched for a satellite. After a few seconds, I spotted one and followed its slow track across the sky. It was just before 3:30, and I had been awake for an hour and a half. Memories of sleepless nights laying in my apartment in New York listening to sound of sirens and the occasional subway getting increasingly anxious for a meeting the next morning brought me back to reality. Walking back to the truck, I reached for my sleeping bag and pad and pulled it out of the bed.
After finding a level place, I kicked out a half covered rock and set my pad down. Obstructed by the valley walls and a few aspen trees, I yawned and resumed my search for satellites.
Here are some more links,
40th Anniversary Collection (Patagonia),
Trevor Gordon ARTS (Facebook).
February 19, 2013
That Wicked Country
“When are you going to that wicked country? Your father tells me you are heading down soon. How do you pronounce it? Ba JA?” my 86 year old grandmother inquired from my cousin’s couch in San Diego.
“Dan and I are leaving tomorrow morning.”
“But it’s Christmas. You’re not going to stay? You just got here?”
“I know, Oma, but the highways in Baja will be empty.”
“Isn’t it dangerous? I hear all these stories of people being found with their heads off.”
“It sure can be. The border areas around Texas and incredibly dangerous, but the place where I go is empty. It’s just fishermen and a handful of surfers,” I explained.
“What do you do for food and water? Isn’t it incredible arid?”
“Well we bring food and water in jugs, and we spear fish. Depending on our luck, we buy fish from fisherman”
“So there aren’t restaurants or towns?”
“Think of it like Nevada with waves. You drive 10 hours on a beat up, two lane road and then turn off and drive a few hours on dirt roads and then you park on the beach.”
“…And then you surf all day? Sounds wonderful.”
“It sure is Oma. Especially if you’re into surfing.”
My cousin Becca sat down on the other side of my grandmother, and the conversation shifted away from my upcoming trip. It was already 9:30, and my jet-lagged relatives from the east coast were starting to wind down. The fireplace popped away on wood trucked in from the Sierras and the smell of a Christmas tree overpowered the scraps of dinner still lying on the dinning room table. I was full, too full, and I laid my head back against the wall. I could fall asleep right now, I thought to myself. Across the room, Dan talked with my aunt. Over the chatter, it sounded like he was having a similar conversation with my aunt about the tenets and risks of driving to Baja.
Sunset at low tide in Central Baja.
A Taco stand in Guerrero Negro.
Two 10 footers.
Naranjas for sale on the side of the 1 in Northern Baja.
There is a bad moon on the rise.
Home is where you park it!
Dan after a four hour session.
The refrigerator at a road side Taqueria.
Off my wave cook.
Red, white and blue #vanlife.
A gringo dog watching over a camp in Central Baja.
At 5:32, the standard IOS allarm went off, waking me from my slumber on the couch. Rolling over, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and looked out the window. It was still pitch black. The street lamps lit the palm trees and a sixty degree Southern California breeze blew in from the open window. Nothing felt like Christmas morning. My cousin Nikko’s snore crept under the bedroom door into the living room. Sunrise wasn’t for another two hours, but we still had to park Dan’s van at the airport and get gas. Those two hours would go by fast. Kicking off the blankets, I reached for my jeans and pulled them on. Feeling around in the dark, I grabbed my backpack and made sure my iPhone charger was in it. Being as quiet as possible, I locked the door behind me and headed out to my van.
Dan was already waiting right behind my van.
“Happy Kwanzaa to you too.”
“You ready to go?”
Here are some more links,
Out of Reception (Tumblr).
January 9, 2013
The Washougal River Mercantile
Pulling off the Washougal River Road into the gravel parking lot, I scanned the dozen or so parked cars for a familiar face. None stood out, but then again, I hadn’t been a regular at the Washougal River Mercantile for the better part of a decade.
“Do you still come here a lot Mom?” I asked.
“All the time.” She responded from the passenger seat.
Parking in an empty place, I checked my pockets for my wallet and grabbed a handfull of change from the ash tray. I was hungry, and the Merc (as it is is called by locals), was the only option for 20 miles.
The steel bell chimed as I pushed the door open. A few members of the Fuller family (three generations work at the store) stood around the cash register and met me with a familiar smile. I said hello back and continued towards the grocery section. They layout, selection and prices, haven’t changed much since is started going there 20 years. Heading towards the deli section, I searched the heat lamps for a bacon egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. All sold out.
“A little late to the party.” I murmured as I checked my watch and headed towards the expansive beef jerky section for my protein fix.
Growing up 10 minutes away from the Merc afforded me an intimate knowledge of its offerings. Some of the more glamorous purchases over the last 20 years include but aren’t limited to; my first .22 there, a Savage Single shot bolt action, my first rated R movie there, The Rock, and my first steelhead fishing set up were all purchased at the Merc. In addition to these notable purchase are countless Charleston Chews, gallons of milks, pipe fittings, and dozens of eggs.
As a kid, it seemed liked the best store in the world with everything I wanted and nothing I didn’t. It still holds true.
Once ubiquitous in rural areas, these stores are fading to obscurity in the wake of suburban sprawl and shopping centers. It’s happening in Washougal. With the Portland Metro area constantly growing outward, places like the Merc are feeling increased pressure from chain grocery and sporting good stores.
All the beverages you need.
The hunting and fishing bragging wall. Someday I’d like to make it on here.
Grabbing my coffee and Tillamook beef jerky pack, I walked past the pluming section towards the cash registered.
While searching my pockets for rolled up dollar bills I made small talk with the clerk. She had been my baby sitter when I was 10 and hadn’t recognize me. While talking, I noticed a hand written sine taped to the cash register. The Sharpie on 8.5X11 paper read, “Gas Purchases limited to 10$.” Taking a swig of my coffee, I bid farewell and pushed the sliding door open. Walking towards the syncro, I milled the implications of the sign over.
“No gas sales over 10$? Would that even get you to Washougal?” I asked my Mom as she walked up to the Syncro. I stood with my back against the drivers side.
“It’s not good. They must be really strapped for cash.”
“Those places are going the way of the Blackberry. what a shame,” I said popping open the drivers door and jumping into the seat.
“Sure is,” she agreed.
Here are some more links,
Washougal River Mercantile (Yelp).