I’m a different person than you may have remembered.
How so is harder to explain than I’d like to admit/realize so maybe my new photo&text blog can do that explaining for me… as always your thoughts are welcome and appreciated.
You don’t get much more patriotic than spending the 4th of July in Nashville. This fireworks show was better than Disney’s. That basically says it all.
A fantastic part about Nashville is its musical influences. Clare and I lucked out by staying with the coolest, most down to earth Nashvillian EVER who also happened to be a band promoter. Translation she’s got connections. The type of connections that produce music, in a music studio, with all that super expensive stuff you see on P. Diddy’s Making the Band… (don’t front, you all know you used to be addicted) I felt pretty legit walking into a working music studio in the largest music city in the states. I learned a lot about the process of song writing and production… Lets just say that recording a song is a lot more intense than I ever could have imagined.
(Pay no mind to the poor quality images, my phone did her best)
Next stop DC…
For more on the meaning behind this journey click here.
Detroit . Chicago . St.Louis . Tulsa . New Mexico . Grand Canyon . Las Vegas . Los Angeles . San Francisco . Yosemite . Memphis . Nashville . DC
Wondering what “Happiness in a fishbowl” means? Well here’s your answer: Vodka and whatever flavor slushy you’re little heart desires in none other than a nice big fishbowl…. possibly the best thing on the planet on a hot Memphis day.
The temperature wasn’t the only thing that was hot in Memphis. For starters the music/dancing/drinking scene in Memphis was one of the best we experienced in the country. If you haven’t heard of Beale Street, or if you’ve been to Memphis without spending a day on Beale Street then you’re missing out on one of the greatest places to visit in this fantastic city. Beale Street, for those who are unaware is a block in Memphis where you can drink alcohol in the street. So what does this really mean? How does bars on the sidewalk, literally… the dance floor is the pavement! If that’s not good enough how about live music in approximately 4 different locations along the block featuring all different types of musicians. From one man bands to full on soul music in the park, the music on Beale Street was unlike any other venue.
My favorite time of the night was when everyone who had been drinking and shopping all day sat down for an AMAZING jazz band in a park smack dab in the middle of Beale Street. There people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds danced and danced and danced… and danced until they retired for the night. What impressed me about Memphis was the talent that resided in these singers and dancers… One boy who couldn’t have been much older than 8 had talent that most developed dancers don’t hold in their 20’s. He was entertaining, comical and impressive and wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty… on the dance floor that is!
This guy went from being an annoying solicitor to the life of the party… all it took were a few fish bowls!
That covers the drinking, but what about the fried chicken! Of course we couldn’t go to Memphis without hitting up the cities best fried chicken joint, Gus’s Fried Chicken. The wait was long but worth it.
Another significant part of our trip to Memphis was the unforgettable past it holds in the revolution to ethnic equality. As we know the movement to stop slavery was at the forefront in Memphis, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resided. While visiting I wanted to make a point to visit the place where the King had died. The point though was not to see the hotel room where he spent his last days but was to see the cultural landmarks that have developed since his passing. When first arriving to the site you are faced with the home of a protester who had been living outside the motel since the day it was closed down and turned into the National Civil Rights Museum. At first glance this sight angered me… Who would have the audacity to denounce the efforts this noble man put forth to better our country? Why would someone do that… I immediately jumped to the conclusion that this person was ignorant, stubborn and without a doubt racist.
After speaking with some locals I learned that the woman had lived in the motel for many years prior to the shooting and she didn’t feel that she should have to move out when it was transitioned into a motel. She wasn’t ignorant. She wasn’t racist. Stubborn, yes… but she wasn’t protesting out of hatred, she was protesting to protect her home, the only thing she had, and that you can’t be angry about.
Below are some other photographs from the National Civil Rights Museum.
The final stop on our travels through Memphis was Graceland, the place where Elvis… the other King… lived, played and died. This was a great place to visit, as you could imagine the rooms were very… Elvis. Out of respect I decided to not photograph inside his home, instead I did my best to take in all of my surroundings. A place like this isn’t to be seen through the peep hole of your lens, there’s too much you could miss while hiding behind the camera.
Next stop Nashville!
For more on the meaning behind this journey click here.
Detroit . Chicago . St.Louis . Tulsa . New Mexico . Grand Canyon . Las Vegas . Los Angeles . San Francisco . Yosemite . Memphis . Nashville
Snow? In July? Yessir, you were not mistaken… there was snow – in abundance – at Yosemite. So much so that we couldn’t camp at the sites we had planned on initially because the water levels were still too high. This meant waking up at 6am to wait in line for a canceled reservation (otherwise we’d have to sleep on the side of the road with the wildlife!), it also meant fierce waterfalls like you couldn’t imagine.
The second day we were there, Clare and I headed up Tioga Road to check out the snow keeping us from camping at a higher (aka cooler) elevation. On the way up the road we saw lots of things worth talking about… like a baby bear!
The coolest part of traveling is seeing all sorts of creatures, people included… in their natural state; having the opportunity to see a powerful wild animal such as a bear, in their natural environment was the highlight of Yosemite. In this photo it’s a bit hard to see the bear but we didn’t want to get too close considering that we could hear Mama bear in the woods breaking tree branches and sharpening her claws on tree bark…
Further down the road we got to the Lembert Dome… a mountain/large rock that the ranger suggested to people with absolutely zero hiking ability, aka us. This dome as they call it, was a lot of fun to climb up… about 10 minutes and a couple of rest stops later we were at the top looking at this…
(unfortunately the image is super long and not very tall but if you zoom in you can see everything a lot better.)
On the way back to Beetle Juice (that’s the Subaru’s name) we decided to get a little dirty and trek through the swamp like river… I guess that would be a meadow? I’m not sure but it was fun and felt amazing in the hot hot heat.
After our stay in Yosemite Clare and I decided to book it back to the eastern shore… We stopped one night in Salk Lake City, two in Colorado Springs then stayed in what we hoped would be a dodgy hotel in Wichita, Kansas but actually turned out to be a nice hotel (I guess this is where the monetary differences peer their heads, $60 for a hotel in NY gets you a cot in a roach infested closet… not so much in Kansas). Speaking of Kansas, avoid driving through this state at all costs, it is flat, it is boring and it is mind numbing.
Next stop Memphis…
For more on the meaning behind this journey click here.
Detroit . Chicago . St.Louis . Tulsa . New Mexico . Grand Canyon . Las Vegas . Los Angeles . San Francisco . Yosemite . Memphis
… as Clare described Haight… a funky town in downtown San Francisco and my favorite part of the eclectic Northern California city. There we went thrifting (for the umpteenth time on this trip) at Crossroads Trading Company, Goodwill and Mission Thrift. Crossroads and Mission Thrift were obviously a bit more pricey than the gigantic Goodwill but the finds were undeniable. Below is a street in Haight which somewhat describes the ghetto/gay culture in this town… the barbed wire next to the graffiti and further down the road the colorful store fronts with gay pride slogans lining the door.
Another great find in San Francisco was Pat’s Cafe, a great little cafe just North of the Fisherman’s Wharf (Fisherman’s Wharf is where all of the “tourist” attractions are… cheesy novelty stores, Alcatraz souvenir shops and countless [aka mindlessly expensive] restaurants. After an amazing breakfast of granola, yogurt and fresh fruit with about 5 cups of coffee Clare and I headed to the Wharf for only a short time while waiting to board for the Alcatraz tour… All things considered; the huge crowds filled with overly rambunctious children and their neurotic parents a short time was enough to spend on the Wharf for travelers in San Francisco. Below are two images, the first was taken outside Pat’s Cafe, the second is an example of one of the corny attractions near the Wharf.
After a much-anticipated wait, it was finally time to board the Alcatraz Cruise… Clare and I being the two scaredy-pants that we are were hyping this trip beyond reason. It turned out to be a nice cruise to a cool looking abandoned island… not a bit scary if you ask me.
It wouldn’t be a trip to San Francisco if we didn’t check out Lombard Street aka San Francisco’s Crookedest Street. Not only was this street super crooked it was also quite steep but that didn’t stop us from trekking to the top to see the view… just imagine being the newspaper delivery boy! Good luck with that…
I’m pretty sure there’s a law in California stating that if you aren’t a happy person you can not reside in sunny LA. I could confidently say that the majority of the people we ran into were radiating joy. Another great aspect about this place was the diversity we saw walking the streets of Hollywood… The images below illustrate two types of people I had the opportunity to photograph along Hollywood Boulevard.
While Hollywood was great to see, there were parts of it… many parts of it where you just couldn’t help but think ‘What the hell is going on right now?’ Such questioning is explicit in this image below.
After our trip to Hollywood Blvd (which as a side note, smelt a lot like New York City in 98 degree weather… just lovely) we decided to try and find the Hollywood sign. This trip was a bit harder than we had ever imagined… each road led into the other and the presence of wild coyotes was not a rarity. Nonetheless, the outcome was pretty cool.
The next stop was Robertson Boulevard where we quickly got into our roles as posh Californians. We only walked the strip for a couple of minutes because the heat was incredible but as we walked back we did spot Angela Simmons, Rev Run’s daughter. Today Angela is the developer of a shoe line, PastryShoes.
One of the not so great aspects of Los Angeles is the traffic. One second you can feel like you’re flying and are making fantastic time and the next you’re slamming on your breaks, realizing that the road you’re merging onto looks like this…
My favorite part of California was the drive out of Beverly Hills to San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway… I was astonished as the the environment went from dessert to farm to mountains to ocean in a matter of 20 minutes… it was a great way to leave the city for northern Cali.
Cali-for-ni-a, a great place to visit…
… doesn’t always have to stay in Vegas.
‘You’ll have so much fun in Vegas’, ‘It’s sin city!’, ‘Best place to go when you’re looking for a good time’… and I’m sure it is if you’re a 35-year-old newly rich and single business man looking for an easy lay (because we all know that about 80% of the girls who throw themselves at men in Vegas are too drunk to realize what in fact is going on)… but for a 21-year-old traveler who had just been to the Grand Canyon the day before, and the day before that was staring up at a billion star filled sky; Las Vegas was nothing to sneeze at.
On the up and up… the lights were pretty at night and the show we went to was fantastic…
After a day of fake Paris’ and business cards with naked insecurity plastered on the front and ‘Call Me xo’ on the back it was nice to get back on the road to some place else… (anywhere else)
Our first stop was the Red Rock Canyon not too far from the Vegas Strip… go figure.
The road from Nevada to where we were staying in California was long (to say the least) but beautiful…
For more on the meaning behind this journey click here.
Detroit . Chicago . St.Louis . Tulsa . New Mexico . Grand Canyon . Las Vegas . Los Angeles . San Francisco
Point blank, if you haven’t been you haven’t lived… well maybe that’s exaggerating a bit. The best way to write about this wonder is to not write about it at all and just show you… hopefully these photos will do most of the writing for me…
Toward the end of the night Clare and I decided to chase the sun as it set, the view was amazing… the light was even better. Being here I couldn’t resist taking a self portrait…
One of the best parts about the Grand Canyon experience is the old tyme decor, dirt roads and transportation around the park. I don’t think anyone passed this train without at least being tempted to snap a photograph…
The couple of nights we camped at the Grand Canyon were memorable to say the least… Clare and I had the chance to eat (somewhat) good food, share a bottle of wine, talk about life, art, family and more. We touched on how the important things in life relate to one another and how we can influence and project what we feel is needed in the art world to the art world and to the world. We talked about how much we didn’t want to camp anymore (at this point it had been 5 consecutive nights), what we’d hope for in the next 4 weeks… about who we’re and weren’t going home to and how we both can become better. It was fantastic, it was needed and it was exactly what the doctor ordered.
The next morning we packed our things and headed off to sin city… the ride there was a combination of nerves, expectation and excitement… Would we love it? Would we hate it? Are the shows really as good as everyone hypes them to be?
Let’s start with the best part about New Mexico; the accents… picture a mix of Native American, Southern and Mexican all wrapped into one out of this world; super chill lingo. Now add in a dash of country with a Cowboy hat and a smile to top it all off and you have the perfect recipe for the locals along Route 66 in NM. If it sounds like something you could only experience here; you’re spot on. The locals here live and breathe New Mexican culture; hand-made quilts and pottery line the shelves at every corner store and gas station rest stop. As one of the locals proclaimed, “If you’re not selling something in New Mexico, you’re a tourist.”
This photo was taken as I was driving along Route 66. It best describes the culture of New Mexico…. local working man driving a clunker, Cowboy hat in place, riding into the sunset (or in this case, mid day sky… eek) no worries in sight.
Another part about New Mexico that I really enjoyed was the fresh air! The difference is quite literally breath-taking and can do wonders for the body and soul… the feeling of freedom hadn’t hit me until my first big breath of air, no words can describe how magnificent it felt… much like how no words can explain how beautiful the night sky is when unobstructed by city lights. I have to say; I never knew there were so many stars in our sky until I looked up while staying in Bluewater Lake State Park. I could not believe my eyes. For the first time in a long time I was speechless. The night sky was covered with glistening stars, one after the other after the other… the best moment of the trip thus far.
The last part of New Mexico I’ll touch on… there are many, I could go for days if asked… was its landscape. Gorgeous, magnificent, beautiful, majestic… all do not suffice. There are so many different terrains in New Mexico that one word cannot sum up all its parts. The first sight we camped in was in Santa Rosa State Park where there was basically a square area for your tent, a picnic table and fire pit among acres and acres of natural, untouched land. Though it was gratifying because we felt like we were really roughing it (and we were) with this untouched terrain comes creatures of all shapes and sizes… we faced bob cats, tarantulas, the most viscous mosquitoes known to mankind, helicopter shaped (and 1.5 inch long) insects, eagles chipmunks and sakatas to name a few….
All in all I think it’s safe to say New Mexico gets my thumbs up
… the real question is “Where did the turtle tortoise cross the road?” And the answer would be on I-71 from St.Louis to Tulsa… Now I’m not blind to the fact that seeing a gigantic tortoise cross a major interstate highway in the middle of the country is not necessarily the most exciting thing to be writing about, but it was out of the norm and to say the least, was surprising… in fact this quiet city [oddly enough] had a lot more to offer than I had ever imagined.
One of the best parts of Tulsa would be its Thrift Stores. Along the way we found a few wonderful little hole in the wall thrift and vintage shops. The Animal Aid store stood out in my mind for clear reasons… the $2.00 shorts, vintage picture frames, sweet women working the front counter and the fact that all proceeds go toward helping needy animals all led to a beyond satisfying shopping experience.
… and by beyond satisfying I’m talking 2 pairs of shorts, 1 skirt, 2 purses, 2 picture frames all for $14.00!
After a morning of shopping we headed into town to purchase a cup of coffee from a local shop and to meet some locals around town. Unfortunately when we arrived into town it was later in the day and many of the stores were closed. We did have the pleasure of meeting Roger who is featured in the photo below. He was eager to talk to someone about something, anything… this photograph got him going on a tangent about his children and his life…
As we continued on our walk we passed a Biker Bar! This was a tiny detail of the day but very cool to see all of the motorcycles lined up outside with their leather wearing counterparts inside having a cold beer after a hot day cruising the streets of Southern America…
The next day Clare and I got to celebrate, relax and plan for our camping adventure to come. Luckily for us, Roni had a pool in the complex she lived in… so instead of hitting the streets of Tulsa again (and being tempted to stop at some more vintage stores!) we relaxed poolside. Then and there… life couldn’t have been better.
That night we celebrated Clare’s birthday with some delicious cake Roni bought for her. Clare and I were extremely lucky to have been staying with someone as kind-hearted as Roni was…
While Tulsa was great, the real adventure hit when we camped in New Mexico… more on that to come