2013 Road trip – Zion & Eastern Sierras

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So after a lot of work and preparation for our month long trip, Tena and I are finally off!  We headed south, keep reading to follow our trip…

Oct 12, 2013 Day 1

Packed up and finished all preparations, Tena even had to work that day.  It’s evening before we get away and head down to the border at Blaine, WA.  Of course, we get a full agricultural inspection…  After that we get as far as the Tulalip Casino and get a free night in the RV overnight area.  It’s surprisingly quiet there.  I think we are supposed to actually gamble if we are staying here, but we’re gone in the morning anyhow.  I’m pretty sure we’ll stay here again.

Oct 13, 2013 Day 2

It’s been tiring getting ready so we sleep in and then head over the grocery store to load up the pantry. After that it’s a full on driving day, no picture stops.  We’re on I5 all the way to Eugene, OR and then head up over the Cascades on highway 58.  I stop for gas in Oregon at a little town just off I5, and get freaked out because some strange dude walks up right behind me and asks if he can help me.  Yes, he’s supposed to do that because in Oregon there is only full service gasoline.  We end our day at a little town called Westfir at the very nice and quiet Westfir RV park after dark.  This is after looking around the run down town of Oakridge to see if we could do any street parking for the night.  There are no forestry sites because of the government shutdown…

Oct 14, 2013 Day 3

We stayed at the RV site with full hookups last night, and did hook everything up…  well after our showers I was outside getting ready and bang!  Then water is leaking EVERYWHERE!  The pressure from the city water connection burst one of the water lines in the camper and a lot of water got everyone.  Well, this was kind of a frantic situation trying to deal with all the water mess to say the least.  It turns out the hot water line had been repaired improperly using flexible plastic hose and hose clamps.  I hooked it back up after cleaning up.  Anyhow we went the rest of the trip without hooking up to city water and just used the water pump.  (I did fix the camper properly before storing it for the winter).  So now we have a delayed start and we aren’t going to make it as far as I hoped today, another day of driving with no picture stops.  We end up crossing into California just south of Klamath Falls and stay at the county park in Tulelake.  Another quiet & beautiful night.  It’s cold outside too.

Oct 15, 2013 Day 4

We’re going to make it to Reno today in a reasonable time as, we’re going to visit Tena’s friend she met travelling in New Zealand all those years ago (cool!).  Today we’ve got a little more time to spare so we take our first internet break in the little town of Adin, California and have lunch at the Oney Frosty in Town (not a spelling mistake).  Tena’s got pictures here but I’m too lazy – but hey I’ve been doing all the driving!  After we leave Adin we decide we’ve got time to go and check out the local ghost town, I think it was called Hayden Hills.  Eventually we get to a locked gate with some sinister signage and turn back, I don’t even know for sure if there really is a ghost town?  It’s on to Reno now, woohoo.

Oct 16, 2013 Day 5

Tena & Esther in Reno – first photos on trip!

After the awesome stay with our friends we’re heading off to the eastern Sierras now.  Not getting a very early departure though…  Tena gets locked out of facebook because it thinks someone has hacked her account from the far away from her home location of Reno, Nevada.  Any idea how hard it is to get back onto facebook when this happens?  Did you know there is no customer service that you can contact?  She’ll be using facebook to keep in touch with family so we persevere to get it fixed, and head on.  Did I tell you about the government shutdown yet? We don’t know where we’re going to camp even?  But it’s all good!  🙂

So we get to Bridgeport, CA and decide to head up to Twin Lakes as there is a private RV campsite up there…  and we’re in luck the gate is actually open, and we managed to get there just before dark.  But no idea where the office is, oh well they will come and collect from us if they want our money!

Twin Lakes – a quick snapshot on arrival – from our campsite

Oct 17, 2013 Day 6

Our first morning in the Eastern Sierra’s and it’s awesome!  It’s a cold beautiful sunrise shoot at Twin Lakes today and then off to the ghost town at Bodie for the afternoon.  The road is paved until the last 3 miles… heard the road was a little rough but not really prepared for how bad it was for the truck & camper, it was really steep too.  Scary part is the camper shifted in the box and I’m sure it would have fell out if it weren’t for the tie down chains.  On the way back down we stop where the pavement starts and jack the camper up and re back the truck in.  Now Bodie is a great location and I recommend this as a great place to visit.  I really want to make it to the visitor center in Lee Vining before they close for the day, so we leave Bodie around ___ pm.  At the visitor center we do find out that some, but not all of the forestry sites have re opened.  So we head up to the forestry site called Lower Lee Vining a little way up the road to Yosemite (Yosemite will have wait for another trip!) for the night.

Bodie, California

Oct 18, 2013 Day 7

This morning we get up for another early morning shoot and it’s cold again!  After that’s its over to the South Tufa area of Mono Lake.  Sadly, we will not get to shoot this area at sunrise or sunset…  only the harsh mid day sun.  Still, we get some unique photos before heading off to the June Lake loop drive.  We don’t find anything appealing for camping here…  We hear the fall colors are great up at Lundy Lake so we head off there for the night.  And what we heard was correct, they were awesome!

Oct 19, 2013 Day 8

Another morning shoot in the aspen trees at Lundy Lake, today we get some really great aspen photos.  Breakfast is at the famous Whoa Nellie Deli.  We’re off to Convict Lake today and then on to Bishop for the night.  Convict Lake was incredibly beautiful, we even came across the preparations for a wedding ceremony on the beach.  Today I had to remove one of the camper jacks because the clip that holds it up broke off while we were parked at Convict Lake, can’t have it dragging while we drive!. In Bishop I really enjoyed our visit to Mountain Light gallery http://www.mountainlight.com  Spent Saturday night at Browns Millpond campground.

Tena photographing the aspens, early morning at near Lundy Lake
Convict lake in the bright afternoon sun

Oct 20, 2013 Day 9

OK so the goal today is to get going and head up to photograph the Bristlecone pines up in the White Mountains, haha.  More story on this may come later.  It’s a long, long climb up the canyon road and we end up with not much time to photograph the trees – which are most cool!

Spent night at Big Pine, at Baker Creek County Campground.

Oct 21, 2013 Day 10

Another beautiful Eastern Sierra sunrise!

Off to Lone Pine and the Alabama Hills, after one last trip up a canyon road (Glacier Lodge road).   From there we headed straight south to Lone Pine.  Spent night at Tuttle Creek in Alabama Hills.

Oct 22, 2013 Day 11

Over to Movie road and boondock camping in the Alabama Hills, woohoo.  Wow this is a really cool place and we have decided we need to come back soon and spend more time here.  It’s sad to leave but plans are in the making to return to the Eastern Sierras once again for a longer stay.

Oct 23, 2013 Day 12

Today we get up and start heading towards Zion via Death Valley.  HOT in Death Valley still, I mean really hot, OK it IS Death Valley but still I didn’t think it would be 100 degrees here in late October.  At one point we thought we’d spend a night or two here, but no way with this heat plus I really want to get to Zion.  And poor truck, it’s a long hot climb out of Death Valley to Beatty, Nevada where we find a couple of donkeys just walking around the streets.  And we push on, driving through Vegas in the dark while trying to figure out where to stay the night.  We finally pull off at Mesquite, Nevada into an RV park…  not so good.  It’s like big parking lot near the freeway and once again we have no idea where the office is?  Champ gets out in the dark somehow and runs around.  It’s really hard to find a black dog in the dark of night far away from home.  But thankfully all is well and we get many more years with Champ.

Oct 24, 2013 Day 13

Today we arrive in Zion, woohoo.  No more moving around for 8 days, we’ve got a river front campsite with great views!

First picture shot at Zion, this is the view we get to enjoy from our campground.

Oct 25, 2013 Day 14

Relaxing and cleaning up in Zion.  We’ve been on the road for almost two weeks and this will be the first time we spend more than one night at a campground.  And, we need to prepare for the workshop starting tomorrow.  We do get out for an evening walk and get some photos along the Zion river.

Oct 26, 2013 Day 15

Today our fall photography workshop put on by the Zion Natural History Association starts.  It starts out good…  The lecture session is interesting.  After lunch we head to our first outing to actually take pictures, which is cool because he takes us to a little slot canyon which is a first for me.  When we first get there we realize the instructor has not pre scouted the location, obviously he has not been there since the workshop last year.  Mother nature has been at work with erosion and flooding and the fall colors were not as expected!

Oct 27, 2013 Day 16

The workshop continues.  Today we head out to the east plateau for some early morning shots and then more slot canyons.  After lunch its to the area near the Pine Creek bridge, which Tena and I had been wanting to stop at.

Oct 28, 2013 Day 17

Last day of workshop.  We’re heading up Zion Canyon on the shuttle today.  First stop is Court of the Patriarchs.  Then it’s off to the Temple of Sinawava.  Final stop on the workshop after lunch is near the Grotto or Weeping Rock shuttle stop (can’t remember which).  And then a walk back down the road to where there is supposed to be some maples in their red fall colors.  OK, well its past the prime for red colors this year.

Oct 29, 2013 Day 18

Catch up day, cleaning, shopping, laundry.  And it rained on us.  I love the rain, however this was the only rain we saw on entire trip until we hit Oregon on the return trip.

Oct 30, 2013 Day 19

Today we got a tunnel permit and headed up to the East Plateau.  One of the goals today is to find the same location and re create the portraits Tena got when we were here in 2006.  We got some great portraits but no luck in finding the same location.  We think we may have found it just as the light was fading.  Our tunnel permits expires at dusk so we’ve got to get back.

Oct 31, 2013 Day 20

Zion Narrows hike today!  I get some great photos and Tena gets some equally great photos just along the Zion river walk.

Nov 1, 2013 Day 21

It’s time to pack up and head out of Zion, on our way to Los Angeles to visit Chris, Jenn & Brian.  Back through Vegas again, no stopping to enjoy it this time either.  From the freeway in daytime rush hour it just seems like a dry, dirty & dusty city…  much more interesting at night on the strip of course.  The goal today is to make it to Kelso Dunes in time for sunset photos.  It seems so far away and the sun is sinking so fast, then we have to drive that dirty washboard road straight into the sunset.  We just make it and burst from the truck with cameras & tripod in hand to run out and get a few photos before it’s too late.  And did I mention how quiet it is here?  So we get to bed early to get a great night’s sleep before heading off to LA in the morning.  But it is not to be…  a bunch of young yahoo’s show up after we’re nearly asleep and set up right beside us.  WTF, its a big desert why right beside us?  Then on come the floodlights and the music and the talking & laughing.  Apparently they are going to hike the dunes in the middle of the night and don’t plan on getting any sleep.  So it’s up to us to move in the dark, across the sand to a quieter location.  Ever had that sinking feeling as you’re driving across sand? (with 10,000 lbs of truck & camper) Even worse in the dark… for a split second I thought we were going to be stuck.  This is one of those days that I am so thankful for 4 wheel drive, engage and woohoo we are out!  And it’s quiet over here.

Nov 2, 2013 Day 22

Up early for sunrise photos on the dunes, it’s beautiful!  Then a family portrait and we’re off to LA.  We resisted the urge to do something nasty to the yahoo’s from last night who are now sleeping in their tents.  How about parking beside them for breakfast and running the generator for an hour?  Or even just holding the horn down as we drive out?  No we’re better than them and karma is a bitch.

So then we get out onto I-40 heading towards Barstow and the weirdest thing happened.  This could only happen on a long drive in the middle of nowhere.  I got kind of dyslexic while driving and watching the gauges.  No problem the gas gauge is pinned all the way to the end, the tank is full…  but its not!  I’m driving along and the motor just shuts off.  It’s really interesting the amount of things that go through your head (tow trucks, repair bills, delays, you name it) in that split second before I realized I was reading the gas gauge wrong and flipped the tank switch over to the other tank!  What were you thinking?  That I was going to tell you I ran out of gas in the desert?  I have dual tanks and of course the other one is full!  And we make it to Chris’s place by early afternoon, later than planned but we made it.

Nov 3, 2013 Day 23

Sunday with Chris, Jenn & Brian

Nov 4, 2013 Day 24

Chris is off to work this morning, so we just hangout and relax.

Nov 5, 2013 Day 25

Chris is off to work again this morning.

Nov 6, 2013 Day 26

Today it’s off to the southern California beaches before checking into the RV park at Disneyland.  I’ll be putting together some video I shot at the Huntingdon Beach dog area.

Nov 7, 2013 Day 27

It’s Disneyland day!

And the trailer park fire was a big scare for Tena: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/fire-535283-mobile-home.html .  The trailer park was right behind the RV park, and we were on the back row.

Nov 8, 2013 Day 28

It’s time to leave LA, we are taking the PCH scenic route through Malibu and up through Santa Barbara to Pismo Beach.  I realized too late that I wanted to stay and hang out in Santa Monica for a while, but we had no idea where we could stay.  Had that last time I was in Santa Monica with the RV.  Oh well, another future trip.  We don’t get to Pismo Beach until dusk, check in with the state parks guy at the beach, and sure we could drive out onto the dunes and camp there… of course with our camper on soft sand?  We decide we’d rather not dig out 10,000 lbs of camper from the sand. So we end up staying at Coastal Dunes RV Park and campground (the one with the train tracks right behind it!).

Nov 9, 2013 Day 29

We’re on vacation and not watching the calendar all that well, now we find out it is the Nov 11 long weekend and all the camping areas in Pismo Beach are full.  Stayed at Montana De Oro State Park.

Nov 10, 2013 Day 30

Today we’re leaving Southern California and starting our drive home.  We headed inland via highway 41 through Atascadero and joined up with I5 north.  We make it past Sacramento and stay the night at Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area.

Nov 11, 2013 Day 31

Another full day of driving, reached Oregon today.  Need to record the name and location of the quiet place we stayed at.  I’ll have to check the ipad app which is probably how I found it?

Nov 12, 2013 Day 32

Home today

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