Category Archives: Road Trip

Back where I started

Sometimes you can travel thousands of miles just to get back to where you started. It doesn’t matter how many life-changing moments you have, when you return to your home and your lifestyle, it’s easy to put all those experiences away just as you unpack your suitcase. Once you’re unpacked you find yourself picturing what new furniture you’ll arrange on your patio, or obsessing over the order of your closet.

Looking Back

This is from my very first roll! It’s Fuji Acros 100, and this is the only image that exposed properly and doesn’t have light leaks that warrant pampers for Holgas. I’m looking back at the road we’d just traveled, still in North Carolina. This image is particularly meaningful to me right now because of a very important lesson we learned on the road. You see, we started bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, eager and beaverish.

Mary, at the start

We were of the mindset that we would capture everything we encountered, and if we could not capture it the first time around, we’d go ahead and turn the car around because “that might just be the Pulitzer prize-winning image and I’m pretty sure I just double-exposed it with an image of a piece of gum on the ground, and I really wanted to shoot it with my other camera anyway.” This lasted a few days before we made an agreement that, more than capturing every instance that may lend itself to a great picture, this was a trip about looking forward. We would refuse to look back. We had to keep moving and keep looking ahead to find what’s just up ahead. You might call this a “pillar of salt” syndrome. You might also call it a Pocahontas “just around the river-bend” complex. At any rate, we would either get the picture, or we would not. It was terrifying and thrilling, and I’m appalled to see how backwards-facing I was to take the image of the road already traveled.

But here I am, forced to look back.

I guess I would have turned into a pillar of salt from looking at all my negatives and scanning them in one-by-one, but I’m going on a brand new journey this time. It has the same cast of characters and the same sets, but it’s an all new adventure. Many moments have been lost forever (like the image of a waterfall below that was ruined by having film wound too loosely) but I’m finding that my camera has often found what my eye did not. This requires a new lesson, post-roadtrip. Don’t look back, but take what you have seen and done and learned, and experience it all again with fresh eyes. I’m trying to integrate the places where I have been, into the life that I’m now living. So, I’m back where I started: preparing to take a road trip.

Waterfall, ruined film

-V

PS. My dog just farted audibly. I don’t think the universe takes my life seriously.

Advertisements

Work at Home? Don’t be Oxymoronic

104 degrees today. WHEW is that HOT! I know most of the country is going through a heat wave, so I’m not alone. It makes me thankful that I’m able to sit inside and enjoy AC, because I know that there are many people and animals who aren’t able to.

It’s been almost two weeks since we’ve been back home and I’m just thinking, “shit, where did all the time go?” I had it all figured out, as I usually do.

I was going to get home, and then treat everyday like a work day. Wake up at 8am, scan and develop photos, start putting the book together, research about grants and artistic opportunities, edit videos,  and then finish the day at 4 or 5pm.

And I haven’t followed any of the plan above, as I usually do.

I have worked since I’ve been back; scanning and editing, developing the last rolls. And I have even started to think about the book. But it’s just not at the pace I should be. Reminds me that I am no longer on the road where such cares and worries were so far away. I’m back in the present and needing a massive fire lit under my ass. (The thought of working at a minimum wage job in the mall if I don’t succeed in making this book is a start.) But apparently I need more.

Because sleeping in is so wonderful.

No one rocks Hollywood like we do. This is how I like to work. Unfiltered and uncensored.

I have never, and will never be able to understand how people work from home. When I meet someone who says they do, I have to ask how they get it done. Really. How do you people do it? When I sit down to work, its usually much later than I wanted because I don’t have to rush to get to an office and I don’t have an overbearing boss who will scold me if I’m late. I’m my own boss and I’m usually pretty forgiving of myself, especially if I give me a mocha. Then when I finally actually start to work, I suddenly think of a million things that need to get done at that very moment. The laundry, which has sat in a pile in the hall for days, suddenly has to be washed. And the collection of shoes in my closet dating back to when I still wore braces should be gone through and organized. My car needs to be vacuumed, or else it might start up and drive away.

This is what goes through my head and consequently, I don’t get shit done. How do you people do it? Is there a pill or mantra or little leprechaun or pokes you with a stick every time you deter from your work?? At this rate, I’m going to have to duct tape myself to my chair and have a feeding tube inserted into my arm.

I welcome any suggestions as how to focus my energy.

But if you’ll excuse me, there is a special on E! about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorce and a box of chocolate chip cookies that are calling my name.

-M

Coffee and a waterfall? Not a bad way to wake up in Texas. Taken with a 35mm camera using Kodak Gold 100 speed film.


I hope you had the time of your life

The road trip has come to an end, my friends.

We arrived back home earlier this week, and it has taken me a few days to settle back in and unpack. Or at least think about unpacking. Truth be told, my car still has sleeping bags and several bags in it.  I have to say that there is a bittersweet feeling as my fingers type these words. It was an amazing experience. 6 weeks on the open road. Completely free.  No set schedules with places to be or people to entertain. Just my car, my camera, and the road. I can’t describe what an incredible feeling that was. If you’ve never been on the road, I highly recommend it. Just go. Don’t plan or think too much. Just grab your keys and a camera (preferably film) and go.

But even though I’ve just come back from almost two months of literally living out of my suitcase, I’m already itching to go back on the road. The absolute freedom of being meandering the country at my pace and photographing everything in sight was intoxicating. I’m a little addicted now, and have decided that this will have to be my life. The first of many trips, traveling on the road and photographing the shit out of the country.

Realistically, how can I expect to come back and follow convention in the 9-5 world when there is just too much out there to see?
I do realize how incredibly lucky I’ve been to have the opportunity to travel at my own leisure to where the wind takes me, and that not everyone has that ability or freedom. This journey has only reinforced my belief that it is the most important thing in the world to follow your dreams and never give up on what you believe in, even if it seems desperately impossible.

When I first decided that I wanted to travel on the road, I thought at the very least it would be an adventure that I could hold onto and remember, if someday my life didn’t turn out the way I thought. If I wake up when I’m 45 and have a minivan full of kids and husband who needs his pants ironed, at least I could look back and say that I had this time in my life to really live out my dreams.

It was everything and nothing I expected. I never dreamed we’d receive support and film from Kodak. Or that we would meet all of the crazy characters that we did. From the bartender in New Orleans who drinks Everclear before lunch, to the store owner in Roswell who insists that aliens have visited him and the government will destroy us with superbugs, or Angel Delgadillo the “Mayor of Route 66” who passionately encouraged us to live our dreams and pursue our passions, no matter what anyone thinks.

This mission was equal parts wonderful, crazy, unbelievable, hot, dirty, emotional, uplifting, infuriating, awe-inspiring, beautiful, and so much more. I can’t imagine not having gone.

And now, as I sit here scanning my film and thinking about student loans and where my next paycheck will come from, the road seems so far away but so close at the same time. It’s right there at my feet, ready to take me wherever I need to go. This is just the beginning. Until next time…

-M

Valerie and I, at the midpoint between Chicago and Los Angeles on Route 66. Its in Adrian, Texas. Taken with a Holga using Kodak Ektar 120 film.

Tree in Opalousas, LA. Taken with a 35mm camera using Kodak Elite Chrome slide film cross processed using C-41 chemicals.
Try saying that one 3 times fast.

Taken in an abandoned shop in Alabama. Taken with a 35mm camera using Kodak T-Max 400 speed black and white film

Self portrait in storefront in Alabama. Taken with a 35mm camera using Kodak T-Max 400 speed black and white film

Cadillac Ranch off of Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas. Taken with a Holga camera using 120 Kodak Ektar film.

 

More photos to come.


Sweet Home Chicago

Whoa, ten days? Ten whole days with no blogging? As Shannon pointed out, that is months, maybe even years in the blogging world!

For the last ten days, we’ve been in a small town on Lake Michigan. We were right on the beach (awesome!) but had no cell phone service or internet.
Talk about paradise. On the water, feeling totally disconnected. I need that every so often, just to forget about the rest of the world and what I’m supposed to be doing and have some peace and quiet.

But not the best for keeping up with a blog.

I miss it already.

Lets see, where did we leave off? Oh right, San Francisco. We had a blast there, but had get on the road again. Unlike the rest of the journey, we actually had a date to be in Chicago because we had Conan O’Brien tickets!!! He was touring and spent a week in the Windy City, lucky for us!  I was able to score tickets from my wonderful sister, who unfortunately wasn’t able to make it to the show. It was on Thursday the 14th; we left Saturday from California and booked it to the midwest.

And I mean, booked it. It was a long and tiring drive, and we were very glad to make it to our destination, although we did make some stops on the way, which I’ll have to save for another post. (Too much to put into this one. You’d be reading for hours, if you were kind enough to stick with it)

We arrived on the lake and just passed out. We really spent 3 days driving for 12 hours a day, which is exhausting. After spending a day recovering, we set out super early on Thursday to stand in line for Conan seats and explore the city.
Chicago is wonderful. It is quite honestly, the greatest city in the world. I’d move there tomorrow. I know I’ve said that about almost every city so far, but I really mean it this time. I’ve been so many times, and every time I arrive I fall more and more in love with this place. It really feels like home.  I love the mix of cultures, the people, the fans (Go Cubbies!) the energy, the landscape, everything. It also helps that my family is from there, so I feel an amazing sense of connectivity and belonging there.  Thats the next place I’m going to move, I mean it!

Conan was AMAZING! If he were 20 years younger and not married, we’d totally be dating. The show was fun, he was super nice and we were four rows from the front!!

Conan at the Chicago Theater. Its such a beautiful place, if you’ve never been I highly recommend it.

The Moon. It’s so bright!

Valerie, me, and our dear friend Amelia

Then we celebrated by having deep dish pizza afterwards. What a wonderful fucking day. Valerie was even able to find gluten free pizza!

I fucking love this city.

-M

 

When you start making castles out of your film, you know its time to develop


Goodbye San Francisco

We’ve been staying here with Mary’s cousin for about a week in El Cerrito. We planned this week so we could catch up, check out the Bay Area at our own pace, and get some well-deserved R&R (often in the form of trash TV). It’s been our home. But, at last the road is calling us away, so we will be heading off to Nevada in the very early morning. Ironically, I feel more behind than ever because I’ve picked up 23 rolls of color and I’ve scarcely had time to scan a fraction of what I had already.

Kerouac’s scroll is true to one aspect of living on the road. It doesn’t stop. You can slow down, but you can’t stop. I have a copy of “The Original Scroll” edition of On The Road, and I can speak to it’s honesty of omitting paragraphs and trucking through the story without pause. The way you read it, you look desperately for the next period and try to place your bookmark in it so you can close the book and rest, but you always end up reading a bit too far, or stopping mid-sentence, or losing your place when you pick up again. I’m doing this now, trying desperately to scan in one more roll of film, packing up so it won’t be too hard to leave, looking out the window at the city beneath us and the red lights of the Golden Gate bridge in the distance. I’m lost. Tomorrow it’s back to fighting off bugs, showering with scorpions, and stopping at gas stations for sustenance.

San Francisco is pretty fantastic. The hills are atrocious; they’re so steep that there are stairs in the sidewalk. The weather is so unpredictable that you must dress for summer and winter at once, because it’s freezing in the shade and unbearably hot in the sun. You will sweat and shiver in the course of walking down one city block, no drugs required. But you can’t beat the home of hippies and beatniks. Maybe it’s just my own projection, but I think the pavements reek of defiance. It’s where protestors go to make love and not war. It’s just, cool. It’s cool in every sense of the word.
Okay, so this isn't in Cali, but give me a break. It's symbolic, or some shit like that.

That said, I’m ready to leave the (gorgeous) fog behind and find some sunshine. Goodbye California, I’ll be back again soon.

-V


Beatniks and Poprocks

San Francisco has been wonderful so far. It’s been a refreshing and invigorating break from the chaos and havoc that is the road. Don’t get me wrong. I love the freedom and escape only the road can bring.
However, it is necessary to pull over sometimes and just breathe.

For any of you who don’t know, here’s a quick (and pretty damn accurate) map of the Bay area.

Totally accurate.

We are staying in the “El Something” part. Val and I arrived Thursday evening and just passed out. I had a lot of fun in LA, but I  knew coming here that we’d be able to drop our stuff and just kind of relax for awhile.
Which I did pretty much all weekend.

Saturday was GREAT. Know why?

I WENT TO A CUBS GAME!

Let me give you some background. I love baseball, and I love the Chicago Cubs. I’ve always been a fan, and always will be
And deep, deep, deep down I believe that someday, hopefully before I die, they will win the World Series. If you are not familiar with their story, I wont go into great, depressing detail, but I’ll just say that they are known in the MLB world as the “Lovable Losers”.

To save the suspense, we did not win. Oh well. Beers, hot dogs and good company was really the reason I went. We’ll get ’em next time. Right guys?? Please?

After drinking for pretty much since we arrived in the East Bay, it was quite difficult to wake up today. Valerie and I had decided that today was the day we tackle San Francisco. Photograph the SHIT out of that city.

And our bodies were like,  BLAAAHHHHH, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Partying+burgers and pizza+5 days straight= No Bueno.

Our bodies were not compliant with getting out of bed early. My stomach was gross and Val’s liver was angry.

But how often are you in San Francisco? Unless you live there and then I guess you’re always here.
We sucked it up, had some coffee and a delicious breakfast, then took the BART into the city. The public transit system in the bay area is wonderful…plus I refuse to pay a ridiculous amount of money to park my car for several hours. It’s like paying for my car to have a nap.

It was a fantastic day. I walked around Chinatown and took in all the colors of the stores, the conversations of the various tourists, the many, many smells of the city. The best part of the day was hands down, the visit to the Jack Kerouac Beat Museum. We didn’t even have that planned. Meandering around the streets of San Francisco, we sort of just stumbled upon it.

The Universe was leading us down the path we were supposed to be on.

The museum was awesome and the people who worked there were just as cool. We met Jerry who hangs out with Neil Cassady’s son and travels the country in the essence of Kerouac. And he was super pumped to meet us too. People of the Beat Generation are a very tight knit community, and in my experience, they are very welcoming and really excited to meet other people who share that love of freedom, creativity, passion, and the philosophy that you can live your life the way you want to.

Reading about Kerouac and being reminded of why I’m taking this journey and why I’m on this mission was something I needed. Its easy when you’re on the road to forget why you’re there; you’re dirty and cranky and haven’t slept in a real bed in a week and can’t wait to just get the fuck out of your car. Thats understandable, however I needed today to be reminded why I’m here and what I want to accomplish.

The day was exceptional and ended with good Chinese food and pop rocks in a chocolate bar. Yes, it does exist.

I’ve taken so many rolls of film and tried desperately to drink up as much of the North Beach Beatniks essence as I can before I have to leave.

I have a few more days to turn into a Beatnik 🙂 Or just a flip-flop wearing, 3 camera toting, liberally swearing, not giving a fuck photographer who just wants to capture the world through her lens.

Maybe I’m already one.

A new breed of beatniks. The poets and writers had their say. Now its the photographers turn.

Watch out.

 

-M


This is Hollywood, everyone has a dream. What’s your dream?

I know I know, its been far too long since we’ve blogged. My apologies. When you’ve been on the road for 3 weeks, you come to a point where you just need to disconnect and not work anymore.

We came to this point in Los Angeles.

It was wonderful. We stayed with  my cousin and her wonderful family, and just sort of melted into the city for a few days. We did some of the touristy stuff, like walking around the Sunset Strip and took photos in front of the famed Hollywood Sign. Valerie wanted to go up and lick it, however we didn’t feel like hiking 4 miles to get to it, and then jumping a fence with possibilities of time behind bars.

We’ll save that for next time.

But then, we also just went out and hung out in the city. LA is the place to people watch. It was amazing. AMAZING. There are so many different types of people to observe and photograph. And they’re all so used to being photographed, that they really don’t give a shit.

It really is a diverse city.

If you want be a rock star, its the city for you.
If you want to find a trophy wife/rich husband, its the city for you.
If you want to be a 3rd grade teacher, its the city for you.
If you want to be in a gang, its the city for you.
If you want to be a peg-legged, cross dressing, spandex wearing, moustache-wielding man, its the city for you.

I loved it. I could move there tomorrow. Maybe I will. It’s a photographers dream. I took so many photos and did nothing that was on my to-do list. But hey, thats life. I spent time with my cousin (whose kids are fucking adorable, by the way), met really cool people, and saw Courtney Love making magic happen with big-wigs at the Chateau Marmont.

Los Angeles is dirty, rich, ugly, raw, sparkling, beautiful, jazzy, glamorous, and loud. I love it.

Oh and Valerie finally found food she could eat. I’d been telling her forever that she would be able to eat whatever she wanted in California. That she would have options. She didn’t believe me. She ordered a burger in Texas without the bun, and the guy behind the counter was a combination of confused and blown away. “You’re in TEXAS. We don’t do that here.”

She was able to have her cheesecake and eat it too here.

-M

LA was great. I ate ice cream in a cone from a restaurant. That’s right. ME. Then I had cheesecake. BOOM. Vegan, gluten-free cheesecake. We also saw Courtney Love. I discovered that my hands are the same size as Cher and Myrna Loy. We took some fucking awesome pictures, but I can’t show them to you yet, because they’re all film, so they have to get developed.

Since I don’t have any pictures, this post will focus on some traveling tips.

– When you are in LA, go the the Chateaux Marmont  so you can have fancy drinks, see a celeb and feel like you’re in old school Hollywood. Call ahead and make a reservation (you don’t have to BE anyone). You will absolutely see someone famous.

– In California, pedestrians always have the right of way. This means that, while you are operating your two-ton vehicle, any person on the street may walk in front of you and, if you hit them, it’s your fault. They are not afraid of your death-mobile. The dick-heads will stroll out on the street with no care for their well-being and absolutely no respect for your life. Be prepared to stop often.

– Sweet tooth? Sprinkles. You have to wander into Beverly Hills, but it’s worth it. I’m not a frosting person, but I am with these cupcakes. They offer gluten free and vegan red velvet cupcakes, and they even have a doggie cupcake for your best friend.

– If you run out of dough in LA, but you still want to eat somewhere popular and full of famous peeps, Café Gratitude offers a dish that is donation based and nobody will be turned away (so it’s free, or whatever you have in your pocket).

-V


%d bloggers like this: