Day 21 – Monday October 16, 2017
The overnight did not go well as mentioned yesterday, that there are not many places in civilization to hide for a night’s sleep in the car without incurring some kind of infraction concerning no parking signs threatening towing, bodily harm and worse. But finally found a quiet spot along the Pacific Coast Highway that seemed to have other cars there and absent No Parking signs, so I slid in and slid into the bag for a few hours sleep until at 4:45am the cars started streaming by which was actually pretty loud since it is a highway. After a few minutes of this constant drone of rush hour car and truck tires, I decided to head back to the beaches and see what I could do before it became light. I ended up by El Matador Beach and ran across the highway with my flashlight to see if I could see down the road, and found the gates already opened, unlike last night. So I headed down and found quite a few sea stacks there but as has been the case, along with the lack of clouds, it always seems to be high tide when I’m shooting the ocean. But things seemed to work out and I guess others did as well since by the time I left, there were at least 4 photoshoots going on!! So I guess it’s a good beach, probably one of the few that can be used for sun rise, but mostly in the winter months because of where the sun rises at that time of year. Two months from now it would have an even better placement.
Stopped by Starbucks in Malibu directly across from the “enclave(?)” to be in the presence of the glitterati. And I suppose all the preconceived notions I brought into the place were transposed onto everyone who walked through the door. It would probably make a great project similar to Christer Berg’s Portraits with Purpose and the Fabric of Raleigh, only you just wait for the interesting folks to walk in. Much less expense for gas. Early afternoon was spent around Rodeo Drive, which I just happened upon on the way to visit a cousin of my wife’s who owns the famous La Gondola restaurant in Hollywood and has catered major events throughout the world. Afterward I poked around all the glitz of Rodeo Drive awhile, trying to find things to photograph, but had trouble with my own reflections in the showcase windows. But by 230p, I wanted to head to the hotel to check in and then head to the wild architecture of the Walt Disney Concert Hall as the afternoon light changed to dusk figuring I had plenty of time. But many roadblocks came my way, first of which a chance meeting with the only arrogant, unfriendly, idiot I met in the entire three weeks in California. Parking around Rodeo Drive is difficult to begin with, and very tight, enough I had to fold the driver’s mirror to avoid losing it. So just as I was ready to maneuver the car out of the parking spot, this SOB puts his little Vespa type motorcycle illegally in between my car and the one in front, and obviously not putting any money into a meter. So I asked if he would move it so I could get out and he says, “What, can’t you drive?” So I tell him I don’t want to accidentally hit it and knock it over. He takes a picture with his phone of the car and license plate and says if there is any damage, he’ll know who did it and walks away!! So I’m stuck trying to maneuver this monster I have with a tinker toy in front, and a $200K Maserati close in back. After about 10 minutes of inching up and back, getting out to look how much room I have, I do finally get out and now there is someone waiting for the spot and I have to worry if that person will squeeze in the spot without knocking over this jerks bike.
Next is traffic, which in the middle of the day was pretty slow and took me an hour to get to the hotel even though it was not that far away. And checking in went smoothly, but it took quite a while to get everything out of the car (a lot of trash and mess accumulates living in a car for three weeks) And up into the room. By now it’s after 4pm and traffic has already built up to a crawl and it seems that all of LA is a parking lot, with every ramp, overpass and connector holding cars at a standstill. By now I’m shouting at the navigation system, not because of wrong directions, but because there are off ramps on off ramps on off ramps!!
To make a long story short (I’m on the flight home, so I have time, but will spare the ugly details) after two wrong exits I finally made it to the Walt Disney and was so lucky there was a parking garage across the street that was almost empty??? I was able to pull right in, grab my gear and start shooting within a few minutes. The light was at that point about 1/2-hour before sunset which is when I wanted to start, but I wanted to be there for an hour or so beforehand to really get to know it better and decide what I’d like to do. Architecture is not my wheelhouse, so I wanted some time to let the building soak in first. I ended up spending about three hours there through sunset and blue hour until the sky was black. And then I walked around a bit and did a bit more shooting ending up back on the top level of the garage to photograph the beautiful city hall building that was illuminated in blue light; so easy to shoot it composed itself.
Then headed back to the hotel, where along the way, two attempts to get some fast food failed, gas up the car so it’s full when I drop it off and not get charged $9.00/gallon to fill it, make some Ramen for dinner in the room, repack everything into the three bags (no easy feat), take a shower and at almost 1am, get a couple hours of sleep before the 520am alarm for the flight home.
I was startled out of a very deep sleep by the alarm in the morning and had a pretty much uneventful trip home except for the extra dragging of huge suitcases into Hertz for my refund of the oil change in Lake Tahoe which seemed to take forever, not because of questioning the reimbursement, but how to go about it. It seems they cannot issue a credit to your credit card, so they actually had to give me cash!!
So, for those of you who followed, thanks for sharing the trip and for those who actually read every word (if there actually is anyone), please remember that this was more a journal to remember the day to day events I experienced. In the three weeks, I drove the car 3885 miles and slept in it every night except 3, one of which was a mistake on my part, but only cost about $52 so was not too big a deal in the grand scheme of things. For some reason, I noticed an awful lot of homeless folks seemingly everywhere I went outside the national parks, and luckily missed some awful events in the news because of the concerted effort on my part to avoid the news at all costs since feeling I was getting too wrapped up in it all prior to leaving. I guess the jury will be out on how good the photographic part of the trip was until I begin processing the files, but it could have been helped with a few clouds here and there, a lower tide or two and less ferocious winds at the beginning. Most of the “bucket list” was done except for Death Valley and Trona Pinnacles, which were replaced by the ocean around LA and connecting with Denis.
Now that the trip is over, I can tell a few things that I did not want to include at the time for various reasons, one being an experience the second night at Lassen National park while sleeping. I was in a very long, deep dream when I was startled out of my dream with what felt like something going across my forehead and me flailing away at whatever it may have been. But when I got my thoughts together, I believed it to only be my ski hat coming loose around my head while I slept. So trying to get back to sleep, I began to hear little noises inside the car…scratching noises or jostling of some things. By then I knew it was probably a mouse!! My suspicion was confirmed the next morning when I found an M&M bag with a hole chewed out of the bottom and another bag of trail mix with some chewing marks. So now I knew I was not traveling alone any longer, but had either Mickey or Minney along for the ride. Two mouse traps set during the remainder of the trip yielded nothing, but luckily, I never heard those noises again. How it got into or out of the car is still a mystery.
The second occurred in Lake Tahoe after a sunset (another bald one) and waited for two or three cars to go by before joining the traffic on the highway. It wasn’t long after that those same few cars seemed to jam on the brakes and swerve in various directions, and I slammed on the brakes as well and started the flashers going to warn those behind. No sooner than I did that, I saw a bear lying on the roadway right in front of my car, obviously in severe distress, trying desperately to get up but being unable, falling over again and again, but somehow managing to make its way over a guard rail back into the underbrush. It so easily could have been my car and my bumper lying in the roadway and it really struck home how a trip can turn in an instant. I thank those who watch over us all for keeping me safe and healthy on this and every trip, as I should do each and every day because these things can occur when we are at home as well. So all in all, it was a good trip in that I have been watched over so many times when things could have turned out differently and changed on a dime. It’s good to be home…