Imperial Beach Fireworks on 4th of July 2011

July 5, 2011 by ·  

Flower Shaped Fireworks on IB Pier on 4th Of July 2011

Flower Shaped Fireworks On Imperial Beach Pier

        Imperial Beach hosted a gigantic fireworks display, launching fireworks off their pier for 2011 4th of July Independence Day celebrations and guess what? That’s a 7 minute bike ride from my house! I’m serious; my total commute time was a mere 30 minutes (because I made two trips) while automobile traffic was a parking lot nightmare. Getting out of Imperial Beach and Coronado; the entire Silver Strand looked like a cross between a drive-in movie parking lot and a Taco Bell drive-thru line at 2am. What is the lesson to be learned here? Next year, if you go to Imperial Beach or Coronado to see the fireworks on the 4th of July, ride your bike!

People Enjoying the Sun at Imperial Beach On 4th of July 2011

People At Imperial Beach On The 4th of July 2011

        Most people start arriving during the day, and even though it’s more crowded than usual, it’s never out of hand. In the photo above you can see people patiently waiting for darkness and fireworks as well as being issued a ticket for having alcohol on the beach.

Imperial Beach Woman With Amputated Arm

IB Woman With Amputated Arm

        The lady above is always around Imperial Beach pier and was enjoying the live music when a phone call interrupted her. I snapped this shot because the way she’s holding her phone, her white wrist wrap and the color of her fingers matching her hair did a trick of the eye on me, making me think she was a double amputee. The tattoo on her right arm is a classic frontier star with the word, “SHERIFF” in the center.

Fireworks staged on IB pier

Flower, Shadow, Sunlight, Bee, Blue Sky

        IB pier was gated off by the time I arrived due to the large amount of pyrotechnic booty that had been carefully placed about. Sunset was to happen exactly at 8pm and the show at 9. This is where the magic was going to happen, this is where we can all say, “Boom goes the dynamite.”

First Fireworks On July 4 2011 off Imperial Beach Pier

Fireworks Smoke Imperial Beach Pier July 4 2011

        During summer it’s not exactly dark at 9pm, so the opening barrage of fireworks had nice wisps of clouds behind them. The opening volley of fireworks is where you’ll find some golden moments of photography because during the explosion of the first set is the ONLY time you’ll have a smoke free sky, so you can actually include the sky in the background of your fireworks shot. As you see in the photos above, smoke becomes a problem very fast. The pic on the left was shot at 3200 ISO & the right at 1250 ISO.

Fireworks Imperial Beach Pier 4th of July 2011

American Flag Shirt at 4th of July Fireworks IB Pier

        I didn’t have a tripod so I had to find a combination of ISO and f-stop that would work with my self-imposed handheld photography shutter speed limit of 1/20th of a second. The f-stop turned out to be easy, wide open! For the lens I had that meant f/3.5. I wanted to include a lot of foreground/people in my photos so my ISO was determined by the lighting of the foreground; I cranked it up high, from 1600 to 3200 if the foreground was dark or dropped it to 200 if there was already ambient light around, such as those taken with people seated under lights. Whatever my ISO was, my shutter speed was always slow, 1/20th of a second or slower so I made sure to stand still, hold my breath and press the shutter release button with a surgeon’s delicate touch for each & every frame. What that did was keep my own personal movement and the movement of the camera to a minimum. These are the problems that I have to compensate for by not using a tripod. I sacrificed stability in favor of mobility since I was going to spend the entire 16 minute show running around.

Imperial Beach Portwood Pier Plaza Sign and Fireworks on July 4 2011

Imperial Beach Portwood Pier Plaza Sign

        The photo you see above is the main sign at the foot of the pier, in the center of Imperial Beach’s Seacoast District and is an example of planning ahead in order to get ahead. I knew the show would last 16 minutes, so I made sure I was near the Imperial Beach sign at the 16th minute for two reasons: First, because I wanted shots of the sign silhouetted by the fireworks and second, because from that spot I was already off the beach and the pier. In other words it made for a great shot and a great escape! Cheers!

July 4, 2011 At Imperial Beach, CA Pier

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San Diego International Airport Terminals To Tarmac Tour II

May 27, 2011 by ·  

San Diego Airport Terminals To Tarmac Tour

On The Tarmac At San Diego International Airport

        For the second time in four months I was fortunate enough to go on the San Diego International Airport Terminals to Tarmac Tour. This tour is a great way for you to involve yourself with and educate yourself about the larger than life role Lindbergh Field plays for San Diego. Back in February, when I went on the Terminals to Tarmac Tour for the first time I tried to be as meticulous as possible, recording video, snapping photos and taking copious notes. This time was a little different because I just wanted to have fun. And take pictures, so that’s what I did.

San Diego Airport Terminal Two Green Build

San Diego Airport Terminals To Tarmac Tour People

        When you take a tour you are, in effect, gambling because you know what the best and worst case scenarios are, agreed to them and then rolled the dice. The quality of the tour, the tour guide, the weather and your tour mates are all beyond your control and that’s what makes tours into the unknown so exciting. If you don’t know exactly where you are going then you don’t know exactly what will happen and that should add some bloody EXCITEMENT to your life! The Wright Brothers made their first flight in 1903, nine years before my grandfather was born and yet here I am, for the second time this year, learning about an industry that didn’t even exist when my dad’s dad was in elementary school! Just imagine what American citizens in 2111 will be learning about. No one knows for sure, but what I can tell you is that on this tour you will learn why San Diego Airport is a leading economic engine region for the region, get to walk onto the tarmac and stand right under the west end of the runway as planes from all over the world make their landing approach and roar past you, right over your head. There is an interactive, multimedia employee blog featuring Lindbergh Field from the perspective of front-line Airport Authority employees called, The Ambassablog that is full of “in the trenches” info about the airport. It’s a great read and is a great supplement to what you will learn on the tour. The above right photo shows my tour mates looking skyward at a plane while the above left photo shows the progress of the new addition to terminal 2.

Thinking About San Diego International Airport

Flower, Shadow, Sunlight, Bee, Blue Sky

        It’s worth noting that my tour mates on the San Diego Airport Terminals to Tarmac Tour (besides my cousin) where a group of about a dozen home schooled kids, along with four or five of their moms. My cousin & I were the only other adults on the tour so we had a discussion or two about home schooled kids. My opinion is that home schooling is stupid because the day a kid steps out of home school is the day they realize the real world has nothing to do with their home, or their schooling. Just like saplings need wind to develop bark so they can grow into a tree, children need to know that the funny part of a joke is called a punch line, which means that in order for a joke to be funny, somebody has to take one on the chin and that person might be them. I don’t believe that’s something that can be taught, I believe that’s something you’ll only appreciate after personally giving or receiving a crack on the jaw. You can’t accurately describe a rock concert or being in love to some one that hasn’t personally and physically experienced them because these are life experiences that are personal and different for everyone, as opposed to what your mom tells you it should be. Seriously, can you imagine being turned loose on the world at the tender age of 18 with only your mother’s knowledge as a basis for how to function in society? Maybe it’s not that bad but I’ll tell you what, I needed school and I had to take some licks that were real world lessons no home-school can provide.

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Las Vegas Strip Photography

March 16, 2011 by ·  

mirage-volcano-las-vegas-strip

Mirage Casino Volcano Erupts On The Las Vegas Strip

        During my trip to Las Vegas last week, I had a loose agenda. To attend the Nightclub & Bar Convention with my friends and to take some fresh photos of Las Vegas. I did manage to get some good shots of the people I saw walking along the Las Vegas strip, but what I really wanted was to take some original shots of Las Vegas landmarks that were new and different. This was a challenge because every time I thought I was heading to an area or taking a shot I thought was unique, I inevitably saw other photographers in the area. So, relative to my other Las Vegas posts, this one will have the fewest number of photos because being unique on a strip full of cameras is not as easy at I thought it would be.

fountains-of-bellagio las vegas strip

Fountains Of Bellagio

        What I really wanted was to create some images that had a timeless quality to them. What I mean by that is I wanted some Las Vegas photos that were recognizable yet unique. I wanted photos that were obviously taken in Las Vegas yet didn’t necessarily scream when they were taken.

treasure-island-pirate-show

Pirate Show At Treasure Island

        What that ultimately came to mean was that after four days and three nights in Las Vegas, I ended up with five photos of the strip that I’d like to show the world. Averaged out, that’s the equivalent of one keeper every 19 hours. And you thought photography was easy didn’t you?

Aria Casino Hotel Las Vegas Strip

Aria Hotel & Casino

        The shot above is what I would consider to be my most original shot taken while I was in Las Vegas. This is the only photograph I made where I didn’t see any other photographers before, during or after I made it, so for now, I declare this the Mt. Everest of Las Vegas photos.

caesars-palace-fountains las vegas

The Fountains At Caesar’s Palace

        Way before I knew anything about Las Vegas, I knew about the fountains at Caesar’s Palace because of Evel Knievel. He had one Hell of a crash in 1967 when landing after trying to use a motorcycle to jump the fountains in front of Caesar’s Palace. He wanted to do something that had never been seen before, which is what I suppose I was trying to do as well, except I use a camera, not a motorcycle. It’s hard to gauge failure with stuff like this because it is very relative. Evel did jump the fountains but he fucked up the landing so he broke 40 bones and ended up in a coma for a month. Today in 2011, daredevils have gone the way of the Dodo bird, yet photography has flourished. In my head, that makes me the daredevil today and I challenge anyone to prove me wrong. Heh heh… Good luck!

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Las Vegas Street Photography

March 13, 2011 by ·  

street-clown-musician-on-the-strip-of-las-vegas

Traveling Clown Folk On A Footbridge Over The Las Vegas Strip

        Las Vegas can be as much or as little as you want it to be, no matter what you want to do. For me, for this trip it was about catching up with old friends and having some fun with my camera. I didn’t want to take the same old Las Vegas photos that everyone takes, but at the same time, I had no idea what I wanted to photograph instead. I had no idea how I would get shots that were or could be unmistakably Las Vegas yet be different from what has already been done a million times before. The people turned out to be the answer.

couple-in-front-of-mirage-casino las vegas

In Front Of The Mirage Casino

        I did a lot of shooting from the hip for these photos, which is always fun and a little bit scary because it is so not the way I usually take photos. I’m used to my viewfinder so shooting from the hip is hard for me. I missed a lot, but the Las Vegas strip is a busy place so I ended up with a few that I liked. The moral of the story: Practicing helps out a lot, so don’t get discouraged if you’re not good at it right away. Eric Kim has a great post that explains how to shoot from the hip that is a great read that will help you out a lot.

jynn-palazzo-on-las-vegas-strip

Jynn Palazzo

        Thanks to random timing and the position of my camera, the woman above will always be known to me as Jynn Palazzo. I wonder what the actual odds are of something like this photograph happening are, where the woman’s name actually turned out to be Jynn Palazzo. I tried search engines but came back with nothing so I don’t think a person by that name exists, but how celestially cool would that be if it worked out? Really cool!

woman-and-caesars-palace-forum-shop-statues

A Chiseled Woman With Caesar’s Statues

        There are so many different people walking up and down Las Vegas Blvd and it can be so crowded that it might seem paralyzing but I promise you this is a place where you can open carry your camera and take all the photos you want.

posing-for-photo-caesars-palace-forum-shop-statues

The Familiar Pose In Front Of A Fountain

        What I like best about shooting from the hip is avoiding situations like what you see above. Looking right into the camera and smiling can be a good photo, I just don’t understand why people try for it so often right off the bat. I like candid and unposed photography much better.

couple-in-front-of-mirage-casino-02

The Deciding Couple

        The sidewalks on the Las Vegas strip always have lots of people on them, so shots like the one above, with a couple that seems to have the place all to themselves is a rare treat. This is in front of The Mirage Casino’s volcano.

woman-at-las-vegas-strip-bus-stop

Waiting For The Bus & Missed The Spaceship

        The architecture and shape of things along Las Vegas Blvd are like nowhere else. From the photo above we could imagine being in a spaceport and the woman is checking a space schedule for the spaceship looming over her head.

man-with-snake-on-las-vegas-strip

monte-carlo-casino-fountain-fountain-and-woman-las-vegas

        I don’t know for sure if it was his snake or not but the guy in the photo on the left happened to be walking in front of me so I stuck with him until he eventually set his snake down and just started hanging out, at which point I took his picture. Most people didn’t even notice the snake and the guy didn’t seem to notice any of the people so I’m not sure what his game was.
        The fountain and the woman to the right are in front of The Monte Carlo. The wind was blowing water all over her, so she was turning away from a spray of water when I snapped the pic.

rob-hurlbut-las-vegas-2011

Me, Being Reflected In A Restaurant Window

        I was pleased with the photos I made during my time in Las Vegas. I’m happy to say that my shots didn’t seem like ordinary, cliched postcard shots… They seem to be unique, so I feel good, and that’s what this trip was for in the first place.

apple-on-las-vegas-strip

Apple On The Strip

        I was happy to be on an internet and computer-free regimen the entire time I was in Las Vegas, but others can’t do without, and the woman above was one of them. Anyway, that’s my take on people of the Las Vegas strip. I hope it helps to inspire you the way Vegas inspired me. I also attended the nightclub and bar convention, so be sure to see my post and photos from that event as well. Cheers!

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Nightclub & Bar Convention – Las Vegas

March 13, 2011 by ·  

wristband nightclub bar convention trade show las vegas

My Wristband For The Convention

        The people I’ve known the longest go back, way back to the days I lived in Denver, CO. Unfortunately most of us, including me have moved away from Denver, towards warmer parts of the country. It is very rare for all of us to be in the same state, let alone the same room for any length of time but recently it did happen, and with a big helping hand from my friends, I was able to attend this gathering, with my camera.

person-at-laser-display-at-nightclub-convention-las-vegas-2011

Laser Displays Make Anyone Look Like A Rock Star

        Anything that can be served in or placed in a bar or nightclub are what this show is about. My Denver friends are all current or former owners & managers in the service industry, so it’s one of those fun business trips fun them, but for me it was a little bit different. I got some great insight into what goes in to making a club or bar successful and just how much thought goes into making sure their customers like what they see and love what they drink while inside.

the-boys-at-nightclub-bar-convention-las-vegas-2011

The Only Way To Know Is To Try

        It doesn’t matter what the bottle or the woman that’s serving them looks like, the only way to know which new alcohols are good and which are shit is to try them one shot or one cocktail at a time for eleven hours, over the course of two days. Welcome to Las Vegas!

nightclub-stuff-at-the-convention-las-vegas-2011

nightclub-bar-convention--dj-setup-las-vegas-2011

        This is better than any gadget or technology show for two reasons: First, it’s in Las Vegas and second, it’s a trade show where as a representative of a company it is your job to sample every type of alcohol in the building. Yep, and the iPad doesn’t even support flash.

shake-it-up-nightclub-bar-convention-las-vegas-2011

This Show Is About Alcohol…

streamers-nightclub-bar-convention-las-vegas-2011

And Having Fun

the-boys-03-at-nightclub-bar-convention-las-vegas-2011

And Smashing Through Groups Of People

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the-boys-02-at-nightclub-bar-convention-las-vegas-2011

americas-most-wanted

        There is a reason this show is not the drunken frat party you think it must be if it’s a convention center filled with a bunch of professionals right in the middle of sin city: They are professionals so they are not a threat. The people at this show are the people that have to deal with the drunken idiots on a nightly basis, so they know how to act properly when alcohol is involved, even obscene amounts. This is a professional show for businesspeople that know how to get drunk in an exemplary and highly professional manner, not amateur night.
        The next time you are in a bar and you see a group of people that are being a little more obnoxious and loud than you would normally think would be allowed in a place like that yet they get constant, attentive service and never have a break in their good time, then they are a group of pros in the service industry just letting off steam and the staff of the place knows it. They also know the group will regulate their own party just like mafia would, so if anyone actually did start doing something that would legitimately ruin the party a stick would be brought down between that person’s eyes, bringing him or her back into line long before anyone else even saw a problem… Because they are professionals. It was a great experience that had me learning new things, spending quality time with old friends as well as engaging in some old fashioned street photography, which turned out to be an unexpected highlight of the trip. You’ll want to be sure to check out my next two posts which will consist of the people and sights of the Las Vegas strip. Cheers!

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San Diego Airport Terminals To Tarmac Tour

February 11, 2011 by ·  

Jet Plane About To Land At San Diego International Airport

About To Land At San Diego International Airport

        I recently had the pleasure of going on the Terminals To Tarmac Tour at San Diego Airport. From the website:

See behind the scenes of San Diego International Airport! The Airport Authority is offering free tours of the airport and airfield, including up-close looks at the runway, endangered species areas and public art. Tours are two hours long and are offered four times a month – each second and fourth Thursday at 10 a.m. and Friday at 1 p.m.

Ryan - Tour Guide For Terminals To Tarmac Tour At San Diego International Airport

Ryan, Our Tour Guide Through San Diego Airport

        Ryan, our tour guide is a great ambassador for the airport. He has a great sense of humor, was very informative and really brings a lot to the table so the tour was much more than just a photo op or an endless barrage of boring statistics and facts. What Ryan was able to do was show the relationship between the airport and the city of San Diego, and how that relationship leads to exciting things happening at the airport, which in turn makes San Diego an even more exciting city to live in and visit.

Inside Terminal 2 At San Diego International Airport

Inside San Diego Airport’s Terminal 2

        In a nutshell, the tour breaks down into two parts, each part is an hour long and there’s a ten minute bathroom break in the middle. You start out by meeting your tour group at the commuter terminal, receiving a visitors badge and then jumping into a shuttle bus that takes you to terminal 1 to begin the first part of the tour, which is a walking tour of both terminals. After that the shuttle bus takes you “inside the wire” and out onto the tarmac for a slow, circling tour of the runway and it’s operations.

Puff The Magic Dragon In Terminal 2 Of San Diego International Airport

Performing Art In SD Airport’s Terminal 2

        The puppet show version of Puff The Magic Dragon you see above was going on as part of the Airport Art Program. This was going on in the baggage claim area of terminal two during the tour break so I though I’d throw it in.

Ryan Explains The Geography Of San Diego International Airport

Tarmac Worker At San Diego International Airport

        Over a very helpful model of the airport, Ryan explained several things about the airport to us. The tour is very much one of those “have to be there” kind of things, so you should just take the tour because being there, seeing it and listening to the tone and excited inflection of the tour guide’s voice compliment each other in a way that probably won’t be adequately represented here. The video at the end of this post is about 6 minutes long and in it you can here Ryan talk about just a couple things about the airport. He really packs a lot in during that time, so if what you see in the video or in this post seem even remotely interesting to you then go to the San Diego Airport’s website and sign up for the tour! As we walked through the terminal, Ryan told us the trifecta of nouns that make up the theme of the airport are sky, sea and surf. As soon as he said that and pointed out a few things, it all came leaping to the foreground like pieces from the Da Vinci Code… The weather and/or the beach is why people live, move and visit here. I’m one of them. I can proudly say that I’ve been clean and sober from snow and sub-freezing temperatures for over five years, since moving to San Diego from Denver, Colorado. If the weather and the beach are the main reasons people come here, then it makes perfect subliminal sense to remind people of that in the airport. I learned on the tour that San Diego is not a “connecting” city which means that most visitors to our airport are either starting or ending their travel here, so the airport being themed as it is helps people to have a great San Diego experience that starts as soon as they get off the plane. This tour really shines a light on the amount of thought that goes into parlaying our weather and beaches into tourists, the experience they have and the money we want them to spend.

View Through Windshield Of San Diego Airport Terminals To Tarmac Tour Bus

Through The Windshield Of The Terminals To Tarmac Shuttle Bus

        I’ve been through both terminals of San Diego airport before, so I didn’t take too many photos during that portion of the tour, I did a lot of listening. Once our shuttle picked us up and drove us out onto the tarmac… I was listening a little bit less. San Diego Airport only has one runway, so all the action took place right in front of us as the shuttle slowly circled around the runway, eventually stopping on the north side, where I was able to get out and take some photos.

US Airways Jet Plane Lands At San Diego International Airport

US Airways Jet Plane Lands At San Diego International Airport

        Landings and take-offs all happen in the same direction and that is to the west. From our photo op area on the north side of the runway we had a great, window-free vantage to get some pics of the planes coming and going.

Private Jet Plane Taxis At San Diego International Airport

Private Jet Taxis At San Diego Airport

        After that the shuttle drove us to the eastern end of the runway. This put us directly under planes as they came in on their final approach to the airport. From here, we literally had a view of the underbelly, front and back of planes, full of people that are the reason San Diego Airport is not just a place. It’s a thing. It’s an organism that lives only because there are people that live in and visit San Diego, California.

Right Under A Jet Plane Landing at San Diego International Airport

Seconds Away From Touchdown At San Diego Airport

        I didn’t want to plan on learning anything during the tour, but I did. I just wanted a great photo op, but now I want to go back again not so I can take more photos, but so I can listen to what the tour guide will have to say about the airport, and the slight variations that each tour would have because Ryan was not reading from a script, he was telling us a story based on inside information he has as an employee and a guide for the Terminals To Tarmac tour. My destination was the San Diego airport, but my journey didn’t begin until I got there. I’m not an airport, aviation or airplane buff, but after this tour I can see how it would open up a whole new world of photography to me if I was. Coming to San Diego does the same thing for other people in an infinite number of ways. I took these photos yesterday, early in the second week of February and just look at those blue skies, look at all that sunlight streaming in through the terminal windows! The temperature was perfect, the barometer was gorgeous and rising and the humidity had us at a dew point that might make the glass that’s holding your margarita damp. We live in San Diego people! The five plus years I’ve lived here have helped me forget what wind chill, coat checks and winter are, and if you don’t know what any of those things are then consider yourself lucky. Do you like apples? Yeah? Well you can fly from San Diego, nonstop to Maui and London, among other places. How do you like them apples? I thought so. Cheers, and happy traveling!

Video From Terminal To Tarmac Tour At San Diego Airport

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Border Field State Park

January 25, 2011 by ·  

Border Field State Park Fence

Looking South At The Border Field State Park Fence

        The extreme southwestern point of the continental United States is encompassed by a California state park named Border Field State Park. After spending some time there, I am just going to come right out and say that this park is a victim of The War On Terror. The beach is barren because people aren’t allowed swim there, the monument at friendship circle is kept behind lock and key, there are no bathrooms or drinking fountains and you aren’t allowed to be within 50 feet of the actual border. Add to this that the road to the park is always flooded, meaning you can’t access the park with a car, only by walking or riding a horse or bicycle. In short, this park has “STAY AWAY!” written all over it. The ironic thing is that these stipulations and conditions only exist on the American side of the border.

Border Field State Park Fence

A Man, A Woman & A Dog At Border Field State Park

        On the Mexican side of the fence, you can play on the beach, walk up to and even walk through the fence. On the American side, as I found out the hard way, if you come within 50 feet or so of the actual border fence you will see a border patrol agent drive down to your location and tell you so keep back about 50 feet. There is actually a secondary fence the runs about 50 parallel feet north of the actual border, that ends about 200 feet of east of the pacific ocean that marks the limit of American citizen access. These objects of isolationism bear no signs or warnings. There is nothing in place at all to keep you from walking directly up to the actual border fence. You’ll know you’re in the wrong when a border patrol jeep drives up behind you to point out the imaginary line you are not supposed to cross.

Border Field State Park Fence

A Mexican Child Retrieves A Ball From America

        As I said before, from the Mexican side of the fence there is nothing to keep you from enjoying a wonderful beach that happens to be on the border between two countries… Swim in the water, approach the border fence, or just have some fun in the sun. As the photos in this post show, you are not entitled to ANY of these things on the American side of the beach.

Border Field State Park Fence

Playing In The Sand… A Few Feet South Of America

        I think tourists in Mexico will ultimately be just as disappointed as tourists in America that come to this park. I thought I’d be able to walk right up to the border and be able to talk with and photograph people on the other side. I was only half right. My trip to Border Field State Park has ONLY my photography to show as evidence that I was there. Just about every other human interaction activity is forbidden by law. Welcome to America.

Border Field State Park Fence

Border Field State Park Fence

        I think I may have to return to this park in a year or so to see if anything has changed. The photos surrounding this text show my impressions of this place. The closer I reached the border, the more iron bars blocked my way. As I walked away, I came across a butterfly, dead on the sand pointed towards Mexico.

        After going to Border Field State Park, it’s very hard to say what is doing the greatest good for the greatest number. From my eyes, the powers that be have turned the border area with a monument called, “Friendship Circle” into an uninviting area that no one wants to go to. What’s my proof? The empty beach in front of me and the national monument that is kept under lock & key, admissible only under of the supervision of a US Border Patrol Agent. Agents like the one that told me to step the Hell back from the border. This is the same guy I need to ask to permit me to see the monument at Friendship Circle. Can you say, “Uncomfortable?”

Border Field State Park Fence

Friendship Circle Monument As Seen From America

        I have plans to return to Border Field State Park, but I don’t know when. Actually I do know when… The next time I feel like America’s laws have become so constrictive that I can’t draw a deep breath, I will look towards this park and see all the families and children having fun… On the other side of the fence.

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Roy’s Cafe, Amboy And Historic Route 66

June 2, 2010 by ·  

Roy's Cafe In Amboy, CA

Amboy, CA & Roy’s Cafe

        Just north of Joshua Tree National Park, situated along Historic Route 66 is the town of Amboy, which consists of Roy’s Cafe and a decaying, 60 year old church. As you head north out of Joshua Tree, you will travel through Bristol Dry Lake to get to Amboy, where you can gas up and have a meal at Roy’s Cafe.

Amboy Church

Roy's Cafe In Amboy, CA, Route 66

        Roy’s Cafe has been an institution in Amboy and Historic Route 66 since 1938, eventually serving travelers with food, a place to fix and/or gas up as well as stay the night. At the height of travel along Route 66, Roy’s employed 70 people. That all changed in 1972 when I-40 opened up to the north, which meant that Amboy would lose all the transcontinental traffic that made it into a boom town in the years after WWII. I-40 completely bypassed Amboy and Roy’s Cafe, so the area became a ghost town and fell into disrepair. As a visitor during Memorial Day weekend in 2010, it is hard to believe that 70 employees were needed to run the place because I saw less than a dozen travelers the entire time I was there. It is sad to think that 30 years ago, with the stroke of a pen on a map, Route 66 and the town of Amboy became relics of the past, and I-40 became the corridor of the future.
        Barstow, which lies to the west along I-40 boomed, while Amboy and Roy’s Cafe, along the instantly forgotten Route 66 were stripped of their status as a way point for travelers and were reduced to a point of curiosity that people only see if they specifically mean to go there.

Amboy Crater

Amboy Crater

        At the intersection of Amboy Road and Route 66 were some roadside vendors selling fresh jerky and cherries. The jerky vendor advertised a website: www.freshjerky.com that I explored and found that they have a two California retail locations: One in Olancha and another in Needles, as well as a location in Golden Valley, AZ. My cousin purchased a bag of jerky from this “retail outlet” of Gus’s Really Good Fresh Jerky and it was in fact really good and really fresh. The photo of Amboy Crater above as well as the top photo in this post were taken from the vantage of this roadside vendor.

Approaching Bristol Dry Lake, Amboy Crater & Roy’s Cafe

        The silent movie above shows just how timeless a journey through the desert can be. When you drive through a dry lake on the fringes of the Mojave desert, it is easy to forget what planet you are on, but it’s even easier to forget what year you are in. The grainy, jumpy video above might be 50 years or 50 days old. We just don’t know for sure.

Downtown Amboy

Downtown Amboy

        Desert towns rely on a steady traffic flow of desert travelers for their economy to flourish. In 1972, when I-40 opened and bypassed the town of Amboy, the town went belly-up, and became a novelty destination, which does not encompass enough people to be sustainable for small desert town situated along a now defunct Route 66.

Historic Route 66 Shoe Tree

Historic Route 66 Shoe Tree

        After a nice meal at Roy’s Cafe, head east on Route 66 and you will see history rewind before your very eyes. So many people over so many years have passed through here that even roadside garbage has a story to tell.

Historic Route 66

Immortalized On Historic Route 66

        As you leave Amboy and head east on Route 66, you will notice the shoulder on the north side of the road contains the names of countless travelers, hand-printed with stones for miles and miles. It is difficult to say when this impromptu tradition started, but I think it must go back to the 1920′s. With that in mind, I decided to add my name, with dozens of carefully selected and positioned stones to the roster. Take the time to do the same and who knows what you’ll find in the process. For example, I planned on arranging my name with stones, snapping a picture and leaving. Who would have known that a .38 snub nose revolver and a beer can, so old that it was made out of steel would make an appearance? Either way, Historic Route 66 is American heritage, so on your next road trip, you really should veer off of our interstate highway system and detour along the original cross-country highway… Historic Route 66.

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Travel To Hawaii

November 29, 2009 by ·  

Barbers Point, Hawaii

Barbers Point, Hawaii

        Hawaii is a place where you can do a lot of things and it doesn’t matter how old you are because in Hawaii, you can do it all. Even though Hawaii is a an American state, you have to travel overseas to get there, so American tourists in Hawaii are different than American tourists when they are traveling within the the 48 North American States. The beaches, clubs, beachside restaurants, boat and water activities and adventure hiking are all first rate. For solitude you have to leave to island of Oahu. Maui is about 30 minutes by air shuttle and is well worth seeing even if you are not seeking solitude.

Waikiki Sunset

Waikiki Sunset, Hawaii

        There is beauty everywhere in Hawaii, so spend at least a month there if you can. A stay that long will allow you to delve into the islands and find things to do that are not in any tourist brochures.

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Travel To Las Vegas And Hoover Dam

November 29, 2009 by ·  

Hoover Dam From Just Above River Level

Hoover Dam From Just Above River Level

        If you go to Hoover Dam, it is probably to take a break from your activities in Las Vegas, so you will understand what it means to pay a little more to to get something a lot better. The special tour is $30 and you get a much better experience than you do with the $11 tickets.

        My special access ticket allowed me to get a less than common shot of the dam from a very low level. The sky was blown out so I cropped it and made the dam itself look as dramatic as possible, without going to full on black & white.

        I had a hard time taking pictures in Las Vegas because everything looked so familiar from movies and photos in magazines. I just didn’t see how I could take a unique shot in that town. At the time, The Venetian was one of the newest casinos so a friend asked me to shoot it for her. The shot below is a small section of the architecture of the hotel’s exterior. Every room in the hotel is a suite with queen or king beds and 32″ flat screen TV’s.

Venetian Hotel In Las Vegas

Venetian Hotel In Las Vegas

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Travel To Denver

November 28, 2009 by ·  

Denver Capitol Building, 1999

Denver Capitol Building, 1999

        Denver is a great city, no matter what time of year it is. Downtown, LoDo and Capitol Hill in particular are such great places to live and spend time. Anything you need and everything you want is right there, sports, drinks, food, walking, skating, shopping and sightseeing are all touching each other.

Inside Denver Capitol Building Christmas 1999

Inside Denver Capitol Building Christmas 1999

        There are two very different forms of solitude available to the residents of Denver, the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains. Depending on your mood, the time of year and your own reasons for wanting to get away from all human beings for a while, you can drive to west or south to the mountains or drive east towards Kansas and America’s Bread Basket. Personally, I like the mountain form of solitude better than the endless plains form. Being out in the woods is more engaging and more inspiring for me, I feel like there is more nature per square inch in the mountains.

        Sometimes, the history of Denver is what held my interest for extended periods of time. So many things have happened in Denver in the last 150 years and all of it is interesting and fun to talk about. Click here to visit the city of Denver’s website. There is just so much to do, and there are so many restaurants, all of which you can walk to. Downtown Denver is a great place.

        Four sunny seasons is what you will find in Denver, Colorado. Fall colors, winter wonderland, spring is colorful and warm and summer is hot with thunderstorms that will make you take notice. The mountains are so different with each season and each mountain town is different as well. Estes Park, Boulder & Golden would be good starting points for visitors that want to start visiting mountain towns. After them, head out to Cripple Creek, Georgetown or Central City. Now you’ll be ready to head deep into the Rockies to visit ski towns and do some real exploring!

Mile High Stadium And Unborn Investco Field

Mile High Stadium As Investco Field Is Built, 1999

John Elway & Denver Broncos - Superbowl XXXII Champions 1998

John Elway & Denver Broncos - Superbowl XXXII Champions 1998

        There was a stretch, back in the late 1990′s when I was going to a lot of Bronco games, and almost every game was watched from the south stands, in both stadiums. Those that were attending home games of the Denver Broncos in the late nineties will remember what a time that was. The Broncos had already won the Superbowl and were on track to win for a second time. The new stadium was about to be built and John Elway was just awesome. The pic on the right was taken following the Denver Broncos Superbowl victory parade through downtown. John Elway & The Denver Broncos are on the steps of the city & county building for this photo. I did not take this John Elway shot, but I was standing next to my friend when he shot it. It was such a fun day and we both waited since we were kids to see the Broncos win the superbowl.

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Memorial Day Weekend In Palm Springs 2009

May 26, 2009 by ·  

Palm Springs

Aloha from Palm Springs, California

          A three day weekend is a pretty good reason to drive from San Diego to Palm Springs, California.  I never set foot in the pool and came out ahead in the casino so it was an oddly perfect weekend.  My fellow loungers were the perfect company and made the trip what it will be remembered as being.  For now it was an epic road trip from San Diego to Palm Springs, CA, with the photos here presented as a record of things that were seen, and might have otherwise been forgotten.


You must play with purpose!

You must play with purpose!

          As we do not have air hockey in San Diego, we took full advantage of the tables.  As Palm Springs caters to the rich & famous, the pucks are made of solid gold and beautiful women bring you cocktails of blasphemous potency.

Different windmills currently in use in Southern California.

Different windmills currently in use in Southern California.

          Clean, renewable energy should be one of everyone’s favorite things.  Recycle cans, use permanent plastic water bottles instead of disposable plastic bottles and do what you can to get wind and solar in to the mainstream.

          Traveling through the colossal windmill farms of southern California was electrifying and terrifying.  So much energy is generated by the windmills, that the nighttime desert floor glows in a site so indescribable that no photographer has ever been able to spoil the view by looking through their camera’s viewfinder to take a picture.


Must Make Art

          This vacation gave me a chance to remember that I love to create art, just for the sake of doing it.

          My friends and I were on a mission in Palm Springs, and we failed to complete it.  As warriors in a hazy battlefield of glass, fire and liquid we ultimately returned home defeated in war but soaring higher than any living things have before in spirit…  We had become The Trifecta.

The day we left, this perfectly throw took place.

The day we left for Palm Springs, this perfectly aligned throw took place.

          With a start like this, we knew it would be a good trip and that there would be some great photography taking place.  Our Triangle Zen arrives when the disc is thrown.


Traffic

Unfortunately, even famous photographers must deal with traffic.

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