Category Archives: Travel

Don't catch you slippin up

Zion, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Arches, Bryce, Vegas

There’s a part of the country I’ve been meaning to see for some time. Decided to swing out this Memorial Day weekend to check it out.

I’ve done two large road trips of the states and one of the areas that I have never made it out to was the Grand Canyon and all of those surrounding national parks.

Had the idea on Wednesday. Booked the flight and the car and swung out the following day.

Thu 05/24

Finished up work out in Times Square. From there it’s a commute home to Jersey City to pick up my gear and a quick 15-minute uber out to Newark.

I was initially going to pack my Osprey Atmos 50-liter pack for the trip. While going through my gear I grabbed an REI 22-liter pack that I was going to bring for day hikes and whatnot. Holding the pack in my hand made me start to question whether it would be possible to fit my entire trip in that small pack.

I’m going to need my camera gear, laptop, a variety of clothes. I end up fitting it all in. Tripod, two camera lenses, battery packs, chargers, down jacket that can keep me warm (it got into the 30s-40s at one point on the trip), rain jacket, toiletries (I don’t bring my shaver or cologne), and a clean pair of clothes for every day I’ll be out there. I also bring my small camera bag that has my body, two lenses, a couple spare batteries. I love traveling with this camera. It’s effortless.

The flight out is pretty much as expected.

I go to grab my rental car. I ordered the cheapest one I could get online. Usually the cheap models are good on gas and very practical with space and a small size for getting around and parking. They’re usually my preferable choice. I bought something called a “manager’s special” or something like that. It ends up being a Camaro SS. Which I’m pretty certain was the V8 (because the display showed this). If that’s the case it has 455 hp and 455 ft-lb torque. It certainly felt like that on the drive. The thing rips pretty hard. You need to be careful driving something like this in rear wheel. I was worried of even going sideways a bit in a straight line. It was not what I expected, but it was fun to be able to drive this around, ripping 0-60s occasionally, and flying past cars when I was passing them.

The plan for the night is the swing a little closer to Zion. I end up staying in St. George, Utah. Dinner consists of a couple cookies and a bag of chips. I end up eating terribly on this trip, usually alternating between gas station food, fast food, and occasional burgers.

When I get to the hotel it’s after midnight. The guy at the desk is really upbeat. I’m not sure if I’m just used to the coldness of New York, but it’s refreshing to communicate with people who are all super friendly. He tells me to check out the narrows at Zion. I tend to follow recommendations, as they usually point me in the right directions. I thank him and retreat to the room for some sleep.

Fri 05/25

The drive to Zion National Park is a quick one. I get into the park, picking up an annual pass for $80. It gets you access to many of the parks in the States, and you can share it with one other person. So, if you’re looking to roadtrip the states within the next year, let me know and you can sign your name on the other spot and see the parks for free. Most of the parks on this trip have a car entry of $20-$30.

The park is pretty full. I’ve heard online and also from the rangers that this weekend is a nightmare weekend. The traffic is supposed to be a disaster. The congestion and people are supposed to be unbearable. But really traffic was fine for me in the parks at all times. I’m not sure if it’s coming from the NJ/NY area or how packed Times Square can be, but it feels really empty out here. Touting numbers like 30,000-60,000 people in a 200 square mile park doesn’t seem like much when Times Square is getting 350,000 people in an area that you wouldn’t even use miles to measure.

Zion is a nice park. In my opinion it’s one of the ones that is famous because of its location to a larger city. It’s a beautiful place, but it’s popularity is due to the number of people around it. It’s the third most visited park in the States, with 4.5 million visitors.

There are some great views.

Rockin out
Rockin out

I hike out to the narrows. It’s the narrowest section of the canyon. You walk along a river and there’s no way to avoid the trail other than to get your feet and shoes wet. The rocks make barefoot crossing probably very unwise. There’s a lot of people in the area and I’m a bit lazy to get a good shot of it.

Nature and the photography of it has been something of interest for me when I was starting out taking pictures. These days I’m a lot less interested in taking pictures of this stuff. I’d kind of rather just experience it. Going into the trip I was a little worried I wouldn’t be inspired to take many good pictures, but I think I ended up with some.

I don’t really enjoy a lot of the travel and nature pictures that a lot of people love. I kind of really despise that whole wanderlust instagram culture of pictures. I guess in some ways some of the shots I took on this trip are intentionally disrespectful to some of those photographers. I did some point and shooting out of a moving car. I didn’t focus stack any images. I didn’t use a tripod in some scenarios where I should have. I thought I wouldn’t go through the small effort of merging panoramas in photoshop (but I did a few of those).

In addition to my displeasure and changing tastes with the camera, there are often just a ton of really amazing pictures on Google. Go search Zion narrows and look at some great pictures. I’m not going to waste time taking a picture that someone else has pretty much technically mastered. There sure is a lot of room for creativity and exploration even in a format as classic as landscapes, but if I can’t find that creativity then I’m don’t want to waste the time getting the picture.

With that said there are some pretty generic old school style landscape pictures in here. And if you see an area where a picture is missing or don’t understand why I didn’t take the same iconic picture that everyone else has taken of an area, it’s probably do to some combination of the previous thoughts. Just go google it (or don’t since you already know what it looks like).

I actually kind of dig this next picture. Although everyone on the bus had a camera, no one on the bus was taking pictures. I kind of really liked the half open window. The left side provides a cool textured purplish filter, and the right gives you the open air natural shot. The real beauty of this picture (besides the little bit of speaker off to the bottom right) is the two tiny rock climbers that are perfectly framed by the window. If you don’t see them you can click the picture and check them out. They are along the left side of the V.

Two rock climbers
Two rock climbers

Pointing and clicking. This is a reasonable shot. Sure, it could be more perfect by getting a secondary subject in there and getting somethings more in focus. But also, we have access to really high shutter speeds, so we should consider using them. There’s not much of a difference in this picture if it’s being viewed on a phone, and in the end it’s kind of not all that interesting. It’s a picture I would have liked a bit more many years ago but now it’s rather boring. I think it’s a much worse picture than the one with the two climbers.

Point and click
Point and click

And pointing and clicking some more.

La la la
La la la

Zion is a nice park. There’s a lot you can of course explore and see. I feel like I had a nice quick view of it and decide to swing out to Antelope Canyon.

Antelope Canyon is one of those super popular wanderlusty spots. You’ve seen the images before. Even still it looks amazing and it’s worth checking out since I’m out this way.

I get to the upper canyon at 3:50 PM and miss the final shuttle which is supposed to leave at 4 PM. Tickets were $60 per adult and half that price for children! I think that’s completely unreasonable. I think to take pictures you have pay even more. Prices online say $80 to take pictures that I don’t even want to take. To be honest I would have paid the price. I was here, I don’t think I’ll ever be back here. I went up to the ticket booth and tried to buy tickets but was told it was sold out.

There’s no way to visit the canyons without a tour.

So I was beat.

I guess I’m going to spare everyone the embarrassing irony of a white man complaining about how the Navajo are unfairly hoarding resources and making absurd profits off of them, but $80 for entrance is pricy. I just paid $80 for entrance to all of the national parks in the country for an entire year for that price. The national parks are well maintained and doing so costs a lot of money. I want them to be around for people to enjoy, and I am fine paying that money because of the enormous costs that they are.

To all the Navajo, get your money. I have nothing but love for you all. Thank you for allowing me into your land to enjoy the beautiful treasures that you have respected so deeply for so long. You are really the og’s of a lot of important things. President Woodrow Wilson gets credit for national parks (thank you) but for people like the Navajo it is core to the soul to be respectful of the land and the energy that surrounds it.

This isn’t really my country. This is yours. I’m a visitor here. Ahehee!

Since Antelope Canyon was closed for the day I decided to swing out to Horseshoe Bend. Originally the plan was to try to catch the sunset here, but it’s too early.

I park and start the pretty quick stroll out to the lookout. There’s a little dust storm going on but it dies down quickly. No amount of wind will really hold me back from checking this out.

There’s a lot of people standing very close to the edge. Kind of impatiently cramming their way into a picture spot. I watch this and give myself a little time to get accustomed to the height. I’m waiting my time to get a picture. I’m not looking to slip over the side. The fall from this height would be 800 feet and sure death.

For me it’s refreshing that this spot has not been Americanized (yet). There’s no railing here. Construction is underway off to the side to put up railings and make the place safe (and also importantly accessible), but it’s refreshing that there are cliffs in the States that aren’t guarded. Where common sense and logic are the only things keeping you one either side of the drop off.

I get pretty close to the edge, but far enough away that it’s safe. Again, I’m not looking for an incredible picture here. I don’t have to inch to an unsafe spot. I don’t have to get the best shot ever from here. There are already many on Google. And unless I’m doing something different I don’t feel like putting in the work or taking the risk.

A simpler picture will certainly do. Horseshoe Bend is gorgeous. It’s as beautiful as all of the instagram pictures would have you think it is. It’s one of the nicest views in the country in my opinion. The number of tourists that have visited this area has exploded over recent years. What may have been a local secret is out drawing people from around the globe.

About as close as I was willing to go
About as close as I was willing to go

The sun is beating down. No Antelope Canyon. A quick sight of Horseshoe Bend. It’s nowhere near sunset. I look at the map and my itinerary of things I want to see on this trip and think I might be able to make it to the Grand Canyon for sunset. Seems like a win to me.

I hop back in the car and zip off. This is what I came to see. And it’s sunset as well. The Grand Canyon.

First I point and click at some cool scenery on the way. I generally have been turning up some of the colors in my pictures. Lately I’ve been messing around a bit with muting the colors. I kind of dig overexposing as a technique. It helps to rip out a lot of color and add whitespace in a pretty beautiful way. I guess some people will say it’s just a bad or improper picture, but I disagree. I acknowledge how basic and wannabe it might seem as well. In a world of minimalism and bad photographers, there are few Michael Kenna’s.

Shot this from a moving car, it's ok
Shot this from a moving car, it’s ok

I make it to the south entrance with plenty of light still up. Pictures should be pretty good with this lighting. This next one is one of the first views I get of the canyon. The lighting really makes it a beautiful place.

Grand canyon
Grand canyon

It’s nice because it fades out a lot of the iconic Grand Canyon colors. I’m not looking to capture images that are already available. Just looking to mess around with whatever might be interesting to me.

It’s fun shooting into the sun. I love layered rock formations, and what they look like at various stages of lighting.

Ok, I can dig it
Ok, I can dig it

And here’s another one shot with a kind of disappointing cheap 55-200mm Sony stock zoom lens that I picked up used for $100. I figure the autofocus alone would have made it worth it at the price. But I guess it’s better to save the money for better glass.

Meh
Meh

Here’s another shot from a different location.

Do you wanna see my rocks?
Do you wanna see my rocks?

The canyon is beautiful. It’s worth going to, although there are some more beautiful views on this trip.

I swing down to Flagstaff for the night off of a recommendation and grab a brew at both The Annex Cocktail Lounge and Hops on Birch. It’s nice to be at a bar on Friday during peak hours and pay $3-$6 for whatever craft beer you wanted. Everything is so much cheaper (or more fairly priced) than back in nyc.

I retreat to the hotel and grab some sleep. I have a long drive tomorrow that I did not think I would be making any time soon. Train crossings can occasionally cause a delay.

Kids were throwing rocks at the train
Kids were throwing rocks at the train

Sat 05/26

Not being able to make it to Antelope Canyon really opened up the schedule. I had planned on spending all day at the Grand Canyon today, but after seeing a couple incredible vantage points during really beautiful lighting, I think I’m happy enough to move on.

The goal is to get out to Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. It would truly be an unexpected and amazing experience if I can get out there on this trip. More on that later.

First up is Oljato-Monument Valley. It’s on the border of Arizona and Utah, and like with many things in this area, in and around the Navajo Nation.

Some more overexposing.

Meh part two
Meh part two

And some more point and clicking with some more typical colors.

Oh come on
Oh come on

And a classic wanderlust shot of the road of this area that you might have seen done a lot better someplace else.

Look at me, I'm roadtripping
Look at me, I’m roadtripping

Monument Valley is beautiful to drive through. But in this heat I’m not interested in poking around for any more hikes. I really want to get out to Mesa Verde.

And I do.

Mesa Verde National Park. I’m back in Colorado. One of my favorite places. Although this is south west Colorado. Seven hours from Denver or Phoenix. Six and a half from Salt Lake City. Eight forty from Vegas. Five from Albuquerque.

Unless you’re making an effort to get out here, or a random day opens up in your itinerary, I’m not sure you’re going to find it so easy to make it out here and back.

So why is Mesa Verde so special? You will see in a second. I remember I think a half dozen years ago seeing my first image of this park. When I saw it, I could not believe that this was in the States.

It seemed too old. Too foreign. Too beautiful. Too historic. Surely Google or where ever I saw the image was wrong. This couldn’t be in the US. This couldn’t be in Colorado. In some ways seeing that picture set me on a journey to see this place. To verify that is was in fact here.

The distance had always posed a logistical problem. Mesa Verde was something I wanted to see, but not directly go to. So the chance to make it out here in the middle of nowhere was a really awesome surprise.

The drive up the park is great. Like many of the parks out here it winds upwards and provides some gorgeous vistas. It’s important to look at green after you’ve been looking at red for so long.

Red to green
Red to green

And a better picture in black and white.

A bit better
A bit better

The burned trees create an ominous feeling as you get closer to one of the coolest things.

The history here is old. 7500 BC sort of old. Lots of different people have been in and out of the area since then. Some of the most notorious people in this area created some absolutely gorgeous cliff dwellings at the end of the 12th century.

Social and environmental instability and a series of droughts caused the area to be abandoned, with inhabitants moving to other local areas.

The story is a great one. The sight is something just as incredible. The place does exist. A place that to me looks and feels so foreign that it’s hard to accept it as American.

Sure, we do a terrible job at honoring Native Americans. The entire history of coming over and taking these lands was one of the true great tragedies of the world (there are many). But cave dwellings? Of this complexity and this beauty?

This is America
This is America

This is one of the coolest things that I never knew existed here. And I’m really happy I was able to make it out to see it.

I take some time to reflect on what I’ve experienced and swing out to Moab so that I’ll be ready to see Arches National Park in the morning.

There’s not a single room available in town for the night.

Looks like it might be a night in the car.

I head out to the Moab Brewery to grab a burger and a beer. The bartender asks if she can get anything else for me. I ask her if she knows of anywhere I can crash because there are no rooms available. She says she’ll check.

A girl to my right overhears. She’s done up a bit more than everyone else around here. Everyone else at the bar is in standard Western local/visiting national park casual clothing. She looks a little too good for this bar. Her makeup is done more than anyone else, and not in a bad way, it’s just that no one else is wearing as much.

We start talking. I work out in Times Square and live in Jersey City. She’s originally from Long Island. She’s down here from Salt Lake City, taking a break from work. She’s thinking about a transfer to Rutgers. She’s also roadtripping around for a week. This might be my only chance of not sleeping in the car.

Conversation goes well. She’s a brain surgeon. I think the brain is a frontier that we have not stepped very far into. I doubt we will ever be able to truly understand it. I ask her if she thinks we can ever fully understand it. She says probably within thirty or forty years. I appreciate the optimism.

We talk about science and art. I think science is a prerequisite of certain artistic exploration. I think art is a lot more important these days. Sure, it’s great to have the things that science can give to us. But if we didn’t have the beauty and inspiration of pictures or other art forms, I’m not sure if there would be much of a point.

Apparently there are no pain receptors in the brain. There are in the skull and the lining of the brain. But once you move passed that you are able to do as you wish and the patient will not feel pain.

When you’re operating on the brain trying to remove cancer, there’s a tradeoff to be made. You have to remove a large enough portion of the cancer, but there’s really not much of a distinction between the cancer and the brain. There’s no clear point of delineation. It overlaps and becomes a single object. If you remove too much the patient may not be able to function. If you don’t remove enough the cancer will still be there.

The way you operate is to first put the patient out, rip the skull open, and get to the brain. Then once this is done you wake the patient back up. Then begins a process of removing a bit of the cancer/brain, and asking the patient a series of questions. For example, you show them a picture of an umbrella and ask them what it is. You show them a simple math equation and ask them to solve it, etc. If they answer correctly and there is still more cancer left, then you slice off another piece and show the patient another card. You continue hopefully until the cancer is gone, but more often until the patient starts to fizzle out. They might struggle to tell you that the image in front of them is an apple. That’s when you stop. You can always remove the cancer. But can you leave behind a functional person? She says that’s an example of art in the science world. I’s probably agree.

Dinner wraps up. We say goodbyes. I ask if I can crash on her floor. She tells me she’s sleeping in her car tonight as well.

With that probably goes one of the better chances I have of not sleeping in the car. I retreat to the Camaro, drive over to a packed parking lot of a Super 8, pull the back seat down, and layout half in the trunk and half on the folded down row of backseats. I hope morning comes soon and I don’t get woken up by security or police.

Sun 05/27

Sleeping in a car is something I wondered if I would be doing on this trip. It was nice to go through a little character building experience, but to be honest I’m getting a little too old and bougie to continue enjoying such things. It’s great to be humbled, but it’s also great to sleep in a bed, and have a shower to start off your day.

The really good thing about this situation is that I wake up at about 5:15 AM. I swing out to a gas station to grab some food and drinks, use the bathroom, and brush my teeth. I wiped down my body the night before with one of those bath wipes that I picked up from REI. They are really amazing. One wipe is probably equivalent to 60-80% of a shower. To be able to have that in your pack is pure joy.

I hop back in the car and make the short trip into Arches. The sun is just coming up. The unfortune of not finding a room has allowed for some beautiful lighting, and an experience I would not have had if I would have woken up around 10 AM. There’s not even really any people in the park. It has worked out well.

Arches has some gorgeous red rock. It gives you those iconic Western scenes that you might expect.

Don't catch you slippin up
Don’t catch you slippin up

I take the hike out to Delicate Arch. It’s a nice little uphill hike. At the top there are some beautiful narrow paths along a cliff. Two steps to the left and all is over. The top near the arch has a beautiful view. It slopes downwards into a drop off. You have to be careful here.

I find a place on a rock and sit down in a crossed leg kind of basic yoga posture. Behind me is a sloping dropoff. In front of me and to my left is the arch, and to the right is a sloping dropoff. It looks like this.

Look what I'm whippin up
Look what I’m whippin up

I go through a sort of a flow. Sitting up straight. Lowering my shoulders. Relaxing my legs. Clearing out my mind. Palms up and open to whatever comes. I fade away from the people taking pictures.

It ends up being a great experience. I occasionally open my eyes and peak out to this beautiful view. There’s a bit of a strong wind that picks up. It almost feels like it can push me in either direction, down one of the slopes. At one point two tears well up and drip down my cheeks. I’m not so sure why. When you close your eyes and meditate the outcome is not so important. You don’t have to analyze and determine why. Just relax and let go. The takeaway for me is to just accept the good things in life.

After some time, I unwrap my legs. I come back to the beautiful world around me. Look around and soak up the view. And head back down the trail.

Tree
Tree

I get to the car and swing out to Devils Garden. There’s a longer seven-mile trail here, but I opt for one that’s an out and back that’s about two miles. It takes me out to Landscape Arch.

Yea
Yea

It’s a nice trail. Arches is a really cool park.

Flowers
Flowers

Since it’s so early I have enough time to make it out to Bryce Canyon National Park. As I’m leaving Arches there is a line of cars starting to form. I don’t mind driving during the blazing hot heat of the mid-day. Getting into parks earlier and later has provided some great lighting and has often meant low traffic.

The drives out here are sometimes as beautiful as the parks. There’s a rest area that comes up that I pull into to take a little nap. The Eagle Canyon rest area is just a pull off. The view from it is an example as to how beautiful and abundant the nature and scenery is out here. There might be ten people in the rest stop looking at this view.

Parking lot views
Parking lot views

I get to Bryce. It’s freezing here for some reason, so I grab my trusty down jacket and throw it on.

I make my way up and around the park. There are some good views of these orangish rock formations that extend upwards from the earth.

Bryce
Bryce

I end up taking some pictures for some couples at one of the overlooks. One couple is from San Fran but is looking to move out. One day they saw an unusual amount of NJ license plates in town. They made a decision that if the saw one more by the end of the day that they would move here. At the end of the night there was an NJ plate on a car blocking them from making a turn that they were trying to make. They played a game with fate, and hopefully they will follow through.

I rarely set up the tripod to take pictures of myself or have people take pictures of me. The couple asks if I want my picture taken and I say yes. It’s the only one I have from the trip. It’s not really framed all that well. Angling it down would have given a much better picture, but ho well. Hair is still growing and I have the beginnings of a travel beard going, yay.

Bryce with me
Bryce with me

After hanging in Bryce, I swing out to Las Vegas. The nature and the parks are going to be behind me. It was a fast sprint out to some amazing views. I really enjoyed the scenery and the hikes. Forgetting about the busy city life and connecting with myself and the world. But I’m ready for some busy city life.

I get to Vegas pretty early. It’s about 9 PM. There’s plenty of time to go do something fun. After the night in the car and the grind of the travel, I decide to just take it easy and grab some sleep in the hotel.

Mon 05/28 Las Vegas

I’m not completely certain I’ll be staying in Vegas for the night. I’ve been here before, and while it was fun, I don’t necessarily have to do it again. I’m not interested in the casinos, the shows, the strip clubs, the shops.

I want to look at art but I’m not sure I’ll be able to find too much out this way. I find out about a place called The Arts Center. It’s sitting in the middle of a cool area called the arts district that I would recommend poking around if you’re interested in something other than the expected Vegas experience.

It’s Memorial Day so I’m not sure if it’s going to be open but it is. About half of the artists are here. Bringing in pieces, setting things up. I talk to most of them and they are all very welcoming.

Photography of art can be a touchy subject. I don’t want to take any pictures of anyone’s work who isn’t there to allow me to. I personally think photography should always be allowed. Me taking pictures of your stuff and spreading the word just allows you a little bit more reach. Who really knows who’s going to come through here and potentially see your work from some art place out in New York City.

I take some pictures with permission. Mostly textures and colors.

Colors and textures
Colors and textures

This is a piece called Red Poppy Meadow by Raleigh French. He’s here hustling about the building.

This is a bad picture of a good painting
This is a bad picture of a good painting

And I get the okay to take a picture of a beautiful sink. It’s not an intentional art piece, but I think the mostly subconscious decisions that went into creating the colors and patterns that you see are beautiful. Good luck making something this beautiful with the conscious mind.

Mixed media
Mixed media

It was great looking at some of the pieces that I could get access to. It was awesome to be able to talk to the artists and pick up recommendations for what to do next. I figure this is the place to find out the right next direction. Although I’m not a local, I’m able to connect a bit from working in Times Square. There’s an understanding that I have with people from Vegas who understand the similar bizarro world that I live in. I leave behind a group of people putting in the work needed to build up a cool space and head out to check out more of the area. (also, what up Rob!)

Outside I start to hit my stride with pictures. I’m back looking at art and cityscapes. The inspiration to shoot is back in a way that was lacking in the parks. The parks were meant to be explored and enjoyed, not really photographed by me. But give me some art or give me a city and let me poke around.

Cadillac looking pretty dope.

Back on my grind
Back on my grind

And although this next picture might not look like anything special, the key is in the holes that run along the bottom third of the picture. It’s not great, but it’s not as bad as you think it is.

Some good things going on here
Some good things going on here

I love some of the muted tones and colors that are out here. I think this picture is awesome. I love the mix of textures and materials and patterns and colors.

I feel it's fadin
I feel it’s fadin

I swing over to Makers & Finders Coffee off of recommendation. It’s a great place to pick up a cup. They’ll make the coffee however you want. I end up getting a cup of drip. It’s nice not drinking pretentious coffee.

A girl to my left sees my camera and asks what I’ve been taking pictures of. People out this way seem to just talk to you. In nyc people generally leave you alone. Out this way people see you and get to chatting.

She’s originally from Philadelphia. She writes a lot on paper. She’s reevaluating and figuring things out. She used to take a lot of pictures, but she doesn’t any more. She, along with many other people, have recommended container park.

We finish our cups of coffee after a while. I ask if she wants to hang but she says she has errands to run. It’s strange. You can have really good conversation with people here and they don’t want anything to do with you. Just a chat and keep it moving. Who chooses to run errands on Memorial Day? Not me.

We part ways and I swing into some of the antique shops. Antique shops are actually pretty cool. You can find some really awesome quality things at very reasonable prices. For example, you can pick up some sick cups or glasses for the same price as you would pay for some lame stuff from a store. It’s fun strolling around. It reminds me of my childhood hunting around the shops with my pops looking for those hidden gems.

Stuff: the series that should be
Stuff: the series that should be

I also swing into Las Vegas Oddities. It’s a store that has all kinds of strange and cool things. It provides for some decent pictures.

Legs for days
Legs for days

Some of the stuff in here is rather wild.

Roar
Roar

Afterwards I swing out to container park.

Don’t swing out to container park.

I heard is was a bunch of shipping containers that have been converted into food trucks and little art shops and things like that. Sounds like a really cool place. But when you get there it’s been super commercialized and it’s targeted towards kids. It feels like Disney or something like that.

I swing out to check out Fremont street off of recommendation. I’m not sure if I missed it but I didn’t see anything particularly interesting out this way.

I swing over to Atomic Liquors. I was out here the last time I was in Vegas. I’m hoping to catch the Warriors vs Rockets game 7, but the only thing on is the Vegas Golden Knights Stanley cup game 1. It’s being played live down the street and there’s a bit of a buzz around the city for the game. Cheapest tickets to get in were $700. They end up winning the game. The bartenders pour out a couple complimentary shots throughout the game for the entire bar for anyone watching the game. The shots pair well with a glass of KBS.

After the games I book a hotel. I just want something to drop my stuff off. Somewhere in the downtown. I’m not feeling the strip this trip. I thought I might swing over to it and mess around with pictures. But I’ve rather enjoyed the time I’ve spent keeping it lowkey in Vegas.

My hotel ends up being a casino with a brewery. I wasn’t planning on betting but if I found myself at a roulette table I’d put a $100 on black. I’ve done this two or three times before. I’ve never won. I usually watch the wheel and wait until red shows up, and then I’ll bet the next spin. This time I don’t wait. There’s no reason to. If you’re going to throw your money away you may as well get it over with. The wheel spins. The ball is rolled. It ends up on black. That just paid for my entire day here in Vegas (the hotel was only $50). It’s the first time I’ve hit. We’ll see what happens the next time.

I go step outside to grab a picture of some lights in the Vegas night. It’s kind of obligatory to get a picture, and the lack of lighting out this way forces me to take a picture that I rather prefer to some of the other lit up Vegas shots you are accustomed to seeing.

All of the lights
All of the lights

I grab a burger and a beer and retreat to the hotel to pack up for the return home. The 22 liter and the small camera bag pack with ease.

Tue 05/29

I hop in the car one last time.

Back to the rental car drop off.

Back on the plane.

The flight is mostly uneventful. I spend the majority of it going through and editing all of these pictures.

It’s a mostly full flight minus the seat next to me. It was nice to have a little extra room.

The one thing that was cool to see on the flight was the Grand Canyon.

From the ground I think it is just ok. You can get a feeling for its size and stature.

But from this high up you really see how amazing it is. It’s enormous. And beautiful. And this is the way to see it.

This is really crazy
This is really crazy

So that’s about it. It was great to swing into this pocket of the country that I have been close to, but haven’t exactly gotten to.

The nature was phenomenal all over.

Vegas provided another couple beautiful gems off of the strip.

It’s nice to have a break from the concrete jungle.

But it’s also nice to be back.

Jersey City feels like my home now for sure.

And New York City still is just as captivating as when I left it.

I like this a lot

JC, NYC, Coney Island

I’ve been spending most of my free time messing around with the camera. Strolling around fairly locally, seeing what I could find.

Not much commentary, which has been a growing trend as the pictures have been taking precedence to the words.

These next few pictures are within walking distance to my place.

When I was younger I remember thinking about street poles and all the staples that were stuck in them. So many long forgotten messages about what to see or buy.

Childhood memories
Childhood memories

The Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery is nearby. It was abandoned in 2008, but a volunteer organization has been slowly repairing it back to a well kept condition.

Any cemetery with a weather beaten Lowrey is fine by me.

An instrument graveyard perhaps
An instrument graveyard perhaps

And of course every good cemetery needs a cemetery cat.

Cemetery cat
Cemetery cat

It’s somewhat hard to figure out what some of these graves might be. I’m not sure if this teddy bear signifies a child was buried here, but someone cared enough at some point to leave this here.

Just a weird thing
Just a weird thing

Apparently in the summer there are goats here that are used to control the weeds. I cannot confirm that is case as it’s only the spring.

There’s some pretty dope graffiti out on 13th street.

Pretty cool
Pretty cool

I love the pack of wild dogs running along the sidewalk.

Pack on the hunt
Pack on the hunt

Some nonsense.

Blah blah blah
Blah blah blah

Razor wire.

Different than I remember
Different than I remember

And here’s a picture of plastic in a tree that I think looks kind of nice. I don’t exactly love the picture but I think it’s cool how closely the material and the branches intertwine together, forming this almost angelic figure.

Trash tree
Trash tree

Walked out to Liberty State Park one day. There’s an abandoned rail station here. You can get to some parts of it, but other parts you can’t access.

You no go here
You no go here

Stuck behind the gates.

Bars
Bars

It’s a rather beautiful sight.

Would be nice to stroll about here
Would be nice to stroll about here

You can of course get some good shots of the skyline over here.

City
City

Back inside offers some symmetric shots that shoot themselves.

Station
Station

And anotha one.

Umm ok
Umm ok

I’ve also been strolling around New York a bunch taking pictures all over.

This next picture is the building next to Boston Consulting Group’s New York offices.

Forgotten words
Forgotten words

There is some pretty nice housing over looking the High Line.

Yup
Yup

Oculus? Why not. It’s one of my worst pics of it but I love this building.

So basic
So basic

Brookfield Place, also known as World Financial Center, is a pretty terrible shopping center.

Meh
Meh

St. Paul’s Chapel and One World Trade. Not the best picture but I’m including it anyway. At one point (back in 1766 when it was completed) St. Paul’s was the tallest building in New York City. Now it’s the building behind it.

Meh part 2
Meh part 2

The cemetery at St. Paul’s.

Proper
Proper

Down underneath the FDR Drive.

Colors are nice
Colors are nice

With views of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Bk
Bk

I don’t think this picture translated well, but guess what, I’m including it anyways.

Had potential
Had potential

I’ve been working out in Times Square for some time now and finally got around to taking some pictures of it. Initially I wanted to shoot it in a way that I thought might be original. To look for things that others might not see. To take unconventional shots of it.

That mostly didn’t happen. What happened was the interesting subject was the people there. The mix of tourists and locals.

I experimented with kind of more traditional “street photography.” With being a creeper and taking pictures of people without them knowing. It’s actually quite difficult to get the focus down at these distances. People walk through the frame in a fraction of a second. So you need to get the composure, focus, and subjects all together very quickly or the shot won’t come out that good.

I’ve never really taken pictures of people much. I kind of always thought there was a lot more interesting subjects. But from this venturing out I think it’s something I might do a bit more of, or incorporate into my shots a bit more.

I think the annoying thing about a lot of people photography is the subjects that are chosen. Often photographers will look for a subject that looks “different” from them. This often leads to shots that photographers think are interesting that are really just offensive. Just because someone looks different than you, it doesn’t make it interesting, or even mean they’re that different. You’re just kind of conveying your ignorance.

It’s like a street picture of a “homeless” person. It’s more offensive than it is interesting. Homeless people look all kinds of different ways. And the fact that you went for the poorer looking person that you probably didn’t spend any time talking to or trying to understand the situation is annoying.

Idk. Photographing people is also intrusive.

It’s not very comfortable for either side of the camera.

And there’s questions of its ethics if you use it for your career or to increase your publicity.

Maybe I’m overthinking it all. Maybe not.

I didn’t expect myself to really get into it, and I’m curious how long this interest will last for.

So, that was a lot of words. Time for a picture. I like this picture. I remember capturing the classic local New Yorker in this picture. I had no recollection of the touristy mother and daughter in the background. The Times Square backdrop provides an interesting blend of colors. To me this is an iconic picture of the area. I’m old man dread deep in existential thought, while the absurdity whirls on around me.

I like this a lot
I like this a lot

This next picture is more of what I had intended to capture. I wanted to take lots of pictures like this of Times Square, but I only really every captured this one. You probably can’t tell where this picture was taken. It’s of temporary fencing that the police sometimes setup. The chain adds a gorgeous stroke of detail.

Times Square
Times Square

There’s a lot of pictures taken of Times Square. All the time. Even in terrible rain and snow storms. But I think very few people look for something like this.

More people. I think this lady was just blinking as she walked past the camera. She’s probably not as in thought as the picture might suggest. I kind of dig the backgrounds on these images. They’re like Vice City/Las Vegas trippy druggy mixtures of what my commute often reminds me of.

Blip
Blip

And one more, why not. I come back to this spot a couple days later and end up taking some better pictures.

Meh part 3
Meh part 3

I’ve been wanting to go to the Guggenheim for some time. For a long while I’ve thought it was a terrible design for a building. I’ve always thought the angled floors would make most art be perceived in ways that the artist hadn’t intended. And not in a good way. In a, rectangular painting hanging on a wall that has a sloped ceiling and floor and just looks terrible, sort of a way.

I end up walking up the museum’s spiraling staircase (idk what to call it). The walk up doesn’t work well. You often have to turn completely in the opposite direction to view a photo or piece of art that is on the opposite side of one of the short walls that breaks up the sections of spiral.

The decision to include the girl in this picture comes from the recent street/person photography I’ve been messing around with. I think she adds some depths to the picture.

Basic part 2
Basic part 2

One of my favorite things in the museum is this hanging metallic piece. There’s a lot of hanging pieces here, but the simplicity of this one and the view looking straight up is pretty awesome.

This is good
This is good

There’s a collection of younger artists’ work here, some as young as four years old. I like to spend time looking at this stuff in the same lens as the rest of the professional work. I’m not sure you could tell this elephant mask was done by an amateur, but I think it’s cool.

Elephant mask
Elephant mask

Also cool are these little guys. They were thrown on the ground by a professional artist.

La la laaa
La la laaa

As I head up the museum and get more into the natural light it feels like a crescendo of light. The sense of anticipation for what is to come becomes exciting. Finally, the design of this building (and the ludicrous $25 ticket) might all be worth it. Art has to be free and available to everyone. And while the Guggenheim does have it’s Pay What you Wish for two hours a week, the other 99% (this is the actual number) of the week’s hours are either paid or the museum is closed.

When I get to the top nothing magical happens. I snap a picture near the top. The building is beautiful, but I’m not certain it should outshine the pieces of art it houses this much. To be honest I think it speaks more to the lack of quality of the work within the museum.

When the museum is nicer than the art
When the museum is nicer than the art

I end up walking down and swinging out. The walk down is nice as it’s all downhill and easy enough on the feet.

Apparently I didn’t do this museum as it was intended to be done. You’re supposed to take the elevator to the top and then walk down from there. I kind of disagree that that makes sense as you’re eliminating that opportunity for the beautiful play on the natural lighting.

Idk, the beautiful architecture of the museum disappointed as much as I thought it might from a practical purpose. But certainly Frank Lloyd Wright knows more about how to build buildings than I do. It’s ambitious, and pretty beautiful inside, but it’s just a pinch frustrating. I would hate to be a curator here, although it’s challenges are what could make for some interesting displays.

Back outside the museum, where the King of Pentacles decides to show up again. I don’t think it’s the card for me, but there it is.

King of Pentacles
King of Pentacles

I love the colors in both the wall and on the lock and chain. These two colors (although I suppose there’s a lot more than two colors here) are ones that you will not often find out in the real world. These colors are beautiful and go very well together. And here they are at the end of a subway. A makeshift setup in which I don’t think the colors were even intentionally chosen.

Props to whoever did this
Props to whoever did this

And some more of Times Square.

Back and better
Back and better

Black and white looks good too.

I kind of like this
I kind of like this

And then back again on another day. I’m starting to shoot this place too much. This is on the walk up Broadway, maybe around 39th if I’m to guess.

Design week (I think)
Design week (I think)

I kind of like the mix of yellows in this picture.

Yellow
Yellow

And a storefront that I kind of like.

Let it consume you
Let it consume you

Also was able to make it out to Coney Island. It was a rainy day but it made for some pretty good pictures. I also want to swing back here when the weather is nice and it’s the summer. I thought it would be a lot similar to Asbury, but it’s kind of more similar to Seaside Park.

This was a throwaway
This was a throwaway

I didn’t stroll around too much off the boardwalk, but a block or two inward seems a bit sketch. I don’t know if it was just the dreary day but there was trash everywhere. Weeds that were taller than me. Buildings crumbling. Cop cars nonstop patrolling. Housing prices seem fairly pricy from what I can tell, but that might just be because land is so limited out this way. I guess it’s just a microcosm of everything else. Everything is shiny in season when the sun is out and life is good. But there’s a lot more going on.

The white color of the sky is a lot more interesting than if this was the boring clear sky blue.

Reasonable
Reasonable

They were cleaning up the boardwalk of some tables.

Nineteen tables
Nineteen tables

The old Parachute Jump. Aka the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn.

Parachute jump
Parachute jump

A different view of it.

Sky was a beautiful color
Sky was a beautiful color

This is probably one of my favorite pictures of the group. It’s almost nauseatingly minimal and perhaps a bit Wes Andersonesque. The wind helped straighten the flag out just right. The red color is a gorgeous contrast for the muted greys, blues, and sands. I’m going to pretend the focus being on the beach is intentional. Having the flag be in the background of the image while at the same time being the obvious focal point is a kind of brilliant concept, but honestly I missed the focus. I don’t really know how I did outside of being lazy and putting too much faith in the camera, which normally is smart with its focus. I kind of prefer the picture better this way. The slight imperfections that we must learn to live with. I also love the desolation. The yearning. The desire for more. The simple beauty. How well a centered subject works here, when you’re taught to always put things on the thirds. No. I’m not doing that. I’m putting it right in the middle. The red catches your eye perfectly at where the edge of the world is. Look here. Look at me. Look at the vast emptiness. Except you don’t have to do that. Just look at me instead. Everything will be alright. We don’t have to contemplate the vastness right now.

Amazing
Amazing

I also like this next picture as well. It would be much worse with a blue sky and probably any more people. I love the whiteness of this. I love the dark contrast of the colors of everyone’s clothes. The almost annoying alteration of the lamp posts. I also maybe like the slight annoyance of me not lining this shot up. I feel like I’ve been so lazy with some of the little things with the camera. The lines the boardwalk makes should be a little more centered. But for now it’s an imperfection that I will learn to love. This picture reminds me of a similar looking one that I shot in Bali where the top and bottom thirds are whitespace, and the contrasting darker colors fill the middle third. It’s interesting how different the conditions where under which that was shot, but I’m curious if I can find more of these and put together a series of them.

Yea pretty good too
Yea pretty good too

More Coney Island.

La la laaa part 2
La la laaa part 2

This is why I thought Coney Island and Asbury were a bit similar. But really maybe it’s only in some of the older marketing.

Kind of thought it was Asburyesque
Kind of thought it was Asburyesque

I kind of like the background colors here.

Closed for the season
Closed for the season

Someone was braving the rain and wind to spend time reading.

There there
There there

And that’s about it. I’ve been jamming a lot of pictures lately and I don’t really think that will slow down too much.

Cheers.

Just wish this was a pinch clearer

Old and New

I guess this is an appropriate post for the day.

New Year’s is a time to both reflect on the past and look forward to the future.

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking about photography.

Initially it started with a desire to pick up some new gear.

After looking around I decided I wanted a mirrorless camera. The size and weight savings is important to me compared to the older DSLR technologies. The picture quality is just as good in most situations.

Surprisingly the leader in the mirrorless space is not Cannon or Nikon. It’s Sony. Cannon and Nikon fell asleep (they were arrogant and clueless) and Sony took over the market. I have no doubt that Cannon and Nikon will eventually make good mirrorless cameras, and people will stick around to support them because of the brand names and the amount of lenses available, but at the moment I am not buying any mirrorless bodies from them.

I initially thought I would want a full frame sensor. Bigger sensors generally lead to better pictures. But I decided to go with an APS-C sensor as in my opinion the difference between full frame and APS-C is negligible and the cost is significant.

If I want a bigger sensor I think the right move would be to go up to the medium format, but that’s not something I’m interested in at the moment from a creative perspective.

In the end you can talk about gear and specs forever, but it’s a lot more important to make a decision and get out to shooting.

I went back and forth and eventually picked up a Sony a6300 simply because I think it is going to allow me to take better pictures than any other camera (for myself personally). The lower cost of APS-C lenses and the money saved on the body allow me to pick up a couple lenses like the Sigma 30mm 1.4. I also have the Sony 16-50 kit lens and picked up the 55-210.

Almost everyone hates cheap kit lenses, but they are pretty versatile and useful. I shot many of the pictures on this site with my Pentax kit lens. That lens and the K-30 camera (which people also make fun of) taught me the basics of photography and allowed me to learn and grab some good shots.

Blah blah blah.

I debated selling my old gear but I might keep it around. The body won’t sell for much. And I don’t mind having my old zoom lens and macro lens. Both can be used on my current camera with a cheap adapter that I picked up.

I’ll post some pictures from the new gear later on.

But first, I decided to go through all of the older pictures that I took with my old gear.

I wanted to see what I was doing wrong. What I was doing right. What I overlooked. What I could have done better or worse.

I decided to grab some of these older pictures and edit them and present them here.

In my last post I said I took 10,000 pictures. But I was wrong. That number was somewhere over 20,000. Still not a lot, but closer to the amount that it felt like I took.

These pictures have not been included on this site yet. The intention is not to go through and make small changes or edits. But rather to look through all of the old pictures I had with a new mind and see if there was any interesting stuff that I did not previously post.

There were some pretty cool shots that I saw. Most of the more recent stuff is not included because I naturally feel those shots are shot and edited in a satisfactory way.

The first shot is one of the first that I ever took. It needs more room to breathe but I like the mood that the image portrays.

Mood lighting
Mood lighting

The next is shot from a plane as I was flying into Alaska. It was shot through a window that was overly blue saturated. I dialed that back a bit. I’m not happy with the colors here (it reminds me of the terrible coloring you see on a lot of instagram pictures), but it’s about as good as I can do.

You shouldn't like this coloring
You shouldn’t like this coloring

This next picture is one that I messed around with a while ago but was unable to make it work. It’s not as focused as I wanted it to be, but framing it this way allows it to be successful. I’m often torn with whether to make real life scenes that appear in black and white, to make them actually black and white. Usually it leads to a better image, but I think there is a beauty in keeping the natural colors. This image is a color image, although it portrays itself as a black and white.

Just wish this was a pinch clearer
Just wish this was a pinch clearer

Here is an interesting shot of some mountains and a glacier.

Glacier and mountains
Glacier and mountains

This next shot has amazing lighting. It was shot out in Colorado.

Lighting is great
Lighting is great

This next shot isn’t all that great. It’s of some steps shot out in Rome. It’s just ok.

Steps
Steps

These next two images are actually really cool looking. I was messing around with ISOs shooting a couple longer exposures one night out amongst the vineyards in Italy. The sun set late so you have this effect of a sunset and a starry night sky. The dandelions in the first picture give the grass a yellow color.

Really cool shot
Really cool shot

Surprised I missed these, but maybe I thought they were too similar to other pictures I posted.

Also cool
Also cool

This next picture is one from Casa Batllo out in Barcelona. I could see myself shooting something like this again current day.

Way too contrasted but I like it
Way too contrasted but I like it

This next shot is a mistake. But I really like it a lot. It looks pretty cool visually. But the cool part is that it’s a picture of the Eiffel Tower. It is common to see the typical pictures of the Eiffel Tower. But if someone showed me this picture I would like it. It’s not a common view of the Eiffel Tower. And I think maybe it’s more interesting than most pictures of it.

Better than most Eiffel Tower shots
Better than most Eiffel Tower shots

Here’s a picture of the Alps out in Switzerland. These things really just shoot themselves.

Nice rocks
Nice rocks

Redwoods out in Redwood National and State Parks.

Big trees
Big trees

A couple pictures from out in Chicago.

Alright
Alright

Should have posted at least one of these but never did for some reason.

Yea
Yea

And one from Milwaukee.

Yup
Yup

I took this out in Cambodia at Angkor Wat waiting for a lady to take a picture. She was taking forever to take her picture. I snapped an image of her out of frustration. To be honest it looked a lot better with her in the picture than with her out of it.

Better than the shot I was waiting for
Better than the shot I was waiting for

A shot out in Halong Bay in Vietnam of a cruise ship at night. I like to sometimes mess around with moving the camera during longer exposures although sometimes it’s looks cheesy or terrible.

Boat
Boat

Pancake Rocks out in New Zealand. It’s maybe my best picture of them although at first look through these pictures I didn’t think I really captured it.

Pancake Rocks
Pancake Rocks

And that’s about it. Those are a bunch of pictures from the past that I had initially overlooked. I think some of them came out rather well.

I noticed some patterns with some of the pictures that I had taken. I overexpose in bright light. I take a lot of pictures of oysters.

Overall it’s been a fun ride with my first DSLR. I’m excited for my time with the mirrorless to start. I’ve been messing around taking some pictures. The small size and weight means it’s been on me pretty much every day since I bought it.

Here’s some duck breast I cooked up. Was my first time cooking it and it was amazing. Also duck fat fried potatoes are a delicious side.

Kid knows how to cook
Kid knows how to cook

Here’s a box of white sage.

Kit lens yay
Kit lens yay

This next pic is a shot I shot messing around with connecting the camera to my phone. You can control the camera via your phone with an app. So for this picture I placed the camera down and activated the shutter with my phone. From there the photo is sent via Wi-Fi to my phone. I then edited my image on my phone with Adobe Lightroom. It’s not the best picture (it was probably 4 in the morning when I took this), but that is a very powerful workflow for someone if they have a need to quickly take, edit, and post their pictures to the internet.

Up super late
Up super late

And this final picture is a reason why I’m keeping my Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens.

Creamy bokeh
Creamy bokeh

So that’s it. Hopefully everyone is spending a bit of time reflecting on their pasts and looking forward to the future.

I hope every has had a great year and has an even better one coming up.

Washington monument

Washington DC

I’m back to looking for my next venture.

For the previous nine months I had been building software for the Action Button product for a company called Speakable.

I have always felt that that was one of the best opportunities for me in the entire world, based on my mix of talents and dreams.

I got paid to go in every day and try to come up with a business model to save the world.

I built a bunch of cool software and worked with some great people.

I poured my soul into the opportunity.

We had access at our company to pretty much anyone in the world.

And when I say that, I mean that.

Literally any single person on the planet that you need to directly contact, or any person at any company.

If we needed to pitch to anyone, we could do it.

If we needed a partnership, we could have it.

It was the type of opportunity that you have nothing to do but take extremely seriously.

And pour your life into.

In the end I didn’t end up saving the world.

I guess I didn’t come close.

But for a while it was a privilege to try to put 7 billion people onto my back and try to give them everything that needed.

I was exposed to a tremendous amount of issues. And while it was overwhelming to be in a position to try to help them all, it was a dream to be able to work on them.

Startups come and go.

I have no doubt that Speakable will be successful. There’s too much opportunity not to. And at the core of it is a beautiful soul.

So yea.

Moving on from a dream opportunity and back into reality.

There is probably a lot of questions to be answered.

A lot to be figured out.

What do I want to do with my life?

The typical things that I think we should always be contemplating and answering.

Who am I?

Etc.

Questions are good.

Answers are good.

And when you are at a point where you need some of either, hopefully you have a place to turn to.

For me I had the opportunity to hang in Washington DC.

And look at art for a week.

I was feeling getting away from the beautiful city that is New York, and although DC is a city, it is much smaller. And shorter. And different. And full of some great art.

And so I went.

Nov 10, 2017

How to get the DC?

I have to talk about this because of aggravation that arose when trying to book a train ticket on Amtrak.

I think if you book this trip well ahead of time you can get it for $98 round trip. As it gets closer to departure and for better times you probably will pay $186. I was looking to grab a ticket the night before not knowing they adjusted prices (like the airlines do) and was quoted almost $400.

This is for a form of transportation that takes 2:45 to 3:30, not including the trek out to Penn Station, and the arriving early as to not miss the train. So probably 3:45 to 4:30 of travel. And then an uber or a taxi when you get to DC, probably putting your door to door travel at 4:15 to 5:00. And you have to lug your luggage all over the place.

Other options were to book a plane ticket for $250 the night before. Yes, to fly in an airplane was cheaper than a train. And at 1:20 much faster. It would involve swinging out to one of the airports in the area, but a trek out to Newark is pretty close. You still have to wait in security, catch some form of transportation to the airport and then again from the DC airport to the hotel. This would again put your door to door at closer to 4:00.

Then there’s always good old driving. Can be as quick as 3:20, but probably closer to 4:20 with the traffic. At 440 miles roundtrip and an estimate of $0.50/mile for the cost of a vehicle would put you at $220. I love driving and I think I was in the mood for a drive and so that’s what I went with.

I think bus may be a decent option but I’m not hipster enough to look into the bus schedule.

It’s tilting that in an area of maximum public transportation that the best option in the States is almost always to drive.

Rant over.

When you finally get to DC, go to Old Ebbitt Grill. I’d say it’s the restaurant you think about when you think about DC.

Oysters are half off for happy hour. Alright, that’s the only food picture on this entire post.

Oysters at Old Ebbitt Grill
Oysters at Old Ebbitt Grill

When that’s over head back to the rooftop of your hotel that will have a fire pit that you can enjoy without any of the crowds because it’s cold out.

Hanging
Hanging

Enjoy a unicorn bar from Buttercream Bakeshop.

Mise
Mise

Nov 11, 2017

Wake up and get to why you are here. Mostly contemporary art with splashes of modern.

Phillips Collection is definitely going to be a stop.

There’s a basement here featuring art from much younger children. No one is looking at it. But there’s some cool stuff like this piece called Peaceful Serenity by Winfield Vanison. Not sure if this is the first time you been written about Winfield, but keep up the good work.

Get it
Get it

Swinging up features a nice piece by Whitfield Lovell called Kin XLV (Das Lied von der Erde) that was done in 2011. The incorporation of a string of pearls as tears to add subtle dimensionality of an otherwise two-dimensional piece is awesome.

Dope
Dope

There is a Renoir exhibit here. There’s a quote on one of the walls saying:

“Even if the enormous expenses I’m incurring prevent me from finishing my picture, it’s still a step forward; one must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one’s capacity.” Pierre-Auguste Renoir in a letter to Paul Berard 1880.

I don’t really like quotes because of the way they are represented in forms like Instagram, but I think that one is relatable.

Here’s the colors Renoir uses in his palette, or at least they were before I changed them in Lightroom.

One of the best things there
One of the best things there

I’m not exactly in a mood to look at Renoir, and I think this collection of color in these little bottles might be the nicest thing in the exhibit.

I’m not having a go at Renoir.

His stuff can even be pleasant to look at, but a lot of times for me lately I want to see things that are made more recently. There is always a place for the classics, but what are the innovations of today?

The other thing I like here is this tiny drawing called On the Shore of the Seine made in 1879. This quickly executed oil study was probably a gift from Renoir to Alphonsine Fournaise to thank her for modeling for him. There’s kind of something romantic about thanking someone for doing something as intimate as modeling for you with a piece of your creative self.

Renoir
Renoir

The next stop is the Hirshhorn Museum. It can be arrived at with a stroll through the National Mall. I’m not here to do all of the USA stuff, but if it’s on the way, may as well give it a look.

There’s a cool hippie gathering out here that at times features some great music.

And there’s a dragon. I think it leads to a pretty cool shot.

Dragons
Dragons

I was thinking that would be my favorite image of the Washington Monument.

But I think this image looking up from one of the corners is more pleasing. I’m a bit upset that I didn’t center this better when I was there shooting it, but the simple shapes, simple colors, and beautiful textures make it pretty awesome.

Washington monument
Washington monument

The Hirshhorn has some good stuff. It’s a cool circular building which might give curators issues with exhibits or limit the creativity of exhibits they are willing to display.

Here’s a picture of the horizon. I like minimal photographs like this.

Stuff like this is nice
Stuff like this is nice

Oh PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH THE ARTWORK.

Pls no touch
Pls no touch

Here’s some stuff.

Stuff
Stuff

And this dude is excellently done.

Bruh
Bruh

Afterwards you may want to check out City Tap House Penn Quarter. They have some decent beers including the Abraxas by Perennial Artisan Ales. It’s one of those beer styles with chili peppers, cacao nibs, vanilla beans, and cinnamon sticks that has been over done. I mean, this stuff isn’t exactly beer any more, but it is delicious.

Abraxas
Abraxas

Nov 12, 2017

Another day, another bunch of art.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has a great third floor (and probably other great floors as well but I wouldn’t know).

The Megatron/Matrix by Nam June Paik from 1995 features 215 monitors of various imagery. At times images are created outside of the monitors.

Melts your eyes
Melts your eyes

It’s a cool display.

Uh huh honey
Uh huh honey

This trip features a lot of cool screen format pieces.

Selfie time
Selfie time

Shout out to Coney Island.

Coney Island
Coney Island

There is a lot of over the top beautiful architecture in this city.

Some beautiful spaces
Some beautiful spaces

Trophies.

Trophies
Trophies

This piece if actually titled Cupcake Katy.

Katy and I
Katy and I

I’m digging lighting these days.

Merica
Merica

I love this piece because it reminds me of color palettes that you would see in a makeup store.

Black & White
Black & White

This piece is called Black & White by Byron Kim and Glenn Ligon from 1993. Black & White is a collaboration between Kim and Ligon, both of whom were struck by the limited pink-white range of “flesh-colored” paint available in the art store. In response, Kim, who is Korean American, painted sixteen panels of the pinkish flesh tones and Ligon, who is African American, painted sixteen panels using various black pigments.

A quick swing into the National Museum of Natural History to look at rocks. There are some good ones but it’s not as good as the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Rocks
Rocks

Back out to the Mall to take a picture in front of what I heard tourists say was “the White House, you know, the one with the big dome on the top.”

Mmm hmm
Mmm hmm

Dinner at Founding Farmers is a good option.

Back to City Tap House for some 2017 Bell’s Black Note Stout.

Black note stout
Black note stout

Nov 13, 2017

Another day, another day of art.

First to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. There’s a couple floors of nice pieces here. And the building is beautiful.

Get it
Get it

But I think for me the most emotional piece is an installation of The Clothesline Project by Monica Mayer. It’s about sexual harassment and violence. The project initially began in 1978 when Monica was 24 years old. When she was 8 years old a 30-year-old man grabbed her vagina as she was walking through her town. Her mother was only a few steps ahead of her. “I was shocked but I am even more shocked this is a common experience.”

The statistics on sexual harassment and violence are, I can only define as, disgusting. For both men and women. If you want to have a downer of a day go spend a little while looking into it.

I’ve been surrounded my whole life by some amazing women. My grandmas. My mom. My sisters. My past loves. They’ve had an enormous influence on how I see the world and how I operate within it. I couldn’t imagine doing anything to harm them. And I don’t want a world where they feel unsafe and bad things can happen to them.

It’s nice to see the momentum behind a lot of this work. 40 years after Monica started her work the world is slowly changing.

People are coming forward, standing up with extreme courage, and helping to show other’s that they are supported.

There are many things that we will always have to be striving for as a society, and to eliminate all forms or harassment and violence should be a priority.

I read through some of these cards that were hanging (the hot pink color comes from the 70s, and is not a cliche nod to women). Most are devastating. Some show optimism. There are many.

This is devastating
This is devastating

After reading through them all I turn to Monica. She’s there. I want to hug her and say thank you. But I feel tears in my eyes. I extend my hand for a handshake. Mouth thank you, and tap my heart with my hand. And walk out.

I wanted to tell her that her work is really important. That she’s helped to push the world forward. But she already knows.

I throw my jacket on, wipe the tears away, and head out for the next museum.

We need to change this
We need to change this

We have a responsibility with how we live our lives.

The National Gallery of Art East Building is up next. It’s a gorgeous building. Probably the nicest I was in on the trip.

Segue. Sigh. Yea, a giant fifteen-foot cock courtesy of Katharina Fritsch.

Ok
Ok

Sometimes I feel everything is driven by sex. Especially art. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But often there is a lot more, much more important things.

Excellent
Excellent

This soot drawing by Lee Bontecou is rather beautiful. While maybe most known for her sculptures, it’s nice to see how some of that experience and those ideas translate to a different medium. You can see in the painting that it wants to be three dimensional. And the soot provides just the slightest capability for that.

Colors and textures.

Colors textures
Colors textures

There’s this one doorway which almost looks like it could be off limits that has these high quality beads hanging. Strongly recommend you just spread the beads and feel them with the outsides of your hands. And listen to them clink and clack together. They make a beautiful sound, that repeats over and over as the energy fades and they reassume their stillness.

Yea
Yea

Through the beads are a couple more pieces by our buddies Kim and Ligon, that we saw work from previously. Kim’s Synecdoche is an ever changing piece of work that includes skin tones and a list of the people that he matched them to. I think there is over 500 now in this piece. There are a lot. From time to time I’m pretty sure he comes in and changes the exhibit, adding, removing panels.

Skin tones
Skin tones

One of the coolest things in the museum is a video called Street by James Nares. It’s a collection of slow motion clips of every day life in New York City. The ability to slow down the city and afford the viewer enough time to start breaking down what would normally be incredibly fast paced scenes almost feels like a magic power. Walking in New York you don’t have time to look at the beautiful fast paced world that surrounds you. At this slow motion speed, you see the magic. You see expressions on people. For a moment you are able to see a person as more than a body, and just slightly glimpse their deep complexity and importance.

Streets of NYC
Streets of NYC

It’s a 61 minute that was created with only 2:40 of actual footage. It’s really a hybrid of video and photography.

I often wish some of the video that was available in museums were available online. Maybe it would diminish the presentation. But some of this stuff is just so gorgeous. It needs to be accessible to the world.

This is maybe the best I can do for you. It’s a lecture by Nares about the piece. You can fast forward through the lecture to see some great examples of the piece.

Ok, that’s enough art for the day. Time to swing out to ChurchKey, a good beer place out in the Logan Circle area. Here’s a beer called Fernet About It that unfortunately doesn’t taste like Fernet Branca.

Fernet about it
Fernet about it

There’s a Whole Foods Market nearby that has a good selection of bottled beer. They have some pretty good stuff here and I pick up a Deschutes Abyss.

Dinner for the night comes from Chercher Ethiopian Restaurant. They have some awesome injera.

Nov 14, 2017

Alrighty, one final day of art.

First up the Renwick Gallery. It’s a small museum. But there are some really cool quality pieces in here.

Probably doesn't look like this irl
Probably doesn’t look like this irl

Some of these have been pretty heavily edited by me, but that’s the fun of it.

This either
This either

Some awesome woodwork here.

Wood work
Wood work

This is one of my favorite pieces. It’s just gorgeously done.

Man this is good
Man this is good

And this ended up being my 9,999th picture I took with my camera. Picture 10,000 is a similar one but of a different less pleasing angle. Seems like 10,000 pictures is a fair amount for how much I want to and do end up shooting. There’s probably been a decent shot or two in here somewhere along the way.

Taking care of business
Taking care of business

This ceiling installation is in a large empty room that has a couple comfortable seats that you can relax on.

Starship
Starship

Next up is the Art Museum of the Americas. It’s the smallest of museums I went to. There are a couple nice photographs but it’s really small.

Afterwards it’s time for some Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken.

Nov 15, 2017

The drive home is mostly uneventful.

That will be enough art for the moment. It was fun to swing down to DC and check out the museums. It’s great because most of the museums are free and you can choose to donate whatever you want.

This is a contrast to the stuff up in New York where stuff typically can cost between $40-$60 per museum.

So that’s about it.

Go out and explore.

Love.

Dope picture

Montreal, Quebec City, Burlington, Boston

Been jamming some travel recently, which is nice since I haven’t been in the mood much since my trip around the world. It’s nice that the excitement of the road is slowly stirring my soul once again.

I’ve also been venturing about New York City as often as I can since it only takes a couple minutes to get there and it’s only $5.50 round trip on the PATH (or $4.20 with the 10+ Trip SmartLink cards)

June 30: Montreal

Swung up to Montreal on a fairly uneventful car ride. Was pulled over for a going 75 in a 55 on the Taconic in Chatham, NY. I saw the cop but I didn’t really feel like slamming on the brakes because I was just doing the same speed as everyone else.

He pulls out behind me and throws the lights on. I look for a place to pull over and I can’t seem to find one. I have to slow down to a very slow speed on a two-way highway where people are driving at 75 miles an hour. There’s no shoulder. I slowly drive over the curb and onto the grass, still partially sticking out into the road. It’s unsafe and I end up scratching my bumper pretty badly in the process. The officer was nice. He tells me my PBA card is useless and writes me a 4-point ticket. He asked me if I had any questions. I say no and wish him a good day. He’s just doing what he’s told.

I hate speed limits. I hate speeding tickets. I hate everything that has to do with holding the world back from being efficient. It’s sad that we waste so much capital on enforcing systems that are designed to slow our progress. And it’s pathetic that the State of New York had to go through such measures to rob me. It’s the only speeding ticket I have ever got in my entire life. I think back to my time on the Autobahn and I quote it here because it makes me happy:

“Driving on the Autobahn is incredible… I’ve been cruising on the Autobahn between 90-100 mph, not pushing my little Opel past that. Even at that speed cars are passing me. It’s a beautiful thing.” – me

I’m sorry for quoting myself. I wasn’t originally planning on writing much here. I’ve lately been pretty disinterested in words. I was tempted to just throw some pictures up, but so far the words are flowing.

Pause.

That was the original direction for this post three months ago. The standard rambling that I do accompanied with some pictures.

But things have changed quite a bit since then.

I’m not quite so sure how to finish this.

There are pictures that I want to post, but time has passed since they have been taken.

Back when I was deeply in love with someone who now won’t talk to me.

But so it goes in life and love.

There’s no closure.

You give your heart to someone and when things don’t work out there’s this weird thing you enter into.

Where you no longer talk.

And you no longer exist.

Because to do otherwise would be too logical and too painful.

And humans are emotional and love comfort above almost everything else.

You can take everything away from a person as long as you leave them comfortable.

Am I sad? I hope so. Sad just means you had something great.

There are a lot of opinions and a lot of feelings and a lot of things that I’m not sure I can entertain.

I followed my heart to this point in life and will continue to do so.

It’s the only way that I think is right.

At the expense of everything.

My heart guides me.

And so it will be.

So what about Montreal?

I could barely tell you.

Let’s have a look at the pictures.

Notre Dame at night
Notre Dame at night

The Notre Dame.

It’s a beautiful building. But at night it’s quite a site. Montreal does an amazing job with its lighting at night, and the Notre Dame is just one example.

Another is the BMO Bank of Montreal right across the street. If you were to spin the tripod around and shoot a picture, this is what you would see. Sure it’s just a bank, but on a night in Montreal it’s electric.

Montreal lights
Montreal lights

You may notice a lit up area above the bank. At several locations in old Montreal they play movies on the walls of buildings. The world is your theater.

There are some great bars and restaurants in old Montreal. And although it’s probably too touristy you should check it out.

Midnight passes and it’s Canada’s 150th birthday. Love to you. And love to all of Montreal which is celebrating it’s 375th year at the same time.

July 1: Montreal

I went to St-Viateur Bagel because I saw Anthony Bourdain do it. And if there’s one person set up to be as iconic to this time period as Ginsberg, Burroughs, and Kerouac were to the Beat Generation, it’s him. I’m sorry if that’s dismal but I just don’t see anyone else fitting the role better than him.

Bagels out this way
Bagels out this way

They don’t make bagel sandwiches there. You buy bagels, cream cheese, capers, and lox and make the bagel yourself. Thinking back I guess they even showed this in the show.

Back to the Notre Dame. It’s raining. It’s been raining.

Actually before we get to the Notre Dame I have to share a song I heard while I was waiting in the line to cross the border into Canada. It’s Trucs Styles by Bengale. There’s a lot of great music out this way, even on the old radio. I strongly recommend giving a listen to the radio out here if you’re road tripping through. Shout out to all the musicians out that way making great music that will never be heard by anyone.

Carrying on. Back into the gloomy clouds and rain. I was in Notre Dame about a decade earlier.

Actually. Let’s go back to before the border. Somewhere halfway through the middle of New York. Listening to some obscure radio station. Where I heard Wasted Days by Cloud Nothings. Props to you if you make it through the nine-minute track.

Ok. Take me to church. The Notre Dame is as amazing today as it was a decade ago. The colors and the lighting in this place is amazing. It’s almost completely cut out of wood.

Stuff is just beautiful
Stuff is just beautiful

It looks like a Disney princess castle or something.

Places of worship are too nice not to stop into.

Looking straight up
Looking straight up

Fleur-de-lis is a recurring symbol in my life.

Flower of the lily
Flower of the lily

Candles.

Candles
Candles

Carvings and paint and light. Ultra on point. This stuff is easy to shoot.

Just awesome lighting
Just awesome lighting

After you see enough of this stuff head across the street to a place that sells tea.

Rocks and tea
Rocks and tea

And stroll the streets of old Montreal. I must admit not much of it looks this beautiful. It’s all covered with restaurants and tourist traps. But still, it’s nice and you should go.

Pretty happy with this shot
Pretty happy with this shot

On the way to Quebec City try going to Joe Beef because you saw Bourdain eat there too.

Drive through the fireworks.

But since you won’t be able to get a table, try sister restaurant Liverpool House.

And since you won’t be able to get into that either go to cousin restaurant Le Vin Papillon.

Ask the bar tender to bring you a tasting a their food because you trust his judgment and prepare to enjoy mostly vegetables that leave you shaking you head in anger that the glutinous Joe Beef had no open tables. Even ending the meal with a lobster won’t bring solace.

Drive to Quebec City.

July 2: Quebec City

At some point stroll over to good old Rue du Petit Champlain. Try to score a table at Le Lapin Saute. It’s a place I tried to eat at when I was last here but there were no available seats that night. Sure it’s the most touristy street ever but you can find good food here. Order the duck and rabbit platter. It has duck and rabbit prepared a whole bunch of ways, but the foie gras and rabbit rillettes are probably the best.

Feast
Feast

Seriously this street is packed with tourists in the summer. It’s a very different vibe from the freezing cold winter were it is only filled with locals.

Different seasons
Different seasons

Head up to the castle, or the Chateau Frontenac. You can get here via the funicular, which is a nice way to get up and down the hills. Go grab a drink at the bar. If you see the most beautiful drink being made I don’t recommend ordering one of those. It’s a gin and tonic.

Shout out to the Dali elephant
Shout out to the Dali elephant

Sigh. I’m talking too much. I didn’t think this would be the case but while the words flow…

Google best restaurants in Quebec City and go there. You might not have the chance to do this again. So you better do it right. The choice is Le Saint-Amour. It’s old school. Like really old school. But it’s French and it’s Quebec City and old French is perfect for the occasion.

I wanted to do a tasting menu but it doesn’t feel right.

So instead it’s foie gras five ways. Including foie gras creme brulee. You know. Creme brulee is a desert for old people. But I like it. And when it’s made of foie it couldn’t be better.

Life sometimes
Life sometimes

Also elk carpaccio.

Entrees are sea scallops and pork belly. And sweetbreads and shrimp. If you’ve never had sweetbreads you have to try them. They are one of life’s great luxuries.

Not sure where the sherry is but oh well.

On the way out you should probably take the car that valet offers to you. Just drive the thing down to hill and ditch when you get to the hotel. It’s about to pour in a couple minutes.

But of course you can’t steal someone’s car, even if it’s just for a drive down a hill. So decline and tell them it’s not your car. And walk. Out into the downpour.

Take cover in a touristy Italian restaurant where Budweiser is an import but you order it because America.

On the way back stroll down the winding roads messing about with the camera. Shoot some fire pictures.

Dope picture
Dope picture

And if you happen to be experiencing the world with the most beautiful woman you have ever seen in your life then make sure you work the camera as best as you can.

I need a one dance
I need a one dance

July 3: Burlington, VT

Wake up.

Have some more French food.

Shoot some more pictures.

Pics
Pics

Check out of old Quebec City and make your way out to Burlington, VT.

Stroll about the streets a bit of this heavenly place.

Go to The Farmhouse Tap & Grill because it’s the best. Grab some raw bar and some meat and cheese and some delicious beers. Listen to some hippie bros play some strings and sing some words.

Swing down to the water to check out the fireworks.

All I see is fireworks
All I see is fireworks

Then hop back in the car and drive all the way home in the middle of the night.

Sleep.

July 4: Tarrytown, NY

Sleep some more.

Then catch the fireworks one final time.

Every night it's fireworks
Every night it’s fireworks

To complicate this even more I decided to write up that trip before I started the writeup for an earlier trip. So here’s that. It will be quick.

June 8: Cambridge, MA

Drive to Cambridge, MA. Why Cambridge? Because there’s an opportunity to work out this way.

Go to sleep because tomorrow starts early.

June 9: Boston, MA

Spend the day working and interviewing. Asking for piles of money so big that everyone involved in the situation is uncomfortable. That’s how it has to be done sometimes. Companies with a market cap in the hundreds of billions can afford it.

Then swing out to the heart of Boston.

Shoot some pictures.

Smile because all is well. Or maybe it’s not but you’re happy.

Smile
Smile

Check out the old sites. The Old North Church. The Paul Revere House. All of that stuff.

Prescott was the real og though
Prescott was the real og though

Stroll around the streets and shoot some more pictures.

Streets of Boston
Streets of Boston

You’re in Boston.

La la la la la
La la la la la

Grab some food at Neptune Oyster. They have a great scallop crudo. It was the best thing I had on the trip.

Scallop
Scallop

And there was some pretty good food. Like obligatory hot and cold lobster rolls. Oh and that hookup on that glass of sherry.

Eating well out here
Eating well out here

Afterwards stroll all around the city. Stroll around the wharf. Check out where they threw the tea into the water.

There’s great beer in this city. Stroll through Back Bay making your way back to the Fenway area. Stop into places and grab a pint at each one.

It might be packed because it’s commencement time.

It’s a different vibe from the day activities back in Cambridge. Where the mood was almost solemn. Because sometimes smart people don’t know how to party.

June 10: Boston, MA

Spend the morning grabbing another lobster roll. Take a bunch of pictures.

Then cut the trip short, swing back home, and make it home in time for a surprise birthday party.

So takeaways? I don’t really think there are any. There’s no closure in life (I think there might be). Let your heart guide you. Life. I have nothing but good things to say about the times where my heart directed me. Try to learn. Try to better yourself. The entire world is open to you. Love. Love always. Above everything thing go for love.

Miss you grams

Southeast Asia: Sound Clips

Before I left for my last trip, one of my buddies asked me to do one thing for him. He asked me to listen to the sounds around me and use my phone to record anything that sounded different. It was one small thing that opened up an entire channel to my travel experience that I might not have been able to enjoy otherwise. I strongly recommend using your ears more during travel as well as your life. What are all those noises and sounds that are going on around you? What sounds good? What sounds bad? What can you learn about a place from your ears? It’s been a long time since I was dialed into my listening like I was on that trip. The following 11 recordings are what stood out to me on the trip.

Warning: These sound clips are pretty bad quality as they have been recorded on a phone. The purpose of these clips isn’t to show you amazing audio or provide sound clips for your music mixes (sorry J!). Rather, they are here as short examples of things that I heard. Everyone shows people pictures of their trips, but what did those areas sound like?

1. Rap song in taxi leaving hotel for Yangon airport – Aug 07, 2016

This was recorded after my first night on the trip in Yangon, Myanmar. The electricity of the trip was in the air. I was halfway around the world. Immersed in a totally new place and culture. Visions of the golden temples I saw the night before were dancing across my mind. The tastes of my breakfast of mohinga and chicken puff pastries were still making my taste buds fire. I was in the back of a taxi heading to the airport to catch a flight out to the Inle Lake area of Myanmar. It’s not the best song and you can barely hear it on the recording, but it’s a song that probably will stick around in my memory. Bonus points to anyone if you can figure out what the song is. At some point I plan to listen to the entirety of Myanmar hip-hop in hopes of finding out what song this is.

2. Beer and a bite – Aug 07, 2016

This was the second night at a restaurant in the Inle Lake area called One Owl Grill. It was mostly full of backpackers. I rode to this place on a bike that my hotel let me borrow. It was one of the only times I’ve been on a bike in the last 15 years.

This clip is mostly the background noise I was listening to as I had a couple bites to eat and drank a beer. When Forever Young came on it was an extremely cliche moment, but I had to record it. It was as though life was a movie and this was the soundtrack that the director had stupidly chosen for the scene. A couple beers made the bike ride back to the hotel in the dark a bit more difficult, but also a bit faster. And a bunch more fun. I was halfway around the world speeding through the darkness in a country I barely knew existed. I was free and I was alive.

3. Inle Lake Buddhist temple – Aug 08, 2016

This was recorded at a Buddhist temple on Inle Lake. Religion is definitely a big part of culture out in Southeast Asia. It’s not uncommon to hear people chanting over loudspeakers if you’re at a temple. You have to take a boat ride to get out to this temple. The loudspeakers reach all parts of this little temple island.

4. Group of Buddhists, Wat Pho, Bangkok – Aug 11, 2016

This was a whole group of people singing a Buddhist song at Wat Pho in Bangkok. It was a similar sound that you might hear at a church service back in the States. The worshipers would sing a song along with a religious leader who was leading the chant.

5. Buddhist chanting Angkor Wat entrance – Aug 14, 2016

This was a group of three (I think) Buddhists chanting outside of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I liked the way their voices sometimes sung in unison and sometimes dropped out so only one person was singing at a time. This sounded really cool live. It is captured a bit in this sound clip but lacks from the real experience.

6. Band outside Ta Prohm – Aug 14, 2016

This recording comes from a band that was sitting down and playing instruments on the walk to Ta Prohm in Cambodia. I absolutely love the sound of the ching in this song. The ching is that little metal instrument in front of the guy all the way to the right. It’s about the size of half of a baseball. I love when the ching drops out of the song because during that moment the band member is gesturing to the CDs he has for sale so he doesn’t hit the ching every beat he is supposed to.

Ching!
Ching!

7. Chant, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia – Aug 20, 2016

This chant never recorded. Not sure what happened here. It sounded plenty loud enough at the museum and I tried a couple times but I could not capture this sound. I assume it’s just a typical Islamic prayer chant.

8. Sydney contemporary museum singer – Aug 25, 2016

This is from Lee Mingwei’s piece called Sonic Blossom, which is featured at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

I was walking around the museum and I heard this beautiful powerful singing voice. I questioned whether it was a live voice or a recording. It had to be live. The acoustics were too perfect. The voice was gorgeous. It distracted me from what I was looking at and I thought to myself that I had to find that voice. But later. I would search for it after I finished looking at a couple more pieces. After a few minutes the voice was gone. I walked into the room that I thought it came from. But there was no voice to be found. No singer. It was gone. I ventured off to other parts of the museum.

Eventually I returned to the room. Still no singing. I posted up in a room next to it. I needed a break, as my back was hurting from the grind of carrying my pack from the last couple weeks. I hopped on the wifi to get some information about my next location and send some messages out to people back home. After maybe twenty minutes the voice had returned. It was so beautiful. I knew for certain it was coming from the room next to me. I stood up and walked into the room to see an artist singing a song to someone who was seated in a chair.

Sonic Blossom
Sonic Blossom

The entire piece was pretty magical to experience. The artist explains it in the following link.

Lee Mingwei’s Sonic Blossom

For those who didn’t feel like clicking the link the piece basically works by offering a guest of the museum the gift of music. If the visitor accepts then the singer walks the visitor to this room and sits them in a chair. The singer then walks several feet away and performs one of five lieders by Franz Schubert directly to the visitor who is sitting in the chair. It’s probably very powerful to be one of the museum guests chosen for this experience, as just being a bystander left a deep impression on me.

9. Australia vs New Zealand rugby outside of Queenstown – Aug 27, 2016

I was driving in my car outside of Queenstown, New Zealand with the radio on. I often like listening to the radio on road trips to see if I can pick up any new sounds. Many times when you are traveling you pick up the same music that we have back in the states. Occasionally you pick up some local sounds that capture your attention.

This is a sound clip of just before halftime in a rugby game between Australia and New Zealand. It was the second of six rounds of the 2016 Rugby Championship. A week earlier New Zealand crushed Australia 42-8 in round 1, but this rematch was a bit closer at 29-9. Although it didn’t fit into my schedule, it sounds like this would have been a great game to go to. New Zealand is the best rugby team in the world and Australia often ranks as the second best team. So if there’s any rugby game you want to see it’s probably something like this.

The passion of the announcers is great. These guys were a blast to listen to. They were so into the game. It reminded me of listening to an important soccer game back home with a Mexican announcer.

10. Auckland museum hill recording #1 – Sep 01, 2016
11. Auckland museum hill recording #2 – Sep 01, 2016

These two recordings come from Auckland Art Gallery in New Zealand. They are from a piece by Shannon Te Ao called “Two shoots that stretch far out”.

He actually won the Walters Prize (New Zealand’s highest contemporary award) for this piece. At the time I saw this piece he was only a finalist for the award.

Shannon Te Ao wins Walters Prize

The audio clip is part of a video. You really need to see the two together. The video contains various farm animals along with Shannon Te Ao. During the video he is shown reciting the poems. You can see a little bit of the video here, but I can’t find the full video anywhere. It’s definitely worth a watch if you can find it.

Just a glimpse of the brilliant video

The following label explains the piece in detail.

Shannon Te Ao
Shannon Te Ao

Here’s the first recording.

And here is a second recording. It is similar but different.

So that’s it for sounds that stuck out to me on my trip. There were some other sounds that sounded interesting that I just wasn’t able to capture due to the limitations of my phone (forest sounds, etc.).

I’m not sure if only having eleven clips shows that I wasn’t listening enough or if I didn’t come across many interesting sounds. Regardless, I’m happy that I had this extra channel open to me that I might not have had open to me otherwise. I can’t tell you what Norway or San Francisco sound like because I wasn’t listening to them as intently as I was to the locations on this trip. Using my ears more helped to give me a better understanding into the pulse of some of the places that I visited. I always try to see if I can identify places I’ve been to when I see pictures of them. Maybe now I’ll try doing the same with sound.

~~~~~~~~~~

This new year starts off on a sad note with the passing of my grams. I’m going to miss her. I used to love listening to her tell stories about her travels around the world. The mystery and allure of a place like Morocco seemed like a million miles away to me as a little boy. Hearing how Israel was a beautiful country with the nicest people. Or about about breakfasts and delicious cups of coffee at outdoor cafes in Rome. Thanks for inspiring me with your travel stories and for the infinite amount of love you’ve given to me and to the world.

Aww little hobbit cheeses

A bit more New Zealand

Aug 31, 2016

The plan for today was to check out the Hobbiton movie set that was used in the hobbit and the lord of the rings movies. It’s a bit cheesy and I’m not normally into doing something this cheesy, but I love the books and the movies. It was a lot better than I thought it would be for sure.

The area around it is beautiful. Within an hour or two hours radius you see glimpses of similar sites. The rolling hills are what inspired Peter Jackson to eventually choose the site.

Rather beautiful farms
Rather beautiful farms

Most of the hobbit holes are empty inside, like this one. The interior shots were filmed at a different location. It’s still cool to be in one of them though.

My own little hobbit hole
My own little hobbit hole

The set is pretty large. There are over 50 hobbit holes. The green dragon bar is here. As well as the lawn used for Bilbo’s party.

Pretty cool set
Pretty cool set

One of the major problems on the set was the construction of Bag End. In the books there is an oak tree on it. No big deal. Go into the forest and chop a tree into 21 pieces. Then reassemble on site. That’s great for the lord of the rings movies, which were shot first.

But then they decided to make the hobbit movies. Since the hobbit takes place sixty years early the tree had to be sixty years younger. So the film crew needed a tree that looked exactly the same but was much smaller. They couldn’t find one. So they made one. Yup. This tree is not a real tree. Not even a cut up and reassembled one. It’s entirely fake. Foam covered in real bark. The 200,000 fake leaves are all individually wired to the tree limbs. I’m not joking. This tree is not real. You can zoom in on it a bit by clicking on it. It’s unbelievable.

This tree is not real
This tree is not real

But seriously how cool is bag end in real life. I mean, it’s a movie set. And hobbiton is a fictional place. And new zealanders hate people that think the places from the lord of the rings actually exist in real life in their country, but with stuff like this it’s hard not to believe.

Absolutely incredible
Absolutely incredible

Bag end is dope. Also, that’s a fake tree. I still can’t believe it.

Bag end
Bag end

The tour guide said you could push this door open, but I was scoping out the scene thinking she would still yell at me.

She said I could open it!
She said I could open it!

Some of the hobbit holes have things inside like these aging cheeses, but most of them are empty.

Aww little hobbit cheeses
Aww little hobbit cheeses

Sam’s house. So cool. He wasn’t home though.

Sam's house
Sam’s house

And you can grab a pint or two at the Green Dragon. The pub is super cosy and comfortable. I would like to spend more than twenty minutes here.

Pint at the Green Dragon
Pint at the Green Dragon

After hobbiton I swung out to see Cathedral Cove off of recommendation from the last hotel I stayed in. The hotel worker said Auckland was just another city and I could skip it. Thankfully I disagreed, as I thought Auckland was pretty cool. But before I get to Auckland, here’s some more nature. The view is great from up here. It’s interesting that some of these rocks you can see from here are almost identical to the ones from Halong Bay in Vietnam. The Halong Bay rocks are just more frequent and covered in more bush.

Nice views up here
Nice views up here

Then it’s a 45-minute hike down to the cathedral cove area. Although it’s getting dark I beasted the hike to make it down and up before it got too dark. The beach is pretty nice.

This is a nice beach
This is a nice beach

The water is surprisingly beautiful over here. The opening in the rock is pretty cool too.

Nice water too
Nice water too

It’s a good place to take your selfie game to the next level. I’m a fan of this next shot. Just love most things going on in it. The textures are pretty sweet. I love the balance. It’s not a typical beautiful colored shot you will see from this spot, but I think that’s what makes it even better. My pose and posture makes me look rather creepy and like an alien. I actually think I scared a couple away while shooting this picture. Because it was late in the day the beach cleared out and I had the cove to myself. So I was taking my time with my hoodie up getting some shots. A couple turned the corner, saw me as some scary dude, and I think they booked it out of there ha. Sorry guys, I was just messing about with my selfie game.

Alien af though
Alien af though

Afterwards I had plans on staying in Coromandel. The gps threw me on some absurd practically single lane gravel road that climbed up and down a mountain to get there. When I did finally arrive at nighttime the town was dead. And not because it was late. It was 7:30 PM. Or 7:34 PM when I pulled up to the gas station to get gas. As I do the attendant who I can see from my car shuts the lights off and locks the door to the station. His place closes promptly at 7:30 PM apparently, and he won’t let me get gas. I’m a bit annoyed as gas stations are far apart here so this could be a big deal for someone who really needed the gas. But it’s no worries as I have plenty left in the tank.

I leave there in search of a warm meal, which I can’t find. I search for a hotel with an open lobby, which I also can’t find. Since there seems to be nothing for me here I decide to just head out to Auckland. I get to my hotel there and grab some sleep.

Sep 01, 2016

Finally back in a city. It will be nice to grab some food that doesn’t come from a gas station, convenient store, or fast food joint. First up are some steamed dumplings and a tea. I might be a bit far away from Asia, but I’m not all that far. There are a lot of places selling food like this and it all looks great. These dumplings were fantastic and make me sad that I won’t be getting this stuff back home.

Even in New Zealand it's delicious
Even in New Zealand it’s delicious

Back in the city also means it’s time for art again. I head to the museum to check it out. Some of the best stuff is the stuff that isn’t even exhibits. This spiral staircase was rather nice. It wasn’t even in use. Just in a corner and sealed off. I’ve always noticed a lot of little gems in dark museum corners and noticed that art buildings themselves are understandably beautiful.

Some of the best stuff isn't on the walls
Some of the best stuff isn’t on the walls

I thought this was a cool piece. It’s 120 individual displays of various things like buttons, spoons, and thread all assembled into one large piece.

Thought this was cool
Thought this was cool

This hallway is just fantastic. I didn’t particularly love any works in it, but the statue at the end is just framed so perfectly by this hallway and this view.

I loved this hallway
I loved this hallway

I was trying to get a good selfie in the reflection and this was about as good as I could grab. You could ignore the selfie part if you like. It’s mostly a failed picture.

Self portrait
Self portrait

These rainbow bejeweled pop rocks were pretty fun.

Pretty fun
Pretty fun

Just working on that selfie game.

More selfies
More selfies

Afterwards it was time for some craft beer. I went to Hopscotch Beer Company but you can’t drink there because of crazy New Zealand laws. So I picked up a beer and drank it on my walk. I heard this should be legal, but in case it wasn’t it was a fast drink.

Beer
Beer

On the way I walked past the tower. I think these things are a little too played out in cityscapes, but so it goes.

This design is so boring
This design is so boring

I swung over to Brothers Beer for a flight. It was a busy spot.

More beer
More beer

I unintentionally walked right up to it as well, ha.

Tower
Tower

Finally was able to grab a steak and some oysters. I was looked at cattle for many many hours of driving, so I was definitely craving a steak at some point.

Steak
Steak

And that concludes the trip. It’s super late so I’d like to try to grab an hour or two of sleep before I have to wake up and head out to the airport for my return flight home. Pretty cool that in doing so I will have flown completely around the world.

I’ll definitely be getting a concluding writeup out at some point when I sleep and have time. The trip has been just incredible. A lot to say about it.

I’ll be seeing everyone back home hopefully soon. Hope everyone’s travels and lives are going swimmingly. I guess it’s appropriately to throw a little Tolkien quote in here.

Far over the Misty Mountains cold,
To dungeons deep and caverns old,
We must away, ere break of day,
To seek our pale enchanted gold.

Cheers.