One of the drawback of owning a 4x4 vehicle is developing a taste for backcountry roads. I've been researching for trails around Los Angeles that might be suitable for the Winnebago Revel. I don't have the clearance and articulation for the gnarly trails, so I looked for easy to moderate trails that will hopefully lead to a nice view point. Maple Springs Trail is the first one I'm trying out. It passes through the town of Silverado in Orange County, and will lead you all the way to Santiago Peak, the highest peak in Orange County.
It took us about an hour going up a mostly single lane gravel dirty road. Once in a while you'll encounter people driving in the opposite direction and everyone's real nice about making ways for others to pass. We didn't drive all the way to Santiago Peak because my son and my mom, who were riding with me, was a bit tired of the bumpy roads. So, I whipped up a quick lunch and we rest a bit at the end of the Maple Springs Road and turned back. On this trip, I practiced lowering the tire pressure when we started on the dirt road and it really made the drive much more smoother. While coming back down, I engage the low-range on the 4WD and it helped me come down in a controlled speed without hitting the brakes too much. All in all, a successful first try at four wheeling, I'd say.
Finally got back from our 9-day roadtrip to the Pacific Northwest. I've spent months scoping out the places we would want to visit and places to camp in our Winnebago Revel. Driving the Revel enable us to go farther into the wilderness and not have to worry too much about rain or cold. I specifically picked out a few remote boondocking camp spots for this trip.
Mossbrae Falls was our first stop, a place I've been eyeing for a long time. The hike to the waterfall follows a train track which isn't exactly legal, so you could be risking your life, or a ticket. However, the waterfall is BEAUTIFUL! We could have stayed for hours, if we didn't have other destinations to go.
Crater Lake was just as majestic as the first time I visited it, about 15 years ago. NPS has kept it up well and have built a lot more parking areas. Although it's summer, there were still patches of snow on the ground.
Hole-in-the-ground in the Oregon Outbacks was a place I discovered by looking at the Google Satellite maps. After more searching and reading about it, I found out that it was actually legal to boondock right by the edge of this amazing place. I think we were the only ones there that night.
The Smith Rock is another must-see in Oregon and being in close proximity to Bend, that's killing two birds with one stone. The Crooked River cuts around multiple near vertical cliffs and we could see many people scaling them. We walked down the river trail and leisurely took in the beauty.
Near Portland, on the Columbia River, there are many waterfalls to visit, with Multnomah Falls being the most famous. Parking was a bit of hassle, but the Revel allowed us to take the RV spot when available, and squeeze into a normal parking spot when needed.
Seattle was rainy when we visited, no surprises there.
The Marymere Falls by the Lake Crescent turned out to be a surprise highlight of the trip. The trail was lush and mossy like the Hoh Rain Forest, in fact, I think it's better because I was disappointed at how much the Hoh Rain Forest has deteriorated since we visited 15 years ago.
The Tree of Life at the Kalaloch Beach was a sight to see. The ground under the tree has washed away and yet it's still clinging on by the sides. You can walk right underneath it and see the roots. We also visited Ocean City where they allow people to drive on the beach, a first for us.
We can now proudly say that we drove the entire Oregon 101 Coast Highway. There are tons of neat beaches to visit, sights to see. I'm surprised that the Oregon coastal cities aren't more populated like California.
To see the full set of pictures, [CLICK HERE]
I was pretty excited that SpaceX was going to have a rocket launch in Vandenberg Air Force Base this time. Drove up in the middle of the night to a spot that I scoped out that should allow me to watch it above the low morning fog and waited. When the sun rose, things looked good, and looks like I may be able to see the rocket pierce through the fog, but just 30 minutes before launch, it completely fogged up.
Although the captured video is just white fog, I was able to capture the sonic booms in audio...
That's probably my favorite photo from this Memorial Day weekend trip... kind of has this "album-cover" feel to it. We spent only one night there, but it was a fun-packed day. Started with a visit to the Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch on Route 66, then headed to the Lava Tubes.
Hole-in-the-Wall area offered a playground-like trail with ring loops to help you climb up and down some of the gaps between boulders. It was super physically demanding so most adults and kids can do it and it's a lot of fun.
We ended the day with a visit to the Kelso Sand Dunes. We didn't have time to hike to the top of the dunes because we still needed to go find a spot to camp for the night.
To see the full set of the images, [CLICK HERE]
A photographer's paradise... It's no wonder it's the place of obsession of many famous photographers. One would have to live here for a long time to capture all its beauties. Not sure I have anything worthwhile to offer here... It's like singing a song that's been sung for thousands of times, I can only add a bit of my voice to it.
I shot exclusively with the WATE, mostly at 16mm and f/8. I'm tempted to cover each photo to black and white for the classic look, but I held back some.
[CLICK HERE] to see the full set.
Flowers are blooming like crazy all over Southern California right now. We visited the Chino Hills State Park this past weekend to checkout some short hikes and possible future biking routes. What is normally brown hills during the summer/fall, is now covered with green and yellow. There isn't much variety, as you can see, mostly just yellow. You can't help but just feel so much life force here.
The super-blooms are happening... Although I wanted to drive to the Anza Borrego Desert to check out the super-blooms, but we settled for the poppy hills in Lake Elsinore. A lot of people had the same idea, causing traffic near the exit on the freeway.
Even with the traffic, it was still worth it. The weather cooperated, too, giving us some spotty sunshine which is welcomed after all the rain this season.
I've always known that the color green really pop with the M9 CCD sensor, but today it felt the orange really pops, too.
While we were down in San Clemente to pick up something for the RV, we took a few hours detour to visit the San Juan Capistrano Mission. My son had to study about the California Missions last year during 4th grade, so this was a great chance to re-enforce what he had learned in class and see it in real life. But of course, we're really there so I can take some photos :)
Happy new year! We did our count-down in Borrego Springs, CA. It's a small town next to the Anza Borrego Desert State Park, where we found an Airbnb for a reasonable rate to host 9 of us. Most points of interests are accessed via dirt roads, so we drove our Revel even though we didn't need to. Plus, it'll be good to have a mobile restroom with us just in case, but honestly, it'll take less reasons for me to want to take the Revel out for a spin.
The iron sculptures in Galleta Meadows were pretty awesome to see. They're scattered all around town, so make sure you map them on maps before you head out. Groups are them are also in close distance to each other, so I think visiting them while riding bikes will also be cool, just make sure you have fat tire bikes because you will be riding on sand.
The Slot Canyon Trail was a highlight on the trip. After driving about 2 miles off the main road, we reach the trailhead that was full with parked cars. Some part of the trail gets so narrow that I had to turn sideways to pass. While people were very friendly waiting for people to pass in a few tight spots, I felt I might have annoyed some because I wanted to wait for people to clear out of my shots. So I quickly grab a few shots and moved on, didn't have much time to dwell in the same spot.
Font's Point was a great place to watch the sunrise. I just happened to wake up at 6am and made a quick decision to try to head out there before the sun rises at 6:45am. We drove about 15 minutes to the offroad area, and drove about another 15 minutes on a 4-mile dirt track. The dirt road wasn't too bad, but a high clearance vehicle and 4x4 is recommended. Once we reached the point, the view just took us over. We stood on the edge, overlooking the expansive craggy canyon below, while the sun slowly moves beyond the horizon.
To see the full set of images [CLICK HERE].
Zion National Park, man, what a beautiful place to visit. You hear about Angel's Landing, you hear about the Narrows, but what I have not heard much about is riding bike on the scenic trail. At least I don't hear people rave about it. So, I'm doing it. It was the most enjoyable and beautiful bike ride I've ever taken.
We were invited to join our old friends for a weekend and the Zion National Park. Given the time of year and night time temperature just above freezing, it was only possible since we now have the RV. Packing all three fat tire e-bikes was a bit tricky, however the Revel's gear garage was very accomodating.
I read a little about the Zion Scenic Drive online, just to make sure that bikes are allowed. From the name itself, I thought it was meant for cars, and it might be somewhat dangerous to ride bikes on it, have to constantly watch out for cars coming up behind us. Was I wrong! The drive is now limited to the shuttle buses only and a few special permitted vehicles, other than that, it's completely empty. The shuttle buses run 5-10 minutes apart, so for long stretches of the road, we were completely alone to enjoy the view. When you do hear the cars come up behind you, you must stop for they will not pass you unless you are stopped.
The weather was great, with some shaded area being borderline chilly in the morning. Being in the off-season, there wasn't a lot of people either. Oh man, the view! It was my first time visiting Zion, I had no idea the beauty and majestic rocks and cliffs hiding behind each turn of the road. With the 28Cron mounted and the M9 hanging from my neck, a lot of the shots were just f/8, focused that infinity, and snapped while I was riding.
For the full set if images from this trip, [CLICK HERE]
My Journey into Leica...
A path not to be taken lightly, not without reservations, and not without dedication, but the results can be sweet, OH SO SWEET! This is a documentation of my trials and tribulations into the world of Leica Rangefinder Photography, and I hope you'll enjoy coming along with me.