As an attempt of a "last hurrah" before the summer vacation ends, we packed up the van and headed up the Interstate 395 to the Eastern Sierras. It's sparsely populated with a diverse terrains of mountains, deserts, lakes, rivers, and forests if you climb high enough in elevation. And, that's the key, stay high up enough during the summer so the nights will cool you down.
First we visited the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest at over 10,000 feet above sea level. The thinner air at that elevation really put a damper on the desire to hike more.
We had high hopes of finding a camp spot near a natural hot springs, but there were just way too much people out this weekend during the COVID-19 pandemic. It seems that people are tired of being cooped up at home, but many campground are closed, so they flock to the BLM lands. It was our family's first time at trying kayaking at Convict Lake. It was a lot of relaxing fun, and I can see it being a regular part of our future adventures.
For the last night, we travelled up higher for a nice camp spot in the pine forest. It was too bad that we couldn't have a campfire due to the fire restrictions, but we had a nice meal and a lively fire-side chat, without the fire. The summer of 2020 certainly has been different than the past summers, but we've made the best of it, and again, the Revel was a key contributor.
The Prewitt Ridge dispersed camping area overlooking Big Sur has been on my bucket list for a while now. With the offroad-capable Winnebago Revel, I finally got the chance to visit this place. The views were spectacular, although we did not get to witness the sea of clouds due to hot weather. The whole area was super crowded during this weekend, but it was the amount of bugs and flies that may detract us from coming back for another visit in the summer months.
To avoid making the 6+ hours drive all at once from LA, we spent Friday night on the ridges above Santa Barbara, which also had beautiful views of the city, night lights, and we did see the sea of clouds in the early morning from there.
What a great weekend filled with memories, amid this COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Here's a time lapse video of the sunset over Prewitt Ridge.
While California is shut down due to the COVID-19 Corona virus, we escaped out to the desert. The legendary Mojave Road is somewhere I've heard a lot about but never had a capable vehicle to experience. I thought I might push my luck and take the Winnebago Revel on it, but after this trip, I think that's probably not feasiable.
A must-visit place on the Mojave Road is Fort Piute. After a very rocky ascend into the mountain, we see the ruins of a fort that used to guard the spring waters in the 1850s.
We continued on from Fort Piute and reached Lanfair Valley. That marked the end our trip, but I do plan to come back and continue the Mojave Road from here in the future.
A bunch Winnebago Revel owners met up at the San Simeon Washburn Campground this weekend. It was nice meeting up with people who shares the same passions and interests. A lot has been talked about the down side to social media, but I think it's simply a tool, and it's about how you use it. There is quite a large group of folks on Facebook, and we all help each other by sharing mods, troubleshoot problems, and just share adventures. A meet up like this highlights the fact that sometimes it's just more fun seeing each other face to face and have a conversation in real life. On Sunday, once we departed from the group, we head into Cambria to get some deserts and visited the Moonstone Beach Park to have our breakfast.
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...
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]
Another bonus of having an RV is camping in slightly colder conditions. The temperature in the mountains were about 60s during the day and around 40s at night. We took the Revel for just one night in one of our favorite Barton Flats Campground and hiked up to Jenks Lake again. With some of the yellowing leaves, the feeling is very much different than summer.
The 28Cron is quite a versatile lens. It's wide enough to take in the sceneries and yet not awkward enough to take portraits.
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.