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.
I had a rare chance of having a few days to spend by myself, no wife, no kids. So naturally, I thought to myself, where is the one place that I've been dreaming about photographing and can also be an epic camp spot? Being about 3 hours from LA, Trona Pinnacles ticked all the boxes. So I set out on an adventure with all my camera and drone batteries charged.
I knew this wasn't peak season and there shouldn't be any crowds on a week night, but I had no idea I would end up being the only person in the entire area! In the afternoon, there was a few Jeeps, but they did not stay the night. It's an amazing feeling, alone, in a place like this. I rode my bike everywhere to take pictures, flew the drone without need to worry about bothering other people, and played guitar loud while the batteries charged.
This trip would not have happened if I didn't own the Revel. Having a 4x4 capable van that I can live comfortably in has encouraged me to go places that I would not have dared. It doesn't take any pictures, but I think I'd consider it a photographic tool :)
To see the full set of the images, [CLICK HERE]
Despite the excessive heat warnings announced between Los Angeles to Las Vegas, we visited one of the hottest place possible: Joshua Tree National Park. The weather was too hot to go on any trails, so we settled for a nice sunset at the Keys View.
The AirBnB was located in Yucca Valley, so we spent a day exploring around there also. There's a Giant Rock next to the hills and seemed very popular with the ATV crowds. It looked like a cool place to boondock next time. We also visited the Pioneer Town where there is a film set of old western town.
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.
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.