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]
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.
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]
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.
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].
Redwood Meadows Campground... previous not a viable destination due to its lack of flush toilets and shower, is now obtainable because of the Winnebago Revel. Having the RV has opened up the world of possibilities, especially with its 4x4 drive, it'll take us to places we've not thought about before. In this way, it has contributed to my photography.
I took a lot of pictures in the Trail of 100 Giants. Mounted the WATE for its super-wide 16mm, I was able to capture the sceneries in close distance. We also visited a natural waterslide where freezing water helped us cool off our feet. A short hike to Peppermint Falls offered beautiful stream-side views and we could walk along side of it until it reaches the drop-off from one giant mountain of granite. All these not heavily advertised officially, but enough people find them to create a well marked trail. I blame the Internet :)
Too see the full set of images, [CLICK HERE].
After getting the Winnebago Revel home, I immediately started adding some small mods to make living in the RV a little bit more comfortable. For our first proper trip, we revisited the Brown's Owens River Campground near Mammoth Lakes. It was perfect timing, too, because we left LA just as a monster heat wave slammed it.
Not a lot of pictures from this trip because there was too much fun to be had. While the boys were off fishing and off-road riding, I took some time to take some arial footage from the Mavic Air.
Just a couple of miles from the campground, there was Convict Lake, which is a beautiful lake sitting at the bottom of giant mountains. We didn't spend a lot of time here since we only came here for the free RV dump station, but it's now on my list to visit for the future.
Picking up the Winnebago Revel 4x4 from Iowa and meander our way back to California, this is truly a dream roadtrip. After months of planning and anticipation, we've hit all the major destinations I've plotted out on Google Map. Yellowstone National Park was the obvious grand finale, but it's the Ayres Natural Bridge Park and Buffalo Gap BLM in Badlands that got me feeling secluded wondered why not more people are enjoying the great outdoors.
Yellowstone was a park in its own class. No amount of research could prepare me for its beauty and vastness. Sure, the major touristy spots were amazing, but I find myself enjoying breathtaking sceneries just driving around the park even more. The great plains with herds of buffalos scattered, the minor lakes and streams that were just painterly, these are the things that will make me want to come back and spend more time at each turnout to soak them all in.
For this trip, I packed only the 50'Lux and WATE. It seemed that we were following a thunderstorm or it was chasing us most of the time. We experienced 90 degree heat in South Dakota, and had to keep warm through the 35 degree cold nights in Yellowstone, but the Revel handled them with ease. It was truly our home away from home. If you wish to check the rest of the photos from the 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.