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]
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.
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].
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].
It's been a few years, but we went back to visit the island of Oahu again during the President's Day / Chinese New Year weekend. Can't really say it was well planned, it was just the weekend that we're all available to take a few days off. On the day of our flight to Hawaii, the weather was forecasting to have thunderstorm storms almost all of the days that we're there. But what can we do? The trip was reserved at the end of last year, and we never visited in February before, so we didn't know the weather patterns around this time of year.
Well, the day that we landed was sunny enough. As it turned out, we only had one day of thunderstorm, and we were very thankful for that! However, not knowing how the next day was going to be, we maxed out our sun utilization, hitting Hanauma Bay and the swimming pools whenever we can.
On the day before the storm, we were treated to a dramatic sunset as we walked out to the Waikiki beach and around the marina area.
I'm amazed by the trees in Hawaii every time we're here. I just love the squiggly branches and the canopy they provide.
This was our first time staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel. It must have been the biggest hotel complex in Waikiki. This was also our first time visiting without a rental car. Because the hotel was centrally located, we only need to Uber to Hanauma Bay. The hotel offered good amenities and the view from our hotel balcony wasn't too shabby, either.
Maybe the title should be "So many things to buy, so little money". A bit off topic from Photography... After my recent trip of RV camping with friends, I've looking at various Class B RVs. Due to our city's parking regulation, which doesn't allow RV parking on streets nor trailers on driveways, I was thinking about finding a trailer that will fit in our garage. I already had my eyes set on the Taxa Cricket Camper, and it seemed perfect for us. Its 6'9" height will barely fit through our garage door, and we've started moving things out of the garage to make room.
But after the last trip, I was convinced that an RV is probably the better way to go. A class B RV will look like a van that can be parked on our driveway. It'll allow the kids to move around in the back, distract them from long drives. And, the thought of having a shower/toilet built-in will make boondocking possible. The trailer camper was always meant to be a stepping stone towards an RV in the later future (we're not getting any younger), so I asked myself, why not skip the middle step and just go directly to an RV?
The major deterrent is obviously the price, about 100k. They don't depreciate that fast so it'll likely keep its value for a while. Another fear is that it'll end up sitting in my driveway not used, but knowing us, I think we'll put it to good use. Having an RV means you can plan trips that go further, longer, and in seasons where you wouldn't dare with tents. The RV industry has gone through some technology update in recent years, with solar and lithium battery, some RV makers are moving towards a no-propane and no-generator design. I've found the Hymer Aktiv to be the one for us. Time to save some money, quick.
So what does this has to do with Photography? Well, it means no more new lenses, no more M10, and no more new gears. Plus, some people have often suggested that instead of a piece of new gear, people should invest the money on trips to make new memories. That's my main goal here. New RV so we can take more trips to make new memories... That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.
What an idyllic place for camping and fishing! I got invited to go RV camping with my friends to this central California location near Mammoth Lakes. The campground is in the middle of a plain that's surrounded by snow-peaked mountains. Being about 7000 feet above sea level, it was hot during the day time as the sun shines directly down, and yet chilly at night. The ever-bending Owens River provided plenty of places for fishes to hide and for the fishermen to cast their lines. There's also an off-road track that we took advantage of. Besides the swarms of mosquitos and blood sucking flies, it was a great weekend.
It was the first time I took my son fishing, so he had a blast. While I don't feel the same attraction for fishing, it was a wonder to see how many kids can concentrate and stay quiet while patiently waiting, whom might be considered over-active or hyper in normal settings. Patience as a virtue is often awarded in fishing, as long as the river is well stocked ;-)
With such an expansive landscape, I saw no desire of switching lenses from the WATE. I heard someone said that landscape photography is basically photographing weather. It felt true here. The land is beautiful all day long, but you really need to wait for the right light and cloud formations to kick it up a notch. Ultimately, I'm just glad to be able to take the camera out again, after being a bit stagnant lately. For the whole set of images, [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.