Took my first trip into the Death Valley National Park with a few other Revel owners this past weekend. Lucky for us, the temperature reach a nice sweltering 105F just for us. In the dry heat, 85F felt cool. I could really understand where the name came from after seeing how unfriendly to life this place was, and it wasn't even summer yet!
Before entering the park from the west side, we visited some interesting places just outside of the park. Father Crowley Overlook, also known as Star Wars Canyon, is known for watching fighter jets flying through the canyon. We weren't so lucky to see that, but we did spot a fighter jet snaking high in the sky. The road to Wildrose Charcoal Kilns gave us the first taste of off-road driving. We didn't feel the heat until we entered the park proper and stopped at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. The heat came from the sun above, as well as the sand below, prompting us to make this a very brief stop.
Continuing our tour of the park, we reach the lowest point in North America, Badwater Basin, which was -282 feet below sea level. Someone was nice enough to put a sign halfway up the cliff to mark where the sea level actually was, so we can fully appreciate just how low we were. The Artist Drive which took us to the Artists Palette Overlook was worth the small detour. The view from Zabriskie Point showed us two different types of badlands, one was just plain gold sand, and the other had layers of different sediments drawing lines on the walls.
Second day, driving through Titus Canyon was what everyone was waiting for. It's one-way only, so we didn't have to worry about oncoming traffic as we snake our way up the narrow mountain passes and between the tight canyon walls. I will post a short drone video below of the final stretch of the drive. Ending the day at Dante's View was just the perfect way to cap off our adventures in Death Valley National Park.
Just got back from my longest solo excursion to date, spending about a week driving up and down California. Doing it by myself means I can stop the car whenever I see something I want to photograph, visiting places in my photo bucket list for a while now. Took about 400 shots, all with the WATE, and processed about 50 of them, you see the full set [HERE].
I spent one whole day just driving around Point Reyes National Seashore, and of course, I visited the Cypress Trees Tunnel. In fact, I drove by it 3 times on purpose, to try to capture it in various time of day. I especially love the misty morning, it brings so much more interest and mystique.
Point Reyes has various terrains and wildlife which made it quite interesting to just explore each dead-end road, also the surrounding areas like Tomales Bay State Park and the quiet town of Inverness are not to be missed. I did quite a few 2-mile short hikes, but if you want to take on some of the longer hikes, you might need to plan to visitor the area for multiple days.
After boondocking on the side of PCH for a night of listening to crashing waves, I headed into Muir Woods. From my research, there is a backdoor way of exploring the trails via Mt. Tamalpais State Park so you don't have to deal with the parking reservation system of Muir Woods. If I let my imagination run a bit, I can still see some traces of Endor from Star Wars in my pictures.
Last stop was Pinnacles National Park. Strangely, I've never even heard about this place until it was made into a national park in 2013. It's not a very large park, nor does it has the grand views of Yosemite or Grand Canyons. I went on the Bear Gulch Cave Trail, where the "cave" is formed by lots of fallen boulders, and the trail take you through and boulders and up to a reservoir of calm waters. The campground is very nice and spacious, will have to come back again with the family.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, it may seem a bit reckless to go on a week long roadtrip to visit "The Mighty 5" national parks in Utah. However, we stayed away from campground, cooked all of our foods, and practiced social distancing by boondocking in epic spots like the one in the photo above and below.
This late in November, most nights were too cold to hang out around a campfire. The briskly daytime temperature were great for hikes and kept the bugs away. We were lucky to not encounter any rain or snow storms. Canyonlands National Park was probably our favorite of all the parks we visited, and I think we'll be coming back to it to fully explore it.
The Winnebago Revel was really the perfect vehicle to this type of travel. It is nimble to traverse the forest roads and yet provided all the necessary amenities and kept us comfortable. Its off-road capability has taken us to incredible campsite and trailheads, the Espar heating system kept us warm all night, and the built-in shower and bathroom means we'll never have to wait in line anywhere.
[CLICK HERE] to see the full set of images.
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]
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 not 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.
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.