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.
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].
Spent the weekend camping in Silverwood Lake State Park. The over 90 degree temperature didn't inspire a lot of photo-taking :) However, I did wake up early on the last day to catch the sunrise. The black and white photo above doesn't do it justice, so here are the color ones...
Soft sand, aqua blue water, and a cliff for you to hike... what not to love about Point Dume?! Today was the perfect day to hit the beach with temperature around 70F. We've driven past Point Dume a few times before, and I've always wanted to check it out. So we packed up the Revel and drove about 1.5 hour with traffic to this beautiful place.
The 28'Cron is such a great lens. I've been thinking about selling it since I got the WATE, but I just can't do it. It's got a slightly more contrasty rendering and a little natural vignette. Besides cropping down to 5x7 ratio and adjust exposure, I don't really have to do much post processing.
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].
Ah... tent camping... I'm going to miss you. As I mentioned before, we're putting our savings into a Class-B RV, the Winnebago Revel 4x4. We'll soon by flying out to Iowa to pick it up from the dealership and take the long way round back to California. I've already scoped out all the cool places to stop along the way, with Yellowstone National Park being our main goal.
I'll be packing the M9 with the 50'Lux and WATE, and also bringing the Mavic Air, too. I hope to capture some amazing wide open spaces and will try to upload the pictures and footages as internet connections allow. Here's a quick clip from my practice run with the Mavic Air near my house:
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.