Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Monterey to Eureka

The biggest surprise of the trip , so far, was how much I enjoyed being in San Francisco. . .  After a restful night at the Motel 6 (worst bed in the world, but I slept great!), I was up and off.  I wasn’t planning on going through the city, but I needed some supplies from the photography store there, so decided to go.  GPS is the greatest invention of our time!!  I never would have risked going into the city on my own, but I dialed in the address, and the GPS took me right to the front door!  On the way, I drove through the coolest neighborhood.  Colorful houses with unique style one after another after another.  People out on the streets. . . it was just so different. 

I then went to Pier 39 to see the gallery for Nature Photographer extraordinaire, Rodney Lough.  I had taken a class he taught years ago at Glacier National Park.  He’s simply the best in the world in my opinion.  That was fun, but I got ripped off by the parking garage.  They said, “First hour free”, but never explained that you had to eat at a Pier 39 restaurant and get your ticket validated.  (I’m really to naive to continue this trip much longer.)  I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and made the obligatory stop to take a photo.  There I met a man who helped me map my route up the coast.  Turned out he spends his days up there monitoring a falcon that lives in the cliffs nearby.

I went North up Highway 1, and can  now say that I officially know how to corner my motorcycle.  That was the twistiest road I’ve ever been on.  It was crazy curve after crazy curve for the entire way, but the payoff was some amazing views of the ocean and rocky coastline.  I stopped at some quaint roadside Tavern that advertised seafood.  I only saw Oysters and Fish and Chips for seafood on the menu.  I got the Fish and Chips.  It cost me $17.00 for 3 fish-sticks and some fries.  I’m an idiot.  Today I ate at the “Old People’s Buffet” or something like that, and had the same fish (as far as I could tell) along with a bunch of other food for $7.00.  That’s the last time I try “quaint”. . . I got tired and tried to find a campsite.  I tried one, and the guy wanted to charge me $40 just to put up a tent!!  I finally found one in Manchester.  Tent up in 3 minutes, asleep in 4. . .

Today’s ride took me up Highway 1 where it joins 101, and that took me to Humbolt State Park and “The Avenue of the Giants”.  Ie: The Redwoods.  WOW.  Those things are HUGE!  You feel really puny when you stand next to them.  I stopped to take a picture and met another BMW rider, Mark Austin from Louisville.  He asked me if I was going this year’s rally in Oregon and I said no.  He then said, “Well, consider yourself invited to next years in Pennsylvania, by the Rally’s Commissioner.”  That was pretty cool.  He spent a good 20-30 minutes with me talking about my bike and giving me some valuable maintenance tips.  That was really nice of him.  He was actually excited to meet a first-time rider, which kind of surprised me. 

  • GPS is the greatest thing in the world, but without a map, I have no idea where I am.  I gotta see it to get it.
  • C’mon, America!  You really gonna charge me $25 per night to put up a tent and sleep?!
  • I’ve never made an intelligent reasonable food decision in my life.
  • I hate paying for hotels.  I don’t do anything here.  It’s like camping fees, only worse.   The only real difference is that I’m getting a shower, so I guess I’m paying about $50 for that. . ouch
  • The Ricky Gervais podcasts make me laugh out loud while I’m driving, even though I’ve heard them all before.
  • Paula, from Pacific Life was really nice.  When I told her I was in Eureka, she said, “Oh, I spent a year in that god-forsaken place”.  It made me laugh.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Yosemite to Monterey

It was a crazy couple of days.  I originally planned to go from Sacramento, north to Fort Bragg, but while waiting for checkout time at the Howard Johnsons, I turned on the TV and flipped to some program about the National Parks.  I was inspired by stories of how life-changing so many visits to the Parks were, and when I looked at a map I realized I was within a couple hours of Yosemite, so I headed that way. 

I arrived at the “Park Information Station” (still about 70 miles from the park) to learn that I showed up on the hottest day of the year (101).  Can I time it, or what?  I rode towards the park in hopes of finding a campsite close to the entrance.  I got lucky, and quickly set up the tent and grabbed a quick nap.  As I was getting ready to head into the park, a ranger came over and informed me that there was a mixup, and she had promised the site to another couple.  They had driven quite a distance and had no where else to go, so we decided to share the site.  That was one of the highlights of my trip.  Here’s to Jeff and Jen (and I hope I got those names right).  I really enjoyed our conversation, and if I’m ever in your neck of the woods, and I’m trying to land my plane by “The Merc”, I’ll be sure to watch for new street signs.  Loved your moose and cougar stories.  Hope the rest of your trip is fabulous!  I’ll think of you as I’m driving down the “Avenue of the Giants”. . .

I was up early today (4:30am) , and had a brisk ride in the 50 degree weather as I rose in altitude in the park.  I left the park around  9:00 or so and headed west.  I got my first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean at exactly 3:30.  WOW.  I took my friend Joe’s advice and headed down to Carmel to drive the “17 Mile Drive”  through Pebble Beach.  I was informed that motorcycles aren’t allowed on the drive, but the lady at the gate told me how to loop around Pebble Beach and pick up the road back into Monterey.  I must say, that’s not a bad way to live.  The ocean is amazing!

What I learned today.  I needed the heat to appreciate cool water. . . I needed the cold morning to appreciate the sunlight. . . it’s always the “bad” that makes us appreciate the “good”. . .

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Nevada to California

Yesterday I traveled Highway 50 across Nevada, called "The Lonliest Highway in America".  I was expecting desert, with tumbleweeds blowing across the road, but I couldn't have been more wrong.  You were either in the mountains or riding with them in the distance the entire way.  The temperature was around 70 for most of the trip.   
I had planned to stop in Reno, but was overwhelmed with all the "stuff", so I just kept going.  At 4:30, I crossed into California!  I was going to camp, but I'm learning I have problems stopping.  I ended up just outside of Sacramento.  I had planned on camping, but it was 97 deg and humid, so I looked for a hotel.  After trying two that were full (you might want to light the "NO" on your "VACANCY" sign, by the way), I finally stumbled into a Howard Johnsons.  I paid more than I wanted to for the room, but the shower and A/C felt so good.  Plus, I got free waffles this morning, so I've got that going for me.  I'm sticking around until the 11:00am checkout, then plan on heading up towards Ft. Bragg.  The temp there is in the 50's. . .  ahhhh.
Thanks to Matt Fagan for asking me to find some old cars and trucks on the way.  It's been a fun exercise.  I'll keep my eyes peeled for more!  

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Colorado to Nevada

Wow, what a trip!  11 hours after leaving Grand Junction I arrived at my campsite in Great Basin Nat’l Park.  The site is beautiful in a valley at 9900 ft.  the peak towers over the valley, the wind is blowing, and it’s about 68 deg. 

The trip saw temperatures vary from 52 to 102, with the last 100 miles at 100 deg, with a cross wind that literally almost blew me off the road a couple of times.  Add in the sand that was blowing and you can imagine how happy I was to finally arrive.

The trip took longer than anticipated as I decided to take 128 into Moab.  It’s an amazing ride with giant red-rock walls on either side, and the Colorado River guiding you along.  I also stopped in Salina, UT to photograph an old school bus and car, then on the way out, stopped at some kid’s lemonade stand.  It sure tasted good in that heat!

Katie (my sister) packed me a lunch with a Turkey sandwhich and some homemade peanut butter cookies.  I just finished them, and MAN were they good.  May have been the best sandwich I’ve had in years!!

Katie and Ernie, thanks for the hospitality and wisdom.  Without it, I probably would have turned around.  PS That’s Ernie lying in the rock.  Rest feels good when you’ve earned it!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

St. Louis to Colorado

The miserable heat and humidity,  the warning for more of the same, and the prospect of having to view Kansas in the daytime helped me decide to get underway Sunday night.  I left St. Louis at 11:30pm with the temperature still in the 90's and the humidity not far behind.  I initially planned to make it to Topeka and get a hotel, but once there, it had cooled down and I just kept going.  I got a little sleepy so I pulled over and took a nap behind a dumpster in an abandoned gas station somewhere in Kansas.  Then back on the bike until I was tired again, then slept on the sidewalk next to the quickie mart.   Before you know it, I was in Colorado, so I motored on to Colorado Springs and then on to Buena Vista.  The GPS was a lifesaver and got me there with no problems.
I was tired and SORE when I checked into the lovely "Topaz Hotel" and slept from 6:30pm until 9:00 the next morning.  I was seriously considering selling the bike and getting a plane ticket home.  I don't advise that stretch of highway for first-time riders.  YUK!
The next morning I was up and out by 10:00 and on my way over Independence Pass.  It was a breath-taking ride.  Much more enjoyable than the previous 19 hours.  The temp dropped into the low 50's at the top of the pass.  
I made it to Katie's in Grand Junction, and have been hanging here for a couple of days trying to figure out what's next.  Katie and I did a hike into the Monument yesterday, then joined Ernie and some friend's of Katies for some cold beers and dinner.  It was nice.  
I'm off tomorrow to cross Utah and prepare for the "Loneliest Highway in America" across Nevada.  I hope my butt can hold up.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Spent an hour with this interesting young man today.  Matt is a recent grad who is looking forward to a future in music.  I suggested he play a little while we shot, and I was amazed at what I heard.  He is really talented!  Good luck, Matt.  Enjoy your trip to Berklee!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Phoebe, Lauren, & Val

What a great way to start the weekend, hanging out with Phoebe, Lauren, and Val.  Downtown Kirkwood was the rendezvous point for me and these 3 recent KHS grads.   I liked their approach. . .  "These aren't late Senior pictures, they're early Freshman pictures."  I never had Phoebe or Lauren in class, but I've seen them around school, and it was a real pleasure to get to work with them today.  Val, on the other hand. . . well, she's smart, kind, and one of the most fun students I've ever had.  Everyday is a good day for Val.  She's always smiling and you can't help but feel good when you're around her.

We had a great time this morning.  It was hot and humid, but no complaints from these gals.  We tried to find shade, but when there wasn't any, they just motored on.  I was impressed with their willingness to just "have fun", and I think we got some great shots out of the morning.  

Phoebe, Lauren, and Val, thanks so much.  I can't wait to hear about what great things you do in the next 4 years and beyond.  And remember, the guy in the alley is always welcome to join us. . . : )

Monday, June 7, 2010

KHS Football Camp Begins

James Brown was called "The Hardest Working Man in Show Business", and while it was only one day, I'm dubbing new KHS Football Coach Matt Irvin, the "James Brown" of High School Football.  The Matt Irvin Era officially began today with the first day of camp.  Enthusiasm and Expectations were both sky high and it was hard to stand by and watch and NOT want to get out there and get involved.  It was easy to spot Coach Irvin. . . he was the one drenched in sweat working with the linemen, then sprinting down the field to work with the skill players.  These players are going to have to "bring it" everyday if they ever expect to outwork their coach!  

Classroom instruction, weight training, and on-field work was the order of the day.  It was a brisk, highly organized affair and you could feel the energy and excitement.  Matt has an experienced and talented staff and are outstanding role models.  There were clear "right ways" and "wrong ways", but corrections were made with a dose of encouragement and I saw kids smiling, then working hard to correct mistakes.  Granted, I'm a little biased because Coach Irvin is an old friend of mine, but even if I'd never met him, I would have been impressed with the way he taught and motivated today.  These players will learn not only about football, but about becoming high-character, service-oriented young men.  Keep up the good work, Matt and Staff!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Chris and Katie

Katie is the sister of a former student of mine, and Chris is her fiance.  We met at Forest Park at 6:30am to try to get some nice light, and get things done before it got too hot.  We had a great time shooting at the Muny and the Grand Basin, and then went on a little adventure.  A friend of mine had told me about a grungy little warehouse area off of Kingshighway.  I thought it would be a fun place to shoot.  We parked under the overpass and walked around back.  It's such a cool area, with graffiti on the walls and a train car that's parked there.  We shot for about 10 minutes when a man walked over and suggested we leave.  He said it was a pretty sketchy area, and that the security guy was a little trigger-happy in light of recent vandalism.  That made getting up so early worth it!!  Good luck, Katie and Chris!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

BPS @ Atomic Cowboy

I love summer!  Rode the motorcycle down to the Atomic Cowboy on Manchester (just East of Kingshighway) to watch my friend Joe's band play.  As I've said before, I marvel at what he can do with a guitar.  The 'Cowboy is a really cool venue, with a "hangar" housing the bar, a "bamboo jungle", and a large fire pit.  If you're looking for something fun to do on a Thursday evening, go check them out.  One of the coolest parts of the night was when I walked inside, and I'm in this dark hallway where all the "Rock and Roll" posters are, and there's my buddy Joe and his band, with their own poster, right on the wall!  "Having your Band on a poster in a bar" would be a great bucket-list item, don't you think?  Well, you can check that one off, Joe.  Way to go!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Stuhlmanns

Do you want to guarantee yourself a good day?  Then go hang out with these three. . . Hannah, Joe, and Rachel.  We met this morning down at Forest Park's Grand Basin, and as we walked from the car back to where we shot these, Hannah told us that this was where their Dad proposed to their Mom, "before it was all beautiful".  Nice going, Dad.  It certainly is beautiful now, and even more so with these three in the picture.  

I was fortunate enough to have Hannah in my class, and she is simply one of the sweetest kids I know.  She's a swimmer, class officer, and spoke at graduation.  Rachel was the Missouri Girl's State Singles Champion in tennis and is as nice as she is talented.  She's a humble superstar.  Joe is also a heck of a tennis player and helped lead the Boy's Team to a 4th place finish in State this year.  You guys are so easy-going and fun to be around.  I'll really miss you, but I'll follow your exploits in college and beyond.  Good luck Hannah (TCU), Joe (Truman) and Rachel (Mizzou).

Special thanks to Stephanie Cotta for coming down and lending her expertise.  She has a sharp eye, and I'm trying to soak up her knowledge about posing.  What a great morning!