Sunday, February 9, 2014

2014, POST #1.......finally.

My first photo of 2014, the Boulder Valley. Jan 1, 2014. 11am.

And three days later, chaos.

Well, chaos for some, fun for others.

I'm guessing it wasn't too much fun for this group.
Miraculously, everyone made it out of this rollover in 4 Mile Canyon in Boulder ok.

So, this post was originally supposed to air in late December of 2013, then it got pushed back to Sunday January 5th, 2014. But between taking care of my Mum, traveling down to Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana  Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, New York City then back to Boulder to spend Christmas with Mum, I found myself completely out of time for the blog. And then I got buried under 8,000+ photos of the trip to try and edit. So I gave up.

Now it's Feb 2014 I've been in the mid-west for the last month shooting Native American Ruins in the Bisti-Badlands, Ah-shi-sle-pah and El Morro in New Mexico and have probably amassed another 7,000+ photos (minimum) again. More on the Bisti Badlands in the next post, I promise.
I have no idea how bloggers that post every day keep up, I can't even keep up with posting once every two weeks. I've got no shortage of material for the rest of the year ahead. If I never took another photo in 2014, I would still have enough material for a blog post twice a month for 2014. 
And Mum had some back recovery that needed my time and TLC, a chiropractors office visit and a daily morning dose of Aleve with her morning coffee before she could even move without too much pain. 
And all due to a slip and fall going down the stairs in November that practically crippled her and made her normal everyday motion extremely painful and most times downright unbearable. It also had a very negative effect on her mindset and kinda set a depressing and very difficult tone for her every day. Life is difficult enough, but when you're in your eighties its even more difficult. But my Mum, she's a trooper and a very strong woman (she doesn't think so, but I know better) and her track record as a fighter, her never give up attitude, has paid off and now she can do the little things that most of us without any back problems take for granted, like getting up out of bed in the morning for example. Simple, easy, right?. Throw your legs out over the bed and plant your feet on the floor, walk to the kitchen and go make coffee. Well, as anybody who has ever had lower back problems you know it's not that easy. Sometimes it took my Mum 20 minutes just to be able to sit up straight on the edge of the bed. And another 10 minutes to be able stand up nearly straight. All while gritting her teeth in pain. But grit her teeth she did and we were able to get around and made a few trips outside to get her legs stretched and some fresh air in her lungs.

One of our first stops was Earthroamer in Dacona CO, where my good friends Susan Lambert and Steve Uzzell were getting some items taken care of on their EarthRoamer XV-lts.
Susan, Steve and I met 3+ yrs back in Death Vally, Stovepipe Wells to be exact. My bike was parked outside the only convenience store and gas station there, I was inside buying a few provisions and they saw my bike and thought "we gotta meet the owner of this interesting looking machine". 

What caught their eye they later told me, aside from the well traveled look to the bike, was a signature written on the tank from a Land Speed Racing friend Nancy Wennerberg, whom I had met at Bonneville that year at the 2010 World of Speed. Nancy had finished writing her message to me with "Hope you find what you're looking for". 
Now, Suze and Steve, being the inquisitive photographers that they are, had discovered a number of years back a hidden shrine to the Irish band U2 in the desert just outside of Death Valley and thought that Nancy's words on the tank pertained to this. So when I exited the store and got back to the bike I found them there waiting for me. Introductions were made and in the course of our conversation they asked if I had been to the U2 shrine. I had no idea that there even was a U2 shrine so I said no, I hadn't. So they took me there. That was how we met. We said our goodbyes, I thanked them for letting me in on the photographic secret of the shrine, and off we went on our separate ways saying we would keep in touch. Well, a few days later I was in Beatty Nevada getting food, fuel and some internet. I was in a bar working on a blog post since it was the only place in town with internet, and I heard voices behind me calling my name. It was Steve and Susan who happened to be passing by at the same time in the same town. 
Since then, Steve has been my photographic mentor, and they are both photographers I look up to and admire in their field. 
Steve is a renowned photographer, having shot for National Geographic among all the way back to the days of film, and Susan is also an accomplished photographer with a number of books to her credit. They are both my great friends, invaluable critics and a vast and endless pit of knowledge and experience when it comes to anything to do with photography.

Steve Uzzell and the author. Beatty, NV. 2010.

 Steve Uzzell, the Worlds best Mum, and Susan Lambert.

Steve and Susan live full time in their EarthRoamer, traveling around the country, photographing and speaking, as they are both motivational speakers.
How they ended up buying an EarthRoamer is all my fault. They were originally thinking of buying a bus or a coach (which probably would have been much cheaper), but I said nahhh, you guys, with your lifestyle, you don't need a coach, you need an EarthRoamer. "Whats an EarthRoamer" they said. "Google it" says I. They did. The rest as they say, is history. One look at what an EarthRoamer was and they were sold. Took them a year to get it (there's a one year build time on those things) but now they absolutely love it and go places that a coach could never even think of going. They are the only people I know who own an EarthRoamer and drive the crap out of it and use it for what it was built for, going anywhere and everywhere. And they do. It's only about a year old and they already have over 50,000 miles on it and they're on their second or third set of tires. 

Are you guys digging the Warn hat?. Is my Mum cool or what?.

And as a little bit of luck and some good timing would have it, Steve and Susan were in Boulder on Jan 17th, 2014, visiting Susan's son Graham. January 17th is my sobriety date, and January 17th, 2014 was when I celebrated being 5 years on the wagon, clean and sober. So I asked Steve and Susan would they like to come along to where I was going to be and take some photos of the occasion for posterity.
Now, on January 3rd of this year I had been reading the Daily Camera, Boulders online paper, and came across an interesting article on a "recovery room" on campus in the University of Colorado. When I read it I thought what an absolutely brilliant idea it was. And I was even more impressed with it's concept because of where it was, meaning IN Boulder, known for being a HUGE party town, and then IN the University itself. Talk about peer pressure. I had stopped going to AA meetings quite a number of years ago, I just got tired of listening to the same re-hashed war stories and felt that it was too stale. That, coupled with the fact that I've been a Hitch fan for years and haven't set foot inside a church since I was 14 for anything other than to photograph the lengths of extravagance and idolatry that they go to, so the whole God thing in the meetings was a major turn off for me. I don't need an AA meeting to remind me of the fact that I have absolutely no business having an alcoholic beverage of any kind. Ever. But when I read the article about the CU-Boulder Collegiate Recovery Center room, I decided to contact them and offer any help I could give them in any way. And one of the ways I thought about was celebrating my 5th year of sobriety at an AA meeting in the CRC room, a "give back" in a way and maybe my 5 years of sobriety would be something for younger students to want for themselves in their own lives. I'm a big believer in leading by example. Don't tell me to do something unless you've already tried it or done it yourself. Otherwise it's only hot air. So I got in contact with Danny Conroy, the centers director, and he was more than happy to have me there at the CRC room.
I got to meet a lot of the students who decided to quit the stoned and drunk lifestyle for a clean and sober lifestyle.

Photo by Steve Uzzell©2014

My first AA meeting in 3+ years went without a "Hitch", not too much God talk, and some of the students stayed behind for a group photo after which I'm going to get enlarged, framed and donate it to them for the room. I also brought along my Mum since I knew she would really be happy and proud of me as she already went through the exact same thing with my Dad when he decided to get sober back in the 70's. I have a few more photographs of Boulder that I'm going to donate as wall art for their Recovery Room when I get back in from this trip sometime next week.

So, after I got my Mum all settled and back in her apt and making sure she was able to get around ok I hit the road for the southeast. Texas, Arkansas and Florida, then north to NYC for three or four days of shooting before heading back to Boulder for the Christmas. Back in December 2013 in the mid-west one of many deep freezes was slowly creeping its way across the country. Driving through Arkansas I hit what seemed like the worst of it. For me it wasn't a big deal. I rode through much worse and much colder conditions in Norway and Finland in Dec and Jan of 2012/2013 on my sidecar outfit. This time I was in an SUV with heated seats, so for me it was a no problem. Not for everybody else though. Not being used to much winter conditions blowing through Arkansas, people in cars didn't know what to do. And they usually ended up doing the things that they shouldn't do, resulting in major road chaos.

On Dec 8th of 2013 I posted an article from my travels as I headed south east from Texas to Little Rock in Arkansas, final destination Fort Lauderdale Fl.

I had to meander my way through the chaos and road carnage, all  seemed to be the order of the day on the roads until I got well over toward Tallahassee, the capitol of Florida. 

But for the moment we're still in SE Texas, as evidenced by the Pappadeaux shot, since Pappadeaux don't have a location anywhere south east of the great state of Texas. Most of the Pappadeaux locations are centered around the city of Houston TX. Probably just as well. I can never go through Texas without going to Pappadeaux at least once.

There are two things that I do when I go to Texas. The first one is I visit my friend Greg, and we talk guns. Mostly Greg's guns as I'm down to three, my .45 Ruger, a Keltec .380 and one long gun. Greg's got a few more guns than I do in his gun safe, and they're more interesting than mine to talk about. If you're considering burglary as a career, don't do it in Texas. At least not in Greg's neighborhood. 

Pappadeaux Praline Bread Pudding Soufflé with Vanilla Ice Cream Bourbon Sauce. 

Anyway, the second thing I do when I'm in Texas is go to Pappadeaux. Or rather we, Greg and I, go to Pappadeaux. It's our momentary escape from a state that some people love passionately and other people hate equally as passionately. All that I need to know about Texas is that it's still trying to push the Creationism agenda in school textbooks. 'nuff said.

The 28th State in the Union and the second largest in size after Alaska, Texas is nicknamed "The Lonestar State" to signify Texas as a former independent republic and as a reminder of the states struggle for independence from Mexico. Hold on, a struggle for independence from Mexico?. Didn't the U.S. steal it from Mexico to begin with?. The state name Texas is taken from the word "Tejas" which means 'friends' in the Caddo language. Friends?. Ok, if you say so.
So, two grown males departing Pappadeaux's Seafood Kitchen and heading off into the night, fully satiated and armed to the teeth. 
Oh, and by the way, when you go to Pappadeaux, leave room for dessert and order yourself the Praline Bread Pudding Soufflé with Vanilla ice cream and Bourbon sauce. 
Just shut up and order it. Don't ask why. Trust me.

After I bade my buddy Greg farewell, I only had a quick run north to the Tyler TX area to pay a visit to Emma. There's an interesting story about when I got there how I ended up making a mistake and parking outside the wrong house at first, but thats not something I'm going to put up here on the blog. If you meet me on the road somewhere, I just may tell you. Maybe.

Emma, Warrior Princess.

Emma and Princess.

It was my first time meeting Emma and I only got to spend half a day with her, but in that one half of one day the effervescence and playful nature of Emma's personality is infectious. I don't know her well enough to write in depth about the bundle of energy that is Emma, so I'll just try to let my photos do the talking as I think I really captured a lot of her bubbly spirit. Its like she's always on.
To find out more about Emma please visit her Facebook page Prayers for Emma, and don't forget to click on "About".

This is Diamond.
I wanted to steal this one away and bring her back to Finland with me and put her in my sidecar. What a gorgeous dog she was. A dog with a better personality than a lot of people.

Emma, Princess & Diamond. What a team.

Lookadat face, I mean c'mon.

And look at that face!!. Talk about happy.

And speaking of happy, check out Emma's reaction to my Sami Reindeer boots as she tried them on and attempted to walk around the front yard in them. In 75º heat!!. It was hot that day in Tyler TX. Those Reindeer boots are made for winter, not summer. I brought them over with me from Finland as a 'show and tell' oddity. You don't come across Sami Reindeer boots in the U.S., so I figured that they'd be an interesting item from my travels that people would enjoy seeing. And I was right. 

Diamond thought the Reindeer boots were still alive and so gave them a wide berth.

Emma and Becca Boo.

Becca Boo is a cute and spunky little 4yr old who was diagnosed with Leukemia at age 2. She is now in remission but has to continue chemo until May of this year. You can Click Here to read more about Becca Boo.

Becca Boo getting measured by Emma.

Ohh noes, I'm still smaller than them!!.

**insert your own silly puppy talk here** 

Emma the champ!!. She even has her very own belt. And yes, it's a real one.

During my stay in Rovaniemi Finland I made a special arrangement to go and see Mrs. Claus, Santa's wife, and told Mrs. Claus all about Emma back in the U.S.A. and her battle with Fanconi Anemia. So Mrs. Claus wrote a card especially for Emma and included a gift for her which I was able to give to Emma on my visit. Thank you very much again Mrs. Claus. As you can see from the photo, Emma was delighted to get your card and gift all the way from your home in Finland.

Lots of people out there love you too Emma.

Tyler TX to Little Rock AR was the next drive, right into a once in every 50 years winter storm that covered well over half of the U.S, resulting in a major state of chaos and a number of deaths too.
Normally not a problem for states that have a regular winter, but Arkansas rarely gets it anywhere near this bad, so most of the state came to a complete standstill.

When I got to Little Rock Arkansas I stayed with one of DriveAwayCancer's volunteer drivers Syn, who uses her 1970's Triumph Spitfire "Ginger" to visit children with cancer and drive them around and put a smile on their face. She's logged a lot of miles in the last year in Ginger, around 25,000 miles I believe she said. Impressive. Very impressive Syn.

Ron McLeod, McLeod's British Cars, Nth Little Rock, Arkansas.

Currently Ginger in is Ron's for a new engine rebuild. The old gal just had enough last year and quit, so Ron has been doing the rebuild for Syn and DriveAwayCancer.

Cathy, the secretary at McLeods British Cars, Arkansas.

Mystery car #1, a 1960 Morgan 4.

Mystery car #2, a 1952 Triumph TR2.

Inside Ron's British Cars there were a number of mystery cars in various states of repose, all patiently awaiting some form of restoration. Ron assured me he was going to get around to them all.......eventually.
Outside Ron's was even more interesting with even more cars all over his property, languishing in the yard enjoying the Arkansas winter. 

Some were centerfold material.......

....and sadly, some were not. 

Unless you like that sort of thing of course.

 Have a nice day Ron and thanks for the tour.

And then there's the Yacht Club.

The L.C.Y.C., an interesting oddity out in the middle of Arkansas. 
As told to me by Syn, the LCYC started about 30 years ago as a group of British car owning friends who hung out after Ron McLeod's British Car shop closed for the weekend.
Many of the same friends still gather there to this day and chat, have fun and as Syn put it, act silly. I have some photos of the interior, but to publish them here would ruin the mystery of what exactly is behind those brick walls. Besides, it would betray a confidence. It's their private club, so I intend to leave them with their privacy.

So right around the corner from Syn's house, there's a front yard with an old Jaguar in it that's being used as a garden ornament. It's an XK-E but i'm not sure what year as my Jaguar knowledge is not great.
Anyway, I asked Syn about it and apparently the story on it is that Syn's landlords have asked the owner a number of times over the years if they could  buy it. The owner repeatedly turned them down saying that he intends to fix it up. Someday. 
Meanwhile, it hasn't moved in 25 years as it sits and rots. And rots. And rots away. He should be arrested for leaving a car of that style and pedigree deteriorate in a front yard year by year when there's plenty of people ready to buy it and take better care of it. 
You sir, are a top class wanker. You should not be allowed to own any car, even a Prius, let alone a rare classic like a Jaguar XK-E, considered by many car aficionados to be the most beautiful car (Jaguar) ever made.

Gnomes and birdbaths are meant to be garden ornaments, not Jaguar XK-E's.

Anyway, Arkansas to Florida was my next leg, winter to summer, all in a day. And this time I managed to make it all the way down to Florida, all 1130 miles, without getting any speeding tickets. Not a one. Luck was on my side this time. Luck was not on my side in 2011. But that's another story that won't get cleared from my license until next year. Oh well. I can't help it if I like going fast. And it's not even fast. The speed limits are too damn slow. Utah agrees with me, so they've raised the speed limit on nearly 300 miles of Interstate. For safety reasons. Yes, safety reasons. You see, they've figured out that the whole "Speed Kills" myth is bullshit. The only thing that speed kills is your pocketbook, because speed traps are nothing more than a legal form of extortion, a huge moneymaker for cops and municipalities. Thats it. Period. Faster is actually safer. 

Words of wisdom. Thank you Swami Jeremy.

Besides, that's why guys like Billys Wrecker Service in Hazen Arkansas are out there for, to go get your wrecked ass if you crash. 
I was heading east on I-40 and all of a sudden traffic started to slow to a crawl and then stop completely, obviously due to a wreck  So I called Syn and she told me to hop on over to Hwy 70 which parallels I-40. So as I drove through Hazen AR, Billys big red wrecker caught my eye and was calling me to stop and take a few shots of it. 
Which I did.

A rear view that only a man child could appreciate. Or a broken down truck.

On this trip back to the US, since my sidecar outfit was still back in Finland, I rented an SUV with enough room in the back for me to sleep in. I never did like staying in motels anyway (aside from the cost) and from my early days in the US as a coast to coast truck driver, not only was I used to driving at night, but much prefer it to driving during the day. There's always less traffic at night and I find it much more relaxing to drive after dark, especially between 10pm and 2 or 3am. I usually get tired around 2-3am then pull over at a rest area or truck stop and climb in the back of the SUV, curl up in my sleeping bag, take the safety off my .45 Ruger and sleep for 3 or 4 hours.

I was not really looking forward to heading south east. The heat of Fl doesn't appeal to me. It never really did, but I dealt with it because that's where my business was and it was going well for me at the time. The humidity, not the heat was what I hated most of all. That and the mosquitos. And a few other things too, but no point in going on a rant about Florida.
I had some loose ends in Florida that needed tying up and I knew I could probably get some good beach photography in too. But you quickly run out of things to photograph in S. Florida in a week. I mean, how many times can you photograph the sunrise on the Atlantic ocean before it starts to get old. So I had to get a little more creative.

Big Peterbilt Studio Sleeper truck on Galt Ocean Mile, Fort Lauderdale, Fl.

There's a lot to photograph in S. Florida if you get creative enough and don't mind the heat and humidity for most of the year. But I do, even though I lived down there for 10 years. I ended up there by default after a Gym and my own personal training business I had in NYC went south. I had a client who had a house on S. Beach who told me to go hang out there and re-group, so I did. Blue skies, palm trees, lovely beaches with a plethora of scantily clad women scattered about all over the sand. Seriously, whats not to like?. 
The novelty wore off within about 2 years and it was just another town that I had to get a job in and pay the rent.

While driving down Las Olas blvd in Fort Lauderdale to visit a friend who lives on Isle of Palms, the Tuna tower on the north side of the street first caught my eye. I'm a sucker for 'em, especially when it's attached to a beautiful 90' Sportfisher.

Mmmm, Sportfish.

"Satu" is one of the nicest Sportfishers I've ever seen. Just a gorgeous looking boat.
The interior is even more stunning.

Heading west from A1A and Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale and crossing over the Las Olas drawbridge you'll come into the finger isle area, where all types and sizes of yachts are usually bobbing around in the water, and usually for sale. 
They say that the two best days of boat ownership are the day you buy your boat and the day you sell it. Probably true of a lot of expensive toys.

A1A near Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale, FL.

So currently I'm at my friend Chucks house in Shadow Hills, California, just south of the Angeles National Forest but as soon as I hit the "Post" button on the blog, I jump in the SUV and hit the road for 1300 miles to get back to Boulder, Colorado, then to Chicago, back to Boulder, then NYC again and back down to Florida. And probably amass another 10-15,000 photos in the process.

So that's all I have time and energy for in this post. I hope you all enjoy my 110+ photos and writings on this article, and if you do please consider supporting this blog by buying a sticker set or two. The links are up top on the right directly under the blue and pink Flickr logo.

Thanks all for stopping by and reading. All of the photos on each blog post are available for sale in High Res prints. Either email me HERE for pricing and to purchase or go to my 500px page.

Have the day of your choice......