West Coast - Part 4

Roadtrip to SoCal

The most exciting part of my US/Canada trip this year, apart from Canada, was driving down to California with my love. Apart from the fact that I was suffering with mono (glandular fever) and my tonsils flared up every few days, making breathing, swallowing and eating a real challenge, I managed to soldier on enough to get some photographs of our adventures driving down the coast.

We started our trip with a drive to Crater Lake, Oregon. David had told me all about this beauty, but he could never tell me about the crispness of the air that high up. We drove up the crater for a while, it felt like forever, I was just way too excited to see this beautiful wonder. David had pulled up to a lookout and held my hand as we walked up the lookout spot. I closed my eyes, and when I opened them, the clean and cold air, the magnitude of what I was seeing, and a shade of blue unlike anything I have ever seen before, took my breath away. Crater Lake was the most beautiful and unbelievable thing I had seen. By the time we arrived, it was quite late in the afternoon, so we decided that rather than driving down to Redding, CA, that we would pull up in the carpark and sleep in the car until morning. This gave us the opportunity to explore Crater lake from so many different angles, and watch the sun set over the lake. We drove through and saw some deer, which are my most favourite animal (next to a fox). We jumped out of the car, threw on a dress and David chased me with the camera as I tried to get close. Most of the photos are ones that we laugh at and look back on in remembrance of the moment. I had never been so close to the creatures before, so I was thrilled. We drove to the lodge/hotel area, and parked the car. The air was cold and icy and we had not prepared, considering we were getting ready to experience a California summer, but it was a nice change. 

That night, while sleeping in the car, both David and I were awoken by the brightness of the moon, looking almost like a flashlight, it seemed intrusive. We got out of the car to have a look at the stars, and my oh my I had never seen stars so clear in my entire life. I'm lucky that where I live in Australia, and my country in general, is quite clean and clear, and stars are bright always. But there was something different about the stars in the Northern Hemisphere in comparison to the Southern Hemisphere. They just seemed so much closer. I stood in awe, in the cold outdoors, at the beauty of the place I was at. Finding it hard to sleep in the car, we slept for a few hours and then early the next morning, unprepared with minimal food, we had bananas and crackers (which coincidently were also our dinner the night before, with Avocado and Peppermint tea), and we drove down the crater, past Medford, and on to Redding. 

It was amazing how as we drove across the border from Oregon into California, how the entire atmosphere and landscape changed. Immediately, things were dry, barren, thirsty. Lakes and dams were scarce with water, rolling hills of grass were brown. Everything had changed. We stopped in Redding and David took me to my first In N Out experience, and I was in love. I specifically remember quoting: "Let's have In N Out for breakfast, lunch AND dinner". I was kind of okay once we eventually left California, to NOT have In N Out because I think we probably over did it anyway.

We got to Redding midday, and the original plan was to go to Yosemite to camp for the night, but I wasn't feeling too well, and it was really damn hot. We weren't going to make it to Yosemite before sundown so just after Redding while driving down the I-5, David and I were throwing water at eachother to cool down from the 110 degree day, hoping the wind coming in from the windows would cool us down. After doing this for a while, we turned to eachother and decided we would drive the whole way down to his parents' house, which meant another 12-14 hours of driving. Excited and thrilled, we cut out about another day and a half out of our trip, originally planning to arrive on a Tuesday night, we got there on a Sunday morning. When passing Sacramento, David ripped the car off the highway to an underpass river, and we threw on our swimmers and jumped in to the water to cool down. We spent a total of about 2 minutes in the water because we didn't pay for a car spot (we didn't know until after we parked), and ran back in to the car to continue the drive.

We arrived at Davids' parents place just before 4am on a Sunday morning, having to sneak in to the house with all our blankets and pillows because we were there to surprise them. We slept for about 2 hours before surprising them when David's mum woke up early, and confused, woke up David's dad to ask who was asleep on the couch. We celebrated with them by going to church (tired and exhausted, but so thrilled to be with them) and grabbed breakfast with David's uncle and aunt and his cousins. That afternoon, we had dinner with David's parents and his sister Laura, who was already like a sister to me.

That afternoon we spent shooting in a few different spots, we first went on an afternoon shoot and hike up to this abandoned barn in David's parents' neighbourhood. It was super freaky and I was terrified, mainly because it was summer and I don't do snakes well. We then later went to a piece of property and shot some photos for fun, lugged along our shattered glass window and went to sleep super early.

The next day we had breakfast with our good friend Justin, then headed out to Joshua tree and spent hours exploring and shooting, covering David in paint, climbing rocks, being scared of Coyotes (I've watched too many episodes of the Road Runner). It was one of my favourite afternoons of my entire life, but I started feeling very sick that afternoon, and knew I was getting worse. We drove back in the rain, got In N Out for dinner, past the windmill farms, and I spent the night in agonising pain. David held me to his chest with a hot cloth to my swollen throat and slept next to me on the floor to ensure I would be okay during the night.

The next day was huge. We went to the doctor in the morning, got antibiotics, went for brunch with David's friends, visited his sister and her boyfriend, coffee in the afternoon with Hans, David's business mentor and a very inspiring man, visited David's older sister and her kids, had dinner with David's grandparents, and then had desert with David's oldest sister and her kids. It was a mega packed day and I remember having taken more than 12 ibuprofens since the morning, and reading the package that said not to exceed 6. David and I drove home joking about how I was crazy all day with thanks to the ridiculous amount of medication I was on, including the horse pill sized antibiotics I had to be on.

Among many other little moments we had in Cali, we decided to leave a day earlier to go back home to Portland, since I wasn't well, and we had scheduled an appointment in San Francisco to meet up with our friend at Flickr HQ who invited us to give a presentation. We drove all the way up the coast to San Francisco and I was taken back by the craziness of the city, I wish we would have spent more than a few hours in it, but we already had enough for the day that we were ready to leave the city when we did (David's car almost didn't start up in a carpark that was charging per the hour and we were about to get a hefty ticket if we didnt manage to start it up). We grabbed a coffee in the centre of the city, David bought me a beautiful flower and we walked in the Yahoo HQ we were welcomed into Flickr with the security guard at the door, escorting us up to the offices. If I weren't a photographer, I would want to work there in a heartbeat. Literally the coolest office and workers ever. We gave a presentation after having work with some of the creators of the website, and seeing our friends work displayed all through the office. It was so beautiful and surreal to be able to be in the office of the website that connected David and I together, and that launched our success as artists in our industry.

We drove out of San Fran in heavy traffic which set us back almost 3 hours, so driving back up to Portland straight from there was ambitious, but we did it, with many nap breaks along the way. It was scary all the places we had to stop (almost Wolf Creek and Myrtle Creek) along the highway to wake ourselves up and nap, but we ended up sleeping in the car at a 24 hour fuel stop somewhere in Oregon. The next morning we began our drive again up to our home in Portland, and Portland never felt so good. Being back to a place that felt like home to me, was the greatest feeling, but I already missed California and missed all the adventures I couldn't go on.

Part 5 - Portland Friends.