Travelogue, USA

Now leaving Denver

The Vanagon is loaded to the hilt. Our already slow moving vehicle is that much slower under the weight of everything we own that survived the purge. Our last few days in Colorado were soaked with rain. And now I sit in this parking lot waiting for Maizy one last time while she finishes saying her goodbyes. It’s all over but the crying.

With Maizy’s last day behind us we turned the key in the ignition and headed for the road. I rolled my window down and waved up to her co-workers I thought might be watching and gave them all a wave. Then, as if on cue, we hit the seven foot clearance bar of her parking lot with the box of stuff mounted on our luggage rack. BAM! I watched it swinging wildly in the rear view and just laughed as we drove off. No harm, no foul.

Driving with this load it feels like a slow bullet careening down the road. We push the speed limit down the hills and hope the momentum will carry us up the steeper grades. Once we reach our destination we will reinforce our ride, store our belongings, say our hellos and goodbyes to the family and begin our journey. It might take a couple weeks, but it will be time well spent. Driving down Interstate 70 heading east the clouds seemed so low that  you could imagine yourself reaching up to touch them.

The sky was a mix of deep purples and light blues in a gradient line along the horizon. We left construction projects and road crews in the rear view, and as they disappeared we found ourselves surrounded by the familiar fields, farms and vast open spaces of eastern Colorado.  Cell towers and a brick and mortar church stands alone in a giant field. We are among our fellow travelers now. The license plates on vehicles start getting more random. Indiana, Florida, South Dakota, all of them just passing through, heading off to unknown destinations.

We’re out in the sticks, east bound on a two lane highway, slowly marching forward. A hawk circles above in the dark sky, an occasional bird drops in front of the windshield flapping its wings madly, bouncing up and down flying along with us. A glance to the right reveals an old broken down trailer home with peeling white paint and a crooked antennae on the roof, it’s gone in an instant shrinking out of sight as we make our way further east.We’re on highway 36 now, one lane east one west. Headlights approach and disappear in a misty cloud.

Pouring rain pelts the van. Groves of trees with black trunks and yellow green leaves, the silouhette of branches, jagged and pointy, natures concertina wire. Tractor equipment and yellow signs marking intersecting side roads. The van had some trouble up one hill so we pulled over to give old Betty a rest. Then the hail came and we decided to keep moving. It was pitch dark, huge raindrops soaked the van and we were all a little nervous.

The sky was electric, lightning crackling, thunder rolling, and us sitting on those front ️wheels holding on tight and squinting through a foggy windshield. I said it was probably because we were all breathing so hard from fear. Whoever said driving through the plains is boring never drove through it in the driving rain. My adrenaline is pumping.

We just passed a muddy road to nowhere called Winview. We began to question our decision to take highway 36 when the van started acting like it was running out of gas twenty miles from the nearest service station. I told Maizy that if something breaks it might as well be now while we have the money to fix it. Mound City or bust. We almost ran out of gas on the first tank.

U.S. 36 is empty and desolate through Colorado. We stressed over whether or not we could make it, and the van struggled to get us there. After about twenty miles of sweating it out, barely able to keep moving we hit an old gas station in Alton, CO with old pumps sporting analog read outs. We feel there is a problem with the fuel delivery somehow but we learned as long as we don’t consume more than half a tank everything runs great. We decided at this point to get back to I-70 where the gas stations are plenty.

We passed through a town called Cope which looked abandoned. There was an old red phone booth, abandoned buildings and dead looking farms. There was no gas to be found. We traveled down Highway 59 for 26 miles and got back to the familiar territory of 70 east. We haven’t had any problems since the initial troubles just as long as we fill up about every 70 miles, a problem that we can hopefully fix during our time in Mound City.

The smell of manure hit us hard just past the Kansas Colorado border. There was a giant stockyard with thousands of heads of cattle. The conditions didn’t look good from my vantage point, and had me seriously contemplating becoming a vegan. I’m already lactose intolerant anyway, and after seeing and smelling that cow concentration camp the decision seems like a no-brainer.

The first 300 or so miles have been crazy. Sad goodbyes, stressful moments, ominous skies and the hypnotizing lines of the road pointing us toward our next destination.

Standard
Photography, The Family Circle

The Infinite Reflections

Hello World

the double vision

the infinite reflections

the sleepless photog

Standard
Photography, Photojournalism, The Family Circle

Happy New Year

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9c2/54452561/files/2015/01/img_0673.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9c2/54452561/files/2015/01/img_0674.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9c2/54452561/files/2015/01/img_0675.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9c2/54452561/files/2015/01/img_0676.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9c2/54452561/files/2015/01/img_0677.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9c2/54452561/files/2015/01/img_0678.jpg

Two-thousand fourteen
It was a very good year
For blue blooded girls

Standard
Life, The Family Circle, Urban Landscape, USA

Sleeping in Salina

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9c2/54452561/files/2014/12/img_0095.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9c2/54452561/files/2014/12/img_0110.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9c2/54452561/files/2014/12/img_0101.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9c2/54452561/files/2014/12/img_0097.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9c2/54452561/files/2014/12/img_0109.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9c2/54452561/files/2014/12/img_0107.jpg

We slept in our Westy right outside a La Quinta Inn. Saved $80 and got to cuddle with my girls. On the road again.

Standard

IMG_9125.JPG

IMG_9108.JPG

IMG_9124.JPG

The local repair shop is holding my laptop hostage and my memory cards are filling up. I have exactly 50 images left on the last card in my Pentax right now. I have an old laptop that is missing, an old iMac desktop that is filled to the brim and basically serves as our TV, and this old dinosaur of an iPhone 4s with a cracked screen.

I paid full price for it-around $500- to avoid signing a contract with the phone company. $500 bucks and two years later it’s a relic and I’m forced to upgrade if I want to have access to a new operating system that is waving goodbye to this old brick of a 4s.

I’m supposed to be doing homework. A background piece on
Coloradans for Responsible Reform, a group formed to fight against anti-fracking initiatives in the state. The deadline is two weeks away.

I have a fake website to build, a photo essay on a local metal scrapper who also helps the homeless, and I just finished writing a fake script to an annoying YouTube video called “The Morning Guy.”

My comfort zone has been obliterated. Now I have to call people and talk to them. I have to arrange times to meet and go through the agonizingly painful process of meeting them in person. I’m trying to quit my habit of being anxious cold turkey.

I try to forget I have a lazy eye and be confident. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

I’m feeling that stress. I’m trying to prove myself as a photographer with limited gear and resources. Shooting exclusively with a 21mm prime because that’s really all I got. It’s a challenge.

Plus I use a Pentax which everybody looks at like it’s an alien artifact or something. In my peer group if it isn’t Nikon or Canon then you’re a weirdo who doesn’t understand that those brands are the industry standard.

I’m trying to be a better writer. I’m trying to learn how to code my own website. I’m trying to be a good dad to my three kids. I’m trying to keep a blog with a strong following. I’m spread pretty thin right now.

Three days a week my 4-year-old daughter and I get on the F-line to 18th and California. We ride it all the way from Arapahoe Station to Auraria West, about a 20-minute journey.

It’s usually during rush hour and we almost never get to sit down. Sometimes Penny will refuse to sit next to strangers even if I’m right next to her and others I will just sit down and hold her on my lap. I’m afraid I drilled a healthy fear of strangers into her head and now I’m paying the price for that.

I also have a 20-year-old son going to the same college. Which must be awkward for him, but we don’t run into each other. We did once and it was cool, filled with awkward silences, boring small talk, and a fatherly hug at the end.

My 16-year-old is a rising star in the drama circuit. He’s been in at least 4 productions in the last year. He played a mayor in the musical Urinetown, a baseball player in Damn Yankees, and a boy who feels no pain in some romantic one that I can’t remember. I love watching him sing and dance and recite all his lines with no problems. It’s amazing.

He walked out of his high school yesterday in protest of a suggestion by the school board that their U.S. History curriculum should promote the more positive aspects of U. S. History while staying away from topics like civil disorder and social unrest. Revisionist History. I respect him for joining his fellow students and exercising his right to protest.

I don’t see either one of them nearly enough but I think of them everyday and I’m immensely proud of them both.

So that’s why the blog is being neglected and I’m sharing tons of iPhone pictures. I’m in flux right now. I still feel compelled to photograph everything I see and I love sharing it with all of you who read this blog.

I’m not complaining. I love my life. It’s just very challenging and there are times I feel like I’m making a fool of myself. I’ve had to suck it up a lot lately and that can be exhausting.

I promise that I’ll get back to quick and dirty posts with images and haiku soon.

I know it takes a lot to read through an entire post and for those of you that made it this far I thank you for listening, and for your kindness and support.

The ultimate goal is to be traveling across the United States in a spiral pattern in our new VW Vanagon. We’ll be on the road full-time in search of our final destination. We have no idea where that is or how long it will take, but we are determined to find out. I hope to share my adventures with all of you.

Now I have to go and brush my daughters hair and take her outside for some practice on her bicycle.

Things are tough all over.

IMG_9088.JPG

IMG_8402.JPG

IMG_9099.JPG

IMG_9062.JPG

Life, Photography, The Family Circle, Urban Landscape

Working without a Net

Image
Life, Photography

Waiting for a train.

No matter how far away you stand your smoke still showers my face. I breathe in your stench as I sit on a cold metal bench made purposely uncomfortable out of iron slats. Homeless proof. Nothing a thick blanket couldn’t remedy. A sliver of the moon still hangs visible above me. The sun is rising in a thin soft yellow band across the horizon. It melts into the dark blue sky and sheds its light. The silhouettes of pedestrians move across the bridge. Old people push walkers, bicyclists pedal their bikes, mommies and daddies and little kids in a hurry. The half-awake masses stumbling to the starting gate.

IMG_6950-0.JPG

IMG_6674-0.JPG

 

IMG_6743.JPG

IMG_6924.JPG

IMG_6960.JPG

IMG_6742-1.JPG

IMG_6689.JPG

IMG_6695-1.JPG

IMG_6709.JPG

IMG_6675.JPG

IMG_6679-0.JPG

IMG_6658.JPG

IMG_6652.JPG

Standard
Uncategorized

Bathrooms of America

I’ve been traveling through Colorado and New Mexico the last few days and I subconsciously captured every foreign bathroom I encountered along the way.

I think I suffer from some embarrassing malady like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I say “like” because I’ve never really had it diagnosed but I’m positive that something is wrong. A trip to the doctor lies in my future, a future filled with embarrassing conversations and uncomfortable truths. This is aging.

When a sudden attack arises I always regret not having planned out where the nearest bathroom is. Whenever I get that “Damn, I gotta hit the head in a hurry” feeling nothing else matters but finding it and taking care of business. It hurts which in turn makes me angry, and then I’m just like “I don’t give a f*ck just get out of my way.

Anyway. This is all TMI I’ m sure. The point is I’m in bathrooms a lot and I’m a photographer. At least that’s what I’m calling myself these days. A cross eyed weirdo photographer with IBS who obsessively takes pictures when he’s stuck in bathroom purgatory.

I’d say that the bathrooms I encountered on this trip were pretty substandard. The bare minimum was being done to keep them operating and clean. One didn’t have soap and I realized that I might be obsessive compulsive about washing my hands because I was freaking out about it on the inside.

One was flooded. One had a picture with a broken frame and shattered glass. One was still warm from the guy before me. I’m sorry. Public bathrooms just make me sick, but I’m so grateful for them regardless.

Not that it’s breaking news or anything, but it would seem that taggers LOVE bathrooms. I saw an etched tag around the toilet seat today. All I could think about was how long it took that person to get their name cut into a nasty toilet seat that may have seen as many as a million asses over the years and how close was his face?

Racism still shows up in public bathroom stalls which is another photo essay altogether. Sadly, I guess nothing’s shocking anymore.

These are the bathrooms of the road. The ones that saved me from having to squat in a bush or risk a ticket for public urination. The place I spend 70% of my life. Bathrooms.

IMG_8762.JPG

IMG_8759.JPG

IMG_8760.JPG

IMG_8761.JPG

IMG_8625.JPG

IMG_8612.JPG

IMG_8624.JPG

IMG_8611.JPG

IMG_8613.JPG

IMG_8614.JPG

IMG_8796.JPG

IMG_8756.JPG

Standard
Black & White Street Photography, Uncategorized, Urban Landscape

The Morning Commute in Denver filtered by Hipstamatic

 

the drive-time commute/filtering out the mundane/with Hipstamatic

14277561299_eda0e97b9e_o14277743707_9875fe3066_o

14462840762_db17ae8948_o14277739667_455513b164_o14277605308_e323d92435_o14463071714_eea3dfaf60_o14277557179_e1d9cd3688_o14463065934_fbca278280_o14277553199_ebe3fac1c7_o14277554429_e9838497ab_o (1)14277554769_4366f0fc2a_o14484352103_012ddbe1d9_o14464197165_9078ace581_o

Standard
Uncategorized

Friends and Enemies

Image

In response to today’s Daily Prompt:

Witness Protection

When you do something scary or stressful — bungee jumping, public speaking, etc. — do you prefer to be surrounded by friends or by strangers? Why?

Personally, I’d rather have my friends around in uncertain situations. Someone to give you that knowing glance when you are struggling. To provide support when everything might not be going well. A friend in the crowd. 

The scariest situations I’ve found myself in I’ve experienced both ways. I had a 7 1/2 month stay in the Denver County Jail back in 2001. I didn’t start out with any friends in that situation. I’ve also been in combat zones with fellow Marines, surrounded by my brothers in arms. Both situations were scary as hell.

When surrounded by strangers I have found that if all of you are in the same boat you have nothing to lose by supporting each other. In the Marines we began boot camp as complete strangers but we ultimately learned to pull together in order to overcome extreme adversity on a daily basis. I still talk to the Marines I served with to this day, but there was a time when we were all strangers, wet behind the ears, most of us broke, young and dumb, the adventurous sort that can’t afford to go to college. I only spent four years in the Marines, but the friendships I made there have stood the test of time. Nearly 20 years later we still look to each other for moral support and guidance. 

In jail it’s a little bit more shady but the same approach works wonders. It’s easier for a room full of strangers to be able to relate to each other because none of us really know each other. So we are all in the same boat. Going to court appearances, shackled to each other at the wrists and ankles. There is no dignity to be found in the county jail. There is no privacy, you eat together, sleep together, shit together and suffer together.

There are unwritten rules that you need to learn fast or else you will find yourself a social outcast in a real hurry. My first full day in my squad bay (pod) I tried to take a shower while another guy was in there. There were two shower heads on opposite sides of each other, and every gym in every high school I’ve ever been in, guys showered at the same time. So I walked in there and stripped off my towel and started taking a shower.

The dude on the other spiget wasn’t too pleased with this, and he stormed out of the shower mad dogging me the whole time. I had to find a friendly face I could talk to to find out why this guy was so pissed off. It turns out that in this squad bay, the showering is done one at a time. Lesson learned. 

During my time there I made many friends and very few enemies. Of course there were a couple of jerks that I was forced to stand up to, but my ability to get along with others always made it easier. In the real world I’m anti-social but in extreme situations I find a way to do what’s necessary to survive. Knowing how to make more friends than enemies is a great start. It’s nice to know that a few people have your back.

Looking at it from my current perspective as a college student I prefer presenting in front of people I know. I don’t really know them per say, but we’ve been in class together for a few months and there isn’t a single one of us that gets to get out of it if we want to pass the class. I still get awkward and nervous but I know I can count on my little clique within the classroom.I look to them for encouragement.

I’ve been in classes before where a person might be giving a bad presentation, one where it is obvious that this person might not pass the class, and someone in the crowd starts peppering her with really intense questions, knowing they don’t know the answer. I witnessed one man badger a poor girl with questions just to watch her squirm and go through the embarrassment of not knowing. The one thing I have the most trouble understanding in life, the capacity of us humans to be cruel to each other. The worst part is having to accept that you cannot change it, and you have to carry on knowing the problem will never go away. 

I had to help that girl a lot in class, and after watching her go through that I admired her ability to shake it off and not let it destroy her. It was obvious she had already moved on from it or just didn’t know or just didn’t care. My skin was hot from watching it, but she was entirely calm as far as I could tell. I clapped loudly and shouted a compliment her way when she was finished. She made the best of it and pulled through. Maybe her presentation wasn’t an A+ performance, but her composure in a tough situation was commendable.

So I prefer friends in scary situations. I’ll be your friend too if you need me. If someone is picking on you I got your back, we might not win but at least we’ll go down together standing up for what’s right. Kindness, compassion, and good will towards all. The “Do the Right Thing” mentality. 










Sent from my iPhone

Standard
Life

Right This Moment

20140313-124951.jpg

Colorado boy
Waiting for a German van
In the Palm Springs sun

Standard