Monday, August 25, 2008

The Lost Coast

Last weekend we drove north up Highway 101 past Garberville to Humboldt Redwoods State Park to camp in the old growth forest at the Albee Creek campsite; after the luxury of coin-operated showers and a good strong cup of espresso heated up on our camp stove we headed out the Mattole Road over bridges like this past the occasional vineyard or meadow with grazing goats and the friendly folks at the Honeydew General Store where we bought $20 gas and key lime flavored soda pop to Mattole Beach and California's "Lost Coast".

The wind was coming in off the ocean and bringing a fresh bank of fog with it by noon and the campers in only a handful of the fourteen campsites were already hunkering down for what promised to be a blustery evening. At low tide the beach trail leads you on a half day hike to a lighthouse that can only be approached from the waterline, but after an hour hiking into the wind we decided the county campground we'd passed along the Mattole Creek was looking pretty darned inviting.

Looking for firewood we stopped in Petrolia where these dolls greeted us by the roadside and we left the rugged coast behind us. Stopping at a little organic farm stand a lovely woman in wellies watering her garden picked a bunch of red beets out of the ground for two dollars. We added three little cucumbers with Dino kale to our purchases before taking our leave. An hour later we were setting up camp at site #9 and lying on our own private creek side beach in the sunshine. Little kids riding their bikes and dogs digging in the sand made for a very peaceful evening while we cooked vegetarian chili to have with our cornbread muffins and turn in for the evening while the folks at the next site played a guitar and sang softly under the stars for a few minutes more.

Sunday morning we broke camp and headed inland for a hike in the old grove redwood forest. One fellow we met said he wasn't a churchgoer, but these trees standing so magnificently for hundreds of years were pretty darn close to a religious experience for him.

Taking our leave we drove south to exit the park by way of the Avenue of the Giants and were indeed humbled again by these trees that have been there before the Magna Carta was signed and just hitting adolescence with the Declaration of Independence. We ran into a couple who had been out to the ocean and filled their pockets with fresh mussels pulled from the rocks that they cooked for their dinner that night - it doesn't get much better than that!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ed Freeman

Browsing through books at The Depot in Mill Valley I had to pick up and bring home a book with a series of photos by Ed Freeman called Desert Realty.
Some were shot on the edge of Death Valley and this Airstream is one of my favorites. Some days I want to cash in my chips, buy the DWR's model and head for the desert myself!
He takes the photos and then plays with them before arriving at the final "edited" image. Ed cites Bernd & Hilla Becker as his influences These also remind me of The Salton Sea documentary I saw not long ago - another one of those wonderful quirky places on the edge of the desert. Ed also is working on a book of surfer photos taken in Hawaii - stay tuned.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Death Valley

Tecope Hot Springs is one of the best places to visit in Death Valley (that's the Paiute Chief Tecope pictured above). One always thinks of endless sand and desert when you hear about Death Valley, but there are hot springs and pools there too. At night you can find springs under the moonlight surrounded by bullrushes and sit in the warm, sandy water being serenaded by bullfrogs.

During the day you can go to the pool!

Another magical place in Death valley is:
The Amargosa Hotel and Opera House

It's a little bit David Lynch (think Wild at Heart) meets vaudeville and it works!

There's even an award winning documentary about Marta Beckett who painted the amazing frescoes inside the theater and for decades has performed to desert audiences. She truly embodies the creative spirit .
Cafe C'est Si Bon - better known as the Internet Cafe is in Shoshone, CA (the gateway to Death Valley) and is the best place to stop for a lovely meal - order crepes filled with savory cheeses or sweet concoctions created by David (pictured below with my girlfriend Taura) - the vibe is friendly and his son Oliver has a lemonade stand for thirst-quenching refreshment as well - if you are lucky, you might meet his potbellied pig named Pizza.

Then it's time to sleep in the back of the VW bus with a few of my friends...